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BART MARSHALL
Interview with non duality magazine. July 2011

 
Bart Marshall has a Self Inquiry Discussion Group who meet regularly in Raleigh, North Carolina. He also has a book of translations entitled The Perennial Way: New English Versions of Yoga Sutras, Dhammapada, Heart Sutra, Astavakra Gita, Faith Mind Sutra, and Tao Te Ching. The Perennial Way contains six translations of spiritual classics.

 

NDM:  Can you please tell me a little about your background?  How your seeking began? 

Bart Marshall:  I usually begin my seeker story with Vietnam because before then I really had no curiosity about spiritual matters or any suspicion that the world was anything other than it seemed.  But a number of things happened in Vietnam to shake me up, and near the end of my tour a mortar round landed nearby that blew me into a clear and brilliant blackness that felt like “home.”  I would have gladly stayed in that blackness, but instead I was brought back into a world I could no longer view in the same way. 

I returned from the war in 1968 and not long after began experimenting with LSD, which further shook up my already shaky world view, and I was off and running looking for answers to questions I didn’t even know how to form yet.  I read everything I could find that might offer clues, found teachers, studied meditation—the usual seeker stuff.  But I was never completely obsessed by it, I guess, because I lived a very “normal” life at the same time—marriage, family, career, etc.  Maybe that’s why it was 37 years before Realization finally occurred. 

  Richard Rose  

NDM: What kind teachers did you find and what kind of meditation did you practice?

Bart Marshall:  Early on I was omnivorous, going to whatever lecture or gathering seemed to have possibilities.  There were a lot of teachers from India coming to America in those days, and some homegrown ones like Ram Dass starting to appear.  But none of them really grabbed me, and to be honest I wasn’t all that convinced they’d had a direct experience of what they were talking about.  So I tended to find my teachers in books—ancient texts like Tao Te Ching and Bhagavad Gita, modern masters like Ramana Maharshi, and also contemporary works that compelled me in some way.  I became quite taken by Don Juan in the Carlos Castaneda books, for instance.  As for meditation, I read lots of books on it and tried a lot of different techniques.  I started doing Transcendental Meditation in 1971 and got fairly serious about that—even took a six-week teacher’s training course from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.  I also was fairly serious about zazen—Zen meditation—but in truth I was never a very disciplined meditator, and would fall off the wagon for months at a time. 

After about 20 years of reading, meditating, and obsessive thinking about this stuff, I hit the wall and basically “quit” being a seeker.  I felt I’d given it my best shot and failed—time to get on with life as best I could.  Shortly after that, through circumstances that hint at magic and the hand of God, I met Richard Rose, the man I would come to call my teacher, and it was game-on again.  Knowing Rose changed everything, but I only had about five years with him before he came down with Alzheimer’s and could no longer teach.  About that time I discovered the book I Am That, which quite literally became my “bible” for a number of years, so I consider Nisargadatta one of my primary teachers even though I never met him.  Then at some point I came across the work of Douglas Harding and was eventually moved to travel to England to spend time with him.  It was on the plane ride home from that trip that Realization finally happened.             

 

NDM: So what happened on this plane ride home?

Bart Marshall:  Well, the short answer is that what I’d always believed I was, vanished, and what I have always truly been appeared as self-evident.  All questions disappeared, along with the so called “person” who had been asking them.  What remained was pure Awareness—God consciousness, if you will—and life as I had known it came to an end.  I was unable to talk about it at all for awhile afterwards, but eventually I wrote Douglas Harding a “thank you” letter in which I describe what happened about as well as I can.  A friend of mine has put it on his web site, which has a number of other interesting accounts of Realization.  My letter to Harding is here:
www.searchwithin.org/download/realization_bart_marshall.pdf .

 

  Douglas Harding  

NDM:  So what happened to you on a relative level, as a "person" after this realization? For example, did your habits change in any way?  Do you still get angry; have likes and dislikes, meaning aversions or sense desires and so on?  

Bart Marshall:  On the one hand, I can say that the character, the person, changed very little.  Realization does not happen to the person, it happens when the person disappears—or more accurately, is seen to have never existed.  The person gets nothing out of it except the tremendous relief of no longer reacting and responding to life as if it’s an entity separate from God.  No new qualities or powers are added unto you, nor are any of your existing characteristics taken away.  The character remains essentially what it was before Realization.  It’s just been severely demoted from king to humble servant.  I experience Bart as God’s interface to the dream, a puppet character that plays his role pretty much as always and displays pretty much the same characteristics as before Realization.  His basic desires and preferences remain intact and none of the emotional wiring has been severed.  I’d rather be rich than poor.  If you cut me I will bleed. 

I’m capable of anger, but it takes a lot more provocation to trigger it than before and its over very quickly, leaving no residue or after-effects.  It flares for a purpose, and when no longer called for it subsides and is forgotten.  I still enjoy sensual pleasures, perhaps even more so, but I don’t seek them out or miss them if not there.  This is the essence of desireless non-attachment.  It doesn't mean you no longer desire or enjoy the pleasures of life, but that you are indifferent to whether they ever come to you.  I never wish any moment was anything but what it is.  As for sloth and boredom, I do not experience either of those.  I am never bored—my favorite pastime is staring into space with nothing to do.  But when action is appropriate, I focus completely on the task at hand and effortlessly put everything I have into it. 

I am never restless because I revel in What Is and wouldn't change a thing.  I rarely worry or suffer doubt because perfection is the only way God rolls.  I’m aware of Bart's preferences, and I hope he gets what he wants in life—he’s basically a good guy and I’m pulling for him.  But I’m indifferent to whether he gets his way or not.  I'd rather have what I’m supposed to have than what I think I want.

 

NDM: Would you say there is a difference with Self realization, enlightenment and liberation?

Bart Marshall:  I use the terms Self-realization, realization, enlightenment, and awakening synonymously.  I think I could also throw liberation in there, too, based on how I hear others use it—although some teachers reserve it to point to a state beyond enlightenment, which is what I tend to do.  I sometimes use the words liberation and dissolution synonymously to point to a state in which the character, the ego-identity, has completely disappeared.  You don’t see this very often because without the character one can’t interact with the dreamworld and certainly has no desire to.  So those of us still walking around talking and teaching are able to do so because the character is still accessible and available for service.  Dissolution is not my state, but I can feel it intermittently, and I sense the movement is towards that.  If it happens before the death of the body, I’ll probably just disappear into anonymity.  Maybe someone will appear to feed me once in awhile.    

NDM: Is there such as thing as "full enlightenment"?

Bart Marshall:  To me the word enlightenment points to the state of becoming Truth, realizing one is God, realizing that one’s true nature is the Source of All That Is.  That’s pretty full without any modifiers.  There can be degrees of spiritual maturity, of intellectual understanding, of “ripeness,” but there are no degrees of Truth Realization.  Anyone who thinks they are “partially enlightened” or “almost there” is kidding themselves.  Richard Rose had a saying in this regard: “You don’t know anything until you know Everything.”  

NDM: You already mentioned some of these below. Do you also have any of these other traditional jivan mukta traits listed below by Ramesam Vermuri?

 

1.

Universal “Love” (Maitri)

 

 

2,

Equipoise. 

 

 

3.

Tranquility. 

 

 

4.

Sense of of happiness

 

 

5.

Absence of sense of “self”

 

 

6.

Absence of ‘Doership’

 

 

7

High levels of Gamma activity in the brain

 

 

8.

State of Deep Sleep with Awareness (Yoganidra)

 

 

9.

Fearlessness and Detachment

10.

Always in the “Now”

 

 

Bart Marshall:  I think that’s a pretty good list of some of what comes with the package, although I have no idea what my gamma activity might be, and the state of deep sleep with awareness is not something I experience very often, although I am occasionally aware of that.  One thing I might say, though, is that this list makes it all sound very grand and elevated, and there is the implication that possessing all these wonderful qualities produces a problem-free life and permanent state of euphoria, when in actuality it lives very ordinary.  One doesn’t really go around being aware of any of this—I don’t “feel” fearless or tranquil or loving at the moment, for instance.  I just experience What Is and do what gets done. 

That list describes the ordinary state, the natural state.  Living in the natural state does not produce experience.  Experience comes when the natural state is disrupted.  So it’s also important to emphasize that none of these qualities are impervious to the vagaries of life—at least for me.  Things happen that cause me to experience negative feelings, lose my equipoise and so on, but usually the ship rights itself pretty quickly.  In other words, I still experience life in all its “fullness,” but am usually not disrupted by it.  Only when the “I” thought creeps back in, that this is happening to “me,” does experience—either positive or negative—start to happen.

NDM: In terms of high gamma wave activity, do you see a difference with meditators and non meditators after realization?  For example, why is it that certain non traditional realized people/teachers like U.G Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta still seemed to have expressed anger, irritation, crankiness, moodiness and so on, while others who come to this realization through traditional means--heavy meditation practice, like Ramana, did not have these tendencies as much? 

Bart Marshall:  The person/identity/self/character/ego/personality—whatever we might call this thing with a name that we believe is separate from All—will remain essentially the same after Realization.  U.G. and Nisargadatta were contrary and cranky characters before enlightenment, and so they were afterwards as well.  Ramana’s personality was probably never like that to begin with, and whether he meditated or not is more of a side issue.  To me the measurable physical characteristics of an habitual meditator, such as increased gamma wave activity, are analogous to the measurable physical characteristics of someone who exercises regularly, such as a lower resting heart rate. 

During the heyday of Transcendental Meditation, meditators were hooked up to all sorts of measurement equipment and it became obvious that meditation produced a number of desirable physical benefits.  Whether these measurable physical qualities have any relationship to the potential “spiritual” benefits of meditation, no one knows.  All we can say is that meditation produces beneficial effects in the body and mind, and certainly that’s enough to recommend it as a life practice—along with eating right, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep.  Meditation is demonstrably beneficial to the body and mind.  

Enlightenment, though, is a whole different matter.  It doesn’t happen to the mind and body, and there is no cause-and-effect relationship between enlightenment and any body/mind practice one might do leading up to it.  You simply can’t get there from here.  No matter how hard a character on a movie screen might try, he will never be able to reach into the projection booth and change the film.  Enlightenment is always an accident, always a matter of Grace. 

It may well be true that people who meditate regularly before enlightenment exhibit certain qualities that non-meditators do not.  But so what?  They’d exhibit basically the same characteristics if they never got enlightened, just as someone who runs ten miles a day will have a lower resting heart rate regardless of his or her spiritual destiny.  The more germane question is whether regular meditation somehow speeds up the process of Awakening, and the answer is no one knows.  All we can say is that a lot of folks who report having had a final realization have tried meditation to one degree or another, and that some attribute their “success” to it and teach it to others as a means to the end. 

In my opinion there is sufficient evidence to suggest that meditation (which I define as a state of immediate presence, of no-thought) is a helpful practice for those interested in Truth Realization.  It’s one of the three basic practices I recommend, along with prayer and self-inquiry.  But as I mentioned, practices are not what gets you there.  They’re just something to keep us occupied while we’re waiting for Grace to take pity on us.  As Rose used to say, “There’s no recipe for a lightning bolt.”     

NDM:  When you say that "Enlightenment is always an accident, always a matter of Grace."  What do you mean by grace?

Bart Marshall:  I use the term Grace to point to what we might call the hand of God.  Methods and practices are useful in that they prepare the mind for Grace—for receiving the gift of Truth—but they do not cause anything to happen.  Quoting Rose again, “Enlightenment is always an accident, but there are ways of making yourself more accident prone.” 

NDM: What about karma? 

Bart Marshall: The word karma to me denotes the momentum of your life as dictated by the bodymind package you are born into, as well as the concept of destiny.  It may well be that someone whose path leads to Awakening was just destined to wake up, but there’s no way to know that for sure, so the best approach is to assume you need to take action in the direction of your desires. 

NDM: What about traditions like Vedanta, Sufism, Gnosticism or Buddhism? They claim that they can enlighten someone about this truth through their methods and practices?

Bart Marshall:  I think if you look deeply into the source teachings of those traditions you’ll find that they do not promise you will become enlightened by following their practices.  Subsequent dogma imposed by un-enlightened disciples and faux teachers may claim that, but an enlightened teacher never would.  If you encounter a living teacher who claims that his or her methods will result in your enlightenment, run don’t walk to the next candidate on your list.

 

 

U. G. Krishnamurti

 

 

Nisargadatta

 

NDM: What do you feel about neuroscience attempting to measure these jivanmukta traits in the blood or in the brain?  For example, would you be willing to have your blood taken or have your brained scanned, measured under certain conditions, for scientific reasons?

Bart Marshall:  I think those sorts of scientific efforts are valuable for convincing hard-headed materialists that there’s something to this spiritual stuff, but to me it’s basically irrelevant and I’m not really interested in being a lab rat.  I think there are more direct ways to investigate Truth.  Even if bodily changes can be detected, I’m not sure how that information will help a seeker have a direct experience of Truth.

NDM: How do you know if someone is enlightened or not?

Bart Marshall: The only way I can make a call on that is to talk with them about it, or in some cases read what they’ve written.  And I don’t mean that I judge by how well they communicate.  There are some great talkers and writers out there who aren’t what they say they are, and some relatively inarticulate folks who embody Truth.  Someone who has had a direct experience of Truth will tend to talk about this stuff in their own words, and from a somewhat unique angle that is personal to their experience and character makeup.  They are generally unassuming and don’t claim to know anything, but rather, to be merely pointing at unspeakable Mystery.  They don’t create stories and concept structures about what enlightenment is like, or make themselves out to be special, but rather are always focused on how they can help someone else become Truth.  I’m fortunate to have a couple dozen friends for whom Realization has occurred, and they are as different and individual as any group of people you could gather.  But they all have an inner light of guileless sincerity and spiritual integrity that shines through and triggers a resonance, a “knowing” in me that they have indeed realized Truth.

 

 

NDM: In your teaching do you test some one like they do in Zen with Koans for example?  Or in some other way?

Bart Marshall:  My door is open to anyone.  We have a group meeting Wednesday evenings that anyone can attend, and after that it’s pretty much self-selective as to who stays and who goes.  Those who resonate with what gets said stick around, and those who don’t, don’t.  We have a web site (www.selfinquiry.org) that’s pretty straightforward about what to expect, so by the time they write to get directions to the meeting they know what they’re getting into

As for testing those who claim to have had a realization, no, I don’t do that.  We are fortunate to have a number of other people in the group who report that they have reached the end of seeking, and I take them at their word.  My only question is, “Are you done?”  And if they say they’re done, then to me they’re done.  If someone wants to kid themselves about it, that’s their business.  I wouldn’t recommend it, by the way, but you do see that happening out there these days. 

Now it’s also true that once realization happens, there is still unfinished business.  On the one hand it’s “game over,” but on the other hand a new game begins.  The dream of life, no longer believed, continues unattended.  There is an assimilation process, a maturation, a continuing movement of some kind as one gets acclimated to living with no self in a universe of no substance.  This is a common topic of conversation when I get together with Awake people, especially those who have just recently woke up.  The subject line of one email I got from a woman who had a recent realization was, “Awake.  Now what?”  That’s a pretty succinct expression of what it feels like in the first few weeks and months afterwards

 

  NDM: What do you make of this Zen koan or your thoughts about this sort of thing? 

Mumonkan Case 38: A Buffalo Passes Through a Window Koan Goso said, “To give an example, it is like a buffalo passing through a window. Its head, horns and four legs have all passed through. Why is it that its tail cannot?”

Mumon’s Commentary
If you can penetrate to the point of this Koan, open your Zen eye to it, and give a turning word to it, you will then be able to repay the four obligations above and help the three existences below. If you still cannot do so, work with the tail single heartedly until you can really grasp it as your own.

Mumon’s Poem
If it passes through, it falls into a ditch;
If it turns back, it is destroyed.
This tiny tail,
How extremely marvelous!


Bart Marshall: I've never really played with formal koans like this too much. I tend to feel they were probably more useful as tools for troubling the minds of Japanese Zen monks a thousand years ago than they are for seekers today. I also agree with my teacher Richard Rose when he said: "You don't need any formal koans. Your life will give you all the koans you need." Plus, my understanding of koans like this is that there is no answer, and because of that trying to find one might stop the head. So providing "answers" to koans sort of defeats the purpose. But it is kind of fun, so in the spirit of your question:

Marshall's commentary:
The window is an illusion. When the window is seen through, the buffalo is where it always is.

Marshall's poem:
A window creates two sides
out of nothing.
To name parts of the buffalo
obscures wholeness.

Why create and name?
Abide in the wholeness of No-thing

 
 

Genpo Roshi

 

NDM: What are your thoughts on this phrase "halfway up the mountain", indicating someone who believes they are fully enlightened, only to find out they are not when they fall from grace, for example like Genpo Roshi recently? http://nhne-pulse.org/genpo-roshi-admits-affair-disrobes-as-buddhist-priest/

Bart Marshall:  Well, there are a couple of things to mention here.  In regards to the article I see no indication that Genpo Roshi made claims he was enlightened, although maybe he did.  Being a Buddhist priest (or any other kind of priest or monk) has no relationship to whether that person is enlightened or not.  In fact, if someone is teaching strictly from any tradition, you can safely assume they are not enlightened.  When Truth hits you, you are struck mute.  Then when words come again they are uniquely your own—informed perhaps by the words of the masters, but never slavish to them. 

The other thing I would say is that if Genpo Roshi were enlightened, he’d feel no guilt and make no apologies for his actions other than to his immediate family perhaps.  Enlightenment does not box you in to societal morality structures.  Quite the opposite.  It frees you to respond in every moment in the perfect organic way, not in obedience to some set of artificial rules.  Now, as it turns out, enlightened folks generally behave in a manner one would describe as extremely moral and responsible, but I assure you it’s not because society or the law tells them to.  They are answering to a higher power.    

As for the idea that someone can actually be “halfway up the mountain,” I don’t buy it.  Enlightenment is an all-or-nothing thing.  One can be very wise in spiritual ways, and very ripe for it to happen, but until the trap door opens and you free fall into the Absolute, you’ve got nothing.  As I mentioned earlier, Rose had a great quote in this regard:  “You don’t know anything until you know Everything.”   

NDM: Here is a quote from Mariana Caplan’s book "Halfway Up The Mountain, premature claims to enlightenment", on overly ambitious spiritual people.  Spiritual ambition: the search for power and control.

“Who would think that the imagined spiritual life – devoted to meditation and prayer, lost in the bliss of God, humbled in the face of truth – could be yet another cloak for dreams of power and success, or a disguise for feelings of personal failure? Yet for many it is just that. The fact is that the search for enlightenment is often a disguise for the search for power, fame, prestige, or some other form of worldly success.

If an individuals modus operandi in life is to seek to be a somebody, to be important (the managing director, the star athlete, the female corporate executive, the movie star), and that person becomes involved in spiritual life, it is more than likely that the search for enlightenment will become linked with the search to gain power and fame in the spiritual domain. This is how ambition functions. An ambitious individual is not ambitious only in one arena but in all of life, including spiritual life.”

What are your thoughts on this?

Bart Marshall:  Caplan is absolutely right.  I know people who embody this.  Though they may not be aware of it themselves, the idea of enlightenment is a means to an end for them, not the end itself.  Their real desire is to be a famous, powerful, revered spiritual teacher, and if enlightenment is a prerequisite for that, then so be it.  They’ll suck it up and go for enlightenment. 

 

 

NDM:  So if were to ask you if you were "enlightened, self realized, awake," what would you say?  How would you answer this question?

Bart Marshall:  I would say that I am not anything, but that the one who thought he was not enlightened, not self-realized, not awake, has been seen to never have existed.

NDM: What are your thoughts on the 10 fetters listed in Theravada Buddhism? They say that there are 10 fetters tying beings to the wheel of existence, samsara, namely:

1. Personality-belief (sakkâya-ditthi)

2. Skeptical doubt (vicikicchâ)

3. Clinging to mere rules and ritual (sîlabbata-parâmâsa; s. upâdâna)

4. Sensuous craving (kâma-râga)

5. Ill-will (vyâpâda)

6. Craving for fine-material existence (rűpa-râga)

7. Craving for immaterial existence (arűpa-râga)

8. Conceit (mâna)

9. Restlessness (uddhacca)

10. Ignorance (avijjâ)

The first five of these are called 'lower fetters' (orambhâgiya-samyojana), as they tie to the sensuous world. The latter 5 are called 'higher fetters' (uddhambhâgiya-samyojana), as they tie to the higher worlds, i.e. the fine-material and immaterial world (A.IX.67-68; A.X.13; D.33, etc.).

He who is free from 1-3 is a Sotâpanna, or Stream-winner, i.e. one who has entered the stream to Nibbâna, as it were.

He who, besides these 3 fetters, has overcome 4 and 5 in their grosser form, is called a Sakadâgâmi, a 'Once-returner' (to this sensuous world).

He who is fully freed from 1-5 is an Anâgâmî, or 'Non-returner' (to the sensuous world).

He who is freed from all the 10 fetters is called an Arahat, i.e. a perfectly Holy One.

Bart Marshall:  I wouldn’t argue that everything listed is a fetter—along with a bunch more they’ve left out.  But I have trouble seeing how this list is helpful to someone seeking Truth.  I guess the implication is that we have to eradicate these symptoms one by one, maybe even in the listed order, and thereby become an Arahat.  Maybe that will work, I don’t know, but I think there are better strategies for approaching Truth. 

NDM:  Which one of these would you say you are? 

A.  Sotâpanna. Stream-winner (meaning you have 7 more lives to go.)  

B.  Sakadâgâmi. 'Once-returner'   

C.  Anâgâmî. 'Non-returner' 

D.  An Arahat, i.e. a perfectly Holy One.

Marshall:  Jeez, I don’t know.  The way this lives for me is that I’m free of all those fetters almost all the time, but I’m not immune from any of them on occasion and one or two of them are still present as preferences.  Number 6, for instance—I’d rather live in a comfortable house with good food than be homeless and hungry.  Or number 4—I enjoy sex as much as ever. 

NDM:  The Buddha said “This venerable one certainly declares the path suitable for nibbâna, yet still clings…  for when this venerable one regards himself in terms of “I am at peace,” “I am cooled,” “I am without clinging,” that also is declared to be clinging on the part of this good samana or brâhmana.  This is conditioned and gross, but there is cessation of constructions — knowing this, seeing its exit, a tathâgata has gone beyond.” 

What are your thoughts on this?  How does the tathagata get beyond this "I am at peace,” “I am cooled,” “I am without clinging,”

Bart Marshall:  I think anyone who attributes permanent desirable states to himself is not enlightened in the first place.  If you’re deluding yourself about something as intimate as your inner state, you’re in trouble for sure.  "I am at peace,” “I am cooled,” “I am without clinging,” sound like the positive thinking mantras of a practitioner, not the thoughts of an enlightened one.

There are times I am at peace and times I am not.  Both are just experiences of the bodymind, and neither is better than the other except to the false identity.  To me everything is just “What Is.”  I have no desire for it to be other than that.  To obsess about how you’re measuring up on the enlightenment scale is not a characteristic of enlightenment.  When no one is asking me about these things I never give it a thought.  I just do what I’m doing, feel what I’m feeling...   

NDM: What is nirvana?

Bart Marshall:  Well, that’s probably more of a wikipedia question, but I think the word nirvana is used to point to absolute liberation from the false self—the identity, the “character,” the ego-mind.  The Ashtavakra Gita calls this “dissolution.”  During the occurrence of Realization—which is an “event” that takes place in “time”—this false self, identity, ego-mind is vanished, gone entirely.  But when the event is “over,” the identity returns—severely demoted from king to serf, but basically intact with all it’s capacities and preferences.  This is usually experienced as a real disappointment because it’s so great to be free of it.  But one quickly realizes that without it, functioning in the dreamworld would not be possible.  It is in effect one’s interface to the dream. 

After Realization a new movement begins, however, and that is the movement towards total dissolution of the identity.  In my opinion this rarely happens before death because, as I say, the identity performs a necessary function in the dream.  Dissolution is not my state—if it were I couldn’t talk or write about this stuff, or anything else—but I can feel it at times, and the movement since Realization seven years ago has definitely been towards it.       

 

 

NDM: I came across this site calling Richard Rose a Zen master, www.richardrose.org but it also says he did not teach traditionally.  Did he actually teach the Buddha dharma and so on at any point?

Bart Marshall:  No, Rose was never aligned with any particular tradition.  Before his Realization he looked into every esoteric tradition he could find, but when Realization happened it was triggered by a traumatic event in his life, not by any practice or system.  Afterwards, he spent twenty years looking for the best way to teach—to pass it on, to help others wake up—and concluded that the “direct pointing outside scriptures” embodied in Zen was most suited to him.  But his methods of direct pointing at Truth were distinctly his own, not borrowed from any religion or tradition.  Students referred to him as a “Zen master,” because of his relentless directness and unflinching, confrontational style, but he never said that about himself.    

NDM: Do you know if Richard Rose ever took the moral precepts, practiced Zen meditation, conducted sesshin, mastered this practice in some way at any point in time with a Zen teacher?  

Bart Marshall:  No, as I say, Rose never had a teacher and was never aligned with any tradition.  His teachings reflect this.  Although he was very well read on esoteric subjects, he was truly an original thinker and his teachings came directly from his own experience and intuition about how to best pass it on. 

NDM: Would you consider Richard Rose a theosophist?  He seems to have been influenced by Blavatsky and Theosophy?

Bart Marshall:  Rose read Blavatsky and respected Theosophy, but he never aligned himself with any particular philosophy or tradition. 

 

Richard Rose

 

 

NDM: Can you please tell me about this Self-realization group that you have.  How does this work? Do you meditate, what do you teach or do exactly if someone wants to become self-realized, enlightened, do you give them a method, practice of some kind?

Bart Marshall:  Probably the best way to get a feel for our group (Self Inquiry Discussion Group) is to check out the web site at www.selfinquiry.org.  The home page gives a good overview of what one might expect coming to a meeting, and there’s links to writings by me and others, as well as to videos of talks given at our annual retreats. 

Basically we are an informal gathering of friends discussing the spiritual path from the perspective of our personal lives and experiences.  I try to keep it an open discussion with everyone participating, rather than “satsang with Bart,” but sometimes I end up answering questions and talking more than others. 

Usually we begin with someone reading the Heart Sutra, then we sit in meditation for twenty minutes.  Each week a different person is responsible for kicking off the meeting with something that has been on their mind lately, some issue or obstacle in their path.  They may bring a reading or something to help seed the discussion. 

I do not prescribe any particular method or practice, but anyone listening to me for any length of time will hear me speak mostly about things like self-inquiry, prayer, intention, silence, no-thought, doubt over belief, commitment, headlessness, and letting go.  The teachings that have most influenced my language and emphasis are those of Richard Rose, Nisargadatta, Ramana Maharshi, and Douglas Harding, as well as the ancient masters of Zen, Advaita, and Taoism.      

NDM: Have you written a book by the way?

Bart Marshall:  Yes, a book of translations called The Perennial Way: New English Versions of Yoga Sutras, Dhammapada, Heart Sutra, Ashtavakra Gita, Faith Mind Sutra, and Tao Te Ching.  I’m working on a book of essays now, which is probably more what you meant.


For more info visit

 www.selfinquiry.org