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Greatest Western Teachers of Modern Times
~ Summary Comparison ~

Franklin Merrell-Wolff

Douglas Harding

Richard Rose

Franklin Merrell-Wolff Douglas Harding Richard Rose
Primary Faculty:




Age at Realization:

48/49 (1936)

First glimpse: 33 (1942/3)
Final breakthrough: 77

30 (1947)


Lifelong celibate although married twice.

Recommended moderation. Concerned about any practice that might tie the seeker closer to the "I am the body" identification.

Practiced until self-realization. Recommended highly for seekers.

Personal Guru:

Sri Ramakrishna




Recognition of the inverse relationship between materiality and substantiality (reality).

Dissatisfaction that he wasn't being honest with himself about "being" vs. "seeing."

Recognition of spiritual egotism when his older brother died, followed by a blow to his ego of intuitional superiority.

First Writing after Realization:

Kept notes during the period leading up to his self-recognition, which produced an outflowing of blank-verse poetry for the first time in his life. This became the material for Pathways Through to Space, first published in 195x(?).

Although he completed The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth after his experience at age 33, he published his first "practical" book, On Having No Head, circa 1961, to which he added a final section on the headless way in 1986.

Wrote "The Three Books of the Absolute" – a description in blank verse that came to him in one sitting – about six months after his realization. Said decades later that there was no way he could better verbalize it.

Teaching Approach:

Maintained an ashram – high-desert property on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevadas – where students could visit or live. Gave a talk every Sunday morning up through the last year of his life (age 98).

Extensive travel to give workshops around the world for many decades with innovative exercises to help people see directly for themselves. Wrote many books, to come at the topic from a variety of angles.

Maintained a farm where students could visit or live. Gave public talks, mostly to university students, and encouraged them to establish groups where they could work together and find others to help.

  • FW: We are the Great Space.
  • DH: We are the Space in which everything happens – Capacity for things – the Space in which each of them is allowed to arrive at its particular kind of perfection.

  • FW: There is a third way of knowing: knowledge through identity.
  • RR: You never learn the Truth – you become it.

  • DH: We lose touch with our Source and we lose the meaning of our life and we are in deep trouble when social conditioning leads us to believe we are what we look like. "You are the opposite of what you look like."
  • RR: You are never that which is observed.

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