An Essay in Eight Parts by John Rose:
Richard Rose devoted his life to teaching, writing, lecturing, and making himself available to sincere seekers of Truth and Self Awakening following an experience that may have been the culmination of years of committed searching for Self Definition. “The Direct Mind Experience” contains transcriptions of some of those lectures and teachings gleaned from his profound experience.
Rose points out immediately that this ultimate realization is only for a small minority of people willing to maintain a commitment to a path of Self Realization. His honest, often caustic approach often drives away all but the most sincere seeker. He presents his concepts directly and honestly in everyday layman language. This is one of the qualities that make Richard Rose’s writings so valuable: no wasting precious time trying to convert the masses, or ego building with flowery chatter.
Interview — WKSU Rafio — Kent State University — Kent, Ohio — 1974
The group was formed as a brotherhood of sorts aimed at Self Definition. The Zen approach was taken as a practical psychological method, rather than for its dogma or ceremony.
There is a discussion of how most religious approaches are devotional, or emotional. They are based on belief, and are disenchanting for someone who seeks a more active evidential approach. There are however, esoteric teachings imbedded within these otherwise belief based doctrines.
Some people have no choice but to follow an emotional sort of religion. There are different types of people, some instinctive, some philosophic, etc. (see the writings of G.I. Gurdjieff).
Rose uses no gimmicks, beads, robes, etc., in his approach. Only the most direct approach possible to truly Become.
Using a pyramid analogy, we see that the vast majority of humanity is at the base of the pyramid where instinctive man resides. Instinctive people are concerned with the physical world alone: pleasure, pain, the senses, career and material wealth. Such a person may run the course of this life in this manner and never move on unless some shock or catastrophe pushes him to an emotional salvation such as being “saved”, or some other sort of religious experience or exaltation. The problem here lies in the flaw of dogmatic belief systems. In mainstream religion, the primary objective isn’t Truth seeking, but following a set of beliefs and rules, and otherwise “riding the tide of humanity into heaven”, never questioning authority, or truly thinking for oneself.
A question and answer session with Rose starts off with a bit of information on the formation of the group and the aim toward Enlightenment.
Using Zen as a Psychological system rather than an Asiatic religion allows one to extract all the practical elements while leaving behind dogma or ritual that may obscure one’s direction. It was following an intensive search throughout the religions of the world that Rose settled on Zen. “Zen approaches the mind directly with the mind, rather than approaching spiritual values through emotional reading or emotional living.”
There is discussion of the inadequacy of emotional and devotional approaches. Such an approach was designed for a less educated society than we have today so there is a natural dissatisfaction with the way one is told it should be. People are turning to other belief systems. “Now unfortunately, some of these new directions that they turn to are also emotional and devotional movements.” In the earlier stages of religions, it seems that while there were a few deep thinkers, there was little hope held for the masses, and they were essentially kept pacified by religious doctrine. Their only hope may have been to be shaken out of their current state.
As Gurdjieff pointed out, there are different types of people, and they had little choice in where they were in their stage of development. He listed four categories of man, instinctive, emotional, intellectual, and philosophical.
It appears the spiritual evolution of man is like a pyramid. The base, and greatest area comprise people of an instinctive nature. People living the pleasure-pain life. “We are our bodies”, they would say. This may evolve to an emotional level by turning to Christ, or some religion that still caters to the senses for the most part, but it pulls one’s center slightly away from themselves, focusing on a parental or spouse figure that instructs them on what to do. Disillusionment with the emotional may lead to an intellectual epiphany, and a more abstract look at the workings of the body, mind, thought, society, etc. A very few may even have this world shattered and end up in a philosophical state at the top of the pyramid. This realm, full of abstraction and paradox is for those able to operate independently of outside instruction. Even so, a guide who has made the whole trip is a valuable asset, and if that is not available, at least a group of like minded seekers. This was why the TAT Society and Pyramid Zen Society was originally formed by Rose. It began as a group striving toward direct experience rather than mere reading and discussion. All gimmicks, beads, special attire, ritual, etc., are stripped away to make way for a direct approach to Truth. As in Zen, the aim is to bypass individual concepts and ask the thinker questions as to why, who, how and what they are. To Question everything. These questions should encompass all facets of one’s being and beyond.
It is all a matter of seeing how to think clearly. You don’t have to be a holy man. This is available to anyone willing to make efforts to lift themselves out of the mire of confusion. No theology or dogma is necessary to find the Truth. Healthy doubt is in fact, encouraged.
Try to avoid limitations as they only create blocks that may not be overcome. It is quite simple. Face yourself and then follow up with honest appraisal. This can be done with meditation, or confrontation, for example. A person may, through such a process as this, see that he has deluded himself for his whole life. Most people neglect to see until so late in life that it may be too late do anything about it. Most people just get by on their self-centered egotistical position until something knocks the world out from under them.
One of the most prevalent obstacles in society is control of the masses by religion as exhibited, for example, by the Christian church in insisting on a set of rules to be followed or you might face hell and damnation.
The church moved into quite a position of power. They built cathedrals, became a social institution, and lost their primary objective toward the pursuit of Truth. When members rebelled, it grew into little more than a social or political organization. Despite this move away from spirituality and toward dogma, there is evidence of a few pockets of real Truth-seekers amid the masses awaiting an old man on his throne in a heavenly kingdom.
“When we talk about enlightenment, we are talking about the knowledge of the ultimate, the knowledge of the absolute state of being. This involves nearly everything in the line of knowledge, and yet it doesn’t really involve knowledge, because when you get to the absolute state of being, you are dealing with absolutes, not relative things which we define as knowledge.” For this reason, we must realize that if we do reach Enlightenment, we may have no way to describe it. Enlightenment has no denominational boundaries, and can come to anyone of any religion, or no religion at all for that matter. We must realize that a full experience of the Absolute may not be describable as our language is of a dual nature.
Realization comes not out of peaceful meditation, but rather may be brought about as a result of trauma and despair. The average person isn’t willing to go this far and settles into church, and the social life. Most make the error of humanizing heaven and are content keeping their worldly affairs in order. These people reside at the base of the pyramid of humanity. Richard Bucke states in his book, Cosmic Consciousness that one in a million are able to reach the top of the pyramid.
One might ask, what about reincarnation? A good answer to this might be, “If we told you that you had another chance, you wouldn’t even try this time.…You should answer your own questions.” As is spoken throughout these writings, retreat from untruth is one of the fundamental tools for arriving at Truth. Be careful with emotional, belief-based systems as they too easily bring one into a state of wishful thinking. Often in an attempt to humanize, or put into verbal terms, a spiritual condition, we create imagery that opens the door for wishful thinking as well as locking one into dogmatic structure. Often a well-meaning healer or writer will present ideas that can block real progress with techniques and images (see Rose’s Meditation). It may be that the founder of a movement may have something, but a teaching will be of little value beyond that. Then we have wild stories of lost civilizations, UFO’s, etc. that may be good stories, but are of no real value on the path to Truth, even if they are true. We can get distracted from our aim. The main value in the studies of these phenomena is looking for common denominators that may offer some small clue of something, but one can waste a lot of time sifting through information and history. “If you want to get to the core of Zen teaching, or the culmination of the Zen training, which would be an experience, you have a certain conviction that this entire physical world is a projection, not a reality.…When you find out that the whole thing is a projection, it makes you more or less lose enthusiasm about the significance or glamour of this projection.”
There is always a difficulty with language barriers so you have to do the best you can with this language just to get through to a point of clear thinking. It is important to keep in mind that a person at a more developed stage will not be understood by those two rungs below on the ladder of development so to speak.
People often enter the work expecting joy and pleasure, but get disillusioned when their senses aren’t heightened on a physical level. They look for reactions, and this is the basis of the instructive level. These people go through their lives never moving beyond the level of reaction. These are the people who think they are most alive. Until they move beyond this phase, they will have no exaltation. Eventually they may get tired and let go of sensuality long enough to lose themselves and a bit of this ego and have some sort of exaltation. This usually results from having an emotionally based religious experience. This is where religious fanaticism is born. As they continue, they may tire of this or begin to see through it and move into an intellectual phase where they begin to question the concepts of a personal God.
There is still further to go, however. The intellect may grow weary, and abandon the whole thing yet again. These transitional phases are critical moments. “I believe that the only thing that anybody does, anyone who has a genuine spiritual message for any segment of mankind-the only thing he can do-is to be there when someone is ready.” It is foolish to seek out converts. That is just an ego in itself. Just keep quiet and offer help if you are capable, when needed. There is however, a paradox to this, because if you do have something real to offer then there is an obligation to help others at the right moment if you can. “I believe that there is an esoteric law involved in this, that we have to help someone.…I believe that the whole spiritual evolution of man depends upon people going out of their way to be available.”
Rose’s aim isn’t to bring peace of mind. “We state quite bluntly that we are not desirous of bringing anyone peace of mind. We want to bring you trouble. We want to stir you, to shake you, because protoplasm tends to inertia. You have to keep irritating it, to keep it alive so to speak. It has to be continually stimulated. So complacency for a person who wants to progress in his mental capacities, is negative.” The paradoxical side of this however, is for people who are so burned out that they need something soothing to recover from some psychic battle, or some such thing. “But, if you are interested in finding your self-definition, then you want to abandon any system that quiets you down.” We have to continually question. We have no evidence of the many worlds presented us in so many religious systems. We must always be on guard against kidding ourselves.
Before we can say much about our “S” Self, we have to come to know our “s” self, or mundane self. This is a process of looking directly within yourself.
“First know thyself.”
Continue to keep in mind, “You should never go out and try to let the masses hear this knowledge, because it has an effect of irritating them, and they will attack you.…There is an esoteric maxim that you’ll come across if you get into esoteric reading: “To know, to dare, to do, and to be silent.”
There is evidence that some people had the door slightly opened for them through drug experiences, but it wasn’t lasting. It didn’t actually open the door, it merely gave a glimpse of other possible dimensions. One must be careful as there is a lot of room for disillusionment. “I found fraud and trickery at every turn, and I found that the people who were telling us that they had God in their hip pocket really had money in their hip pocket, and I became very discouraged. But as a result of this intense effort-I think as a result of this intense effort-when I was around thirty years of age I had an experience. And this experience answered my questions for me. And it has not diminished. I have not outgrown it,-I don’t think you could ever outgrow it when you have that type of experience.”
“One thing I’d say as far as its effects upon me,-I never had any desire to own the world, or to really make history.”
Temptations are always there, but you’ve got to keep pressing on toward your aims.