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Founder, Royal Way

Michael Menahem Gottlieb’s life epitomized the spiritual journey. At the young age of 22, Michael became an ordained rabbi. Two years later, he was elected head of an orthodox congregation in New York and, at 30, was appointed dean of Chaim Joseph Rabbinical Seminary. For 14 years, Michael studied and taught the word of God according to the Torah and Talmud.

After earning his master’s degree in psychology from Loyola University, Michael trained extensively with leading scholars in the fields of Gestalt, Reichian, psychomotor, bioenergetics, and transpersonal psychology. And during an extended stay in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, he pursued an interest in Russian psychological theory and methodology with some of the foremost Soviet mental health professionals.

Michael later founded Professional Psychotherapy Associates in Los Angeles, where he maintained a successful private practice as a therapist, treating individuals, couples, and groups. In addition to his practice, he gave lectures and led workshops in psychokinesis, autogenics, Jungian symbology, tribal dream analysis, and journal writing therapy.

Michael’s passion for theology drew him eastward, traveling to India, Nepal, and Tibet, where he deepened his understanding of yoga and meditation. He briefly lived as a renunciate in an ashram and studied Tibetan Buddhism under the tutelage of the lamas of Dharamsala.

Incorporating his decades of experience as a scholar, a teacher, and a professional therapist, Michael founded Royal Way in 1979 to be an accessible spiritual community for modern men and women seeking a better understanding of the human condition and a stronger relationship with the divine.

Michael established RW Ranch in Southern California’s high desert for Royal Way retreats—a spiritual home encompassing every aspect of his vision, from abundant gardens and orchards to sacred meditation shrines.

Over the next 31 years, Michael conducted workshops, retreats, and group and private sessions with thousands of Royal Way community members. He continued to travel the globe, occasionally leading members on overseas retreats to places like the Virgin Islands, France, Greece, and Italy. While most of his work was spent working with people directly, Michael frequently published his teachings as letters—rich with a lifetime of knowledge and spiritual insight—for the entire Royal Way community to study and enjoy.


Michael passed away on August 9, 2010. His devoted pupil of more than 30 years, Maggi Hodge, keeps his legacy alive by fostering the Royal Way community and facilitating its spiritual retreats.

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