I’m going to give you some information tonight on a method of going inside. Previously I’ve tried to give some rather knowledge-laden lectures. I gave one here a couple years ago on the transmission of energy and it went over like a lead balloon — because the terminology was evidently vague, and if you haven’t read along these lines, a lot of this stuff is alien to you.
The whole purpose behind any esoteric or nonconventional spiritual search is the finding of the final answer; you could use such terms as ultimate answer, or absolute truth. In the pursuit of this, if you follow the histories of people who pursued it, we find that it isn’t a systematic intellectual, logical, or even philosophic presentation. We don’t find the truth by proving it in a court of logic. After digging for maybe ten or twenty years you discover that you find the truth, or you’re liable to approach it, by becoming a different vehicle. Not by attacking something and trying to digest it, but by changing your nature, so that you’ll be able to assimilate something of an absolute nature. Because you are finite and relative, and a finite, relative creature may not be able to assimilate an absolute truth.
Regardless, this is where all of the hatha yoga movements end up: in raja yoga. All of the manipulatory religions wind up in what they call an esoteric core — the “less finite”. Dan mentioned that I studied to be a priest at one time, and in the seminary they talked about the Thomistic theology in which the statement is made that the finite mind will never perceive the infinite — and this is very true. Now this was written at that time to discourage people from looking for the truth, saying you’ve got to believe the hierarchy, because there’s no place to go; you have a finite mind and you’re not going to get there. But the thing they overlooked was that the finite mind can become different; the finite mind can become less finite.
We’re not going to get into the system of that tonight, but I’m going to try to try to take you through a simple process of going within. And if you can remember this it will be of value to you, because this is the crux of all of this path, after you reach the decision that you have to change your nature, that you have to become. It’s based, first of all, upon five properties of the human mind. Now I completely avoid and bypass what is known as current psychology, the psychology that has developed down through the years to where it is today, and certain definitions they have of the mind.
At one time I believed that there were only three qualities of the human mind: perception, retention and reaction. If you look at it for a minute you’ll see why I said that; basically, you can get all of the things that happen to a human being down into those three categories: you perceive, you retain as memory, and you react. But these are not necessarily properties — they are things that happen to us, without us controlling them. When you look at it a little deeper you see that there’s something else that can be added; they’re still limited to these three categories, but there’s a variation in two of them. So that we have two types of perception: sensory perception and mental perception. It’s still perception but one of them has to come through the senses while the other can come directly. The mind itself can see. And after you meditate or think on these long enough, you’ll encounter this thing called visualization. Now visualization is one method of mental perception, and there are others. The mind can be trained to see directly, such as in ESP, astral projection, these things. The mind can see by itself. It’s still perception, and it still records on the mundane memory.
And there’s another quality we add to these three and that is projection; as things come into the human organism, things also can be sent out. Now projection would seem to be the only thing that the human being does. He can’t stop perceiving; he can’t prohibit or stop remembering — the action called memory is going to happen whether he wants it to or not. And he can’t stop reacting, although perhaps he can desire to react a certain way, which is called morality, a moral reaction. And of course there’s some question as to whether you can even control the moral type of reaction. But this projection would seem to be something that we can control; that it’s the first time that we do something. We’ll see if it’s possible to actually control that — I don’t know whether it is. But as far as everyone generally thinks, we can.
Now this whole theme hinges on a very simple point: that the view is not the viewer: In a search for the self we are looking for the viewer; we are looking for him who sees. We’re looking for the self, in other words. There is a self. But strangely enough, the smartest people, meaning intellectually smart — men of degree and reputation, doctors even, psychologists — very seldom really define “I” or “me” or “self” properly. This is a massive assumption that is crossed over, to the extent that when you start defining this thing you’re going to get into endless discussion and proof. But it’s just a very simple and logical deduction that if you’re looking for yourself, it’s not the environment. Now — where does environment end and “me” begin? Where is the “me” that is the essence-me?
Let’s take a simple situation: a person lying in bed smoking cigarettes. Let’s just first present it in a picture: Your toes are visible, and possibly by smoking you’re even aware of your lungs. But we realize that the toes are not us, basically because you can amputate them and keep on living. And by the same token, if you smoke too many cigarettes they might even take out a lung. You might take out a good bit of your body and still live.
So you’re going to have to identify the rest of the body likewise as not being us, not being the central “we”. And when you do this you start to embark upon what I call a retreat — a retreat from the common definition that is assumed by most people: that “us” is the body; that “us” is that which we would like to think we are; or that “us” may be body and mind or body-mind. Modern psychology seems to hint that there’s no such thing as a mind outside of a body-mind, a reaction mechanism. Incidentally, this little five-part formula for the human mind’s attributes doesn’t argue with modern psychology in this respect — except possibly for the idea of projection — that the body can be blamed for a tremendous lot of this: The body is the one that perceives through the senses, the body is the brain, the brain is somatic, the DNA molecule is somatic. And the reaction is automatic — it’s like an electrical current triggering something and causing a reaction. But I think after you dig awhile you become aware that the somatic mind is identifiable and it is not us.
So when you start looking, you start by looking at your actions — and you generally don’t see your actions until you get a reflection from someone else, or you run afoul of society and run into criticism, or you get sick. So let’s say in the process of smoking a cigarette the person develops a cough, and he gets the fear that maybe he’ll be going into cancer: And this is when he realizes that the one who decided to smoke the cigarette is not him, because he argues with him — and by this he finds himself looking inside. We’re going into a meditative process now — this is what we’re trying to do tonight — take a person into a phase of simple meditation: what you would think about if you were lying in bed smoking a cigarette. This might be what would enter your mind. And this will lead you back to just simply analyzing your actions, to see which of those actions are you and which aren’t you.
And we find that we’re a composition — our so-called personality. We may have abandoned the idea that we’re the body by looking at our toes and our fingernails, and saying that this evidently isn’t us — because in seven years the entire body will be changed, it will be a different us. So where is the unchanging us? Where is this thing that is really us forever? Or which is the most durable part, if it is not that? But we come to some conclusions: that we eat and we want to eat, we want pleasure, we want power, peace of mind and a few other possible objectives — and that some of these things conflict. They conflict so strongly that we decide at some given time that they are not us.
Now take the case of a fellow who drinks. He once decided that it’s a harmless pastime, it’s just a few beers — and the next thing you know he’s an alcoholic. And eventually he gets put in jail or he gets into a fix — he may lose his property or something like that. But he gets into trauma, and he realizes that this is not him. And then he goes — he doesn’t say, “We’re going down to the doctor,” no. “I’m going down to get rid of this monkey that’s on my back.” He finally realizes that it’s a monkey on his back. Before that he thought it was one of his voices or egos — he was expanding, he was using alcohol to stimulate his business and become rich and powerful and popular and everything else, that it’s a great social lubricant.
So we find that the personality, the thinking process that we took to be our mind, that we thought was us — we find that the mind itself is playing tricks. Over a long period of time — sometimes ten and twenty years build up before a person realizes that something inside of him has played tricks on him. So we’ve got a dichotomy. There’s a manifest dichotomy, no way around it: how can a person play tricks on themselves? But this is manifestly true. A fellow is put in jail and somebody says to him, “You’re a drunk,” or, “You’ve got a habit.” Or he’s in jail because of some social habit, or he rapes somebody or he steals. All of these are the result of appetites. And these appetites are the result of what I call voice-drives. And these accumulate — they don’t necessarily start spontaneously in a few seconds.
So the person goes along in a certain way and suddenly has to face himself. And it doesn’t have to be a really violent or traumatic thing that brings about this revelation; there are lots of little things — just the fact that you don’t get along with people. You build up a certain phase in your personality that you believe is you, and you go along and you prosper with it. And then one day it falls apart. Your personality gets you fired from your job, or your girlfriend or boyfriend drops you and says, “I can’t stand you anymore; you’re too hard to get along with.” And then we see that there’s some part of us that we don’t like. And all of us will admit this dichotomy, that there’s no such thing as a monistic mentality, a monistic mind. We admit the dichotomy now.
I maintain that this is our first view of the mind. And a tremendous lot of people assume that this is the only mind there is. But I call this mind the umpire. It’s part of the program, the computer: This is a physical mechanism, and the physical mechanism is set here for a certain purpose. It’s programmed to produce its own continuation; it’s programmed to survive. So that these different impulses, which conflict with each other to a certain extent, are still parts of the person that are thrown into the computer when the person is born. They’re implanted.
So then, why is a person born? Manifestly, if you take the end result of what happens in what people do with their lives — we’re manifestly born to reproduce. So we have a sexual urge backed up by a survival urge — everything has a survival urge — and here are two urges working together, reinforcing each other: And then add the pleasure urge. All of these things seem to harmonize together to make a powerful drive toward reproduction.
Now, say the person has the desire for reproduction but maybe economically is not too keen — has trouble getting a job or something of that sort, or maybe has too much of a reproductive urge — lord knows what causes it — but we hear of a lot of people getting into trouble because of their reproductive urges. And the fellow gets rebuffed — whether he gets rebuffed by his mate or his would-be mate, or whether he gets thrown in jail for rape or whatever the score is. But it’s possible that one of these urges that we identify ourself with very strongly can be so obnoxious that we finally will not identify it any longer as being us. It is something that afflicts us. So then an interior sense, an interior voice says, “Hey, that is not you and you’d better do something about it, if you want to live.”
And that’s what happens. Something is watching the man raping and going to jail, or getting rejected or losing his job — and this is the viewer: This is the viewer, the rapist is the view. The umpire becomes the view. We are watching. That which watches is the essence, and that which is rejected by that anterior mind is not us. If it were us, well then we’d be suicidal; we would be allowing one of these voices to destroy us. (Well, we generally do anyhow. We generally wind up destroyed by the various voices. Ambition or sex or booze or something gets us, because we can’t hold a balance with all the different appetites that assail us.) So there is in the computer, built in, an umpire, which is not us. We can watch it working, and if you can watch something that’s working, whatever is working is the view.
So what is watching the umpire? I call it the “process observer”. These are simple terms; rather than use complex psychological terms, or try to keep abreast of psychological terms that would be similar, I prefer to pick something very simple. Now we’re going through a meditative process in what I consider an orderly, common-sense way.
There’s another analogy that I’ve used at times called the camera analogy, in which I liken man to be a ray of light that comes out of a camera towards a screen. And the screen is the void. These are more or less Zen-ish terms, in which the world is looked upon as an illusion — which is a hypothesis because that’s not known until you prove it’s an illusion. But regardless, there is a way. In our meditation, if we feel that we are nothing but a ray of God or something of that sort, there’s only one way to approach that. And that’s not to theorize in dictionary-terminology such as theology might employ, but to actually get into that ray and go back through the camera. In other words, go to the source, instead of verbalizing.
But what we’re doing here is a much simpler way, because you’re watching your own actions. You watch your observation of the umpire, of this decision-making process, and you find out that you’re aware; you become aware that you are watching it. You’re watching processes, you’re watching the manipulations of the mind which are not us. And this is why in Zen occasionally you’ll hear this term “kill the mind”. This is the mind they talk about killing. A lot of people think that when they say “kill the mind” it means to overdose on drugs — that this is the path to enlightenment, to kill your head or something. No — this is the trouble with picking a word out of a text, from an old philosophy that has been translated for four or five hundred years, and trying to explain it or trying to use it fundamentalistically for your own use. When they say “kill the mind” they mean to kill the mundane mind — not to kill it necessarily, but this is a sharp word to emphasize that something drastic has to be done. But you have to get beyond the umpire. You have to get beyond this need to continually ride herd over these appetites and the counterchecks to the appetites and all this sort of thing.
Before we got to the process observer it was very simple observation: We see a bottle of whiskey, we see a thirst, we have a sensory understanding that these two things can cause trouble or pleasure, or both. But when you get into the process observer your mental observations become gestaltic. Now when I use the word gestalt I’m talking about pattern thinking, not in the Fritz Perls idea of gestalts. The original idea of gestalts was that we think in patterns. Sometimes a single word may symbolize an entire philosophic approach. A few seconds of thinking along a certain line may embody a whole philosophy — this is what I mean by gestaltic thinking. The process observer is a gestaltic operator: And it starts watching. This is the real meditation that sets in, the real raja yoga or whatever you want to call it, whereby a person watches his mind go through certain loops and shenanigans, gymnastics and so on.
And then somewhere along the line he becomes aware of the process observer itself. Because we’re watching this thing now: something is watching the observer watching the umpire. Now what are we getting to? We’re getting to where we might think that there’s no point from which you can’t watch something else. So it looks like the real self is going to escape you; it’s just going to go further and further back — every time you look it’s going to be behind you, or behind that operation. But this isn’t true; it’s simply a matter of purification — a purification of the concept of self.
So that when you come down to the final self it will not be by logically finding a kernel inside of a kernel inside of a kernel. It will be a cracking of the final kernel. And when this occurs, then all of these things are — not illusory; in their own dimension they are real and necessary — but they are not the real self. They are all relative and describable. The final realization of course isn’t necessarily describable, because of the nature of what happens, and by what has been demonstrated or talked about by people who made the breakthrough.
To give you some hints on the type of mental processes you have to take into account in order to get behind this process observer (and you really have to get behind it): What happens in the observer who watches the process observer, is that this person just watches. This is awareness. This self watches, and that’s all. And when you get to the point where there’s only watching, and no qualification, you’re getting pretty close. Now how does this happen? We’re getting close to an absolute watcher: We’re not getting something that defines things as good or bad, white or black, high or low, in or out. And the reason this type of observation is necessary is because of the field that we’re studying.
And I came to the conclusion that our whole observation process is erratic, and let me see if I can take you through it. Our scientific world is based upon matter; and this materialistic or matter-philosophy is based upon measurement — measurement of matter with matter: In other words, if we want to measure a foot, which we divide into twelve inches, we use a thing called a ruler, and somebody has to make the ruler: Along with this, we find out that there are limitations in our science itself — and this has been noted by others besides myself: Chilton-Pearce was one, and Thomas Kuhn. In Ornstein’s book he talks about the duality of the mind; he splits the mind in half, one hemisphere of the brain being a subjective dream-type side, which he calls the “dancer”, and the other being the logical side. In this book he brings out that we don’t have much of a language in science. We have what we call agreement; that basically, everything is tentative. We have a tentative agreement, even in such very strict disciplines as mathematics and chemistry.
We find in mathematics that there’s a certain philosophy given that more or less throws all mathematics in jeopardy. I have cited the case that when I was majoring in chemistry forty years ago we had ninety-two elements — and we had the fiat along with it that there would be no more: Man had dissolved the universe in a test tube and there would only be ninety-two elements. Our whole universe was composed of ninety-two parts, and now all we had to do was go to work on those ninety-two and find out the real nature of the universe. Since then of course in our atomic chart we’ve got over one hundred elements. The agreement has changed. The agreement changed on oxygen from phlogiston; the scientists who were venerated two hundred years ago believed in a substance called phlogiston, and it evolved into oxygen.
And we’re inclined when we go into a classroom to take anything as law that’s put into a scientific textbook. Because the average student doesn’t have time to disprove it, although he may have intuition enough to sense that everything is not as proven as the author of the book would like to have him think. Now, what I’m getting at — this is a very important point — is that our understanding of the universe is an agreement, and that is all. We have measured matter with matter:
Now what is the definition of these? And what is the purpose of a definition? A definition is the description of something relative to something that it is not. It’s a comparison of opposites, not a comparison of similarities. We don’t say that bread is bread; we don’t say that a cat is a cat. We say that a cat is not everything that is not a cat. In other words, we use all sorts of terminology that relates to almost the rest of the dictionary, to bring us around to the fact that a cat is just something that is not everything else. Now if you analyze the definition of everything else, this is what it gets down to, that we don’t have any clear-cut definition of things except in relation to each other: We are only relatives; we are only measuring our degree of relation and agreement.
Now what’s wrong with this? What’s wrong with it is basically that in order to understand matter, I maintain you will have to be removed from matter and define it from an outside category. We can define an apple in terms of a pear, or by genus and specie, but when you take matter itself and start to define it in terms of matter, you can’t do it. And who is going to do it except the psychic? — somebody outside that dimension. So the person possibly from a deep spiritual experience may give you a better definition of the universe, the construction of the universe, by virtue of being the only person able to define it properly, because he’s outside.
Now here you get into a mental world. You start watching the mind, and the mind becomes tangible and objective — as soon as anything is observable it is objective. And we can’t get beyond it by our relative, tangible, objective method of studying the mind. We can do it for awhile — we can isolate, we can retreat from it, we can observe, and watch the process of observing, and write books and books on psychological observations. But we’re stuck, because we’re defining the mind with the mind, which is equally as fallacious as describing matter with matter: So we somehow have to step outside the mind. All of your works of psychology, no matter how many centuries they’re indulged in, will not bring us an understanding of the mind until we get behind it, or get beyond it.
In other words we are only able to describe it in agreement, and that’s unfortunately where all psychology is today, the same as all your material sciences, only it’s worse. Because the people with a political aim or who wish to be funded for various social services control a lot of it, and it’s a worse situation. I consider psychology as the new religion, the religion that has supplanted the old conventional religions possibly, that were destroyed by their own superstitions. But now we’ve got a new religion and a new set of superstitions that will be more tyrannical, and are more tyrannical. Where one sent you to the stake, the other can send you to the nuthouse, or can execute you or testify before a jury that you’re sane and responsible for your acts — and no human being is responsible for his acts.
But anyhow, we encounter this introspection in mysticism, we encounter it in psychology; and I maintain that you can find yourself through this self-analysis. When we talk about self-analysis we’re talking about the highest form of psychology. Anybody can compare inkblots, anybody can stick pins, get reflexes and reactions, and map charts on how many people jerk to the left and how many jerk to the right, and form a behavioristic psychology. But how many people know what the mind is? I challenged the psychiatrists — we had a Chautauqua down at the farm and some came to the Chautauqua — and I have challenged every one of them I ever met to give me a definition of thought, give me a definition of mind, outside of a loose agreement. I read one book where they say the mind is a loose collective personality — but then we’ve got to define personality, and it just turns around to be anything you wish it to be. You even say a man thinks or a man wishes — but what’s a thought? what’s a wish? And yet these people can pump you full of counter-drugs, thought-drugs.
But getting back to this — we’re not interested in the machinations too much, except that there are some mechanics running around who can destroy the machinery.
The thing is that we’re trying to get behind the human mind. And the only hope that you have is for some mechanism by which you can get behind it. Now I’ve outlined something that will take you to a point where your head stops. And up until now what I said may have been very reasonable to you, but the rest is experience. When you reach a certain point in this self-analysis your head will stop and a phenomenon occurs. The phenomenon is the knowledge of nothing.
When you start looking at the mind with the mind intently you reach an intense frustration. When you start watching all of your actions clear from the sensory impulses and perceptions up to the very complex process analyses, you become more and more despairing or frustrated — finally to a point when it seems like you’re just inclined to say it’s hopeless. I went through that myself, where I just thought, “I can’t get beyond this; this whole thing’s hopeless.” But some urge that stimulates you, or prompts you, some bullheadedness or some tenacity in you to keep on plugging away at this, may bring you to a point of what I call an explosion. And this is when it’s no longer the mind, but the awareness that is in the front. The simple awareness is out front.
Now when this experience passes, of course, you will try to verbalize. You go back to the relative dimension of speech and you’ll try to verbalize what you’ve experienced, and it’s very difficult. And the result is that when you read books, from accounts, unless you’ve had the experience yourself you’ll consider most of them a bunch of liars or people who were hysterical, or who were seeing from quite a few different viewpoints. The truth of the matter is that this is just the result of the difficulty of words, a person trying to verbalize an absolute experience or an absolute type of experience. And each one will verbalize it with the personality he had before and with the language and vocabulary that he had before, and perhaps the philosophy he had before. So that a John of the Cross will have a Christian experience, and a Chinese philosopher may have a Buddhistic experience, or tie it to Buddhism. It doesn’t matter: The thing is that it’s internal. But his words may be different when he describes it.
Copyright 1977 Richard Rose. Reprinted from a transcribed talk called A Method of Going Inside dated Nov. 1977 on SelfDefinition.org.
Richard Rose (1917 – 2005) was a spiritual teacher and author of eight books.
By Richard Rose
Bart Marshall writes:
“Richard Rose is quite possibly the most profound and original spiritual teacher America has yet produced. In many ways he is our Ramana Maharshi, and yet he remains unknown to all the but the lucky few who have happened upon his books — or the fewer still who have had the great good fortune to cross his path. Of his many writings, Psychology of the Observer is the most indispensable to the serious seeker. In it Rose reveals the essence of the process that led to his enlightenment, and directly points the way for us to awaken also.”
This page was published on May 30, 2017 and last revised on July 2, 2017.