Self Completion: Keys to the Meaningful Life by Robert S. De Ropp
Self Completion represents the summit of de Ropp's life work. It is also a literary achievement. It summarizes the experience of this master scientist, ecologist and philosopher.
Introduction by E.J. Gold
On a mountainside in Northern California there lived, until his death in the fall of 1987, a man who in this last book has something urgent to say to every person who is pursuing the inner-transformative path. This man introduces himself as a hermit. He also happens to be a distinguished research scientist, an internationally-known author and a veteran of decades of social, ecological and communitarian experiment with groups of seekers.
Robert S. de Ropp was a household name among the “counterculture” of the sixties: his book The Master Game burst upon a naive reading public carrying the data that there are schools in the West and there is access to mastery on the spiritual path from where we stand.
While the young were beginning to be captivated by shamanism in its most exotic and ethnic dress, of Native American, Asian, Australian practitioners, Robert de Ropp was already presenting his antidote to spiritual daydreams. His was a nitty-gritty, no-nonsense, de-mystifying, contemporary and scientifically-informed approach.
Most of the students who sought me out for serious guidance in the sixties and seventies had read and studied The Master Game. Astonishingly, the book sold several hundred thousand copies in paperback, because of the tenor of the times. An entire generation of readers who had not heard of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky from Colin Wilson or any other source—it was an insider secret well into the sixties that Europeans Gurdjieff and Crowley had achieved mastery on their own paths—first read these names in Robert de Ropp's book.
In the late eighties, all of that is forgotten. Literacy in general is on the wane, even as the alleged “new age” is on the rise. The Master Game is out of print. So are those other titles, Church of the Earth, Drugs and the Mind and Warrior's Way, Mr. de Ropp's own favorite. G.I. Gurdjieff and P.D. Ouspensky, Mr. de Ropp's original mentor, are now widely known, or widely subjects of lip service. So are all the 20th century living or dead Zen masters, Yogis, Gurus, Avatars, Swamis of every stamp.
Spiritual work, in fact, is “in” now. Meditation, transformation, levitation, clairvoyance, spirit communication—every psychic or hypnotic fantasy sort of superstition about other realities is current, chic. Only cogitation is still almost universally rejected and scarcely used. If anything, it is becoming further atrophied by the “new age.”
In the midst of this revivalist fervor, Robert de Ropp's voice, from his hermitage on the mountainside, still sounds the same note. His message is distilled to its essence in Self-Completion. It addresses the same crisis he addressed in the sixties, with the same sense of urgency. More than a doomsayer, far more than a scientific observer, beyond the limitations of a utopian dreamer, Robert de Ropp speaks out with the integrity and acerbity of an old Testament prophet.
His message has aged like the finest wine, which is to say, it has achieved a superior bouquet for the eighties. This present summary is as candid and quintessential as any post-literate American could wish. It is addressed in particular to those already involved in spiritual work, a growing subculture. Every one on the spiritual path—no matter under what banner or practice—needs to read this book.
Anyone who is in an esoteric school needs to read it and study it carefully. Anyone who professes to be in the Work, no matter what the organizational affiliation or lineage, needs to read it at least three times and take its questions to heart. Anyone who professes to be a student of mine, anyone who indicates to me a wish to enter the Work, had better read it several more times and not mechanically, not just to “take notes”.
If Mr. de Ropp's mental and emotional castor oil does not cause some misgiving—and if his summary of the beginning transformational work and the projection for possible success does not awaken some remorse of conscience in the reader—then that reader needs to examine his or her life.
Gnothe seauton—one who is indifferent to Self-Completion and its ideas may be closer to walking death-in-life than he or she is willing to acknowledge. Robert de Ropp is gone, his writings and his work in this life are complete. But be forewarned: it may not be too late for you to choose life and assume the requisite responsibilities. Read this book at your own risk.