By Richard Rose
Q: [Mostly inaudible question on meaning.]
R: Here’s the whole thing about words: words have whatever meaning you give them. That’s why I talk about the language of agreement. The unfortunate thing is that we don’t always agree on words or understand what another person means. For instance we use this word exceptional — you think that an exceptional person is a genius, but you pick up a dictionary and no, it’s a resident in a nuthouse. Another example is the words ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’: as soon as a subjective matter is under scrutiny it becomes objective. This may be along the lines you’re talking about, semantics or meaning, and the meaning is very vague. The words don’t mean a whole lot, no matter who it is who’s talking. Sometimes the most you can do, as I said, is pick up something by intuition. That’s the key. Because words will confuse you.
Q: What was it you meant by ‘somatic’?
R: Somatic means the body
Q: You were talking about somatic religion.
R: I believe that a lot of our religion is somatic, and a lot of this is rejected. That we can only think in terms of ecstasy or hell. Especially the Christian religions. The tremendous love relationship between a sadistic God and a whole herd of masochistic people, who just love to go to hell.
Q: Once you realize that the umpire is programming, do you gain control over that and maybe stop its vices, or do you just watch its vices go on forever?
R: We know in almost all cases where we undertake therapy, that the change occurs with the recognition of the error: There’s no sense in trying to change the mechanism. Like with this idea of the survival urge: the survival urge is contributory to death but it also contributes to long life. If you try to mess with it you may get into prostate cancer: But you recognize what’s going on: where previously you thought that you were reproducing, that you were the rooster of the world, now you see that all of it doesn’t matter; it’s going to happen whether you’re there or not.
And it isn’t a question of denouncing, or labeling stuff as evil, or something of that sort — that’s nonsense. I don’t intend to apply that. I’m just saying that you become detached. And most people when they get older — I’m not saying all; I’ve seen people ninety years of age who couldn’t see, they were blind, they were still trying to feel, and they never got detached — but most people after a while look upon all of this scheme as nonsense. But by then it’s too late. What I’m trying to do is to age some young people. And that’s basically why they get their detachment, if it’s done.
I was doing a little bit of reading or digging, trying to find out where this thing of guilt came from. And I noticed the predominance of guilt in the Christian religion. Then I started looking through the religions of India and Asia and Zen and all this sort of thing. And where is the guilt in Zen? You don’t find it. You find that they pretty much ignore it. But there’s a thread that runs through all the Hindu religions, and it’s generally spoken in let’s say little aphorisms. I ran into this when I first started studying yoga, years ago; I was a kid about twenty-three years old. And there was this little aphorism — I can’t remember exactly, but it says basically that all pain is caused by desire. Now where the Christian religion builds up a tremendous monster, “Oh, don’t you do this, because you’ll get so many years in the hot seat,” the eastern religions recognize the fact that man burns himself. Like St. Paul said, “If you don’t marry, you’ll burn.” That man can burn himself by his desires. Now — this means that for anything you desire there are voices. These are egos. And any ego if you don’t develop some sort of detachment from it can burn you. It can cause you pain, ultimately. It can obsess you. It can develop a monkey.
Q: When you start the spiritual search you discover your selfishness and your egos and your desires. And then you move through that, you keep going and you lose your original reasons for searching. So then what keeps you going?
R: I’ll tell you what happened to me. Different people have different motivations. My original motivation for getting on a spiritual search was selfish. Looking at it from this viewpoint, I consider it very selfish. I had the conceit, number one, that I could master psychology, magic, kabala, astrology, all of these — which I look upon now as very weird pastimes — I would master all these things and become somewhat of a threat to humanity. But I didn’t go very far until it dawned on me that while all this power was being built up, I wasn’t achieving the big thing I would really want. And that was what? — that nowhere was I incorporating or getting in the general package enough knowledge to prolong my life, beyond the ordinary span of any other animal that was programmed to live so long.
And I came to the conclusion — and I don’t expect to and don’t particularly care to live any longer than my lifespan — but I realized then that what I wanted was to know the score. The motivation changed, and the ego-prompted thing wasn’t so important. But I maintain that you’ve got to hang in with your egos. This thing of abolishing egos or dropping egos is foolishness. This is the reason people get into too much dope or too much booze. They write it off in a sort of suicidal thing: “Oh, well I’ll go out that way, I’ll return to nirvana.” I heard a person make a remark one time — they found some people dead on a doorstep up in New York who had overdosed — and somebody said, “Oh, what a beautiful way to go.” How do they know? How do they know they went to nirvana, that they dropped all their egos? They may have entered oblivion, because of the range of their experience.
But regardless, it’s necessary to hang onto the survival ego, until you’ve got something better to replace it with. When you reach your final experience you’ll drop it — you have to die, you have to go through the death experience to achieve it — but you return. And you return once more hanging onto your survival ego, or you can’t function. So these are all implants, necessary to keep you moving. They’re not evil. They’re not evil in themselves. The only thing is to learn how to play the violin, to learn which finger to play, which ego to play. I call it “milk from thorns” — use this interior negative energy to develop curiosity — the right curiosity, not for the porno movies.
But you do change. You create what I call a ‘vector’ — it’s an engineering term but it describes best what happens — that after awhile you’ll realize that you’re not an individual, you’re not a unique rooster that the world will never forget. And when that happens, the rooster that caused all this seems to be left behind. But what happened in the meantime was that you developed a vector — a curiosity, a dynamic hunger, a drive — and that stays with you. And that is basically who you are when the thing is over: You are not the rooster, you are not the person named Jack or Jill, you are a vector: You are basically a vector: You are what you do. Every man is what he does.
Q: Could you comment on emotions and their application if any towards the search?
R: Well, emotions are combinations of implants and appetites, basically. In other words, we react in a certain way, and the reaction sometimes is reinforced. For instance the emotion of love, the yearning if you’ve had love to be loved again and this sort of thing, is nothing more than an implant. It’s nothing divine. A lot of people like to think that their most mundane reproductive mechanisms are divine. If they are, then so are a goat’s, because I’ve watched them make love and I think they have a real mental experience. But that’s emotion.
R: No, they’re confusing. You have to be aware, you have to watch that too, you have to watch that happen. Because it’s a desire. For instance a kid wants a toy and the other kid takes the toy, and then you see anger: First of all it’s artificial. When the little child first shows anger it’s artificial, it’s just a means, of puffing up like a toad or something to frighten the other child out of the toy. But eventually it develops into a lifetime practice of anger — which we would call emotion. But these are basically mechanisms that are rooted in our desires, in our programming.
Q: Are you making a distinction between desires and emotion?
R: No, no. I mean the desire is basic, the emotion is the external manipulation they go through.
Q: Then the desire is just an implant.
R: Right, right.
Q: And anything else is just a reaction off that.
R: Yes, the emotion comes off the desire. There are two basic implants that the human has — by implants I mean that they’re programmed inside of you. One is desire and the other is curiosity. And we can’t control this. We can’t control our curiosity, and the thing is to recognize it and then use that in the vector: Use the curiosity in the right direction: allow yourself to be curious about philosophy or self-definition or something of that sort. The desire is organic; there’s no other explanation for it except that when the hormones develop to a certain point we develop desires. And a child, even though it doesn’t seem to have a hormonic domination, still has a desire for possession, desire for what it wants, the desire for a certain status — it doesn’t want the parent to leave, it doesn’t want to be weaned and this sort of thing. Those are all implants. They seem very complex, but after you look at them for a while they go back to a very basic appetite: we have a desire to possess and we have a desire to be in charge. The child has the desire to be in charge of its mother, and it will go through a period when it will try to run the whole house, to get things that it wants.
But these are all programmed in, and they go from parent to child to child, on indefinitely. You trace certain desire-patterns. Whether they get them by watching the parents or they’re inherited with the DNA molecules, I don’t know. But these are two things that are not us, and they’re organic, animal. The animals have them too. It’s very difficult when you observe the behavior of an animal closely enough and then observe the behavior of a human being, to see much difference in the program. The only thing that I could see is that somehow we’ve got a better choice; we can choose our actions a little better and we can think more. We also have more confusion, and out of more confusion can come more wisdom — I shouldn’t say wisdom, but more realization. In other words, we invented a complex language that gives us something to worry ourselves with.
Q: You were talking about projections. Let’s say an individual is looking at a female — could that be a projection that could be pulled back?
R: Well, you always have some type of projection. The idea is basically that a person doesn’t pull them back, but you outgrow them, you wear them out. You marry the character and then it belches in your face — and you say, “That ain’t a princess.” You just outgrow it. But you have a new projection then, a new rationalization. A new one will be built up. And of course we’ve got some magical words we use to supplant them. One of them is friendship. If we can develop a friendship, we can tolerate all of our disappointments and our projections.
Q: Could our connection with reality then be changed from that?
R: Oh, my lord yes. This is the whole thing. You realize that the only contact we have with reality is our senses, which themselves are erroneous, as evidenced in the ability to see a limited color range, a limited hearing range, the ability to see mirages, hallucinations and that sort of thing. We have a limited world that we live in. And we realize after awhile that this entire world could very well be projected. All of it. This is the great possibility, when you’re watching your mind — if we can momentarily detach ourselves from this world of agreement and just not agree to all of it, and then see what happens.
Gurdjieff’s grandmother supposedly when she was dying said to him, “Whatever people do, no matter what it is, do the opposite.” In other words, in order to shake this; to shake this idea about everybody — that the people are right, that the law is right, that the minister is holy. And one by one over a period of years we come to a new state of mind on the thing. We catch the preacher in the beer joint, we catch our judges in similar situations, stealing and so on. But generally by then it’s too late. When you find these things out it’s too late to form an honest appraisal or to look at things differently.
Q: Is there is a way we can change our perspective and not allow our egos to control us?
R: Well, you can’t. You can’t rise above your own convictions, until they are replaced by themselves. But as Dan said, if you loaf with a bunch of people who are just trying to challenge their thinking, to challenge any system of thinking, this helps. It’s not to denounce, it’s not to say something is bad. Everything’s good, everything has its purpose. Everything lifts somebody up a little bit. But maybe it won’t lift you up. Maybe you already went through it.
And I know with myself, when I was into this stuff I thought, “Boy, this is it.” I was about twenty years old and I was getting into spiritualism and I thought, “All I have to do is go out and talk to these dead people and find out where they’re at, and get a map of the place, and that’s it, and everything’s solved.” But I found out that you couldn’t tell. I could talk for two hours on spiritualism and the things I discovered, that assured me that you’d never find anything through spiritualism; because everything is evasive.
And then I got into yoga and I thought, “Oh, boy, now I’m finally getting wise, I’m getting away from this nonsense, this superstitious stuff. And I encountered the same thing there. I took initiations in kriya yoga and shabd yoga — Kirpal Singh was one of the teachers. It was the Radha Soami science, basically — Eckankar is an offshoot of it — where you visualize sounds, visualize molasses on your tonsils. These are all little things that when you first hear them you think, “Oh, boy, we’re getting into this magical world.” This is nonexistent. It’s a curse. You’re creating something that you’re going to have to erase.
Now maybe some of you people are into this and you’ll get angry. “Oh, this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about, because I was in that movement.” Okay, don’t argue with this person, because they have to go through it, that’s all. But if you can talk to him maybe you can save that guy ten years. I talked to a lady one time who was going on to seventy years of age, a Rosicrucian. And believe me, everyone I talked to — if a man told me he was a Theosophist or a Rosicrucian, especially if they’re sixty or seventy years old — I asked, “What did they do for you? What did you get out of it? Were there any great truths brought to you? Do you know the answer?”
Bob Martin and I when we were young went up to Cleveland and knocked on a Rosicrucian’s door — he was the head of this local circle up there. And he opened the door and took us in. This man had spent twenty-four years sending away for those mandami* through the mail — two dollars a week for the rest of your life. So I thought this guy should know something; he should have something. And I said to him, “Would you endorse then the Rosicrucian Order?” And he said, “Oh, yes, a wonderful, wonderful group of people.” I said, “What did they do, basically, for you? Is there anything you can tell us, for instance, that would inspire me to follow your path?” And he said, “Let me think — did you ever see a needle float on water?” I mean this is the truth. He takes me into the kitchen and floats a needle on water: And I thought, “Twenty-four years to learn to float a needle on water?” You could at least have him change the stock market or something.
*Rosicrucians call some of their documents ‘mandami’ because they mistakenly believe that word is the plural of ‘mandamus’.
Then this other lady from New York who was in the Rosicrucians — the purpose of the Rosicrucian Order was to find your astral master while still living in your physical body; the Guardian of the Threshold so to speak. So I’m always curious — because these people spend forty years of their life and what are the results? — that they know which horse is coming in? And so I asked her, “What were the results?” She said, “Well, one day, I wasn’t really sure that I was awake, but he appeared at the foot of the bed and I asked him the two questions.” And I asked her, “What did he say?” She said, “He just shook his head, ‘No,’ and left.” And that was your one shot and you’re done, and he never came back again. So I think that from all the evidence that comes in, it doesn’t justify a lifetime of research. It might justify a lifetime of socializing with the people, if you like to do that. But whole the point in this is whether a person has the intuition to pick it up. If not, then you’ll offend him when you talk about it. So you just have to let them run their course.
Q: I think maybe what you’re saying is that if you are, you are, and if you will be, then you will be, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
R: No, no. What you desire, you may be also.
Q: And you can become?
R: Sure, sure. We have no proof that we’re agents of free will. But unless we operate that way then there’s no other course but suicide. There’s no point in just continuing. In other words, if you don’t have any choice in your efforts, you couldn’t avoid suicide; that would be the next step. So anybody who isn’t committing suicide believes that he can do something. He may be fatalistic, but he believes that somewhere there’s a hope. As I said, we’re all robots, but everybody’s reaching behind themselves for the key; hoping to find the key that will make the mechanism deviate from its original course. There’s a hope of change, and this hope of change creates change; the desire to know will bring you closer to knowledge. The desire to experience pleasure will bring you closer to pleasure.
Now whether all the people who succeed were basically the people who desire — that it’s just a coincidence, that people were doomed to succeed and doomed to desire success — that could be. Or it could be that certain people who would not have succeeded otherwise developed a dynamic hunger, and the hunger caused them to act. Either one. But we can only operate with the latter: conviction. We have to operate as though we can do something. And all those people who succeed operate with that same principle. They believed that they could.
Q: I find that people in general are afraid of metaphysical thoughts and resist if you talk about it.
R: Well, the things that I talked about tonight and the experiences I had were years ago, and I kept my mouth shut because of that same thing. I had a family to keep, I had three children to raise, I was in the contracting business and working different places, one place in the capacity of a head chemist. And if you even talked about these things you could get in trouble.
And I don’t know where this comes from, but I think that nature somehow avoids investigation of nature; that’s the feeling I have. I can’t prove it, but I have a feeling that nature would like to avoid the investigation of nature. So the religions that are natural religions just say, “Well, go ahead.” And this is one of the complaints I have had against a lot of the religions all over the world — Christian, Buddhist and all — that there’s was a certain group of people who searched quietly and they built morals around the search laboratory. And a lot of them pretty much kept their lives under control; they stayed away from extremes in sex and alcohol and that sort of thing. But they preached for the populace to reproduce, and to get drunk so that they could confess.
And this was one of my protests; that I do believe that you can and should take whatever information you have to the general public. And I’ve suffered — if you want to call it suffered — I don’t give a damn — because I’m at the point where I can’t suffer too much. But I’ve come to a point of freedom in which I can say what I please and express the things that have happened to me. And if they do somebody some good, well then I feel as though I’m functional. Otherwise there’s no point in me living. I’m not too good at passing on any other skills. But I agree with you a hundred percent.
R: There is a tremendous lot, yeah. Like Dan said, this group that they have here in Pittsburgh basically doesn’t advocate addiction to any religion or group. And because of that they came under criticism for not being true Zen or something like that. True Zen means being true fanatics, to some sandal-cracking groups of people.
[End of tape]
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.