A Small Sample from Letters between Enemies
on The Thinking Man's CDROM
Copyright (c) Kevin Solway & David Quinn
from: Kevin Solway
I may be moving shortly, so I've given you my parents address above. I have typed out all the letters but I haven't been able to get a printout yet, so I've enclosed an incomplete set.
Last night I went to a talk by the leader of the Ramakrishna movement; a "Mataji" something or other, or "Great Mother". A lot of what she said was reasonable enough. She believes in evolution, and that each one of us is God, and therefore beyond life and death. However, she also believes in literal reincarnation, planes of consciousness and so on.
I asked her which interpretation of reincarnation she believed in, the literal or the esoteric. She didn't have any idea what I was talking about. I said that consciousness was a part of the body, and therefore could not be separated from it. She almost choked.
Later on I overheard her speaking to others in a tolerant tone of voice, saying "he has a different interpretation, that's O.K, it's just a different interpretation".
This is the subject I wish to deal with in this letter: interpretation, and when interpretation is not interpretation.
Interpretations can be either true or false. And if an interpretation is false, then it is not really an interpretation at all, but a false construct. If a person were to make a false translation from another language, we would not say, "it's O.K, it's just a translation". No, we would say it is a piece of shoddy work! However, modern man has banished true and false from his vocabulary. All he is interested in is his interpretation, which of course can never be wrong.
Their interpretation really means imagination. They build up a mental construct that seems to work, and they call it an "interpretation" or "a model of reality". But it is not a model of reality, nor does it comprise tools for dealing with reality; they have constructed an actual reality for themselves, independent of truth. Their interpretation is more than mere words, labels and concepts to provide a handle on reality; they have turned their back on reality and have fashioned their own private world out of those words and concepts.
To them, imagination is everything, their all. To them, it is what you see that is important, not what is actually there. If what you see is peace and love, then what you see is justified. They strive for purity and tranquillity, not truth. They are like the eccentric carpenter, who became obsessed with the beauty, precision and functionality of his tools, and completely forgot about the workpiece, in which was his livelihood.
Christians say there is a God. Buddhists say there is no God. Let's not beat around the bush, these positions are completely opposed to each other. Yet the wise men of today, who have gone beyond reason, or should I say who have abandoned reason, believe these two to be in harmony with each other.
There is no limit to foolish imaginings. Not only do they imagine a false reality, but also imagine their reality to be harmonious with others! I have more respect for a stone than I do for these people. A stone sits quietly where it is in reality and imagines nothing. Yet these fools have removed themselves so far from reality that not even a shard of light could penetrate their darkness. You could place a blazing sun before their eyes and they would claim innocence, so remote are they. I feel more comfortable sitting at a computer keyboard than talking to the men of today. At least the computer is receptive and has potential to learn.
I did a little programming last week, and had to do something called "typecasting". A real number (eg, 1.24) takes up six bytes of computer storage. However, I can refer to this same six bytes by a different name. I can call it an array of six bytes, and I can then get at each byte individually. A real number is not an array of six bytes, but what the real number refers to is the same as what the array refers to. Reals and arrays are called "types", and I have thus "cast" a different type onto the memory area referred to by the real. It is like pouring molten metal into one mould, and then pouring it into a different one. The metal remains the same, how it interacts with us changes.
This is how we should operate in all matters. "Types" or categories exist only for convenience, and we cast them onto the underlying substance in order to deal with it. However, the men of today are under the control of types, and are cast around by them. This is the opposite of typecasting and could be called "castingtype"? They know nothing of any underlying substance, only their God - types.
It is amusing to see the outcome of those whose lives are controlled by types. For example, our Mataji believes in The One and also in individual self-existence and reincarnation. She can see no contradiction! This is because while her mind is full of one construct there is no room for any other, so she is unaware of anything but the world she is in. Then, at a moments notice, she replaces this construct for another one, and again can only see this new world she is in, and not the contradiction with the one she has just left. This is indeed entertaining for an observer. I am reminded of the child, who when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, said "Either a soldier or a priest". He likewise saw no contradiction.
I had a short discussion with our Mataji, which revolved around 2 differences. She said that consciousness is infinite and immortal, whilst the body dies. I said that the body is infinite and immortal, and consciousness doesn't exist. One sign of wisdom is a freedom to swap terms around, and do a little typecasting: she couldn't do it.
We also differed regarding matter. She said that matter was really energy, but that matter can be seen, while energy cannot. I said that if matter was energy, and I can see matter, then I can see energy. She said no, how can you see kinetic energy? For example, when I lift this cup it gains potential, or kinetic energy. I said that if we couldn't see energy then we would never know of its existence. We can see energy through our conceptual (sixth) sense, if not by the other five. She was completely stumped.
Once again, she had no freedom with her terms, so came to grief. There is no problem with her words; the problem lies entirely with what she means by them. Her words do not refer to the underlying substance, but are caught up in a rigid mental construct that cannot accommodate the natural world.
Then she went on to say that the body is like a layer, inside which is the soul, but that the soul is not separate from the body. For example, an onion has many layers, and the outer layer is part of the same onion as the inner parts. This is her construct for trying to reconcile her idea of "The two" with "The One". I said I agreed, and continued saying that as the outer and inner layers are interdependent, then when the outer layers die, so too will the inner layers, no longer having protection from the elements. Therefore I said when the body dies, consciousness dies also.
Now, having had her idea of "The two" undermined, she automatically switched back to again assert the immortality of consciousness, and the mortality of the body, and even appealed to the authority of scripture!
I despise these wretched clever ones, who run before you can pin them down. My argument is of no service to her, so she blatantly ignores it. This proves to me once again that they value utility alone, and truth means nothing to them. Or rather, to them, utility means truth. When I disproved the idea that consciousness was separate from the body she saw it as being of no use, and therefore untrue. Utility in this case means matching with the scriptures. If they can match their ideas with what they perceive in the scriptures they feel they have the support of God. My words find no match in the scriptures, so they are of no use, and therefore not true.
I once described Christian priests as cannibals, for they live by eating the man who died for them. So do all these clever wise ones make a slovenly meal of spiritual offerings. A precious gift was left for their children, yet they greedily took it as their own, and left the young bereft.
Excuse me, but I feel eloquent today.
Hear from you soon,
P.S I have just listened to the Sunday night religious program on ABC radio, which you may have also heard. They had representatives of Siddhi yoga, Transcendental meditation and Zen Buddhism, and what a load of tripe it was!
There was much talk of "the centre", "the inner self", "the source", happiness, stress, peace and contentment. But not once did I hear of truth and wisdom. And they all agreed with one another! What a marvelous world we live in, when we can all agree on the same deception.
They all made the same mistake that the psychologist made which you mentioned in a previous letter. They have confused the stillness and magic of samadhi with spirituality. They have confused mental clarity and dexterity with goodness. The woman representing TM said that this mental clarity can be used to discover ultimate reality. Sure, it can be, but who would risk losing their new found peace in search of an unnecessary and possibly unreachable thing? Nobody desires truth, this is what is lacking - bodhicitta.
They do not even have an intellectual understanding of reality. They have some starting concepts perhaps, but without bodhicitta to pick them up and run with them, they are going nowhere.
from: David Quinn
Have you moved yet? I've moved to Battery Point and live in a small bathroom. It is literally a bathroom, or perhaps, it is a tiny flat with a shower in the middle of the living room! In any case, the rent is cheap.
Each time I pick up the pen to write you a letter, I run out of things to say. Or, should I say, most of the things that come to mind would be superfluous to discuss with you. I've barely done any writing over the last couple of months and so am out of practice. This is just a short note to maintain an unbroken contact. I have many ideas to discuss, but at present I'd prefer to let them revolve around my head for a while. When my pen starts flowing perhaps you will get a rather long letter!
P.S Yes, the letters make great reading. I think they indicate very well what it actually means to live a philosophic life. Like Kierkegaard's writings, they present the true scale of things, or at least, they indicate the strength of seriousness required to make philosophic progress.
2nd April, 1990 from: Kevin Solway
It is said that if you have not yet reached the level of the irreversible bodhisattva (8th bhumi) then you should avoid women, as they can still fall in love with you. How well I know it!
All it takes is a glance, a glint of the eye, and you are found out. This is why I have always said: never look at a woman, because she might look back! The problem is not so much the looking, but the mode of the looking, the looking too long, the intention of the looking.
The ego has its unresolved attachments, or emotions, and is always on the look-out to attend to them. The irreversible bodhisattva still has delusions, but he can control them the very instant they arise, before they grow, so he stops himself before looking to a woman's face for signs of affection, and for signs of his impact. No woman could love such a man, so he is doubly safe!
Not so I! By now you have gathered my plight. I am safe from most women, but there is always that one . . . that one whom you hope never to meet . . . that one who seems not to be human at all, but your own self, yes, out there!, beckoning, appealing to you. Moreover, you are plunged into doubt as to whether she is a wayward part of yourself, or you of she.
I went to Chenrezig last week, and there was this apparition, a woman I believe, whom I glanced at one moment too long. Over the next few days, before I departed, her face went through the phases of struggle, then love, and then torture. And how did I notice? How wretched I am, I looked! How I pray I will soon reach the stage of the irreversible bodhisattva! How I pray!, if not in this life, then in the next. Then, having reached a place of safety, I can halt the growth of my own attachments, as well as her's, effectively controlling my future lives.
And while I departed Chenrezig I did not depart from her, for she pains me even now, as a burning ember in my mind.
It is not enough to be unmoved by a lovely woman; one must be safe from that exceptional one. It is she alone who offers paradise and the illusion of perfection, so it is from she alone one must guard. It is a matter of arranging one's priorities correctly, so as to avoid the dilemma of being able to resist everything except temptation.
Mere sun lotion will not save you from a bullet, but armour will stop bullets and the sun also. Better still, become a ghost!
This woman is my own daughter and responsibility - how can I be an example to her if I look into her eyes with searching emotional need in my own? How will she become a Buddha if I behave in such a way? Where is my faith? What happened to my purpose? How can I, with a true mind, see such a woman as any different to a tree or a rock, reflected in all perfection as in a mirror. And quite apart from her physical form, how can I see her thoughts and feelings as objects of value, and of desire, when their roots, and their being, pervade All. How can I even dream of love and satisfaction when All is love and satisfaction.
What must the bodhisattva surmount? He must surmount love. Most of all he must surmount love of himself, lest he see himself in others! What could possibly have caused me to fall into this pit? Just a few romantic thoughts over the previous weeks, an ear bent to a song of love, a few dreams of love - and we all know dreams come true. So I still have much work to do, and I'll just continue doing my best - what matter if I fail? Better to have fought and lost than to have never fought at all.
What is on your mind? Have you met anyone with potential?