Chapter 2

Literature Review

Before exploring the Albigen System in detail, it would be helpful to examine those categories of philosophical investigation throughout history that touch upon Richard Rose's teaching. They collectively represent a sequence of inner work that lead towards defining ultimate meaning, ultimate identity, and ultimate validity. This progression of questioning and answering will be reviewed until we are brought to where the Psychology of the Observer begins.

We are confronted at the outset of our quest by the question: What is Truth and how are we to realize it? Whereas religion has traditionally been the final bedrock of unquestioned security and purpose for those who were able to believe in the assurances of scripture, this past century in particular has seen the emergence of the "Outsiders," the "Underground Men" (Abood, 1973; Wilson, 1956). They are the vanguard of a new consciousness, the tragi-heroic personification of modern spiritual malaise. They are the ones who either dropped out of "normal," mainstream life, were kicked out, or were never able to fit into it. They cannot help but see and feel more than their fellows and know that something is horribly wrong, but can do no more than struggle desperately to find some cure for it. They are stripped of comforting ideologies, the benevolence of a Divine parent-figure, and the joys of the community of humankind. They sense–with keen, even morbid sensibility–the absurdity of life as it is commonly lived, the emptiness of values in an apparently meaningless cosmos, the estrangement from Nature, the madness of the masses, the decay of culture, the seeming abandonment by God, and the nameless craving of the soul for what is true–to the point of shattering their illusion of sanity and hurtling them into the void.

Their characteristic attitude is the negation of all the falseness they encounter within and without them, more than the affirmation of anything positive and certain–other than their right to have a valid existence at any cost. This results in their constant state of tension and uneasiness, which is the fuel for their movement. Their existential despair is the necessary price for the search for truth, and their gnawing emptiness is the necessary prelude to finding it.

Although Freud was supposed to have claimed that as soon as a person questions the meaning of life, one is sick, and that self-knowledge is the ultimate form of aggression, others consider these concerns to be a healthy indication of the latent soul starting to recognize itself. Logotherapy was developed by Viktor Frankl to more specifically address this yearning for spiritual rootedness as a process of psychological inquiry leading towards one's commitment to a higher cause (Bulka, 1979; Fabry, 1980). This is similar to the first step towards spiritual redemption in the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step program in which one admits to being helpless and lost, and surrenders to a subjectively defined (or humbly undefined) "Higher Power".

Frankl bridged the personal and transpersonal domains by advocating that one should be the master of one's will and the servant of one's conscience. Carl Jung evidenced a similar conviction by teaching that we must agree to fulfill our fate, to live out our personal "myth of meaning", and by so doing, "to break the mirror of life, that we might look being in the face" (Jaffe, 1975).

Frankl inadvertently provided a Zen-like response to a basic issue in Advaita Vedanta by stating that the limited ego-self is transcended through paradoxical hyperreflection upon this self and its operations. Intensely confronting the self leads to one's becoming free of it.

Frankl was attempting to provide a workable solution to the host of modern "metapathologies" that growing numbers of Outsiders in the post-"God is dead" (as a humanized concept of belief) era are experiencing, including the "ennui" of spiritual poverty (De Ropp, 1968). He was forced by extreme circumstances to expand the experiential definition of "meaning." He was not allowed the luxury of a God who resides only in a pretty flower garden or a Maslowian sunset at the beach. God has to be real in the garbage dump too–or even a concentration camp.

Logotherapy does, however, make a least three false or ambitiously overstated points in regards to the principle that the struggle to live despite all adversity proves that life is inherently meaningful, and we all have this innate spiritual conviction within us: 1) the survival urge is a natural, physical implant and is in cockroaches too, 2) the psychological ego-self does not wish to die either and will resist its dissolution to the end, and 3) the fear of death and the unknown is usually more the motivation for struggle than is the affirmation of something positive or inherently spiritual. These reasons alone are not indications of a profound, self-transcending urge for meaning or that such meaning necessarily objectively exists. To dramatically claim: "Life is sacred" is imprecise. Awareness is sacred; protoplasm is not.

A further deficiency is that Logotherapy on its level of inquiry can deal only with discovering the meaning in life as a relative value, not the meaning of life as an absolute fact. The latter must still be taken on faith only as one's ultimate ground or context of being–but what if one cannot? A million times zero is still zero. Meaningfulness within meaninglessness is still meaninglessness. The self can know no lasting satisfaction once it becomes aware that the Self is not known. Frankl posits virtuous, courageous living as analogous to playing out one's role in a chess game properly, given one's specific circumstances on the board at any time. Yet, he never seemed to seriously ask: Why play the game or in the game at all? Who is playing it? Whose game board is it? It is hard to determine what makes it so, but some people are pushed beyond a certain line where they must have the answers to these questions and cannot content themselves with merely learning to play the game well or even to win at it.

Alongside Frankl, others have also regarded the Holocaust as undoubtedly the greatest metaphor for spiritual darkness and existential horror in modern history (Brenner, 1980; Estess, 1980; Kent, 1972), and thus symbolizing to the extreme the Job in every seeker demanding to know the truth of God's justice. Many individuals have been stranded somewhere between faith and despair. The real issue raised by this incomprehensible (on the human level) experience is at the point where religion becomes spirituality. The living experience that the conception of God as a loving "Santa Claus" figure does not exist forces one to contemplate the question: What then is the real "God" or Absolute that oversees all of life and death, and runs the universe by some unknown Divine standard? The God that was present even in Auschwitz–and survived–is the only God worth finding. How are we to do it?

Yet, how can we ever hope to see the truth while we look through a glass darkly? Many esoteric sources indicate that the reality we perceive and experience may not be entirely, solidly real, but is the result of mental projection based on belief. Furthermore, we do not even suspect nor question that the ego-mind that creates this fiction is itself a product of that larger, collective fiction. The role of conviction in the creation of a personal paradigm has been described, as well as suggestions on how to escape this mental prison cell into a more objective state, thereby allowing healing, psychic perception, and instances of magic to take place (Pearce, 1971; Steiger, 1971). By understanding the ways in which our minds have been conditioned into delusive categories, we can learn how to undo these filters of interpretation and see reality more directly, as a whole, from a position of untainted awareness (Puligandla, 1981; Strauch, 1983).

Even our after-death status is said to be largely defined by our state-of-being during life, with the warning that all possible dimensions experienced subsequent to death are as fictional as our current condition in the "real world"; every after-death state being another sheath of maya covering the real Self, with no automatic graduation into God-Consciousness occurring merely due to one's dying. Rather than waking up at death, one might be only switching channels and becoming wholly engrossed in the new scene. So, the question then becomes: what dies and what does not? What watches all possible dimensions? What is required is for one to isolate this Self prior to all mental projection and reside fully in that, rather than fabricate more illusions for endless lifetimes ahead (Evans-Wentz, 1960).

Although there is some evidence of there being a transpersonal, universal aspect to the experience of death, regardless of one's specific beliefs or degree of preparation, it appears there is still enough measure of diversity in the accounts described to suggest there is some hard to define quality of spiritual maturity involved that determines one's capacity for appreciating the reality of death (Moody, 1976). To suspect that death is not the end of existence is not enough. One must come to realize what exactly survives. In other words: who precisely is experiencing the after-death state? Where is the boundary between this being of awareness and the experience it is witnessing?

The study of hypnosis gives us a tremendously valuable clue to how our minds really work. From this we may come to recognize and humbly admit how our usual state of consciousness is actually one of hypnosis, rather than awakeness. Likewise, by understanding the mechanics of our waking-sleep, we can work to undo our somnambulistic state and live with or through a true mind (Santanelli, 1980).

One researcher blended his knowledge of hypnosis, mind-science, and esoteric psychology into a system designed to enable one to create "reality", thereby transforming one from being a bewildered consequence of life's events to a master of one's fate (Alexander, 1954). The drawback in this approach is that as long as one regards the human being as the center of the universe (and one's self as the human being), as well as its final appreciator, any reality one may create would still only be a projection of that ego's desires, rather than the uncovering of what is. The underlying nature of impersonal reality would still be unknown. Likewise, the issue of one's ultimate identity beyond the inevitable death of even the most masterful ego-self would still be unresolved.

Percival wrote a magnificent opus of metaphysics that took this line of thinking a step further (Percival, 1946). He reiterated the central occult theme that energy follows thought and thought creates our world and life. However, he stressed that the actuality of this principle also inseparably involves the recognition that what can be created by the human mind-as-creator is not objective reality, nor has the human mind created itself. He advocates the highest application of this power of directed consciousness to be the inversion of this usually outward attention, to full realization of this Being of Consciousness itself. The important point is to not identify with the projected creations of mind, nor to identify with the ego-mind self that is the conduit of the projections, but to use thought to transcend thought–to the discovery of the ultimate Knower.

The field of existential phenomenology (Valle, 1981; Zaner, 1970), as originally developed by Husserl and Berkeley, provides an introspective methodology for the line of metaphysical search Percival was endorsing. Its emphasis is upon the cultivation of direct perception of the objects in consciousness (including all thoughts, feelings, reactions, etc.), and thereby to know more precisely the nature of consciousness itself. The more purely this consciousness can be experienced, the closer one comes to the realization of the source–and identity–of the perceiver. This work is essentially that of defining the meaning of actual experience, as apart from interpretations about experience.

A metaphorical joke is told in the study of perception that illustrates the need for this added dimension of perspective from an objective or universal awareness. Three baseball umpires are discussing the respective philosophies behind their craft. The first modestly says: "I just call 'em as I see 'em; that's all I can do." The second one more boldly states: "I do better than that–I call them as they are." The third one offers the intended clincher by authoritatively claiming: "What I call them makes them what they are!"

As philosophically convenient as this sounds, there is an error in this reasoning in regards the search for truth. This latter conviction is that of ego-centered solipsism: the belief that reality is only that which the human mind decides it is, and nothing more. The assumption is that objective awareness of experience does not exist, or that even if it does in principle, it can never be discovered; that only the conditional, relative consciousness of the individual is experienceable. The third umpire is leaving out the possibility that the slow motion instant replay of the action on film would be the truest determinant of the proper call, and it might prove his perception and thus judgment inaccurate. His more precise statement should have been: "What I call them determines what I assume they are from my vantage point and through my eyes, and is their functional definition, until found otherwise."

In other words, objective reality might still be something other than how we regard things, and to discover this one must step outside the boundary of the distortive ego-mind. The person on a psychedelic drug trip may be fully convinced of being able to fly, but if one should thus confidently leap out of a high window, the final decision on validity still belongs to the pavement below (at least in this dimension). Keeping this perspective in mind will keep the truth-seeker more humble and motivate the effort to purify one's quality of seeing until it is objective and universal. Much of the Psychology of the Observer is aimed at such seeing.

Rose's system has firm foundations in the entire range of mystical teachings called the Perennial Philosophy (Capps, 1978; Happold, 1970; Hixon, 1978; Huxley, 1970; O'Brien, 1964; Osborne, 1969; Reinhold, 1973; Stace, 1960). He has compiled an anthology of his own of what he considers to be some of the highest esoteric doctrines from all spiritual traditions, which had influenced his own path, his method of teaching, or corroborated his subsequent transcendental findings (Rose, 1988).

All these titles are collections of the testimonies of saints, sages, and seekers throughout history, from every religious orientation, who offer their insights about the spiritual life and the God-Realization with which it culminates. Their common message is that all of phenomenal life, all categories of consciousness, and all forms of individual existence have as their ultimate ground or essence, one supreme source that can only be called Reality or the Absolute. Furthermore, it is claimed that this fundamental state-of-being can be directly experienced and need not be merely believed in, and when thus realized, this God and one's essential Self are found to be the same. It is added that while the actual nature of this final experience is beyond all human imagining and cannot be adequately conceptualized nor communicated, it is assured to be the answer to all questions and resolution of all desire. One is at home at last.

Two volumes (Bucke, 1969; White, 1984) focus in more specifically on the nature of spiritual attainment through the biographical statements of major religious figures throughout history. Discussed are the common denominators in the sequence of inner work and resultant changes leading up to revelation, the personal qualities of the individuals involved, and the hallmarks of the final experience itself.

One remarkable testimony evidencing mature wisdom is by a little-known, lone seeker named Charles Essert (Essert, 1973). His understanding of the requirements of the path goes right to the core issues, his description of illumined spiritual perception reveals a new world, and he speaks with the firm authority of one who has been to the Source.

Another modern mystic described the path to death and resurrection as the Infinite Way (Goldsmith, 1956, especially p. 149-177). His understanding of what it means to be a truth-seeker is uncompromising and his advice sage. A few sample comments: "Rejoice as the outer building tumbles down, for the inner Temple is to be revealed"; "The mind of the individual seeking help is the Christ-mind awaiting recognition"; "Attainment comes only as one is loosed from all concepts of Truth, and this comes only by Grace"; "Do not expect the power of God to function in the dream, but rather to break the dream"; "To know that one has been functioning in the dream is the beginning of awakening"; "To refrain from seeking the help of God is to be functioning in reality"; "Begin your spiritual life with the understanding that all conflicts must be settled within your consciousness"; "All that is objectively witnessed must be understood to be mental images or mind projections–never spiritual reality"; "Prayer is the inner vision of harmony. This vision is attained by giving up the desire to change or improve anyone or anything"; "God is not in the human scene. If you were aware of the significance of this statement, you could lay down your life and pick it up again, at will".

Rose has expressed great respect in particular for two books (Hartmann, 1980; Van Der Leeuw, 1966). Hartmann presents the essential themes of the Western mystical tradition, referring to the alchemical work of transmuting energy and desire into Self-knowledge as "white magic." Van Der Leeuw writes a brilliant discourse on the multi-faceted nature of illusion as contrasted with what can only be called the Absolute. As the path to Reality requires first the recognition and rejection of mental error, his systematic evaluation of our experience of illusion as reality gives the seeker much material for further contemplation.

The Gnostic Gospels provide us with some lesser known sayings of Christ, possibly humanity's foremost authority on the Perennial Philosophy. These are a few of his comments pointing to the most radical way: "Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All"; "Recognize what is in your sight, and that which is hidden from you will become plain to you. For there is nothing hidden which will not become manifest"; "Men think that it is peace which I have come to cast upon the world. They do not know that it is dissension which I have come to cast upon the earth: fire, sword, and war"; "Jesus said: 'Become passers-by'"; "Strive to know yourselves, and ye shall know that ye are in the City of God, and ye are the City" (Anonymous, 1979; Meyer, 1986).

All of these traditional teachings, from the highest sources, indicate to us a direction towards Reality and promise that this Reality can be experienced. However, the message often lacks enough of a specific methodology about how we can accomplish this to usefully guide us. The texts serve primarily to awaken our intuition and inspire us on to further personal inquiry.

Much work has been done in recent years in the field of transpersonal psychology by those rare therapists who are of a spiritual orientation as well as the researchers who explore the workings of consciousness, in order to devise ways and means of implementing these lofty mystical principles into personal, human terms on the path. Several substantial volumes have been compiled that summarize the therapeutic, phenomenological, and transcendental levels of work on the self (Boorstein, 1980; Tart, 1975; Wilber, 1977, 1981). Material is also available using references specifically drawn from the rich Sufi perspective (Khan, 1981) and Yoga tradition (Rama, 1976).

Several psychologists offer systems of inner work that aim all the way to Self-Realization rather than stopping only with self-satisfaction. Assagioli developed a system called Psychosynthesis which contains procedures to draw together a whole person with a sound mind, healthy heart, trustworthy intuition, and growing sense of Self and purpose (Ferrucci, 1982). One teacher of an esoteric school integrates a wide range of spiritual and psychodynamic material that is instrumental in cultivating "essence" (Almaas, 1986). Another transpersonal psychologist blends Freudian psychoanalysis, Buber's mystical existentialism, and Advaita Vedanta in leading to the isolation of and abidance in "I Amness" (Kent, 1972). One therapist pinpoints the specific issue in the counseling context to which Rose devotes his entire system of work: extracting the observing self from the contents of consciousness and experience (Deikman, 1982).

Rose has referred to Gurdjieff as the greatest psychologist of the 20th century. Much of the Albigen System parallels this teaching of the "Fourth Way." Gurdjieff had developed an extensive understanding of the mechanics of human nature, as well as a holistic system of "Work" for alerting "sleepwalkers" to the reality of their dismal condition and developing in them the capacity to be self-determining seekers of objective consciousness. He advocated the harmonious development of all centers (mental, emotional, moving), which in turn also develops the magnetic center or "philosophic 'I'", somewhat analogous to Rose's term: being. He also taught an elaborate scheme of cosmology, including the dynamics of energy, which also relate to Rose's principles about transmutation.

Several books by his students and associates present the system in fascinating detail. His foremost disciple referred to the challenge and opportunity in this Work as "The psychology of man's possible evolution" (Ouspensky, 1949, 1971, 1974). This carries the serious implication that we cannot rely upon spiritual growth as being our automatic destiny, but must deliberately attend to the inner pathways of self-transformation if we wish to become anything more than anonymous automatons. Another wrote a well thought out set of commentaries based on the works of both teachers, as well as his own insights as a Jungian psychologist (Nicoll, 1984). A good, general introduction to the whole system derived from Nicoll's synthesis also blends in Krishnamurti's non-dualistic approach to revealing the pure Self (Benjamin, 1971). As Gurdjieff's teaching was inseparable from his own awesome yet perplexing character, understanding the man and how he interacted with his students helps one to better assess the intent of his system, and adjust for how the seeming defects in his nature influenced the transmission of the actual teaching (Webb, 1987; Wilson, 1986). Another student emphasized how so much of Gurdjieff's instruction in his school was in the form of a living, direct interaction with his students, the benefit of which could not entirely be conveyed in a written discourse of theory and methods (Walker, 1969).

As there was no official "lineage" for the teaching after Gurdjieff's death, the material continued to be reformulated and refined by each student who worked with it and went on to teach. Two excellent books reintroduce his ideas with the author's own creative elaborations. One explains what it means to play the highest game in life, and the only one worth playing: the Master Game (De Ropp, 1968). Another exhorts the seeker to engage in work that will result in a complete transformation of being, and not only emotional comfort or personal enhancement (Gold, 1985).

Following is a collection of Gurdjieff's sayings that depict his vision of committed spirituality: "We attract forces according to our being"; "Men have their minds and women their feelings more highly developed. Either alone can give nothing. Think what you feel and feel what you think. Fusion of the two produces another force"; "Sincerity is the key to self-knowledge and to be sincere with oneself brings great suffering"; "Sleep is very comfortable, but waking is very bitter"; "He who can love can be; he who can be can do; he who can dois"; "In the river of life, suffering is not intentional. In conscious life, suffering is intentional and of great value"; "Know that this work can be useful only to those who have recognized their nothingness and who believe in the possibility of changing"; "One of the strongest motives for the wish to work on yourself is the realization that you may die at any moment–only you must first realize this, and learn to keep it in mind"; "Remember yourself always and everywhere" (Gurdjieff, 1975).

The Fourth Way is a step beyond religious belief, humanistic positivism, or existential despair. Common with all esoteric teachings is the notion that we are living fictitious lives, from a mistaken sense of self, and through a deluded mind. Three of our primary illusions are: unity, consciousness, and effectiveness. Much of Gurdjieff's message is that once we know we are robots and do not do, but are done to–we are becoming awake. Enlightenment comes from the knowledge that one is mechanical. Yet, despite the seeming grimness of his approach, he also adds the Zen-like twist that the attachment to one's suffering only serves as another excuse to not do the Work.

Rose has expressed great respect for Zen as the highest and most direct form of psychoanalysis. He also appreciates Zen's approach to reconciling the paradoxes inherent in the dualistic mind, both in terms of his manner of teaching and the student's inner experience of discovering.

Two books offer a psychologist's thorough exploration of the actual subjective dynamics involved in this mental transcendence as well as the experiential practice of ego-detachment or "letting go" (Benoit, 1959, 1973). Due to its 'neither here nor there' nature and the need to acknowledge the impossibility of attaining its goal before the goal can be attained, Zen is probably the most difficult spiritual doctrine to explain in words. Garma Chang wrote one of the best overviews yet attempted that conveys not only the key principles in this non-path to Here, but the attitude or intuitive understanding that enables this non-finite leap to Realization to occur (Chang, 1959). The central Zen theme of "direct transmission of mind" is best apprehended by studying the actual words of the master, Huang Po, to his students (Blofeld, 1958). Finally, the relation between the 'immediate' quality of Zen and the non-duality of Advaita Vedanta needs to be understood in order to better utilize the specific guidelines in the Psychology of the Observer (Powell, 1983).

One of the most superlative philosophical minds of the modern era has been that of Franklin Merrell-Wolff. His detailed description of the personal odyssey that resulted in unexpected Realization is a classic of spiritual literature and the subsequent volume that explains the precise ramifications of his new perspective on existence stretches one's comprehension to the limit (Merrell-Wolff, 1973a, 1973b). His path was a blend of pure mathematical abstraction and the Vedantic teaching of Shankara, and the twin volumes evidence his capacity for highly intuitive subjectivity as well as rigorous, impersonal discrimination on the mental level.

His findings about the real nature of things are fully in line with the Perennial Philosophy, while his specific guidance for the seeker is communicated in the more accessible terms of transpersonal psychology. Following is a sampling of his conclusions gathered from a lecture. They closely parallel Rose's own testimony.

Merrell-Wolff states that the container of the potential knower and potential known is ultimate reality. He refers to the realization of this as introception. He distinguishes the phases or levels of identification on the path as realism (the world of objects), idealism (that which is conscious), and introceptualism (consciousness itself). These categories will be seen to closely coincide with the three mental domains comprising Rose's transpersonal "map", called Jacob's Ladder.

He claims there is no separate experience of this introceptive recognition: "I am what I seek." At this point–one gives up and arrives. He adds that nothing relative can make this absolute recognition occur. All effort is to remove the barriers that would prevent this from happening. At some point, one ceases to search for "God" as an object or state outside the self, and instead sinks back completely into the Self. He assures us that the True Self lies behind the false self, which is projected before it. He states that the world, life, and the "me" is actually a partial obscuration of consciousness. Clearing through this consciousness results in "one's" death, which then opens into Reality.

He makes this summary definition of his findings: "Substantiality is inversely proportional to ponderability. Reality is inversely proportional to appearance." He is thus claiming that we really know when we cognize nothing. The enlightened person's consciousness would be considered our unconsciousness, while our consciousness is actually unconsciousness. This ultimate consciousness without an object and without a subject is introceptualism.

Merrell-Wolff's philosophy is one Westerner's personal testimony giving voice to the wide range of teachings out of the rich spiritual tradition of India. It is impossible to do justice in this short space to the profound message coming from the following teachers, who embody his antecedents. However, a few key points from each will be enough to indicate that Rose's own convictions have roots deep in the purest existing doctrines that aim at discovering Reality.

One of the principle source texts by a specific teacher for much of later Indian spirituality is the collection of yoga aphorisms of Patanjali (Patanjali, 1981). This is a concise elucidation of the way of raja yoga: the practice of mental refinement, concentration, and detachment that leads to liberation from the world of ignorance and to the realization of Atman, or the spiritual Self.

Another classic text, a companion to the previous work, is the Crest-Jewel of Discrimination (Shankara, 1978). This is the foundation material for the Advaita Vedanta teaching referred to earlier. Likewise, many of the key themes presented in Rose's work can be traced back to Shankara. The teaching describes the path of non-duality, of discrimination between the real and unreal, of disciplining the mind and passions to become free of delusory distractions, and of backing into the ultimate "I Am."

Sri Aurobindo's massive teaching called Integral Yoga (Aurobindo, 1971a, 1971b) is a blend of karma, bhakti, jnana, and raja yogas, along with tantric and advaitic elements, that provide a detailed blueprint for human and cosmic evolution towards the ultimate goal of attaining the Supermind, or Mind of Light. He believed the individual, through committed effort, could attain the self-perfection intended by the higher order of Nature. His guidance through the personal intricacies of yogic work is most knowledgeable and compassionate.

Ramesh Balsekar is a modern jnani yogi who stresses the non-volitional aspect of Advaita Vedanta (Balsekar, 1982, 1988). His explanation of the objective philosophical context of spiritual evolution is most lucid, although he could be faulted for under-emphasizing the personal, subjective experience of searching–the other side of the paradox of non-duality. He does take strict conceptual understanding of the real nature of phenomenal existence and the awakening into true identity as far it can go. His insistence that this shift from ignorance to realization happens purely by itself may well be finally true, but it may deceive the fictitious seeker into a dangerous misunderstanding of what it means to wait passively for Grace. There is indeed nothing for the Self to do, for it already and always IS–but for the small "s" self, as we find ourselves to be now, there is much that must be done, even though it may not be doing anything of its own independent will.

Furthermore, the seeming lack of "soul" or mature "presence" in his discourse suggests the possibility that the experience on which Balsekar has based his teaching was not full Enlightenment, but what in Zen is called Satori. This is what results when the student's determined course of searching and struggling reaches a climax of exasperation and there is an instantaneous, gestaltic comprehension of the truth of existence. Yet, as Rose explains, this is still a mental experience, and not a leap into the realization of Essence. There is tremendous philosophical insight and mental clarity, but one has not yet arrived at fundamental Beingness. The truth is known in principle, but it is knowledge still subtly apart from the knower. One has not become it. Hence, the ability to fully understand the nature of the critical, final transition, the relevance of the inner work leading up to it, and the paradox that must be recognized and respected throughout the inquiry could be missing.

Balsekar's stress is that since there really is no such entity at the center of experience that can be regarded as an individual seeker, there can be no one in bondage, nor can there be free will, as there is no "person" who is separate from the All and so could do something by choice. Thus, there is no effort possible by a non-existent entity to attain freedom from a state that is illusory to begin with. The realization of all this at once is what he calls Enlightenment. His sole aim in teaching is to convey to the receptive student the understanding that all human beings are only the indivisibly interrelated instruments through which Totality functions. This becomes "being-understanding"–when it is time. Following are a few of his comments from lectures: "True meditation is when there is no meditator"; "The 'me'" is an eclipse of the Truth"; "When the seeker ceases to seek, the seeker becomes the sought"; "Enlightenment is an impersonal happening"; "The individual person is like a dot in a photograph in a newspaper, made up of a million dots. The picture is of the face of humanity."

The paradox in all this, that the Albigen System incorporates, is that what one is "supposed" to do by fate–i.e. "Thy will be done" (is anything else even possible?)–is to do what is required on one's path. This effort may then not be that of a vain ego pretending to operate separate from the truth, but rather its obeying the programming from this Source to work out the details of one's evolution in manifestation. In other words, the Self may want the self to make efforts within the dream to help the awakening occur. The "automatic" process of transformation and transition to which Balsekar refers may include this, and not be apart from it and be thwarted by it. It is true non-duality to see that we live our fate–it does not happen "to" us apart from us. The problem here again–an ironic trap in Advaita, one unintentionally implied through clumsy discourse–is in misidentifying the Self with the person rather than with the awareness of the person embedded in the bigger picture, thus resulting in a false passivity within experience, instead of true detachment from experience, to which the teaching is meant to lead. And, sadly, this misunderstanding may keep one from making the necessary efforts to enable one to ever actually realize this.

As a curious aside, the question could be pondered as to where the line is to be drawn between what the self is "supposed" to do according to its role in the master plan, and the false ego-self's interference with and projection onto its life-actions. This relates to the issue in Christian theology as to whether the Fall of Mankind was "our" spiteful doing, or likewise, for some unknown reason, instigated by "God" and misinterpreted by the guilty ego as its being responsible for it. Perhaps there is no line.

To continue, Balsekar's claim that the non-existent individual can do nothing to end itself may be philosophically accurate, but is experientially misleading. "I" have been able to awaken myself from within a dream, once realizing that what I am experiencing is a dream, by a peculiar kind of inner effort of inverted attention, knowing that the awakening would undo the "me" who is making the (illusory) effort, yet would bring the essence of me to reality, or to a more valid state-of-being. A traditional metaphor is that of a stick being used to stoke a fire in a funeral pyre, and then tossed into the flames after it has done its job.

A concise but most intense exposition on the perspective necessary to attain freedom blends Advaita with Taoism and Zen (Wei Wu Wei, 1964). The central principle it explores is again the illusoriness of the convictions of individuality and hence free-will. The teaching is that the understanding of the indivisible wholeness of experience and the impossibility of freedom within experience leads to the only true state of freedom from bondage possible.

A few of its main points are worth emphasizing. It is claimed that neither the seeker nor what is sought really exist. When this is realized through precise introspection, one becomes the Truth. To realize that one is being lived and has no will shows who one is not and points to who one is. The actuality of non-volition, of there being no ego-generated action, is in the recognition that action moves itself through the "me"–and I watch it happen. To know there is no self who can be willful and that one is merely watching the moving of oneself is the doorway to freedom. In thus failing to find the non-existent self and this self's "god", there is the awakening to Truth.

One unusually provocative, iconoclastic book offers a deliberately perplexing twist on this entire theme of how to attain the "natural state" (Krishnamurti, U.G., 1982). The author described having undergone a spontaneous transformation in his state-of-being after years of arduous, convoluted, frustrated effort, that he subsequently claimed was useless. His "teaching" is most radical in that he says this unconditioned state cannot be attained by any means whatsoever and that all forms of spiritual, philosophical, and psychological processes towards that end are misunderstanding the real issue. He negates all premises, supports, and expectations about the quest, and the "mystique of Enlightenment", leaving one in a quandary with no solution. His is a most disturbing, yet thoroughly honest, message. One suspects that he did experience ego-mind death, yet his "being" may not have been prepared well enough to be able to fully appreciate the non-state that remained, so his realization was somewhat polluted or distorted. Still, this book is pure Advaita, presented in the manner of Zen, for the benefit of those brave seekers who can endure it.

As will be explained in detail, the highest aspect of Rose's psychological system corresponds most closely with the non-dualism of Advaita Vedanta. The complete path is intended to raise one above all dichotomies and externalizations, to the realization of totality, to where there is no longer any "other." This approach is why Rose's teaching can be considered existentialism in the purest sense, and the negation of all forms of dualistic belief and projection, for: what is–IS. Seeing the truth for what it is and becoming the Seer that contains the All is the path.

There are four modern sages of the Advaitic tradition who are worth special attention here. Each in his own way points to the same essential lessons of life and the nature of transcendence to which Rose's elaborate pathway leads.

J. Krishnamurti disclaimed the title of teacher and denied that he was offering a teaching. Yet his quiet comments, when fully heard, bring the listener into close consideration of what is crucial in the way of seeking and his words bring the seeker into closer appreciation of the meaning of silence (Holroyd, 1980; Krishnamurti, 1983; Mehta, 1978). A few of his general comments follow, collected from various talks, essays, and articles.

"Distrust everything, including yourself. Go with distrust to the very end, and you will find that all that could be doubted was false and only what can stand the fire of the fiercest doubt is true. Because what remains is life, of which doubt is the self-cleansing process"; "What matters is to observe your own mind without judgement–just to look at it, to watch it, to be conscious of the fact that your mind is a slave, and no more; because that very perception releases energy, and it is this energy that is going to destroy the slavishness of the mind"; "Wisdom and truth come to a man who truly says, 'I am ignorant, I do not know'"; "Addiction to knowledge is like any other addiction; it offers an escape from the fear of emptiness, of loneliness, of frustration, the fear of being nothing"; "If you face and live the truth in life, life will give you what you need"; "The fundamental error and delusion is 'I-am-this-ness egoity'; this separation, isolation, and fragmentation is the very nature of thought"; "Wisdom comes into existence when sorrow, or self, ends"; "The conditioning of the mind is like the programming of a computer; the I or ego is no more than the selfhood of a programmed network of thinking; then one must move beyond the chattering of thinking which inhibits perception of truth, to the silence wherein truth exists"; "We cannot put an end to thinking, but thought comes to an end when the thinker ceases, and the thinker ceases only when there is an understanding of the whole process"; "Observe that self in operation, learn about it, watch it, be aware of it, do not destroy it, do not say 'I must get rid of it' or 'I must change it'; just watch it, without any choice, without any distortion; then out of that watching and learning, the self disappears"; "Truth is not 'what is', but the understanding of 'what is' opens the door to truth".

Possibly the greatest spiritual figure of the 20th century was Ramana Maharshi. He fully exemplified the archetype of the transcendent Guru-figure. His central theme was the procedure of "self-enquiry": for one to look directly into the origin of the self-as-mental-experience, and in discovering finally that it does not exist as a genuine entity, one realizes being in aware space and that one is this formless Self. The question "Who am I?" has no answer, so it collapses into itself. One must look into who is asking the question and then finds there is only the watching of the questioning and answering, until only silence remains. One becomes. He considered this the highest and most direct path. Several excellent books are available describing his teaching. Some are anthologies of his dialogues with seekers, along with the author's commentaries (Godman, 1985; Osborne, 1970), and others are written by advanced students of his who provide their own insights gained from years of experience in working closely with Maharshi (Sadhu, 1976; Who, 1961).

The following two brief statements indicate the substance of his message. Although sounding deceptively simple, the words contain a tremendous depth of meaning: "Concentrating the mind solely on the Self will lead to happiness or bliss. Drawing in the thoughts, restraining them and preventing them from straying outwards is called detachment. Fixing them in the Self is spiritual practice. Concentrating on the Heart is the same as concentrating on the Self. Heart is another name for Self," and "Your duty is to be. 'I am that I am' sums up the whole truth. The method is summarized in 'BE STILL'."

Paul Brunton was a great seeker and philosopher in his own right, and was largely responsible for introducing the teachings of Maharshi to the West in the 1930's. His series of books, both the original major treatises on Eastern mysticism and the posthumous collections of his aphorisms, give a mature, realistic, and sober description of the entire philosophical path, leading to union with the Overself (Brunton, 1970, 1984, 1988; Rose, 1979). Rose has expressed great respect for Brunton's material and the sincerity of the man's intentions. His practical explorations of esotericism from the viewpoint of personal experience made him an early forerunner of the Transpersonal Psychology movement.

Nisargadatta Maharaj's dialogues in I Am That read of pure wisdom. One has the sense that if "God" could talk and respond to seeker's inquiries, His words would be that of Maharaj's. As did Maharshi, he speaks directly from the condition of Awakeness and states the blunt, unadulterated truth about every issue raised. His is a mind that never sleeps and a vision that does not blink (Balsekar, 1982; Dunn, 1982, 1985; Maharaj, 1982; Powell, 1987, 1992). His teaching is to point to the fundamental Self or unconditional Being prior to all forms of consciousness, to the true state that is always behind duality, while at the same time rejecting all that is seen within consciousness as "not I."

A few sample comments taken from the recorded dialogues show clear relevance to themes elaborated upon in Rose's system: "You can know the false only; the true you must yourself BE"; "You cannot abandon what you do not know. To go beyond yourself, you must know yourself. ('What does it mean to know myself? What do I come to know?') All that you are not"; "The way leads through yourself beyond yourself"; "I am that by which I know I am"; "('Does Maharaj follow in the footsteps of his Guru?') He has no footsteps. He has no feet"; "Your world is something alien, and you are afraid. My world is myself. I am at home"; "('You are aware of the immense suffering of the world?') Of course I am, much more than you are. ('Then what do you do?') I look at it through the eyes of God and find that all is well"; "You must watch yourself continuously–particularly your mind–moment by moment, missing nothing. This witnessing is essential for the separation of the self from the not-self"; "There are two–the person and the witness, the observer. When you see them as one, and go beyond, you are in the supreme state. The only way of knowing it is to be it"; "When you believe yourself to be a person, you see persons everywhere. In reality there are no persons, only threads of memories and habits. At the moment of realization, the person ceases. Identity remains, but identity is not a person; it is inherent in the reality itself. The person has no being in itself; it is a reflection in the mind of the witness, the 'I am'"; "There is no 'how' here. Just keep in mind the feeling 'I am'; merge in it, until your mind and feeling become one. By repeated attempts you will stumble on the right balance of attention and affection and your mind will be firmly established in the thought-feeling 'I am'"; "('Is the witness-consciousness the real Self?') It is the reflection of the real in the mind. The real is beyond. The witness is the door through which you pass beyond"; "Seeing the false as the false, is meditation"; "Establish yourself firmly in the awareness of 'I am'. This is the beginning and also the end of all endeavor"; "Meditation will help you to find your bonds, loosen them, untie them and cast your moorings. When you are no longer attached to anything, you have done your share. The rest will be done for you"; "('Why don't we wake up?') You will. I shall not be thwarted. When you shall begin to question your dream, awakening will be not far away."

Jean Klein teaches this same non-dualistic path of Advaita, but through a more gentle, delicate medium of expression. His words are quiet, their shades of meaning are subtle, the discrimination he requires is acute, one's integrity in assimilating and heeding his instruction must be impeccable, and the spiritual maturity he demands for his message to be correctly heard is great (Klein, 1978, 1986, 1988, 1989).

The watchwords in Klein's teaching are "welcoming", "opening", "waiting", "allowing", "unfolding", and "listening". He intends to convey a sense of the "natural state" which is always available, behind ego, identification, and effort, and the residing in which is simultaneously the passive correction of delusion and the growing realization of Being.

These are a few of his comments from his dialogues: "The surest way to discover truth is to stop resisting it"; "When you fully see, you realize that what you see is in you"; "When you are not, God is"; "When you see there is no doer, but only doing, there is a stop"; "There is no witness; there is only witnessing"; "('Who inquires?') No one inquires; there is only inquiry"; "You must see how desires never fulfill their promises. You must see the futility of satisfying desire for the pattern to end"; "What is required is realizing, not doing"; "The realization that you are not a person with a problem, and the returning to the self, releases tremendous energy"; "You must see the entity that wants to grasp the state of freedom"; "True seeing requires attention without tension"; "Seeing that the mind is incapable of doing anything to end itself leads to one's becoming free of it"; "When the observer and what is seen are recognized to be one, energy is transformed"; "You are Reality, so every step you take takes you away from yourself".

As can be seen from this collection of sayings and principles from various teachers, Advaita and Zen can be considered the highest and most direct "pointers" to the essence of Self. There is no teaching beyond them, except for dead silence. Or rather: living silence. Their primary message is that all one needs to do to find the self is to peel off the non-selves, the sheaths. We must study the "me"-thought until it disappears, revealing the true "I". As this occurs, it is realized that the world exists in consciousness, of which one is aware, rather than our living in a world separate and external to us, as one object regarding another. As this unity within consciousness is recognized, it is seen that there can be no individual doer, despite the subjective experience of free choice and personal responsibility. It is taught that everything happens "by itself", as a whole, whereas we identify with the mechanism of one of its parts. Non-duality in this regard means that what we do and what happens to us are the same. The simplest way of describing the opening to the final answer is that the recognition that there is nothing to do, nothing that can or needs to be done, and no one to do anything to attain realization, is the realization.

These different themes presented in East and West start to flow together. Christ taught us: "Seek and you will find." Advaita advises us to dissolve the seeker. Rose's system of Zen blends the two by urging us to seek by inquiring into the nature of the seeker and thereby becoming dissolved into the truth of the Self.

It can now be seen how this highest mystical path replies to the ultimate existential question posed earlier, represented by Elie Wiesel confronting the Holocaust: "What is truth?" (This clue is alluded to in a cartoon which depicts the stereotypical image of a yogi seated on a bed of nails, as he remarks to a sympathetic onlooker: "It only hurts when I exist" - !) The response is: "Stop asking and you will be answered." He would reply: "I cannot–as long as I live, I cannot." The only conclusion can be: "Right–so you must die."

The central pathway of every spiritual teaching is the instruction to "go within": to meditate in order to realize the Self. There are many forms of meditation taught in different disciplines, corresponding to the specific nature, capacity, and inclination of individual seekers (Goleman, 1977; White, 1972). The common denominator in all of them is ultimately: "Know thyself". The different forms of concentration employed are all intended to serve that end. The self must be known before the Self can be realized.

The forms of meditation most aligned with Rose's teaching can be collectively called the path of mindfulness. It is the path of refining the pure awareness of oneself: the awareness that knows, that comprehends, that heals. It is the awareness that one finally becomes.

The doctrine that most plainly practices this with a minimum of related dogma is Vipassana Buddhist meditation (Goldstein, 1983). It is the cultivation of the "choiceless awareness" of which Krishnamurti spoke; the attitude of Klein's "listening" and "welcoming." Vipassana is strictly concerned with the direct watching of all subjective experience, with no interpretation, reaction, or resistance. It is the practice of seeing oneself.

The course of self-observation can be said to progress through four general levels of concern: 1) witnessing sensations, feelings, and thoughts as pure data happening in consciousness (phenomenology); 2) intuiting the inner nature and meaning of psychological experience (insight); 3) objectively studying the origin and mechanics of mental experience (impersonal inquiry); and 4) finding a gradual shift in identity occurring to that which is watching what is seen (returning to the Self). This impartial self-study brings about the discovery of the insubstantiality of the ego-self; the reflexively, habitually presumed "me" at the center of experience. In seeing this emptiness, one becomes a nothingness that is much larger and more real.

This manner of meditation and inner purification has also be formulated in the context of Judeo-Christian mysticism (Masters, 1978). Masters takes this practice of self-observation and then leads one through the deep psychological dynamics that must be acknowledged, corrected, and transcended in order to realize spirit. He advises that we engage in clear witnessing of all inward conditions–our thoughts, desires, reactions, injuries, motives, and attitudes–with total detachment, non-judgment, and no willful efforts to change anything that we see about our nature. We must see how much we are lost in memory and imagination rather than experiencing the reality of our lives directly, and endure the vision without recoil. This unbuffered confrontation with ourselves can be painful, as we are forced to admit our inner poverty and the forever futile compensations for it made by the ego in its bid for some security and affirmation.

In this practice, we are seeing our lives. Masters insists this hell we witness is us. Yet, he adds that we must persevere in this calm self-observation with no fear of harm to the real part of us. This objective seeing brings the truth of our condition to the mind's surface where, in the light of understanding and compassion, the darkness is redeemed and released. We become free of the hypnosis of life that had been bound in with the ego. We become clear observers, residing in our true, whole being, and responding to life from spiritual consciousness. Masters is essentially teaching the methodology of allowing the ego to die, of dying to ourselves and the world, so that we can come to know our essence, that is of God.

Some of these principles of inner inquiry seem to run counter to a certain general, popular category of meditation that aims at relaxation and disassociation from one's personal condition through assorted mechanical techniques and visualization exercises, but without facing the reality of oneself in clear awareness, nor becoming more deeply immersed in true spiritual being behind the ego-self. There is a difference between the fetal pre-conscious and the transcendental super-conscious. While the intention of leaving oneself behind and going in a "spiritual" direction can be genuine, one may not really be leaving the ego-mind and entering spirit, but only creating another projected dimension or paradigm within one's own mind as a way of avoiding one's unhappiness, as well as the determination required to answer it at its roots.

These methods could be considered positive to the extent the quality of one's consciousness is purified, one becomes somewhat detached from one's chronic fixation in ego-selfhood, and the devotion or desire to come into communion with one's God that motivates this regular practice actually brings one closer to the Source behind the scenes. The result of such worship may be less dependent on the specific methodology and belief content of the devotion than the earnestness of the seeker's desire generating it. The Inner Self recognizes and answers the true prayer (and is probably what evokes it in us, to find itself through hearing its own call).

The value of mindfulness meditation as compared to mechanistic and/or devotional practices alone is that in the latter, however immanent God is presumed to be, this God is still experientially regarded as something far away; an object to be acquired or discovered when earned through correct conduct and rigorous discipline. God is believed to be something we will eventually find somewhere over the rainbow if we strive long enough. On the other hand, the Self as aware beingness is already right here; it touches us now. It finally becomes a matter of realizing this awareness more and more completely as oneself, in the moment; not finding and winning the favor of a Deity-as-other.

This is not meant to discount the reality of the genuine Prayer of the Heart and the quietude that enables it to be felt. To the innocent devotee, the Love of God may be experienced as directly in the moment as the Mind of God. Still, the common denominator in both is finally the experiencer–the "I am." Realizing this is the aim of Rose's form of meditation. The value of such mindfulness and self-inquiry is that in order to surrender to or "love" God, one must first know oneself enough to be able to fully surrender to or love this God. Whether one's path is to surrender oneself and merge into God or retreat from ego-projection and become the Self, the final state-of-being is said to be the same. Awareness is its substratum.

Ken Wilber makes several astute comments along this line, to give a sense for what serious meditation is and is not:

Meditation is not a way to make things easier; it's a way to make them worse, so you will have to grow in the process. The worst pitfall is to use meditation to "spiritually bypass" other concerns; concerns that can only be handled in their own terms, or on their own level. Meditation will not take care of your problems for you. What it will do is to make you more sensitive and aware.

Many people think that meditation is some sort of panacea, and it isn't. What it is, is a direct way to engage your own growth and evolution, and, as is always the case, growth is painful. It hurts. If you're doing meditation correctly, you are in for some very rough and frightening times. Meditation as a "relaxation response" is a joke. Genuine meditation involves a whole series of deaths and rebirths...

Every form of meditation is, in essence, a rehearsal of death. As Zen says: "If you die before you die, then when you die, you won't die".

Intellectual knowledge is not a bad thing (in regards to spiritual practice). This anti-intellectualism, which is common to new age science, is a horrible mistake, a hangover from the dharma bum. Hippie dharma. They confused trashing their intellect with transcending it. My experience is that most people who think they are beyond the intellect actually haven't quite gotten up to it yet.

The new age folks try to come straight from the heart, thus bypassing the obstruction known as their brains. (Wilber, 1987, p. 40-49).

Wilber is describing the need for the proper purification and blending of the masculine and feminine components of our subjective nature; genuine androgyny on the psychic level. This is the balancing of the attention and affection of which Maharaj spoke. Rose teaches that the joining of the whole heart and whole mind is the source of the higher Intuition.

To bring all these themes together in a larger perspective, here is one author's description of the two primary levels of discovery that occur in the course of direct introspection:

The external reality we see, hear, feel, smell, taste, and intuit is actually located in our cerebral cortex. If we ever become immediately sensorily aware of this simple fact, we have a "mystical experience." If a person then takes the next step and discerns that the cortex too is a part of that apparently non-existent external world, chances are he will find himself in the Empty City. (Kerrick, 1976, p. 112).

Rose places a tremendous emphasis in his teaching upon the transmutation of sexual energy and the refinement of the intuition resulting from this. Many traditional and modern sources provide inspiring insight into the need for this sublimation and detailed information on the workings of this inversion. The subject has been addressed from several angles: the physiological, the psychological, and the spiritual.

Research has been done that evidences how the nervous system and the entire body is nourished from the containment and reabsorption of the substances normally expended in sex action. The chemicals thus retained go to enhance the quality of mental functioning, psychic sensitivity, self-healing, and holistic apprehension (Anonymous, 1968; Bernard, 1957; Jaqua, 1986). Eastern teachings on Kundalini, documented by Western researchers, indicate that the body contains a vital or life energy that usually remains only on the lower levels of physical functioning, but can be transmuted by concentration through mental and physical disciplines. This energy is said to rise through different centers of consciousness in the body until it arrives at the highest center in the brain, which then opens into the dimension of spiritual Beingness. Testimonies have been given by people who have experienced this (White, 1969).

The foremost researcher on Kundalini is Gopi Krishna, who experienced Cosmic Consciousness after many years of dedicated yogic meditation practice (Krishna, 1975). Ever since, he has taught that spiritual realization is in part a natural process ruled by strict biological laws, and not entirely independent of the state of readiness of more subtle workings within the body. He states:

Every altered state of consciousness has a corresponding biological change in the body. The whole of our body is filled with a very fine biochemical essence (prana, which) is concentrated in the sex-energy. Normally, the sex-energy is used for procreative purposes, but Nature has designed it for evolutionary purposes also. As the evolutionary mechanism, it sends a fine stream of a very potent nerve-energy into the brain and another stream into the sexual regions, the cause of reproduction. By the arousal of kundalini, we mean the reversal of the reproductive system and its functioning more as an evolutionary than as a reproductive mechanism. (Krishna, 1975, p. 111-112).

However, he adds: "The real aim of spiritual discipline is to strive for self-mastery, not total negation of basic appetites and desires, and to leave the rest into the hands of Divinity" (Krishna, 1975, p. 102).

In summation, he is saying there are three main factors involved in this presence and development of kundalini in a particular individual: biology due to heredity (decided by one's karma), biology due to one's efforts in this lifetime, and the psychic consequences of these efforts. Grace tips the scale.

It should be further added that the greater emphasis must be upon the transmutation of energy, than conservation of energy alone in a merely quantitative sense. Maximizing even a moderate amount of energy along spiritual lines may be more critical in the long run than saving up a large amount as latent potential, but not utilizing it completely.

Krishna offers this bit of encouragement:

Yoga is a transhuman state of mind attained by means of the cumulative effect of all practices combined, carried on for years, and supplemented by Grace. The window of the soul cannot be forced open; it must be opened from the inside. The custodians of the window, in the shape of hidden devices in the brain, know exactly when the shutters are to be opened. (Krishna, 1975, p. 89).

This entire line of work is directly related to the various categories of yoga already described, which aim, through efforts made concurrently on every level of one's constitution, to invert one's attention–and hence energy and identification–from seduction by the outer world to one's subjective source of being. Misdirected sex energy is said to create our projected world and keep us in bondage to it. Attending to the work of reversing its flow is to climb Jacob's Ladder back to Paradise (Haich, 1982).

Sexuality is a difficult issue for most people to deal with sanely, even those–and sometimes especially those–who are consciously on a spiritual path. The prompting towards morality, once recognized, cannot be adequately enforced through mechanistic notions of energy conservation alone. The real morality is in response to a call from the higher intuition; a voice that points towards our desire for wholeness, of which sex-action is a misguided reflection.

It has been chronicled how historically the heart's deepest desire that had been expressed as religious devotion to God or Church gradually became secularized into romantic love on the human level, with sex as the primary ritual of worship (De Rougemont, 1956). In our current era, this unfortunate misappropriation of the sex function in life has ironically largely negated the attainment of even this romantic ideal by resulting in gross confusion over what it means to be a man or a woman according to the original intent of Nature, and thus the definition of a healthy sexual relationship (Gilder, 1982).

These cultural and sociological concerns describe our problem with sex from an external perspective. The real inner issues regarding sexuality, in terms of the spiritual psychodynamics animating our sex expression, have been explored more thoroughly by Roy Masters than by possibly any other teacher (Masters, 1973, 1985). He explains in great detail the spiritual nature of the masculine and feminine principles in us and the complex–and generally pathological–convolutions in their relationship.

Masters states that sex itself is not a sin, but that the sin is in the escape through sex from looking at our fallen nature. His exhortations toward morality do not deal with the transmutation of energy, per se, but with how proper sexuality relates to the purification of consciousness. He states that what the seeker of truth needs is to reestablish a righteous relationship with God or one's spiritual core, and from that as the foundation to manifest love with one's partner correctly. This would inherently involve a reduction in the compulsion for sexual expression, not due to repression, but because the desired communion is being experienced on the level where it really belongs. He describes the inner battle that must be fought to thus regain one's rightful identity and how many of the primal errors in our psyches can be worked out within the context of a relationship committed to spiritual redemption.

Following is an outline of Masters' provocative views on sexuality in terms of the psycho-spiritual dynamics involved (condensed from Masters 1973, 1985). Just as Jung used the mythology of King Arthur as a metaphor to illustrate the archetypes at work in our inner development towards individuation, Masters turns to the Biblical myth of Genesis and the relationship of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to define the archetype of true male-female love as the vehicle for our returning to innocence. This is the psychology of inner morality, of which sexual restraint and methods for raising kundalini are only the outer form.

As with the Albigensian doctrine (to be described shortly), the objective reality of the metaphysics involved in Masters' philosophy may not be immediately verifiable. Likewise, the paradigm he is depicting may not be complete nor entirely correct as stated and its style or manner of pedagogical conveyance may be colored by the human personality interpreting it. In particular, his somewhat patriarchal perspective may be a sexist distortion or it may be accurate. The objective truth is difficult to determine and personal preference cannot be the criteria for judgment. Nonetheless, his analysis of human nature cuts deeply into our most basic motives and is worth considering seriously, however painful the self-confrontation. Also, it is worth devoting an extra amount of attention here to this teaching because it ties in so directly with many of the themes raised in Rose's own system (not coincidentally dedicated to the Albigensians), and indicates the subjective dynamics behind his philosophical conclusions. By working through these personal psychological patterns to reach the truth of one's nature, one is simultaneously doing much of the transpersonal, phenomenological work as well on the purification of the mind and realization of the final observer.

Masters explains about the Fall of Humanity from spiritual to carnal consciousness, and how the Original Sin that prompted this descent into darkness continues on to today. He stresses the sexual component of this psychic violation. He claims the Fall had nothing to do with eating an apple. Genesis said nothing about an apple, which became a polite, though misleading, metaphor in later centuries for some unspecified transgression against spiritual law. If Adam and Eve had eaten the wrong food, they would have covered their mouths with the fig leaves. But, as it was, they covered their sexual parts, "seeing that they were naked," and fled God, ashamed and afraid.

Masters emphasizes the principle of innocence and uses this allegory of Adam and Eve to describe how our innocence was lost, and has been lost for so long that we have come to assume our current quality of consciousness as being the natural, innate state because we have forgotten the truth of our original condition. He refers to God's initial instruction for us to "not eat the fruit of the tree that grows in the middle of the garden", but to instead "eat of the Tree of Life". He tells the reader that we were deceived into taking the wrong road–through hell and purgatory, and not heaven, as we believed.

He describes the flaw at the core of our shared problem as being pride and ambition. This results in the experience of separation from God-as-totality and the forever futile compensations intended to soothe the anxiety of our insubstantiality and groundlessness. This is not referring to the healthy kind of pride that is inherent in self-respect, dignity, and appreciation of life, but rather the forgetting of our true status as beings of spirit and filling the void where our soul should be with the conviction of false ego. It is this ego that traded the promise of absolute being for the identification with relative knowledge (of good and evil–seeing the polarity of existence with a dualistic mind as a thing apart from oneself as a separate entity, rather than directly experiencing the whole Tao, through a single "eye"). This deceitful condition of self manifests in different ways in Man and Woman, in tragically complementary patterns, using our vital energy to perpetuate its spell. It is this ego's influence in us that attempts to prevent the soul from recognizing the truth about itself and returning to rightful consciousness again.

In the domain of fallen consciousness, women need men and men need sex–or believe they do. The co-dependent psychological dynamic is that a woman feels what a man feels and a man feels what a woman projects. Out of this tangled web of delusory emotion, desire, and reaction develops the life-drama that defines who we are.

Masters' assessment of our sexuality is unflattering. He says that men have traditionally been oversexed animals, barely keeping the savage beast in check. This is their proud curse. The evil nature within men has deceived them into believing that their indiscriminate demonstration of sexual prowess is the measure of their manhood, when ironically, it is what drains them of it and evidences their lack of real manhood.

Many women feel sexually abused by bestial men, or learn to use sex to acquire from them the semblance of love they really desire. But yet this powerful habit of mutual degradation keeps both partners enslaved in a dishonest dance, with neither getting out of the relationship what he/she needs. Masters tells his female students that their original intuition about men was correct all along: they are usually after just one thing! He urges women to recognize that their real strength is in their virtue, not their ability to tease and service a man's lust, and care must be taken to protect it.

He elaborates on the woman's condition. (It should be remembered that he is speaking largely in terms of masculine and feminine archetypes, as did Jung, and not strictly about individual male and female bodies.) The fallen woman realizes her having been deceived into forfeiting her rightful place in the Kingdom and feels cut off from the source of spirit. Due to the lack of a virtuous, moral man to correctly love and appreciate her, or her failure to attract one, she feels handicapped in undoing by herself the curse that has claimed her. On the purely spiritual level, there is no masculine and feminine but only Being, and it is erroneous to regard oneself as only half of a self or soul. However, in manifestation on the human level, we are in polarity, and until we realize our wholeness, Masters teaches that we can better work out our psychic imbalances in a proper relationship with our complementary partner. Eve was meant to be Adam's partner, not subordinate, although representing the receptive end of the life-dynamic or Tao, to his aggressive, thereby also being more vulnerable to his failures as well as benefiting from his redemption. Thus, within this context, the woman recognizes her own impoverished condition, knowing she was not meant to be stranded in this world alone, without a king to complete the dynamic of Nature. Knowing herself to be without full authority of her own, nor really wanting this power, her false self–as are the forces of evil that tempted her–desires to steal the coveted life energy from the man; her sexuality being her primary weapon. Masters says that a woman can hold a man by appealing to what is worst in him. She is attracted to a sexually weak or violently weak man. He is not necessarily weak in muscles, brains, social power, or ego, but weak in fundamental character; being cut off from his own status as a spiritual being. The woman lets the man think he is in control, but knows she is really the boss, having the power she has absorbed from the man through sex and his emotional projections onto her.

Her form of vanity thrives on this adulation, as she becomes the object of worship, more than is the God-Nature within them both. The whore becomes the real ruler of the kingdom, not the king and queen as partners who are both subjects in service to God. Yet, at the same time, she is killing off much of her very hope for salvation. If the woman really loves her man, why would she want to destroy him (and vice-versa)?

Her true spiritual husband is what she really wants, but due to an ancient flaw in her nature, as well as in his, she has fallen into a nightmare, and lacks his aid in rising back out of it, while being the ballast for his continued fall. For what she has succeeded in doing to him, while the evil part of her gloats and relishes the unholy victory, she actually resents him for being such a weakling in his sexual nature. She despises him for his abuse of her, as well as for his failure to be a real man for her. While degrading herself, she degrades him as well, and her anger mixes with her shame at what the both of them have become.

Yet, she too is locked into this wicked pattern as is the man. She (again, meaning the false ego in her) feels threatened by a genuinely strong, moral man because she recognizes that he would be subversive to the power she has deceitfully acquired from him. However, the true part of her welcomes his efforts to raise his own nature from the carnal to the spiritual, and to help save her from herself. This attitude of resistance may also be reinforced by her fear of surrendering to a weak man who might let her down.

Masters describes the man's half of this "sindrome" as being equally tragic, thereby negating the likely feminist charges of chauvinism. The man realizes that he is essentially a fraud, for he has forsaken his true spiritual heritage while only pretending in effect that he is himself God. To buffer himself from his guilt and despair, he falsely projects the yearned for divinity onto the woman (meaning, onto what is false in her)–recalling De Rougemont's thesis on romantic love, and then sells his soul to the evil one within them both in order to win her favor, thereby propping up his own proud, though fragile, ego. In this desperate arrangement, a woman's love is felt like the blessing of God to a spiritually impoverished man (and, of course, vice-versa). This is an ironic reflection of the truth in that the feminine does genuinely symbolize the Life of Nature and the masculine does symbolize the authority of Spirit. This attempted ruse, however, precludes the real order of things from ever manifesting.

To perpetuate this status quo, she fortifies him so that he can go out into the world and be the most ferocious beast in the jungle. Whether he wins or loses in this task, he feels remorse at his plight and returns to his woman's arms to be renewed for another battle tomorrow. All that he has accomplished and acquired in building his false kingdom he sacrifices to her, through the rite of sex, in return receiving the illusory reinforcement of his lies to himself. He needs her approval and the feeling of pretended security that comes from her "love." But what is actually happening in this mock bargain of love is that she consumes him while he destroys her. While seemingly a king, he is really a pauper; a slave.

His spiritual failing blends with his projection of false worship onto the woman, which he experiences as lust. Sex is the only form of love he knows how to give. Rather than seeing his wife compassionately as a person and friend, he regards her as a fantasy sex object of escape and judgment. And she, desiring love as much as he does, accepts this arrangement as the best she can hope for.

He uses her body as the altar on which he sacrifices his self-responsibility, which has become frightful and burdensome to him in its accusation of his inadequate being. In doing so, he satisfies the false ego in her, which she nourishes as a consolation prize, while escaping his guilty conscience. The greater the pressure within him from the tension between what he should be and what he has let himself become, the greater is his need for the woman to relieve the pressure of that guilt. And by doing this, she controls his rage, while numbing her own resentment of him for his failure to love her as she needs to be loved.

The exercise of his lust makes him feel as if he was powerful, a conqueror, and makes her feel wanted. He tries to lose himself in the illusory affirmation of pleasure, but yet, a voice within him cries out that he is an imposter and that his debt grows bigger every day.

All this time, he also grows to resent the woman, while she resents him, because he realizes that she knows what he really is and is the constant mirror of his failing.

The sin of false pride creates lust, which leads to guilt. The guilt, trying to escape truth, commands more lust to arise. So, he continues this cycle of using the woman to escape his hell, and her using him to escape hers, all the while this process driving them further and further into shame, anger, denial, and flight from God's voice.

Masters believes that what the woman really wants is for the man to tenderly love her and honor her for who she really is (behind her false, vain self), rather than for her sex and for what she can do to soothe his bruised ego. She needs a man who will call her bluff, as he too needs a woman who will not allow him to lie to himself, while dragging her down with him.

She has to have the strength to resist the lustful advances of her man, while taking care to not reject him. The good in the man will recognize this goodness in her and will be at first ashamed, but will then appreciate now being free to cast off his own false mode of relating to her and will respond to her instead with kind affection.

He likewise has to make the effort to challenge his own lustful impulses and overcome the urge to use his wife like a prostitute-priestess in a ceremony affirming his mock glory. While fearing at first that she will consider this a sign of inadequacy on his part, she will actually recognize the great effort he is making for both their sakes and respect him the more for it. He needs to become the kind of man the true woman he wants would want. Innocence is what threatens this false, unholy alliance that has possessed both for so long and is what this false self avoids most, because it knows its stolen authority is going to be taken back.

Masters presents a vision of how he sees proper relationship between Man and Woman. He believes that when a bond exists between a man and his conscience, there is also a loving authority over the female nature in the woman. This does not make man the ruler of the Kingdom, only a caretaker–God is the ruler. Adam is the head of the household. Eve is the heart of the household. Their children are the household. There is no competition between the Yin and Yang. Their difference is one of relative function, not hierarchy of importance. God gave Adam a woman to love, honor, and appreciate, in her role of nurturing Life. He failed her, as he also continues to violate his fellow man in suicidal frustration. His duty now is to own up to his disgrace and to become a true man, in the image of the one Who created him. He must help lead the woman out of the female, and the female out of her private hell, as her faithful virtue ennobles him to the task. Masters teaches that it is openness to God's holy spirit of Love that saves man from his weakness to woman and saves the woman from the sad deceit in herself.

Masters does not claim that sex in itself is evil, as many well-intentioned, but clumsy moralists have done. He believes an honorable woman feels no shame in sex with an honorable man, in a marriage committed to the truth. There would be no battle over domination or victimization. Yet, due to its very sacredness, they would no longer dishonestly indulge in the "little bits of death called sex" and call it life. When sex is occasionally appropriate, they will appreciate it more in the proper state of consciousness. They will then move towards true Life, of which the other is but a cheap imitation.

Masters teaches that the woman has to have faith in the conviction that her virtue will win for her the kind of love from a man she really deserves. And the man has to have faith in the conviction that his virtue will enable him to love her as he knows he really should. They must strive to save each other, as they save themselves. But without an innocent nature that realizes the necessity for this struggle and provides the courage and faith to make it, all is lost; the Serpent wins.

The first step is to recognize and acknowledge the Original Sin that still lives in us and through us. What caused that destructive pride to come into existence was some primordial trauma to the spiritually immature self–its nature, reason, and instigator as yet unknown–resulting in an amnesic estrangement from our essence, and is what perpetuates it in us now. Fear and resentment are the indication of our falling away from reality. Our bond to false sexuality is due to the pain, emptiness, and weakness we feel inside, and is their intended compensation.

His recommendation is for us to turn away from the shadows on the wall of Plato's Cave, free ourselves from the seductive force of imagination, and confront our aching lack of true identity at our center. As explained in the comments on meditation, we then begin to see the truth–and become it. By directing our life energy back towards its original source, we starve out the parasitic, evil ego that holds us captive, by no longer feeding it with our belief. What violates us, enslaves us. Much of spiritual work is that of becoming free of the pain where our souls should rightfully be. This rending of the carnal veil is what will lead to our freedom and affirmation of being, as we clear away a space for new Spirit to claim us. Then we will know what the Tree of Life means.

The occult dynamics behind the sex function have been further delineated, explaining the larger purpose of sex in the evolution of life and how the correct manifestation of the desire-energy it contains leads to illumination and immortality (Fortune, 1982; Percival, 1946). Recalling Gopi Krishna's earlier quote, Fortune defines the central issue this way:

The keynote of esoteric asceticism is the concentration of energy, not the avoidance of evil; for the esotericist holds nothing evil which God has made, but right in its own time and place, and right for him too, however lofty his aspirations, at a certain phase of his development. His asceticism is practiced by directing the life-forces to those planes whereon he requires them, and inhibiting them from those on which he does not require them at the moment; not because such use would be evil, but because it would be wasteful. Until he has gained (such) mastery, he cannot control the forces of the inner planes, which, if they were prematurely placed in his hands, would turn and rend him. Hence the secrecy which guards these forces, for on the plane of mind, a thought is a thing and a mood is a place. (Fortune, 1982, p. 94).

Even beyond the physiological and psychological reasons for perfecting one's moral nature, there is the essential or most subjective reason, which is the desire to be true to the highest yearning within one's nature. Several books provide lucid insights and inspiring testimonies about the meaning of virtue in the spiritual life (Brunton, 1984, 1986; Van Vliet 1959, 1962).

They emphasize the most basic reason for morality being that our true spiritual identity is non-sexual and hence free of the carnal gravity that would tie us to the earth. The attachment to sex-desire as a mundane form of "salvation" is a misidentification of oneself and misunderstanding of the experience of union one really craves. We have fallen in love with our image in the mirror and become its servant. The seductive diversion into dualistic projection that then results is a misdirection of one's vital attention and thus a hindrance to realizing one's original, complete, self-sufficient nature prior to externalization. Therefore, our efforts to refine this carnal urge and invert the desire it embodies back to its source allows us to ascend to and reside more fully in our true Self, from where the love for creation initially emanates.

Brunton explains that animal desires belong to the body, but asks if we really are only that, or are a mind using a body–or even Mind using a mind and a body. Van Vliet's books in particular alone counter every popular modern rationale for uninhibited sexual indulgence as being a formula for happiness and provide voice to the greatest souls in humanity who promise us the ultimate satisfaction waiting on the other side of sex's beguilement. In the words of Jesus: "Blessed is the lion which becomes man when consumed by man; and cursed is the man whom the lion consumes, and the lion becomes man" (Meyer, 1986, p. 20).

Despite mainstream religion's emphasis on repentance for one's wicked deeds and the morbid masochism this can encourage, these above authors are collectively making one key statement about the relationship between healthy sexuality and entering the Kingdom of God. It was best summed up in a film about St. Francis in which he was lamenting to the Pope of his unworthiness before God. The Pope kindly responded to him: "In your concern over Original Sin, do not forget your Original Innocence."

The spiritual path is not without hardship. The ignorance that we are does not wish to let us go easily. As the seeker is drawn towards True Being, there is still adversity from within the realm of delusion that serves to keep us here and reinforce the status quo. Whether this adversity be regarded as predatory evil from without or private ghosts from within, the warning is given that we must be wary of forces that would deceive us, usurp our energy, or cause us to abort our paths. One aspect of the Gurdjieffian teaching is that the earth is a closed system meant to use the earthlings that inhabit it for food, and that escape from this dreary dimension is a difficult undertaking, possible only to the intensely determined and sly. An additional angle is that the door is left slightly ajar to allow the most skillful survivors of the path to leave. However, one must keep in mind that only a few are allowed on the Ark (Kerrick, 1976).

This is not all a reference to the simplistic notion of a Christian "Devil" who is the enemy of God, with the human soul as the battleground. The image is more that of humanity being asleep and our forgetting our innately Divine nature, while hungry creatures living in the nightmarish world that fell along with us conspire to outwit our every attempt to realize the truth, while living off our stolen vitality. "Satan" is the gravity of the illusion. "God" is what is forever aware of this dualistic nonsense and waiting for us to awaken. It might not even be accurate to regard the Devil as the "evil" half of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. He may be the whole damned tree.

Detailed commentary in Yogic psychology and strategic advice to seekers is available about this "opposition of the hostile forces" from one who has overcome them (Aurobindo, 1971). Two excellent stories of fiction–which may not be entirely fictional–present a disturbing scenario regarding intelligent forces, or "mind parasites", that hypnotically influence our experience of life and selfhood into further entanglement in maya (Heinlein, 1947; Wilson, 1967). If the hint in them is taken seriously, how one views the happenings of one's life and the subjective reactions to them will be permanently altered. One will be instilled with an uncertainty, a wariness, and a vigilance that marks the Zen warrior. One will never be complacent again.

This entire theme ties in directly with the Albigensian doctrine, to which Rose dedicated the title of his first book and his entire esoteric system (Rose, 1986; Rougemont, 1956; Wakefield, 1969). Although the full objective reality of our predicament in this dimension cannot be known from our vantage point within it or on our level of consciousness, even as metaphor this doctrine serves to keep us alert to the problem at hand and point in the direction of greater reality. Briefly, the picture presented is that of the world of matter being a fictional projection masterminded by an ambitious pseudo-deity, unauthorized by the true God of Spirit. Souls are seduced into being born into this place and then trapped here through deceit, desire, and domination. Sex is considered the greatest crime for it provides the doorway through which immature or unwary souls are brought here, as well as the vital energy that continually recreates the dream-structure of this world. The seeker is urged to shun identified involvement with the world of projection and to purify one's mind to where one is able to re-enter the domain of Spirit. This is all the metaphysical correlate with the spiritual psychodynamics of redemption taught by Roy Masters. As dualistic and incomplete an understanding as this doctrine may be (keeping in mind the Zen principle: "Nirvana and Samsara are one"), it serves the legitimate purpose of eliciting the crucial response towards discriminating mindfulness and proper action that the seeker of eternity must make.

Finally, comments will be included from one very wise and remarkable man: Jim Burns (Jacobs, 1985). As Rose is a master of transpersonal psychology, Burns is a master of personal psychology, taken to its transpersonal end–and learned the hard way. He is the perfect exemplification of Gurdjieff's statement that only conscious suffering has any value. As such, Jim Burns is a most conscious and valuable man. His insights and recommendations (as well as those of Roy Masters) fill in the details of the deeply human phase of the path to relative sanity and wholeness, which must be accomplished before the leap into spiritual identity or Essence is possible. A few of his choice comments will be presented in the section on personal testimonies.

Occasional observations from Woody Allen-ish philosopher, Ashleigh Brilliant, are also included to remind us to regard our search with humor and compassion.