Prof. DeRose had the pleasure of recording an interview with the journalist António Mateus, in the Pestana Palace in Lisbon in 2009. Since the interviewer is an experienced and insightful professional, he recognized the potential to achieve a different type of interview, far from commonplace and free of stereotypes. The recording was excellent. I thought the transcript of the interview would help to understand our proposal, motive for which it constitutes this chapter.
Once transcribed, the text below was reviewed and converted from a colloquial to a written language style. Portions were deleted or inserted for the purpose of achieving better reduction.
Your Culture encourages individuals to be more lucid, more conscious, and more interactive in society. Is that correct?
That is the proposition. The proposal is that with a select group of techniques and concepts, the average person can reach a state of expanded consciousness. Now, whether or not this is achieved will depend on a number of factors. These factors include genetic makeup. As far as controllable factors, it's going to depend on dedication and time invested practicing the philosophy, as well as the environment where the person lives. Success will depend significantly on the person's cultural baggage, which is determined by factors such as the profession, and the age at which they began practicing.
Is it possible for people to sculpt themselves, to have a more active role in society?
Each individual is a different reality. The techniques themselves, for example, cerebral oxygenation, will react differently within each individual.
Would you have a purpose, a destiny which you want to fulfil when you are sculpting individuals?
Yes. The goal we want to achieve is for the individual to reach a state of hyper-consciousness, a state of mega-lucidity. Which, in fact, is the direction in which Humanity is headed.
This individual, obviously different, more lucid, more conscious. What impact will they have on society, and how will they be able to make a difference?
When people become more lucid, the first thing that occurs is that they begin to see improvements at work, in family relationships, in their commitment to any ideal, be it political, humanitarian, philanthropic, artistic, or anything else; and, moreover, they feel integrated, because, when an individual has yet to attain complete consciousness, they believe that the world is divided between “me and them.” The moment that their consciousness expands, they perceive that the concept of “me and them” does not exist. We are all one, interconnected–not only within the human species but also among all species–with the planet and with the Cosmos. This state of expanded consciousness is attainable, although normally when someone mentions their intention to achieve said state of consciousness, another person who can not even imagine what it is–who has not read anything about it, who has not studied it, who has not had it explained to them–could assume it is an unattainable ideal, and thus suppose it is a fantasy. It turns out that many people have already achieved this state of consciousness.
This state of hyper-consciousness, lucidity, how does it translate into day-to-day life?
In day-to-day life, it translates into objective participation, what we call effective action, because many people have initiative, but few have the ability to follow through. Therefore, one of the things that an expanded consciousness, or expanded lucidity, offers us is the perception that it is not enough to simply talk, nor to have intention, it is necessary to have initiative, follow through, and get the end result in all areas of the individual’s life –family, friends, foes– for all of society, for social responsibility, for environmental responsibility. That is, they are going to expand their degree of influence, they are no longer indigent, they will no longer be an individual who is unheard, without a voice or a vote. They become a citizen who acts and changes the world in which they live. And being that this person, in general, is a person with noble ideals, when they change the world in which they live, they change it for the better.
How does the individual accomplish this with your Culture? What tools are used to do this?
Our Culture! I call it “Our Culture”, with an uppercase O and an uppercase C, because it is a combination of concepts, a philosophy, a lifestyle. The proposition of Our Philosophy, Our Culture, is to transmit these concepts progressively and spontaneously. We do not approve of catequese; therefore, indoctrination is excluded. Nor do we approve of repression. Without indoctrination and without repression, the best means to teach is by example. An act of coexistence. This is what we call egregore. To live with the power of an egregore, of a group that is already dedicated to these ideals. And, from that moment on, the concepts are incorporated with much more ease. And the techniques are only a matter of individual dedication, of practicing the techniques.
Could we compare this type of activity with that of fine-tuning an orchestra? Like assembling violins, flutes, and conducting them in the same direction?
It certainly is. We produce a synchronization between all the elements that constitute us as humans. Not simply the body and mind, but the physical, emotional, mental, and intuitional bodies, and ultimately, all of the elements are going to synergize, as you so well expressed, like an orchestra. Then, we are going to go beyond the individual. We do not want our practitioner to confine themselves to their own small world, to their personal universe. By extrapolating, this orchestra acknowledges the family orchestra, the career orchestra, the hobby orchestra, and all of the elements, people and circumstances in each of these environments. As the scope of your activities expand, you start to consider the world to be very small, because you reach many people by various means. In the past, it was through writing, through books, and before that, parchments. Today we are able to reach people by electronic means. We are able to write on our computers and, at the same time, be read by people around the world.
Carl Sagan argues that the subject is contaminated and polluted by society. Your Culture proposes the opposite. It encourages the individual to be active, aware and involved.
I agree with him. Society contaminates the individual. But, the individual also has the power to influence society like Mandela did, like Martin Luther King did. This stems from the proposal to genuinely perceive that society has this power, that all aspects of the cultural environment in which a person lives have an influence on us. In fact, we are the product of the environment and culture in which we were raised, in which we live. If we were conscious of this, of the power of the environment to contaminate us, and refuse to passively accept this contamination, then at that point we can reverse the process and begin to influence society, culture, and the world we live in.
This counterculture model of an active, rather than passive, individual goes hand in hand with what I referred to earlier, a more lucid and conscious perspective. This lucidity is also related to the individual’s awareness of how outside influences can be harmful to them, is that correct?
Yes. But, it is important to remember that this proposal–though revolutionary in terms of behavior–is not aggressive in the bad sense. It is not violent. In other words, we are not opposing that which is already established. We do not want people to simply change and adopt Our Philosophy. The proposal is: those who already think this way do not feel like a rara avis. That these individuals know that there are others who think the same way. And, therefore, we can come together, share an ideal, ideas, concepts, practices, a lifestyle, a way of building friendships and relationships in a more civilized, more loving, and more tolerant manner.
Once a young student of our Method wrote us a beautiful letter saying: “I have always felt like the joker card in the deck and now I have found a deck where all the cards are joker."
Considering how Your Culture not only offers a proposal for the inner-self, but also in the way they interact with others, with the world around them. Is this a new aesthetic and a new ethic?
Yes, because the concept of an inner-self presupposes that there is a dichotomy between the internal and external reality. Our Culture does not interpret the individual, nor the world, as separate entities. Take a body and soul, for example. An antagonism between the spiritual and the natural, the physical or corporal. Thus, we understand the internal and the external to be one thing. By being integrated, we achieve much more with improved results, our work is much better. It does not matter that we are able to help someone evolve personally if it does not reverberate in society, in the world, in humanity and in the environment. A higher level of consciousness inevitably leads to a new aesthetic and a new ethic with respect to values that are present today. On the other hand, none of our arguments are new.
When the governments of our times have little or no concern with defining a model citizen, or a model society to aspire to, unless it is on a purely material level, such as the settling of financial accounts, it is necessary to have a new perspective on the individual’s quality of life. And your cultural proposition responds precisely to this. Is the solution a more lucid and active person, who knows in which direction they want to progress?
Exactly. And always guided by tolerance. Because, if not, we run the risk of inventing a new religion, which is absolutely not the objective. Ours is an educational proposition, a cultural proposition, a proposition to lead the individual to progress in terms of civility, culture, education, artistic sense, sensibility, and, as you said before, ethics and etiquette as well. Etiquette is a small ethic. That means we have a big ethic, and we have the other ethic, the etiquette of day-to-day–life, in the relationships within a particular society, to which we must adapt. Because when we exhibit a comprehensive proposal like this, we must consider that there is a Christian culture, a Hindu culture, a Jewish culture and an Islamic culture, and we cannot suggest a proposition that adapts to only one of these cultures.
This completely changes the dynamic of the world around us. What possibilities does it open up?
The possibilities are multiple and comprehensive. Nevertheless, their fulfillment is always slow, because changing paradigms is very difficult for humans. Our neurological circuits were designed in such a way that, when we learn a particular concept, or determined code of procedure, we are unable to change immediately. It is difficult to change. Therefore, when we transmit these lessons, we have to remember that they are essentially for young adults. Young adults who are active, involved in the dynamics of business, politics, the arts, or in any other field. Someone who still has the conditions to process a transformation in their lifestyle. That has the conditions to incorporate a new praxis. And those who do, as I understand it, is a young adult.
Martin Luther King spoke of a dream that he had–“I have a dream…” John Lennon left his mark with music–“Imagine all the people…” Nelson Mandela gave up his freedom for this dream. The visionary DeRose, how does he describe this dream?
I don’t know if I would say visionary. Because our work is extremely grounded, it is very objective oriented; it deals directly with individuals and the world they live in. In other words, without subjectivity, without theorizing, without assumptions. Ideas, yes, but with great caution, as I said earlier, to ensure that these ideas do not become fanaticism. Fanaticism must be avoided. Rather, the purpose is to teach these concepts so the individual can actually apply them. That it not be simply a nice thought, a nice discussion, but that they go back to their business and make it function, modifying the structure and the administration of the business, turning every employee, every collaborator, into an individual with value, who has potential that is creative and is a human. Not to situate the employee and the employer as opposing forces in a tug-of-war, but to bring everyone together to push in the same direction. This consists of the individual's progression, and consequently, the progression of society.
When you imagine–going back to “Imagine” by John Lennon–when you dream about the future, what do you dream? What do you foresee at the end of this journey?
In “Imagine” I see a creed. Because what he proposes is really revolutionary. It even surprised me how there were not more harsh reactions to this message, because it is beautiful, but at the same time he talks about the individual overcoming the limitations of nationality, the restrictions of borders. Obviously, the majority of the world’s population, governments, and leading powers do not like this. The desire that everyone be one people, one humanity. And “no religion, too.” All religions as well, would probably have somewhat of a reserved reaction. But that didn't happen. The music is beautiful and what we see is that the words are accepted by the general public, including by the government, by the leading powers, and, in general, by the religions. The people liked the message of Imagine because Lennon knew how to say it artistically and aesthetically.
However, when you mobilize your instructors, your family, the DeRose egregore, you are constructing a future. What is on the horizon during your lifetime?
I see, in the short term, people who are happier and healthier, with better quality of life. Because this is really what our techniques provide, first, better quality of life. In the medium-term, I see prosperity. In the long term, self-knowledge.
A person with better quality of life, who is more tolerant, who knows how to conduct oneself with others, with their superiors and assistants, who knows how conduct oneself with his clients and suppliers, who knows how to conduct oneself in their relationships with friends and family, this person is in control. Someone who becomes a genuine leader. A serene leader, charismatic in their respective environment. Therefore, in the medium-term, this provides stability. Stability in relationships, in the family and at work. The result is prosperity.
I have already been on this route for half a century. During these fifty years in the profession, I have observed effectively that the people joined Our Culture, in the medium-term, begin to achieve stability, prosperity, happiness, and longer life expectancy.
The increase in life expectancy is a result of the good habits that are suggested. Our Philosophy teaches not to use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. And develop healthy habits. This, far from making life mundane, makes life much more interesting, increasing your lucidity naturally. Therefore, if you are not under the influence of any of these toxic substances, which interfere which consciousness, this individual is much happier, more lucid, perceiving the world differently and, consequently, the world and life are much more fun. The person is truly happier. And, in the long-term, the goal is that state of expanded consciousness that leads us to self-knowledge.
Is this the objective at the individual level?
At the individual level, self-knowledge. And, if one day all of humanity is able to reach this state, we are going to have a very different humanity from what we have today, because today we are moving toward drastic solutions. We always observe that, at any moment in time, various nations are in armed conflict. So if we could get, if not all of humanity, at least those who have the decision-making power, those who can create laws, those who can declare wars–if all of these individuals were in a better state of consciousness, an expanded state, a state of hyper-consciousness, we would have a much more harmonious world. Because, today we frequently see that in many countries, the government does not want quality of life and evolution for its people. After all, if the people become more lucid, they are capable of removing it from power. Considering our ideals, we [humanity] are not in a good moment .And this is demonstrated precisely by the conflicts that we see between various religions around the world. But if, step by step, gradually, without any intention to convert anyone, little by little, this starts to work, in the sense of reaching the general public, I really believe that we will have, in the future, a very different world.
The XXI century is already different if we compare the quality of life and the level of consciousness, not simply in terms of culture, not simply in terms of information, but the level of consciousness of the majority of the population compared with 200, 500 years ago, 800 years ago, we are on an ascending curve.
You return to the foundations of our existence in your book “I Remember”, like someone gaining their balance preparing to jump. Where does this jump lead us?
The book “I remember” is a story set in a place, in a time, in a civilization that, as far as we know from history and archeology, was settled by a civilization that lived in harmony. They had quality of life, the common citizen was respected. They didn't find pharaonic constructions for monarchs, nor for the clergy, rather they found very comfortable houses for the general population. We are referring to a protohistoric period set immediately before the rise of historic records. Historians have researched extensively, frequently archeology, in order to understand this civilization a little more.
We are talking about 5000 years ago, 3000 years before Christ. In this era, in this civilization, known as the Indus Valley Civilization, cities were already extremely well urbanized and sanitized, the housing was in two story buildings, with an atrium for internal ventilation, the bathroom inside the house, and with running water. This, 3000 years before Christ, is unbelievable. When the archaeologists themselves found these ruins, they hesitated telling the academies of science for fear of being considered inaccurate.
So, the discoveries were revealed gradually. They invited other archeologists, from diverse countries, to see for themselves. It was really an exceptional civilization for the period and even comparable to some regions of our planet today. Therefore, imagine that the atmosphere in which this story, this tale, this fiction (the book I remember) takes place is that of a happy community, a healthy, a stable, and a prosperous community, within the limits of the historical period. And, revisiting these origins, we could argue, we are very close to the origins of civilization itself, and we can learn something from them. Something that has been lost.
The primitive, non-warlike, societies, all tend toward matriarchalism (which is the case of the Indus Valley civilization) and the patriarchal societies were all warlike. With the arrival of the aryans in 1500 b.C., a subsequent introduction of the patriarchal system occurred in the region. Since its remote past, the patriarchal system has thrived from war.
On the other hand, the matriarchal system favors the mother, affection, the womb, the bosom... it is another way of seeing the world, another proposal for the family and even State organization. Without wars, society is clearly able to dedicate its time and economic resources to art, culture, science and philosophy. All of this, without repression, because the matriarchal society, in general, is not repressive. Therefore, without repression, imagine how much these artistic and cultural impulses could have developed in the community.
In "I remember...", you return to a idealistic past and then transport us to a more tangible reality, where tangible aspects, such as writing instruments, language in itself, are measurable. It is almost as if it were an anthropological vision. Since you do not lure your readers without a purpose, where would you like to take us with this story?
Let's not forget that everything described is a fantasy, because this book, "I Remember...", I share memories of the past, but this past is nothing spiritual, it is a history. Therefore, taking the reader to that cultural reality, to that civilization, to that way of life, I am suggesting that reader have a personal reflection with respect to the viability of the manner in which they relate with their children, with their parents, with their friends, with their enemies, with their loved one. So, perhaps the book's content can make a contribution to their personal growth. Now, finding the line between fantasy, fiction, myth and reality, I leave that for the reader to discover.
However, the second part of the book has an almost anthropological nature. Is it no longer purely fiction?
The fiction to which I am referring is a story in itself. I used the maximum number of tangible elements, real events, and historic data possible to build the foundation of the story. I saw the possibility of, initially, conquering the reader's heart, which is why the beginning the book is so sweet and charming, then it is romantic, and finally it is, as we say, more philosophical. In the last part, it loses a little of its sweetness, since we reach maturity we become more realist. It's a story of a child growing up. First, they are a child, so they have a more imaginative vision of the world. Later, they become an adult. At the time, people we considered adults at the age of 15, which was the age in which they were able to reproduce, establish a family. And they aged early, already considered elder at the age of 30. At that moment, they see the world in a more consistent, more cautious, more prudent manner. I try to transmit a little of our philosophy, not much, just a little, because the book is small. It is one of the shorter books I have written.
It might be the smallest in size, but I felt that it was one of the most inspiring, because there are many messages hidden between the lines.
Yes, even a revolutionary message, in the good sense. A message that subverts bad habits and the structure of civil union in our world. Not with the intention to demolish anything, rather in the sense of suggesting that the reader stop and think: “This proposal seems interesting after all! Who knows, perhaps we could try it? Let’s try, let’s try with the family, let’s apply these procedures with our friends.”
When you, for example, suggest, in one of your arguments, to defend liberty is a primary pillar of our existence and, when it conflicts with discipline, liberty should always prevail.
This argument is absolutely categorical. It proclaims that liberty is our most precious possession.
Nevertheless, we need to have internal and existential discipline to be able to defend our values. Where do the two lines cross?
The continuation of this thought explains that if discipline violates liberty, choose liberty. How do we temper these two forces? Discipline is fundamental, but if the discipline of a specific group, any type of group, political, sports, a soccer club, it doesn't matter, if this group has rules and if these rules, this discipline, violate my freedom, then I should prioritize liberty. How? By fighting, going up against it? No! By disassociating myself from it. Clearly, that group is not for me. That business, that school, that college, or that club is not right for me, because its norms are an infringement on my liberty. So, I leave looking to preserve friendships and go look for my group. If we all did this, instead of clashing head on, we would be able to enjoy life much more. And, of course, I respect those who think otherwise. Some have the opinion that, to defend a point of view, we need to fight, yell, insult, hurt, make a scene. It's a question of attitude, of education, of character. That's fine, but that attitude is for another group. Whenever possible, I try to stay far from that group.
You, for example, value discipline, rigor, responsibility, and this characteristic implies that the individual is secondary. Is that correct?
No, that is not correct. Our discourse implies that everything someone says is valid, as long as it does not infringe on anyone’s liberty and it must be well founded in tolerance. If we can achieve this amalgam, which is alchemical, we find balance. Because, it really is like balancing on a fine line. A breeze can cause you to fall to one side, to an extreme of intolerance and discipline at all costs, or to the other side, of excessive tolerance, of complacency with failure.
Your Culture works, on the other hand, on the extremes. Should we work on that which we find difficult, our weaker points, or on the more positive points?
I do not know if I would put it that way, because it sort of christianizes the concept a little, exacerbating the notion of good and evil. And, our suggestion is to always be conscious that good and bad are always relative. “You are wrong.” But, wrong in relation to what? With respect to what moment? Richelieu once said that to be or not to be a traitor is a question of dates. That's the way it is, with respect to right and wrong. In which society, in which religion is this right or is this wrong? You enter into a Catholic church and remove your hat as a sign of respect. Then, you enter a Synagogue and put one on as a sign of respect. I remember that once we went to visit a sikh temple, in India, and they asked us to cover our heads. Even the camera they were using to film the ritual was covered in a sign of respect, with a white cloth. I have concluded, therefore, that everything is for convention. And we have to be conscious of this every time we are led to believe, within the cultural tradition in which we find ourselves, that something is good or bad. “This is their bad side”. “This was a mistake”. Perhaps, observing under a different perspective, it's not so clear. It's better to consider: this perhaps was not appropriate, at this moment, or in this group. Not that it is bad, or that it is wrong. Another aphorism says that evil is the name given to the seed of good. Because everything “evil” or “bad” that happened to you in your life, you can observe that, sooner or later, produces very good results.
Recognizing the lucidity of the conscious citizen, the lucid individual, on the road to the state of hyper-lucidity, this person needs to have an idea of where they are headed. Like someone who is going to run a long distance race must know, in order to motivate oneself, where they are going. Your Culture, how does it pervade this sense of purpose?
We try to imagine that it is a nice trip by train, and to know that the route leads to a particular destination. Meanwhile you look at the beautiful scenery outside, talk with a friend inside, enjoy a meal in the dining car, rest, sleep a little. You enjoy the pleasure of the trip. And, this way, it feels like you arrive faster. But if this person just thinks, “I have to get there, my destiny, my destiny, my destiny,” the trip seems longer and unpleasant. With respect to our goal, the recommendation is: do not worry about the goal. Enjoy the community, the people. In general, those who follow this system are interesting, beautiful people, inside and out. They are educated and sensitive people, who are able to hold a conversation with anyone.
Nevertheless, when we see, for example, a conservative society that says women should fill a role in society, that they should live for their husbands, for their children, for their appearances, yet this state of lucidity enables them to deconstruct these confines. Does the conservative society not immediately react against this principle?
No, because we do not criticize the traditions of the different societies around the world. And, as Our Philosophy does not intend to proselytize, it doesn't take away followers of other philosophies, much less religions. Therefore, the reaction has never been negative. There has never been any opposition or resistance with relation to this proposal.
But there could be within the family circle. For example, if I am not aware of a certain light, I feel lost in the darkness and, suddenly, a light at the end of the corridor appears, which could be, let's suppose, Your Proposal, and I, suddenly, begin to walk with enthusiasm toward that light. So, if the darkness is a product of the conservative structure that society has created around me, I rebel against it. At least I walk in the opposite direction. Does this division not lead to conflict?
When someone in a relationship, with a family structure, adopts this philosophy and their partner doesn’t, eventually, some communication problems could occur, as if one of the two were to adopt a political party or a different sports team from that of their partner. This change could lead to momentary friction if it is lacking a sense of understanding, affection and respect. If you evolved, if you adopted a philosophy with pretensions of evolution, more civility, more lucidity, the person that changed was you. Because both married with a particular perception of their partner, and each liked the other as they were. They established rules and you changed the rules in the middle of the game. The person who is wrong is not the partner who is reacting badly. So, you need to have more patience with your partner, more tolerance, try to encourage them, without forcing it. Perhaps by setting an example, showing them that you are a much better person for him or her.
And, if the other person wants to live their life under other conditions? If they choose the cake for its appearance, and not for what is on the inside?
That’s rarely the case. What we have observed is that, if the process unfolds as I mentioned, with tolerance, with patience and affection, captivating the other person instead of demanding an opinion, the partner usually joins them. Because they like what they are seeing. Be it man or woman, they notice that their partner is better. A better father or mother, a better husband or wife, a better lover, partner or friend. Therefore, in general, they end up accepting willingly and adopting the same philosophy of life.
In “Encounter with the Master”, a young DeRose encounters a mature and conscious DeRose. What would the Master, having already attained consciousness, say today to a young DeRose? Would the message be the same as in the book?
It would result in the same miscommunication that I illustrated in the book, because there was the 58 year old author, in a conversation with himself at 18. It was a story of fiction, in which an adolescent DeRose appears in the life of a mature DeRose. He disagrees, argues, debates. He says, “But it can’t be like this; I do not agree; this can’t be.” And, the dialogue between the two, between a young idealist and an experienced man, attempts to provide a balanced argument between the two points of view, because many of our readers are 18, 20, 25, 30, and others are 50, 60, 70 and 80. They are two completely different universes, and the book tries to unite these two universes, showing that both are correct, and everything is a question of perspective.
Do the two balance out? Are they the same? Are they two points of view on the same subject? Or, is one more evolved than the other?
I would say, in reality, the two have their prejudices, their preconceptions. Both discriminate and both try not to discriminate. Both try not to have preconceptions and, thus, the older one learns from the younger, and the younger learns from the older.
We tend emphasize our differences. Normally people handle differences very poorly, they defend themselves, reject, oppress, suppress, instead of coming to terms with the differences.
These differences are very important. If all of my friends only praised me, I would be surrounded by sycophants, like monarchs of the past and some businessmen of today. What am I going to learn from that? Even when I am wrong, everyone is going to tell me I am right. That would not help me at all. But with respect to my critics, even before I am able to err they are already pointing fingers at me. So, who is helping me more? Those who help me most are those considered to be my enemies, since, in reality, they are more effective than my friends who trying to help me grow, because they show me the dark side of what I am doing, or what I am about to do. They focus on my errors, therefore, I can correct them. I always compare the friend and the enemy with the tree, where the tree's roots growing underground are the enemies, because they are in the shadows, but without them the tree can't stand tall. The tree needs roots and the enemies are the roots. And while the friends are the beautiful flowers, the nutritive and wonderful fruits, without the roots, they don't exist.
Your book, that was just released in Lisboa, provides an example of this. In the acknowledgments you didn't only dedicate your book not only to those people whom you admire. Can we talk a little about that?
There are people that, sometimes, with ill will, or because they simply are not familiar with the other side, the other truth, attack, slander, insult, hurt, and exclude. You can consider yourself a victim, misjudged, you can be sad, you can be resentful. Or, you can perceive, with an open mind, that the critique was very important and be thankful to that person. But be sincere. It is useless to be grateful pretentiously. Obviously, it must be an authentic attitude.
Christianity only became known because it was persecuted. If not, it would likely have been a small Jewish sect that would have disappeared soon thereafter. But the persecution led to visibility and, from that moment on, those who shared their point of view were able to learn about it, to strengthen its authority and caused it to perpetuate.
Is this like trading bitterness for honey, or is it something much deeper?
Our Culture proposes the concept of active non-aggression, never passive. If you are mature and self-confident, you have the ability to recognize that a person is being aggressive because they are fearful. People are aggressive when they are afraid.
If my dog, Jaya, my vegetarian Weimaraner, were to come in here wagging his tail, we would say, “How cute, come here, let me pet you.” But if Jaya comes in growling, showing teeth, you would immediately say, “Get this animal out of here! If not, I am going to throw something at it.” Why were you aggressive? You were aggressive because you were scared. It's like this in all situations. If you pay attention and analyze impartially, you will notice that whenever a person becomes aggressive it is because they were afraid, they felt threatened, and they became defensive. Some people are aggressive all the time because the world seems threatening to them.
If someone is aggressive with you, you can similarly, or react immaturely, such as: You were aggressive with me, so I am going to be twice as aggressive back. Or, you can react thoughtfully, like someone with self-esteem and maturity. If you were aggressive with me, I should understand that you felt attacked by me, although it was not my intention to attack you. You felt threatened by me, although it was not my intention to threaten you. Perhaps you had a terrible day; perhaps you are having matrimonial problems, I don't know. Perhaps you have difficulties, problems in your life. And, if I respond with more aggression it isn't going to help me. It isn't going to help our relationship, whether it be a business affiliation, a friendship, it doesn't matter. To respond with aggression is like trying to combat hate with more hate. It is like trying to fight fire with gasoline. The approach doesn't help.
I really liked your phrase, “trade bitterness for honey”. It's interesting, it is more or less that. Because, if a person is aggressive with you and you respond with a smile, a sincere smile, the aggression reduces drastically.
I remember an encounter between two philosophical lines that had nearly identical names, but were antagonistic. In this encounter, between two philosophies, a lady, professor from another line came walking in my direction, pointing her finger and insulting me so that everyone could hear. Imagine the Kafkian scene: she was a philosophy professor that teaches emotional stability, non-aggression, and self-control, insulting and attacking another professor, just for being of a different line! Everyone stopped to see how I would react. “Could it be that everything he says is a lie? How will he react? Is he going to give it to her good? Will he yell like her? Perhaps he'll insult her? Is he gonna be so rude as to turn his back on her and walk away? Or will he stand there listening, passively, letting her insult him? How will he react?”
My reaction was: I grabbed her, embraced her strongly, and when I let her go, she was no longer aggressive at all. She didn't have a single insult for me. When I let her go, she looked at me and said, “Ah, DeRose, you are something, huh?” Done. I removed the bitterness with the sweetness of a hug, without turning cheek, without sitting there passively listening to her attacks and without responding aggressively, which, in the end, would not have improved my relationship with her, or my reputation with the others who were observing. Nor would I have helped myself, because that night I would not have slept very well.
This presumes that Your Culture, the DeRose Method, aims to sculpt a lucid individual, such that they are aware of their surroundings, as if they were watching a film of what is about to happen around them, and respond in an active, conscious and lucid manner, and not in a primitive manner.
Exactly. Let’s apply this concept to the reality of any loving relationship. In a couple, both know very well what body language, what tone of voice and what phrase will irritate their partner. They are perfectly aware, because they live together. And in the case of a conflict, if one said that word or made that face, the other partner knows precisely what physiognomy, what tone of voice and what word can please the other, that is going to alleviate the situation. But, why don't they say it? “Because I am not going to break, I am not going to give in. If I do they will walk all over me.”
It depends on their attitude, to say that word, interrupt the marital conflict that is about to occur. And then establish limits. If the relationship can be saved, it will continue with respect, with consideration, with affection, with companionship. If it cannot be saved, it is a shame, because all broken relationships have a very high emotional cost, a very high cost in terms of health. But, have patience. There is a magic moment in which relationships really have to end, because that is how they become friends. And if the magic moment passes and they insist to stay together, perhaps when the time arrives to change the status quo, they separate as enemies, with resentments.
Sometimes, it is simply a question of “today I'll give a little and tomorrow the other person is going to give a little”. Because there is a natural reciprocity between human beings. When someone has a courteous attitude, a noble attitude towards another person, be it intimate, be it a family member, be it a spouse, the tendency is for the other person to react in a similar manner in an immediate or future circumstance. Once, I was with a friend in their car and they were driving very badly. He made a bad maneuver and almost got into a wreck with another driver, who stuck their head out the window and was about to yell some expletives. But this friend of mine gave him a big smile, as if to say, “Sorry, I made a mistake”. The other driver put his head back in the car and said, “Go on, son, go on!” And they didn’t argue. What was it that avoided the argument? It was only a smile.
The importance of a more conscious, lucid and active individual on all levels. Is this what Your Culture would like to revive in society?
Precisely. The tendency is to put a label on this Culture. I prefer to call it Our Culture or Our System, Our Philosophy, avoiding the use of labels. Why? Because when people use labels, they constrain the subject. And that leads to intolerance, even in regards to those on the outside. One of the misconceptions that I am trying to correct, one of the distorted perspectives, is that the individual practices the Method in the classroom where they learn it. Only that the classroom is where one learns, not where one practices. It needs to be put into real-life practice.
For example, if we teach how to breathe correctly inside the classroom, and when the student leaves the classroom they begin breathing poorly, then it was of no use. They learned how to breathe properly in the classroom, and they should leave breathing correctly, and even walk to their car breathing correctly, sit and drive their car, breathing correctly. They arrive at the office and go to work, or arrive at the gym and go play sports, breathing correctly. They are going to breathe correctly, in a more productive manner, because that is what they learned here at our institution. I used breathing as an example, but it could be illustrated with any other technique. This combination of techniques and concepts that the practitioner learns at our institution should be applied in all of life's situations. This is what we try to explain, and try to demonstrate. That our student is going to transmit what they learn, they are going to radiate it, to all of society, to their family, friends, and colleagues at work. Therefore, this begins creating shock waves and our proposal ends up spreading in a positive manner to all of the people with whom our practitioner comes into contact.
As Carl Sagan argued that society corrupts the individual, can this factor of influence also function in the opposing manner?
We know that society influences the individual. Nevertheless, the individual also influences society.
If you were to write now, not “I remember…,” rather “I dream,” what dream would you write about?
In all honesty, I would not be able to add anything to "I Remember" because that book was written all at once. At seven at night I started to write. At seven in the morning, went to rest. And that was it; It was finished.
And “I dream.” What would it have inside?
I don’t know. There are a lot of things! I have a lot of dreams!
But, you see, surely. We dream that our children grow up in the world, in a determined direction. And, we configure what this direction is. Did you not invest 50 years of investigation, in search of knowledge, without knowing where you wanted to arrive? Where is it that you want to arrive?
I would like to get to a point where people, at the least, listen to what we have to say. That they let us speak. That they don't muzzle us. We have a lot of very good things to say, without suggesting a debate, rather a reflection. What occurs is that those who do not like the system, or think that they don’t like it, haven’t listened. They haven’t spoken with me, they haven’t spoken with us, they don’t know our people, they haven’t read our books. My dream would be to be freed of this restraint.
I feel as though I am under ancient punishment, ecclesiastical punishment, denominated obsequious silence. “You said what you shouldn't have, you will not talk anymore.” They don't want me to talk. But you can see that what I say is not polemic. I do not consider it polemical, because we are not argumentative, we are not disagreeing with the others. It is not aggressive, I do not think it is, it is not my intention that it be. I do not want to attack anyone. And the proposition is good, proposing good human relations, good manners, good health, good quality of life, good education, and good habits. We work essentially with young adults. Therefore, in contributing to a healthy youth, far from drugs, from alcohol and from tobacco, if it was good for nothing else, it would at least be a contribution worthy of recognition. Our work has already been making this contribution to society for half a century.
For those of us who visit Your Culture, we are going to do a flash exercise. Your vision or your mission, what is it aimed at? What is on the horizon in this life?
I have known many interesting people, really great examples of human beings. People with whom I have had the privilege to live. Some for more than 30 years, some for more than 20 years, others that I am getting to know now, as is your case, and which I consider a privilege. This profession of ours, this ideal of ours, lets us get to know people. We are not head hunters, we are heart hunters.