Dr. John Rowan (1925 – 2018)
I have been meaning to write this for some time now. Dr. John Rowan has had a huge impact on my life, so much so that I am still integrating certain insights. He passed on in May 2018 and, I feel, it is time for me to let him go.
So, here we go:
A humble man, a great man, an academic, an enlightened being, a mystic, a Kali Ma devotee, my mentor at Rushmore University and a man that brought a massive amount of clarity, wisdom, and sobriety into my professional as well as private life.
Always alert, aware, funny and ready to surprise with a joke, gesture or deep insight.
He dedicated ten years to the Centuar, Subtle, Causal and Nondual stages of the Wilber map, respectively. Forty years! I cannot even begin to imagine how much perseverance and determination one must possess to walk down this road of slow but thorough personal and spiritual development.
No doubt, he would have laughed at such meaningless labels, but in my opinion, he was one of the partyakabuddhas (a solitary Buddha), a follower of the Theravada or Sutrayana path (as opposed to the tantric and mahamudra/dzogchen paths that also lead to the Non-dual).
At the Akademija TCT (ATCT, our three-year private school for transpersonal consultants) we enjoyed his loving presence five years in a row, learning from his vast academic and empirical knowledge. During those visits I benefited immensely from his audience; I drove him around, ate with him, and translated his words at the ATCT seminars.
It was he that introduced me to the Wilber map in general and the Non-dual in particular during my Ph.D. studies at Rushmore (and later on in person as well), changing my perception and pretty much everything else, completely…
…right after he thoroughly dismantled my ego-fueled academic papers and inspired me to begin to write from my Heart.
In-person, we have always had more or less meaningful talks about Wilber map, mystical and magical experiences, humanistic and transpersonal psychotherapy, and life in general.
He was able to shift levels of awareness with the greatest of ease. Being or living at the Authentic level by choice, he could switch to the Causal or even to the Non-dual level at the moment’s notice.
He embraced the personal and the transpersonal levels with equal grace. No denial of personal and mundane things and no adoration of spiritual things.
His presence was calm and yet strong, simple yet clear.
He was one of a few people (if not the only one) that really, really understood me… and neither wanted nor needed anything from me.
And he was so graceful in person! I can still recall a situation when I took him to dinner in Ljubljana. It was an early evening, and it was already dark. I didn’t really know how to get to the place and I just drove around, trying to find a way. It must have been obvious I didn’t have the slightest clue where we were. Dr. Rowan, however, just sat there in my car and silently tolerated my aimless driving.
After 20 minutes or so he looked at me, smiled and said: “You don’t live here, do you?”
I particularly remember one more event: one rainy Sunday in the morning I went to his hotel in Ljubljana to take him to our seminar at ATCT.
He was waiting for me, meditating (he did not approve of being late!). When I entered his room, he stood up and looked at me with clear beaming eyes. I could sense lightness and clarity around him and in the room.
I asked how was his morning thus far and he smiled and said that he just had his breakfast.
I came closer to him, looked into his eyes, put my left hand gently on his right shoulder and said smiling and with respect: “Now the Buddha is not hungry anymore.” And the Living Buddha, in all his modesty, lowered his eyes.
I miss him so much!
I was told that when the citadel shattered, he was at peace, transitioning out of his worn-out 93 years old body gracefully, depriving Great Britain and indeed the whole world of the rare Living Presence of an Arhat…
His legacy still lives on in his 20 books, numerous recorded interviews, and lucid poetry.
As far as this individual here is concerned, well, Dr. John Rowan’s spirit lives on in my integral approach to life and psychotherapy, in my (more or less unsuccessful) attempt to embrace the personal with equal vigor as the transpersonal…
…his spirit thrives on in our school ATCT, and in the lasting gratitude for his immense contribution to me, my students at ATCT, my loved ones, and my family…
…so long, my dear John Rowan, thank you for your silent lucidity and see you around.
His web site is still available, lots of info there: