I was in a senior drama class at Camden High and John Hall was the teacher. He would mention from time to time about polarity, concepts that were a bit unusual, and we would sometimes talk. He said some friends of his needed help on their property and would I like to come up and do some paid work. I said yes, and thus began my journey with The Great School of Natural Science.
The first time I drove out to the school on Spanish Ranch Road, I thought, “what have I gotten myself into?” This very narrow road seemed to go on forever. But I finally got there and started to work for Elizabeth Skeels, cutting wood. She was always talking about the Philosophy and I thought to myself, being naturally curious (they say I went from crawling to running as a child, investigating everything) I wanted to find out what this Philosophy was all about.
When I talked to John Hall he promptly handed me the five books of the school. This touched me and I thought, “This man has got to believe in what this is all about.” I had been given one book before by people, but five books? That was fairly intense.
I would regularly return to the school and would spend some time on each trip visiting with the various people at the school. At that time I was a student with Self-Realization Fellowship and very much into the Eastern concept of the Guru, so the school was a very different approach. But I liked the idea of scientific demonstration.
Then over the years, I read many of the books by people like J.D. Buck, and others, who had worked with John Richardson and to various degrees were inspired by him. I read the various editions of the school’s books, back issues of the magazine, talked with Noneta Richardson about the history of the school. I lived at the school at various times. I still remember long walks on the property and out onto old Spanish Ranch Road, coming down Spanish Ranch Road toward the end of the day.
I often wish that the person I am now could go back and visit with them again because I realize how much I missed because of my more limited understanding. But I am always grateful to the people I met at the school, because each one enriched me in some way and contributed to my life.
Over the years, my parents and brother became students of the school also. My father Burt was very enthusiastic and went all the way through the lessons. My father is also a freemason, and I am, and so the school tied in very much with the moral and ethical teachings of Masonry. Later my father wrote a book called The Family Masonic Education Workshop, which was inspired by the approach of the Applicational Course of the school.
I had been out of the school for many years, when John Hall came up to Mariposa, CA. and asked me to come back into the school, which I did. Although on an outer level I have “left the school,” on an inner level I have not left the school, nor could I leave the school, because it is a part of my destiny and life purposes, which still remain to be played out, either in this lifetime, or in future lifetimes.
Nothing we build is ever lost. Where we are now is just one link in a long chain, stretching far back into the past, and far ahead into the future. The people who are destined to work together will always find each other, eventually!
I always come back to the verse from the Bible, which I think is an apt expression of the spiritual journey. “Now we see as through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part: but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12 King James Version) I interpret this to mean, until we reach the 6thspiritual plane, we really don’t know who we are in terms of our full potential.
Gravity bends our comprehension to a greater or lesser degree and also limits our ability to understand other people fully. But we will all get there eventually, and the gravity lessens along the way. So only a person on the 6th spiritual plane, functioning through a 6th plane body, can actually understand the Philosophy of Individual Life. Until that point we are working with approximations.
I find that as I read, live and meditate, often ideas from the school will suddenly become much more meaningful and clear. One sentence can stand out and contain a world of possibilities. I personally think that the idea of the 6th spiritual plane and gravity puts a lot of things together in terms of understanding life and the Philosophy.
This idea, as far as I know, is unique to the school. It might be out there in some other approaches, but so far I have not found it. So we are all looking out into the world, and into ourselves from the particular subplane on which we are currently residing. So in a sense, what we are seeing, is not so much the world, but the lens through which we are looking at the world. Thus, as we move upwards through the planes, our view of the world, and ourselves, will automatically change.
The world has not changed; we have changed. This is a useful tool for explaining why the same Philosophy can be interpreted in so many ways. To my mind, The Philosophy of Individual Life exists as a pure thought form on the 6th spiritual plane. There it can be read clearly by those who can go there. And the books, although comparatively clear, can only inadequately mirror this pure thought form, and therefore might be helpfully considered as a way of getting to the pure thought form level and spiritual liberation.
As I look back over the 50 years of my involvement with the Philosophy, I still marvel at the positive impact it has had, and continues to have, on my life. It is one of the few things I have studied that has withstood the test of time.
– In Memory of Rick Prater – Beloved “Friend of the Work” – January 9, 2012