Volume 6, Issue 4, page 7

Zen Author Goes Back Ten Years to Answer His Own Arti cl e -- But Be Not
Confused, Dear Reader, His Critique Is with Tongue in Cheek

The Chessboard—Is It Black or UJhiIe?


Ten years ago, if I had read that article on "The Actual Practice of Awakening" (which the editor titled "The Penny
that Blots Out the Sun"! June, 195g, ABFRREE), I would have written as follows:
HERE is something in "playing God"
or asserting familiarity with the
supernatural that is irresistibly
attractive to many people.

Suppose a group of distinguished
"seekers" were seated around a
table in the dark holding a spiritualistic seance. Altho their object
is truth and each is a person of
impeccable integrity, still there
is, for that very reason, a subtle temptation. "Suppose I did just tilt the table a little?"
Sensation! Whether the culprit ever
will confess is doubtful.

Here we have a contributor (A.R.Pulyan
1959) asserting that a conscious knowledge of God is possible. At first, the
audacity of this takes our breath. away,
but it has been done before. Words are
cheap. I will quote a very wise philosopher on this point, George Santayana:
"When people tell us that they have
the key to all reality in their pockets,
or in their hearts, that they know who
made the world, and why, or know that
everything is matter, or that everything
is mind -- then Spinoza's notion of the absolute infinite, which includes all possibilities, may profitably rise before
us. It will counsel us to say to those
little gnostics, to those circumnavigators of being: I do not believe you; God
is great."
God indeed is not a possible object,
even by definition, for our conscious
minds. He is far beyond them and we are
fortunate if, by revelation or intuition,
we catch some faint gleam of Him. What the
mystics experience is their own affair
and cannot be true for others. -Beyond
that there is n.o possible way to the ineffable; here the mind hits a ceiling.

We seek, it is true, but this seeking
is our nature, innate in our mental
structure and not connected in any way
with finding. What could we find? Only
theories such as the one we are discussing, fanciful systems, mere words to swell
the vast flood already poured out in vain.
It is our glory as earth-bound men and
women ever to seek, even knowing that we
cannot find, and to add, if we can, just
one small item or two of positive knowledge to the accumulated mass. I am personally not ashamed to be classed only as
a seeker.

Our author talks of a "new" Consciousness. Consciousness is an intangible
thing, but those who know assure us that
there is a very versatile subconscious,
versatile and liable to trick us.

He says without proof that thousands
have had the particular experience of
which he speaks. Maybe, but that only
proves that whatever it is is a possibility for all of us if we are willing to go
thru the mind-destroying techniques he
advocates. Who will knowingly submit himself or herself to another person's domination for a period of months or years?
Especially as there is no guarantee that
anything we might experience is not merely
another trick that our minds are so well
able to play on us,_ not to mention darker
possibilities from a more sinister location.

Very well. There are millions, if you
like, in the world who "know". Let them
be content with it if it is some consolation. We, on the other hand, will proudly
keep aloft the torch of reason, infinite
broad-mindedness and receptivity to all
ideas, and the stern resolve to stop nowhere -- even to start nowhere.

While we live, we will do as well as
we can because nobody can do more.

I am willing to believe that all religions started this way. Indeed, it is
almost obvious. Such an experience as
this, falling suddenly cn the mind of an
unlettered Galilean, ignorant of our modern knowledge of psychology and psychiatry, would be tremendous and lead him to
make wild claims. It was a sad story and
had sadder consequences.

I hold no brief for St. Thomas Aquinas.
but it would be folly to abandon a lifetime's output of learned and closelyreasoned writing for a misunderstood experience when he was nearing his end. The
time devoted by so many students to his
great "Summa" is evidence that this is
the general view.

Similarly, is our author a better psychologist than the great psychologists,
one of whom he mentions disrespectfully,
or a better scientist, historian, philosopher? What has he published? A moment's
'reflection is enough to show how very un