William Pennell Rock, M.Litt, PhD
I was born in 1940 in Chicago and grew up on the East Coast and in the South.
“I had a wonderful childhood in a very loving and supportive family, people of good character and Methodist values. I enjoyed the grounding of the Midwest, the culture of Baltimore, and the graciousness of our life in Little Rock. My mother was an opera singer, who sang in the opera companies wherever we lived. My father engineered economic and cultural development at an urban and state level. I was very nurtured by their fine, creative and cultured life.”
From the ages of 9 to 15, I enjoyed a career as a professional child actor.
“While in Baltimore, I began acting in children’s theater, moved up into adult amateur theater and then on to the professional stage, performing with the likes of Billie Burke and Basil Rathbone. I am not sure how much real talent I had, but I was confident, extroverted and enjoyed showing off. One reviewer called me “literally a boy wonder.” However, when I was 15, my family moved to Arkansas where my father took over the industrial development of the entire state, and I chose to leave my professional career to remain with my family. When I later went to college, I became more interested in my studies than in acting, but I retained a love and understanding of the performing arts, which later became integrated into my life work.”
As an undergraduate at Yale I studied Human Culture and Behavior. I won a Rockefeller Fellowship to Harvard Divinity School, where I studied Comparative Religions. I then attended King’s College, Cambridge where I took an advanced degree in Philosophy and Theology. Subsequently I studied Jungian Analysis at the Jung Institute in Zurich.
“At Yale I became interested in Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, the Hero’s Journey, the underlying structure of all stories of adventure. I came to see this form as a psycho/spiritual model of transformation intuitively and universally understood. At Harvard I focused on Kant and Heidegger as well as world religions, which greatly expanded the contexts in which I could investigate the process of Self-realization.
The years 1964 to 1970 were full of magic and challenge as I explored life in other parts of the world. I studied at King’s College Cambridge, with its noble tradition and spectacular gothic chapel. During the long vacations, I lived in Europe traveling extensively and studying German and French philosophy. I wrote my doctoral thesis called Martin Heidegger: the Disclosure and Revelation of Being.
At a later point I spent a year at the Jung Institute in Zurich, undergoing analysis while studying Jungian theory. This helped me to integrate the deep adventures of my travels and life abroad, but most of all it provided the experience and theory to further my interest in personal transformation for myself and others.”
In the late Sixties, I took up a position as Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Philosophy at Banaras Hindu University, where I headed up a project to study the seminal scriptures of Hinduism. A few years later I returned to India and became a disciple of the tantric master, Osho. For six years, I commuted between the Ashram in Pune and a teaching position at UCLA Extension as head of the Center for the Study of Religious Experience.
“I spent two extended periods in India. The first was two years, highly placed in a prestigious academic position in the holy city of Varanasi. There, I headed up a committee doing a special study of the Upanishads called “linguistic archeology,” which looked at the sacred verses through the structure of their Sanskrit. This gave me a very essential perspective on Indian philosophy, but I was restless to realize its guidance at an experiential level.
Some years later I returned to India and became a disciple of the notorious tantric Master, now known as Osho, who worked with me deeply and showed me how to actually attain the higher states of being through tantra, which means mindful surrender into one's deeper being. He gave me the name Swami Anand Veereshwar which means “The Bliss of the Lord of Heroes.” This name clarified the direction for my life of exploring the heroism of inward development, which has become the basis of my own path as well as the path I made available to others through my subsequent work."
In 1970 I became Junior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Montecito, California and then studied at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, where I later led groups for some years. Based in Northern California, I have traveled and lived abroad extensively and spent long periods of time in Europe and Asia. I have taught many courses at adult education facilities in California and elsewhere.
“Studying and participating in think tank discussions and teaching have occupied much of my career. The life of the mind has been my greatest diversion, but I always knew there was more to the good life than academics. In time, I became less interested in the pursuits of the mind and ever more interested in becoming proficient in changing my consciousness and attaining optimal states of being. I became a “methodist“ and set out to develop methods to help others.”
Early on I became part of the Arica Institute and ever since then have participated in its intensive program of enlightenment. This, together with my work with Osho, have provided optimal methods for attaining to true life fulfillment.
“Arica, under the leadership of the Bolivian mystic, Oscar Ichazo, is a school in the great tradition of secret mystery academies throughout history. The “Work” is a contemporary distillation of methods from all over the world and all times, primarily the vajrayana tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. It is very intensive and proceeds through psychological cultivation to the attainment of states of pristine enlightenment and the realization of true Being. Its program continues to be my primary spiritual practice. But this has been leavened and enriched by the teachings of Osho and his path of tantric authenticity. The basic formula is this: you attain your truth by living your life most authentically, fully, and mindfully, but this process is greatly enhanced through a rigorous and sustained spiritual practice."
The Arica Symbol
"God is eternal
is in all of us
is in everything
is one without second."
A life goal has been to explore Asian culture and integrate many of its treasures into my life style and work. This has been essential to my project to understand the archetypes of transformation and deploy them to enhance the life process of others.
“Jung called Asia the unconscious of the West. The more I studied in the West and came to understood the limits of its world-view, the greater was my desire to understand the other side. After six years studying and living in India, I shifted to Bali. There, for twenty years, I led annual projects involving study of Balinese culture and religions and producing workshops and theatrical performances in collaboration with Takdir Alisjahbana, famed as “the father of the Indonesian Language.” In recent years I have been studying Chinese philosophy and history, culminating in a long visit to China.
I value Asia’s roots in a sense of harmony with Nature’s Way, the focus on optimal states of being and how to achieve them, and the basic heartfulness of life customs. Throughout I have been dismayed and saddened by the challenges presented by Western Imperialism and cheered as Asian nations have risen out of humiliation and taken their rightful place as great powers in the world.”
The Hero’s Journey formula was a basic theme as I sought to understand its meaning and applications to human process and potential. In time I discovered a second universal story form, the Romance Archetype. Each of these two archetypal forms are fundamental codes of human transformation. Their form and application have been a main focus of my life work for finding effective ways to “engineer” transformation in order to help myself and others attain optimal wholistic living.
“The Romance Archetype, the form of the great Indian epic, the Ramayana, turns out to be a second universal “monomyth” whose basic structure is found in all stories of lovers separated and reunited. In this I found the universal form for the lifelong integration of masculine and feminine elements within each of us. This is consistent with the Individuation process in the Analytic psychology of Jung. It is the ultimate path.”
In 1980 I began to synthesize all of my past work and research into ORIGINS - workshops, trainings and productions - that I have conducted all over the world ever since. The basic medium of this method is story. This work assists people to discover their personal myth and to use it to understand themselves, clarify their unique way in life, and achieve optimal existence.
“I found a way to combine my original theatrical instincts with the theories and practices I have studied through my early life to foster psychological and spiritual well being. I developed the archetypal psychodrama method into workshops and trainings under the name ORIGINS. It is a step by step method of helping participants to attain advanced states of integration and Self-realization by creating seminal stories. It is by our stories that we understand ourselves. The method in four stages is called “mythogenesis.” In the first two stages, participants discover their personal mythology as a means to enhance their own self development and realization psychologically and spiritually. In the second two stages, the individuals work as a group to create a myth, which is then produced as a public ritual. Many projects have taken place in the United States, Europe, and Asia.”
I live near San Francisco, intermittently continuing work with ORIGINS in Europe and completing a large literary project on the Romance Archetype.
“I am presently completing my book project to demonstrate the universal nature of the Romance Archetype and to interpret its meaning and teachings. The whole is written, and the first volume is completed. This I consider the legacy of my life work.
In great contentment I live with a partner in Daoist fashion surrounded by a stream in the redwood forests of West Marin County.”
"The only true wealth is contentment."