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Title 1977-0405-Zen-Columbus-precursor-to-Zen-and-CS
Recorded date April 5, 1977
Location Columbus, Ohio. OSU at Ohio Union, 1739 N. High St., in the Memorial Room
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Link to distribution copy http://distribution.direct-mind.org/
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Published on which website? SearchWithin.Org as "Columbus Lecture" ["Lecture in Columbus, Ohio"]
Remarks Newsletter March 1977, April 1977
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URL at direct-mind.org https://www.direct-mind.org/index.php?title=1977-0405-Zen-Columbus-precursor-to-Zen-and-CS
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Revision timestamp 20150127143934


From PZ Newsletter March 1977:

April 5 at 7:30 in the Ohio Union, 1739 N. High St., in the Memorial Room

From PZ Newsletter April 1977:

Mr. Rose's lecture on April 5 was attended by over 75 people, the largest turnout in Columbus in three years. A good number of people stayed until 11:00 asking questions. Six books were sold at the talk and two more at the next night's meeting.

Questionnaires indicated that people were attracted by an article carried in the Columbus Dispatch which publicized the complete Spring lecture series ("In Search of the Mind," also featuring F. Mascara and A. Fitzpatrick) and by radio public service announcements. Posters still seem to be the most important publicity method.

Copy of transcription

Distributed 2005

Richard Rose

Lecture in Columbus, Ohio on April 5, 1977

Containing: The Reality of Thought

Fourfold Path of Zen Version 5/15/2012


Knowledge of the Self

Direct Mind Apprehension

The Umpire


Atman and Brahman

Reverse Vector


Thought as Vision



I want to talk a little bit about Zen, and I want to discuss the relationship between Zen and psychology, and after that I want to engage in a dialog with the group. By this I mean to answer questions and carry on an informal discussion, because I prefer this to talking to people. When you talk to people you never know what their interests are or even what they’re picking up.

The difficulty we have socially, and have had for centuries, is this difference in “pick-up”, the same as we will have here today. I will say certain things, and some people will take me literally, some will take me intuitively, and some will try to translate it according to their previous concepts. That’s all you can do. And unfortunately, down through the ages, things have been re-translated; either deliberately, in order to suit a person’s philosophy or whatever they’re selling, or unconsciously, by virtue of wishful thinking.

Zen is basically a system that looks for the truth. But I believe that Zen has been translated, it has been changed. Pretty much the same as other sacred documents have perhaps been changed by people in charge, down through centuries of religious history.

As I see it, Zen started out as a direct-mind science. There’s very little in the line of necessary dogma. In fact, I believe it was the result of opposition to dogma, or the failure of dogma. And it seems to have remained somewhat pure in that respect down to the time of Bodhidharma. I don’t know how much he wrote, but after that we seem to get more and more writing.

There are four things that marked Zen at that time, according to Bodhidharma. You’ll get a lot of different impressions and there are a lot of books written on Zen. But I like to refer to this Fourfold Statement of Bodhidharma as the true definition of Zen:

1. A special transmission outside of the scriptures. 2. No importance on words or letters. 3. Direct pointing at the soul of man. 4. Seeing into one’s own nature and the attainment of Self.

This means the direct apprehension of Self, the definition of Self. The word used was “Buddhahood” but it’s synonymous with Self. The word Buddha carries different connotations. For instance, when you hear the term “kill the Buddha,” it doesn’t mean to actually kill Buddha, he’s been dead for quite awhile, but to kill the image of Buddha and pay more attention to the theme behind the work. Not to create statues of a personality, or to have the desire to be a personality or an exalted being yourself.

We can go back over these four principles and apply them to what we know as Zen today, as written in the books. And I’m not going to go into any of them individually – I can refer to them as certain doctrines that are taught.

A specials transmission outside the scriptures. Special transmission means the person teaching it is able to transmit. It isn’t a logical, scholarly process. There is something transmittable.

The impossibility of this being followed to the letter has lead to a tremendous lot of synthetic systems, in my estimation. I think it was either Hui Neng or Huang Po – they’ve been dead long enough that they’re not going to sue me if I misquote them – who made the remark that there was no Ch’an in China. Ch’an was the word for Zen in China before it went to Japan. One of his students said, “How can you say that? There are monasteries all over China and dedicated people by the thousands.” And he said there was no Ch’an in China because there was no one able to transmit. And unless there’s somebody able to transmit, they can’t reach the point.

Now, of course, what is the point? What is the final aim of Zen? It’s looking into one’s soul and attaining the maximum, the Buddhahood.

So these four designations or identifications of Zen lead up to the attainment of the knowledge of the Self. That doesn’t mean that you are psychologically smart or that you can identify your height and the color of your eyes as being yourself, a certain physical body. It means your real Self. Most people never bother to realize, that what we see in front of us here and among us here are not real selves. These are conceptual structures, personalities, created to get along with our fellowman. The real Self lies buried underneath all this personality.

The external self sometimes gets so troublesome that we occasionally wish were rid of it. Like in the case of Gary Gilmore. His external personality didn’t work, and it was fastened onto him so tightly he had to get rid of the whole life-picture in order to get rid of it. But this is manifest to people after they do a bit of thinking, or after so many years weigh on them.

Younger people are inclined to believe in that which they see in the mirror. And they expect society to react to them in the same way they react to their own vision: a pretty person, an intelligent person, a forceful person. But this is something they project. And somehow we are agreeable to reinforcing the other fellow. We say, “Yes, you’re exactly the way you look, you look like a movie star. So we’re going to support your strutting a bit, and at the same time you scratch my back and say I look like a movie star or whatever I wish to look like.” And this is the way it goes in life.

There is a real self. And after you get to digging at it you say, “I realize I’ve been kidding myself. I’m not really what I thought I was.” You’ll generally come to the conclusion after you’ve lived twenty years, that the self you knew and exalted at the age of five and tried to inflict upon your fellow kids is not the self you accept now.

Looking back, you say that was phony. But today it’s real: “I know I’m pretty mature now, I’ve lived through that childhood stage, I now know what I want and I know who I am.” But when you get to be 40 you look back on the time when you were 20 and say, “Boy, how green I was. What a fool I made out of myself. And if I had a few more years to do that thing over, I may have come out a little more honestly and gotten better results.”

So we think we’re getting closer to ourselves. And the immediate thing would be to jump ahead and somehow try to attain the maturity of a 40 or a 60 year-old person and see what they have that we don’t. Well, lots of time it’s just weariness. We support egos and we get tired after so long. The goodies that come with them aren’t worth the bother. And pretty soon we relax. But that doesn’t mean we get the wisdom in time to do us any good, because there’s still a tremendous lot to learn.

Because we still believe in that which we see in the mirror. We still believe that we’re a certain thing, especially if we’re successful. It’s like playing poker: if you win a few hands you’re addicted. So it’s better if you’re never handsome, that you never return a good image in the mirror, because it’s liable to prevent you from ever getting to your real self. You’d be very reluctant to part with that wonderful image that is reinforced by other people. The invariable reaction in those cases is, “Let me have my good looks and my spirituality too.”

I think it was in High Noon or another one of these motion pictures – I remember the preacher saying to the girl, “It would have been better if you had been born with the looks of a sow.” Her spiritual chances would have been better. She was some sort of a village villain that was creating a lot of trouble, like Scarlet O’Hara.

We think that at some stage of the game we’re going to ultimately get wise enough that we’ll know our real Self. But we don’t. We keep peeling away, this is true. We know more about what foolishness we indulged in previously. Yet underneath all of this, there is a Self that we never dream exists. And it’s far behind the mundane set of false faces we take off as the years go by, and we never quite get to it.

I think people sometimes manifest a total freedom from the false faces at a moment of extreme crisis or at the moment of death, in which they don’t die too quickly. They realize that if there is a real Self it had nothing to do with what they saw in the mirror, because what they saw in the mirror is about to disappear. Yet they have a sense that their awareness is not disappearing, even their awareness of the fact they are starting to rot. And then possibly an illumination of sorts sets in.

People do have experiences at death, according to some of the books coming out now for the first time. They have come out before, but this is the first time the public has really accepted them, because they’ve got a doctor’s signature on the bottom of the page. Raymond Moody’s book, Life after Life, and Kübler-Ross’s book, these are written by reputable psychologists supposedly. And these same truths were known two thousand years ago by irreputable thaumaturgists. But nevertheless, we are reluctant to accept anything unless it’s got a stamp on it of some sort. So now the public is free to accept that people do have experiences at death.

Strangely enough, some of them have these experiences before death. And some are able to bring them about in other people before their death. And this is what is known as a special transmission outside the scriptures.

Now hold that up as a yardstick against the systems extant today. And I have taken pains to go through quite a few of them. I have known a few Zen teachers and I found that the most reliable ones were hardly known. The man I learned the most from, and I doubt whether anyone here has heard of him unless they heard me talk previously, was a man by the name of Pulyan . Which incidentally is not a Chinese or Japanese or Hindu name, he was Hungarian. I leave that with you because you might think it’s an oriental name.

We are inclined to believe people if they’re from somewhere outside our pasture-field. The truth must always lie where it’s unattainable. We reject truth from our parents and then learn it with difficulty over a period of ten years when we could have learned it in five minutes. But this is the way we go. We reject that which is close. So we go to great lengths to tramp halfway across Asia to find the truth, but the truth is in the heart of Man. It’s not geographically located.

We import all sorts of exotic religions or cults or isms, and we do this because it’s easier to take. Every man weans himself and is reluctant to accept any advice at all from his parents. And this was true of Buddha’s son as well, they say. I wasn’t there, but history says his son rejected him. So people go looking in strange places.

Regardless, a certain demand at times creeps up. People get hungry in larger numbers and there’s a certain demand for information on Zen, and we get an influx of books and authorities. But examine these. Examine the ones that have a transmission, or a history of transmission.

No importance on words or letters. This means that somewhere along the line, someone got tired of dogma. Way back there, there was wisdom. There have always been religions and there have always been people who were mystified by mummery and gimmicks and miracles – and they result in dogma.

Zen generally uses a single word, a koan, which basically means Why? You can say it in English just the same – why? – to almost everything you have as a conviction.

You don’t have to go into a complex philosophy in which you get proud of your ability to be dexterous in that philosophy. You just stop and think that perhaps the whole system of thinking we indulge in may be erroneous.

I was talking here a few months back and made the remark that people were always waiting for God, who is so kind that he will not mistreat them. And of course the reason he’s a kind God is that we created him. They don’t realize that. I’m not saying that God is created by man, I’m saying that the concept, the projection, the image, is created by man.

What guarantee should we have that a God – which we first of all create in our own image and likeness, quite the opposite of the way Genesis reads, having our faults and weaknesses, such as love – may not like us the way we like shrimp. We may be digestible.

Regardless, he’s kind because we want him to be kind, kinder than we are even. Consequently he wouldn’t put us in Hell. Therefore we’ve got to placate, say prayers, build churches, find clever little sayings that will tickle his ear so he will say, “That creature really loves me.”

The impossibility of the whole thing is, how can you love something you can’t see? But yet we build entire religions around this concept of loving and fearing, in this masochistic approach to that which Is. How can we love and fear that which we can’t escape? The time is come and if that’s the way the thing is rigged, relax and do what you please, because this fellow is running the show in that case.

And yet we think out of two billion people and many billions of animals that each one is under the direct and compassionate eye of a personal being that will take care of us, provided we say the right prayers or shout the right name or chant the right mantra. And to back this up we build a literal Tower of Babel of argument or scripture.

And we reject it. The majority of the younger generation of this country today have rejected the idea of believing things that are just printed in books and not substantiated. They have grown weary of it. But again what do they do? They adopt mysterious sutras and they cling to mantras. When I see no more value in chanting ang or bang or whatever it is that they give you for sixty or a hundred dollars than I see in chanting Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

But yet it sounds so much more melodious to chant ang. Because this is mystifying, and with this mystification comes a magic. All of heaven must be magical. It must be a wonderful place. It couldn’t possibly be zero. And this is the way we approach this, with the refusal to accept all possibilities, that the true state of man may well be zero.

We’ve got to take that into account if we’re scientists. And I believe we should try to be as scientific as possible, or at least get it down to common sense. That we possibly have no existence outside of our cellular activity. And if we begin from that point, there’s a chance we might discover that we are more.

Whereas if we begin by quotations from someone several thousand years ago, or Huang Po even, and then run the risk of the people who translated it and reprinted it hundreds of times since injecting their own belief into it – for political purposes or for money gain or advantage – then we stand the chance of spending our lifetime fiddling with what I call fundamentalism.

Fundamentalism doesn’t mean Biblical fundamentalism alone, it means the sutras as well. And that’s the reason for the second point in Zen: No importance on words or letters.

Now this is paradoxical because I also wrote a book and I am talking now. But I am saying nothing. I hope you understand that. No matter what I say, there’s nothing tangible you can take home with you. The book is designed to stir thinking, not to give you formulas for baking cakes or eternal plum puddings you can carry with you for the next two hundred years. It’s designed strictly to say, “Hey, look at these things a little more closely.”

There comes a time in any spiritual search when we realize this, if we live long enough. We see people arguing two sides of a fundamentalistic argument or dogma, and we get into impossible books on theology.

I studied to be a priest when I was young and I waited for years to get my hands on a translation of the Summa Theologica, which was St Thomas Aquinas’ book that proved the existence of God. I was in a six year course – I finished three of them – and I never saw even the Latin version. I kept waiting and waiting, hoping to get hold of this, because I sure wanted proof of the existence of God. And they kept saying, “Wait, you’re not smart enough yet.”

In the old days the clergy kept it in Latin because, well, it was like the set of tinted glasses that came with the deck of cards. You had to see this dogma through the right kind of theology or it meant nothing to you. So you had to develop this set of glasses. That was the argument: You’re not smart enough, you’re not intuitive enough, or you don’t have the grace, the discernment.

I finally located a priest who had it, years later, a copy in English. I’ll never forget his reaction. He was in a town not far from where I live by the name of Follansby. It happened that my aunt was the housekeeper there and she told me about the book. So I went up. His name was Riley and he was drunk. And he looked like he had been drunk for quite a while, intermittently; his face was very florid. I told him of my pious intentions, that I had come all that way to find a bona fide copy of the Summa Theologica. He said, “Ok, if you must have it.” He wanted to talk for a while but I was interested in getting it and getting out.

He didn’t give it to me until I was ready to leave. He handed it to me as I went out the door. We were walking down this hallway and he said, “This is the book that contains all of the wisdom of the Catholic Church [makes a loud coughing sound]…” And I whirled around to see whether he was coughing or laughing. I felt sure he was trying to convey a message to me.

I wanted to be really sure. But because of the fact he was employed, he couldn’t go too much contrary to the policy of the company. He might have lost out, I presume, and he was in too deep to leave.

I took it home and I found out that this was just a play on words. The basic essence of the Summa Theologica was that the universe was in motion and anything that moves must have a mover. They threw in a little word there that was very astute, and that is “ergo.” And ergo means nothing: There is no therefore. It sounds like building blocks in philosophy, but just because one thing means something, that doesn’t mean a third thing means anything. Nevertheless, it sounds nice to put it that way. And “therefore,” whatever moves this universe would be God.

I knew before I had gone in there, that very possibly the universe wasn’t moving. Consequently, if the entire existence of God depends on the motion of the universe, there may not be a God as we conceive a Chief Engineer, turning wheels, turning planets, and running the machinery.

So this is fundamentalism, the attempt to prove things with words.

Now where does this take us? Well, I’ll go on into the next thing: Looking directly into the soul of Man. This is direct-mind apprehension.

In other words, we have two methods of learning, in my estimation, and if you know a third one, that’s alright, why not three? But of the two I’m acquainted with, the first is the logical or reasonable method of observation of things. For example, if you frighten a horse he may kick you. Or if you tease a dog it may bite you. Or if you run out of gas your car may stall. This is science. This is prediction. That sooner or later if you keep on teasing horses, one of them might bite you or kick you. This is looking at everything objectively, as an object.

The second is what I call direct knowledge. Not based on say, statistical studies. There was a study on deaths in the German cavalry, where they found an exact percentage of deaths from being kicked by horses in proportion to the number of cavalry men they had. Which meant nothing. They just took the total number of deaths and divided them over a given period of time and it came out pretty evenly, that people were consistently getting killed.

But there’s another way of looking at it, and that is looking into the horse’s head. In other words, if you want to know why horses kick men, it may not be because of statistics. It may be other factors: Something the horse doesn’t like about the man, some astrological configuration the horse was born under that didn’t coincide with the astrological configuration of the man? Lord knows what these things are. But regardless, when you look into the horse you will know the horse. And when you look into the man, you’ll know the man. And this is the basis of what I consider true psychology, which we’re overlooking today incidentally, the direct looking into the soul of people.

You start off with yourself. And of course, in the process of studying yourself you look at other people, because other people are mirrors. That’s the reason for groups. One of the advantages of having a group of people is not that you can all sit in zazen together facing the wall, rotting collectively. The purpose of it is to confront and remind each other when you’re getting out of tune. It’s like the slave that rides on Caesar’s chariot. When they’re calling out to deify him, the slave shouts in his ear above the din, “Remember, Caesar, thou art human.” And this is the function of people in the group. If a guy’s head gets fat you let the air out of him a little bit, gently, so he can somehow, someday find out who he is before his head explodes.

And this is what I call Direct-Mind. You employ direct-mind techniques to find yourself and to find out what your neighbor is. Now this might sound mysterious, it may sound impossible. But if you practice it, you’ll find it isn’t impossible.

The last thing is of course: Looking into the mind of man, the nature of man, and finding the Buddha-nature. This means turning over every rock, and amounts basically to auto-psychology. It means studying yourself. And you study yourself best, again, with other people.

Now you can take those four statements and pick up your various books on Zen, and see how many of them coincide with this. Even movements that have existed for hundreds of years, that place more emphasis upon dogma, or words and letters, or formulas, than they do upon a very simple thing, of looking inside yourself.

Of course you can say that’s meditation. Sure, that can all be done in meditation – if your meditation consists of deliberate introspection according to a methodical process, or according to a waking process. Rather than going to sleep and imagining you’re peaceful.

I think one of the detriments to our so-called spiritual systems prevalent today is a desire to find peace. This is a utility. And if you’re honest with yourself, you have to differentiate between searching and utilitarian applications of systems.

Tonight when I came in I heard somebody saying, “What does it do for you?” In other words, “Can you eat it? Do you get more mileage to the gallon? Does it help your business? Are you more popular with the women?”

This is subverting something which has a maximum value to a utilitarian viewpoint. “Does it bring you peace?” None of the important systems are supposed to bring you peace. Now I do say, if you need peace and a system offers it, if you’re too turbulent and can’t use that turbulence to find yourself, then by all means go and get that system. Turbulence helps, incidentally. When people are peaceful they do very little. But sometimes a healing process is necessary if they have indulged in too much turbulence.

We find this also in spiritual steps, where you go through a certain period of time – St. John of the Cross called it the Dark Night of the Soul – and following this is a realization. And when this realization occurs there’s a flat period in which the person doesn’t move spiritually, they just rest. They went through hell and they have to rest, not only the body but also what I call the neural energy pattern. This is true about people whose lives have given them trauma. They may need that rest. I’m not the one to say who needs it and who doesn’t.

But I do say that all forward motion is aided or comes about by virtue of trauma. There is no greasy road by which you can slide into it, by virtue of knowing a few magic words or getting zapped by the right fellow.

The only thing you can get from somebody else is a push when you’re on the teeter. This is the main help you can get. If they know you’re on a teeter and they can push you into something, then that helps. But if someone were able to create the whole picture for you, then you wouldn’t be doing anything. Consequently, you wouldn’t be anything, because people are basically what they do.

After you’re into this awhile you realize, and maybe some of you already have, that man’s knowledge doesn’t do him any good. You cannot learn about the Truth. You have to become the Truth. You cannot learn about God. You have to become God. Now, that sounds like a big step. And you can’t set out to do that, because that’s a postulation. So we get into these paradoxes.

How do people arrive at it then? We arrive at it by avoiding that which is manifestly ridiculous and approaching that which is less ridiculous. Keeping up in this manner to a point where we reach and exhaust and move away from all that is erroneous, and nothing remains but the Truth.

There is no possible way to philosophically analyze the Truth and then start in that direction. This is exactly what happens in all the religions. People postulate a theology or a belief and then imagine ways to get there.

First of all, the objective is false because it is created. Secondly, the ways and means are false because if the people had gotten there, they wouldn’t have created the false objective for somebody else. So they create erroneous means. Or they sell some system that’s supposed to do wonders for you.

Now we get to psychology. In this process we are studying ourself. We’re not using a textbook but we’re watching ourself, and we even watch ourself watching ourself. There are different layers of awareness. Consequently, if you ever do discover yourself you have become an astute psychologist. And you’ll not have a degree, because the people who have gotten the degrees in psychology have belabored themselves and have been forced into believing certain tenants that were unproven.

Show me a psychologist who can define sanity, or insanity. Yet that’s his specialty. Show me a psychologist who can define thought. Sure, he can say it’s synaptic, he can say it’s chemical or located somewhere in the DNA molecule. But we have feather-mechanics, feather-merchants, who are funded to placate people and keep them in the machinery, paying taxes. And whatever is necessary to keep you working and keep you going, this is psychology.

The yardstick of psychology today is based upon that which the most people do. And most people are basically ignorant. You hear the name Pyramid Zen Society, but we don’t make pyramids. This name came along before the craze for pyramids came into the country. And the reason for it was to keep pointing out that all human effort is pyramidal in form, whether it’s financial or economic, mechanical, mental or spiritual.

You have a broad base of incapability for the few at the peak who are capable. You have many people who go through grade school and never become PhDs. And it ascends in a pyramidal form. You have many people in poverty for the few people who have wealth or power. It doesn’t mater whether you’re in a communist country or a free enterprise country. There is always going to be a peak and there’s always going to be a base of robots or slaves supplying the peak of the pyramid.

The same thing applies to spiritual effort. Everyone doesn’t necessarily have the answer just because democracy says so. A lot of people say, “Well, I don’t worry too much about the future because I’m going where everybody else goes.” Beyond a doubt, if somebody else is good enough to bury him, he’ll go there.

There is a difference in people. There’s a manifest difference. We accept it on the intellectual level, we accept the fact that some people have the ability to work a slide rule and others can only drive nails. But some of the people who can drive nails have a skill perhaps far beyond someone else. I had a brother and all he could do was drive truck. He couldn’t drive a nail. He’d drill holes and put in bolts because he knew he’d never get the nail in there.

So there are people who have certain capabilities and others who don’t. And I don’t know why these differences exist. Maybe it’s through effort, maybe it’s through hunger. Because I think the majority of people who have a basic intelligence can accomplish almost anything they wish. But it boils down to, possibly, that they lack the necessary hunger.

Why are some people hungry? I think that those who have the greatest spiritual potential are possibly the ones who were the biggest hogs. And I’m speaking of myself. When I was young I didn’t want a mediocre life. I wanted the best. If there was something to learn I wanted to know it. If this was the final knowledge then it should bring with it final power. This was a mistake I made in my early twenties. I thought that whoever knew the secrets of the universe would also have the greatest power of anyone on earth.

Now this isn’t true, because it’s like being able to make shadows on the wall. You may be a magician and be able to create shadows with the light behind the fingers. This is basically what most of our magic is, illusion within illusion. But when the traffic cop comes down to arrest you he arrests you. There’s no magic that saves you. No matter what type of sage you are, when the time comes for the hatchet to fall it falls. There’s no power connected with the simple knowledge that things are not what they seem – this is basically what the knowledge amounts to in relation to utilitarian power.

So it wasn’t too many years into this that I discovered that knowledge was tangential and the old symbol of the serpent with the tail in the mouth was very true. It meant you were chasing your own tail when you went after wisdom.

Somewhere there had to be a direct-mind method, a method of going to this directly. Not by arguing, not by adding up kabalistic symbols or astrological symbols, or trying to interpret indefinitely certain

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configurations or sciences, or even magical words whispered into your ear by some guru. This didn’t mean a thing if you weren’t able to go to it directly.

Little by little it dawned on me that man doesn’t learn. And then I happened to remember things I had read in the Bible. Christ didn’t say, “I have the truth,” he said, “I am the truth.” He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

Before that it had meant nothing. The biggest part of the Bible to me was just an echo of parental suppression. I had been beat over the head with the Bible and I had heard so much of the Bible it was commonplace. And incidentally this can happen in any family or in any group. We always reject information from people close to us.

Getting back to thought, analysis of thought, and the ability to have direct-mind understanding: If we are able to do this, for instance when someone offends us, then there is no reaction. When a man comes before a jury, if there were a direct-mind understanding of that fellow there would be no mystery about what he did.

Incidentally, Gary Gilmore is supposed to have said, “Did you ever stop to think those fellows had a karmic debt?” He killed two men and he said, “I had no reason for killing them. The time had come for them to die or they wouldn’t have died.” They were dead, their time had come, that’s all. He looked at it that dispassionately.

All of us have to die. And in order to die we may have to be run over with a Mack truck or we may have to be shot. Which would you rather have? Would you like to die of cancer or be run over by a Mack truck or killed by some nut? Maybe you want to go quickly. Well, some nut may do it for you.

It’s the idea of us trying to interpret what’s good and what isn’t good. Meaning, what is a goodie, not what’s propitious for mental evolvement or spiritual evolvement. Very possibly the person who dies of cancer, although he would much rather get shot, has time to think, and through that thinking evolves out of his previous ignorance. And possibly the person who gets shot may not have been able to do anything in his lifetime, and that’s the least painful or the quickest way to go.

Regardless, we are able to have a new view of our fellowman. Once you look into the person’s head, completely, there is nothing evil. There is absolutely nothing evil, and I don’t care if that guy has just shot ten people.

I know people get shocked when they hear this. I had a fellow one time, an attorney, stand up in my place – he got real indignant and waved his fist at me. I said that having children was just as evil as killing people. Because what is the basis of murder? It’s doing something you don’t understand. What is the basis of having children? Deliberately doing something you don’t understand.

So who are we to say what is right or what is wrong? Of course, we like to play God. We like to say we know what God wants. God doesn’t want people killing each other. Well, why does he let them go up in smoke 80,000 at a time? And not too much is said about that, but if somebody steps out of the bushes and blows their head off, well, we’ve got to stop that.

What I’m getting at is that we cannot interpret. Once we know the inside of that man’s head, and once he knows the inside of our head – I don’t think he’ll shoot, but we can’t depend on that either. We can’t predict what’s supposed to happen.

A lot of people come to me and think I know the answers to every little detail in life. They’ll ask me what they should do, and invariably I tell them I don’t know. Because every case is different. It’s not planned by me, there are lessons to be learned that I know nothing about. And if I stick my foot in there and say don’t do this, then later on I may get the feeling the person may have learned something if I had let them alone, to go through a little suffering, or a little pleasure even that would have brought them suffering later. So you keep out of it as much as possible.

But I feel that every human being is beautiful regardless of his age or his external appearance. If he looks like a mad dog, he’s beautiful. But that’s only after you get behind this external belief, which I call the belief in ugliness. We have a strong belief in ugliness because we’re relative creatures and we persist in this relative appraisal of all things. Where there is beauty there must be ugliness. That means you’ve got to be ugly so I can be beautiful.

We have to have something to compare with. Somebody has to be poor so I can be rich. These are definitions; these are the requirements of the dictionary. Black has to exist in order for there to be white. And we can’t conceive of a person just being. Being what he is.

A lot of this may pass when people collectively are able to see into each other a little better, and of course I don’t have any hopes that society will as a whole, because I don’t think they’re supposed to. The actors on the stage are supposed to play the parts and some must play a villain. But once you know this is really a beautiful person with a false face on, it doesn’t matter too much anymore.

I want to get back into this thing of psychology. Basically, if in Zen they had written psychology books and defined thought, and defined sanity and this sort of thing, you would have had a lot of words and letters. And then you would have people struggling perhaps to find their sanity according to technical means or according to books.

I believe that when you have a direct-mind comprehension of things you actually know what thought is and you know what the mind is. And you understand the statement that the mind must be killed. I don’t know how many of you have read this in Zen literature.

It comes as a shock at first. We’re willing to accept the fact that our body isn’t real, and by saying it’s not real I mean it’s not permanent. It will be here today as a certain thing and tomorrow it may be something else. You may be skinny today, fat tomorrow and dead the next day. You change. Your personality changes, your thinking changes, and your body changes. But basically, this whole human structure in view of its permanence must have a permanent awareness – some permanent part, let’s put it that way.

We keep digging as we go behind the phony self and we realize that there’s another self.

Now I’m going to give you an example so you can apply it. I don’t know how many of you have read Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. Gurdjieff used to speak of the many I’s that comprise the individual. I don’t like to go into too much diversification but this is an indication of something you can apply to yourself.

For instance, we are ruled by certain impulses, certain departments of ourself. One of them is sex; this is the most outstanding influences on our life-pattern. Another one is our stomach. Sometimes it may be our head or our imagination. A lot of people may wish to spend their time with calculus, or with dreams, art or music, creation of certain things. This is a head trip.

The artist has a noble purpose. He’s not trying to impress his sex upon society but he would like to put these dreams on paper. And the result is, in this impractical sort of dreaming he gets hungry. And something says to him, “Hey, you’re going to starve to death if you don’t eat, or sell some of that junk, or go out and get a job on the side.”

So what is it that says this to him? This is part of him. I’m talking about voices; you actually have a voice talking inside you, an argument going on, two sides of a question. This happens with everything that you do. The voice that says do it and the voice that says don’t. Whether you’re buying stock on the stock market, or buying a car, or picking a wife or a husband, many voices say don’t do it. Or try ten others.

The same way with sex; sex is a very pleasant pastime but after awhile it too can interfere with your employment. You can find yourself with plenty of sex and no food, and no dreams. And maybe there are other little games you’re playing like booze or dope.

But we find that there is somebody behind this. There’s a voice behind there all the time that says, “Don’t do it. Stop. Give one of us other voices a chance.” This is what I call the Umpire, the first anterior [superior] self that we recognize.

A lot of guys say, “I am what you see, I’m a body.” And a “body” means you’re a mouth at one end and a sex organ at the other, and one of them was made to feed the other. As long as you can keep that in a happy balance, we talk about social compatibility.

But somewhere along the line one of them gets out of order. And this is when we recognize that there’s an anterior voice; some people call it a conscience, I call it the Umpire. It’s just a simple matter of the organism saying, “Hey, if this finger pulls too many stunts it’s liable to kill the body and then there won’t be any sex pleasure. There won’t be any chance to dream if the stomach goes too hungry. Or if you take too much dope, you won’t have any experiences at all, except maybe some misery before you cash in.” So we discover the Umpire.

But then after awhile we find that the Umpire is only the collective voices’ umpire. That it’s still based on vanity, it’s still based on pleasure, it’s still based on the body. It’s a body-voice. In my estimation this is as far as Gurdjieff goes in this business with the I’s. We can fast occasionally and become more healthy, we can use all these voices if we can control them. But who is using them? A collective body-umpire, not an anterior Self.

Again, there must be a self behind this because the self watches it. But the self that rules the various appetites perishes with the body because of the simple fact that there’s no need to have an umpire when the body is dead. So if there is no ego beyond the umpire-ego or the conscience-ego, then there’s no immortality.

Now I’m not saying we have to have one, just so we can be immortal. But I’m saying that after a certain amount of introspection you realize that there is something behind that. And it’s basically awareness. Until we’re able to define it better, it’s just awareness.

It’s only when you pick up on this point of awareness, when you see it and follow it back to its source, that you reach the truth about your nature. It’s what I call going back through the eye of the camera. We are a ray, an extended ray, and this is the only way you can pick it up: to catch it at the point where it hits our consciousness and then follow it back.

In other words, we’re wired in, like a television set: When they pull the plug, the television set goes off and the same with us. The human body is not much better than a television set, accepting pictures and projecting pictures. But it has a divine connection. And when that cord is pulled its animation is gone.

So you go back through the wire. This is the only sensible way to do this. Go back, observe that thing and keep going back. With this exercise continually in front of you, ultimately something happens.

Now, it isn’t very scientific from this point on, because it happens with no prediction. There’s no two plus two equals four. Or so many prayers plus so many mantras plus so much holy water, no. It’s always unpredictable. And the unpredictability of it makes it valid. If it were predictable it would be created by the mind of man .

Consequently, the science that really applies in spiritual matters is just the opposite of the physical sciences. Physical sciences are based on predictability: Hydrogen plus oxygen equals water. You do it a million times and it still makes water. But if you were to predict that a certain set of exercises would produce an enlightened man, then you would be creating an enlightened man, because you’d be applying your mind and imitating symptoms. And never know for sure whether you were really there or just imagined you were there.

But when you get hit in the back of the head with a lightening bolt, you know you didn’t cause the lightening bolt. So whatever realization you have with the lightening bolt, it has more validity, because it is spontaneous and not created by you.

Consequently you have to reach a point when you’re aware of that which is beyond pictures, beyond the physical memory of these visions we have had. And that’s the only way you can possibly live in what I consider Truth. The difference is, of course, with living in a bardo; people can possibly live in a bardo by the continuation of belief.

Q.* Coming back alive?

RR. Either re-experiencing that which happened before or having a variation. Instead of stage number two we’ll get over onto stage number three and try that one, run through that roll of film.

When you have the total realization, there is nothing but Yourself. Now, there may be the ability to visit these stage sets. But to live in That, and to know there is nothing but yourself… “There are no mountains, there are no valleys.” That’s what they say in the Zen writings.

That before a person experiences, the mountains are mountains and the valleys are valleys. And during the experience there are no mountains. The mountains are not mountains and the valleys are not valleys. Once you come back, then again mountains are mountains and valleys are valleys. But you’ll know in the final analysis, that when you shut your eyes to this drama that you’re watching on a screen, there will be no mountains and there will be no valleys. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be shut off, or that you’ll be over in another room, no, no. They don’t exist.

Q.* Are you saying you can be conscious of this before you die, or only after?

RR. I say it can be experienced before you die. Otherwise there’s no use in talking about it.

Q. Your conclusion was that the mountains are mountains and the valleys are valleys?

RR. No, no. The conclusion is the middle one, that there are no mountains and there are no valleys. But you have to live in the belief that food will keep you alive, or you’ll die. That’s the same as saying the mountains are once more mountains. Food is once more food and your bloodstream is once more your bloodstream.

Q.* Are you implying that you have to travel back through the cord before the plug is pulled?

RR. Yes, if you want to talk about it. After they fill you full of cotton you can’t say much.

Q.* What are your feelings about reincarnation, in relation to the broad base of the pyramid?

RR. Well, did you ever stop to think that if there is no space and there is no time, when would you reincarnate? If the final dimension is space-time, when would you reincarnate?

Q.* In talking about it in terms of spirit, some sort of energy after death, disregarding time in terms of genes, genetics, are you disregarding science at all? Isn’t Zen in itself a sort of science or technology?

RR. Well, it is a science. It’s very methodical and it’s predictable in the result, in that it does something to your head. But the result after it does something to your head is not scientific. It’s not something you can put into a test tube and say, “Here’s what we found.”

I always say, to put it briefly, that we fatten up the head before we chop it off. We fatten up the head with our wisdom. In other words, the mind is useless in that it is continually confusing us, leading us down rosy little paths, in order to keep us… You promise the cow another bucket of bran to keep it milking. This is a symbiotic existence.

Q.* How does Zen differ from Taoism?

RR. I don’t know anything about Taoism. All I can say is that Zen is a direct questioning, the things I told you. I got the impression, and it’s just an impression, that Taoism is a sort of conglomerate: Christianity, Buddhism and a few other ideas.

Q. I would always feel in some respects estranged from any kind of Eastern religion.

RR. Well, I had an experience when I was 30 years of age, and I hadn’t spoken about it until about seven years ago. I tried to speak to people occasionally, there were people who knew of it, but there was no particular interest in it. First of all, it’s very difficult to describe. For instance, you can say the experience means the realization of everything and nothing. Always add “and nothing.” You become. You don’t learn everything. You can say you do, but you also have to say you learn nothing. You learn that everything is nothing.

There was a directive supposedly put out by Buddha, if we can believe the texts. He said the pathway is a threefold technique: First learn to concentrate upon one thing, to focus your attention on one thing. The second step was to learn to concentrate upon everything, which means explore every science and look under every rock for the truth. And the third step, which really brought you there, was to learn to think of nothing.

Now you can’t learn to think of nothing, this has been mistranslated somewhere. You can’t force yourself to think of nothing. But what happens after you know everything, if you continue to pursue the science of everything, you’ll eventually arrive at the awareness of nothingness. You’ll arrive there.

Q. Well what does nothingness imply? What does that mean?

RR. It means everythingness.

Q.* Huh? Alright. What does “everything and nothing” mean?

RR. Well, that means It. See, you can’t describe. When you’re trying to describe something that isn’t something, when you’re trying to describe that which Is.

Q. You were saying that we always have a visualization. I think of everything and nothing a lot, but I don’t think of the words, so what am I thinking?

RR. Well, you’re not thinking, possibly. Now there’s a difference between reaching a point where you don’t think by virtue of say, fatigue or drugs, and the exhaustion or the killing of the mind after an extensive build up. A dead man thinks of nothing. He arrives at that without any effort.

I think it’s important, this is the program, that you don’t just relax. I’ll go back to Alan Watts again. Alan Watts inferred that all you had to do was live. Be here now, do your thing, die. Little by little or all at once, it didn’t matter. Rot. But there’s another way, and that’s to make a dynamic effort. The yogis talk about returning to the Father.

Q. So everything goes black?

RR. No, no. The everything and nothingness is your comprehension. It relates to your previous comprehension of that which you thought was everything and nothing. That’s what I’m trying to get across.

We look out there and we see a cosmos. And the immediate reaction is: “He must be bigger than that.” That is everything to us. But one day that becomes nothing. When you close your eyes, it disappears. If you never open your eyes again, it never exists. And then we say, “Oh, then there’s nothingness.” No, no. When you’re able to see that everything doesn’t exist, the nothingness that results leads you to Everythingness, to Totality.

Incidentally, here’s something you have to remember. I’m not trying to be confusing. I hope you pick this up with your intuition because I don’t pretend to be logical in this step. This didn’t come to me as a result of adding 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 like a computer. No. It came to me with a realization. And then I tried desperately to tell little stories or to use combinations of words, to imply not only what it is but how to get there, how to arrive at it.

Now these are not mine alone. Other people have different languages, like John of the Cross.

Incidentally, Zen to me always remains non-organizational. There are no tags on it. It’s not a religion that people build banners for and go marching off to battle behind, that sort of thing. Consequently I choose that method of talking. But there are enlightened men in every religion. I always like to say this somewhere in my talk.

The most outstanding case of enlightenment I ever met in my life was a man who had once been a drunken aviator. And he was a Christian. He attained it by continuous and relentless mediation upon the Lord’s Prayer. He knew that something was wrong, and in the process, as his egos started to leave him, trauma occurred. Or what we consider trauma, because the egos leave painfully. When your wife throws you out, it’s painful. But that’s one of your egos leaving. So these things happened to him. But still he attained a realization by the intense desire to find his God, or his Essence or whatever it was that was real.

Ramana Maharshi was an outstanding case of enlightenment, whom I imagine never heard of the word Zen; he never mentions it. Yet when you read his account of it, it’s very similar to what I say. His definition is the river flowing into the ocean. That’s easier than saying everythingness and nothingness. When the river flows into the ocean it loses its identity. When the water goes out there, you can no longer say which part of it is the river. When man flows back into God, there’s no way to say that. He’s there.

Q. Why isn’t everything and nothing God then?

RR. Well, everything and nothing is your experience. God is that which is. You can’t define it. God is. We’re using a word that’s not definable and consequently we shouldn’t be using it. We should be talking about that which is. So you immediately put a connotation on it: the God that I believe in. Your God is wrong, my God is right, this sort of thing. So the word immediately becomes loused up.

Q.* You were speaking of the Umpire, and then an awareness behind that. Were you speaking of the Overself?

RR. Well, when you get into the Overself you’re using terminology mostly used by Brunton. Again, this is something I don’t want to have to prove to you. When you pass behind the Umpire you are still in the human mind-dimension. And then you go through experiences where the mind disappears. We talk about killing the mind, and when that occurs you’re still under the domination or protection of the essence you experience. I call it the Manifested Mind. It’s still mind, but it’s manifested mind. You transcend that ultimately and go to the Unmanifested Mind. Now what Brunton is talking about, the Atman and the Brahman, are the two extremes. The Atman is the relative non-existent personality-self. The Brahman is that which is the Atman, all of the Atman.

Q. All of our personalities?

RR. All of humanity. Everything that lives or is, is the Brahman. They describe it as the fingers of God so to speak. Like an octopus pulling in its tentacle. When a person dies you just go back in. This is a good analogy, this is similar to what happens.

Now the Overself, of course, would be symbolic, similar to the cord that goes into the general circuit, the divine circuit. The thing that leads you there is your Overself, seemingly having direction, or the ability to direct itself. But there’s no proof of it.

Everybody that goes through these experiences senses they’re being helped by an intelligence. There are certain groups that call it the HGA, the Holy Guardian Angel, or the Guardian of the Threshold, something of that sort. But there is nothing outside of our Self. Other people say your HGA is your astral body. But there is a protective intelligence, seemingly, that once you appeal to it, seems to steer you, even against your will.

So that when the man loses his wife or his house or his yacht, he reluctantly loses it. He wants to go back and cling to it but he’s guided safely away from it, and then later learns to appreciate the fact that he’s rid of it. I think Brunton is basically talking about Brahman.

Q.* What questions did you ask yourself in order to bring yourself to your own essence?

RR. I demanded definition, that’s all. I didn’t know who I was. And I refused to take action seriously. I couldn’t see taking any life-action until I knew who was acting. This is the basic thing we’re all faced with.

You can facetiously say, “I am here.” After a while you can produce a very clever argument for that. But who is here? What is here? Which one of your voices are you talking about? I don’t say that everybody is supposed to analyze these things. But if you’re one of the people in the area of the pyramid supposed to do some thinking, you’ll not be satisfied.

And this is typical of all the life stories of people who have dug this out, that they were not satisfied. They realized that things were transitory. And they leaped ahead, instead of waiting to be jaded, waiting to be worn out so they no longer enjoyed pleasures that weren’t pleasures.

I was asked a very utilitarian question by a reporter in Pittsburgh not too long ago. She asked, “Did your realization make you happy?” I told her my realization removed me from the need to be happy. Everybody thinks we’ve got to be happy. Why?

Q.* According to Zen, are all thoughts preconceived and just intercepted by us, or are our thoughts conceived in the mind?

RR. It is manifest that this world-picture was projected before we were born, if you believe you were born. That is, if you believe that time exists and sixty years ago you didn’t exist; that there was some time in the past, and in that interval you were born.

These are projections of the mass-mind of mankind, which I call the Manifested Mind. Mary Baker Eddy called it the Universal Mind. This is not the same as Brahman in my estimation. All of this is merely a picture. There’s a prop room somewhere, a projecting room from where this is projected. All this fantastic, detailed drama occurs, projected on what we call the Void. Something is projected upon nothingness, so to speak, and I have no idea why it occurs.

We recognize that these moral concepts, the belief that blue is blue and black is black, are projected upon us before we were born. So in this respect, much of the stuff that we think, is not thought by us. It’s projected on us and it hits our awareness, and we’re aware of it so joyously we think we thought it. Consequently, we in turn then project this on someone else with conviction, and the story goes on, with some variation occasionally.

Now if this is true, and everything is projected and everything is predestined, you’re getting to the point where there’s no sense in seeking for your God or your definition. But the thing is, we never know for sure. We cannot accept predestination because we don’t know for sure. We have to act as though we’re free agents.

It seems significant that people who feel the necessity to act, arrive. People who feel the necessity to fight for a million dollars become millionaires. People who are convinced that they are going to be bums, are bums. So there’s no way for us to really know that the whole picture is cast ahead of time. The dynamic seeker may be just the portrait of a dynamic seeker; that’s the act he’s supposed to play. But individually we can’t take that chance. That can become a tremendous rationalization if we wanted to make it such, and I think a lot of people do.

There’s a tremendous inclination, especially in the younger generation today, to rationalize everything away as being just an experience. “Let’s sit back and watch ourselves suffer and die.” While there may be another way to do it.

Q.* You say that being happy is not important to you. What motivates you? You don’t do anything to be happy or sad?

RR. I’d love to be happy but I realize that happiness doesn’t exist. It would be very difficult for me to get engrossed in something, you know, to talk myself into being hilarious.

Q. There are many that wouldn’t agree, though.

RR. Beyond a doubt. There are more people who don’t agree than those who do. But this isn’t democracy. Today, psychology is run on normality. The definition of sanity is whatever most people are, and when most people become perverts and murderers it will be normal. So we can’t go by that for what’s good for man spiritually.

Q.* Don’t you ever want to have a sense of well being, of accomplishment?

RR. Accomplish what? I don’t know, I can’t say that I do.

Q.* Isn’t every movement a result of a desire?

RR. Yes, most everything. When you drop the desires there’s no point in moving. That’s the reason I think a lot of the yogis even train themselves to breathe. Not knowing why at the time, but somebody tells them to go through these breathing exercises. Because after you go through a death experience it’s very difficult to come back, and even to breathe. It’s tiresome to breathe. But you want to last long enough to say, “Hey, I’ve been over there and back,” so you train yourself to breathe. And if you have to train yourself to breathe, why would you want to go through the agony of trying to train yourself to be happy?

Q.* Do you have any thoughts on hypnotism?

RR. Why yes, what do you want to know?

Q. Anything you have to say about it.

RR. I think hypnotism is a good way of realizing you’re a robot. I used to use these demonstrations to show we weren’t in charge. This is one of the conceits we have, that we’re very much in charge, very important. This is what I got hooked on when I first started into this spiritual path. I decided that I was a very unique creature. I was just a kid, and every kid thinks they’re unique. So I got the idea of learning for the purpose of power.

[end bm version file 2\

File 3

I majored in Chemistry in college, I thought I’d break through with this brain of mine. “My head is better than everybody else’s, so I’m going to produce some sensational chemical analyses of material by breaking down the protoplasm, especially neural protoplasm. I’ll discover what thought is, and publish a paper and then they’ll make me King of Siam or something.” But the more I studied the more I realized that science is tangential, and I got out of it in time before I got snared.

Q.* Do you think the desire was developmental, the feeling you were special?

RR. Sure. As I said, I was part hog. And if I hadn’t been a little bit hoggish I would never have gone after the books and the information. It was a vanity.

Q. Was it something you acquired from the time you were born until the time you were maturing?

RR. A peculiar combination of weird constituent parts.

Q. You don’t apply any kind of mysterious acquisition of reincarnated bodies?

RR. I can’t remember. I’ll be honest with you, I could stand up here and pretend I was Moses or somebody, you wouldn’t know any better, but I can’t remember a blooming thing. I don’t think I just started. The experience doesn’t take you back into a history book necessarily, although it can. The fellow I was telling you about, Paul Wood, was able to observe the history of the world. I saw something similar to this at a glance, but it didn’t come to me as history. He could actually take time out and watch a battle occurring or something of that sort. But he was in the hospital for a week, and he could lay there and do all this.

Q. That wouldn’t be a developmental thing…

RR. What do you mean developmental? Build bigger muscles and bigger muscles?

Q. Something more than just what happens to you as a child, growing up.

RR. Yes, that’s what I say. You go through a period in which you try to become smarter and smarter, and you look under every rock. And you build a more complex and capable mind. And then when the thing occurs, the head is destroyed. I don’t mean you go crazy, but I mean the mind stops. Absolutely stops.

Now, I don’t know whether you can comprehend what I’m talking about. But this may happen to you at intervals. Your head may stop for a minute, and you’ll have a vision.

Q. You quit thinking and…

RR. Well, it just stops, and then all of a sudden something entirely alien will flash in front of you. Maybe a train wreck, or you may hear your brother’s voice. And two hours later a telegram will come and say your brother got killed in a train wreck. But these phenomena, the realizations, seem to occur when the brain stops.

We are tied into a concatenation of beliefs. Whatever you’re thinking about now – say you’re thinking about heaven, or spirits, or planets – this is the result of previous suggestions. So we’re tied into this language business. And even all this stuff we’re talking about now ceases and has no meaning. The desire for spiritual immortality has to be given up, because your logic will tell you you’re not that important.

The Reality of Thought

I have time to read something some of the boys want to get on tape. This is a psychological conception. It may be valid and it may not be. But it may give you something to think about.

Thought cannot be apprehended with the senses. In other words, no one knows what thought is.

Yet, not even the materialistic scientist will deny the existence of thought. And the reason he doesn’t deny it is that all his science is based on it.

It is strange that the materialistic scientist does not investigate the essence of thought. I’m talking about the psychologists of today mostly. They’re tremendously objective. They don’t believe anything they don’t see.

Thoughts are daytime visions. In other words, I don’t believe that people think, as we conceive them to think. We like to think that we think, that this is an attribute. I think that we think we think. [laughter]

Thoughts are daytime visions associated with our momentary actions. When we wish to fasten two pieces of wood together we think of a nail. We do not think of nailing or gluing. We see a picture of two pictures of wood, glued together or nailed together. You can apply this to yourself as we go along.

We do not think of a process, at this point. We may visualize the wood splitting, and next visualize the two pieces neatly glued together. But the pictures visualized show us the need for clamps, and the mind may visualize another picture of pieces of wood nailed together with finishing nails.

Have you ever tried to work on your car by thinking “car repair”? In other words saying, “I’m a thinker, I’ll sit down and think this out.” No, you have to get worried badly enough that you stick your head under the hood and start to ask where does this wire go and what does that part do. And little by little, that worry or pressure will cause you to learn something about your car. Unless you’ve got somebody in the family that does it for you, then all you’ve got to do is worry them.

Or did you find a better and quicker way of working by visualizing the voltage and fluids flowing in the car, or not flowing after certain symptoms? Very much of our learning is visualization. We can think about processes – we can be conscious of processes, systems and categories – and we envision them because we can visualize a list of things or a series of things.

It’s like the idea of sawing a board. We visualize a previous act of sawing a board. Or if we never sawed one, we go through the worry of trying to get the board in the right position, and we may buckle two or three saws before we learn how. But after a while we’ll have a vision of doing it correctly and we’ll do that instinctively.

Now here’s the difference, here’s the catch: Thinking is a process. What we ordinarily do, whether it’s with calculus or driving nails, we are capable of using this process, but thought is a vision. Thought is always a picture. All of the experiences of man are pictures. Now by pictures I mean something you see, or something you hear in conjunction with something you see, or something you smell. But if you get into memories it’s very seldom that you remember a smell. It’s very seldom that you dream of smells – if you’ve ever dreamt of a smell let me know. I think they are very rare.

Even conversation in a dream is rare. Most people who have a dream are aware of communication – direct communication, incidentally. They’re aware that a person said something, but they don’t remember the exact words.

Thinking is a process by which particular projections are received by our awareness. We are aware of them. Our big attribute is awareness, not thinking. We have no control over the thinking. We have no control over our memory either. These projections are three-dimensional and are often audio-visual.

We cannot think about a thought, but we can think about thinking because thinking is a process which can be visualized as a series of pictures of thoughts.

If you think you can think about a thought, try to think about a thought you just had. For instance, for whatever you were now just thinking, ask “What was I thinking?” If you were thinking about a horse, immediately and subliminally there’s a picture of a horse. Or there is the word “horse.” Some vision will appear. Nobody thinks about the essence of a horse. They have to have something to visualize. So you saw the visualization for a second time, that’s all.

Thinking processes in philosophy and psychology are merely the ability to visualize sentences. And outside of the ability to visualize sentences, is awareness. You say, “I think that guy’s crazy.” That’s direct-mind apprehension. And you may not have any sentences in a psychology book to prove it, But in order to prove it, if you want to go into court and take his money off him, you’re going to have to produce something in a book. And you’ve completely forgotten everything in the books so you go back and dig them up. Then you memorize that. You put that visualization in front of you so you can talk about it and use it authoritatively.

We visualize a horse when we think of one, but we also visualize the letters h-o-r-s-e. And I maintain you only visualize the type of horse you have seen, or have seen a picture of. Whenever a man said “horse” you’d never think of a green horse. You’d see a white horse, a brown horse, a black horse, a dapple gray. But all you have to do to see a green horse is to paint one, and after that you’ll be able to visualize a green horse.

One characteristic of thought is that it is remembered. And this is, in my estimation, our complexity of consciousness. Not awareness now, but our complexity of consciousness. We give ourselves an attribute which we call memory. And in reality we have no choice in that. We say we remember, but we don’t remember – it remembers. It remains. People don’t think and people don’t remember.

Perception is the impaction of things upon our senses. And the act of perceiving and impacting on previous memories is what we call thought. A person without previous memory doesn’t think. He has to have two things to compare. You’re aware of something and you’re aware of an association, and then there’s a chance of thought. There’s no chance of thinking unless you have things to compare. But regardless, these are automatic. We have no choice in them, and it’s largely protoplasmic.

We cannot refuse to think and we cannot refuse to remember. The tape recorder can’t refuse to record. This is understandable when you take cases of amnesia. It takes an external accident or force to remove the memory. We can’t say, “I’m going to refuse to think about that.” You may momentarily be able to concentrate very diligently on something else to block it out, but nine chances out of ten it will come back. It will be there, it will be a part of you, and it might cause you more trouble than if you had thought about it.

We have different forms of visions. Everything you experience is a vision and a visualization. For instance, the dream is a sleep-type vision. We can imagine things, and this is a type of vision too. We can create them.

We have five possible categories of visions that we experience. One of them is thought.

The second is sleep-visualizations, or what we call sleep-dreams. And we can’t identify these as being caused by ourselves, although we own them. We say, “I dreamt.” But it’s doubtful whether we deliberately dream.

Dreaming is admittedly not self-caused. It is seemingly projected upon the sleeper, and generally appears to be unreal only after awakening. While you’re dreaming it seems real, and how many times have you said, “Hey, am I asleep or is this real? Maybe I should wake up so I can escape this nightmare.” It’s that real. So the world we live in at that moment is pretty much the same as the world you would live in if you were heavily dosed with LSD or something. You would have no doubt that it is reality while you were in it.

Of course, the reason for bringing this out is to show the unreliability of our discrimination in knowing what our true mind-state is, and what our sanity is.

The third, is vision as an internal revelation or a life-like dream. Apollonius of Tyana was supposedly standing in the street when somebody assassinated the tyrant two or three hundred miles away. And he shouted, “Good. Hit him again.” Later they found out he had described the assassination in detail. Let’s say it was scientifically validated. They found out that what he was talking about was true. Well, this is a vision, and it seems to be very real at the time.

Sometimes you have these revelations in the form of a dream. A lot of dreams are just a hodge-podge of things but some dreams are pre-cognitive. And we find out later that these are previews into something that really happens. This is separate category from the ordinary dream, the hodge-podge dream.

The fourth is the apparition. The apparition is an imposed vision. This is where ghosts are seen, the miracle at Fatima, the invocation of entities that go dancing through the room after you say the right things, and so on.

Now, we accept most of these as visions but we don’t accept thought as vision, right off.

The fifth category is physical illusions, or physical visions. These are things that are almost tangible, and yet they don’t exist, or it’s possible they don’t exist as we would think they exist. One of them is the hologram. The hologram illustrates the capacity to see an illusion and not know it’s an illusion. It looks very real, it’s very magical.

I was down in Washington DC not too long ago and they had a head that talked. The head was projected and tied in with precision and it was very real. You could have almost said it was a human standing there talking. But it was an illusion. The Indian rope trick is another one, where people who had been convinced they saw a kid climbing a rope, photographed it and found out the rope was never off the ground. These are things that we believe, more or less the same as we believe our thoughts.

The realization that these things are all visions throws in jeopardy our concept of that which is real. We have nothing to depend on except our physical senses. If a mirage can be treated as reality, if an apparition can appear and talk to us and we find out later that it wasn’t real or it wasn’t flesh and blood – this gives us another mystery and another question about what is really wrong with our heads, or what we can do with our heads in the line of looking for truth and looking for sanity.

The idea is that we want to be totally sane. When you know exactly who you are, you will be totally sane. And these things depend not upon the proper examination of treatises on psychology, but on an introspection into the human being.

I’m going to give you an example how we drift: Our thinking is basically a gregarious pattern, an accepted social agreement. Over a period of time we are led to believe, for instance, that certain things are morally right or wrong. And people will contort themselves all out of shape over these. Yet fifty or a hundred years later the thing that was wrong is now acceptable. Which means that the people who wasted their lives and their children’s lives conforming to some foolish moral or social pattern, could have saved their children that bother and possibly found some freedom for them.

Now humanity never completely wises up, this is the amazing thing. If they did – if it were a progressive thing where people got wise to the illusions and the errors – then ultimately we would become free, as a group of people.

To give an example, the present wave of mental revolution that has occurred was the result of too much importance on words and letters. Too much leaning on tradition and too much hypocrisy. “This is a moral guidepost and you have to live this way in order to achieve anything in life.” So a certain bit of information goes out, a certain trend develops, and millions of people reject the entire moral pattern of a previous generation. They say, “These people are crazy.” That there’s nothing wrong with certain sex habits, or there’s nothing wrong with violence, or there’s nothing wrong with any of the things, as we had previously thought or were indoctrinated to believe.

The result is of course that they go too far. They recognize the hypocrisy in a previous generation but they don’t recognize intuitively what is better. They don’t know where to stop. Consequently, they go into a period, a program of destruction, self-destruction and self-waste, to a point where it’s like the pack descends on them. And they render themselves helpless.

Then a backlash occurs and we breed another period of intense morality, intense masochism and sadism. That is, punishing people and glorying in the fact we’re able to punish people once more and straighten them up according to our hypocritical or dogmatic convictions. So humanity doesn’t progress. There’s none of this left over.

I’m thinking of a case in the Bible where some fanatic, I forget his name, had his kid on the alter and was going to put a knife to him because the voices said kill him. Well, I know of a fellow in Steubenville who actually did it – with an ax. He claimed God told him to kill off the kids so he chopped them up.

We look upon that and try to excuse it and say, “Well no, God didn’t mean exactly for that guy to kill his child.” The extreme codes for instance in the Talmud: “We must take that with a grain of salt. He doesn’t really mean for you to execute your daughter by thrusting a fiery stick in her mouth.” I remember one of them, they were to choke the daughter, the child that blasphemed against the parent, to choke her until she opened her mouth, and then you shoved this fiery stick in. This was justice.

We look upon that as being rather primitive, or else unnecessarily explained in a detail that wasn’t appropriate. But even today, not too long ago, one of the rulers of Arabia, because of the addiction to his religion, actually executed his own son. This boy shot an uncle, who was the king or Arabia or Iran or one of those places, and the Mohammedan code called for execution and they killed him, that’s all.

So we are still doing the same thing. We’re still addicted. We’re still going back not to a logical way of living or a more sensible understanding of ourselves, but a retreat into superstitious beliefs. And clinging to them as though that’s the only hope we have of peace in society.

And of course, I maintain that peace in society will come about by a greater understanding of the individual essence, and the body-relation to that essence.

So I think I’ve said enough and lead to enough confusion, and I’d like to have you all relax a little and ask some questions if you feel like it. Maybe I’ve missed a point.

Question and answer session

Q.* It seems like we kept going to this place where there were no values, that you can’t really know what something is, and now we’re getting back to values, getting something better…

RR. You mean socially, as a nation, is that what you’re talking about?

Q. I’m talking about earlier in the lecture. You go to the point where there’s no value to anything, you couldn’t really know what something was…

RR. Yes, even psychology, or spiritual guidance. I don’t know exactly what you’re referring to, but this is true. That my whole talk pointed at being derogatory towards values. The more we examine values the less they seem to really exist. And I grant you, the first realization – which may take years for you to transcend or go through – is the realization that things don’t have the values they previously were supposed to have. We projected certain values upon things and people. Some of them were positive values that didn’t exist and some were negative values that didn’t exist. We deified some unnecessarily and we damned some unnecessarily. And the reason is, we can’t help doing this.

We can’t help but go through this, and even while we’re sorting things out we may create more negativity. We may say one thing is foolishness but apply ourselves very diligently to another set of foolishness. And maybe in the very thing we’re talking about, which is Zen. We could get into a foolish system that would not take us anyplace.

There’s a thing behind that, which I didn’t mention. I maintain that one of the first things we have to develop in any spiritual process is intuition, because the logical mind takes us nowhere. You can sit down and pile up statistics or evidence on either side of a philosophical question and be very convincing. And rationalize that to your own satisfaction and live your life accordingly. Only to find out later you had regret.

Q. You have a value that people should find their essence?

RR. Yes.

Q. But you couldn’t judge Gary Gilmore, because you said you couldn’t really know.

RR. I don’t know why he did that. I’m not the engineer behind that particular drama. What’s underneath is good, but for what is visible there’s a tremendous cloud that separates you from knowing what they are.

Q. It seems like you get to the point where no one can control. How can you judge? How can you value?

RR. Well, I grant you, this is one of the early things you learn, that you’re not controlling.

Q. How can you value then?

RR. I don’t put values. I think this is another error. We make a mistake putting values, of good and bad.

Q. You said you had values.

RR. What do you mean?

Q. I asked you if you think we should value finding our essence.

RR. When you talk of values you’re talking about something tangible. I value my work, as trying to encourage people to find their essence. But that doesn’t mean I consider that of value, something of utility that I can take home with me. That doesn’t mean I’m putting out a dogma.

Q.* Is it a question of finding your essence or recognizing your essence?

RR. You can say it either way.

Q. Finding means that you are looking for something. Doesn’t the body just progress toward its essence or higher consciousness?

RR. How can you be sure?

Q. That’s what I’m asking you about.

RR. This was something brought out by Alan Watts. Alan Watts seemed to think you were already there and that all you had to do was to quit looking. I maintain you have to look. Because when you look you become – a seeker. If you just wait for things to happen, then whatever happens to you happens. But you may not know what’s happening.

Q.* Is there some truth though about what Siddhartha says about seeking – that sometimes we seek too hard for things, we overlook things which are there to be seen? You’re talking about wanting, longing to grow, a lust for learning, and that feels right to me. But might that goal-directedness block us from seeing?

RR. Well, I can’t argue that this is the only method. I won’t say that. But I go according to certain things that worked for me. Also I go according to what I call the law of proportional returns. I maintain that there are certain laws of physics that apply to spirituality. And one is, that if you throw enough mud at the ceiling some of it will stick. And if you don’t bother to throw any mud you won’t have anything on the ceiling.

Results are directly proportional to energy applied. If you’re only going to work with half your effort, if you’re going to be half-hearted, you’re only going to get half-hearted results. You may wind up with half-hearted rationalizations.

Whereas if you make a total commitment and a total determination, say to become a millionaire, chances are you’ll become a millionaire, given average intelligence. And I apply the same thing to spiritual work. It’s just as sensible to me.

Read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. In the middle of the book there’s a little note that gives you this formula. The same thing applies to spiritual work or philosophic work. It‘s total application, using all the resources of your mind and your body. And you’ll grow rich. And of course you’ll live to regret it because eventually you’ll have more than you can carry.

I believe this is an element that is necessary. We have a fellow who has a truck and he seems to think he doesn’t have to work on his truck, that all he has to have is faith. I told him the tire was going to blow out and it blew out. And he said, “See, you’re killing my faith.”

I found that so many people who just had faith – died screaming. They just thought, “Oh, any day now the bugles will blow and I’ll be carried over into bugle-land.” But when the realization came that they had played away their time without really examining, without really fighting – then of course maybe that screaming did the necessary thing to pop them through. I don’t know. But if it did they had an easy trip. The other part of their life was rather easy. They got all the confrontation at the end.

I believe that results are proportional to energy applied and if you seek you shall find. But you will not find unless you seek. You have to seek in order to have your present concepts destroyed. As of now we believe. All of us believe that what we see is, and that what most people admit or believe in is. And you find all sorts of variations of a soporific thing in order to get along. So the bodies can get along, the maggots will not conflict too much with the other maggots.

Q.* What is the method? It sounds like something really heavy, like Primal Therapy. You start screaming and all that…?

RR. No, no. Well, maybe some of them scream, but what you do is fill a tub full of water and scream into the tub so as not to bother the other people. [laughter]

The method is basically just going within. The traumas result. I believe there’s a very simple formula connected with this, that as soon as you pledge yourself, if you pledge yourself…

For instance if you believe in God – and I don’t say don’t believe in God – then verify it. But don’t take it for granted. Pledge yourself. If you pledge yourself to finding God, I believe you’ll find God. But once you make that pledge, something is going to start happening to your life, because you’re going to get harassed and hassled.

Q. I already know that.

RR. But there’s no way to turn back once you make that pledge.

Q. What is the difference between this and going into your dreams and seeing how you’re connected and all that?

RR. Well, I think that’s all part of it. It’s important to examine all forms of these visions to the point where you find that these visions are not you. When you pass on – unless you’re still clinging to some vision of life, carrying one of these visualization patterns over – there are no words. There are no pictures. When you start to come apart and die, actually going through a death experience, you realize your previous concepts of yourself didn’t do anything for you.

Q.* You’re saying this is part of the death experience?

RR. You have to die in order to know what happens to you after death. You have to die.

Incidentally, you hear stories of people having revelations, and I want to distinguish between Cosmic Consciousness – which Ramana Maharshi calls Kevala Samadhi – and Enlightenment, the realization of Everything – which Ramana Maharshi calls Sahaja Samadhi . There’s a difference. One is an experience of beauty, ecstasy, at-oneness with humanity, the other minds of men. But that isn’t the final step. This is an incomplete experience. But when you go to the next step, then all these things are nonexistent. That’s when the river enters the ocean and disappears.

Q.* You talk about getting behind the observer. What frame of reference or technique or psychological attitude do you take in daily life to get behind this observer, and to find all these egos?

RR. Basically you just observe. I have a little paper, called Meditation, and it describes a method I advise people to use in order to bring you to this point. You have to watch your actions that have cooled down, so to speak. You have to observe the past, in other words, to be aware of your errors, and your unawareness of your ego.

I mentioned a little while ago about things you did when you were five years of age. Most of you are somewhere between twenty and thirty. You can look back on something you did when you were five or ten and you can realize error, you can realize ego, mistakes. But if I told you that what you did yesterday was rooted in ego you’d say, “Oh no, I did that very deliberately, very scientifically. Don’t tell me. I know what I’m doing.” But ten years from now you can look back. Consequently you have to go back and pick up a certain pattern of thinking and gradually bring it up to the present time.

This is what I call the examination of cold traumas. Where you begin to realize how you kid yourself. Then you can bring that up to the present time, and the result is you can see where you’re kidding yourself now. But you can’t start with the present time. It’s very rarely that you can see your egos now. You have to see them as a child or as something maybe five or ten years ago.

HKd . Excuse me, I just came in, so I haven’t really heard very much of this, but you were saying that it brings you to where you can understand in your past how your ego was …

RR. What do you have in the bag there, your wife? It’s moving. [laughter]

HKd. No, another living entity. If you’re trying to find out what your error has been in the past, why are you trying to find it out? What is your goal?

RR. To find out - yourself.

HKd. To find yourself?

RR. Sure.

HKd. Yourself being what?

RR. Oh, that’s what we were talking about all night. You would have had to have been here. There are two selves. There’s a capital-s Self and a small-s self. One is the equivalent of the Brahman and the other is the equivalent of the Atman. You have to start with your small-s self. You have to start with that which is evident. There’s no sense in trying to start with the part of you which may be the final or absolute Self. You can only start with what is evident.

HKd. How do you elevate yourself to Self-realization?

RR. I don’t talk about elevation. I talk about retreating from ignorance.

HKd. And automatically you’re Self-realized when you’re out of ignorance?

RR. Yes. The more you know about yourself the less ignorant you’ll be. What is it you have there?

HKd. I don’t want to get thrown out of here – it’s a little dog. He won’t hurt anything.

RR. I thought you had an incubus or succubus you were going to turn loose on us. [laughter]

HKd. You can go on, I was just …

RR. That’s alright. [laughs] But you’re going to make me do my whole talk all over again and explain everything from the beginning.

Q.* You said if someone really obtained the truth they wouldn’t be selling it, or telling it?

RR. You can’t tell it. This is the thing. You can’t tell what the truth is. My main idea is to say enough to cause someone to be curious, or to tap their intuition enough to say, “Hey, maybe there is Balm in Gilead, maybe it is worthwhile.” But it’s very difficult to describe.

I think the average person uses a rationalization that’s very easy to use, that this thing is so remote – when you read the literature or hear the talking on it – the odds are so great that there’s no sense in trying. It’s just one in a million. Even Bucke says only one in a million actually attain it.

HKd. One in a million attain what? I’m sorry, you probably said that, but…

RR. A knowledge of themselves. Realization. Total realization. Absolute realization.

HKd. Oneself as being Spirit but not the body? Part and parcel of the Supreme Spirit?

RR. See you’re using words that… I don’t know what you mean.

HKd. You said two spirits… Isn’t there the Supreme Spirit and the jiva spirit which has emanated as part and parcel – and ignorance is forgetfulness of this? And knowledge will reestablish the truth that we are all part and parcel of the Supreme Creator?

RR. You’re using words that I don’t lay out for people to accept. Manifestly you know something, or you wouldn’t be using those words. You know what a Supreme Creator is, or Supreme Spirit. I don’t define a spirit. That’s the reason I use words like Self. I think you get into trouble when you start using words like Spirit or Creator, unless you’re going to define them.

HKd. If you use Self as a void or something we can’t understand, how will we understand?

RR. I don’t know how you’ll understand.

HKd. But you’re trying to teach us how to understand.

RR. No, no. I’m not trying to teach. I’m a gadfly.

HKd. You’re just trying to make people think?

RR. Right. I think it’s advantageous for people to try to define themselves.

Q.* I perceive that I have an error but I don’t know how to get rid of it. To generalize, when I’m trying to do something I keep feeling chaotic. And I want to get rid of it…

RR. One thing I never do is to give personal advice at a public lecture. Because every human being is different, and every human being’s problems are different, and the manner of solving them are different. So you can’t give universal rules out.

I’ve seen people whose problems disappeared just by facing them. A lot of psychologists will say this, that as soon as you face it half the battle is over. But then I’ve seen people who actually were possessed, and it took a bit of manipulation before they were pried loose. So it’s not right that you give a blanket statement. Although I do say this: I don’t care what position you’re in, or what dissatisfaction you have with yourself, if you make a commitment – not to me, not to any system, but to yourself, to the understanding of yourself – I maintain that things will start to move in that direction.

I think the thing is very simple. All systems of realization are based on this. Not only Zen, but also the Christian principle. No one moves in the Christian realization, or realization through Christian application, unless they commit themselves. They have to commit themselves to a search, or to God, or to whatever is told to them that will help them. This means it’s a matter of setting priorities.

Before you make that commitment you do whatever you feel like doing. You might go out and get drunk one day, you might go to work for three days in a row and do no reading or do no thinking. But once you make a commitment, I maintain that this awakens a force within you that starts to draw you in that direction. It might drag you over some rough situations but you’ll move in that direction. And I think you have to vocalize it. You don’t have to vocalize it to anyone in particular but you have to vocalize to yourself.

In other words, you have to be serious. You can’t say, “Oh well, lets have five cents worth, or five minutes worth. Maybe go down to church on Sunday morning and have a little bit of exhilaration, get a little wave.” I think that’s what a lot of people do here. The questions are designed more or less to get a symptom of what I’m talking about. “Maybe I can take home a little bit of this and visualize it later and bring it back.”

All I’m talking about is a battle, a battle that is necessary for you to find.

Q.* You say it’s a battle, but you were talking about yogis quieting their mind and becoming peaceful – it seems like you would criticize that.

RR. Right.

Q. The way I look at it, this world is an awfully complex place and in order to shut down the business, the politics, all this outside world that’s going on, I think that quieting the mind, as you said, is a really good first step.

RR. Well, I don’t know if you see what I’m getting at. The medieval Christian Church finally wound up as a social function. It wound up as Vaseline for the nobility to use on the poor people. That you can say so many prayers per day and it will make you submissive. Somebody can tell you to be humble and go out and do your day’s work, and God will reward you. And you get generation after generation going out and working twelve hours a day without ever the time to pick up a book, or without time to meditate. They’re too tired to meditate at the end of the day, too tired to look in the library. Perhaps they’re not even allowed to have an education, to be able to read and write.

In my estimation, one of the things that happens as soon as people get to be too peaceful – I read a story one time on the super civilization of the future – some of you have read it. The super society was visualized in a big bubble down under the ocean. Everybody worked like robots but at the end of each day they gave them a weed to smoke, and this weed made them forget there was no hope, that they were locked into this bubble.

In other words, they were locked into the mortgage and the payments on the car and the twenty year sentence because they’d popped some kids. And there was absolutely no hope – just twenty, thirty years of work, work, work and then dropping dead. Or dying slowly and possibly being wheeled into some institution where some expert teaches you how to die. Smoke another one while you’re dying because we need the space. Die quickly and conveniently. There was another story – about them reprocessing the bodies in the Soylent Green. That the whole existence and all your spiritual work is prostituted for the benefit of a lousy vegetative society.

The result is when something like TM comes along it is highly endorsed, even by an insurance company or some outfit that has a thousand salesmen out in the field. These guys either have to do TM or be drunk half the time because there’s no hope. So whatever is necessary, get them quieted down and send them back to work. And this is our modern psychology. It’s not a science of the mind, it’s a science of pacification. Stick a bottle of milk in the kid’s mouth and keep him from crying. Put him back to work. Make him compatible.

Q. But I was speaking of already having a foundation of spiritual-mindedness, doing it from that direction, not just quieting yourself for the heck of it.

RR. Well, I don’t believe in deliberately hunting trauma, don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe in causing trauma. I believe in observing trauma. I believe that all this stuff will happen to you. No man should hunt trauma.

I’ve had people make this mistake in our group. I’d find a guy taking on more loads than he could carry. I said to one fellow, “You’re going to develop an ulcer.” And he said, “Well, I thought you had to apply more tension.” In other words, the further back you pull the bow, the further the arrow would go. He thought all he had to do was put more tension on his computer and the computer would render this decision more quickly. And I said, no, this will be fed to you. Your traumas will be coming fast and furious, you don’t have to add more to it. And I found out while I was talking to him that he already had an ulcer. He had put too much pressure on himself.

Q. Doesn’t that run again into the whole idea of the backwards path, and the conservation of energy, and that results are proportional to energy applied?

RR. Right, right. But everything has a limit. Faith will move a mountain but it will only move if people on both sides of the mountain believe it will move. There are people on the other side who don’t believe it’s going to move over on top of them.

In other words, you have a given amount of energy. Say the human body is operating at ten percent efficiency. We can bring that up say eighty-nine percent more. But if we get beyond that, then we explode the body.

HKd. Isn’t that maybe when you get the death thing?

RR. Sure, that’s a good way to go. [laughter]

HKd. But you said that would happen to you.

RR. No, no. What’s necessary is to die while living. This is the quotation that comes down through the ages. Die while living.

HKd. What does die while living mean? Could you give us a little understanding of how one dies while living?

RR. If I did, I’d be giving you the secret of the whole system and that costs fifty cents. [laughter]

HKd. Isn’t it only the material body that perishes at the time of death?

RR. Are you sure?

HKd. I’m sure.

RR. Oh, well, then you’ve got it made.

HKd. Well is that true or not?

RR. Well if you’re sure, why do you care whether it’s true or not?

HKd. I’m asking your opinion. What do you think?

RR. Well then you’re arguing, because maybe I won’t agree with you. But if you’re sure, then you don’t need my opinion.

HKd. No. But if that’s true…although I’m such a rascal…but if it is true and you’re seeking to teach these people knowledge, then they should understand that?

RR. I’m not teaching knowledge. No, no. You’ve got a misconception there. The whole theme is that knowledge and wisdom are tangential to realization, not aiding realization. We go through something, which I call fattening up the head before you cut the head off. You build up the muscle before you’re destroyed, just like sending soldiers out into battle. You train them well so they get killed. The same thing applies to the human mind. Wisdom doesn’t do you any good in the long run. But we have to go through that. We have nothing else to work with.

HKd. Even knowledge of the Self?

RR. Well, you’re talking about the Self. You said knowledge, you didn’t say knowledge of the Self. See, this is paradoxical and you’ve gotten out of the intuitive. You’ve got to view this stuff intuitively. Knowledge of the Self is not knowledge.

HKd. What is knowledge of the Self?

RR. It doesn’t exist.

HKd. Then how does one learn who he is?

RR. By looking at yourself.

HKd. It becomes an intuitive thing?

RR. Right, right. I’m trying to differentiate between knowledge and direct knowledge, direct awareness, direct understanding. You used the word knowledge, which is the equivalent of wisdom. That includes science and everything else. They’re not effective. They have to be abandoned.

HKd. They have to be abandoned?

RR. Yeah. Somebody sell him my book, will you. That’s going to save us a lot of time. [laughs] You’re going to get the whole philosophy here, huh?

HKd. You get to the point where you abandon knowledge?

RR. You don’t necessarily abandon it but it only takes you so far. The wisest thing to do right now is to get yourself a cookie and a cup of coffee.

Q.* In this search for the awareness of the true meaning of self, might we arrive at a place where we discover that self has no meaning or existence as we know it?

RR. Yes, absolutely. That’s what I’m trying to get across.

Q. We’re nothing. The physical entity, the body form, the mind form…

RR. Right.

HKd. We’re nothing?

RR. Yes.

HKd. [again] We’re nothing?

RR. Both of you. [laughter]

HKd. Well why are we trying to find out nothing?

RR. We just can’t help it. [laughter] Man can’t just sit still. We have to know that we’re nothing.

HKd. We have to know that we’re nothing?

RR. Yep.

HKd. But we’re eternal spiritual living entities.

RR. We are eternal vectors, directed at the discovery of our own ignorance.

HKd. But that means we’re something.

RR. Now you’re getting the point. Something is nothing and nothing is something.

HKd. Is that why you mentioned Brahman a while earlier? We’re all Brahman?

RR. Yes. Very possibly.

HKd …we’re the Effulgent Light?

RR. No, no, we’re not effulgent light. I don’t know anything about effulgent light.

HKd. What is Brahman?

RR. I don’t know.

HKd. You used the term a minute ago. What did you mean?

RR. How can I tell you? Brahman is the equivalent of Absolute and how can you say what is the Absolute? The Absolute is the Absolute.

HKd. It’s nothing.

RR. Well, if you want to say it’s nothing…

HKd. But that’s what you said.

RR. Oh, you’re clever. You’re wasting our time now. You’re just trying to argue. See, you came in kind of late and you’re trying to get this whole thing rehearsed, and I don’t have time for it, number one. But the other thing is, you’re not going to get this by that type of argument anyhow. Because all you can do is to listen, and if you pick up something by listening, then it means something.

There’s no set of syllogisms, no syllogistic process by which I can prove to you what I’m doing. There has to be certain things thrown out, and from this you’ll pick up a certain intuition. And if you do, then we’re operating on the same wavelength. And that’s about what it amounts to. Now, of course, I say that behind this there’s a certain sensible pattern which may occur to your intuition. But if you had listened to the whole thing you’d realize that there’s no way to define.

The worst thing you can do is try to define this. I may make a statement that man realizes everything and nothing. And I don’t want you to start saying, “Well, what is everything, now, and what is nothing?” And then I define everything and I define nothing. No. I use those two words in conjunction to cause a certain light in your head. And then if you have a realization, you’ll get a glimpse and you’ll say, “Hey, let’s experiment a little further and see if we can examine this and pick up what this guy is talking about.”

Because if I make a flat statement and give you a chemical formula which may be a mile long for you to play with about what everything is – that will not be telling you the truth or leading you closer. When it’s a very simple little technique for looking at yourself, that’s all.

And of course I advise people to read books. Don’t go into the thing cold. Don’t just take what I say. First of all, one of the things I always advise people to do is to doubt. Doubt me first, as well as anything else you read or hear.

But if you get other books you’ll find out there have been people down through the ages that have experienced a realization of this. Bucke’s Cosmic Consciousness will lead you in a little closer. Conquest of Illusion by J. J. Van Der Leeuw. Different books on Zen. One of the best books on Zen is Huang Po. Ramana Maharshi, Saint John of the Cross – these are all very good. There’s a common denominator behind all this, and when you see the common denominator you begin to pick the path. You know what these people went through and what to do about it.

Q.* A lot of people say the human being uses between eight and ten percent of the brain. Is this pretty much true until the point at which logic and wisdom have to be transcended by intuition?

RR. No. One of the men that I think was able to use a tremendous part of his mind or brain or whatever you want to call it was Nicola Tesla. He was an electrical engineer, a contemporary of Edison. Judging by the accounts of the way he worked, he was so intent he would become creative. He would envision and create electrical appliances like coils and that sort of thing. He developed genius by the total involvement of his head with what he was doing, total meaning maybe eighty percent.

Q. Able to concentrate on one thing at a time?

RR. Yes, well, it wasn’t one thing, it was the whole field of physics. He knew everything there was to know about it. He was applying it in an inventive manner. We’ve had people like that. They say Walter Russell was one of these people. I don’t know how many more. But this doesn’t mean these people were intuitional. I’ve know a lot of eminent scientists. Even Einstein for instance was an atheist. Einstein was a case of being able to apply himself diligently to a given problem. But he was basically an atheist; he didn’t believe there was anything beyond this life.

I went to work in a research laboratory during the war. We were working on the atomic submarine in Baltimore. My first thought was, “I’m going to be among the big brains in the country. These fellows will have astute evaluations of esoteric subjects, philosophy and stuff. They’re bound to have picked up some books and digested those too, so let’s get their evaluation.” And I went to them one by one, myself and Bob Martin, that’s Andy’s father, we both worked there together. We’d go to them and say, “What do you think about life after death?”

And they’d look at you like you were crazy. They don’t know anything about life after death. They were slide rule mechanics. They know a tremendous lot in their field but they don’t have intuition. If they had intuition, the first thing they’d do is quit their job. They’d get out of that trap real quick.

Consequently, the intuition has to be almost something that comes to you by shock. If you don’t have it, if you’ve led a life without it, then some tremendous shock like a death in the family or the loss of your money may awaken the need for a new evaluation. Because we have been believing according to established mind-patterns projected on us from childhood. That these things are necessary: You’ve got to go out and beat your head against the wall in order to keep up the payments on the house, going back to school so you can keep up with the latest things, the inventions, all this sort of thing. And you become just an extension, an extension of a factory.

If a person starts to develop an intuition, then he may find ways and means of perfecting it. And this is the whole thing. I don’t believe that a system is complete to just say, “Attack, attack.” That’s one of the Zen techniques: “Take this koan, attack it, attack it, attack it, and come back ten years from now and give me an answer.” I think this is absurd. I think there are ways of showing people they can develop their intuition. And that’s what I call shutting off the computer and making it work with what’s inside. That’s the way you develop your intuition.

Q.* To get the thinking or rational part of the mind to relax?

RR. They’ve come up now with this idea of the two sides of the brain. And I go along with this. I don’t know anything about anatomy but at the Chautauqua we had a doctor, Dr. Dillhunt, talk on this idea of the bicameral brain, the one side being logical and the other side being a dreamer.

All of the creativity is done in the side that’s the dreamer. The other side is strictly able to get us by. It learns logical things, it learns to avoid falling into holes, but it doesn’t take us anywhere. We just get by with it. All of these inventions, art and that stuff, come out of the creative side of the brain. And it well may be that by some yogic discipline, or whatever, you can shut off one of these sides of the brain and live predominately in the other. This may be the trick. You may activate it so to speak and get it working. But I think you can do it by conscious intention also.

Even in a dark room. John C. Lilly did it by floating in water, getting completely away from all suggestion, because even the weight of your body can cause suggestion. To get completely away from things that tied you in with previous patterns. Because you get to thinking about an apple, then you think about a knife, a table, a chair, a kitchen. And you’re off again on this idea, “I’ve got to remodel the kitchen.” And the next thing you know you’re so busy you forgot all about reading a book, or sitting down and meditating.

Q. It’s the rational part of the mind that ties one to the concept of self.

RR. Right, right, right. This is what I say, that whenever you get into something esoteric, you get into what I call the paradox. Everything is paradoxical. But you can’t be illogical. As soon as you decide to strictly be a dreamer, you pick up hallucinations and act on them. You have to be continually tempering this intuitive mind with a logical checkout. You continually check it out, check it out, check it out or you become nutty. You can go off on a tangent and start imagining things. And I’ve seen this happen.

And I believe this doesn’t happen unless you’ve originally been false, you’ve let your intuition get away from you. Sometimes people’s children, for instance, will adopt a parental religion. Where the guy gets wrapped up as a child intuitionally in his religion and he follows this. But along the way he starts to get into certain habits that destroy his intuition. But he still becomes spooky about the religion. And the first thing you know he’s preaching like John Brown from the street corners about something that doesn’t make any sense. He becomes a wild-eyed fanatic. And he doesn’t go anyplace except deeper into confusion.

This happens in all fields, where you get the wild-eyed fanatic, the man who thinks that all he has to do is feel. You continually have to say, “Hey, I could be nuts. Let’s keep a hand on reality here.” And by reality I mean this illusory reality, the fact that I’ve got to get up and go to work at six o’clock in the morning.

Q. The agreements we all work with.

RR. Right, right. Either that or die. And even if you reach realization, you’ve got to come back and get that nickel for Kroger’s. Kroger’s exists, and when you realize that Kroger’s doesn’t exist, you’re dead. When you really realize that – you are dead. You can say, philosophically, that I’ve been to a point where Kroger’s didn’t exist. But once more hills are hills and valleys are valleys.

Q.* Do you stress meditation so you can die?

RR. No. The meditation is to find your egos. Now, I don’t say that you can die. Never try to die. You will be killed. What happens is that you progress along a certain point and then… The best way I can tell you, is to tell you what happened to me. I didn’t know what was happening. I had just been beating my head against the wall.

I used to stand on my head. I went through the mantras too, but it was very simplified in those days, you could just say Om. Or you could say Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It doesn’t matter.

It’s the idea of continuing to quiet yourself and bring yourself back to a point. But knowing what you are doing, this is the thing. Knowing that you’re quieting yourself down so you can sit there and meditate upon something else. Maybe meditating on a book. I used to get into Theosophical books because they had a storehouse of information you could think about.

But after awhile you become very much aware of your erroneous egos. You become aware of being a fathead, so to speak. And as you become aware of it, it sort of leaves. Your personality doesn’t leave but the significance of it leaves. It doesn’t matter whether you’re aggressive or whether you’re beautiful or famous or powerful. That stuff doesn’t have any meaning after awhile.

And still nothing happens. Your egos may go. You’re so-called personality-sanity may increase, you may be the most well-adjusted person imaginable in society. But still you don’t know the answer. So you keep on plugging. You may have little experiences, little revelations, like the salvationistic experience. Or the eureka experience, which they call satori. Boom, oh yeah, I see this or that. But that’s not final. You still don’t really know. You still come back and say, “Well, I could have been kidding myself.”

But then one day something happens. You get hit in the head like with a sledgehammer and you go down. You know you’re dying. You know that there’s no chance, no hope for immortality. All this stuff you’ve been telling yourself, and that everybody else has been telling you, has no basis in proof. The mind is extremely logical now. It abandons all hope. Because this is logical: We don’t know anything. And we find that the people who pretend to know the most, seem know the least. The preachers tell us every place we’re going to go, but when it comes down to it, this guy screams the same as everybody else when he gets ready to die. Because he doesn’t have the confidence.

You’re projected into this experience [the world]. Once you let go and die, then you become one with that which is. And you can’t do it intentionally. It happens. It’s just like you’ll be walking along and something will hit you. We’ve had some cases in the group where somebody would walk into the room and get hit and they’d pile up on the floor and be there for two hours weeping. And in that interval, they would have a realization of this illusory world so completely that they could never go back to the same evaluation. The world was no longer that important, as they saw it before.

Q.* When the logical mind sees that there is no proof in all these beliefs and all these egos that you thought you were, you let go. It’s like a surrender then?

RR. Yes. It’s pretty hard to explain in all details. If I were to say to you that you have to let go of the thought that you running this universe… And how do you think you’re running the universe? Maybe you’re married and you’ve got three kids, which I have. So you think, “Well, I can lose my house, I can lose my car, but I can’t give up these three kids. Because I’m deeply engrained as a human being, as an animal, to protect my herd.”

Consequently, you have to give up that importance. I don’t say you have to shoot the kids, but you have to give up those children as being important. Because, number one, you don’t own them. You’re a door by which something comes into existence. But that doesn’t mean you own them. You have to realize you don’t own anything.

Q. They’re not you.

RR. Right. And the only way they will be you is if they come into realization. And that doesn’t mean they will come into realization through you, necessarily.

People will say, “Well, yeah, I’ll go for this, I’ll give up my house, but I don’t think I could give up my wife.” And we’ve had this in the group, where guys are married. But you don’t have to give up anything. You just have to have that commitment. If the kids get in the road you’ve got to say, “Hey, I can’t dump these kids. I’ve got to wait about five years until they get big enough to go out on their own.” But that doesn’t mean you have to stop, either.

Whatever it is, as soon as something poses as a priority, you will not move until that priority is transcended. I don’t mean you have to get rid of it, but you have to recognize that if the time comes for a choice, you’d have to make that choice. Because you will not reach the truth unless you want it.

And you can’t do it half way. You don’t learn the truth, you become it. And you have to become at least ninety-nine percent the truth. You can’t be a ten percent or five percent truth-seeker. People are seekers mostly one hour out of a Sunday, which is one out of seven days. Seven times twenty-four would be over 150 hours, so you’re only one 150th of a seeker. You say, “It’s impossible, I’ve got to earn a living.” But it isn’t impossible. I used to do contract work after I got away from the research laboratory. I’d go out so I could have more freedom. I could work hard all day and all this stuff would be going through my head.

If you don’t want some other garbage going through it, that would be good. Go home and read a certain chapter from a psychology book or something. Anything to get the mind thinking about mind, examining the mind with the mind. You may be working away with a hammer and nails or a paintbrush, and all the time this philosophy is going through your head. So you become, more and more. Not to a point where you can’t think straight, but I mean you become interested, that’s all. You become more and more interested.

You can’t force yourself to be interested. You can lead yourself into being interested, but you can’t say, “I like the formula that guy’s got, so I’m going to make myself interested.” No. You’ve just got to apply yourself maybe to a routine of sitting down and reading something out of a book, and little by little you’ll get interested. You have to maybe start some sort of discipline, that’s all, of reading or studying.

Well, I guess we’d better fold up for the night.


Richard Rose Lecture in Columbus, Ohio on April 5, 1977

Copyright 2005 - Richard Rose & Rose Publications

Transcription by Steve Harnish – version 12/19/2005 [ needs final review ]

More information on Richard Rose is available at these locations:

TAT Foundation: http://www.tatfoundation.org/ Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Rose


A portion of this material was also recorded a few weeks later on 4/26/1977, available in CD: “Introduction to the Albigen System,” by Richard Rose (Rose Publications).

“First Patriarch of Chinese Zen,” 5th-6th century AD. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhidharma

Huang Po, Blue Cliff Record, Case 11.

Convicted murderer who refused to appeal his execution in Utah in 1977.

From Introduction to the Albigen System (track 6): “A special transmission outside the scriptures means there’s a way of putting this inside another person’s head. There’s a way of realization by being associated with a person who has reached the goal of knowledge of Self. Unless your system of Zen has that, it is not a true system of Zen. If you have a teacher who cannot do it, you do not have a teacher who can take you.”

See “Alfred Pulyan: Zen Master Without Lineage & Master of the Lost Art of Transmission,” at http://www.selfdiscoveryportal.com/Pulyan.htm

A mantra given by TM. Price of the basic course is currently about $2,500.

See “The ABCs of ESP” from Roots of Coincidence, by Arthur Koestler, 1972.

From Introduction to Albigen System: “You must look directly into yourself. It’s not difficult. When you look at your actions you’re looking at a part of yourself, at the effects of yourself. When you look in your thoughts you’re on what I consider a ray, of sorts, that goes back to your awareness. And when you are one with your Awareness you’re pretty much in tune with your soul, the soul of Man… The implication behind this is that the whole system, is seeing into your own nature. The whole answer is inside of you, not outside. But it has to be a realization, not a belief.”

Name of the early esoteric group.

Introduction to the Albigen system: “Energy and imagination result in creation. The dimensions we witness are created by faith.”

See Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Q* indicates the start of a series of questions by the same person.

Mr. Paul Wood of San Antonio, Texas.

Wisdom of the Overself by Paul Brunton

Just for the record, Mr. Rose was an engaging friend and entertaining story-teller. Delivered with a mischievous eye and a silver laugh, his many jokes and tales, illustrating his insight into human nature, often could put a room full of people on the floor with side-splitting laughter.

Material seems to have roots in Raja Yoga, studied by Mr. Rose in his youth. Words apparently read from the notes are indicated by italics, comments are in normal type.

See “mental modifications” in Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

Q* indicates the start of a series of questions by the same person.

The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi.

To help clarify the thread, “HKd” designates a certain latecomer to the meeting, apparently a Hare Krishna devotee.

Cosmic Consciousness by Richard M. Bucke, MD

Sci-fi movie from 1973 with Edward G. Robinson. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soylent_Green

Transcendental Meditation

The Zen Teaching of Huang Po: On the Transmission of Mind, by John E. Blofeld.

See “Intuition and Reason” by Richard Rose: http://www.tatfoundation.org/forum2004-10.htm#1