Richard Rose

Truth Is An Individual Trip, Pyramid Zen Founder Declares

The Pittsburgh Press - Saturday, June 14, 1975

by Mike Anderson, Press Religion Editor

Members of the Pyramid Zen Society here are seeking truth, and although their leader says he has found the truth, he won't tell his followers what it is.

Truth is not something you can teach, Richard Rose believes; you have to find it for yourself.

Rose, a former contractor from Wheeling, W. Va., founded branches of his society in Pittsburgh, Wheeling, Columbus and Kent, Ohio, all of them associated mainly with college students.

"The object of the society is to answer all questions," Rose said.

"There are three basic questions: Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? Strangely, most religions try to answer only one of these questions."

Rose uses Zen, a contemplative form of Buddhism, to find the answers. But Zen isn't the only way, he added.

"There is not a major religion on earth without people who have found the light. Many systems work just as Zen does, but most - the Catholic church, for example - don't teach this aspect. Truth is not the exclusive province of any religion or philosophical thought."

The key to finding answers is not taking anything for granted, Rose declares.

"Theology doesn't hesitate to stick an unknown factor in and then go ahead to prove a point with myths rather than reason.

"We don't believe, we search. The only way to reach truth is by avoiding untruth."

Rose believes the only important things are mental. The body isn't important, but "you can't deny the body until you transcend it. Through the body comes the energy for thought," he said.

"Physical life is like a picture show I got stuck in. I've raised three children. It's foolishness, but it's all part of the drama."

Although Rose says each person has to make it to "enlightenment" (the Zen goal) on his or her own, he is willing to help them along the path. That's why he formed the Pyramid Zen Society and wrote a book, "The Albigen Papers."

There are only a few people capable of finding truth, he says, which is why the society takes the pyramid image.

"For every man who pops through (to enlightenment), there are a million who don't. We advertise (meetings) to find the few who are able to understand.

"People say we're nuts. That's nature's way of covering the pain of realizing how little one's life amounts to."

Rose doesn't like people who sell their brands of truth. "You can't price this stuff. It's not a business. Make it a business and you cheapen your product. I advise all our members to hold a job. No begging."

Asked if his system can be used to better society, Rose replied:

"Social betterment is the biggest joke on earth. It can't be done. It is warped people trying to straighten out other people's warps.

"For example, the hippies. Their generators are burned out with dope and they say they're going to power the world.

"Zen means to know yourself. I heard it as a kid a thousand times, but I never understood. With Zen, you immediately start to get your head on straight."

[ Photo caption:  SERPENTS are used to represent the shortcomings of social institutions - church, justice, government and education - in this symbol used by the Pyramid Zen Society. ]