Those who are on TMI mailing list will have noticed, in the latest package, an announcement of the forthcoming biography of Bob Monroe by Ronald Russell. Since I edited that book as one of my last projects for Hampton Roads, I thought I’d say a couple things about it.
For years I had been worried because the generation that knew Bob was dying off, and the story was still untold. I could just imagine 30 years going by, and someone writing a biography, not having known him, not having known the reality of the early days of the Institute, not having known who was reliable and who was not reliable as a source of information about those days, perhaps not having any first-hand experience of Hemi-Sync, perhaps not knowing one person who actually knew Bob or knew of what had gone on in the many aspects of Bob’s life.
Worse, I could imagine such a writer picking up rumors and distortions, and being unable to accurately weigh them. Bob had a shadow side, as do we all, and those closest to him naturally experienced it most strongly. I felt it was important that this shadow side be acknowledged, lest in attempting to create a plastic, flawless image, we actually set up the conditions for a later debunker.
The only biography of Bob ever published was Bayard Stockton’s Catapult, published in 1989. Stockton, a journalist, had been to Gateway and had had his life transformed because of it. (Imagine that!) He extensively interviewed Bob and many of those who knew Bob and put in much valuable information that otherwise probably would have been lost. However the book was badly edited — perhaps not edited at all — and has been out of print a good long while. (Every so often I fantasize about getting in touch with Stockton’s heirs and obtaining permission to edit it so that what is useful in it would not be lost. However this is probably a fantasy that will never be realized.)
Given these concerns, you can imagine how thrilled I was to hear that Russ Russell was going to write a biography. And perhaps you can imagine why I insisted that no one at Hampton Roads edit that book but me. I had worked with Russ on the first Monroe-related book that Hampton Roads published, Using the Whole Brain, which was a compendium of articles describing various uses people had found for Hemi-Sync. (Using the Whole Brain was later superseded by another book that Russ edited, Focusing the Whole Brain.)
Russ has all the credentials I could have asked for. He and his wife Jill were friends of Bob and Nancy Monroe. They were and are deeply involved in bringing Hemi-Sync to Europe. For years they ran the Russell Centre out of Cambridge, England, and now they continue the work from their home in Scotland. They have been members of the Monroe Board of Advisors since approximately the day before forever. And, in some ways best of all, Ross is a professional writer, author of 18 (I think it is) books.
His ability to take many threads and weave them into a comprehensible whole is impressive. I well remember being almost in awe at the job he did, in one chapter, in describing Bob’s Whistlefield years, in which he went from authoring a book to creating a Monroe Institute. This is not nearly the straightforward logical path that it may seem now. How many authors develop institutions that allow people to discover untapped internal potential? Some, but few. Russ was able to take many different strands and show their interrelation without distortion or compression, yet without spending the chapter to interminable lengths.
I particularly liked the many portraits of people who were involved for a while and have now moved on — some to other things, some to the other side. Trainers, administrators, channelers — those who have been around for a while will recognize many friends. Dave Wallis, for example. George Durette, who is of course still here. Melissa Jager. Many, many others. It’s nice to see them remembered in print.
The book comes out at what seems to me just the right time. Laurie’s passing marks a sort of coming of age of the Institute, putting its direction for the first time beyond the Monroe family. I feel like Laurie consolidated Bob’s physical legacy, and now it is up to us to assure that it grows, thrives, and does not lose its way or forget its roots. Russ’s book ought to help that process, by reminding us what those roots were.