Monday, April 25, 2011


Foreword to Supreme Doctrine (Benoit) written by Aldus Huxley

Philosophy in the Orient is never pure speculation, but always some form of transcendental pragmatism. Its truths, like those of modern physics, are to be tested operationally. Consider, for example, the basic doctrine of Vedanta, of Mahayana Buddhism, of Taoism, of Zen. “Tat twam asi – thou art That.” Tao is the root to which we may return, and so become again That which, in fact, we have always been. ‘Samsara and Nirvana, Mind and individual minds, sentient beings and the Buddha, are one.’

Nothing could be more enormously metaphysical than such affirmations; but at the same time nothing could be less theoretical, idealistic and Pickwickian. They are known to be true because, in a super-Jamesian way, they work, because there is something that can be done with them. The doing of this something modifies the doer’s relations with reality as a whole. But knowledge is in the knower according to the mode of the knower. When transcendental pragmatists apply the operational test to their metaphysical hypotheses, the mode of their existence changes, and they know everything, including the proposition, ‘thou art That’, in an entirely new and illuminating way.

The author of this book is a psychiatrist and his thoughts about the Philosophia Perennis in general and about Zen in particular are those of a man professionally concerned with the treatment of troubled minds. The difference between Eastern philosophy, in its therapeutic aspects, and most of the systems of psychotherapy current in the modern West may be summarized in a few sentences.

The aim of Western psychiatry is to help the troubled individual to adjust himself to the society of less troubled individuals – individuals who are observed to be well adjusted to one another and the local institutions, but about whose adjustment to the fundamental Order of Things no enquiry is made. Counselling, analysis, and other methods of therapy are used to bring these troubled and maladjusted persons back to a normality, which is defined, for lack of any better criterion, in statistical terms. To be normal is to be a member of the majority party --- or in totalitarian societies, such as Calvinist Geneva, Nazi Germany, Communist Russia, of the party which happens to be in power. For the exponents of the transcendental pragmatists of the Orient, statistical normality is of little or no interest. History and anthropology make it abundantly clear that societies composed of individuals who think, feel, believe and act according to the most preposterous conventions can survive for long periods of time. Statistical normality is perfectly compatible with a high degree of folly and wickedness.

But there is another kind of normality --- a normality of perfect functioning, a normality of actualized potentialities, a normality of nature in fullest flower. This normality has nothing to do with the observed behavior of the greatest number --- for the greatest number live, and have always lived, with their potentialities unrealized, their nature denied its full development. In so far as he is a psychotherapist, the Oriental philosopher tries to help statistically normal individuals to become normal in the other, more fundamental sense of the word. He begins by pointing to those who think they are sane that, in fact, they are mad, but that they do not have to remain so if they don’t want to. Even a man who is perfectly adjusted to a deranged society can prepare himself, if he so desires, to become adjusted to the Nature of Things, as it manifests in the universe at large and in his own mind-body. This preparation must be carried out on two levels simultaneously. On the psycho-physical level, there must be a letting go of the ego’s frantic clutch on the mind-body, a breaking of its bad habits of interfering with the otherwise infallible workings of the entelechy, of the obstructing the flow of life and grace and inspiration. At the same time, on the intellectual level, there must be a constant self-reminder that our all too human likes and dislikes are not absolutes, that yin and yang, negative and positive, are reconciled in the Tao, that ‘One is the denial of all denials’, that ‘the eye with which we see God (if and when we see Him) is the same as the eye with which God sees us’, and that it is the eye to which, in Matthew Arnold’s words

Each moment in its race,

Crowd as we will its neutral space,

Is but a quiet watershed,

Whence, equally, the seas of life and death are fed.

This process of intellectual and psycho-physical adjustment to the Nature of Things is necessary; but it cannot, of itself, result in the normalization (in the non-statistical sense) of the deranged individual. It will, however, prepare the way for that revolutionary event. That, when it comes, is the work not of the personal self, but of the great Not-Self, of which our personality is a partial and distorted manifestation. “God and God’s will,’ says Eckhart, ‘are one; I and my will are two.’ However, I can always use my will to will myself out of my own light, to prevent my ego from interfering with God’s will and eclipsing the Godhead manifested by that will. In theological language, we are helpless without grace, but grace cannot help us unless we choose to co-operate with it.

In the pages which follow, Dr. Benoit has discussed the ‘supreme doctrine’ of Zen Buddhism in the light of Western psychological theory and Western psychiatric practice – and in the process he offered a searching criticism of Western psychology and Western psychotherapy as they appear in the light of Zen. This is a book that should be read by everyone who aspires to know who he is and what he can do to acquire such self-knowledge.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Totality of Love

"Freedom from your trial does not consist in destroying what appears to you as an evil condition (or even an evil belief).  Your freedom consists in the exercise of your realization of the totality of Love and your acceptance of that is your resurrection and ascension.  In the effort to overcome evil, as if there could be a false substance, the mind is kept in constant confusion and turmoil.  Our problems and their solutions rest in ourselves.  Certain it is that evil will remain with us just as long as we entertain the belief that there is evil." -- Bicknell Young

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Tree of Failure???

An acquaintance of mine, whom I visit on Facebook had an editorial from the New York Times, entitled The Tree of  Failure ( following President Obama's speech in Tuscon soon after the shootings by a young man. 

In the article, author David Brooks, an editor of the NYTimes, says, "Civility is a tree with deep roots, and without the roots, it can’t last. So what are those roots? They are failure, sin, weakness and ignorance."   

He later says, "So this is where civility comes from — from a sense of personal modesty and from the ensuing gratitude for the political process. Civility is the natural state for people who know how limited their own individual powers are and know, too, that they need the conversation." 

And later, "The problem is that over the past 40 years or so we have gone from a culture that reminds people of their own limitations to a culture that encourages people to think highly of themselves." 
And, "So, of course, you get narcissists...." 

And,  "Beneath all the other things that have contributed to polarization and the loss of civility, the most important is this: The roots of modesty have been carved away." 

I felt as though I were back in church, confused by all the mixing of metaphors, but so all pumped up by the preacher's passionate spew that I had to write a letter to the editor.  It wasn't published. So I'm publishing it here.

Dear Editor -- I would like to comment on David Brook's "Tree of Failure", January 13, 2011. Mr. Brooks, I found your opinion most exhilarating! I wonder if civility is a tree or an emotion, a feeling. Does it involve respect and maybe kindness? If it is a tree, and its roots are failure, sin, weakness and ignorance, no tree I know would grow in such a situation. If the root is no good, neither is the tree. But if civility is a feeling and intelligence, warmth, confidence and responsible cooperation might be its roots then I can see my civility in President Obama and his quiet, firm human display of composure as well as in your passionate outcry. Perhaps, the tree of civility has its roots in the idea Reinhold Niebuhr suggested: love, hope and tolerance, or, as he believed, rooted in the human spirit itself. May I invite you to try an experiment in self-civility? Re-read your opinion piece and put the word "my" in front of every noun. Notice how the naming power of words takes on new force when we take self-responsibility for them. Emotional continence, in my belief, begins in self awareness, self-sovereignty, and self-responsibility, which are its roots. All government is self-government. I like these words and their power in my mind.

“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so must we think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves.” - Abraham Lincoln

“But I wish to be distinctly understood on one point. Americanism is a question of spirit, convictions and purpose, not of creed or birthplace. – Theodore Roosevelt

“A nation, as a society, forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society. - Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father and third U.S. president

Best to you, Rob Craig

Monday, January 10, 2011

What's Working On You Today?

The Arizona shootings which killed six including a nine year old girl, and  a federal Judge, with 13 others seriously injured one of whom is a Congresswoman are on my mind today as well as a conversation I had by phone two days ago with my friend Nena Spencer.  Nena is metaphysical scientist (though any label, I am finding, does no justice to her)  Nena introduced Dr. Dorsey to Margaret Laird.  She told me that Dr. Dorsey said he was "standing on Freud's shoulders."   I read in one of Mrs. Laird's later Letters that she saw herself standing on Mrs. Eddy's shoulders. 

Margaret Fuller (1810-1850), America's first feminist author and a member of Emerson's Transcendentalist circle, said:  "If men knew how to look around them, they need not look above."

Looking around I found this wonderful article Nena submitted to the IMS newsletter in 2000 and am sharing it here.  I find it very clear.


by Nena Spencer
January 2000
I have heard that "practice makes perfect," but do I remember that "Perfect makes the practice?"
Spirit is always perfect in all ways. Good is the only thing going on, even when it doesn't feel like it is.
When a person calls for support in a difficult experience, the best thing a practitioner can do is voice what he/she is living all the time--the spiritual fact that only Good is going on.
There are many ways that Good can look, many views and languages for this Good to appear in any given human situation. I have learned to release all concepts of how a situation should look or turn out because I have no idea. To venture an opinion is to impede the perfect solution always unfolding.
Sometimes it looks like our friends and clients have to experience very difficult and painful experiences and the temptation is to want to take the pain away from them. This cannot be done because actually there is no pain and what they go through is still a view, still just language for the identity of perfection present and operating.
When the problem is dropped, immediately divine help looks like it is on the way. The Truth is there is no lapse from or return to divine perfection present and operating. While we are speaking, the problem is being turned around into no problem. To concern myself at any time about anyone or thing is a waste of happiness and satisfaction.