Richard Rose
Zen Master - Poet - Philosopher - Friend

"There is a path to Truth. From ignorance to relative knowledge. From relative knowledge to an awareness of the limitation of such knowledge. And finally, we pass from that which we recognize as loosely associated intelligence to a reality of Being."

-- Richard Rose
This Site
Richard Rose 1917 - 2005
Related Sites

The Three Books
of the Absolute

Rose's epic poem
on his realization

After the Absolute
A student's memoirs of life with Rose

Last Hours of Richard Rose
An account

TAT Foundation
The comprehensive Richard Rose site

Richard Rose Teachings
Rose books, tapes, CDs and videos

Search Within
Rose download

Self-Discovery Portal

Spiritual Teachers

Mystic Missal

Self Inquiry Group

Self Knowledge Symposium

First Know Thyself

Live Real

Spiritual Books
Worth Reading

Richard Rose was one of the most profound and unusual spiritual teachers this country has ever produced. He is often referred to as a Zen master by the people who knew him, but he did not expound traditional Zen or any other traditional teaching. What he taught was unique because it sprang from his direct personal experience of Truth.

Though he authored several books on esoteric philosophy and lectured widely in universities across the country, Rose remained largely unknown. He has been described, in fact, as "The greatest man no one's ever heard of." He appeared in newspaper articles and on local talk shows during lecture tours, and was featured in spiritual journals from time to time, but he was a throwback to the stern Zen masters of a thousand years ago, and his hard-edged, uncompromising approach to life and spiritual work is not a path for the masses.

From an early age, Rose was plagued by the great questions of life: "Who am I?" "Where did I come from?" "What happens when I die...?" One of his earliest memories is writing over and over in an awkward child's hand, "Many are called, but few are chosen." At the age of twelve, he entered a Capuchin seminary in Pennsylvania to study for the priesthood. After five years, however, he left--disenchanted with religious life and its constant admonitions to be content to believe church doctrines, not to seek a personal experience of God.

Disillusioned with religion, he focused on physics and chemistry, hoping to find the keys to the universe in atoms and molecules. But eventually he realized logic and science were yet another endless tangent. He then turned to yoga and asceticism, and in his twenties he maintained an extremely disciplined lifestyle. "I decided to make my body a laboratory," he said, "not a cesspool." He also spent long months in solitude on his remote farm in the hills of West Virginia. "Solitude is beautiful," he said. "Those years of celibacy and solitude were the most joyful of my life."

But Rose also knew he needed to seek out information about the spiritual path and find others who were on it. And so he often criss-crossed the country in search of someone who might have achieved true wisdom. This was in the '30s and '40s, however, and there were few books available--and even fewer honest teachers. He must have presented quite an appearance in those days. He kept his head shaved, wore a goatee, and dressed entirely in black, including a black snap-brim fedora reminiscent of the gangsters of the day.

He would travel hundreds of miles by bus or hitchhiking because he had heard a certain book may be available in a distant library. He met with spiritualists, witch-doctors, shamans, healers, psychics, yogis and gurus--most often coming away from these meetings disappointed but wiser for the experience. He joined every spiritual and psychic group he could find, learned what they had to offer, then ended up rejecting almost all of them.

Those who knew him then found him to be a man possessed by an insatiable desire to find out what lay behind the curtain of pretense so often accepted as a "wonderful life." He doubted everything and questioned everybody he met about their philosophy of life--and death. He sought only one thing: a final answer that would dissolve all his doubts and questions.

Then, at the age of thirty, after a life of asceticism, searching--and eventually trauma--Richard Rose had a spiritual awakening of great magnitude. Years later he discovered in the writings of Ramana Maharshi a descriptive term for what he had undergone: Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the Hindu term for the maximum human experience possible, in which the individual mind dies and the individual awareness merges totally with the source of all life and awareness--the Absolute, God, Truth.

For years afterwards Rose struggled to understand the implications of his Realization and to translate it into a system that might help others. Finally, he distilled his mountain of notes into a handbook for seekers entitled, The Albigen Papers.

Rose lived, spoke and wrote without the pretense or arrogance so often found in spiritual and philosophic work. He never charged money for his teaching and never closed his door to any sincere seeker, or to anyone who was troubled and wanted to discover an avenue to peace and mental clarity. Since his first public lecture in 1972, Rose continually maintained a lifestyle unaffected by opportunities for wealth and fame. He was a simple, humble man who had the determination, inspiration and dedication it takes to discover the final answer to the mystery of life.

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Douglas Harding

Ramana Maharshi

Franklin Merrell-Wolff

Tony Parsons

U.G. Krishnamurti