The Bathtub Bulletin is named in honor of Archimedes’ naked run down the streets of Sicily after having had a “Eureka!” moment while bathing. The BB was conceived in November 2008 by Sarah Flynn and Mike Zonta as the unofficial newsletter of The Prosperos (www.theprosperos.org). We have since become an online center where people of like mind from whatever background can find expression, education, communication, and community.
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Goal of The Prosperos and the Bathtub Bulletin:
The Prosperos is a school of self-observation and self-transcendence. We draw a straight line between the latest scientific breakthroughs about the nature of reality and the most ancient mystical insights about the nature of God and man. Our goal is “to make spiritual truth an effective force for ordered freedom and common good” by transcending the ancient definition of man as fearful, grasping, limited and self-seeking and realizing the God-ness within each and every person.
Thane Walker (ca. 1890 – 1989)
Founder (with Phez Kahlil) of the Prosperos, a group stemming from the philosophy of mystic G. I. Gurdjieff. Walker was born in Nowaway County, Missouri. He claimed to have been one of America’s first psychologists and to have been imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp after writing the article “I Saw Hitler Make Black Magic.” He was a Marine Corps officer and entertained American troops in Japan during the occupation in World War II.
As a former pupil of Gurdjieff, Walker became a Gurdjieff-style figure, teaching students through stories and disorienting activities, but also drawing upon Freudian and Jungian psychology and occult and astrological traditions. Walker believed students should wake from the misleading reality of everyday sensory experience and limited personality to a wider reality.
The Prosperos group was founded in Florida in 1956, but the organization has since moved its headquarters to California and reported some 3,000 members at the end of the 1980s. (From encyclopedia.com)
Melton, J. Gordon. Encyclopedia of American Religions. Detroit: Gale Research, 1992.
A group stemming from the “Fourth Way” philosophy of Georgei Ivanovitch Gurdjieff founded in 1956 by Thane Walker, a charismatic student of Gurdjieff, and Phez Kahlil. The Prosperos were chartered in Florida, but moved around the country, and they reported a some 3,000 members in California.
The Prosperos believed in One Mind and claimed that reality can be experienced only from its perspective by removing the distortions of the senses and memory that hide the true self. This was generally in accord with traditional mystical teaching, but whereas the way of the fakir is through willpower, the yogi through intellect and the monk through emotions, the “Fourth Way” was available to individuals within world experience. The Prosperos believed that God is pure consciousness and use five processes to achieve identification of the individual with the One Consciousness: 1) Statement of Being (the facts of reality); 2) Uncovering the Lie or Error (the claims of the senses); 3) Argument (resting of claims); 4) Summing up the Results; and 5) Establishing the Absolute.
Lectures and classes were conducted on such topics as “Translation,” and “Releasing the Hidden Splendor,” and there was also an inner circle named High Watch, for those who complete three classes of development.
The name “Prosperos” derived from the magician Prospero in Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. Through his magical powers, Prospero could interpret, project, rationalize and imagine life as he wishes, but on his island he was interconnected with Caliban the monster (who parallels the unconscious mind) and Ariel (the intuitive agent who aids Prospero when called upon).
Current address unavailable. (From encyclopedia.com)
Excerpted from “Religious And Spiritual Groups In Modern America” by Robert S. Ellwood, Jr. Copyright (c) 1973, Prentice-Hall, Inc. Chapter 5, “The Crystal Within,” pp 164-167. Used with permission of and thanks to the author and publisher:
While basically inspired by Gurdjieff’s concept of a “Fourth Way School,” The Prosperos has developed its own variations on his sadhana, and has as its founder and leader a man who is a modern magus in his own right, Thane Walker. As is typical of the magus, no one knows the tale of his life or his age, but all agree he is an unbelievably magnetic personality, not warm so much as awe-inspiring and dynamic. He is always a presence and a catalyst. Those close to him say that, like Gurdjieff, he can play any role, but is always consciously in control of a situation, and by his presence can govern the interaction of people in a group from an observer’s position. He never “lets down” but is always the magus, whether as teacher, “devil’s advocate,” or father figure to the band of young enthusiasts around him.
Thane, as he is always called, was born in Nodaway County, Missouri, probably in the 1890s. No one knows his age, unless he does, but he enjoys telling funny stories about his hometown. He has been married twice, and has been teaching for some forty-five years. He has been all over the world. He claims to have been one of the first psychologists in America, to have been put in a Nazi concentration camp for writing an article entitled “I Saw Hitler Make Black Magic,” to have been a Marine Corps officer and to have entertained American troops in Japan during the Occupation and all over the Pacific. Hawaii was home to him for some years and has a special place in his heart.
Mr. Walker also claims to have been a pupil of Gurdjieff, and to have modeled himself as a teacher on Gurdjieff more than on anyone else. He follows Gurdjieff’s idea of teacher-student relationship; he wants to disorient the student, which he does through stories and making unreasonable demands. But he feels that more scientific methods of therapy are demanded today than Gurdjieff’s music and exercises. He has drawn from the New Thought literature, Freud, Jung, and other modern schools of psychology, and from the occult and astrological traditions.
The Prosperos, named after the magician in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, was chartered in Florida in 1956. The Founders were Mr. Walker and Phez Kahlil. The headquarters were subsequently moved about the country with extraordinary frequency.
The Prosperos emphasizes verbal instruction. In the words of a periodical:
In ancient times, The Prosperos would have been called a “Mystery School” and the Master of the School a “Teacher King.” The popular phrase in our era is a “School of the Fourth Way” and Thane is simply called, “Teacher.”
The awesome lineage which is the heritage of The Prosperos has always been transmitted through one key-method: the oral tradition – the “ear-whispered word.”
There is no precise public statement of teaching. It is something which has to be experienced in classes, activities, and living together, although some of the classes have mimeographed texts. But a fairly accurate picture of the doctrine can be deduced from lectures and material which is available. Basically, a monistic idealism is assumed.
To The Prosperos, there is only the One Mind. Reality can be experienced only by seeing from its perspective, but most people are generally forgetful of the true self and allow their vision to be clouded by the senses and the memory. This is the immemorial teaching of the mystics, but their ways of overcoming it have generally been those which Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, and The Prosperos would term the first three ways: the fakir through the will, the yogi through the intellect, and the monk through the emotions. The “Fourth Way” both transcends these and is available to the person in the world. The Prosperos calls this method for identifying the individual with the One “Translation.”
In Translation classes, the student is taught that God is simply the capacity to create and govern thoughts, that is, consciousness. But the thoughts of the Absolute mind, the “Reality Self,” are not the same as the way they come out in the “beliefs” of the finite “human-equation mind.” Straightening out this disequilibrium is the function of “conversation in heaven,” (rather surprisingly, Walker uses much Bible allegory) or applied ontology, which enables one to see his situation as God, the Reality Self, not as he sees it from his partial, finite perspective. The Translation process has five steps: (1) Statement of Being (What are the facts about reality?); (2) Uncovering the Lie or Error (What do the senses claim?); (3) Argument (I’m going to test these claims); (4) Summing up results; and (5) Establishing the Absolute, the only point from which Truth can be demonstrated (seeing things as God sees them).
The delusions of the memory are also attacked. Consciousness, as Prospero, is all reason, and he must through the aid of Ariel, the transcendent superconsciousness (Reality), control Caliban, the unconscious, who is all memory. Subduing memories and liberating one’s true self from them is called “Releasing the Hidden Splendour.”
The Prosperos experience happens through lectures, classes in “Translation,” “Releasing the Hidden Splendor,” and other topics, and in intensive sessions. In his classes, Walker creates many kinds of experiences.
Perhaps the most significant part of the Prosperos experience, however, derives from the nature of the group. Most members are now in California and number perhaps 3000. They tend to be young, successful, employed in business or entertainment, liberal, expansive in life style. They talk strongly against orthodoxy in anything. They are optimistic, oriented toward change, enjoy talking about the future, the need for new attitudes toward sexual morals, and for creating a “transcendent society.” Some members live with Thane in the headquarters building or in a co-op. They say that young people of the “hip” type are “proto-mutants,” the first of a new kind of man with a new way of relating to the earth, and that The Prosperos is trying to help them find a way to do it.
The Prosperos has an inner circle called the High Watch, made up of those who have completed three classes (“Translation”, “Releasing the Hidden Splendour”, and “The Crown Mysteries”), submitted two theses, and delivered an oral dissertation. The Trustees are elected by the membership of the High Watch at the annual Prosperos Assembly. Nonetheless it is evident that Walker, the “Dean,” is the real center of cohesion for the group; he is magus and father-figure to the many young people around him. He has trained one personal student, a lady; the future fate of The Prosperos will no doubt depend on her ability to catch the Dean’s charisma.