Richard Rose: West Virginia zen

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richard roseWithout a doubt, Richard Rose was an enlightened man. He devoted his life to giving people the tools to find their Real Self. I studied his system for several years and even spent a couple of years on his rural retreat in West Virginia. At times, Rose literally exuded profundity. I imagine it was akin to what many felt when they sat with Ramana Maharshi. Only with Rose, I wasn’t blissed out. I felt like my mind was teetering on the edge of an abyss. Drawn to this abyss and scared to death of it, I was sure that in it lay the answer to who I really was. I never made the leap, though. Perhaps I would have in time, but Rose fell victim to the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease and I eventually left.

Richard Rose’s spiritual system is called the Albigen System and contains much practical advice for the spiritual seeker. He felt the spiritual search was the greatest undertaking of one’s life and so would take all the energy we had. One had to focus the broad spectrum of their life’s energy into a laser beam directed at finding the Truth. I think a hallmark of his system is the advice to back away from untruth rather than postulate truth and set out to prove it. In this way, one does not find what they want to find: they find what Is. He gave advice on first steps to take in the spiritual search, developing the intuition and reason, ways to meditate, and methods to conserve and direct one’s energy. He even delved into the mechanics of mental phenomena such as magic, hypnosis, and ESP.

Richard Rose passed away on July 6,2005. I will do the best I can to pass on the hope and friendship he gave to me.

Rose lives on in his books and audio recordings, in the people who knew him, and through the work of the TAT Foundation. If nothing else, you should read his poem “Three Books of the Absolute” that is in The Albigen Papers. He wrote it shortly after his enlightenment experience and it is a striking example of the beauty and power of spiritual poetry. I also recommend listening to a recorded lecture to get a feel for the man and his message.

Audio from a handful of Richard Rose’s talks is on YouTube.  Talks include: Psychology of the Observer (1977), Los Angeles (1976), Zen and Death (1977), Zen and Death Part IIGoing Within (undated), Man as a Liar (1975), and  Peace of Mind: Success without Regret (1984).

Books and other information about Richard Rose are available at the TAT Foundation website.

A extensive documentary capturing Richard Rose’s lectures and interactions with students is available for rent or download.  Also see my interview with long-time Richard Rose student Michael Casari, “Thoughts on Richard Rose and the Spiritual Life.” is a companion site to the TAT Foundation page has downloadable writings by Richard Rose, Bob CergolBart Marshall, Bob Fergeson, Amina Pundeer, Art Ticknor, Paul Constant, Tess Hughes, Shawn Nevins (that’s me!), and others in the spirit of Richard Rose’s teachings.

Also available at is John Kent’s dissertation:
Richard Rose’s Psychology of the Observer: The Path to Reality Through the Self.

An easy-to-read introduction to Richard Rose is found in After the Absolute, Dave Gold’s remarkable story of his time with this teacher.  An excellent overview of Rose’s teaching is Passages: An Introduction and Commentary on Richard Rose’s Albigen System.


12 thoughts on “Richard Rose: West Virginia zen”

  1. Hello,

    I read John Kent’s “Psychology of the observer”. At the end of it he interviews a few people. One of them, named Alan K, struck me the most, and I have kept the printout of it by my bedside. I read it often along with “I am that”. I have also placed an order for Bernadette Robert’s book.
    Since you seem to have known so many people from Richard Rose’s group, can you throw some light on the mysterious “Alan K” ?

    Will be grateful. Thanks.

      1. Well, his name appears in full in the same thesis by John Kent, under Acknowledgements. Oh how could I have missed it ! He seems to have passed away on 25-Apr-2014 at 85. He also had visited Nisargadatta in Jan-1981 in Mumbai.

        1. I met Alan Kahaney at a satsang given by Wayne Liqourman (Ram Tzu) in San Diego in 1998. I noticed Alan because he asked a very penetrating question during the Q and A and I was struck by the impression that this man spoke far more clearly on the subject than Mr. Liquourman. I introduced myself afterwards and we arranged a time to meet and talk. He ran a small business manufacturing sunglasses overseas. He had pursued a number of spiritual paths, including Sufism at some point, but had later experienced his most important realizations under Jean Klein. He was a very kind and unassuming man, who had a very clear and simple way of discussing realization. Later he took me to a meeting ar Robert Powell’s home, and together we attended a non-dual conference in La Jolla that had been organized by his wife, Phyllis Kahaney. I only knew him for a few months because soon after that I left San Diego to take a job in Portland, OR. I sincerely wish I had kept in touch with him, but I was a restless and confused young seeker at the time, and not very good at keeping in touch with people. But he left an enormous impression on me, because he was the first realized person I had met who wasn’t making a living as a teacher, author, or guru. This, combined with his kind demeanor lent him an inspiring air of authenticity. You can see Alan talking about Nisargadatta Maharaj in this video:

  2. Hello,

    I would like to know which books of Richard Rose should be read or contain his ideas best. I saw some videos by Bart Marshall on youtube and this made me interested in Rose’s ideas.

  3. Hey,

    I would like to get a suggestion for 1-2 books of Richard Rose which contain his ideas best.

    1. For an introduction, I recommend reading the second half of The Albigen Papers beginning with the chapter called “On Gurus and Unique Systems.” The first half of the book has a lot of social critique and sometimes people get turned off by that and never read the second half. Read the second half first, then read the first half. Psychology of the Observer is my second recommendation. It’s a short book that lays out Rose’s view of the landscape of the mind. Lastly, Dave Gold’s After the Absolute is a nice introduction to Rose’s work in a narrative form.

  4. Hi, i would like to know: how can you be sure of who is enlightened and who is not? Are you enlightened? How can we trust you?

    1. How can you be sure of the stance or true stance of anyone on any subject? Especially in this day and age where truth has become . Here, all we have is the written word. What you have is your logic and intuition. Employ both.

    2. it does not matter. if an enlightened person writes a book and their name is wiped off… is it still not worth reading?

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