The Forum for Awareness
Full Index of Issues 1 thru 14
Volume 1 Number 5
The TAT Society was formed in 1973 because a need was felt for a philosophical forum, for a meeting and working together of all manners and levels of deep spiritual study and investigation, and for a friendly dialogue between material science and mystical intuition.
The latter category is especially necessary. Science disdains mysticism but it is forever and belatedly proving things previously declared as truth by an intuitive individual. Mysticism may disdain science, but it is forever attempting to tell of its findings in a scientific manner, so that it can convince rational and relative minds of its discoveries.
A place for meeting was needed and groups were formed in many Eastern cities. A farm is now available in West Virginia as a general headquarters, and study center.
The TAT Society holds meetings in a number of different cities for study and discussion. Other events, such as lectures, seminars and films, are also presented from time to time. Telephone numbers for the cities listed below are of TAT members who can provide information about activities in their area.
Akron, Ohio - Canton, Ohio - Cleveland, Ohio - Columbus, Ohio - Pittsburgh, Pa. - Washington, D.C.
Man is obviously made in order to think; it is the whole of his dignity and his merit, and his whole duty is to think as he ought. Now the order of thought is to begin with oneself, and with one's author and one's end.
What do people think about? Never about that; but about dancing, playing the lute, singing, writing verse, tilting at the ring, etc., fighting, becoming king without thinking what it means to be king, and to be man.
In the seventeenth century the Frenchman, Blaise Pascal, made his contribution to the illumination of confused humanity in terms that are manifestly clear to people today. Although a believer in the mystery of Christian salvation, Pascal's comprehension of human nature was so profound and immediate that he could explain his understanding independently of religious dogma. And his explanation seems so simple that it muffles the thunderous implication for the one who succeeds in thinking "as he ought."
It sounds like a harmless dictum to assume a dull endeavor; some might interpret it as an authoritarian command to "think like me." But what of the incredible possibility that Pascal means what he says - that there truly is a proper function of the human mind that can reveal the truth about one's nature, beginning and end? In that case, he has presented us with a practical formula for searching out life's deepest mysteries, one that transcends all distinctions between religions and philosophies. Think, not idly for diversion, but to look directly into the most difficult questions that you can conceive. Perhaps your self will answer.
This type of thought is not sustained solely by the syllogism, but moves on the wings of intuition. Pascal says, "We come to know truth not only by reason, but even more by our heart," and "The heart has its reasons which are unknown to reason; we are aware of it in a thousand ways." How, indeed, could we seek the answers to our most deeply-felt questions while locking our feelings in the box of irrelevancy? The thinker need not deny feeling any more than the believer should fail to reason. The head and the heart are exalted by their alliance.
Pascal's way is the Tao, the pathless Path that lacks travelers because of its proximity to us all. We send our thoughts ceaselessly out into the world to discover the infinite variety of objects, and become entangled in the complexity that we create. Career, family, entertainment, pleasure are transformed from the necessary elements of living into the stones of a mental prison. We can hope to be lucky enough to escape, and to discover the Great Simplicity that is our source, once we accept the duty of thought.
Editor: Louis Khourey
Managing Editor: Paul Cramer
Associate Editor: Jake Jaqua
Circulation Manager: Eric Hadidian
Printing: Doran Fried
Typesetting: Cecy Rose
Staff: Michael Baldrige, David Diaman, Keith McWilliams
© 1978 TAT Foundation. All rights reserved.
[Cover photograph by Jay Remarc]
Our two Forum essays warn that words, the philosopher's only tool, cannot take him to his goal of Truth. As Wittgenstein said: "What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence."
Blind desire, "procreant urge of the world," leaves no time for reflection. Is there any understanding it?
The Intensive Journal is a method of meditation for westerners, a roadmap of the mind. Writer Michael Baldrige tells us about Progoff, the guide, and the interior world that his Journal method helps to illuminate.
The author of "The Voices We May Hear" tells a moving and true story of a convict's struggle for dignity against both his fellow "cons" and the prison authorities.
Our three-part series on the recurrent dream concludes with an explanation of how to use the dream to recover a sense of purpose and direction in life. You can eliminate the apathy that often grows with age and renew your youthful enthusiasm.
There is no satisfactory theory to explain Biorhythms, but its supporters can produce evidence to show that "it works." This review of the Biorhythms literature suggests, however, that expectation may be father to the hoped-for result.
Beginning a new series on the teachers, masters and prophets who have helped to advance human awareness.
An English seeress viewed today's world during the sixteenth century.
Journey Of Awakening: A Meditator's Guidebook by Ram Dass, The Esoteric Philosophy Of Love and Marriage by Dion Fortune, and Pathways Through To Space by Franklin Merrell-Wolff.
You are invited to write to the "Reader's Forum" and offer comments or pose questions concerning the articles or letters published in this journal. You may also share with other readers your discoveries, investigations or resources that you may have come across in your personal search. Address your correspondence to "Reader's Forum" c/o TAT Journal, _____
Forum: After being left confounded by divergent theories on dream analysis it was not easy for me to begin David Gold's article on recurring dreams. However, I was surprised to find a simple guide for personal dream interpretation that stressed both intuition and subjective introspection.
I hope to see more articles such as this in the future, so that "laymen" such as myself will not be discouraged from taking a closer look at our Interior selves.
We think of the Journal as a place where much knowledge can be exchanged without the vagueness of undefined terminology. We are encouraging articles such as David Gold's for future issues, because they are both educational and helpful in a practical way.
Forum: A letter in the Summer issue defines heaven as "FREEDOM TO WORK" (p. 35). This is a fabulous concept.
The book Conjugial Love by Emanuel Swedenborg begins in a startling way which dramatizes this concept. A series of brilliant people are asked one by one to say what they would enjoy doing eternally. In each case they were told to try out the thing in which they thought to find happiness.
Predictably they lost their zest eventually and were then ready for new ideas. What each learned in his own way was that the key is free usefulness or work. With this as the core of life, all other things continue to be enjoyable. - Don Rose, Pittsburgh, PA.
P.S. The title is Conjugial Love. (The "I" is not a typing error.)
That's a very beautiful concept of work. Here's a partial quote from E.B. Szekely which you may find of interest.
"Work is something to be greatly desired, something to be praised and lauded by us all - our life-long friend, the giver of all gifts, the creator of everything we shall ever need or desire. And surely, with such thoughts in mind, our love for work will become deep and true. Then we shall gain the power to work even better - with greater capacity and talent - even with genius; for an intense love of work usually gives birth to genius."
Forum: Last month's feature article on "Possession" was quite interesting. I just finished reading R.D. Laing's The Divided Self, a book that contains many fascinating accounts of the interior life of schizophrenics viewed from an existentialist perspective. (That is to say that Laing views much of the mechanistic terminology of modern psychological jargon in a bad light when used in diagnosing patients, and tries, therefore, to understand the "world" of the patient in the patient's terms without bias or judgment.)
One gets the impression from some of the accounts that minor compulsions or inferences in a person's thought-life, when acted out or believed to be real, gradually gain control over other domains of the person. By person I mean the mental identity.
When the domains of voices become confused the more central and stable "I" tries to reinstate itself with elaborate theories or actions as to why it originally collaborated with the perverse thought or voice and this, in turn, may create another domain of personness that serves as mediator between the two. A theory of possession should probably start with the idea that obscure or abnormal perceptions are projected into our head by an outside agency. Then the entity is absorbed into a person's mental life with ever-increasing trauma as a result.
The question that one wants to ask is what part of myself or anyone is ultimately real? The accounts of the mentally ill reveal confused locations of the observer, but this is true for the sane as well. Often a person believes he is observing his mind objectively when actually he is just looking inward from a certain reference point. This reference point in a seeker may grow and obtain stature, when in actuality the seeker, after having discovered another observer or reference point, may come to realize that his former point of view was a form of reverie or visualization. All cults or groups must be wary of establishing a mythos that hypnotizes their members into a certain mind matrix, if an endeavor in self-awareness is to succeed.
You have presented some rather deep psychological concepts here. Perhaps you could elaborate on them for a future forum article.
Forum: I would like to respond to Robert Stern's inquiry about his recurrent dream (Forum, Summer, 1978). One interpretation seems obvious to me because it is a possibility that I have seen about myself. Floors could represent steps in evolution or self-realization, the elevator being the vehicle. Perhaps you aspire to a higher, spiritual state of being, hence the ride up to the top floor, while the less spiritual boys (the college boys laughing and rough-housing in your dream) get off at the first floor. The bottomless fourth floor with the huge desk sloping to the bottom represents your present challenge and lesson In life: You have jumped the gun and must start at the beginning in spiritual education with less of a condescending attitude towards others.
It's not easy to accept the lesson that you must get off the elevator and take the dangerous slide down rather than simply returning on the elevator. Your dream will recur until you realize its message. But you may have a clue to strengthen your motivation: You arrive safely in the dream, perhaps realizing that you could be successful in your attempt.
Ask your dream for a verification of this interpretation if you feel it is right. Good luck!
Forum: Over the past several years I've taken a special interest in possession and exorcism. I found Mr. Fitzpatrick's article intriguing and, of course, controversial. Undoubtedly he has many other psychologists cursing and muttering under their breath. Does Mr. Fitzpatrick have any other published works? Most of the material on the market about possession is somewhat "trashy" to put it bluntly, but I have found a few books I would like to recommend. Malachi Martin's Hostage to the Devil is overwhelmingly frightful and awesome, but I nevertheless accept it as a valid account. Martin Ebon's work The Devil's Bride is very valuable. Oesterreich's Possession and Exorcism is still the text book on the subject and was appropriately reviewed in the same issue of TAT Journal as Mr. Fitzpatrick's article. The only other work of much value I've found on possession is The Devil and Karen Kingston by Robert Pelton. This account of exorcism is almost too fantastical to believe but it is interesting reading at least.
Unfortunately, we all like to believe that possession was just a fantasy of some primitive and bygone era and has been "described away" by our modern witch doctors (psychologists). It is general opinion that it is a thing of the past. I wonder how many people know that William Peter Blatty's novel The Exorcist is based on the true story of a 13 year old boy?
At this time, Mr. Fitzpatrick does not have any published works on possession, although he has lectured at various universities on the subject. His experience of being a counseling psychologist at the state prison was the primary source of information which showed him that possession was indeed a serious problem.
Forum: I just thought I'd drop you a note to say that I enjoy your magazine. I've been an avid reader of many of the psychic magazines which are now on the market. I enjoy reading some of them also, but I have noticed a distinct difference between most of them and the TAT Journal. Whereas, other magazines seem to concentrate on easy-reading and sensational phenomena, the TAT Journal seems to be of a much better quality. In most of the articles in TAT I have had to concentrate fairly intently to read them, but I felt that it was well worth it. I now look forward to getting my TAT Journals and am anxious to see what comes next. I just hope that you can maintain the depth that I find in your articles because there are few other magazines which have such an intelligent attitude towards psychic phenomena and just plain being human.
It is good to get the feedback. We are always interested in how our articles are received, so that we can truly make the Journal as relevant as it can be.
What humanity knows of the world's great prophets and philosophers has been communicated by words, the coin of thought. But infatuation with words and assumption of their meanings is a danger to one who seeks deep religious or philosophical experience/understanding. William Meyers' essay on Wittengstein, the twentieth century philosopher of language, proposes that our simplest statements carry a burden of heavy metaphysical implication. James Cross's Forum contribution explains how, the greater one's desire to transcend human intellectual limitation, the greater becomes the risk that one's intellectual efforts will crystallize into a prison of belief.
Wittgenstein: On Metaphysics
by William Meyers
My usual response to people who casually ask me about the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein is: "He showed that questions requiring metaphysical answers are nonsensical." This usually sounds fine to people because they do not realize how much their own thoughts are shaped by metaphysical ideas.
To understand why metaphysics is necessarily nonsense one must investigate the nature of explanations. Consider the statement, "The Pope is dead." If someone asks for an explanation, we can define the Pope, define death, and perhaps examine the body. But suppose someone says, "The Pope's soul left his body." Here we can easily assign meaning to all the words but "soul."
In trying to understand this statement we may pick up on the meaning of the word "left" and the grammatical relation of the word "soul" to it. We ask "Where did the soul go?" Our informant may elaborate, perhaps describing heaven in detail, or reincarnation if he is into that. His description seems to make sense, but we are confused as to what happens to the Pope when the soul goes wandering on its merry journey. After some questioning we learn that though the Pope is alive his body has been left behind, dead. We say, "The soul is the part of the Pope that is alive and goes to heaven when the body dies." Our friend congratulates us on our new learning, perhaps informing us that the soul joined the body at birth.
Metaphysics is explanation, definition, or postulation that distracts us into thinking we have learned something. It often seems reasonable because it comes in response to reasonable-seeming questions and follows the sensible-sounding grammar of our language. For example we know what the word "create" means, so the question, "What created the universe?" seems reasonable. We know meanings for the words "life", "death", and "after" so the phrase "life after death" seems meaningful and so does the soul we invent to explain it.
I have chosen examples of religious metaphysics because most readers will be familiar with them. However, metaphysics permeates philosophy, where it hides behind such words as ontology, mind and value. Most positivist philosophy will be found to be useless (to someone who wants to Know): saying there is a "will" that makes decisions adds nothing to saying that decisions are made. The sciences, and especially psychology, also often resort to metaphysical explanations, particularly when trying to explain their foundations.
The critique of metaphysical explanations is perceived to be necessary only after a long process of examining one's opinions. People are initiated into the world of metaphysical ideas at the same time that they learn to use a language. The innate gullibility of the young, combined with inexperience and the natural sense that if something is grammatically correct it is real, leads to an easy acceptance of metaphysical ideas. A child who can accept a light bulb's being lit by invisible electricity can accept human life's resulting from a soul.
Most people will not consider the merit of metaphysical ideas unless they are exposed to conflicting ones. Where there is intellectual ferment or opposing cultures a percentage of the population will begin analyzing ideas, picking the ones that make the most sense to each individual. Some people will change religions, political ideologies, and philosophies of life until they find one they can feel comfortable with.
A very few will gain a momentum by this process. They realize that words that have no discernable basis in fact, that merely take a step backward from the sensory world without explaining anything, are words that they can never be comfortable with. Each metaphysical word they use becomes useless. These people are ready to invent or find an analysis such as Wittgenstein's. The usefulness of such analysis lies in enabling us to root metaphysics out of places where we did not suspect its existence. Our thoughts are clarified, we see the limits of language, and turn to noetic methods.
I remember the last philosophical dilemma that I took seriously. At the time I wondered whether I should continue to be active in politics. I felt that one thing that distinguished man from nature is that man can have a sense of fairness. I reasoned that even if it were true that a man deserves what he is responsible for producing he can in no way claim that he produced himself. Therefore if two men both work hard 40 hours a week and one was born intelligent and the other stupid, there is not a reason for the intelligent one to receive greater pay. He is not responsible for the intelligence that makes him productive. These questions, "Should I be politically active?" and "on what basis should men be paid for work?" do not seem to involve metaphysics when answered as follows: I want to become enlightened and have no time for politics or for deciding questions of justice.
"I want to become enlightened" sounds a lot like "I want a car (raise, happiness, intelligence)." However, enlightenment seems metaphysical and therefore not connected with such sensory experiences as work, sex, or not eating meat. But used properly it is not a metaphysical, nonsensical concept; it may not pretend to explain anything. We can simply use it as symbol for a state of mind in which the psyche functions without error.
Enlightenment is a metaphysical word only when one tries to work backwards from it. In our unenlightened state we project ideas into the word and then act as if we pulled knowledge from it. l assumed for my expedient answer that making political discernments has nothing to do with enlightenment. It may be part of the path to enlightenment, however, to be able to make such judgments without error even if I cannot take the time to be politically active. The mistake that is easily made here is parallel in reasoning to deciding that since no thought in itself is enlightened one should not think at all.
Though we find that metaphysics is nonsense we see that it stems from a desire to know the truth. Our minds were strengthened in working through this illusion. We are made ready to learn about things that cannot be learned by talk. Perhaps we could have learned this, too, from a slap in the face from a Zen monk. He would agree with Wittgenstein's dictum: "What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence."
Belief and Metaphysical Anxiety
by James Cross
Most of us attempting to follow one of the paths of liberation do not fully comprehend the immense struggle we are facing. What is our goal? What are we trying to attain? Maybe we can never know the answers to such questions until after we have reached whatever we are trying to reach. Maybe there are no answers. Comprehension is tied to words. Yet the one thing all mystics seem to agree upon is the ultimate inexpressibility of that which they want to achieve. "The eternal Tao is not the spoken Tao." "He who speaks does not know and he who knows does not speak."
Usually we begin our quest with some vague yearning inside ourselves. The yearning perhaps grows out of a dissatisfaction with this life - a desire for something greater. Words do not fully express the sense of this yearning yet we often try to use them to do so . We blunder about using one set of words one time and another set another time. Sometimes we become addicted to one particular set of words. These words become beliefs and we might attempt to conquer the world for the sake of them. That these words might be only one of many ways of describing religious experience is of no concern. Once these words become beliefs, they are the "Truth" and no other way of looking at the world is permissible to us.
Something happens to the believer. He or she begins with an urge for transcendence and ends with only phrases and words. It is as if a person desired to purchase a diamond but found only bits of broken glass and contented him or herself with the glass anyway. Perhaps the diamond is not so readily found as the glass.
The words "Truth" and "Absolute" are frequently sprinkled about in the literature on the paths of liberation. The goal, it is often said, is to know the "Truth," to be the "Truth," or to achieve the "Absolute." Do these words mean anything?
Words of ordinary language usually refer to things. These things might be objects, such as a tree or flower, or they might be something more complex and abstract like love or thought. Even in the case of these complex and abstract words, we can ultimately refer to objects in the world to reach their meaning. Love, while not an object as is a tree or flower, can nevertheless be understood by reference to the object loved and to the variety of emotions and bodily sensations that object seems to elicit. Even the abstraction "thought" can be understood by referring to the series of words and images that pass through our mind when we think.
This is not the case with the "Truth" or the "Absolute." When we speak of a "truth," we are referring to statement that says some thing that is true. "I went to the store yesterday," for example, is a truth if my body went through all the movements necessary to propel it to the store. If my body did not, the statement is not a truth. To what kind of statement does the "Truth" refer? Obviously no statement at all. If the word or expression the "Truth" were being used in the same sense as the words and expressions of ordinary language are used, all the mystics could tell us simply: "The Truth is thus and thus." Then we would no longer have to search for It.
If the "Truth" and the "Absolute" cannot be understood in this ordinary sense, we could say they cannot be understood at all. That is, ultimately the "Truth" lies beyond comprehension. The "Truth" and the "Absolute" are really code words that have no reference to the world of objects and no reference to other statements. Rather they are words that attempt to point to Something outside the world of objects. They are fine words so long as we do not take them too seriously and set them up like idols to be worshiped in place of the real thing.
Far too often, we make the mistake of thinking that the words "Truth" and "Absolute" can be understood in an ordinary sense. We then set out to comprehend them as we would comprehend any other word or expression and that, of course, leads us further and further from where we want to be. In the worst case, it can lead to attachment to words. This might be the most pernicious form of attachment possible. Usually when we think of attachment, we think of attachment to objects of the world. A person might be attached to money, power, or pleasure. These forms of attachment are undoubtedly inappropriate for one following a path of liberation. Yet attachment to words can be worse. Words finally refer to things of the world so our attachment to the world might not be so readily apparent.
Words, expressions, and phrases to which we become attached can be called beliefs. To the ordinary person, religion is a set of beliefs. To have religion without belief is inconceivable for most people. Yet probably this very connection in the popular mind between religion and belief is precisely what has done the most to remove the core of religious experience from religion. People have been killed for refusing to utter a series of words. Debates have raged and huge conferences have been called to clarify the exact words of a particular creed and woe to him or her who does not believe what is finally agreed upon by the majority. This is wholly mistaken. We cannot liberate ourselves by attachment to a particular set of words anymore than we can move a mountain simply by telling it to move.
What leads us to have beliefs is the same thing that leads us on the path of liberation. Sometime - at some point in our lives - existence itself becomes a problem. We want to know about ultimate things. We want to transcend ourselves. This urge or desire arises from what I call metaphysical anxiety. Other people may have other names for it.
All of us at some time have had anxiety about something quite tangible, maybe a test in school or a concern for a loved one. Metaphysical anxiety, however, arises from no tangible cause. Psychoanalytic thought would trace the origin of this anxiety back to the events of childhood. Whether this anxiety can be so traced back is of little concern. Most people at some point in their lives have a desire or urge to transcend themselves, to know the "answers" to life in some final way. This desire to make sense out of life is the same that has given birth to all philosophy and religion.
Words and verbal expressions are what we use to alleviate this anxiety. When existence becomes a problem, we begin to say words to ourselves and to others in an effort to solve the problem. Somehow these words lessen the anxiety. If they lessen the anxiety sufficiently, the words become beliefs, that is, we become attached to them. Unfortunately words by themselves can never eliminate metaphysical anxiety entirely. Only genuine liberation can do that. Our attachment to words can thus become a final barrier preventing liberation.
To the believer, what the words say may be irrelevant. In the final analysis, the words of what become our most powerful beliefs say nothing and relate to nothing in this world. The beliefs of the Christian and the Existentialist, although diametrically opposed philosophically, are identical in the function they perform - the alleviation of metaphysical anxiety through words.
Beliefs and attachment to words do not exist solely in the realm of religion and philosophy. The scientist arguing for a theory when all evidence points to its erroneousness, the radical insisting the Revolution will arrive in a few years, even the psychotherapist urging us to get into contact with our real emotions - all of these to a greater or lesser extent may have invested psychic energy into their words. Philosophy and religion have been preferred areas for people's beliefs simply because there is less chance for disappointment in them. The person who believes in God can never really have His existence disproven.
Beliefs are ways of binding and locking psychic energy. Yet this bondage can never be final. The energy is always striving to break free and when it does, the metaphysical anxiety reappears in the believer. The strong urge that many believers have to convert those around them to their beliefs is really a reflection of the tenuousness of bonds restraining this energy. Liberation must be the final freeing of this energy.
None of this intends to derogate the value of ideas and concepts. Ideas and concepts should be like tools. Once used, they should be put aside. When we have finished digging a hole, the shovel is put away. We do not carry it around with us wherever we go. Beliefs are usually fine ideas that we have strapped to ourselves beyond the point of any usefulness. Just as a person cannot walk comfortably with a shovel always in hand so too we will not travel lightly on the path of liberation if we have tied ourselves with beliefs.
Want to write to someone in the TAT Forum? Send your initial correspondence in a separate, stamped and unaddressed envelope to the TAT Forum and we will mail it to the party you choose.
What's Your Fuel
by Michael Treanor
Acquire. We wake and sleep to the soothing, rhythmical clicking of a subliminal imperative, acquire. Of course, we don't outright, daytime acknowledge our submission to this subtle directive we blame on our society, on our economy, on our heritage even, having been reproved by writers and churchmen and statesmen and teachers and Cub Scout leaders for so long, and having hated ourselves the morning after the purchase of a whitewall, 8-track, pushbutton bucket seat recliner, and having kicked ourselves for squandering our pennies on so many knickknacks from the seashore, and having raspberried the fat, happy, money-grabbing S.O.B. in the mirror so many times we can't possibly face the golden sore thumb of a fact that no matter how much we frown, how often we spit, we still do: we still want. acquire. So we call the urge by another name. We have free will to exercise, we say. Achieve.
"Get up and be somebody!" my division petty officer used to inspire us in the wee hours. "There's decks to swab!" America rises and musters for role call: "Tommy. Darlene. Cubby. Annette!" A quick bowl of Wheaties and we're off. There are sheepskins to buy, corporations to merge, commissions to earn, violin lessons to take, footballs to pass, heads to turn, hearts to break. Lunch. Money to make, recognition to have, love to win, things to grab, people to fool, loneliness to flee... eeeeeeeEEE!! The whistle blows and, lickety-split, we're zipping down the tracks, hell bent for. . hell bent for... hell.... Where are we going?
"Urge and urge and urge," says Walt Whitman. "Always the procreant urge of the world." Locking Freud in the closet for a moment (about as long as we'll be able to), let us raise our heads a little from this cowcatcher we're strapped to and squint our cross-eyes down the tracks to the horizon, if we can make it out.
Where are we going? What is it we hope to achieve? What do we really want? Let us be as honest as we dare. We certainly don't want material goods, knowing we can't take them with us. (So we ignore them as they lay around the house or in the garage, or drip preciously from our person.) We don't want money: it's too much of an inconvenience, making it, spending it, evading taxes. We don't want love, only True Love, and that we can't find. We don't want fame, not without privacy. We don't want war: It's too risky. We don't want peace: It's too boring. What do we want? (Not yet, Sigmund.)
"These are the facts, when it gets down to brass tacks." For what we want there is no consensus, only that we want, pure and simple. Urge Primeval. We want - there is no stopping it - we want. Call the drive what we will, our boilers are stoked; steam is up. Desire moves; intellect punches tickets and hollers destinations. Like so many fatsos huffing and puffing to be skinnysos, we outwit ourselves time and again. Thinking slim, we desire chocolates. Desire wins. "Ya gotta want it!" screams a nation of football coaches. And we do; we can't help ourselves. Only what we say we want and what rumbles and fumes and pushes us forward are often as alike as marbles and kitty litter.
Are we on the right track? Is the sense of dynamic motion itself all we need to assure ourselves of reaching the proper destination? Can we, crayons in hand, afford to bury ourselves, in train schedules, checking off wishful stops while ignoring or downplaying the passing, telltale scenery? Can we, without first acquiring some directional control of desire - procreant urge of the world - truly hope to choose our own course? Can we truly achieve? Do we care? or do we, relaxing in our Pullman, merely ignore all this hooting and bellowing and snuggle up to another chocolate?
Ira Progoff, the Intensive Journal and Me
by Michael Baldrige
When I look back upon the Intensive Journal Workshop, which I attended in New York City, there is an element of confusion in my mind because of the many rich experiences which were compacted into only six days. Psychologically, I was at a low point and I found the mayhem of New York City in August to be a wonderful complement to my depression. Now that I'm back in familiar surroundings, where the activity is calmer, I am left with a morass of impressions.
I remember hundreds of mad taxicabs weaving down the boulevards of Manhattan. I was tucked away in a tiny cubicle on the fifth floor of the YMCA on 47th Street and I momentarily contemplated how it felt to be one of the Eight Million. It was not so bad until I tried to stick my head out the window to get some fresh air and found that there was none. The elevators had an elusive way of never being there. You can't get a room at 9:46 but you can get one at 10:01. "They" wanted $3.25 for a hamburger and you had to wait forty-five minutes to get it. There were porno shops and garbage scattered everywhere. The taxi driver said that I was cheap and the homosexuals had a billboard that said, "Revenge." Everywhere I went it seemed like I had to wait in line until I would reach the critical point between irritation and apathy.
I went into a bookstore and saw a book that proclaimed, "What is Wrong with us?" and I had to buy it. Whatever Became of Sin? was the title. I made my way to a small delicatessen where there were only three or four unpretentious New Yorkers propped up on stools. A bum came in wearing a long trench coat. They wouldn't serve him until he flashed a wad of bills, explaining that he had been up all night at the hospital and had attended a funeral the next day so he hadn't had a chance to shave. The next day I passed him sleeping out on the sidewalk. The man behind the counter was having a change of heart. He explained to his buddy how he had always been a happy-go-lucky guy. He was content to do his duty and he gave me my tuna fish sandwich. The contrast between his simplistic attitude and my burgeoning despair sent a feeling of irony through me. His attempt at being cheerful was warm; it was also phony and mildly pathetic, but it was evidently good enough for me as it catalyzed an odd sensation. As I sat there eating my sandwich I felt something floating up inside of myself and it seemed to say, "These are my people;" I felt a wave of sadness rush through me and experienced an affinity for the human race.
I had felt these emotional upheavals often during the past two weeks and I could not figure out what was happening to me. My business was falling behind, I felt out of touch with my family and friends, and it seemed that every time I tried to set myself on the "right" course I only came upon confusion. I found out later that I was a prime candidate for the Intensive Journal Workshop. Bohdan Hodiak, the religion editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette whom I had met at a TAT Chautauqua, wrote an article about the Workshops entitled, "Journal, Self-Help Way of Riding Out Problems of Change." In that article he presented some quotes by depth psychologist Ira Progoff, who developed the Intensive Journal over the last fifteen years. "If people don't have a means of moving through a change they will become confused and troubled and disturbed. They will have symptoms and if they go to a psychologist or psychotherapist they may be considered to have psychological problems. But Ira Progoff, the author of eleven books and the founder of Dialogue House, has developed an alternative concept to the analytical approach in psychology. He first became known as an interpreter of C.G. Jung, with whom he studied, and later as the author of a series of books in which he developed the ideas of Holistic Depth Psychology, including The Death and Rebirth of Psychology and The Symbolic and the Real. He has also studied with the well-known Zen Master, D.T. Suzuki.
"What the Journal does is capture the process of our lives. We all have self-directing and self-healing capacities. The problem is to get hold of them and sometimes it's like trying to capture smoke."
For ten years he was the Director of the Institute of Research in Depth Psychology at the Drew University Graduate School where he developed the conviction that the "cutting apart" methods used in diagnosis of psychological conditions direct too much attention to the by-products of an inner growth process rather than working with the dynamics of that process. Further investigation into the elusive Tao or growth principle in life led to his development of the Intensive Journal method for evoking in the psyche an awareness of that growth process that generates its own creative energy, its own greater possibilities of evolution.
Between 1966 when he created the Intensive Journal method and 1975 when he published At a Journal Workshop, his definitive text on the use of the method, Dr. Progoff conducted hundreds of workshops in all parts of the country, testing and refining his method with all age levels and social and economic groups. Dialogue House, located at 80 East 11th Street, New York, New York, now conducts the National Intensive Journal Program, holding weekend Journal Workshops throughout the country. Inquiries are welcome and At a Journal Workshop can be ordered in paperback at $5.95 per copy.
During the Workshop we were called upon to write in our Journals and describe how we felt at different stages of the process. I will describe that process later, but on the third day of the Intensive I wrote: "If there is anything I desire now, it is death. I want to die, but not physically. I want all the remorse, all the hope, all the prayers, and the evil within me - I want it to dissolve. I do not want to return. There is no place for me." I showed it to Dr. Progoff and he said, "That's what the Journal process is all about." He said that when a person is in the process of growth his old self or personality must die, in a sense, before he can move on to his new self or the next stage of development.
His comments triggered a series of reflections which shed a little light on my situation and on the way of the Intensive Journal. I saw how my attempts at dealing with my life had consistently met with frustration. In some subtle way I had been working against myself. I remembered something I had read by Carl Jung which intimated that many times people will develop a neurosis when a deeper part of them is looking for a way to change from an old way of existing to a more internally satisfying way. This may sound like a jumble of words to many, but their real problems are problems of transition, which are problems of growth." When I first read this it did not strike me as being relevant to my condition, but after I went through the Workshop process it seemed to explain what was happening to me. What it implies is basic to the Intensive Journal approach. First, there is a deeper part of us which has a knowledge of its own. As Progoff has said, "Man does indeed know intuitively more than he rationally understands." Second, we do have an inherent direction towards growth which underlies our movement through life. This deeper knowing will steer us towards situations that will teach us the lessons that we need, however painful they may be.
Progoff illustrates how our lives can move in ways that are actually opposed to our conscious desires: "When you're in a great darkness or feeling very depressed, or a lot of anxiety, there are methods of working (the Intensive Journal) that will allow our life to tell us what it's seeking to achieve; beyond that blockage, beyond that stuck point." That, in a nutshell, is precisely what the Intensive Journal does. It enables us to enter the depths of ourselves where we can observe the organic continuity of our lives, and return to the surface with the knowledge of where we are headed.
This principle is based on an abstract and paradoxical idea, illustrated in Taoism by the circular nature of all growth. It carries an intimation of predestination or teleology as well. But the concepts behind the Journal are not important. What is important is that the Intensive Journal leads us to observe an inner process directly in the depths of our own minds.
The Journal... generates energy and helps us to answer some of our questions in life, not by analyzing, but by simply putting us into contact with the underlying movement of our lives.
A Gathering of Travelers
The first segment of the Workshop began on a Friday night on the second floor of the Carnegie International Center, across the street from the United Nations. When I arrived to register for this "Life Context Workshop" I received my Intensive Journal notebook for use both at the Workshop and when doing the Journal work at home alone. It was a standard notebook with twenty-one dividers representing the different kinds of entries that are part of the "Journal Feedback" process. On its cover was the Dialogue House symbol which, to me, was a representation of "numinosity" or even of the "beings of light" which have been sensed by many people, including myself, at deeper levels of awareness.
As I waited for the workshop to begin I took note of the crowd. Over two-thirds of the participants were women and there were very few couples. All age groups were represented, but most were between twenty-five and fifty. Before most of the participants had arrived there was very little chit-chat. All of the apparently intent women around me were organizing their Journals in the spirit of refined businesswomen who did not have time to waste. By the time everyone had arrived there were 240 exuberant people packed into the banquet hall and about a hundred simultaneous conversations. People were talking about "getting their act together," other growth systems like EST, Sufism, Gestalt and Zen, "Is this your first workshop?", life in the ministry or monastery, the Journal method, Carl Jung, "Where you from?" and so on.
Soon Ira Progoff briskly strolled in carrying a briefcase and a small tape recorder. I had read a few of his books before the workshop and had felt an affinity for his direction, so I was naturally very curious about him. I also had my doubts. Was he one of those "over-intellectual" philosophers, or perhaps a pompous psychologist? I did not really expect that he would be, and my first impression confirmed that feeling. He struck me as a man who was quite in touch with himself in a real way. Just as I was checking him out, he was checking out everyone there. His head hung down a bit as he smiled to himself and made his way to the stage. He looked like he was ready to get down to business.
His demeanor, as he sat solidly in his chair at the front of the room, struck me as a combination of Red Skelton's and that of a guru who tends to forget about his body, who sits self-contained, in one place, seeing no need to move about. At times he would press his hands together as he seemed to reach deep within himself, to be in touch with his inner being, and he tried to speak from that place.
His delivery, on the other hand, was purely Ira Progoff, a psychologist who has a practical methodology for self-growth and a sense of caring for others. He talked about how important he felt the summer Workshops had been because, for the first time, they were presented in the full sequence lasting six days which have the effect of what he called a "progressive deepening." This Workshop in New York City, the home of Progoff's Dialogue House, was the last of a tour which had included Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as shorter Workshops in other cities.
Some of the Dialogue House staff members, who seemed to be friendly people, passed out sets of purple dividers for the people who had not received the most recent addition to the Intensive Journal called "Process Meditation." Dr. Progoff said that after this series of Workshops he would be going into seclusion to work out a book on this form of meditation.
After a discussion of some of the operating principles, and a few laughs, we began our work in the Journal. The first of twenty-one sections was entitled the "Period Log." In At a Journal Workshop, Progoff's manual for using the Journal method, he leads us into this section: "Let us begin by closing our eyes, relaxing, and quietly, inwardly, feeling the movement of our lives. We let ourselves feel the implications of the question, `Where am I now in my life?' We let the answer to this shape itself only in general terms behind our conscious minds. We do not direct ourselves into thinking about it deliberately, but we let ourselves inwardly feel the movement of our life as it has been taking shape in this present period."
As we did this inward looking, we simply described the inner and outer events which have taken place in the most recent period of our lives. In this simple exercise, which forces us to become aware, we are stirring our minds for the first bit of "feedback" which begins a process that gradually leads to the uncovering of the deeper contents of life. Many of these contents are dormant, in an unconscious state within us, and writing in the Journal becomes a tool for focusing our attention on our much neglected inner experience. As memories are aroused within us and we look at them and describe them in our Journals, we remember still more of our experience. Finally, we are able to place our full attention on these thoughts, feelings and images which hold the meaning of our lives, and work with them in dynamic ways. This is the "Journal feedback" process.
The Way of the Journal
Writing in our Journals is the basic external activity of the Intensive Journal from beginning to end, but it is not literary writing or even progressive writing. The writing is simply a reflection of the movement within us, as if our minds and feelings were hooked up to a strip-chart recorder which registered our highs and lows in an objective way. When we go back over our Journal writing, it usually has meaning for us because it was written while we were observing ourselves directly. Rereading our Journal entries also has the benefit of "feeding" those experiences back into our conscious personality. Again, that is the "Journal feedback" process. There is a principle at work which is self-integrating and promotes a tendency for the individual to move toward a state of equilibrium or "wholeness." As we become aware of our storehouse of memories, feelings and images (feeding them back into our computer), this is something which happens to us automatically, just from the process of getting in touch with ourselves. In the language of depth psychology, it is called "integration." Along with it, there may be a healing power and a generation of energy, as well as a deepening of our perspective.
Perhaps there are spirits that guide our lives, but maybe they are just "psychological" spirits, created from the substance of our minds.
Dr. Progoff has called the Journal method a non-analytical tool for growth. Some may call it therapeutic and others see it as a spiritual discipline. During the workshop, he frequently advised us not to make judgments and not to analyze the thoughts that come to us. We just record them in a neutral way, let them speak for themselves, and continue with the work.
To my mind, this is really one of the keynotes of the Intensive Journal. When we analyze our experience, we tend to move in circles, and are merely just reprocessing the data that is already familiar to us. In other words, it often becomes a "head-trip" where we work on a level that is divorced from the gut level of our real feelings and from our own realistic capacities. The process of analyzing tends to run into dead ends. As Progoff has said, it does not generate energy.
The Journal, on the other hand, generates energy and helps us to answer some of our questions in life, not by analyzing, but by simply putting us into contact with the underlying movement of our lives. Progoff said, "We don't get resolutions of questions by figuring them out. It all comes indirectly." This doesn't mean that we are helpless. It just means that we need another manner of approach.
The Journal process is very difficult to talk about because it is such a different thing for different people. It is obviously more meaningful to do it than to talk about it, because it is research into the subjective sphere of our lives. As I sat in my chair and wrote in my notebook about my inner experience, there were two hundred other people in the room doing the same thing. Except for questions aimed at Dr. Progoff and his leading statements, our attention was not turned toward each other, but toward our own "solitary work." No one can say exactly what happened at the Workshop except as it concerned himself. As I looked around the room on the third or fourth day of the Workshop, I became acutely aware that there were two hundred unique individuals who were in the midst of a most meaningful kind of work. As the days of the workshop progressed, I sensed that people were becoming more alive and alert. Many seemed relieved by virtue of having seen and accepted their internal condition.
Besides the Journal writing, we paused after each exercise in the Journal to have some people read what they had written. This was very conducive to the formation of a group "atmosphere," which is one of the values of being at a workshop as opposed to doing the Journal work by oneself. That atmosphere is a feeling of mutual, yet silent, support, which tends to develop spontaneously as the Workshop progresses and each individual gains a deeper contact with himself. Without this reinforcement many individuals might find it very difficult to undertake such a challenging and dangerous task as opening up their minds to the sometimes frightening contents that well up, from the "unconscious."
The Intensive Journal itself is a structured way of approaching self-knowledge. It is structured in a particular way for a particular reason. Progoff recognized the fact that our lives are continually in motion; therefore, the structure must not be hard and fast, but must be able to reflect this movement. He compared the process with trying to capture smoke. In At a Journal Workshop he said, "It must be clear to us at this point in our workshop that there is no single correct way to draw the material of our lives together. But we follow the guidelines of a basic general format, and we improvise experimentally with the contents of our mind."
Our relationships with people, and especially our family, are not subject to the laws of time and space, but we have a direct access to another person's life through the "underground stream."
He based his structure on the "study of creative lives" which he conducted when he was Director of the Institute for Research in Depth Psychology at the Graduate School of Drew University. He wanted to know, for instance, how "creative" people keep from stagnating. Out of this, and his experiments in therapeutic practice and his personal use of a psychological workbook, the Intensive Journal was developed over the last twenty years by trial and error. There are now twenty-one sections in the Journal notebooks. Each of the sections represents a separate aspect of life, or a certain meditative way of approach wherein we record certain kinds of internal data in specific ways. Here are the sections as they are so divided in the Intensive Journal:
The Well of the Mind
In the first segment of Workshops, the Life-Context Workshop, we worked mostly with the Period Log and the Life-Time Dimension. We reflected upon and wrote about our lives as a whole. Starting with the Period Log, dealing with our most recent period of living, we moved into the section called Steppingstones. The Steppingstones of a person's life are the meaningful points or turning points. We were advised by Dr. Progoff to limit ourselves to twelve Steppingstones so that we would naturally choose the most significant.
My Steppingstones included: being born in Baltimore; various times that our family moved; traumas that I experienced in grade school; our family breaking up when I was in junior high school; leaving home after high school; breaking up with a high school girl friend; taking a trip to Alaska; joining the counterculture and becoming disillusioned; living in Boston; and meeting a particular person who had an effect on my spiritual direction.
After we had a feel for our Steppingstones, we were instructed to take one of those items and write about it in depth. As we wrote down those facts and feelings which we could remember, gradually the whole structure of that time in our lives would become visible until you would almost "be there," watching your life rerun itself, complete with at least some vivid details and emotional feelings from the past. The Steppingstone that I explored was a hitchhiking trip that I took to Alaska. I felt that it was a meaningful point in my life because it caused me to develop a new sense of appreciation. We suffered many deprivations and I found a new value in such simple things as a comfortable bed, a friendly face, a piece of fruit, or a good meal. As I wrote in my Journal, I even remembered my state of mind, which was quite different from the way I look at myself today. I wrote: "I remember thinking I was a real hippie, looking out at the world with nervous angry eyes. We stood all night by the ramp, hoping for a ride across the bridge into Canada. Just when we were feeling most desolate at two a.m., a carload of six or seven screaming people drove by with their arms waving wildly out the window and they called us 'faggots.'"
The Journal process causes us to remember many things which we normally would not. For instance, these experiences which I have recorded took place almost ten years ago and since that time I have moved almost to the other end of the spectrum from being a counterculture martyr. I had almost forgotten that I was even like that during one phase of my life. As I reflected upon the period and observed my life as a whole, I gained a comforting sense of history and direction. Just as previous times of my life were stages of growth, so too is my present predicament. No matter how bad it seems at the time, it is not the end of the world; it is merely the low (or high) ebb of the cycle which may repeat itself indefinitely. With this knowledge, we need not react to situations, but instead should gain contact with our deeper selves. Thus we see where the events of our lives are leading us and we are able to act accordingly.
If we look for phenomenal happenings, and get frustrated because we are not experiencing any, we are working against ourselves. We are denying ourselves the actuality of this moment which is what we want to get in touch with.
Writing down the Steppingstones, or turning points of our life history, teaches us the use of a valuable tool which can be applied to anything that we desire to understand. To be able to see history has the effect of putting things into their proper perspective or context. If we could see the history of our friends, we might find a new compassion for them. We realize that, given the same conditions of upbringing, genetic possibilities, and environmental influence, we would react in the same way as they.
Dr. Progoff said that the "Life-Contest" workshop is an important beginning for doing the Journal work. He mentioned that some of the experiences which may result from the process can be as "dangerous" as LSD. In some cases a large amount of energy can be unleashed, and when we unlock the door to the "unconscious" it has a tendency to have its own momentum which can lead to some nightmarish visions. There are many painful memories which lie buried within us. By putting ourselves first into the context of our lives, we will not be overwhelmed by some of the things that can well up inside of us. When we are in the midst of a very intense experience we might be inclined to overreact. When we can take a step back from it and gain an overview of life, we then are better able to handle it.
Some of the most intriguing segments of the Journal work were the "Dialogue" sections, particularly "Dialogue with Persons" and the "Inner Wisdom dialogue." In "Dialogue with Persons" we were instructed to make a listing of people who are, or have been, meaningful to us. We chose one of these persons who has an "inner meaning" for us and we prepared ourselves for our "imaginary" Dialogue with him. We did this by closing our eyes and trying to feel the "Steppingstones" of his life. Then, we wrote out his Steppingstones, in the first person, as though we were talking about ourselves. As we wrote about this person in our life, gradually more and more of the details of this person's personality seemed to come to life within us. Perhaps we could almost feel his presence within us. Then, we simply began a Dialogue with him in our Journal notebooks.
As I spontaneously wrote this conversation in my Journal, I definitely had the feeling that there were two distinct people talking. This was quite amazing to me. My friend was "saying" things that I never would have expected. It was a bit too personal to mention here, but he had some very pertinent criticisms for me and I for him. Our conversation started very casually and developed into an argument. As we continued, we gradually let down the defenses and eventually got to the root of our disagreement. This conversation went on for some time, until finally we came to a still point and there was no longer any need for words. As I stopped writing, and closed my eyes, I saw and felt two resonating glows of light which were side by side somewhere in the depths of my mind.
During the coffee break I talked to a woman in the lobby who had been doing the Journal method for a number of years. I think she said she was a nun, but she didn't wear a habit. She told me that nearly every time she got into a good Dialogue with someone and they reached a state of rapport, they would appear in her consciousness as two glows of light. I talked with another woman who said that she had a deep and involving Dialogue with her eldest son which tore her apart emotionally. Less than an hour later, her son called her at her motel. Many people told me that after they have these Dialogues, and they speak again with the real person, it is as though the other person knew about their Dialogue and they reach a new understanding with them.
With everyone involved in the same process which uncovered the universal fact of suffering, there was an unspoken atmosphere which allowed some people to vent their long suppressed tears without intrusion.
These Dialogues can be another valuable tool, regardless of whether you believe in the psychic contact or not. The process is basically the same in each of the Dialogue sections. You come into contact with the person or event that you want to "Dialogue with" by describing in your Journal the things that you see in your mind's eye which relate to that person. You write the Steppingstones of the person or event and eventually they come to life. I had many speculations about what was really taking place in these Dialogues. I'm sure many psychiatrists would frown on the technique, assuming that it creates only illusions which are born out of wishful thinking, but it evidently does more than that.
While one woman read her "Dialogue with her fear," I had the impression that she was actually talking with some kind of being. She was moved to the point of tears as this being spoke through her and gave her the desperately wanted advice that she needed. I would not go as far as to say that these beings exist or do not exist, but I am convinced that there is something more than imagination at work. Perhaps there are spirits that guide our lives, but maybe they are just "psychological" spirits, created from the substance of our minds.
Basically, in all of these Dialogues as well as the other exercises in the Journal, we are tapping our minds for their deepest held secrets. Ira Progoff uses the image of "the Well and the Cathedral," which is the title of a book he wrote. We go down into the well of our minds to bring the raw material of our lives to the surface where we separate the gold from the dross. Through the bottom of the well we come to the "underground stream" where we are all connected universally. This idea of a universal connection explains the fact that we can have an "imaginary" conversation with someone that contains a real aspect to it. This is because, at a deeper level, our relationships with people, and especially our family, are not subject to the laws of time and space, but we have a direct access to another person's life through the "underground stream." One of the quotes which I heard at the workshop depicts this possibility: "You can end a life, but you can't end a relationship." Many people, after the death of a loved one, have reported that they still felt a sense of contact with the person.
Journey to the Source
The second segment of Workshops was entitled the "Depth-Feedback" Workshop. I noticed right away that there seemed to be less joking around. There were fewer people there, and I had the impression that many of them had been through the process before. Dr. Progoff also spent less time in discussion and we spent more time working in our Journals.
We began working in the "depth dimension," which deals with dreams and the nebulous subliminal impressions that can generally be observed only very faintly within our minds. This latter category is called "Twilight Imagery." It may be one of the favorite exercises for many people doing the Journal work, because it is like an adventure into an unpredictable realm. Twilight Imagery is images or feelings which we might see in the "Twilight" state between waking and sleep. In the case of a Workshop, however, it is just a matter of turning our full attention inwards, allowing ourselves to be relaxed, and letting them come. At times it seems as if you are creating them, but it is important to let go, and let them be spontaneous. In this way, they will be reflections of the quality of our being.
Many times, while I tried to distinguish the images at this subtle level of my mind, I could sense a motion, or see a faint impression, but I just could not bring it into focus. I had to settle for a vague impression, but whatever it was that we observed (even if it was only blackness and frustration), we were instructed to write it down.
Dr. Progoff advised us to "start where you're at" which I thought was necessary advice. In other words, at any given moment in time, something is happening within us, and whatever it is, even if it is rather negative, it is our starting point for drawing ourselves into focus. If we look for phenomenal happenings, and get frustrated because we are not experiencing any, we are working against ourselves. We are denying ourselves the actuality of this moment which is what we want to get in touch with. It becomes a kind of self-judgment which is only self-defeating. But, if we become aware that we are making this self-judgment, then we can go on, because then we have recognized our actual internal condition which has the effect of drawing us deeper.
The Workshop is a tool and not a dogma, whereby people can come into contact with their own lives and begin to sort out their own problems without feeling that they must live up to someone else's standards.
One of my most interesting experiences at the Workshop happened to me after a prolonged period of "twilight imaging." This was on the fifth day of the Workshop which was the last segment entitled the "Feedback Meditation" Workshop. We were doing one of the exercises in the Process Meditation section of the Journal called "Mantra Crystals." We were instructed by Progoff to create our own seven syllable mantra. He defined mantra loosely as "anything that acts as an aid to meditation" or a "crystal from the past." We were not to take our mantra from a holy text or from TM. It was important that we develop it ourselves, out of our own history. He said that one person used the mantra ,"Tinker to Evers to Chance" which is an old and famous baseball double-play combination. It was not important what the words meant, but merely that it felt ''right" to us. While I was trying to find the right mantra to use (I was a little skeptical about using a mantra to begin with), I reflected upon a "peak" experience I once had while working on a roof. I tried to put myself back into the "feel" of that experience and what followed were seven rather meaningless symbols, which felt somewhat "eastern" to me, but that seemed to represent the energy of that experience in at least an adequate way.
It was: RAY-OM-NOM-RAY-KON-RAFTEE. I didn't know what good it would do, but I started repeating it over and over. My attention continually drifted from the mantra, and instead of a meditation I saw some very vivid "twilight imagery." "I see a fat Chinese girl reading a map. . . I see roses and white robes dancing. . . Jacqueline Kennedy saying "thank you..." None of it made sense, but it just kept coming. "I walked into a dark, dusty book store - all the books were old. I looked in a mirror and I saw my brother instead of myself." As I continued, the mantra spontaneously changed to something else without my consent: "I am light, the love of life." Then I saw "hundreds of bottles of exquisite wine in exotic shapes and colors on a shelf in an old-fashioned bar." All the while these images kept coming, I was getting more and more disoriented, and I felt more and more alone. There was almost a sinister, paranoid element to some of them which reminded me of childhood fears. After about a half hour or more, there was another sequence of images which were just more of the same, but which led to an emotional release that seemed to be a culmination of my recent anxieties. "There was this real cute dancer on the subway and when I stepped on her toe, she beamed into a bright smile. I saw a picture of Christ; He looked life a goofball. There was the Wicked Witch of the West hovering in the air. Some woman tossed something aside in a rather arrogant and nonchalant way." Just after this series of images, I saw my mother smiling. She was looking right at me and I knew she was doing well. It was different than the other images. I had the feeling, whether real or imaginary, that she was really present, and she was caring for me. For the next ten or fifteen minutes I had my hands over my face and I was weeping very deeply. I managed to keep it fairly well concealed and I continued with the "twilighting," but this sorrow (or relief) just kept welling up within me in an organic way until finally it ended of its own accord. When it stopped, I felt as if I had been through something which had washed the anxieties and fears out of me. At this time, I do not see the necessity to analyze the value of such an experience, although I think it may hold an important insight into my development. After it was over, I felt serene and ready to move on. Although this was a very intense experience for me, it was not an atypical experience at a Workshop. It seemed that an atmosphere formed which gradually and imperceptibly grew towards a more serious intent and also friendlier, more open feelings. Some people had their eyes closed in deep meditation. Others wrote furiously in their Journals. Still others had pensive looks on their faces and some people were crying. With everyone involved in the same process which uncovered the universal fact of suffering, there was an unspoken atmosphere which allowed some people to vent their long suppressed tears without intrusion.
As I was not familiar or comfortable with New York City, I tended to hang close with the people who attended the Workshop and the Dialogue House staff. To me, they were the sanest people around. While I wrote in my Journal, an image came to me that reflected, in a sense, how I felt about the people at the Workshop. "We are all in a movie about a passenger plane that is destined to crash. Death becomes the great equalizer whereby we focus on the uniqueness of each life. Each person on board becomes transparent and you can see their history unfolding with all its struggles and frailties. As I look back through the rows of the airplane, each person is clearly distinguishable, and I see some kind of 'aura' around each person's face."
Down Another Road
The meaning of the Intensive Journal Workshop can only be experienced by the individual who works through it, in a way that will be uniquely related to his past life, desires, hopes and willingness to face his deepest self. TAT Journal reporter Katherine Harper recorded her impressions following a Workshop that she attended last spring in Kirkbridge, Pennsylvania.
"I was not adept at turning inward and it showed on the pages of intellectual ruminations of a past I'd already "figured out." I was not alone in finding it grueling. Some read aloud their entries, expressing a sense of psychological blocking and limitations. Most seemed to feel the need to be less emotional or less intellectual about it. As the day wore on people compensated for the intensity with added cushions on their seats, sitting on the floor, shoes off, etc. Dinner was a welcome reprieve. The evening session was more reflective; people volunteered their reactions spontaneously. One woman said that she could not get past the idea that she was writing for someone else to read. She wanted to feel special enough to write just for herself. Some people expressed their struggles in exploring their Steppingstones. I was feeling a strange anxiety at being driven along with no time to think about what I was writing. I sensed that my idea of my 'Now' situation was not as clear as I had thought. It had been a long day but many people stayed up late that night with their Journals."
" ... The structure of a Workshop enables a person to realize more quickly and fully a capacity for the 'creative intuition' of which the philosopher, Henri Bergson, spoke, by means of which we can contact the vital force of our lives. I have seen in my own experience that it is very difficult to place oneself in a situation requiring discipline and to maintain the degree of attention necessary to achieve results. So we realize the need for 'authorities' to place us there. And then we want to escape - or something in us wants to escape."
"The difficulty I experienced with 'going inward,' with seeing other people struggle, made me look at that irresistible tendency to resist the effort, forget the motivation. The Journal Workshop structure is a way of 'helping' to put one into the situation of understanding oneself. It provides an atmosphere with fewer external opportunities for rationalizing and procrastinating. For some people, that could mean the difference between going within and not doing so. But while there may be 'something' in us that wants to escape, the inward process that the Intensive Journal method seeks to reveal to us suggests the possibility that there may also be something in us that does not want to escape. Perhaps, then, the integrative experience is a matter of that something being heard and looked into."
The Cathedral of the Heart
One of the last sections of the Journal was called "Testament." In this section we recorded in a general way, as Dr. Progoff said, "how the reality of life seems to us." More specifically, we "record those statements of belief that we have worked out, that have a more lasting meaning for us." Our Testament is "the book of spiritual wisdom that is us - our own personal scripture." This seemed to be a most fitting end for the Workshop because it gave the opportunity to bring many of our experiences into focus as a formula for living. Now that we had been into and through our minds in a most direct way, which is real psychological research, we had our own views about what the nature of that reality is. Since these views come from our own direct experience, and not from someone else's book of wisdom, they have meaning for us and we can work with them in the future. This represents one of the essential values that the Workshop has; it is a tool and not a dogma, whereby people can come into contact with their own lives and begin to sort out their own problems without feeling that they must live up to someone else's standards.
In this process of becoming aware, we come into contact with the underlying movement of our lives and many things become self-evident without the effort of analysis.
The Journal process works on our problems by an indirect method. There is no section of the Journal called "decision making" where you would logically list the pros and cons of a situation, decide what you want and pick one or the other. This approach has certain limitations. Although it may help us to get a picture of certain options that are available, we are still oversimplifying the factors and maybe also being unrealistic about our own capacities and limitations. To know these factors it is necessary to get in touch with oneself. The conscious mind has a tendency to be one-sided, but at a deeper level we can see the interplay of opposites in any given situation which move regardless of our conscious control. With this knowledge, we are less prone to make hasty decisions, because we know that we are merely looking at one side of the picture. However, in this process of becoming aware, we come into contact with the underlying movement of our lives and many things become self-evident without the effort of analysis.
Dr. Progoff suggested that when we come to a decision during the Journal process it is best to give it the test of time. He said that many times we gain intimations of our next stage of growth on a subliminal level but at the level of everyday experience we are not ready for it or the kinds of activities that might go with it. His suggestion was that we loosen our hold on our conscious desires and let them form themselves out of the continuity of our lives as a whole. When a decision is clear enough, it will fit into our lives in a natural way. Again, however, we still must enter into the depths of ourselves to be in touch with this natural movement. Decisions may then be formed which are more realistic and also more integral to our real aims in life.
Progoff has talked about the "elusiveness of the growth principle." He said, "The psychological cycles of growth move so slowly and circuitously that even when something very important is germinating underneath, people are often misled into believing that no growth is taking place at all." As I sat in my room at the YMCA reading this, I reflected upon my experience at the delicatessen where I became emotionally concerned with people I had never met before. Progoff went on: "The growth of a human being consists of so many subjective experiences, hidden and private to the person, that the markings of change are difficult to discern." I had felt quite hopeless and at an end point in regard to the direction of my life when I had said earlier, "I want to die, but not physically." I continued reading. "Especially misleading is the fact that the active germination of a growth process often takes place at the low, seemingly negative, phase of a psychological cycle." Gradually, as I worked with my life throughout the Workshop, I realized that I was in the midst of a cycle that was in fact repeating itself. With this feeling came a new hope for the future, because I could see that there were ways of working with the situation and gaining valuable insights.
When Progoff studied with Carl Jung, Jung told him something which relates to this process of growth and decay. I have loosely paraphrased it: "If you someday find yourself on the top of a mountain and you are looking at the next higher mountain, and you want to get to the top of it, you can't get there without getting down off the mountain you are on, and going down through the valley again, and suffering all the pains of the process, and struggling again to get up that next mountain."
Ira Progoff respects the integrity of the individual. In this same vein, he would never consider himself a Jungian, although I'm sure he has a respect for Jung. He would prefer to be looked upon as a Progoffian. He made a couple of jokes about Jung, one of which began: "Now if Jung would have been using his Intensive Journal when he was going through his separation with Freud, then. . ." I forgot the punch line but remember an eruption of Progoff s boyish laughter.
Dr. Progoff strikes many people as a humble person or even shy. I thought he was honest. He has said that it is not absolutely necessary to attend a Workshop to understand and work with the Intensive Journal method. This stands in contrast to movements like TM that insist you can't teach yourself. Bohdan Hodiak talked to Progoff about the use of the technique: "Progoff calls the Journal simply an instrument which by itself is almost irrelevant, the way a pencil is irrelevant. What the Journal does is capture the process of our lives. We all have, he said, self-directing and self-healing capacities. The problem is to get hold of them and sometimes it's like trying to capture smoke."
Throughout the Workshop, Dr. Progoff was available for questions. He spoke with dozens of people and interjected meaningful comments throughout the Workshop. His sense of humor and candor seemed to set a "therapeutic" tone to the entire session.
The final segment of the Intensive was held at Dialogue House on East 11th Street, near Greenwich Village. This was the last Workshop of a tour which had been stretched out over a period of months. After most of the participants had left, Dr. Progoff consulted with many people individually. By this time he was quite tired. I waited around to the very end to tape an interview with him, but when I saw how tired he was I changed my plan. I asked him a few questions and he gave me some tired answers, but I knew what he meant just by the tone of his voice. "Journal generates energy by getting one's life on the track, and that's what makes the difference." I decided I had enough material for the article and I turned off the tape recorder. He just laughed and said, "Ya mean, we did it?"
I wanted to tell him about this funny image which I had seen during the Depth Feedback Workshop, but it didn't seem like the right time for it. On the fourth day, he read a poem describing a tree stump which served as an altar glowing in the dark and Progoff was crosses. [sic] I assumed it was out in the woods. As it stood out in the night, I could see the tree stump altar glowing in the dark and Progoff was standing in front of it. Then I saw myself standing next to him and about a half dozen quiet people surrounding the stump as if it were a campfire. This stump was the center point of a circle and gradually a "multitude of beings" crept up around it. It started to take off in a spinning motion. We were like a clustering mass of bees stretching out into the vastness of space. We were a swirling mass around a nucleus and we had clung to this stump like filings to a magnet. Progoff is the captain of the ship and he looked like a humorous cartoon character. He had one hand on the helm and the other hand on his forehead, scouting out the frontier. He wheels the ship around and we go cavorting through the darkness as a tiny molecule in a vast open space.
"Again and again in the Journal Workshops we are shown that the sincere examination of the individual human life is one of man's fundamental religious acts."
by Alan Fitzpatrick
A true story of brutality, sensitivity and the struggle between truth and lies behind a prison's walls.
I met him on a hot July afternoon, in prison. I did not know at the time of the profound effect that he was to have upon me. I had just begun working as a psychologist in the maximum security prison, which was currently home for over seven hundred men, convicted felons of the state. Of this population, a fifth resided permanently behind the Walls. They were the lifers doing time for murder, without hope of pardon or parole. Their crimes were the most heinous and, prior to the 'sixties, these men would have lived and died on Death Row. Some were rapists who had murdered their victims. Some had killed their spouses. Revenge, jealousy, anger, passion and madness were their motives. And of these, Frank was one.
A lot of rumors had preceded him. In a penitentiary rumor is lifeblood, an unceasing medium of exchange in a closed society. It can swiftly kill a man who is a snitch or a punk. Rumor, too, can protect. In Frank's case it did neither. I was warned by the staff that he was a dangerous killer, a homicidal maniac. The institutional psychiatrist, after one interview, reported Frank to be insane, by all standards. "Paranoid schizophrenic" was the diagnosis.
Frank had thrown a chair at the interviewer when asked if he loved his mother. A guard who had been on the force for several years mentioned that Frank was a loner, with few friends. And other cons told me he was a damn good fighter, and a good watchmaker. From what I heard, this fellow was a bit of a mystery.
The prison staff had told me many things when I took the job: "Don't trust a con. Always be on your guard. Take rumors seriously, it could save your life in a pinch." I was working with convicts, one of the most difficult types of individuals for psychologists to deal with, especially those cons who were considered the hard core recidivists. They just refused to come around to the normal way of thinking. And because of this, most professionals prefer not to work in penitentiaries. Cons, as I was to discover, think differently than people on the street, and they refuse to play by the accepted rules. They are sharp-witted, quick to guess a game or a pretense, and quicker to catch you in one of their own. They consciously make themselves hard to get to know. It is my belief that cons are master psychologists. They know the mind and how it works far better than their professional counterparts. And they don't have the pose of intellectualism and authority to uphold.
I had heard of him, and I had to meet Frank as a part of my counseling job. But with a caseload of over ninety men, I knew that it would not be soon. I was surprised one afternoon to see him at my door as, coincidentally, I had his file on my desk and had been leafing through it. With a knock, he entered and said, "Hello, I'm Frank, Frank Clark, the watchmaker." He was an imposing figure; massive in build, he stood six feet or more, weighed at least 200 pounds, was slightly balding, and in his thirties. Yet this was offset by an almost boyish looking face. A pudgy nose and a sheepish smile highlighted his features. What caught my attention was his eyes. They were dark brown, steel hard, and riveted to mine. I was amazed. Few cons had looked me straight in the eye in my office, the territory of the State. Most were nervous, perhaps out of some fear, perhaps because they were occupied with a scheme that their idle conversation concealed at the moment. Yet I can't help but think that most avoided eye contact because of the unconscious realization that, even in a prison, eyes are still windows of the mind that will tell their story, the truth. And truth, in prison, can easily jeopardize one's survival and sanity.
Frank looked at me straight. It could have been a "stare off" for hours. But I knew that he had no intent to intimidate. His eyes told his story. There was gentleness, a sensitivity. And there was rage, anger. Years of incarceration had left their mark in suffering. The scars and heavy lines on his surrounding face testified to that. Yet the sensitivity had persevered, in spite. I cautioned myself. Was I projecting, and snowing myself about this character? First impressions can be either intuitively accurate or totally deceiving. Could a con serving life be sensitive? I realized that I knew nothing at all about the man facing me.
Frank spoke in a polite and soft manner. He called me not "sir," but "son." As his counselor, he requested something from me. Taking a dollar bill from his pocket, Frank unfolded it and asked me if I could make thirty-five copies in the nearby copy machine for an art project. He carefully watched my response to the dollar bill as if it were a knife, for in a prison, money is contraband. I could call a guard and have Frank written up for a disciplinary infraction. Not that I think it mattered to him, though. I looked at Frank for a long moment. "Why such an absurd request?" I thought. He was sizing me up to see what I was made of, to see if he could begin to trust me.
"Frank," I said, "I can't copy that dollar bill. You know it's against prison rules." He smiled for a moment, eye to eye. Then without a word he put the bill in his pocket and stood up, next to me, and removed his T-shirt.
"I know karate," he said. I grimaced. "Watch," he said, and slid a telephone book over to the edge of my desk. With a thundering boom, Frank hit it with all of his might. The flimsy partitioned walls of my office shook and rattled, but nothing happened to that telephone book. Two guards suddenly appeared at my doorway, clubs in hand, fearing the worst. My supervisor and secretary stood behind them, with disbelieving looks. Frank calmly put his shirt back on, and said goodbye. The show was over. We had met and checked each other out. And I found that I liked the guy.
In the months to come, I got to know Frank better. We became friends and it puzzled me. Inmates in prison rarely have time for friendship with the staff. They simply can't afford to be sincere with you. Every man knows that the staff can be a valuable access to them, a means to an end. Take them outside the Walls, and it would be a different story. But inside, they are doing time, they are in prison. Consequently they skill themselves and take their best shots with you, and if it doesn't work, they move on. For instance, a man might sit in my office and talk with me about the weather every day of the month. When I ask him about himself, he'll portray only the particular injustice of his case, the despair of his situation to improve in school, his new found interest in religion, and his burning desire to make good, to get another chance. He will do all of this in an imitation of friendship, as a preliminary for one important question to come one day. It will be carefully thought out, a progressive strategy, with intent to deceive. But on that day he will reveal himself and ask what he really wants. Could I write the governor for him? Would I talk to the Parole Board in his favor? Could I get that out-of-state detainer lifted for him? Would I run in some drugs for him? None of these things could I do for a man by law, and he would know it from the beginning. When I would gently tell him so the charade would be over; the pretense done, he would get up and walk out, and would rarely come back to talk again. I understood the game. And I couldn't condemn any man for playing it. Sometimes I think that condemning a man to prison is a worse crime than the one he committed. Prison life is hell and, if I were the condemned man, I knew that I too might try all the angles to accomplish one thing - to get out.
Frank was different than these men. I patiently waited over the months, for his shot. This man had spent ten years already behind the walls. He knew the games through and through, I thought. Thus, he should have a supergame prepared for the green counselor. What would it be? When would it come? Would Frank, as so many others, begin with a string of insignificant favors? A stick of gum could easily lead to blackmail. The game that I expected never came. That's what puzzled me about Frank. He didn't want anything from me, except my company in conversation from time to time. No phone calls, no lawyers, no petitions to the governor. Not even a roadmap for escape. Frank was just content to be friends. I recognized that in this place, this prison of confinement and suffering, I had found a true friend.
I took the time to look into Frank's case on my own, without his knowing. Who was he, and how had he come to end up in the pen? What I found startled me. Frank was doing some heavy time. In fact, he was serving three life sentences for three counts of murder in one of the counties down state. Frank had received the death penalty three times, just prior to its abolishment some ten years ago. Much of his prison file was missing. No case history, no trial testimony or record. Pieces of torn paper around the binder rings indicated that at one time his file had been much bulkier. The Records Office had only one document in his file - a copy of the death sentences signed by the judge. When Frank had arrived at the Walls, he was put on Death Row to begin the wait for execution. With the abolishment of the death penalty, Frank's sentences were commuted to life without mercy, no pardon or parole. He was sentenced to die now, not in the Chair, but behind the Walls, of old age.
In a sense, he had a much tougher sentence since such a life in prison could only be prolonging an agony of despair and hopelessness. This sentence for men such as Frank was exacting and terrible. A man waited and waited. He gradually forgot about the outside world. He adjusted to the bleak surroundings of concrete walls, steel bars, and filthy floors. And those outside forgot about him. His relatives paid fewer and fewer visits. Even the family of the victim and the judges and lawyers involved in his case passed away, moved and forgot his name. Most terrible of all to him, he witnessed the release of others, the coming and going of new inmates doing their time. Even the guards and the staff changed, but he remained. No matter how bad another man's record might be inside, they still had hope, and one day they would walk out the front gate with another chance. To the condemned, like Frank, no hope existed. There would be no walk to the front gate. Permanent escape was a pauper's grave, at the Tom's Run Prison Cemetery, a quarter mile from the prison. The days, the hours, the sleepless nights seemed like an eternity. It was the waiting that bothered such men, and it was the waiting that bothered Frank.
One day I asked him about his crime. His file gave no details, and no one in the prison wished to fill me in. Had he committed three murders? Frank corrected me. He included two other murders for which he wasn't convicted. I was astounded by his reply. Up until that time, I had never found a man who openly admitted his guilt. As far as the typical con was concerned, over seven hundred men were wrongly incarcerated. The guilt lay in the courts, the police, their lawyers, the judges. They were framed, wrongly identified by witnesses, convicted on scanty evidence by kangaroo courts, and rushed through by crooked, state-appointed attorneys. They upheld their innocence and often it made me sick. I don't doubt that innocent men have been wrongly convicted. Often justice is only a mask of hypocrisy to hide the injustice of the law. It was their manner that offended me. They protested too loudly, too arrogantly, and I knew that they were lying. Maybe they had come to believe it themselves. The truth, I felt, lay in their actions and not their words. And I saw many such "innocent" men return from parole or release with only a few weeks or days on the street. They came back to the prison with a new crime under their belts and new time to do. They weren't kidding anybody about their taste for prison. Some came back to be with lovers. To them, the prison meant home, and the game of "innocence" would begin all over again.
Frank made no pretense of innocence. He was guilty. I looked for pride, a subtle boasting, but found none. He spent a great deal of time detailing his story and showing me newspaper clippings from the trial that he had saved in a scrap book. And as I listened, I searched for the truth and the lies, the telltale inconsistencies and contradictions that, cons fail to realize, trip them up. They all know that they can con, that they are masters of disguise with an acute ability to weave words and logic to distort the truth for their own ends. And with such abilities they often relax and forget the details and con themselves. It's the details, the small things that slip them up. All you need to do is listen and ask enough questions.
Frank first got into trouble with the law at eighteen. It began one night when a friend of his had burglarized a nearby home, and had pulled his pickup truck with the stolen property in it in front of Frank's house for the night. Frank knew nothing of the burglary. In the morning his friend left. Later in the day, the local police arrived to question Frank and the family about the nearby burglary. They found a stolen hot plate in the ditch in front of Frank's house. It was enough to convict him. He went to prison on a one-to-ten year sentence for burglary, a rather harsh sentence for someone without prior record.
The first year was hard for Frank. He tried to go straight inside, to avoid the fights, to do good to get out. He got an education about people. The experience hardened him, but he made it out after the first year, on parole. And he completed his parole. Frank got a job and got married. Soon he raised a sum of money to go into the restaurant and bar business. Some of the money he saved, some he borrowed, some he won at gambling. In his mind he knew what he wanted.
One night at his bar two policemen arrived with a proposition. Frank was to pay off now to stay in business. Their racket was protection for a percentage of the take. In return Frank could freely gamble on the premises, and thus increase the take. Frank said no, and told them to go to hell. They left, but returned the next night, breaking both of Frank's hands while he straddled the pool table. He barely survived the severe beating. The request for payoff came again, this time from the police chief, and again Frank refused. Next morning he found his restaurant burned to the ground. So Frank collected his wits and a gun, and went to work. When it was all over, the police chief and two deputies were dead. Two other racketeers involved in the deal were stuffed down a well, dead. And when Frank was finally caught and arrested, he went without a fight, leaving his young bride to fend for herself. His trial was quick. The evidence was overwhelming. The prosecutor and judge were both personal friends of the police chief, and probably aware of the racket, as is the case in most small towns. Frank was a cop killer, a homicidal psychopath, and he received his due sentence from the jury, by law. He was quickly sent to the Walls for execution.
Frank's time behind the Walls was rough in comparison to his earlier prison experience. Frank was twenty-two and tough. When he was released from Death Row into the prison population, he knew what to expect. He was now prey for the hardened cons, the perverts, the sickies, the dope peddlers. It's not only the prison walls that create the vile atmosphere found inside. Part is due to the type of men found within. They contribute to the mental atmosphere. Ideally, penitentiaries were created for the criminal to do penance in a sort of solitary fashion, so that he could think about his crime and retribution. Today prisons are ruthless jungles. Young kids are put into the same pot with hardened sex offenders, with the criminally insane. Rule is by the sword, and not by the guards. Everyone who enters as an inmate either fights or dies. It is that simple. And death for those who cannot fight may be quite slow. The meek, the young who cannot fight, and who are scared out of their wits by the odds that confront them, face a grim future. For they are fodder to be consumed, to be bought and sold as sexual slaves, turned into punks or prostitutes for homosexual "daddies." The guards look the other way. All reason and etiquette disappear as only brute force prevails. If a man concedes, he falls. And his fall is irreversible into living hell. He sacrifices his sanity. So if he lets a comment pass, such as a homosexual insinuation spoken in the presence of others, he will surely find a lineup at his cell door that night before lockup, with a knife probably at his throat. Thus, his earlier lack of vocal conviction spoke for him, as a weakness to be exploited. On the other hand, if he truly wishes to continue to live with his sanity, he must immediately hurt the man who insinuated, kill him if possible, crush him if he can, no matter what the odds. This and only this action speaks, and protects him.
There are a few alternatives to fighting, for men in prison. They can break. Some just scream raving mad, froth at the mouth, howl like rabid dogs until carted off in strait jackets to the nut wards. "Prison psychosis," they call it. Others are more subtle. They appear to temporarily adjust, until one day they lose their minds over a pack of cigarettes, a misinterpreted word, or an intimidation of fear, and they leap upon another in frenzied viciousness and cut him to pieces with homemade knives before jumping off a tier, or slashing their throats. The surest break which few take is escape. Some string the rope over the walls and make beelines to loved ones on the outside for a few moments of freedom and peace of mind before being caught and returned. Others silently string the rope around their necks for a more permanent escape from terror. To these ends Frank had no inclination.
Frank was a fighter. He accepted the invitation of survival, and being angry to begin with Frank fought with a cold and cruel determination. He smashed a few heads and saw blood flow, some of it his own. For this Frank was put into isolation in the maximum security lockup, nicknamed "the Alamo," a prison within a prison. Here, a man did his time 24-hours a day in a small cell, under the gun of a guard. Finally here, Frank had a chance to think, and write. His nature seemed to demand some expression for the trial he was experiencing, his personal agony. He wrote poetry and had his lyrics published.
My home is one of heartache
A place of steel and stone,
A barren cell, a home in hell
And here I must atone.
For all my crime I pay with time,
Where lights glare night and day,
And though I rage and pace my cage
I still must stay and pay.
Finally he was released from the Alamo. Frank had fought and won his right to be. Inmates respected him. He was dangerous all right, and not somebody to fool with or cross. To the staff, Frank was a hardened con. His record of institutional violence showed him to be unamenable to rehabilitation. But then the staff were playing by a Pollyannic set of rules, reserved only for people on the street. They had no idea of the demands of survival within the cellblocks. They accepted any sign of violence as a character weakness rather than a strength. Upon joining the prison population, Frank was dealt a stunning blow. His wife, Sandra Lynn, discouraged by the long years of separation and no hope, married another man. It broke Frank's heart, and left him truly alone. His emptiness was great. Frank had lost everything but his pride.
The months for me at my job wore on. I too saw men come and go, both through orientation and parole or release. Prison life, though, remained the same, and so did Frank. Often I would venture into the cellblocks alone to visit men, in their "houses," on their home ground. How else, I figured, was I ever to get to know a man and communicate with him? Invariably my visits would end up at Frank's cell. Frank had taken up watchmaking and repair through correspondence courses and books from the prison library. He was self-taught, and his six foot by eight foot cell was a clutter of parts cabinets and equipment that he had bought with his savings. Frank was good at it, and had attracted a large clientele from both the guards and the inmates. And it was at these times, in his cell while he was working, that we talked - about everything from war to politics and psychology. Sweat would pour off his wrinkled forehead in great beads as he struggled with his stubby squat fingers to place the mechanism within the shell of a watch. He was in the wrong profession, I thought. Much better suited to ditch digging, or construction. When Frank would leave, his cell door would be open. He was the only man in the prison who could do this. For in prison, cell robbing is big business, and even personal hasp locks are cut off the door for the contents inside. Frank never had any problem. He never lost a watch. His cousin, though, was a different story.
Frank told me about it one day. His cousin, Wallace, who was serving a 10-20 year sentence for rape, came to him for help. Wallace was always getting robbed whenever he left his cell for supper. He was an easy mark. To Frank this was clearly a sign of weakness on his cousin's part. He was not a fighter, not fully a man. Frank's word was good, as well as his threat, and was backed up by his actions. But Wallace was different. Frank confided the problem with Wallace to me. "My cousin is a coward, he's yellow through and through." Yet Frank couldn't refuse his cousin's plea for help. He was still blood and Frank believed in that code. So with this in mind, Frank went up the tiers to the cell door of the alleged thief, his cousin following close behind.
Frank knocked on the door and soon a petulant looking kid of twenty-five or so responded. Frank introduced himself and told the boy that his cousin had been robbed. He pointed to the television set in the corner of the cell and, in a soft-spoken manner, told the youth that it was his cousins property and would have to be returned with everything else. The boy's bravado was at stake, and he reacted with curses and taunts. Apparently he didn't know of Frank. Frank looked at him hard for a moment and then said, "Son, I've been here for many years, and I can see that you haven't. Nothing personal, but I'm afraid that you have a lot to learn." Frank grabbed the kid by the neck with one arm, and picked him straight up off his feet. The kid kicked Frank several times in the groin, but Frank never felt it. He was angered and nothing could stop him. Frank's burly hands slipped around the boy's throat and tightened automatically, bringing the boy to his knees, and then prone on the floor. A crowd of inmates gathered. Suddenly, a friend of Frank's named Robert leaped onto Frank's hunched back and whispered in his ear. "Don't kill him, Frank, he's only a kid." Something in Frank responded. He loosened his grip and moved his thumbs upwards to the boy's eyes, and pressed in for a moment. Then in one movement he picked the kid up and sent him flying for the wall in the back of the cell. Wallace gathered his property. In the cell next door, the other accomplice crouched in a corner, shaking like a leaf. Wallace's belongings lay in a neat pile by the door. The incident was over and, as Frank recalled, Wallace had no more trouble with cell robbers.
The guards had a strange story to tell about Frank, one that he hadn't mentioned to me. The prison had had a riot in 1973 and inmates took over the entire prison for a week, until state troopers assaulted it and regained control. Several inmates were killed, and scores injured on both sides. With the recapture it was found that all the inmate deaths had resulted from other inmates. This was not unusual in a prison, and it still happens today in the many pens across America. Ten minutes after the initial takeover, the executions had begun. Rats or informers were beheaded for snitching, never to speak again. Drug and gambling debts were paid up permanently, homosexual jealousies were resolved with knives, and the intense racial hatred that had been brewing for weeks was quenched with the flow of blood. The blacks' stranglehold control of the institutional rackets was loosened. In a prison, justice is swift and exacting, unlike the courts on the outside.
Initially, several guards were trapped within the cellblocks, their escape routes blocked by the rioters. One guard named Wilson was sitting in a guard's office next to Frank's cell when it all began. Wilson was generally liked by most inmates for being fair but in a riot, when passions flow and blood is let, the instinct to butcher guards, the symbol of authority, is irresistible. The mob came down, and Frank grabbed Wilson and threw him in the back of his own cell. A spokesman for the mob, a lifer nicknamed Spaceman, demanded the guard from Frank, so they could cut him to pieces. In prison, the lifers are usually the executioners, for they are free within the system to kill and do as they like. They are particularly absolved from murder, as they already have a life sentence and can't get any more time added. The State won't execute them, so they have nothing to lose. Frank was also a lifer. He pulled out a long homemade knife that he had hidden in his cell, and invited anyone from the mob, or all of them, who were man enough to kill the guard to step inside his cell. No one accepted his offer, and the guard's life was saved, due to Frank. A commendation by the chief of the guards was put into Frank's file, and a petition for a mercy sentence, a chance at parole, was sent to the Governor. No response ever came back.
In my final months at the penitentiary, a new trial by fire ensued for Frank, this time with the Warden. Frank's watchmaking and repair business was successful, in fact, too successful. He had turned it into a profitable business, and was adding to his inmate bank account in a legal manner. One day the Warden called Frank to his office with a proposal. I wasn't able to attend, as it was none of my business, so I got the details second hand from Frank.
"The Warden is a crook," Frank said, "a bigger crook than most of the men inside these walls." This was a serious allegation, I thought, and I was skeptical. I had heard it before, from other men, and I attributed it to the common resentful attitude that most incarcerated men have for their captor. I told Frank so, but he insisted it was the truth. The Warden had demanded a percentage from Frank's business to be paid to the Inmate Benefit Fund, and in return Frank would be allowed to continue to operate. To Frank, the situation was a reminder. He told the Warden to go to hell, and called him a crook to his face. That afternoon after Frank left my office, two guards appeared at his cell and asked him to step out. They had orders from the Warden to search his cell for weapons. As Frank stood nearby, they dumped all the contents of the drawers of his cabinets into one pile, mixing the intricate springs, screws, hands, and jewels together into a heap. No weapons were found. The search was continued daily for a week. Frank sent word to the Warden: he could have the business, but Frank wasn't going to pay. I protested to my supervisor, and I found him to be indignant that I would support an inmate in violation of the Warden's new rules. I wondered if I were wrong. Maybe Frank had pushed his limits too far. No further action was taken and Frank remained firm. He forfeited his business. My time had come to leave. Something had told me, an intuition perhaps, that I had done or learned all that I could. It was time to move on. Unlike others on the staff, this wasn't my career. I didn't tell the men in my caseload until the last day, for fear of biasing our relationship with last minute vain requests. This was also for my own protection. I knew that I had made enemies as well as friends. And some might have wanted to act upon threats at the last moment. I had seen it happen before to others, and I wanted to avoid it.
What was on my mind the last day more than anything else was Frank. I hadn't told him. I got up from my desk, and opened my office door to get a drink of water. Frank was standing there. "I heard you're leaving," he said, "although I've kinda sensed it for some time." As if anticipating my silent question of "How?" he continued. "I could see it in your face. You're too sensitive," he said. "There's no room for sensitivity in here. A man in your position is forced to take a side regardless, and you cannot share the other for long. When you work for the State you enforce the State's rules. And to do that, you have to ignore the human side of things in here. I don't mean just the inmates' side of the issue. I mean the suffering, the ignorance, and the pain. It's on all sides. Just look at some of these guards here. They are to be pitied more than the men they guard. Look what years of guarding one side of the issue has done to them." I couldn't disagree with Frank. I knew he was right. "So I knew that you'd finally have to leave one day. And I'm glad for you. When you first came; you were really green, from a sheltered life; good parents, a middle class family, a college education, you've always had everything in life you wanted. But you weren't a fighter, you were easily duped. You were a psychologist who didn't know the first thing at all about psychology." I flinched. Somewhere inside I felt hit, and I didn't especially like to hear it. "But I've seen you change," he said. "You've had your eyes opened, and now it's time to go."
I looked at Frank for a long time, saying nothing. We got up and walked to the prison yard. Inmates were strolling in the sun, some talking in small groups. One man was feeding bread to the pigeons. I turned to Frank. "Why, Frank? Why in God's name are you here, anyway? I just can't figure it out." His eyes met mine, and emotion flooded us both simultaneously.
Frank replied. "Don't you see? All this, the prison, my life, this is my fate. I've known it, and fought it, and finally come to accept it. You know every man's born with a lot of possibilities. He can grow up to be a judge, a banker, a soldier or a con. He storms into life with a lot of hopes and dreams, just like I did years ago. He thinks he's going to conquer the world, in his own little way. Yet something happens. It's as if, at a certain point, a decision made by the good Lord for him. From then on in, he just follows his course. He thinks he's doing it all, but it's all done for him. He's just acting his part. When he looks back upon it, once it's done, he knows. That's life."
I looked at Frank again. "No, that's not good enough," I thought. That's not a good enough answer. If this is destiny, and it is so, it still could have been changed. We never know anything for sure. The gnawing question that I had kept to myself for so long surfaced. "Through all the misery, Frank, through everything, why didn't you escape? You could have done it at any time. You had nothing to lose, and could have gained everything."
Frank was slow to reply. "You still don't understand. My father was here and his father before him. I didn't see it at first, though, because I was bitter and angry. I wanted another chance. I wanted everything that every man wants - freedom, a woman's love, kids, a farm, the whole bit - but you see, that chance never came. Sure I killed them people. I did what I had to do at the time. Ten years have passed and now I'm a different person. I can see that murder isn't such a terrible thing, when it's meant to be. It's all a part of life. Some of us are meant to be killed; some of us play the part of the killer. Society thinks it's such a terrible thing to murder, but if every man really looked inside himself, he'd find he's a killer too, and a rapist, a coward, and a thief. Even if he only ponders it for a moment in his life, it's still there. I didn't have too much choice in the matter. It presented itself to me, and I acted. Now I'm playing out the remainder of the show. Somebody's got to be in prison, to be the con. All of it, for good or bad, doesn't matter. It's the good Lord's way and I can't change it. Nobody can."
Tears came to my eyes. Sensing my reaction, Frank interrupted. "So don't feel sorry for me. I may be a murderer, but I'm no martyr. It's my destiny to be here."
We shook hands and parted. Frank crossed the prison yard, towards the cellblock and home. I watched for a moment and felt a loss. Our paths had crossed, and he had left a mark upon me I would never forget. I left the prison for good that Friday afternoon through the front gate.
Fate had one final twist to take. The following Monday morning the state police arrested the Warden in his office, the culmination of an investigation into misuse and embezzlement of the Inmate's Benefit Fund. My only doubt about Frank was resolved. He had been right all along.
Part Three: Recovering the Recurrent Dream
by David Gold
Your recurrent dreams may carry a profound message about the way to find your most deeply hidden and felt desire in life.
For the purposes of this final segment of my article on the recurrent dream, I will assume that you have exercised the patience and perseverance necessary to have wound your way through the two preceding articles (TAT Journal, Volume 1, Number 3 and Number 4), and that you now have command of a rather complete system for remembering and interpreting the recurrent dream. Some of you may have gone a step further and put this system into action, glimpsing a recurrent dream and receiving a hint as to its possible meaning. If you have, indeed, labored to this stage and have experienced some results, then it is time to explore the implications of this newly-discovered evidence of your mental life.
Mere awareness of a recurrent dream, or even some cognizance of its message, will not of itself change your existence, or bring you to greater understanding of what your purpose may be in this life. In order to take full advantage of your dream data, it is my conviction that you must relate the R/D to your present state of being, and apply the dream message so as to find a way to become the person that you wish to be.
Many readers may have been content to stop reading and working after going through the first recurrent dream article dealing with R/D recollection. These individuals may have been satisfied to merely experience their recurrent dreams, and linger in the pleasure of reliving their drama and mystery. Others may have pushed onward to the next step and tried to interpret the message that the R/D conveyed. Intrigued by this unsolved puzzle, this second group has studied and thought and meditated upon their recurrent dreams, hoping to extract from them the hidden motivations which prompted their repeating messages.
But how many will take the final step and, having discovered their message, go forward and apply this instruction to actually work towards changing the direction of their lives? Or, if already pursuing a fulfilling course, how many will use the R/D to clarify both their life's goals and the manner of attaining those goals? If you are one of those unique people who is attempting to use the discovered dream information to gain a greater understanding of what you should be doing with your life, then I would hope that you follow through to the final step of working with the recurrent dream: The possible recovery of a lost direction in life.
Retraversing the Road to Conviction
I am not suggesting that everyone should quit their jobs, divorce their spouses and invest all their savings in pork belly futures as a result of a message from a recurrent dream. Neither am I intimating that everyone is lost, groping in the dark and clutching at the faintest glimmer of a direction which may give meaning to their lives. However, many people lack any continuity of direction in their lives, and move from one experience to another in search of something which will be the glue to hold the entire collage together. And the most frustrating aspect of such an existence for these people is that they possess the subliminal realization that it has not always been this way.
The recurrent dream is a message, a persistent communication which demands to be heard. If a dream merely occurs, it is most likely telling you something about an isolated aspect of your life. If a dream recurs, it is telling you about your entire existence.
All of us were, at one time, children, and experienced the thrill and sense of importance which life once offered us. Basking in the innocence of youth, it was possible to feel the satisfaction of accomplishment and the expectation of fulfillment which seemed to lie ahead as we set out to do that which we believed was important.
Why was it that way? And why is it that way no longer? What has changed, what are we doing differently, or failing to do at all?
Can the recurrent dream help answer these questions? It is my conviction that it can. The recurrent dream is a message, a persistent communication which demands to be heard. If a dream merely occurs, it is most likely telling you something about an isolated aspect of your life. If a dream recurs, it is telling you about your entire existence. In many cases it can serve as a reminder of what you once were, of what once was of importance to you and of what still is important in your life. Properly analyzed and understood, and then placed against the backdrop of your personal past and present, it can reveal the key to what you may well be again.
But is it a Dream?
It is, therefore, my belief that the R/D can serve as a bridge between the sense of purpose of the past and the seeming banality of the present. But before anyone takes a major step in their lives as a result of a recurrent dream, that person must be completely sure that it was indeed a dream. For not every recurrent night-time image is, in actuality, an R/D; the image may very well be only a gastric reaction to spicy foods, or some other nocturnal form of repeating communication which is promoted by something other than the philosophic prodding of your inner self.
For that reason I will briefly explore these other possibilities, and provide a few hints as to how one should weed these imposters out from the recurrent dream.
The first possibility is that your "dream" is nothing more than a reflex reaction to some internal or external environmental stimulus. By internal, I am referring to the "chili dog syndrome," while external stimuli would include such factors as tangled bed sheets or violent thunderstorms.
... The recurrent dream can serve as a bridge between the sense of purpose of the past and the seeming banality of the present.
The experience of a former college roommate provides an excellent example of the former. As often as once a week, he would awaken and relate the details of a nightmare which always ended with him drowning in a rising pool of water. Eventually I made the connection between the dream and his social habits; the dream was always preceded by a night of intense beer drinking. The dream was nothing more than his body signaling him that it desired to urinate, and the timing of the dream (directly before awakening) and his physical condition (full bladder) bore out this theory.
For an extremely lucid discussion of dreams brought on as a result of reaction to external stimuli, I would refer the reader to P.D. Ouspensky's A New Model of the Universe. In his chapter on dreams, Ouspensky relates a recurring ream dealing with his inability to avoid sinking into a bog of mud. He resisted the temptation to interpret the dream allegorically, and came to realize that it was prompted by his being tangled in his bed sheets.
You too must resist the temptation to be a philosopher after every recurrent dream. Otherwise you could waste weeks trying to interpret a mysterious dream which is actually telling you to cut out the peanut butter prior to retiring. You must also become as sensitive as possible to your internal and external environment before sleeping and upon awakening, so that you can correlate these factors and the dream in order to rule out those mundane factors as possible influencers of your dreams. Practice will ultimately provide the discrimination which is necessary to determine whether we are really dealing with an R/D or an imposter.
Environmental stimuli are not the only factors which can lead to dreamlike experiences that are not actually interpretable dreams. Your "dream" may be, in fact, an even more intense interaction with your environment: the "out-of-body experience." I do not wish to deal extensively with the subject of out-of-body experiences (OOBE's), or astral travel as they are sometimes called. The idea of traveling independently of the body raises such controversy about the nature of man that its exploration is best left to books and treatises. But I do believe that anyone who consistently works with his dreams will experience this phenomenon and should be capable of distinguishing out-of-body experiences from the R/D.
OOBE's generally leave the dreamer (traveler) with the conviction, upon awakening, that he has actually experienced that which he seemingly dreamed. He is more disoriented when he awakens, less sure of the delineation between sleep and "reality." During the experience itself, the sleeper will experience a greater consciousness of himself and the surrounding events than in an ordinary dream, and may be aware that he is "dreaming."
This is, of course, an extremely sketchy description of how to recognize the OOBE, and I would strongly recommend that those interested in pursuing this subject pick up a copy of Robert Monroe's Journeys Out of the Body. This book is a lucid and scientifically validated account of one man's experiments with astral travel. The reader should be aware, however, that out-of-body experiences do occur, that these phenomena are distinguishable from normal dreams, and that any attempts to interpret as symbols the images that one encounters in an OOBE can only lead to confusion.
The final category of non-dreaming nocturnal occurrences that I will discuss is "psychic phenomena." This includes experiences such as precognitive dreams, post-cognitive dreams (contact with prior life strands) and psychic contact with other dreamers. Again, I regret that I must open up this area, when I lack the time and space necessary to truly explore these captivating subjects. But I am familiar with two women who experienced recurrent psychic contacts during sleep, and those working with recurrent dreams should be able to recognize psychic "dream" phenomena. These are usually peeks through a crack of that shell which we perceive to be reality, rather than some type of philosophical message. Thus, if you repeatedly dream of a dead friend or relative, do not immediately attempt to psychoanalyze what the symbolism of the recurrent encounter may be. If you possess most of your faculties during the experience and if you awake with the conviction that your friend was there, he may very well have been. It is likewise advisable to resist the interpretation of recurrent dreams of disaster. First, be sure that you are not recalling a prior life or foretelling a major catastrophe. I cannot offer a universal formula for distinguishing psychic from "normal" dreams, but persistent work with dreams will enable you to get a better feel for what you are experiencing, and help you to pluck the true R/D from the garden of nocturnal experiences.
I do not mean to imply that these three types of recurrent, dreamlike phenomena are worthless. I have personally experienced all three, and have learned about my body from environmental dreams, thrilled at my astral encounters and been deeply impressed by a number of night-time, psychic experiences. But we are dealing here with the investigation of a particular type of recurrent experience, and the interpretation of the philosophic import which that dream may carry. It is, therefore, essential that we be sure that we are dealing with the right phenomena.
Despite my evident verbosity, it would be impossible for me to explore every possible recurrent dream, and apply each dream's possible ramifications to every person's life. And I am surely not so naive or vain as to believe that I know what is best for everyone. But my research has revealed certain patterns which reflect both the occurrences of R/D's and their general messages to the dreamer. Four basic types of recurrent dreams continually arise, and each one points out a different direction which the dreamer may wish to follow. These include "chase" dreams, "naked" dreams, "falling" dreams, and "the old switcheroo."
The inner self rebels and demands that the dreamer re-examine the priorities of his life, before any more of his life's blood is wasted in vain pursuits.
The Great Chase
I was a bit surprised by the letters that I received following the publication of my first article on recurrent dreams, particularly those which took exception to my edict that nearly everyone has experienced the recurrent dream. It is, therefore, with a bit more caution that I propose that nearly everyone who remembers their dreams has experienced the "chase" dream. Be the pursuer a policeman, monster, would-be killer or ex-wife, the chase dream leaves the dreamer physically drained and mentally disquieted upon awakening. The obvious interpretation of this sort of dream is that the dreamer is fleeing from some pursuing danger, and the equally obvious recommendation would be for the dreamer to examine the particularities of his life to discover what he may, or should be, fleeing from during his waking life.
But if the chase dream occurs frequently and with a striking similarity between the dreams, the focus should not be on any one, single facet of the dreamer's life, but rather on the state of existence in which the dreamer currently finds himself. In other words, if a dream occurs once, the dreamer narrows his scope to those aspects of his current life which are most likely to have prompted the dream. But if a dream occurs throughout life, the dreamer must widen his vision accordingly and examine the distinguishing features of his entire life for clues to the R/D puzzle. And this can most effectively be accomplished by keeping in mind the theme to which I alluded at the outset of this segment: the recurrent dream can be viewed as the link between the conviction of the past and the apathy of the present.
If you repeatedly dream of being chased, and the chaser and the situations surrounding the chase are nearly identical, such that the dreamer almost consciously realizes that he has been through this dream before, then you are dealing with a recurrent dream. (This dreaming déjà vu, incidentally, is an excellent indicator that you have found a recurring dream.) The question to ask when addressing this dream is, "What part of my past is doing the chasing? What aspect of my past, that I seemingly left behind, is being brought to surface by this R/D?"
... we should not idealize the past any more than we should ignore it, nor should we abandon the responsibilities and insights with which maturity has endowed us.
When we are young, we do not make much of an effort to hide our personalities, or mask our true intentions. Life is straightforward, and our approach to it is likewise direct and sincere. But as we grow older, each of us drops features of our personalities which no longer meet with acceptance: the bully hides his aggressiveness so that he does not frighten away those with whom he must cooperate, the overly sensitive individual conceals his delicacy so that he does not appear to be too easy a prey for those with whom he must compete.
We forget that we have merely ceased to openly project these discarded images, and that they may have been a very real part of our identities. We attempt to go through life pretending that we are not what we once were, and eventually come to believe that this partial, remaining personality is actually who we are. But the dreamer does not forget. He remembers. Those abandoned aspects of our personality demand expression, and continue to chase us until we reincorporate them into our lives. When the "chaser" in the R/D is recognized, we can recognize the repressed "self" as well. And once recognized, we can begin to weave these traits back into the conscious fabric of our identities.
It would be naive to believe that this interpretation would apply to every person's "chase" dream. The variables which cause a dream are legion, and no single interpretation will adequately solve everyone's R/D puzzle. But if the "chase" dream recurs during your sleep, you would do well to examine your personal history to see what part of your past is currently being ignored, and to take an honest look at the personality which you have now become.
The Old Switcheroo
Let us examine another common R/D theme, and the advice which it may be offering concerning your lost past.
Many of my colleagues, particularly those who are highly geared towards success and accomplishment, have related to me recurrent dreams of particular psychological significance. The dreamer is striving towards a goal which is eluding or resisting him; next, the dreamer seemingly achieves the object of his desires, and at the precise instant of attainment, the coveted goal transforms into an undesired, or even repulsive object.
The replacement - or "switcheroo" - dream can assume any number of forms. A personal example was set out in the last issue of TAT Journal: I am at a baseball game, basking in the childlike hope of catching a foul ball. I finally snag one and am very happy. I catch another, am astounded by my good fortune, but upon closer examination I see that the baseball is, in reality, a piece of fruit, and a rotten one at that. I take a closer look at the first baseball, and it is a rotten piece of fruit as well.
Variations of this dream span a wide range of subject matter. Friends have related switcheroos which dealt with power (a petty bureaucrat is elected president, only to discover that a king exists who actually runs the country), sex (a man finally seduces the girl of his dreams, and finds out that she is the boy of someone else's dreams), and money (a gold mine is discovered, but when the gold is taken to market it turns into clay.)
Freudian dream analysts may see primarily sexual conflict when clients recollect dreams of this nature, but my own belief is that many possible interpretations exist for the dream's symbology. If you experience just one dream of this type, I suggest that you examine what goal you are currently pursuing, and ask yourself if it is truly a worthwhile endeavor. The obvious import of the switcheroo dream is that you are undertaking a quest which you subconsciously know will not be worth the effort expended. Be it business, love, politics or religion, even if you attain your desired goal, you know that you will be frustrated.
But if the dream recurs during seemingly unrelated periods of your life, its message is more far-reaching than merely suggesting that you take it easy at work or cut down on your sexual intrigues. A dream which recurs has a general message; it applies to your life as a whole. It is thus your entire life's work that is awry, and your very goals of life that are being scrutinized by this R/D.
In youth, little conflict exists over what to do with our lives. Everyone simply does what he is supposed to do. In one sense we had much less freedom to choose, because everyone was forced to go to school, listen to their parents and follow some sort of religious training. From another perspective, however, we enjoyed much more freedom because simple desires were easily attainable. We did not lust after anything too complex, and generally what we did desire was within our reach.
As we age, these freedoms actually switch. We now have a nearly unlimited range of desires to choose from, but much less freedom to actually possess the object of our desires. Pleasure is much more complex, so that an adult may very well never re-experience the same ecstasy which he enjoyed upon entering the gates of a baseball game, despite spending enormous amounts of money, time and energy pursuing that which is supposed to bring him pleasure in maturity. The inner self rebels and demands that the dreamer re-examine the priorities of his life, before any more of his life's blood is wasted in vain pursuits.
If you heed the call of the R/D, look back into your past and try to remember what used to be important. There may yet be a way to pursue those goals, and these objects will not vanish or switch upon attainment.
Down, Down, Down
"Falling" dreams rank with "chase" dreams as the most frequently remembered dreams. They are widely remembered and recognized because falling dreams are often not really dreams. They are excellent examples of nocturnal experiences that will confuse the interpreter unless he has learned to discriminate the R/D from the previously mentioned imposters.
Thus, changes in the sleeper's environment can stimulate a falling dream, and something as simple as a piece of paper slowly floating to the floor, or an outstretched hand sliding off the bed can lead to a falling dream impressing itself upon the sleeper's consciousness. And those who are conscious of out-of-body experiences often awaken upon re-entry of their bodies with the awareness of having fallen from a great height. Psychic experiences during sleep may actually involve "falling" through different planes or dimensions.
The first step to take before tackling a falling R/D is to eliminate the other possibilities for its occurrence. No infallible methods can be expounded, but an awareness of the physical environment, as well as a sensitivity to the quality of the nocturnal experience, will enable you to determine whether you have a dream which is intellectually interpretable.
Once you are convinced that the falling dream is indeed an R/D, you can begin the process of interpretation and application, utilizing the same factors that have previously been expounded with respect to other common R/D's. The falling R/D does, however, provide an interesting variation on the previous pattern of R/D interpretation. While other recurrent dreams may point the way to picking up the conviction of the past by pointing out aspects of your life or your personality that you unknowingly left behind, falling dreams often symbolize the reversion to habits or weaknesses which we should have left behind. Falling dreams are more often associated with a backsliding rather than a growth, usually symbolizing an end to a struggle prior to the achievement of the goal.
It is, therefore, important to recognize that we should not idealize the past any more that we should ignore it, nor should we abandon the responsibilities and insights with which maturity has endowed us. True inner development comes with age, and the conviction of the past must be tempered by the reality of everyday experiences. When an R/D points you in the direction of the past, you must take the ball from there and work to understand which aspects of your past are worth incorporating into your present state of being. And if your dream is of falling, or a similar type which associates the past with unpleasantness or defeat, then you, as the dreamer, must be willing to see what aspect of the past must be avoided.
The Naked City
The final category of dreams that I will explore includes the R/D which originally stimulated my interest in this field, that is, the dream which I described in detail in the prior installment of this article. The "high school" dream involved the realization that my final exams are approaching and I have not prepared for them. I am completely vulnerable to impending disaster and it is too late to begin doing what I should have been doing all along.
Another common variation of this R/D is the "naked" dream. This is another dream situation that I believe to be almost universal in its symbology. Generally, the dreamer finds himself completely naked in a public place such as school or work, and there is no place to hide the nakedness or shame. I group these dreams because both are characterized by a sense of frustration and neglectfulness, and convince the dreamer that he is truly "naked" in relation to an upcoming crisis.
If the dream happens just once the dreamer is alerted to an upcoming test which he may not be ready to face. But if this situation characterizes your R/D, the message is that you are unprepared to face the rigors of life itself. The secret to discovering where you must look to remedy your weakness lies in where the dreamer is when he is naked or unprepared.
Most of us come face to face with a crisis that we are not yet prepared to meet, and the memory of that failure may mark us for life. When a similar crisis is encountered later, the tendency is to revert to the old behavior pattern and to skirt the crisis instead of working through it. The occurrence of this R/D reminds the dreamer that he is facing another battle with the monster and that he still appears to be unprepared to slay it, just as he was when it was first encountered in high school, in his job, in family life or wherever the dreamer is when he finds himself attempting to hide his "nakedness."
When the R/D occurs, note the place of the dream and try to recall what crisis was met (and evaded) during that period of your life. Once that archetypal crisis is grasped it can be viewed against the present situation, providing the dreamer with his first real opportunity to "dress" himself and work through his problem to fruition.
The recurrent dream will not magically change your life or lead you to riches, fame and the admiration of your peers. What it may do, when coupled with your insight, is open the door to a past which has been forgotten. If you add perseverance then the R/D may take you a step further and provide you with a peek of what you once were, and what you may be again, whether that be an improvement or a giant step backward. Too often we imagine that we have already evolved into someone wonderful, and believe that no further introspective digging is necessary. We forget that the price we pay for overlooking who we used to be is a cutting of our roots. If you are totally satisfied with your present state of being, there is no need to work with your dreams or with any other manifestation of your identity, for that matter. But if you hunger for a taste of the conviction, innocence and sense of purpose of youth, listen to your dreams, and your recurrent dreams in particular. They may point the way to who you may be once again.
Critical Day for Biorhythms
by Luis Fernandez
With the publication of a book entitled, Is This Your Day? in 1964, a new method for the prediction of human behavior was made available. This method - called Biorhythms - was credited with enabling one to predict the days of greatest physical, emotional and intellectual well-being. But even more important, it was hailed as useful in forewarning of those days in which precautions should be taken so that potential accidents might be avoided.
Since then, Biorhythms have increased in popularity considerably. Magazines such as "Fate" and "Psychology Today" carry ads which offer charts, dials, graphs, and calculators for the computation of Biorhythms; and all of them guarantee amazing accuracy and results. Articles periodically appear, documenting research which attempts to prove the theory behind Biorhythms. Corporations continue to join the ranks of those which have experimented with Biorhythms, some going so far as implementing safety programs based on the theory. Hospitals in Germany and Switzerland schedule surgery according to a patient's Biorhythms. . . taxi cab companies in Japan have dramatically reduced accident rates through the application of the theory. Yet, despite the evidence and testimony used to establish the theory's validity, no scientific basis has been found to prove it, and what information has been put forth to substantiate Biorhythms has been found to be questionable. Because of this, the American scientific community continues to disregard the theory; many scientists fear to "dignify the theory by formally investigating it." (1)
Biorhythms are based on the theory that human behavior is influenced by three basic rhythms or cycles of energy: the physical, which has a period of twenty-three days and regulates an individual's vitality and stamina; the emotional, which has a period of twenty-eight days and regulates creativity and sensitivity; and the intellectual, which has a period of thirty-three days and regulates the memory and decision-making process. The cycles begin at birth, working independently of each other, but having a cumulative influence on man's behavior. Each cycle is divided into halves. The first half is when energy is readily available and can be channeled into successful ventures. The second half is a "recharging" period, during which it is advisable to refrain from strenuous efforts. Because of the different lengths of each cycle, all types of combinations can occur; for example, one may be overflowing with physical energy while intellectually and emotionally drained.
Chart: A Biorhythm chart of the first 30 days of life. The solid line corresponds to the 23 day physical cycle, the longer slashed lines to the 28 day emotional cycle, and the shorter slashed lines to the 33 day intellectual cycle.
To make the theory more comprehensible, sin curves are used to represent each cycle (see figure 1). The days the cycle is above the axis are high energy days... the days the cycle is below the axis are low energy days. The height of the curves is insignificant.
The dates that bear the most watching, however, are the first day and the half point of each cycle (in figure 1, the day each curve intersects the axis). These are termed critical days, because it is at this time that one switches from "discharging to recharging." Thus, according to the theory, our energies are unstable and make us prone to erratic behavior. Days on which two curves cross the axis are termed "double criticals". . three curves crossing the axis on the same day make for a "triple critical" day. It is these critical days - and especially the double and triple critical days - which have been correlated with accidents. It must be emphasized that these days do not predict the occurrence of accidents, but reflect instability which would predispose one to their happening.
As part of their proof for the reliability of Biorhythms, most books provide examples of celebrities who had significant events occur on critical days. Perhaps the most used example is that of Marilyn Monroe, who died from an overdose of barbiturates in 1962 (see figure 2). On the day of her death, both Monroe's emotional and intellectual cycles were critical, while her physical cycle had begun a down-swing two days earlier. Another example frequently used is that of Muhammad Ali's loss in a boxing bout with Ken Norton in 1973. Both Ali's physical and emotional cycles were critical on that day, although his intellectual cycle was high (see figure 3).
A few interesting facts come to light because of the varying lengths of the cycles. After 21,252 days (23 x 28 x 33), for example, the cycles will correspond to create a triple critical day, and begin a repeat of the pattern which began on the day of one's birth. This span of time, equaling approximately 58 years, 2 months, and 7 days, is called a Biorhythm life span. Within this span, there occur 4006 single critical days, 312 double critical days, and 8 triple critical days. The triple critical days are not distributed evenly, interestingly enough. The first one after the day of birth does not occur until around the ninth month of the nineteenth year.
Another interesting fact concerns the emotional cycle. Emotional criticals will always occur on the same day of the week as that on which one was born. Thus, if one were born on a Tuesday, every other Tuesday thereafter would be an emotionally critical day. This is due to the length of the cycle (i.e., critical days would occur every fourteen days since the entire cycle is twenty-eight days long).
Chart: This chart illustrates the position of Marilyn Monroe's Biorhythm cycles on the day of her death. An interpretation of this chart could be that Monroe's emotional and intellectual state were responsible for her decision to commit suicide at a time when her physical resistance was low.
Besides use for the prevention of potential accidents, proponents claim success to using Biorhythms for the prediction of the day of a baby's birth, as well as the baby's gender. Charting the mother's Biorhythms from the approximate date of conception, the birth is predicted for the physical or emotional critical day nearest the end of her gestation period (280 days). Prediction of the baby's gender again uses the date of conception. If the mother's physical cycle is high at the time of conception, the baby will most probably be male. A female will result if the mother's emotional cycle is high. This is attributed to the theory that "changes in the alkaline or acid content of the blood influence the sex of a child: if a woman's blood is more alkaline, she is more likely to have boys. Biorhythms researchers claim that the high point in the physical cycle is said to favor a condition of alkalinity in the blood, the high point in the emotional rhythm to favor acidity. (2) No medical proof has been established for this theory.
Finally, as is the case with most methods used in attempts to control human destiny, Biorhythms have been used for gauging compatibility with the opposite sex. Many books contain compatibility charts, but definitive studies in this area have yet to be implemented.
The origins of Biorhythms can be traced back to Wilhelm Fliess, a prominent nose and throat specialist in Berlin during the 1890's. A colleague of Freud - in fact, we may never have heard of Fliess were it not for Freud - Fliess came to the conclusion that there were two cycles inherent in man which determined the occurrence of illnesses, growth stages, and even the date of death. He also laid great stress on the bisexuality of all human beings. Thus, he related a 23 day cycle to the male component, and a 28 day cycle to the female component in all humanity. He did not stop there, however, and extended his periodic theory to both the plant and animal kingdoms. To prove his theories, Fliess published many books and articles filled with evidence, culminating in a 584 page volume entitled, The Rhythm of Life: Foundations of an Exact Biology.
Upon close inspection of his evidence, however, it has been found that Fliess juggled with numbers to suit his ends. Quoting Freud, Fliess "was an expert mathematician, and by multiplying 23 and 28 by the difference between them and adding or subtracting the results, or by even more complicated arithmetic, he would always arrive at the number he wanted." (3) Fliess predicted that Freud would die at the age of 51 (23 + 28), and in the book mentioned above, included an appendix filled with complicated arithmetic for proof of his ideas. Included are "multiples of 23, multiples of 28, multiples of 23 (squared), multiples of 28 (squared), multiples of 644 (which is 23 x 28). In boldface are certain important constants such as 12,167 (23 x 23 squared), 24,334 (2 x 23 x 23 squared), 36,501 (3 x 23 x 23 squared). . ." (4) Fliess, being the "astute" mathematician that he was, should have realized that the same results can be arrived at by using any two positive integers that have no common denominator (17 and 22, for example).
Chart: On March 31, 1973, Muhammad Ali lost a boxing bout against Ken Norton. Although intellectually high, a double critical in his physical and emotional cycles may have been responsible for the loss.
In line with this, Fliess came to the conclusion that the rhythms were "intimately connected with the mucous lining of the nose. Fliess thought he had found a relation between nasal irritations and all kinds of neurotic symptoms and sexual irregularities. He diagnosed these ills by inspecting the nose and treated them by applying cocaine to 'genital spots' on the nose's interior. He reported cases in which miscarriages were produced by anesthetizing the nose, and he said that he could control painful menstruation by treating the nose." (5) Fliess even operated on Freud's nose twice.
Freud was at first enthralled with Fliess's work, and went as far as using the periodic theories in some of his early writings. But his enthusiasm for the theories was not strong enough, and his psychoanalytic orientation gradually created a rift between the two men.
About the time their friendship was terminated in the early 1900's, a man by the name of Hermann Swoboda began publishing information concerning the 23 and 28 day cycles, and claimed the theories a result of his own research. Swoboda, it turned out, was one of Freud's patients. Fliess accused Freud of leaking information on the periodic theories, and went so far as to publish his accusations of plagiarism. Fliess's concern was warranted; most books today credit Swoboda with originating the theories.
It is largely through Swoboda that we know about the theory of Biorhythms today. Besides continuing the research begun by Fliess - culminating in a 576 page volume The Year of Seven - he devised a slide rule, for the calculation of one's critical days, freeing one from the cumbersome mathematics involved. Unfortunately, as is the case with Fliess 's writings, all of Swoboda's works are in German and have never been translated.
Chart: The preceding two graphs are illustrations of Capt. M. Scott Carpenter's Biorhythm cycles on May 24, 1962, the day he overshot his landing target after a three-orbit space flight. The first graph appears in Thommen's Is This Your Day?, page 71. The second graph is the correct one, computed with both Thommen's methods of calculation and my own. According to Thommen, "The biorhythm chart shows him near the critical point in his sensitivity cycle, low in his physical cycle, and high only in the intellectual cycle." The discrepancy is obvious.
The third cycle (33 day intellectual) was discovered in the 1920's by Alfred Teltscher, an engineer and instructor at a high school at Innsbruck, Austria. Teltscher supposedly came upon the rhythm while studying test performances of some of his high school students. The results of his work, however, have never been documented or published; even George Thommen, author of Is This Your Day?, admits that his "knowledge of Teltscher's work is based on secondhand reports and on articles that discussed his findings." (6) No other research to this day has come up with similar findings.
No biological or mathematical basis has been found for any of the three rhythms. Even the 28 day cycle, which one would assume to correlate with the female menstrual cycle should "not be confused with the menstrual cycle, although the two are related in evolutionary origin," (7) according to Fliess. Thommen provides some speculation as to the physical causes of the three rhythms, but none of it has been verified.
Chart: The above two illustrations are graphs of Carl Jung's Biorhythm cycles on June 6, 1961, the day of his death. The first graph appears on page 158 of Thommen's Is This Your Day?... the second graph is a result of both Thommen's and my own calculations. Note the two day discrepancy between the two graphs. Many Biorhythm enthusiasts are quick to downplay the two day difference, noting that the theory would still hold as approximately correct. With this attitude, many of the experiments which have verified the validity of Biorhythms would have to be called into question. The theory would not have much practical use if it does not go beyond approximations.
Perhaps the best material for argument against the validity of Biorhythms is contained in the very books which promote the theory. The origins of the theory, for example, are always misrepresented, especially when dealing with the absurd extremes Fliess would go to to prove his periodic theories. In most books, credit for the discovery of the 23 and 28 day cycles is granted to Swoboda, when the ideas were clearly Fliess's brainchild. This is especially true in Thommen's book. We learn later on in the same book, however, that Thommen and Swoboda exchanged correspondence until the time of Swoboda's death. (8)
Quotes are taken out of context and used for support of the theory in many of the books. For example, Thommen quotes George Riebold - who as a gynecologist continued Fliess's research on a sounder basis - as saying, "Some truth lurks in the idea that life follows a periodic rhythm... and that the periods of 23 days and 28 days which Fliess discovered are of frequent occurrence." (9) He did not use the remainder of the sentence which continues, "but the claim made by Fliess, who in his vanity puts himself on a par with Kepler" (10) (and in The Origins of Psychoanalysis, a collection of letters from Freud to Fliess, the editors paraphrase the rest) "is rejected as belonging to the realm of the psychopathological." (11) That there was more to the quote than Thommen wished to include is believable since the editors of The Origins of Psychoanalysis had nothing to lose so far as Fliess's periodic theories were concerned. Thommen, on the other hand, has a vested interest in the success of the Biorhythm theory. He "is the president of a firm that supplies calculators and charting kits with which to plot one's own cycles." (12)
Thommen also includes some questionable resources in the bibliography of his book, including a book entitled, Biological Rhythms in Human and Animal Physiology, by Gay Gaer Luce. Use of this book as a resource is questionable because Luce saw fit to devote only two paragraphs to Fliess's discoveries, titled the section "Mythology", and then proceeded to say: "Fliess' blatantly unsophisticated understanding of simple mathematics is evident in his formula, which is transparent junk. Yet, every year it is offered to the public in new books on 'biorhythms' that promise a reader the ability to chart his own cycles of physical or emotional vulnerability and strength in advance." (13)
Chart your own Biorhythms
To compute one's Biorhythms for any given day, it is necessary to calculate the number of days one has been alive up to that day. The following method can be used.
If using a calculator, the remainder which results upon dividing by the number of days in the three cycles will be expressed in decimal form, and must be converted into integers. This can be done by multiplying the decimal by the number of days in the cycle being computed. For example, if you divide 9708 days by 23, the decimal result would be 422.0869. To change the remainder into integer form, you would multiply 23 x .0869. The result will be 1.9987, which when rounded off to the nearest whole number would be 2. Thus, you would be 2 days into your physical cycle.
Many of the graphs of celebrities' critical days which are presented as evidence for the validity of Biorhythms can be found to be plotted wrongly. This is true even when, for example, Thommen's own tables for the computation of Biorhythms are used (incidentally, Thommen's tables are the easiest to use of any published so far). Two examples of such errors are shown in figures 4 and 6; the correct graphs are shown in figures 5 and 7.
Most of the experimentation cited to prove the validity of Biorhythms has been done outside of the United States. In a book by Albert Thumann, Biorhythms and Industrial Safety, one such study is documented. This experiment was performed by Hans Schwing, a student at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at Zurich. Using the data from 700 accident cases, he found that the percentage of accidents occurring on critical days was three times greater than one would expect out of chance. The cases were chosen at random, however, so individual human error was not always at fault.
In the January 1978 issue of "Archives of General Psychiatry", a study done by four Baltimore doctors is cited. The data used was from 205 carefully investigated highway accidents in which the drivers were clearly at fault. The experimenters found that on both the critical days and low energy days of the drivers, the frequency of accidents occurring was not significantly different from what would be expected on chance basis alone. In this same article, four other experiments were summarized, one of the most ambitious scrutinizing more than 13,000 industrial accidents. Another experiment evaluated over 8,000 pilot-involved aircraft accident cases. Both ruled out Biorhythms as a causal factor.
Yet, in spite of the shaky foundations of the Biorhythm theory, it has been used quite successfully, most especially in Japan. In his book, Thommen includes a letter from Yujiro Shirai (a leading exponent of the Japan Biorhythm Association at the time) reviewing the use of the theory in that country. Not only is the theory used by insurance, transportation, and manufacturing companies - one transportation company which operates 385 buses and 300 taxis reported a reduction of from 35 to 40 percent in accident claims - but it is now offered in many defensive driving courses taught all over Japan. Many of the companies offer incentives to workers and drivers who successfully complete a "critical" day without an accident, such incentives ranging from a box of caramels to a small paper crane (a symbol of luck and happiness). Use of the theory in the United States has been limited, and mostly experimental, by such companies as Exxon, Allegheny Airlines, AT & T, and United Airlines. Results from such experimentation have been mostly negative or sketchy at best, many of the companies refusing to divulge any information regarding any experimentation.
So what of the successes? It is interesting to note that the first books on Biorhythms were printed in the early 1960's (Biorhythms by Hans J. Wernli in 1961, and Is This Your Day? by George S. Thommen in 1964), yet the theory did not catch on until the next decade, nearly ten years later. At first glance, one might attribute this to the time it takes any new idea to gain wide acceptance. It would be more correct to say, however, that the span of time which expired between the introduction of the theory and its acceptance by a segment of the population is due to the dramatic change in the mood of our society as a whole during the last fifteen years. According to some, we have become more open-minded and free-thinking. . .in the midst of a "new age." If the wide acceptance of the Biorhythm theory is a reflection of such a shift in mood, it would seem more accurate to say - in view of facts behind the Biorhythm theory - that we have become more gullible and simple-minded in our approach to both life and a philosophy. . .ready to clutch at panaceas in whatever form they present themselves. Like the hypochondriac who immediately recovers from an illness when a placebo is administered, Biorhythms will serve their purpose for a while, at least until another of life's intangibles suddenly confronts us. We can rest "assured", however, that someone else will be on hand with another "cure".
In view of the false information and claims put forth in favor of the Biorhythm theory, the skepticism with which it has been met to the United States scientific community is justified. To merit formal investigation, any theory of scientific interest should include a solid foundation as a basis for its consideration. It is just this that the Biorhythm theory is lacking. Add to this the sensational reports, exaggerated correlations, reports on the effect on one's sex life, and the obvious manner with which authors manipulate facts to the advantage of the theory, and it is clear why Biorhythm theory will remain on the back pages of the "National Enquirer" and the "Midnight Globe".
TAT Profile: J. Krishnamurti
TAT Profiles are a guide to the life and thought of individuals, past and present, who have contributed to the advancement of human awareness. For those major figures with whore many are familiar, the goal will be to extract the core of their philosophies and present it in a clear and concise manner, along with recommendations for deeper study. Lesser known figures will be dealt with more subjectively, evaluations will accompany the basic information and the reader will, hopefully, benefit from our reviewer's study and experience in deciding whether or not that persons system is worthy of his time and attention. Future installments in this series will feature such teachers, masters and prophets as Madame Blavatsky, G.I. Gurdjieff, Edgar Cayce and P.D. Ouspensky.
J. Krishnamurti inevitably startles those who listen to tapes of his lectures and question-and-answer sessions. Even after reading some of his innumerable books and learning his approach to mental clarity and spiritual knowledge is unflinchingly iconoclastic, one is still shocked into a self-appraising in awareness upon hearing a tone of sharp derision in the voice of a universally acknowledged spiritual teacher whose words often belie a profound compassion for suffering humanity. Krishnamurti is a paradox: critical and kind, a guide who leads by disorienting people from their accustomed markings, he is an authority by the sheer force of his teaching, though he rejects all claims to authority by lineage or otherwise.
The Life of Krishnamurti
According to the Theosophical Society an incarnation of a higher deity appears on the earth when needed to bring a message of spiritual truth to mankind. Buddha and Christ are considered to be manifestations of these incarnations. Helena Blavatsky, co-founder of the Theosophical Society, announced in 1875 that the reason for the Society's existence was to prepare humanity for the coming of the new "World Teacher" as the time was ripe. One of the higher deities known collectively as "Masters" would take possession of a human form which had been properly prepared for the event. Thus, a `vehicle" was needed.
In 1895 in a town near Madras, India, the eighth child of a Brahmin family was born and named Krishnamurti in honor of Krishna, the Hindu deity, also an eighth child. A local astrologer predicted the child would grow up to be a great and wonderful man. It did not seem this prophecy would come to pass as the boy was considered dim-witted and lazy by his school instructors. The only qualities that stood out about him aside from his apparent stupidity were his generous nature and a marked clairvoyant ability.
When Krishnamurti was fourteen he was "discovered" by Charles W. Leadbeater, who along with Annie Besant had taken over the Theosophical Society after the death of Blavatsky. The Theosophists had a branch of their organization at Adyar, India, and as Krishnamurti's father worked for the Society it was inevitable that the boy would come in contact with them. Leadbeater, observing the boy playing along a beach with his younger brother, Nityananda, claimed he had the most astounding aura (the energy field around the human body), he had ever seen, and that this boy was to be the vehicle for the "World Teacher." Krishnamurti, along with his brother who had a lesser aura, were literally taken from their father and their spiritual training begun.
During the following years, "Krishna" and "Nitya" were steeped in the occult and esoteric philosophies. Vegetarians from birth, they were instructed in physical conditioning, yoga, meditation, languages and their coming roles when the World Teacher arrived. Intercontinental travel was very much a part of their young lives as they were whisked back and forth between India, England, France and California.
Krishna supposedly received direct instruction from the Masters themselves on an astral plane, and the teachings he was given were presented to the Society in the form of booklets and lectures, the lectures being particularly uncomfortable for the boy as he was shy and not an effective speaker.
From early childhood on, Krishna had been extremely close to his brother Nitya, and the bond between them grew tighter as they were subjected together to strange environments and people. Nitya, who had a worldly, sharp mind, protected Krishna who was often bewildered by the happenings around him.
In 1922 Krishnamurti had the experience referred to as cosmic consciousness or samadhi, at which time he claimed that "the fountain of Truth has been revealed to me and the darkness dispersed." Simultaneously with this began a series of physical symptoms which Krishnamurti called "the process." This was looked upon by Leadbeater and Besant as the awakening of kundalini, an energy force in the spine which can yield spiritual results. Krishna suffered pain in his head and neck during this period, and was given to seeing visions, lights and other phenomena. Though some suffering was expected during the awakening of kundalini, Krishna's apparent agony was a puzzle to those around him.
Krishnamurti was considered the head of the main esoteric branch of the Theosophical Society known as the Order of the Star. His work with them continued until 1925 when his brother Nitya suddenly sickened and died. This was a tremendous shock to Krishna as Nitya was to play a part in the Master's plan, and his death left what he had been taught in the past, as well as the entire future open to question.
Shortly thereafter a change was noticed in Krishna's lectures. His speaking had now grown dynamic and electrifying and many believed the World Teacher had come at last. However, over the next few years Krishnamurti began shocking the Theosophists by declaring that the Masters were only "incidents" and questioning his own position as World Teacher until in 1929 he officially disbanded the Order of the Star claiming he had no disciples and that "truth is a pathless land."
In 1931, while in the state of samadhi again, Krishnamurti's memory of the past left him and a permanent state of ecstatic consciousness seemed to set in. It was after this that Krishnamurti struck out on his own to "set men absolutely, unconditionally free."
The following years of his life were spent lecturing and teaching at various places around the world. The "process" that began in 1922 has always been with him and he still suffers physically though he gives no explanation for this. He has acquired a world-wide following over the years, though he himself claims to have no disciples. At eighty-three years old his life has been one of considerable accomplishment. As one of his prime concerns is education of the young, several educational centers have been established by him at different points on the globe. He still continues to give talks every year in California, England, India and Switzerland. He has appeared in interviews on television, and many books, records and tapes have been published bearing his teachings.
As Krishnamurti's life story is very complex and involved, only the basic fabric has been presented here. An excellent biography of his life, from which this account has been taken, is found in Krishnamurti: The Years of Awakening, by Mary Lutyens.
Perhaps the most striking thing about Krishnamurti's life is that he was trained to be the World Teacher, disavowed the position, then became a world teacher. His teaching itself is paradoxical since he maintains he is not an authority yet his style of speech demonstrates clearly that he feels he knows something.
Questions about enlightenment or the state of absoluteness or oneness with God sometimes crop up in his public talks. Krishnamurti has developed a neat ability to maneuver out of discussing the subject if it pertains to him. That he is enlightened seems to be taken for granted by most people, his enlightenment having occurred after the death of his brother Nitya. However, if the whole thrust of his message is to get man to that state of unconditioned, psychological freedom that is synonymous with enlightenment, he gives no more concrete steps toward this other than to find truth within yourself. Any more instruction than this is sketchy at best. For someone who has had as thorough a training in esoteric and occult knowledge as Krishnamurti, one would expect something more definite in working toward self-realization. He himself says it takes a tremendous amount of energy to find the Truth, and he talks about the arduousness of it, yet he offers no method of energy building or short-cuts to the arduousness, if there are any. He avoids the esoteric or occult almost entirely in his lectures, when in fact his early training probably had much to do with his enlightenment. He illustrates his opinion of the occult in Truth and Actuality: "There are now all over America, and in Europe, various groups trying to awaken their little energy called Kundalini. You have heard about all this, haven't you? And there are groups practicing it. I saw one group on television where a man was teaching them how to awaken Kundalini, that energy, doing all kinds of tricks with all kinds of words and gestures - which all becomes so utterly meaningless and absurd. And there is apparently such an awakening, which I won't go into, because it is much too complex and probably it is not necessary or relevant."
His lectures before he dissolved the Order of the Star were more esoteric and colorful than they have been since (see The Years of Awakening). His present approach is more psychological or sociological. Perhaps a reason for this is the concept of the esoteric school itself. It is said that Nature has a way of tracking down those blatant dabblers in Her mysteries and destroying them. Having made the trip to the Absolute, Krishnamurti surely knows what is most effective in getting there, considering his background. Yet to try and actively teach this on a large scale would undoubtedly meet with criticism and opposition if the approach were more esoteric than psychological. The approach he has used, while low-key in the esoteric sense, has permitted so much of his teaching to be disseminated that it is safe to say that Krishnamurti has his place in history. Those who study his works might find a stepping-stone to something more substantial if they are shrewd enough. And, with the publishing of his biography at his request, which contains more esotericism than you'll ever find in his other books, one might well wonder if Krishnamurti isn't giving more hints at a spiritual direction under the guise of public demand for his biography (which would help his school fund) or, using himself to exemplify his teachings about conditioning and its consequences. Either way, the esoteric elements in his biography stand out clearly.
As he is getting on in years, and his position is more or less secure, Krishnamurti does offer occasional bits of the occult in Truth and Actuality: "And in this process of meditation there are all kinds of powers that come into being: one becomes clairvoyant, the body becomes extraordinarily sensitive. Now clairvoyance, healing, thought transference and so on, become totally unimportant; all the occult powers become so totally irrelevant, and when you pursue those you are pursuing something that will ultimately lead to illusion."
The basic teachings as they stand are more accessible to people without any occult knowledge. Trying to break Krishnamurti's teaching into categories is inadequate because there is no clear-cut definition to most of them, and they all interrelate. He has a knack for saying the same thing in one hundred different ways; therefore his books are all essentially the same, the only change being in style and form. If one book does not strike home, another may.
The Role of the Teacher - In keeping with his life, Krishnamurti claims the teacher can only point out the way and nothing more. He thoroughly denounces all gurus, saints and saviours.
Thought, Fear and Conditioning - These three constitute the core subjects of Krishnamurti's talks which he consistently hammers his audience with. He asks, "Can the mind be perfectly still without any movement of thought whatsoever?" It is thought, he claims, which creates the thinker, the "I." Thought is both mechanical and conditioned, and as a result we as humans are mechanical and conditioned. It is our conditioning especially which keeps us wrapped up in fears and illusions. The task he presents us with is seeing through our conditionings, and trying to find out if thought can come about only when it is needed. It is our concepts, value judgments, conditionings, in a word, our thoughts, which keep us from seeing that which is truth and Truth.
Inner Revolution - In dealing with his audience in a sociological way, Krishnamurti points out the futility of all external revolutions, political upheavals or movements. The only revolution is an inner revolution which is instantaneous and transforms the entire being of the person who undergoes it. This simplifies down to trying to change yourself instead of the world.
Intelligence, Order and Energy - These might be considered the second "big three." Intelligence is not thought. Intelligence is that moment of understanding that comes between thoughts. It can be likened to intuitive perception. A person may have a high native ability to do mathematics, write well, or memorize book knowledge, but these are mechanical functions. Intelligence is not mechanical. It is a flash of insight, the seeing of what is. With intelligence comes choiceless awareness. Only a chaotic mind has to struggle with choice. When there is no choice there is order. When there is order there is abundant energy as energy-wasting conflict over choice has ceased.
Time and Space - Time does not exist apart from space nor space from time. It is the gulf between the observer and that which is observed. When there is seeing without the observer or the center, time and space cease to exist as there is no reference or "l." Thought functions in the realm of time and space. When there is no thought, there is no observer, therefore no time or space.
Beauty - Beauty is the seeing of what is. Out of this comes order, discipline and virtue, which are beauty.
Silence - There can be no silence as long as there is a seeker. Silence is the difference between an active mind and a preoccupied mind. The preoccupied mind is always mulling over things, concerned with comparison, choice and its attendant wastage of energy. An active mind is silent, aware, choiceless.
God, the Sacred, Religion and Meditation - God and the Sacred are synonymous, being that state which is beyond time and measure. For that state to come into being the mind must be perfectly still. Religion is that seeking to find out what Truth and reality are, and if there is a state of mind that is timeless. Meditation, according to Krishnamurti, is not the popular tranquilizer that most people call to mind, but trying to see if there is an end to knowledge, therefore freedom from the known.
Truth and Reality - Reality and truth are two separate things. Thought operates in the domain of reality. Our reality can be a projection of thought. Reality can be conditioned. Thought processes are the limitation of reality; therefore you cannot go through reality to come to truth. Reality is contained within truth. Truth is not conditioned or dependent on things. Truth is not [sic]
Truth and Reality - Reality and truth are two separate things. Thought operates in the domain of reality. Our reality can be a projection of thought. Reality can be conditioned. Thought processes are the limitation of reality; therefore you cannot go through reality to come to truth. Reality is contained within truth. Truth is not conditioned or dependent on things. Truth is a living thing. A whole, sane man, says Krishnamurti, is truth, that which is.
A synthesis of Krishnamurti's views comes down to: can we see through our conditionings and in so doing quiet the mind to the point that there is a seeing of what is, directly, without interpretation? This is the same as the Zen view of stopping the mind to reach Satori. As Robert Powell has said, "...it is Krishnamurti's great merit to have more strongly emphasized than anyone the essential requirement of passivity: the awareness must be completely without any form of evaluation to be of value; otherwise it becomes merely another technique of introspection or self-analysis."
For records, tapes, books: Krishnamurti Foundation of America P.O. Box 216 Ojai, California 93023
Mother Shipton was an English prophetess born in 1486 in Yorkshire. While regarded by some as "the devil's child," she had a great enough popularity as a psychic to avoid the rack and pyre. She died in 1561. Her remarkable prophecy of the course of twentieth century civilization was submitted to TAT Journal by Richard I. Robb of Wizards Bookshelf, Box 6600, San Diego, California, a dealer in Hermetic philosophy and antiquities.
Mother Shipton's Prophecy
In the air men shall be seen
In white, in black, in green.
Fire and water shall more wonders do.
England shall at last admit a Jew,
The Jew that was held in scorn
Shall of a Christian be born, and born.
When pictures look alive with movements free,
When ships, like fishes, swim beneath the sea,
When men, outstripping birds can soar the sky,
Then half the world, deep-drenched in blood
Women will dress like men and trousers wear,
And cut off all their locks of hair.
They will ride astride with brazen brow,
And love shall die and marriage cease,
And nations wane, and babes decrease,
And wives shall fondle cats and dogs,
And men shall live much as hogs,
Just for food and lust.
Iron in the water shall float,
as easily as a wooden boat.
Through hills shall man ride,
And no horse be at his side.
Carriages without horses shall go,
And accidents fill the world with woe.
Around the world thought shall fly,
in the twinkling of an eye.
Under water men shall walk,
Shall ride, shall sleep, shall talk.
TAT Book Service
By buying in volume, we are able to save our readers a few dollars on many books that are not sold at all bookstores. We also invite our readers to write in if they have books to sell. The books listed here are all new. To order, please add 75 cents to the listed price to cover postage, and write to: TAT Book Service, _____
[[2-page List here]]
TAT News and Calendar
An on and off day of rain accompanied the opening of the Nutrition Symposium on Saturday, August 5th. A crowd of about one hundred people showed up for the weekend's events in spite of the predicted inclement weather.
A brief introductory hour led by Frank Mascara kicked off the day's events as each Symposium attendee introduced himself in a get-acquainted session.
Craig Smucker opened the program with a talk on "Blood-Sugars and Diet," stressing the importance of eliminating refined sugars from the diet and starting the day with a good high protein breakfast. A slide show accompanied the talk.
After a short break for lunch TAT Founder Richard Rose initiated a discussion on mental healing in which various members of the audience recounted their experiences with healing groups and techniques employed by these groups to facilitate healing. The talk eventually centered around the uses of hypnosis in healing, and after an avowal of interest from the audience Rose promised to hold a demonstration on the subject later that evening.
An amazing display on the subject of kinesiology conducted by Dr. Leslie Hauserman, a Cleveland chiropractor, followed Rose's talk. "Applied kinesiology," Dr. Hauserman explained, ''is the 'five finger approach' to acupuncture as opposed to needles. Eighty percent of acupuncture does not involve needles. Muscle testing is the basis of the whole science using pulse points on the body to test the various muscles."
Employing volunteers from the audience, Dr. Hauserman went on to show how the language of the body computer is shown in the tension of the muscles. As various muscles are related to specific organs and diseases, an unhealthy or weak condition in the organ shows up as a corresponding weakness in the muscle. Short-circuiting the various "alarm" points on the body with pressure from the fingers reveals this muscle weakness. Several individuals from the audience were quickly diagnosed by Dr. Hauserman using this method.
An analysis of the chemistry of body energy was offered by Robert Ayres in his talk entitled, "Biological and Chemical Processes in Nutrition." Basically addressing himself to the question of the connection between living and non-living matter, Mr. Ayres reported on the two basic body processes involved in energy: catabolism, or the breaking down of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and the energies and wastes produced; and anabolism, the synthesis, construction and energy absorption processes. A fascinating film on cancer cells showed the operation of the individual body cells in combat with this dread disease and their functions in the body system.
After dinner break, William King gave "Kirlian Evidences of Health," along with a convincing slide show demonstrating the effects of mood and health changes reflected in the human aura. King recounted the history of Kirlian photography, the method used to render the aura visible, and assembled a Kirlian unit at the farm house so Chautauqua-goers might view their own auras and judge for themselves.
The promised hypnosis session with Richard Rose took place after the panel discussion, and once again, as at the last Chautauqua, Rose demonstrated the healing properties of suggestion as several individuals volunteered to be freed from cigarettes or other unwanted habits.
Sunday's program began with a lecture by Luis Fernandez on the study of biorhythms. Fernandez gave a graphic explanation of the cycles charting the different energy levels and how "critical" and "up" days are determined. After covering the history and development of biorhythms, Fernandez cited instances where they have been used to determine compatibility or employed in industrial safety studies.
The deaths of public figures are often used as "proof" of the accuracy of biorhythms when such events fall on charted critical days. Fernandez, while admitting the seeming significance of these studies, stated his personal belief that there is no scientific basis for biorhythms.
Following lunch, dental practitioner Dr. Robert Rothan of the Total Health Center in Cincinnati covered the subject of nutrition in general in front of a very responsive and attentive audience. Being basically concerned with wholistic health, Dr. Rothan stressed the mental and spiritual aspects of living as well as the physical. On a physical level Dr. Rothan felt that preventive medicine is the best kind of treatment. This begins with proper foods, eliminating sugar and white flours. The calcium and magnesium balance, Dr. Rothan felt, is very critical as many diseases and discomforts may be caused by the incorrect amount of either of these substances.
The last speaker on the schedule was Dr. William Tellin, a chiropractor from West Mifflin, Pennsylvania and a lecturer at previous TAT Chautauquas. As he discussed "Restriction of the Life Flow," and the treatment of it through chiropractic, Dr. Tellin advised that health begins with maintaining a healthy body, not treating symptoms. Sleep, raw natural foods, exercise, a sound nervous system and a positive mental attitude all contribute to overall body health. "The body must be weak before it can become sick," said Dr. Tellin. "Germs can't affect a healthy body."
Dr. Tellin concluded his talk with a demonstration of one of the latest chiropractic devices: The derma-thermograph, an infra-red gun that records changes in temperature along the spine.
The Columbus TAT Society has been active since the publication of the last journal, sponsoring eight events.
Fall Schedule of Events
The Columbus TAT Society
Free public lectures are given on alternate Sundays at 7:30 p.m. at Buckeye Federal Savings and Loan, 3180 East Broad Street, just west of James Road.
Carl Jung Study Group
Meetings are at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month at the Carriage Hill Party House in Upper Arlington. More intensive study groups for those who wish to meet more often are planned for this year. For information, call Sandy Heilman at _____
The Pittsburgh TAT Society
Meetings are held at the University and City Ministries, Fifth and Bellefield Avenues, at 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. For more information, call _____
Journey Of Awakening: A Meditator's Guidebook, by Ram Dass, Bantam Books, 1978.
Here is a presentation of various practical areas of work for meditation students who are not so far advanced that they feel themselves beyond the need for advice about such fundamentally important matters as groups, teachers, retreats, methods, distractions, handling energy, meditation with and without form, thought prison, and a discussion of what to expect when they do begin to concentrate on living a more one-pointed, less illusory existence. Ram Dass has been criticized by many people active in spiritual circles as being on a bit of a I'm-a-teacher-ego-trip during the last five years. Regardless of these justified criticisms, he still fills an important role in communicating to American students a wide variety of experience that he has collected during his extensive exposure to meditation techniques and spiritual teachers throughout the world. The last 150 pages of this book contain a directory for the U.S. and Canada of groups that teach some form of meditation and that have retreat facilities available. No endorsements are given. The listings of various centers are mentioned along with brief descriptions of some.
There were interesting sections in this publication that I have not seen discussed as effectively elsewhere, such as how to deal with the inevitable periods of disorientation that occur as the meditation process slowly begins to break the ego down, and how to facilitate and accommodate the awakening of the kundalini force without having a nervous breakdown or equivalent "psychic burnout" (circuit overload of physiological and psychological mechanisms due to an inability to assimilate the increased psychic tension that is a by-product of some meditation processes). Also discussed is how to methodically plough through the stages of practice where boredom, discouragement, and a negative, cynical attitude threaten to assault and dismantle one's center of spiritual strength and commitment. Dogged persistence, along with an acceptance of that deeper part within that tells you to push forward, are discussed as antidotes. This book possesses a certain commercial appeal, but does not sacrifice too much on the quality end of the scale. The raja-yoga slant of Ram Dass colors some of the ideas presented, but is effectively balanced by reference to other philosophical schools that emphasize a formless, direct enquiry method devoid of devotional overtones. The author and his contributing cohorts, most of whom were affiliated with a Hindu teacher by the name of Neem Karoli Baba, have succeeded in sharing a relevant part of their ongoing meditational experience with the general public.
The Esoteric Philosophy Of Love and Marriage, by Dion Fortune, Weiser Books, New York, $3.95
This is not a book about marriage, per se, but a subtle treatise on human interaction and sexuality. To Fortune, all human interaction involves the exchange of polarity. Every communication or relationship has active and passive aspects and so, in the general sense of the term, it has a sexual nature. The first chapters of the book expound on the sexual or polar nature of all interchange, while in the following chapters she explains what the manifestations are in the various areas of psychic bonds, rapports, magic, karma, reincarnation and especially the use of sexual energy.
A good deal of this small book deals with sexual energy which, Fortune maintains, can be used for other purposes than the reproductive act. She holds that if sexual outlet can be restrained on the physical level the resultant excess sexual energy can be sublimated and used on a mental or spiritual level. The trick to this process is in concentration and attention.
Wherever the attention goes, that is where energy is directed. If the attention is on a mental level - reading a book, meditation or doing a mathematics problem - then the energy will be transmuted to that level. If the mental concentration is persistent enough there will be a proportionate improvement in mental capacity. Likewise, if the attention is persistently on the genitals, then the result will manifest on the physical level as hormones, sperm, and colloquially, "horniness". So the trick in the directing of sexual energy is where and how steadily the attention is focused.
Fortune also repeatedly asserts that there is real danger in this attempt to sublimate sexual energy. If it is not handled correctly, a "short circuit" or "grounding out" can occur, as witnessed in the lives of many religious teachers. Rasputin is an example, par excellence, of a great amount of sexual energy chaotically handled. If the sexual energy is not actively transmuted to the mental level, then it is likely to escape on the physical level and a sensual outbreak will occur. Also, as it can be seen deductively, a large sexual potency is a large mental or occult potency. To quote Fortune's allegory: "It is by concentration of thought that these powers are held to their work, just as the automobile is steered by the driver's hands. If attention waver, the direction of the power will waver with it. To use a big occult potency is like driving a high-powered car at a high speed, all depends on the control; unless you have the nerve for it, you are safer on your feet."
Another intriguing subject touched upon in this condensed booklet is psychic bonds. Fortune asserts that the psychic bond is an emotional tie between two people which is the result of the exchange of an ethereal substance of some nature. This ethereal substance, or perhaps energy, is exchanged when two people strongly react to each other. The reaction must be on behalf of both parties; one person reacting to another is not enough. This emotional tie is a subtle but substantial thing and may last from only moments, to years or even incarnations. A good example of a strong bond of this type is that of a special friendship. Most of us have a friend or two with whom we have a distinctive type of rapport. Even if we haven't seen this friend for years, upon seeing him again there will be instantly a mutual and joyous chord struck. There is an immediate rapport and exchange of energy.
Psychic bonds can not only exist between friends, but the same sort of bond exists between foes as well. The cause of the psychic bond is strong reaction. If the strong reaction between two people is of the negative type, a bond of equal strength will be formed here too. The only condition under which no bond (of some strength) will exist between two people is indifference. If the two parties are indifferent to each other, no bond will be formed and likewise, indifference is the only means by which an old bond is "killed" or dissipated. If a psychic bond is to die, it must die the death of indifference. Indifference means "no reaction" and reaction is the essence of the psychic bond.
Fortune's treatment of karma also fascinated me. Supposedly much personal deficiency or evil committed during life is "paid off" in a purgatory-like state by a process of subjective realization. If a person positively realizes the nature of some of the uncomely things he has done, or attitudes he has taken, he will suffer the pains of purification that often come with the achievement of a truer perspective. It is painful to discover that you have erred in some way, but equally it carries a mental cleansing. You may not be able to undo the ill you have done, but at the same time, through this realization, you have accomplished a progressive change in the psyche and a truer perspective of life. I take it that this is what Fortune asserts happens in the after-death state but in an intensive form.
Dion Fortune was a prodigious writer, author of at least 16 books, and dynamically active in the occult movement of the first part of this century. The Esoteric Philosophy of Love and Marriage is a very different book from others of Fortune's I am familiar with. In most of her books she vacillates between the baneful and the sublime, and this has puzzled me. This book is thoroughly and concisely sublime and as such separates it from her other books. I am perplexed to explain this unless she was doing someone's writing besides her own. She occasionally alludes to a teacher, and this is what I speculate to be the case. In some of her books she fluctuates between using her own words and that of another. The Esoteric Philosophy of Love and Marriage is an incident of the latter case and as a unique book you'd be hard-put to equal it on your esoteric bookshelf.
Pathways Through To Space, by Franklin Merrell-Wolff, Warner Books, 1973.
This book, subtitled, "A Personal Record of Transformation in Consciousness," is the story of a contemporary western philosopher who achieved the enlightened state of Absolute awareness at the age of 49 (without the aid of a physical guru). The major influences on Merrell-Wolff were the writings of Shankara, the 8th century A.D. founder of the Advaita Vedantin school of Indian philosophy, which has been characterized by many as the pinnacle of Hindu philosophical thought. To complement the eastern influence of the latter, he also employed Immanual Kant's philosophical critiques as a vehicle to lead up to the point where a "third organ of cognition" became a real possibility.
This journal reflects the maturing into real consciousness of a truly unique, western jnani-yogi. Although his efforts at spiritual poetics lack balance and precision of style, their genuineness overshadows all limitations. Combining razor-sharp intellectual discernment with a heightened sense of intuition, Merrell-Wolff demonstrates the highest possibilities of the direct enquiry school of spiritual discipline. If reincarnation is to be believed, then his connection with the Shankara-inspired school of Indian philosophy is a foregone conclusion. Also his insights into the esoteric Buddhist doctrines of Shunyata and the Dharmakaya (i.e., the Void) exceed anything ever written by a western philosopher-practitioner.
Constant struggle to reconcile "Transcendent Being" with the physical universe obsessed the author as he attempted to convey his realization that the real "Self or pure Apperceptive consciousness" sustains the whole universe (the latter being but an outward projection of the mind). According to Merrell-Wolff, there is but one 'I' or subject—the pure Subject or the Self; this idea represents the core theme of the book.
Having spent a life in semi-solitude during his years of maturing, Merrell-Wolff saw the necessity of grouping all his energy and reducing exterior distractions to a minimum, as prerequisites to being able to dive into the deepest levels of direct enquiry. His struggle to evolve the "current" of spiritual force that began to manifest in him as his insight deepened is one of the most practical and engrossing tales that I have ever read. His intellect soars, but unlike many philosophers, his intuition is never left behind. He declares psychic war on the forces of illusion, and makes the vow to become a realized One in this life. His hunger and emergent warrior mentality is movingly displayed in this excerpt from his poem entitled, "Sangsara":
"Thee, I challenge to mortal combat,
To a war that knows no quarter,
Thou vampire, draining the life of this Great Orphan.
In that battle may there be no truce,
No end, until the Day of Victory Absolute.
Thou reduced shalt be, to a dream utterly forgotten.
Then man, once more Free, Shall, journey to his Destiny."
Of all the western philosophers who have striven to integrate Hindu or Buddhist philosophical attitudes into their style of inner work, Merrell-Wolff and Paul Brunton seem to stand out as exceptional examples of the dynamic possibilities that exist for one willing to combine the best of the higher eastern methods of esotericism with the demanding intellectual discernment characteristic of many western philosophical schools (of which Kant is lauded by the author as being a standout). The reflective discussions and mystical compositions of the writer reflect the ongoing struggle to resist the hypnotic effect of the relative world (which Merrell-Wolff refers to as the field of subject-object consciousness).
He recognizes four major obstacles to transcendence:
With the idea of false predication the author centers on the notion of the world, the body, and the out-going or externalized mind as being a projected and illusory dream. Those acquainted with Paul Brunton's elaborately detailed analysis of the doctrine of mentalism, in The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga, will find strong similarities of approach to Merrell-Wolff's ideas and to what has classically been expounded by Advaita Vedantin non-dualism. The roots of the latter Indian philosophical tradition seem to have been transplanted, in fact, onto occidental soil through the efforts of these mystical-philosophers. The lineage can be clearly traced from Shankara (8th century A.D.) down through the ages to Ramana Maharshi (20th century), to Brunton, and independently through Merrell-Wolff.
The author had sound academic training as a mathematician and philosopher, which lent to the development of an adroit discernment faculty. This acquired excellence in the philosophy of logic provided him with a discriminative tool which later proved to be of major importance in his efforts to communicate with those still bound to, but anxious to transcend, the realm of ignorance and make believe. This power of real discriminative wisdom (referred to as prajna in Buddhist schools, and as jnani in Indian philosophy) was exemplified by "rigorously distinguishing between the Self and not-Self" in a meditative process designed to allow for "careful differentiation between the properties true of the object of consciousness and the qualities true of the Subject." The approach of the Jnana-yoga school of Indian philosophy has always been fundamentally psychological rather than religious (of the head rather than the heart); and Wolff's adaptations lend an intriguing interpretation that could prove invaluable to modern students of esoteric systems who find catalytic meaning in such direct enquiry methods.
Pgh TAT Society presents a forum on awareness
Health and Nutrition in the Four Bodies of Man
Weekend Seminar Focusing on:
Dr. Emanuel Baum, Ph.D., Pgh., Pa.
Dr. Fred Bissel, M.D., Ravenna, Oh.
Dr. Leslie Hauserman, D.C., Cleveland, Oh. Dr. Lindsay Jacob, M.D., Pgh., Pa.
Dr. Wm. C. Wetmore, D.C., C.C.N., Pgh.
November 18 and 19, 1978
Parkway Center Inn, Pittsburgh, PA
Weekend Price for Entire Seminar: $25 (reservations must be received in advance of event)
Overnight Lodging, Double or Single: $19.95
Overnight guests have use of Indoor Heated Pool, Health Club, Pavilion Restaurant, Game Room, shopping and Discotheque.
Phone or Write for reservations or more information.
Day: _____ Evenings: _____
TAT Foundation, P.O. Box _____, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Attendance will be limited. Please make your reservations soon.
[[2 pages classified and other ads]]
[[TAT Membership and subscription page]]
© 1978 TAT Foundation. All rights reserved.