Richard Rose

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Fast Facts
Spiritual Teacher
Retreat from Untruth, Zen Advaita
Main Countries of Activity: 
Date of Birth: 
March 14, 1917
Place of Birth: 
Benwood, West Virginia, USA
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Date Left His/Her Body: 
July 6, 2005


Richard Rose was an American mystic, esoteric philosopher, author, poet, and investigator of paranormal phenomena.

He was born in Benwood, West Virginia, USA and entered a Catholic pre-seminary in Butler, Pennsylvania at age 12. He later recounted his delight at the prospect of living with monks and nuns who he believed had direct connections to God. He became disillusioned though with the teachers and with their insistence that he accepts what they taught on blind faith.

He left the seminary at age 17 still looking for God but having decided to do so through science. He then studied chemistry and physics in college but became disillusioned with the possibility of finding God or Truth through science.

He then traveled around the U.S., in a series of jobs such as work on the first nuclear submarine at Babcock & Wilcox in Alliance, Ohio, on streptomycin at the National Jewish Medical & Research Center in Denver, and performing metallurgical testing for Martin Aircraft in Baltimore.

While living in Baltimore, his older brother James was killed on a Merchant Marine vessel when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat. His death provided a huge shock to Rose, who contrasted his brother's selfless attitude to his own spiritual ego.

Rose was working in the spring of 1947 as a waiter at a tennis club in Seattle when he experienced what he described as "God Realization". Several months later, he wrote a description of what had occurred in The Three Books of the Absolute.

A few years later he married and raised a family. He supported the family as a painting contractor and by raising cattle on the family farm. He worked with people who were interested in parapsychological phenomena such as ESP and hypnosis, but said he never come across anyone working to answer questions about the nature of the mind and reality.

It was in this period that he compiled his first book, The Albigen Papers published in 1973, outlining his philosophy. He called the book a guidebook for seekers.

His theories about the transmutation of energy from the body through the mind up to what he called the "spiritual quantum," were published after that and similar to some recent theories describing the mind as a force-field. He produced a pamphlet on a method of meditation involving the dispassionate review of past traumatic events as a way to overcome psychological problems and to understand the ego. His book Psychology of the Observer encapsulated his views on the structure of mind-processes and what he described as the internal ascent from a personal, conflicted view of the world to a more Universal perspective.

He studied human psychology, human weakness and human potential, then wrote challenges to psychology, psychiatry, religion, academia, the legal system, and the New Age movement. His criticism included issues of group-think, dogmatism, financial motives, emotional appeals, and reliance on questionable authorities.
He published a number of books and spoke widely in universities and other venues across the country during the 1970s and 1980s.

In 1972 Rose was invited to give a talk at the Theosophical Society in Pittsburgh. Two students from the University of Pittsburgh attended, and they were inspired to start a group at the university to apply Rose's teaching. In 1973, Rose and a handful of students set up the TAT Foundation — "a circle of friends with no head" — to promote their efforts to reach out to others. The acronym TAT stood for "Truth and Transmission". The Pittsburgh group spawned groups at other northeastern universities and even a couple of western locations (Denver and Los Angeles). Rose made his farm available for group gatherings and individual retreats, and students built two large buildings for meetings as well as cabins for individual use.

The following two decades saw hundreds of people inspired to launch their own spiritual searches.

He was also proficient with hypnotism, occasionally giving demonstrations, and said that understanding hypnotism was a key to understanding the mechanics of the mind. His criticism of spiritual and New Age movements often included references to their use of self-hypnotic methods.

Rose continued to write and publish while his study groups expanded. His public lectures continued until the early 1990s, when he started to show signs of deterioration from Alzheimer's disease.


Rose developed a system which he described as the "Retreat from Untruth", an examination of personal belief systems and lifestyles. In that system one discards what one finds to be false on a case-by-case basis. He believed a spiritual ultimate truth exists and can be found for oneself with sufficient application of effort, and recommended skeptical approaches such as his.

Rose stressed inner work inherently subjective and intimate to each individual. His teachings were more about pursuing personal insight and introspection than a set of specific techniques. Nonetheless, Rose did formulate a system of teachings based on his study of other traditions and his own insights.

The core questions in his teachings were:
Who am I (ultimately)?
Where did I come from (before birth)?
Where am I going (after death)?

Rose recommends a deep investigation of "who" is living and experiencing: clearly defining self and ego. He also insisted that a life of activity is meaningless as long as the identity of the actor is not known. He thought approaching spirituality as a way to find peace or enhance one's life, which he called "utilitarian," was foolish. Instead he advocated total dedication to a search for truth — in particular concerning self and ego — in spite of the personal consequences.

He used the term "Jacob's Ladder" (see diagram in Photos Tab) as a kind of transpersonal map. Based on that, he then used the terms "Law of the Ladder" and "Ladder Work" to describe different levels he observed among those seeking truth. He also believed that one could only effectively help, or be helped by, others who were on the same or adjacent rungs of the ladder. He felt "extra-proportional returns" were realized when a group of people combine their efforts in any endeavor, which he called the "Contractor's Law".

Rose cautioned against postulating what truth — with respect to self and ego, for example — should be and then trying to move toward it. Instead one removes misunderstandings. His working definition of truth was "a condition from which all untruth has been removed." He used the phrases "retreat from error" and "reverse vector" to describe the process of moving away from the most obviously false, what he called "garbage," which would clarify the thinking and intuition to a point where more subtle untruth could be evaluated.



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Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

The Direct Mind Experience

by Richard Rose


Richard Rose gave many lectures on college campuses and in various institutions over a thirty year span, and contained in this book are selections of several of his best taken from the transcriptions. Also included are his most poignant notes in regards to what he discovered, such as "the direct-mind science" and "between-ness".