22 April 1968

Dear Richard

The most important thing to realise is that a human being has to develop from the relatively  simple stage of a baby to the very complex stage of being a mature adult. We cannot jump from birth to maturity in one simple leap. If we take a sheet of note paper and lay it out flat on the table we can see simply what it is. If we write in it and fill it up with words we can read them. But if we fold the paper in half, and then half again, and keep doing it, we shall be less and less able to read on it what is written.  We can say we have by folding the paper , complicated the problem of reading it. Complicating means folding. Com = with, and plic = fold. Complex means with folds. The problem of reading what is on the paper is complicated when the paper is folded, and simple when it is unfolded. Now it is just the same with every other kind of problem. It is simple when we lay out all its parts flat out on the table. It is complex when we let the parts lie folded on top of each other.

You say you are not really sure what you are trying to divide and conquer. The answer is that you are trying to divide [that is analyse] and conquer [that is, put under your control] whatever experiences you have had.

When you experience anything, you record in yourself that experience, with its different parts. You store these experience records in your head for future use.

But a baby, although it has in it some experience records of its parents and ancestors, has not yet had any strong experiences of its own. The records of parents and ancestors are generally weak, too weak for the baby to get hold of them, except as very vague feelings.

And the baby’s own experiences, though stronger are very few in number. We would really expect a new baby to be able to laugh and cry or sleep or kick its legs about a bit, but we wouldn’t expect it to solve any complicated problem. Its experience is not complex enough.

A mind is no more complex than its experiences has made it. A baby cannot solve a problem beyond its experience. Neither can a mature man. Between the baby and the full-grown man are various stages of development, depending on the amount of experience undergone. A body of five has not the experience patterns of a body of ten or fifteen. The kind of experience undergone determine the kinds of problems that can be solved. No experience means no power to solve problems.

The obvious thing to do about this is to get as much experience as possible.

It is obvious that a new baby doesn’t know very much about what its physical body can be made to do. It has to learn how to sit up, to crawl, to stand, to walk, to use its hands, and so forth. For the first seven years of its life it tries everything it can think of doing, just to familiarise itself with the action-possibilities of its physical body. At this stage it would be a waste of time to try to discuss with it the principles of physiology in technical terms, or the problems of philosophy or higher mathematics. These things will have to wait a few years.

When the child has learned what it can do with its physical body, it then wants to find out what, out of all it can do, is worth doing. So from 7 to 14 the child asks questions and inquires about all sorts of things that appear to it interesting. Unfortunately for the child, whenever it asks a question from adults it doesn’t always get a clear answer: sometimes the answers are muddled, some times they are inaccurate. And the child has to sort all the answers as best it can. At 14 the child has usually enough answers, right, or wrong, or muddled, to make it decide to try and shake off  whatever opinions it has been given. It then passes into the stage of deciding to make its own mind up, to lead its own life.

So from 14 to 21 the adolescent child, growing up, determined to find its own answers and give its own orders, finds itself more or less in a rebellious mood. It doesn’t want to be directed or dictated to by adults. But this growing up period (from 14 to 21) is not an easy period to live through. All sorts of changes are occurring in the body (chemical and other changes), and these for a few years make it quite hard to settle down into a smooth pattern of life. But as 21 is approached the more upsetting change-processes begin to slow down, and it becomes more possible to gain some kind of balance. This whole period is quite difficult to get through, and the only thing to do is to recognise that it is difficult for everyone. We just have to do the best we can with it and look at it as a necessary period of change, uncomfortable or disturbing at times, but eventually to be got through.

During this time it is not unusual to start thinking about practically everything that is possible to think about, and to have opinions on everything from the Vietnam War to What is the best T.V. programme?, or is space travel a real possibility for man? or does God exist?, or are the dead really dead?, or do ghosts exist?, and a million other questions, sensible and otherwise. Most of these questions are not properly put and therefore, cannot receive proper answers. Some are not other than discussions about matters of opinion, or personal likes and dislikes, and therefore , in the nature of them, cannot have objectively true answers. Some of them will have to wait for their answers because man has not yet evolved enough to deal with them. Whatever the reason for them having no answers, these will just have to remain unanswered for the time being. The world is evolving and if all questions had already been answered life would not be very interesting for us. It is a good idea to deal with questions for which it is possible for us to find an answer within a reasonably short time, and to leave the long-term questions till later in life. A new baby doesn’t really need to know how many declensions there are in Latin, does it?

The best way to live at any period of life is to deal with those things that have an application in that period. It is not much use to a savage living in a jungle to learn the Highway Code, nor for a man on the London Stock Exchange to spend hours studying the tracks that wild animals leave in the jungle. Whatever knowledge we acquire we are better if it has some relation with the life period we are in, and can help us to live better and happier and healthier.

Certain things are also useful to know, for all periods. These are usually simple things, like the fact that sufficient sleep helps to keep the physical body and mind in good condition. We would not try to make important changes in the design of a motor-car engine whilst the engine was still running. So we need sleep whilst changing our bodies and minds in the process of growing up. We need to know how to breathe properly; how to exercise our mind and body; how to relax; how to concentrate; how to think logically; how to feel sensitively the moods and reaction tendencies of other people, and of ourselves; how to develop a strong will; how to make ourselves do necessary things that are not very pleasant, how to stop ourselves doing things that are a waste of energy and time and that give no real reward, physically or mentally.

Most important for us is to learn to be able to find the right word to express what we mean, to be able to clarify things in our mind, and to make clear by our words what we mean to other people.

If we manage in each life-period to do the basic things necessary for it, we shall have nothing to worry about, because everything rests on these basics.
See you 29th

By the age of 17 my expectations were that Eugene could do anything. A friend of mine Alex was horribly injured in a car crash and my expectation was that Eugene could instantly heal him. I was disappointed that he could not, a reality check had started. I also started to take some notice of what he said because it gave me status and by repeating it I could use it to make myself look wise and knowledgeable. Eugene also taught me the principles of Socratic argument and to the surprise of those to whom I applied it, and to my own much greater surprise, it actually worked.
I also had the unvoiced expectation that now I had met him he would look after me, solve my problems and somehow spiritually I would be OK because I was somehow under his protection. He would do the work because he was the master and in a way I was quite happy to let him get on with it as long as I did not have to do too much work to change.  I never checked this out with him as it was an unconscious assumption on my part and never based on anything he had said. I do remember an incident when I was walking down the elegant staircase at Parklands when I caught the eye of Eugene who was in the hall below, our eyes met and I looked him in the eye and did not look away, I wanted something but I could not articulate what it was, he was the first to drop his eyes. The feeling I have as I recall this is one of real personal confusion, suffering and pain with no way out. I felt that he really saw me and felt my situation with clarity and then agreed silently to help me untie the knot that was choking my ability to express myself. A silent contract.  There is a grain of truth in that he did work for many people on other levels, I offer no proof save my intuition. The other side is that it is up to any individual to will their own path and walk along it.
It was the start of a learning journey and it was a matter of time before the façade crumbled and allowed the slow growth of a more authentic self to emerge.

The Parklands Years

There were monthly meetings in Altrincham were talks were presented and questions invited. There were also regular Yantra and DAI (Drama as Integrator) classes at the same venue. My parents attended these talks and I was also brought along. Over 250  talks were recorded and can be found on eugenehallidayarchive.info a site created by my friend Bob Hardy.

I went to many of the Parklands lectures and sweated and fidgeted while Eugene or Donald Lord or Abel Stanion were speaking. I remember sitting in a tightly packed room listening to lectures about Absolute Sentient Power and something called Jijimuge, understanding nothing and experiencing an overwhelming desire for him to finish. I set my will against his, silently willing him to stop talking. I was among the youngest there and never really felt at home with either the lectures or the many people talking and drinking coffee during the interval. I remember someone coming to discuss the subject with me and I was amazed that he seemed to think it actually had something to do with him. At that time it seemed inconceivable that any of these ideas had anything to do with me, unkindly I thought the adults were deluded and just pretending to understand. My unconscious reasoning was that if they had understood then they would act on the understanding and be more like powerfully integrated like Eugene. Actually many people were very kind to me but  they were mostly of my parents generation and so there was this gap. There were lots of long winded explanations about words, I found it mostly  incomprehensible and not a way of understanding that I could relate to.
Yet there was something in the atmosphere an intangible something. I knew there was something real and of vital importance to be understood which would be of value to me but I just could not seem to be able to get it. I was told by Eugene that if I listened and absorbed sufficient truth it would gather together inside me and form its own organ of appreciation. It did take time and slow flickerings of understanding, familiarity and appreciation eventually emerged. In time I discovered he was right and the immersion was slowly helping develop a type of knowingness.

 On the other hand I was by that time a competitive and hormonally driven rule breaker. I was more interested in getting a girlfriend than listening to abstract philosophy. Sexual energy and its purpose was something that Eugene did talk to me about quite a lot. Eugene’s way of talking was to refer to the behavior of someone else he knew and their behavior. So it was perfectly safe for me to listen to his stories about young men in apprenticeship who  were teased by the older men about how many time they could have sex a night. One might say he had sex ten times the previous night with his wife and the others would support him with other unlikely tall tales. The point he was making when I finally understood it was a message to me, he was telling me that sexual energy needed time to recuperate. Eugene told me that time was needed for sperms to mature and about 3 days between ejaculations was needed  continual release was unhelpful. I had to hear this advice on a fairly continual basis although he never personalized it and that was another lesson that took  time to sink in. Eugene also referred to ‘logoi spermatikoi’ and the process by which sperms , if withheld could be reabsorbed and enter the mind as enlightening ideas. Intelligent control of sexual energy and semen can create benefits, energy that can be re-applied elsewhere.

Eugene had a very attractive presence and when he was in a room he became the magnetic center of attraction. I think it was to do with his level of concentration and inner consistency. If you did succeed in getting his attention then something happened. In my experience this was the result of absorbing another person’s focused interest which creates change in the receiver. Relating with Eugene was catalytic. Eugene was softly spoken so if you wanted to hear him speak you had to listen carefully. Everyone wanted to relate to him and valued and guarded their contact. My feeling was that the members of Ishval who attended the lectures at Parklands really came to see and hear Eugene and their relationship with Eugene was the binding force that kept the society together. Ishval was at that time in my opinion very Eugene-centered. I ask myself was it the concepts that Eugene presented with his self-consistent logic or was it himself as a charismatic individual that was the reason for people to attend. For myself both. Eugene died more than 30 years ago but the ideas are eternal and just so helpful.

When I consider the sacrifice Eugene made to make himself available, I think, What a position to put yourself in where there are so many people wanting your attention and asking for advice, instruction and help with problems.  This created a never ending demand which must have been utterly exhausting. I know that Eugene often took phone calls in the early hours of the morning. His life was one of unrelenting work and service on a not for financial profit basis a quote from one of his books sums it up for me. It is my will to will as Jesus willed to will the will of our father. Eugene embodied a single minded application of the principle of love, to develop the potential of all beings.

Eugene could talk knowledgeably about many subjects from art to mathematics, music to philosophy and much else besides, where you were interested so was he, and he brought his knowledge and insight to your area of interest. There was also a sense that Eugene only ever talked about one subject, he just had so many ways of approaching that one subject. One subject, many predicates.

In my own experience he repeated what he was teaching me time and again, my subjective reaction was ‘ you have told me this already’ and I thought that perhaps he was loosing his memory. I wanted ‘new new new and what he did was to repeat the same very basic concepts. He was of course right I had not understood the importance of what he was transmitting and if I had it would have changed me and set me on the path to freedom. My God, he was patient with my impatience

Parklands was a wordy jungle with a lot of emphasis placed on words and their meanings, discussions and definitions would seem endless. It was a heady atmosphere and one in which I felt quite inadequate, for me to understand I need to have a sense of knowing it in my body, not repeating another person’s words whose significance I had yet to embody.

My parents had a weekly appointment with Eugene on Friday mornings between 10am and 12pm. I used to join them and listen in to the conversation and at times was included in it. The subject would often be my fathers literary work co-authored with Eugene that would be finally published in 1983 as the Suvoc Application, Why and how to develop substantial new resources for the Voluntary Sector through Workers Payroll Giving, or known within the family as his Magnus Opus. There were times when my parents had other engagements and my brother Andrew and myself were invited to take the appointment. At times it was just myself, I rarely missed an opportunity.

The setting was formal with Eugene sitting in a high backed wing chair and my father or myself sitting opposite him in a similar chair. The room contained a grand piano and a bowl of mature cacti and was the walls were paneled with inset tapestries. Parklands was a very beautiful house constructed and decorated in art deco style. Anyway to get back to the point Eugene was softly spoken so one needed to pay close attention to hear what he said. He talked about basic concepts lie the importance of living in the here and now.
My energy changed when I was with Eugene, I found his presence catalytic. I remember asking him what he saw when he looked at the side table, he replied that for reference he saw a table. When asked again he said he could see a mass of vibrating sub atomic particles ( I do not remember if those were his exact words, but it certainly contains the gist). The energy of Absolute Sentient Power taking form as matter, all material substance is a manifestation of Absolute Sentient Power including the table. I recall we were discussing this topic and I was cheeky enough to check him out. He also returned the favor at later dates by asking me if I could smell the difference between a blue paper napkin and a red one. He could, I could not. Eugene also passed me some beads that he had been given and asked me what I could feel as I handled them, not much in my case but to him they still resonated with the laughter of a group of women sitting together gossiping while threading the beads.