Everything You Should Know About Roy Masters

The Englishman who introduced America to mindfulness meditation

This is a profile of Roy Masters at the beginning of his career, written in 1969, by former CBS News Correspondent William Wolff.

“If you are for what is truly right,” Roy Masters was telling me, “then everything else that is wrong—but seems like it is right—is shown up in contrast to it.”

We were sitting in the breakfast nook of his spacious Inglewood, California, home. Ann, his wife, was doing her best to keep their five children relatively quiet and occupied in another part of the ranch-type house while daddy was being interviewed. Roy seemed oblivious to their commotion; while he is talking about truth and principles, the roof could cave in and I’m sure he would continue his explanation without a pause.

Roy Masters is one of Southern California’s most compelling and dynamic advocates of meditation. It’s a very special kind of meditation he recommends, one that can change a person’s life and in some cases “save” it. Roy has made a career of instructing people in the exact techniques of this meditation and has gained a large and loyal following. He stands in sharp contrast to most of the truth teachers, metaphysicians, philosophers, and psychologists I have come in contact with. In fact, he opposes any and all who claim to teach the truth, heal the sick, counsel the troubled, or lead the way to God.

“Anyone who has a remedy, a pill or technique to gain health and sanity,” he emphasized, “—all the problem solvers—will be out of business when my message reaches the general public.”

“Most all of us have problems, Roy,” I shot back, reacting somewhat negatively to what I felt was an unwarranted attack on a multitude of sincere people striving in their own small way to alleviate a few of life’s woes. “Would you have us cease our attempt to eliminate them?”

His brown eyes, ablaze and unblinking, stared hard at me. I suspected that he could hardly wait for my last word to begin his rebuttal. “Bill, your problems will give you up,” he said with intensity, “you don’t have to give them up.”

“How?” I demanded.

He smiled and his gaze softened; I had grabbed the bait, and he began to reel me in. “This is accomplished through having the right attitude.”

I found little fault with his statement; but I still wanted to know why he bristled at the people he somewhat contemptuously referred to as professional problem solvers.

“First of all,” he explained, “you don’t need to solve any problems.”

“You don’t?” I asked incredulously.

“When people ‘fall from Truth,’ that is, when they lose their ‘center of equilibrium,’ it is then that they need a solution for the problem that has come into being because of that fall away from reality—they’re blind,” he said forcefully. Even while I listened to him, I marveled at how effectively he is able to utilize speech. He bludgeons forth with a barrage of words that is staggering in its intensity. Syllable after syllable comes stabbing at you, trying to pierce whatever armor your have put up. Finally you either flee in utter confusion, despising this iconoclast, or you stumble away completely bewildered because you have no “cells of recognition” left, or, as many have done and are doing, you stay and listen.

“In their blindness, people grope, and in their groping they blunder, and when they blunder they get sick and create all sorts of problems.” I acknowledged his point. “In other words, Roy, you say that problems are just effects and not the cause, and therefore should not be our primary concern.”

“Yes, that’s one way of saying it, Bill.” His approval, I found to my surprise, pleased me. Before I could amplify, he continued:

“Because of their ‘fall from Truth’ people need doctors, lawyers, ministers, marriage counselors, psychologists—all kinds of problem solvers who should never have come into being in the first place.”

I refused to let that statement go unchallenged. “Wait a minute, Roy. Now, just why shouldn’t these healers and teachers serve the public?”

His answer was quick. “All these people can possibly accomplish is to guide their patients farther and farther away from themselves instead of leading them to themselves—where they have fallen from—so that the healing will take place by the healing of the inner nature.”

This enormously energetic and vocal firebrand philosopher claims that every person who looks for a remedy finds a bigger problem at the end of that remedy. Knowing the general nature of his beliefs, I knew what to expect when I asked, “Roy, what do you think about positive thinking?”

He snapped, “People think that whatever makes them feel good is good, whether that be positive thinking, the church, or any remedy that gives you the idea that you are well when you’re not.”

I myself have seen what appeared to be remarkable examples of healing through positive thinking, and when I presented this observation he retorted: “Various things make you feel good for a while and it does seem to be the remedy. You become dependent on that which gives you the effect. ‘Positive thinkers’ usually die from degenerative diseases. They isolate themselves from the real problem by slapping on sugar-coated ideas or swallowing nice-sounding affirmations.”

“What do you have against feeling good?”

“When people are wrong spiritually, they must feel right because inside they are so wrong,” Masters answered. “Always they fluctuate between good and bad. They can’t stand not feeling anything. They have the need to engage or preoccupy their senses with all sorts of feelings.”

Roy Masters claims he leads people to the Truth. He doesn’t teach them the things they must discover for themselves. “The proper handling of life’s challenges, problems, and stresses provides healthy and natural growth for the individual,” he says. “When one believes he doesn’t have what it takes to meet the challenges of life, he camouflages this inward lack with all sorts of “information.” Actually, most so-called intellectuals use their storehouse of knowledge to justify their ignorance.”

Not too far from the Miracle Mile section of Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, at 624 South Western Avenue, a sign with large letters proclaims the headquarters of Roy Masters’ Foundation of Human Understanding. The building is really just a large store, refurbished to provide comfortable lecture facilities for Roy and his associates. It resembles a Christian Science reading room at first glance, but don’t let the establishment’s façade deceive you.

For most of the five lectures a week there is standing room only, as the faithful, the curious, and the “professional truth seekers” (that phenomenon so characteristic of Southern California) crowd this haven for the unorthodox to listen to the cultured, articulate voice of Roy Masters hammer home his hard, illusion-shattering message: “Each person has a moment in experience in which an important—the most important—decision of his life is made. He can choose to be above all Creation, looking down at it, desiring to dominate and rule it—to have creation praising and glorifying him—or he can choose to submit to the Power Who made it all.”

The moment of truth to which Masters refers comes when you decide to perform a right act—when you do what must be done regardless of the price you must pay. You do this even if it means sacrifice, danger, or financial hardship. As I see it, this doesn’t have to be a heroic act such as a soldier might perform on a battlefield. It can be as undramatic as when Ann Masters quietly informed her daughter’s grade-school teacher that she was impatient and therefore not as effective a teacher as she should be. Ann did this in front of the entire class.

The young teacher was shocked at first; then she broke into tears. Not in the least perturbed, Ann sat down and waited until the teacher stopped crying before she proceeded to explain her statement. Mrs. Masters could have written the Principal a note complaining about the teacher, or she could have repressed your feelings. Instead, she chose to act from within at the moment it seemed necessary. She didn’t fear repercussions, embarrassment, or an unpleasant scene; Ann provided stress for the impatient teacher and also stress for herself that tested her ability to act properly in that particular situation.

The moment of truth for some could be telling a loved one what one has been too frightened to say previously. It could be the way a parent handles a situation with his children or the way a child reacts to his mother or father. “The moment you forfeit the right, in order to attain personal advantage, you forfeit a pattern of growth from the nature of grace,” Masters insists.

Even though his thesis is pretty much the same in all the lectures, the way he approaches it can be startlingly original and extremely forceful. “Man is only complete when he finds perfection complete within himself—functioning out of Spirit. Man must learn in each moment to live spontaneously from within; otherwise the root of man’s nature will be the world outside.

Masters’ basic assumption is that when man goes beyond the laws of his being he fouls himself up, and then, in trouble or ill, he vainly searches for healers to treat the effects of his transgression rather than to discover the cause.

The function of the Foundation of Human Understanding is to reveal a principle through which people can learn to respond from within (there’s that word again) rather than being manipulated by outside conditions. Roy Masters warns: “There is a hypnotic influence in the world utilized to lead us away from what is right for us. This is why we have fear, impatience, worries, uncertainness, lack of confidence—all this because we pull away from ourselves.”

When asked how one can dehypnotize oneself, Roy’s reply is that one must meditate. As important as he feels his lectures at the Foundation are, not to mention his many pamphlets and books and his radio and television appearances, he is quick to admit that all of this is secondary to the meditation technique. It is the very basis of his work, and he calls it Psychocatalysis.

“Psychocatalysis is a science of diminishing response to persons or objects,” he explains. “By eliminating the response to outer stimulation through self will, one can ‘starve’ the roots of unfounded fears.”

Can this kind of mental calisthenics bring the unconscious mind under the control of the conscious? Roy Masters firmly believes it can. He also believes that the principle he advocates will bring order, peace of mind, and harmony into our lives.

Psychocatalysis, Masters admits, combines some of the concentration techniques of ancient Yoga with the sound logic of Judeo-Christian principles. There are thousands who swear by it, claiming almost miraculous cures, the elimination of cumbersome habits, and an awakening of dynamic inner powers.

The purpose of meditation is to cause the emotions and intellect to respond to the quiet-consciousness. When difficulties arise and conditions become confined—when everyone else is in a panic—the individual practicing Roy Masters’ method will be able to act in a correct manner. Masters claims that an impartial understanding from within is activated to guide and direct the individual, and no jumble of ideas or host of disturbing and destructive emotions obscure his vision.

I have made it my business to interview many people who have tried the meditation technique, and they have made some interesting comments. Not all, by a long shot, agree to its unqualified effectiveness. Many have said they can’t see any particular benefit in the technique after working with it for varying lengths of time. However, others I’ve met are enthusiastic about the immense change it has wrought in their lives.

“Now I can observe the exact nature of my problems and because of this new insight,” a proponent of the method bubbled, “I know how to act correctly. Life has never been better, and in all departments.”

“Before meditating with Mr. Masters’ record,” a middle-aged Los Angeles accountant told me, “I used to react violently to my wife, my children, and even to my clients—everyone and everything ‘turned on me.’”

“O.K., so now your meditate three times a day as Roy Masters prescribes. How are things different?” I questioned.

“Well, now I act rather than react.

His answer impressed me. It is indeed a wonderful thing to act with patience rather than to react with anger. And if Roy Masters’ meditation exercise, the principle of which some critics say is similar in certain respects to self-hypnosis, can bring about this transformation in even a few people, it is a very worthwhile addition to the arsenal of human survival techniques.

Make no mistake; in the tumultuous days which are surely ahead, those who fail to discipline their emotional responses to outer hysteria and confusion will have a frantic fight to keep their sanity. If the way some impatient boob in a Cadillac honks his horn a second or so after the traffic light has changed upsets you, how do you think you’ll react to a major crisis?

Do you want to know how you’ll fare in real stress: Try observing your reaction the next time your mate or child “crosses” you. See what your mental condition is when some civil rights or war news, or the announcement of higher taxes, or a particularly gruesome crime hits the news. Become conscious of your emotional involvement with the outer world. Aren’t you something like a puppet jerked by environmental strings?

You have a choice whether you will react to fear or act in faith. That is, you have the choice if you have recaptured the God-given ability that in most humans has lain dormant and unused for too long. Something occurs in your life; perhaps your financial situation shows an unexpected slump. What do you do? Or rather, how do you think? As soon as you perceive the unwanted sad state of affairs, do you worry, fret, and imagine the worst: Or do you have hope?

I personally believe that hope means action, while worry is a passive reaction to outer conditions. The same may be said of reaction with hate instead of acting with love. Perhaps Roy Masters doesn’t spell out his philosophy in exactly that way, but I think this is close to his basic belief.

Roy Masters and his daughter

One sunny morning late in July, my wife and daughter came along with me to spend the day aboard Roy Masters’ thirty-foot sampan. It’s an interesting, colorful boat with kitchen facilities and it sleeps four. He told me it was a Chinese Junk, but that type of seacraft is somewhere in the neighborhood of ninety feet or so. This—to my wife’s dismay—was considerably smaller.

Roy’s wife and five children and another male adult were also passengers. Roy had just “discovered” fishing and sailing and gloried in this kind of outdoor activity. He is almost completely a self-taught sailor and handles the rigging like an old sea dog. We three men folk thoroughly enjoyed the encounter with the sea, but the wives and children were a little less enthusiastic about the rolling and pitching. The fishing was poor but the conversation and fresh ocean air were wonderfully invigorating.

I remember our conversation as we pulled into King Harbor after the day’s outing. We were in the midst of securing the boat and washing it down when a thought struck me. “Roy,” I said, “it seems to me that most of mankind is in a continuous state of reaction because their entire motivation springs out of a desire for the three ‘P’s’: Prestige, Power, and Profit.”

He smiled and nodded in agreement, then added: “Too bad they turn from the only “P” that really matters—Principle.” The English-born philosopher, writer, lecturer, and world traveler does not guarantee that those who follow in his footsteps will magically acquire great wealth, a position of importance, or a life free of problems. Rather, his teachings lead one toward contentment, true peace of mind, and purpose.

“The road to riches is not the road to real happiness,” writes Roy Masters. “The road to right response in each moment of Truth is that first step to everything.”

But how does one learn to respond rightly, you ask? You start with Masters’ LP record, Your Mind Can Keep You Well. This teaches you how to meditate properly. He has produced three other recordings, but many claim his first is the best. One expert, a man who had spent thirty years practicing and studying Yoga meditation, went on public record as saying that Masters’ technique was superior to all others he had ever encountered. (By the way, you may have noticed that although we have discussed several aspects of Masters’ meditation technique, the exact step-by-step mechanics have not been described. They are, of course, available on Masters’ record, Your Mind Can Keep You Well, and in his book of the same title.)

Masters circa 1960

Every weekday morning at 7:30 on a radio station in the Los Angeles area, Masters speaks for fifteen minutes. Then he comes back at one o’clock for an hour-long telephone call-in program that is by far the most thought-provoking broadcast of its type I have ever heard. Roy admits on the air that his programs are unsponsorable. “No client in his ‘wrong’ mind would dare sponsor me,” he laughingly confesses. However, a couple of brave souls (businessmen who had been helped by Roy’s meditation) did sponsor a part of his air time.

In the summer months he also has a forty-five minute evening call-in program. Once the station offered him an additional early-morning slot between 5 and 6 A.M. He naturally took it, and believe it or not, people called up at that ridiculous hour and spilled out their innermost torments to him. One Beverly Hills grandmother set her alarm clock by his broadcast. Only once did I manage to arise in time to hear him. Despite the predawn hour, it was an interesting session. I almost called up myself. He also had a weekly TV program that received much favorable comment.

His basic advice, no matter what the problem, is always: get the record and start meditating. And the problems his audience calls him about range from everyday so-called normal heartaches to the most embarrassingly intimate revelations. Even Mr. Anthony in his hayday would have been a little taken aback at some of the calls, but not Roy Masters.

“My husband has a masturbation problem, Mr. Masters. What can I do?”

“Lady!” Roy blasts back, “you’ve done enough. Masturbation isn’t his problem, it’s you.”

“You’re right, she sobs, tell me how I can change the kind of person I am.”

“Get my record.”

A man with broken English phones in. “I’m on community aid, Mr. Masters. I live in a slum where most of us are supported by welfare. I hate this charity business and I want to break out of this kind of life—but how can I?”

“Learn to Meditate by using my record.”

“I can hardly afford to feed my family, let alone buy your record.”

“Give me your name and address and I’ll mail you one free.”

The next call is from a career woman. Her complaint concerns a lady boss who bullies all the girls. “How can we insulate ourselves from her terrible tactics?” she asks.

“There is only one way,” Roy tells her, “and that is by learning how not to respond in an emotional way to her actions. In other words—don’t get upset.”

“Believe me, I’d love not getting upset but how can I learn not to?”

“My record, Your Mind Can Keep You Well, explains how.”

A nurse calls him and confesses that she feels that she is living and working in error. “What can I do?” she wants to know.

“Your reason for choosing nursing as a career was wrong in the first place, wasn’t it?” Intuitively, Masters has summed up the situation.

“Yes… Yes, you’re right. I can see now that my motives were all wrong and I realize now that I am supporting a process of error. How can I change?”

“Do you have my record?”

“Yes,” comes her hesitating reply.

“Then use it.”

Another lady calling long distance explains: “My husband has two daughters by a previous marriage. His first wife called him last week and demanded that he come and get the girls because she can’t afford to keep them. So he went and got them. They had no clothes except what they wore. He spent a lot of money on new wardrobes and then she comes storming to our house demanding he return the girls to her…”

Roy interrupts. “You resent this first wife tremendously, don’t you?”

“Why yes, I do.”

“You have a problem and it’s not the girls, your husband’s first wife, nor how unfair she may act. Your problem is resentment.”

Defensively, the woman retorts, “Why should my resentment be a problem? Isn’t it only natural?”

“Resentment, my dear woman, is most unnatural. It excites you to feel right. But know this, when you are resentful—no matter what the reason—you are most assuredly not right.”

“How can I free myself from this resentment?”

Again comes the answer, “Get and use my record.”

Surprisingly, quite a few young people listen to The Roy Masters Show, perhaps because in his no-nonsense attitude, they sense someone who cuts through sham with the truth. One girl in her early teens called Roy to complain about what sounded like an alcoholic mother and a father who was more than likely a borderline psychotic. Roy gave the girl some advice, and when I followed up on the girl later, I learned that Roy had helped her cope with her difficult home situation without damaging her own feelings.

Roy’s ability to deal with children and young people is a rare gift. Another potential reason for the attraction he holds for them might lie in his spontaneity and dynamism. These two factors were strong influences on a more or less “instant cure” involving a teen-age girl who revealed on the air that her parents had just committed her to a state mental institution. Roy’s amazement was profound. So was his reaction, and I wish the girl’s parents could have heard what Roy had to say about them, and the situation. No, his outburst and incisive advice didn’t save the day in one blinding flash, but it left the girl with a positive course of action she could understand and follow…if she wished.

Never one to mince words, Roy Masters is a man who says what he feels no matter what the cost. Perhaps that’s why his program remains, in his opinion, unsponsorable. As a youngster growing up in England, his almost painful honesty, his perception, and his relentless questioning of the adult world’s sham standards cast a chilling silence to many a family gathering. Outspoken and guileless, he was called tactless by his elders and it was hoped he would outgrow this annoying trait. He never did.

Young Roy Masters

Roy had a natural leaning toward the healing profession and it was decided that when he came of age he would be sent to medical school. His eldest brother was to become an architect. However, when he was fifteen his father passed away, and this meant that college for Roy was out. The family could only afford a higher education for the older boy.

Roy was sent to the seacoast city of Brighton to learn the diamond-cutting trade in his uncle’s factory. Following his apprenticeship he traveled to South Africa to pursue his profession. It was there that he began to be increasingly interested in the power of suggestion and the way the mind influences bodily functions.

Some years previously, he had attended a vaudeville performance featuring a stage hypnotist. When he had seen how apparently staid and dignified people could be manipulated into doing foolish things, something within had begun to click. He had perceived a principle at work and he was aware that this power could be used in a more constructive way than for entertainment.

In the evening and on weekends he traveled to the outskirts of Johannesburg, where he was able to witness the archaic ceremonies of native witch doctors. He was an astute observer and it due time begin to understand their secrets. Bits of information were beginning to fall into place, and one day all would jell into a full comprehension of mental processes.

Masters returned to England, but wanderlust seized him once again. In 1949 he emigrated to the United States and soon prospered as an enterprising diamond cutter, lecturer, and gem expert. In a whirlwind courtship lasting a week, he met and married his wife. From Birmingham, Alabama, they move to Texas, and Roy Masters unknowingly edged closer and closer to the work, which would catapult him to front-page notoriety.

The Master’s finally settled in Houston to raise their growing family. Roy’s reputation as a diamond authority grew, and he was often invited to participate in radio and TV interviews.

It was known that Roy had some familiarity with the phenomena of hypnosis, and when the Bridey Murphy furor swept the nation some of his friends asked him to explain. He obliged, and his home was soon jammed with people besieging him for demonstrations.

He realized at once that hypnosis was a “duplication of life’s errors.” Although many people are convinced that through hypnosis they can rid themselves of bad habits and limiting personality traits, Roy is just as certain that no good can ever come of such a practice. So instead of hypnotizing people he unhypnotized them. Of course, most never realized what was taking place.

Finally he decided to sell his diamond-cutting business and become a full-time professional in the field of hypnosis (or rather dehypnosis). And so he founded the Institute of Hypnosis, which was the forerunner of his present Foundation of Human Understanding. From the beginning his new venture flourished.

As many as thirty people a day—one every fifteen minutes—came for consultation. Roy never claimed he could heal anyone. He just explained principles and taught his meditation exercise. But cures started to occur, and this new miracle man by the name of Roy Masters caused quite a stir in medical circles through-out the sprawling Western metropolis.

Then one bleak day, the police arrived at the Institute with a warrant for his arrest. It was to be a test case to determine the legality of non-medical practice of hypnosis. It was also to be quite a test for the Houston police officials who jailed Roy. They had an unexpected experience in store for them once Roy Masters was put behind bars.

Ever persuasive, Roy couldn’t refrain from counseling his fellow inmates. As he explained what motivated their antisocial behavior he caused some profound changes. Soon he had almost half the prison population under his spell. Newspapers got wind of the story and publicized the strange turn of events. People clamored to talk to Roy. Some even attempted to bribe their way in to jail.

Putting Roy into solitary confinement couldn’t halt the increasing demand for his services. Finally, after eighteen days, they allowed time off for “good behavior” and released him. He immediately opened the doors of his Institute and continued his career. This went on for two years, and during this time he perfected and finally produced his famous record, Your Mind Can Keep You Well.

Once again the urge to move prompted him to pack his belongings, hatch a house-trailer to his car, and head with his family (now numbering four children) for wherever inclination took him. So off they drove in eager anticipation of new horizons.

When asked how he came to settle in the Los Angeles area, his frank reply is, “It was the end of the summer and time for my children to attend school. So, wherever we happened to be—that was where we would stay put, at least for a little while.”

For the moment, at least, Los Angeles and Roy Masters seem very right for each other. And it’s only the present that interests Roy. For he not only teaches but practices the belief that it is the wise man who lives in the present in the presence.

If you enjoyed this writing, please click Recommend. Roy’s observation technique can be learned at antidoteforall.com.

Like what you read? Give Roy Masters a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.