The Way Home
Born in 1915 in the West Virginia hills, Richard Rose entered a Capuchin seminary in Pennsylvania at the age of twelve to study for the priesthood. He wanted, simply, to find God. After five years he left, disenchanted with religious life and its constant admonitions to be content in the church’s doctrines.
Disillusioned with religion, Rose focused on physics and chemistry in college, hoping to discover in science what he had been unable to find in religion. Disappointed again, he turned to yoga and asceticism. Finally, he realized he needed to find others who were on the spiritual path, and to seek information from them. Crisscrossing the country, Rose met with spiritualists, witch doctors, shamans, healers, psychics, yogis, and gurus, and joined every spiritual and psychic group he could find.
Then, at the age of thirty, Richard Rose had a Spiritual Awakening of great magnitude, a cataclysmic spiritual experience that left him with an intimate understanding of the secrets of life and death. The fruit of that event is The Albigen System, a reach for Truth that is “subjective, subtractive, immanent and designed for immediately changing and becoming”.
Although he is the author of several books on esoteric philosophy, including The Albigen Papers, and he has lectured widely at colleges and universities across the country, and been featured in spiritual journals, newspaper articles and on talk shows, Richard Rose remains largely unknown, so much so that his followers sometimes describe him as “The greatest man no one's ever heard of”.
Richard Rose died on July 6, 2005.
This selection is the first part of a lecture Rose gave in 1976 in Columbus, Ohio. It is copyrighted by Richard Rose, and we are very grateful for permission to place it on The Zoo Fence. There is much more about Richard Rose, and more of his writings and the writings of others, on the TAT Foundation website at http://www.tatfoundation.org/forum.htm (where remaining parts of this talk are posted) and at http://www.tatfoundation.org/books.htm and at http://www.richardroseteachings.com.
I'm going to offer two postulates tonight. One is that I believe – and this is the motivation for my coming to different schools and talking – that all people are interested in the truth. The second is that there is a method of finding the truth.
The reason I bring this up, as the original generalization you might say, is that too often I talk for an hour or so and give the impression that perhaps I don't leave a blueprint or a system. That I do a lot of talking about what is true or untrue, but I don't leave behind a method. Well, the method is there. And I begin with the premise or promise that there is a method of finding the truth.
Now of course as soon as you start talking about the truth, you have your own definitions. And I maintain that it all goes back to the same thing: It's just an enlargement upon the simple definition of truth in any field.
If we didn’t have truth in science, our civilization wouldn’t occur, our blueprints would be faulty. We demand accuracy in science, and that accuracy is truth. We try to make a science of our abstract things as well, like psychology, sociology, and such, and we try to find some truth in that. Not that we always do wind up with the truth, but still we try to make it as truthful as possible and as scientific as possible. The same thing occurs with religion.
I believe that everybody – a lot of people just give up – but everybody is curious about where they come from. You hear people saying rather bravely (that's the idea, pretending to be brave): “Well, nobody knows. We’re all going to die like rats and that’s going to be the end of us. And the people who preach religion are basically hucksters who are just going to make a living out of it …” And with such bravery they turn aside the necessary effort, which is needed to find something.
But regardless, no matter what station of life a man is in, whether you find him in the lodge hall, the church, or the beer-joint, he’ll break his conversation occasionally to say, “What do you think about this thing of life after death? Where do you think we're going?”
He's hoping of course to get it in between beers. And everybody’s hoping to get this in between beers. Or, “Here, I've saved a few thousand bucks, let's go to this guru and give him a thousand or so, and he’ll zap us, and we'll go back to work and pleasure”. Presuming that life will be exactly the same afterwards, and they’ll have the same desires afterwards.
Somewhere there's an enormous gap between this idea of everybody wanting the truth and so very few people looking for it. And there's a still smaller percentage of people looking for let's say the final truth. Some people, when they get to looking for it, stop at that which they like to hear, and they label that the truth.
Many a time I've talked to a group of students – and of course students like to presume that they’re much more broad-minded than older people. But believe me, today the older people are more broad-minded. You get a group of young people today, they’re more addicted to what they think should be heaven and hell. When you violate their concepts of what is beautiful and flowing and nice, or the current fanciful philosophy of the time, they get downright angry. But they don't stop to think that this may be a block. This may be a block from letting something in. It also may be a significance of their capacity. And, consequently, in most of my talks I speak in generalities, because I see no purpose in talking too plainly and giving out too much information – when you're only going to give them an inspiration perhaps at the best, to the best, while fifty percent of them may be indignant because you tramped on some sacred cow. So, in the past I've always said let's talk about the iniquities, the foolishness, the lies that are prevalent in everyday life, and hope by talking about these lies you see that somewhere there might be the opposite of lies.
So I came to the conclusion that I'll spend this evening talking straight truth. And if it hurts – well then, you can brush it off as being strictly my opinion, forget about it, and go back to whatever line of thinking you wish to indulge in. But there's not much chance of you changing, then.
I've got to go back to my own youth to explain what I want to tell you. I started off quite young believing that the most important thing in life was to know what life was. And I'm talking about my early teens and before my teens. I could not see the point about living if you didn’t know who was living. Now that might sound like foolishness to you, because you’ll say, “Oh, I know who’s living – I'm living”. Okay, I can’t argue and I can’t explain further. Because you’ll have to figure that one out yourself, if you think you're living.
Regardless – I went out searching. And as a young fellow, I grabbed onto the parental religion and went away to the seminary and spent time trying to be a priest. I was seventeen when I had enough of that – because I came to the conclusion that you can’t scientifically investigate something that's inside your head if somebody’s saying, “Shut up and do what we tell you, believe what we tell you, follow this dogma, say these prayers – and you will go there”.
And my answer is, “Where?”
“Say your prayers to God …”
And I say, “Who is that?” So when I asked too many of this type of question, they said, “Son, you'd better leave”.
Of course I felt bad at first, but I left. And I started looking into everything. This is going back and digging up a dead horse, but the reason I’m mentioning this is that it might be of some value to you today. Because the same things I stumbled over then, you people are stumbling over today. We have the same number of phony gurus, the same number of hucksters, people selling spiritual values for sex or money.
So you wade through a tremendous lot of these until your reaction is to give up, perhaps. And I think that fifty percent of the people who really are sincere give up; they just run into so many hucksters that they say, “I’ve had it. There’s no truth, there’s nothing but lies and chicanery; and I might as well get into the rat race and make my bundle and lead a vegetating existence”.
Well, in my investigations I found that there are two systems of looking at things if you're looking for self-definition: Who we are now; – [and] where did we come from, and where are we going. Well, strangely enough, it's important to know who we are now. And to find out who we are now, it doesn't do any good to ask the priest. You’ve got to ask yourself.
This is psychology. Everybody has to study psychology – pure psychology, not the garbage that’s given out today to make the robots behave a little better. I’m talking about genuine psychology in which a man knows himself. And sometimes through that knowledge he’s able to step into another man’s suit and also know that man. This type of psychology is necessary in this type of search.
The other thing of course is the science of “paths”. Finding ways and means. You can go talk to somebody who knows something. And of course every time you go out to talk to people you have to run the gamut of phonies. You have to run the gamut of organized religions which have long since lost any great intrinsic value, and are just preaching for that religious entity’s survival.
Then of course you brush them all aside, as a lot of the young people are doing today, and you say, “Well, let’s go find a man. This looks as though it’s not a prevalent knowledge; it’s probably just in the minds of a few. Let’s go find these few people that know it”. And again if you hunt all over the place, you find that some of these individual people who are supposed to be sages and wise men have ulterior motives. Sometimes that ulterior motive is money and sometimes it’s something else.
I went through quite a bit of things, and ended up pretty much in despair. The things that you have today were marketed in those days too. One of the things that you have to look out for are what I call gimmicks. Or you look out for the “appeal” that appeals to what you want to believe.
You have to first of all know that you can outwit yourself. You have to know that a person will choose a spiritual path because of libido. A man might join a church because it says you can have ten wives. Or a man may join a church because it promises eternity, or life after death. It promises what he wants to hear.
And I say that if you want to go out and look for the truth, you don’t postulate ahead of time what you’re going to find. You don’t use words. You don’t say, “I’m going out to search for God”. It’s alright to say that, for want of a better word; but it basically amounts to self-definition as that-which-is-the-answer. If there is something in control of the universe, that which that is, is what you search for.
You don’t name it and postulate it, then get books that have been written about it and try to imitate formulae for placating that God. This is going back to primitive religion when you do that. Taking somebody else’s word for it and then offering some sort of sacrifice or money in a collection basket or whatnot.
There is so much of this that even when we get out we rebel against our parental religion, and we go across the water and find somebody – I’ve often said where you were buying beer for the local padre you’re now buying hashish for the guru. Or maybe something else. Because the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, we look – despising our parental religion and everything of that sort – and we look for the magical. The man in the diaper as opposed to the man in the evening suit. And we embrace this sort of thing.
After ten or twenty years of it you come full tilt again, realizing that the truth is not in the organized, established religion of your ancestors perhaps, and it’s not in the gurus of some Asian country. It’s basically back in this thing called psychology. And basically you find it by looking inside of yourself.
I was twenty-one years of age when I came to the conclusion that man would not learn. People spend years – I started off in a theological department with a twelve-year course of study of Greek, Hebrew, Latin, German, astronomy even – for the purpose of being better able at the end of that course to preach to people. So I would have spent twelve years acquiring wisdom. But not any real knowledge. Just what somebody else told me was true. Just the material in the book.
When I was twenty-one years of age I realized that man never learns anything. You do not learn. There’s an old theological premise – I think Thomas Aquinas said it – that the finite mind never perceives the infinite. This is very true. And this is a stopper. When you see this, that the mind is finite, that the brain is so constructed that it’s dazzled and turned. Every time you start to think of something you forget it five minutes later.
Every time you start to hold a philosophic concept within your head, and within a half-hour it’s gone. You pledge yourself to a certain type of life and in a couple of days’ time the heat gets on you, your passions overwhelm you – and you’re down in the whorehouse or someplace and you’ve forgotten all about it. This is the type of mind we’re dealing with.
So that you say, “How can this type of mind, this finite mind, ever do anything about the cosmos?” How can it ever come up with the knowledge of an abstraction that can’t be blueprinted or recorded – along with information brought through a telescope or rockets or something of that sort?
And eventually it dawns on you that this saying is true. The finite mind will never perceive the infinite. So what do we do? We have to find a system of changing. A system of becoming less finite. This was not mentioned by the Thomistic theologians. They just said, “Believe and shut up. Trust in God. And die without making too much of a racket”.
But there is a chance. And the amazing thing about it – the people who brought this first to me were the “pagans” which we despised for centuries. And all the time that we were wrestling with these Thomistic syllogisms, there was a movement in Asia that went directly to the mind of man with a simple and direct psychology. And that’s Zen.
Now I’m not saying that’s the only way, because many of the Christians also – the Christian saints – went directly into themselves and found the truth. You go back and read their literature and you’ll find it’s there. We just read over the top of it, more or less. And when I reached my realization I went back and read certain things in the Bible that now had a meaning to me.
So Christ said, “Seek and ye shall find”. Before, that was just so many words, which we read so often we pay no attention to. But now I realized He didn’t say, “Believe”. He said, “Trust me, I’m telling you straight stuff“. But I don’t believe that he said to just believe blindly, or he wouldn’t have said, ”Seek and ye shall find”.
And this is the formula. There are other formulas also. There’s a formula laid down in the New Testament that is also laid down by Buddha. That’s the three-fold path. You have to work three things at once.
From a talk given in Columbus, Ohio. Copyright by Richard Rose. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted, by permission, from the November issue of the TAT Forum, where the rest of the talk is appearing over subsequent issues. For more information on Richard Rose’s teaching, see the Books & Tapes page of the TAT Foundation web site.
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