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#1774 - Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - Editor: Jerry
Exclusive to the Highlights...
Fingers Pointing Towards the Moon by Wei Wu Wei
Foreward, by Ramesh Balsekar
Wei Wu Wei says:
"The implied Unicity, the totality of undivided
mind, is itself a concept of its own division or
duality, for relatively -- relativity being
relative to what itself is -- it cannot be
conceived or known at all.
All that could ever be known about it is simply
that, being Absolute, it must necessarily be
devoid of any kind of objective existence
whatever, other than that of the totality of all
possible phenomena which constitute its relative
What does Wei Wu Wei mean by this statement? I
think what he means is precisely what I mean when
"Consciousness is all there is; other than
Consciousness, nothing is. And this is a
I have been giving talks at my residence in
Bombay every morning for the last several years.
I always keep repeating:
"Make no mistake: whatever I say -- whatever its
impact -- is a concept. It is not the truth. A
concept is something that someone may accept and
someone may not. The Truth is that which no one
can deny. And therefore the only Truth, in
phenomenality, is 'I AM' -- the impersonal
awareness of being. On this basis, whatever any
sage has ever said, whatever any scripture of any
religion says is a concept."
When I wrote the preface for my first book,
'Pointers from Nisargadatta Maharaj,' I had
included the following paragraph in it:
"As I was translating Shri Maharaj's talks into
English, I began noticing in my translations the
distinct influence of Wei Wu Wei's use of the
English language in his books. I have no doubt
that traces of this influence would be clearly
noticed by the discerning reader in those
articles. Apart from the language, it seemed to
me a wondrous demonstration of the universality
of the subject itself that the writings of a
scholar and practitioner of the Tao philosophy
like Wei Wu Wei, thousands of miles away (and
hardly a popular writer), would find
corroboration in the words of a Self-realized
Jnani like Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj, whose
education, as he says himself, takes him just
beyond the limit of illiteracy!"
Against my better judgment, under pressure from
several well-wishers, this paragraph was dropped:
the argument was that what I was in effect doing
was to place a mere writer on the same level with
Maharaj, a Self-realized Jnani.
The whole story is that Wei Wu Wei's book, 'Open
Secret,' was given to me as a gift by a friend of
mine more than a decade before I started going to
Maharaj. When I first read it, I could not make
any sense out of it, except that I had the good
fortune to realize that his book was a real
treasure; and I kept it aside so that it would
not get thrown out with other books during one of
the routine clean-ups. And then, for some
unfathomable reason, the thought suddenly
occurred to me about the book almost immediately
after I started visiting Maharaj. I cannot
describe the innumerable intellectual
frustrations I went through between the two of
them -- Nisargadatta Maharaj and Wei Wu Wei. I
repeatedly felt that the two of them had ganged
up to have a private joke of their own at my
expense. It was indeed a gang-up but, as I
realized some time later, it was to bring about a
sudden awakening in this body-mind mechanism
When I started reading Wei Wu Wei, I used to
marvel at the command of the English language
that a Chinese man should have acquired. It was
some time later that I gathered that Wei Wu Wei
was not a Chinese be a wealthy Irish aristocrat
(Terrence Gray), highly educated at Oxford
University, an authority on wines and race
I got this information through a lady who used to
visit Maharaj. She later sent me a photograph of
Wei Wu Wei with her. He was a giant of a man. She
mentioned 'Pointers from Nisargadatta Maharaj' to
him and he expressed a desire to see the book. I
sent a copy of the book to him at his villa in
the South of France, with a letter expressing my
gratitude for the guidance I had received from
his books. Unfortunately at that time (W.W.W. was
almost 90 years of age) senility was beginning to
set in; and his wife had to read out the book
(Pointers) to him at his lucid moments. W.W.W.
indicated that he enjoyed the book. Our mutual
friend told me that he referred to 'Pointers' as
"Wei Wu Wei without tears." I could at once
relate the reference to the play on the London
stage -- in the late thirties when I was a
student in London -- named 'French Without
Tears.' W.W.W. died in 1986 at the age of 91.
I gathered that his principal mentor was Ramana
Maharshi of Tiruvannamalai, who has been my
earliest inspiration since I was twelve years
old. The core of W.W.W.'s understanding is
non-doership. As the Buddha has put it: "Events
happen, deeds are done, but there is no
individual doer thereof."
It is interesting that the Hindu scripture says,
"Thou art the doer, Thou art the experiencer;
Thou art the speaker and Thou art the listener."
This obviously means: you may think you are the
speaker and the "other" is the listener, and vice
versa; but the truth is that it is the Primal
Energy functioning through two human body-mind
instruments producing the speaking through one
instrument and the listening through the other.
Ramesh S. Balsekar Bombay, India 26 February 2003
Wei Wu Wei writes:
It is less what one is that should matter, than
what one is not.
To acquire knowledge should not be our first aim,
but rather to rid ourselves of ignorance -- which
The qualities we possess should never by a matter
for satisfaction, but the qualities we have
If Charity (compassion), Simplicity, and Humility
are desirable as attributes that is because they
depend upon the elimination of qualities that
have been discarded.
Behind the Conditioned is the Unconditioned.
Behind Being is Not-Being. Behind Action is
Non-Action (not inaction). Behind Me is Not-Me.
"I am Not-I, therefore I am I": the
Prajnaparamita Sutra said it a thousand years
ago. Transform "I" into "Not-I" and then "Not-I"
will become "I." Only God is "I" (I am only "I"
in so far as I am God or the Absolute, i.e. my
Does not one of our elementary errors lie in
imagining that we "do" things, for it seems to be
equally probable that things "do" us? We believe
that we perform an endless series of actions, but
the truth may be that an endless series of
actions performs us. We think that we manipulate
events, but are we not rather manipulated by
events? We think we go to meet that which we
experience, but that which we experience may come
to meet us. It is perhaps an illusion that we
"live": we are "lived."
"Take Life as it comes," we say -- that is be
aware that it is life that comes to us and not we
who go to life.
What we call "life" is only things that happen.
The patent (acquired) personality reacts to
"life" with states of mind. The latent
personality should be unaffected by "life": it
need not "do" and is content to "be."
The Buddha-nature is the unconditioned nature.
It is not for us to search but to remain still,
to achieve Immobility not Action.
We only exist in the instant: we do not exist as
a continuity, as we suppose. Our apparent
existence from day to day, year to year, is an
illusion; but we exist in each instant between
the ticking of the clock of Time, each instant
not one of which are we quick enough to perceive.
Non-Action on the plane of Being becomes, by
articulation, Correct-Action on the plane of
Correct-Action may be anything from violence to
what we regard as inaction -- for inaction is
inevitably a form of action.
The majority of our actions are Incorrect-Action.
We are mad monkeys eternally doing unnecessary
things, obsessed with the necessity of "doing,"
terrified of inaction, glorifying "doers" almost
uncritically, regardless of the havoc they cause,
scorning "non-doers," equally uncritically, blind
to the prosperity that follows in their wake, the
former being the normal result of what is
Incorrect-Action, the latter being the normal
result of inaction that is Correct-Action.
But what we regard as action is really reaction,
the reaction of our artificial and impermanent
ego to the non-ego, to external events. We react
from morning to night: we do not act.
That, I think, is the explanation of the Taoist
doctrine of Non-Action. Explanation is necessary
because translation from the Chinese ideograms
does not reveal the difference between Non-Action
that is noumenal and inaction that is phenomenal.
The dynamism of inaction in a given circumstance
can be greater than that of action in the same
circumstance. Inaction that is dynamic requires
vision and self-control -- for action is easier
to us than inaction. It is the dynamism of
inaction that identifies it as Correct-Action.
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