GUY HAGUE AND THE BHAGAVAN SRI RAMANA, CIRCA 1938
"I have invented nothing. To save embarrassment to people still living I have given to the persons who play a part in this story names of my own contriving, and I have in other ways taken pains to make sure that no one should recognize them."
WILLIAM SOMERSET MAUGHAM, The Razor's Edge
In 1944 W. Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge was published. In 1946 the first movie version was released. Since publication, regardless of how critics, pro or con may have praised it or panned it, for the reading public the book was nothing but a success --- and because of that reading public's largesss The Razor's Edge became one of the Best Selling Novels of the 20th Century.
Although the characters or their interactions might be cardboard to some or seemingly complicated to others, the story line itself is fairly straight forward and simple, basically conforming to the classic steps of the hero's quest as laid out by Joseph Campbell and others. The story follows a young American that Maugham has given the name Laurence Darrell as he searches for --- and finds --- Spritual Enlightenment after a harrowing personal experience in World War I. Throughout his book Maugham makes fairly blatant hints that the central character, Larry Darrell, is based on an actual person and that the story is based on actual fact. However, nowhere, either before, during or after, does Maugham offer any solid proof that such was the case. Nor has any such solid proof been forthcoming from his personal notes, letters, or other documentation found in the various Maugham archives around the world.
From day one there has been a continuing stream of speculation as to who the Larry Darrell character was or might have been. Most such speculation has either been discounted or disproved in one fashion or the other. Throughout the years Maugham himself remained mum on the subject. Over and over however, the name of one person, Guy Hague, continues to float to the top --- even though it is extremely difficult for Hague to be shoehorned into the ACTUAL main character role without a total reshifting of the underlying facts as presented by Maugham. It is even more difficult to have Guy Hague be Larry Darrell when you add into the mix the somewhat radical shift needed in Hague's own time frame reference. For example, the glaring difference between the known time Darrell was in India and Hague having been in India. Darrell arrived in India during the summer of 1925, and, after traveling on and off elsewhere in Asia for a couple of years, returned for two straight years departing in the fall of 1930. Hague was not there until thirteen years after Darrell's arrival --- or eight full years AFTER Darrell's departure --- in the fall/winter of 1938 from the most reliable sources, to a year or so around the same time from other sources.
Hague being Darrell --- or even the role model for Darrell --- has been challenged fairly thoroughly by a number of sources, including such sources as THE RAZOR'S EDGE: W. Somerset Maugham, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Guy Hague, and Zen (and attending footnotes) as well as by the major Ramana author and chronicler David Godman. Godman, in an article titled "Somerset Maughm and the Razor's Edge," writing about comments by THE formost Hague researcher around, a man by the name of Dennis Wills, offers the following regarding if Hague could or could not have been Darrell:
"The similarities are striking but there is no evidence that Maugham met Hague either in India or anywhere else. Hague was not at Sri Ramanashram, or even in India, on the day that Maugham visited Bhagavan, and Dennis Wills informs me that despite intensive research he has been unable to come up with any evidence that Maugham met Hague in the years prior to the publication of The Razor's Edge."(source)
However, the LEVEL of a challenge does NOT necessarily make it so. While supporters of Hague as Darrell submit that much of what is presented in the page on my Mentor for example is valid, so much so that Godman suggests it, what most people find upsetting about my thesis is not so much that Hague is not Darrell, but the fact that the candidate offered up as Darrell is a nobody --- an unknown that has stayed that way even up to this day.
The problem with anyone raising the issue or complaining about Darrell being an unknown however, is that Maugham himself wanted it that way because that was the way it was. Maugham starts out the story on the exact same thesis (i.e., that Darrell is a nobody) and stuck with that thesis right through to the end. To wit, on the very first page of the book he writes:
"The man I am writing about is not famous. It may be that he never will be. It may be that when his life at last comes to an end he will leave no more trace of his sojourn on earth than a stone thrown into a river leaves on the surface of the water. But it may be that the way of life that he has chosen for himself and the peculiar strength and sweetness of his character may have an ever-growing influence over his fellow men so that, long after his death perhaps, it may be realized that there lived in this age a very remarkable creature."
Then, in the final few paragraphs of the story, after all the trials and tribulations Darrell went through and the story is ending, Maugham writes:
He has no desire for fame. To become anything of a public figure would be deeply distasteful to him; and so it may be that he is satisfied to lead his chosen life and be no more than just himself. He is too modest to set himself up as an example to others; but it may be he thinks that a few uncertain souls, drawn to him like moths to a candle, will be brought in time to share his own glowing belief that ultimate satisfaction can only be found in the life of the spirit, and that by himself following with selflessness and renunciation the path of perfection he will serve as well as if he wrote books or addressed multitudes."
As you can see from the above, on the very first page of his book Maugham states equivocally that "The man I am writing about is not famous." In the closing paragraphs, again equivocally, he writes "He has no desire for fame. To become anything of a public figure would be deeply distasteful to him." So readers, skeptics, and critics alike should just take Maugham at his word and accept the fact that the Larry Darrell character, staying true to Maugham's vision --- and as found outlined in THE RAZOR'S EDGE: W. Somerset Maugham, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Guy Hague, and Zen --- although truly a remarkable creature in the deepest spiritual sense, was simply a nobody.
Not so with Hague.
One bright autumn day in Chicago of the year 1919, under the invitation of Elliott Templeton, Maugham, according to how he lays it out in his novel, went to the brownstone house on Lake Shore Drive of Templeton's sister, Mrs. Louise Bradley, for cocktails. After he had been there for a short while Mrs Bradley's daughter Isabel arrived with her fiance', Larry Darrell. As Maugham presents it to his reading audience that encounter was the first time he had ever seen Darrell. From that afternoon meeting Maugham describes Larry's appearance thus:
He was the same height as Elliott, just under six feet, thin and loose-limbed. He was a pleasent looking boy, neither handsome nor plain. He was slightly built but not delicate in appearance as well as wiry and resistant. His face, grave in repose, was tanned, but otherwise there was little color in it and his features, though regular enough, were undistinguished. He had rather high cheekbones and his temples were hollow. He had dark brown hair with a slight wave in it. His eyes looked larger than they really were because they were deep set in the orbits and his lashes were thick and long. His eyes were so dark that the iris made one color with the pupil, giving them a peculiar intensity.
In real life Maugham did NOT meet the Darrell character in 1919 as he cites in the novel. Their FIRST meeting actually occurred some eleven years AFTER the 1919 date cited, during the spring of 1931 in Paris. In clarification of same in THE RAZOR'S EDGE: W. Somerset Maugham, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Guy Hague, and Zen the following is found:
Their first encounter probably unfolded very similar to how Maugham describes it in the novel when he meets Darrell in Paris following the spiritual traveler's Awakening experience in India. His Enlightenment transpired on his birthday during the fall of 1930 and the Paris meeting some six months later, in the spring of 1931. The novel has Darrell being in Paris about a month when he and Maugham meet inadvertently at a sidewalk cafe, which in real life is most likely a fairly close portrayal of actual events. Maugham had been there only half the amount of that time himself, having arrived in Paris barely two weeks before. He was sitting outdoors one evening in the front row of the Cafe Du' Dome having a drink when a man walking by stopped at his table displaying, as Maugham notes, "a grin with a set of very white teeth." He wore no hat, had unkempt, uncut hair, his face was concealed by a thick brown beard. He wore a frayed shirt, threadbare coat with holes in the elbows and shabby grey slacks. His forehead and neck was deeply tanned. Following a short salutation Maugham writes that to the best of his belief he had never seen the man before and, in the course of the rather brief interlude, even goes so far as to quote himself as saying, "I've never set eyes on you in my life." In the novel, of course, Maugham quickly reneges on his assumption, as the man turns out to be Darrell. In real life, such was not the case --- that is, unlike as portrayed by Maugham in the novel, they had NOT met before. This was their FIRST encounter. (source)
Why would Maugham write such a thing, that is, the first meeting ever with Darrell being in 1919 rather than 1931, if, as he says in the quote at the top of the page, "I have invented nothing." Well, he justifies it with a follow up that reads:
"I have done this for the same reasons as the historians have, to give liveliness and verisimilitude to scenes that would have been ineffective if they had been merely recounted."
Regarding Darrell's visual appearance in the 1931 encounter, which, as stated above, was their FIRST real eye-to-eye, face-to-face encounter, Maugham writes that Darrell had, "a grin with a set of very white teeth, he wore no hat, had unkempt, uncut hair, his face was concealed by a thick brown beard. He wore a frayed shirt, threadbare coat with holes in the elbows and shabby grey slacks. His forehead and neck was deeply tanned." Using Maugham's words, THAT is how Darrell looked in Paris following his Enlightenment experience in India and upon his return to Europe. When Maugham wrote, "I have in other ways taken pains to make sure that no one should recognize them," he certainly seems to have done an excellent job following his own dictum and rules --- IF in fact Guy Hague was the role model for Darrell --- especially if you compare BOTH the 1919 and 1931 written descriptions with Hague's looks in the 1938 photo above.
No argument that threadbare clothes and thick beards can easily come and go. However, not much time transpired between the time the 1938 photo was taken (see below) and Hague's return to Europe --- which inturn would not allow much time for a thick beard to accumulate or clothes to become threadbare. Most likely the 1919 description used by Maugham in the book was extrapolated out of his observances during the meeting outside the Cafe Du' Dome in 1931. He then backtracked his observations for use in the earlier 1919 description (i.e., slightly built but not delicate in appearance. Wiry and resistant with regular but undistinguished features. High cheekbones with hollow temples. Dark brown hair with a slight wave. Deep set eyes lashes thick and long).
Shown standing right next to Hague in the picture at the top of the page is Sri Ramana. It is interesting that Maugham doesn't seem to take any sort of an extra effort to ensure no one should recognize him. I wonder why that is? Larry Darrell, in a discussion with Maugham, describes his holy man, called Shri Ganesha in the novel but who we all know really the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi as follows:
"In person d'you mean? Well, he wasn't tall, neither thin nor fat, palish brown in colour and clean shaven, with close-cropped white hair. He never wore anything but a loincloth and yet he managed to look as trim and well-dressed as a young man in one of our Brooks Brothers' advertisements."
In 1958 Maugham published The Saint which is basically not much more than the notes he wrote after his visit to the Ramana ashram and his meeting with Sri Ramana. Notice in his notes Maugham writes that Ramana had a "close-cropped white beard," (like in the photo) while in the novel he described Ramana as clean shaven --- wow, some way to take pains to make sure no one should recognize him. Below, from The Saint:
What follows is what I wrote in my notebook on my return to Madras. The Maharshi was of average height for an Indian, of a dark honey colour with close-cropped white hair and a close-cropped white beard. He was plump rather than stout. Though he wore nothing but an exiguous loincloth he looked neat, very clean and almost dapper. He had a slight limp, and he walked slowly, leant on a stick. His mouth was somewhat large, with thickish lips and the whites of his eyes were bloodshot.
How steadfast Maugham held to his "I have in other ways taken pains to make sure that no one should recognize them," thesis is not fully known and, because of the above example and others, and what I have come to know about things personally, questionable. To wit: during his travels Darrell met a holy man in the temple in Madura. Inturn that holy man sent Darrrell to the Maharshi. What follows, as written down by Maugham, is what Darrell tells him:
"Two years later I was down south at a place called Madura. One night in the temple someone touched me on the arm. I turned around and saw a bearded man with long black hair, dressed in nothing but a loincloth, with the staff and the begging bowl of the holy man.
"He asked me what I'd been doing and I told him; he asked me where I was going and I said to Travancore; he told me to go and see Sri Ganesha. "He will give you what you are looking for."
I have identified the holy man in the temple as Swami Ramdas. However, if you have ever seen photographs of Ramdas he looks nothing like how Maugham describes the holy man: "a bearded man with long black hair, dressed in nothing but a loincloth." Ramdas is bald, beardless and nearly always clothed in a white dhoti topped with a white western-style shirt. All well and good if we subscribe to Maugham's "taken pains to make sure that no one should recognize them." The thing is, in the 1928 time frame reference we are talking about here regarding the meeting between Darrell and the holy man in the temple, Ramdas DID look very much like how Darrell described him --- and Maugham goes with --- which has a tendency to once again undermine Maugham's attempts to make sure nobody recognizes the various denizens in the novel.
It should be noted that Vijayananda (Adolphe Jacques Weintrob), a French doctor who at age 37, met Swami Ramdas in the Autumn of 1952. In In the Steps of the Yogis (First Edition 1978), Part III: Sages and Yogis of Contemporary India, Chapter III, Ramdas, Vijayananda writes, from personal conversations with Ramdas himself, says the following:
"Ramdas was once a Sannyassi (a monk) and used to wear the orange robe. "I had a beard and long hair like you," he told me one day. But now he dresses simply in a white dhoti, "like everybody else," for he has transcended the monastic state and has become an ativarnashrami (one who has risen above social castes and stages of existence)."
The first time I ever saw a picture of Guy Hague I knew I had seen him before.
When I was around eleven years old my Stepmother took me to meet a childhood hero of mine, the cowboy western movie star Roy Rogers. She made the arrangements for the meeting through a good friend of my grandmother's by the name of Andy Devine, the legendary movie sidekick. I always liked Devine for that, and because of him, as a kid, I made an extra effort to watch The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok every week on television. The series, which started in 1951 and ran at least five years, starred Guy Madison in the title role and Devine as his able yet bumbling sidekick. Until I started watching the series with Guy Madison starring as Wild Bill I had never heard of a person with the given name "Guy" before.
I only mention it because during the time the TV series was on I met a man named Guy and thought it odd at the time because prior to that, except for Guy Madison, I had gone my whole life without hearing of a person named Guy.
I was working a couple of days a week after school running errands for a man that lived in the neighborhood. He was a house-bound former merchant marine that had been badly burned when the ship he was on was torpedoed during World War II. Before the war he used his seafaring job to see the world. On one of those see the world juants he was on his way from the Philippines to Cambodia to visit the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat when he bumped into a fellow American, a former Navy man, on the way to India. The two of them went to Angkor Wat together then parted ways. They did however, remain in contact. The ex-Navy man was from Long Beach, California. When the war started he returned from his travels abroad and took a job in the shipyards on Terminal Island located right next to Long Beach. He made it a point to visit the badly burned merchant marine on a regular basis. On several occasions he was there I was there too. He and I hit it off right away because my dad had worked in the shipyards during the war and the ex-Navy man liked that. The man's name was Guy, and although he was then 58 years old and it was some 15 years after the above picture was taken, the first time I ever saw the picture I could still tell he was the same man that was standing next to the Maharshi.
During the summer between my sophmore and junior year in high school, somewhere around the same time I was in the process of meeting Swami Ramdas, my Merchant Marine Friend died. Although I never saw the the ex-Navy man named Guy after the memorial services nor did I talk with him at the time, somehow, and I do not recall how, I heard that a year after I graduated from high school he too had died. It was many, many years after that before I saw the photo of him standing with Ramana for the first time, so afterwards, there was no way to personally confirm if the man I met named Guy was one and the same man in the photo --- although for all practical purposes I was 100% positive he was.
Several things happened leading up to and after my crossing paths with the the ex-Navy man at the merchant marine's house. The first is covered fairly thoroughly in The Meeting and of which bore no specific relevance at the time to any of the circumstances above because WHO Sri Ramana was --- or that he even existed --- was an unknown to me at the time.(see) It was only sometime after the fact that any of it became relevant. The same held true regarding the name Guy Hague and any importance he may or may not had in the overall scheme of things. However, all that was soon to change. With the death of the merchant marine my errand-boy job ended so I started looking around for another source of income. I took a job with a small mom and pop restaurant nearby and in the process substantially increased the amount of money I earned. With that increase I was able to buy my first car, a Ford Woodie Wagon.
Around that same time, albeit AFTER the death of the merchant marine, a man bought the house next door to where I lived. After noticing the labor of love I put into restoring the wood on the wagon the man next door asked if he could hire me to help refinish the floor-to-ceiling knotty pine that covered the walls in his house. In the end he introduced me into things Zen becoming in effect my spiritual mentor. In turn, besides study practice under his auspices, he sent me to study under the venerable Japanese Zen master, Yasutani Hakuun Roshi, as well as somewhat later, the anonymous American Zen master Alfred Pulyan. It was because of the connection with Pulyan that I first heard that a man by the name of Guy Hague was a man that was related in some fashion to Sri Ramana.
A woman by the name of Mercedes De Acosta was trying to search down my mentor. The trail led her to me through Pulyan. Before she and I could meet she died. In asking around about her I discovered that De Acosta was most notably a socialite and consummate party goer, a sort of high society earlier version of Paris Hilton. She was however, actually much more than that, being imbued both intellectually and spiritually. She was a poet with three volumes of poetry published in the early 1920s as well as an accomplished playwright and a costume designer. She was also an author. In November of 1938 she visited Sri Ramana and in 1960 wrote a book titled Here Lies the Heart which, among other things, discussed her visit to the ashram. In her book De Acosta also wrote about meeting Guy Hague. She writes:
It was the voice of an American named Guy Hague, who originally came from Long Beach, California. He told me later that he had been honourably discharged from the American Navy in the Philippines and had then worked his way to India, taking up the study of yoga when he reached Bombay. Then he heard about Sri Ramana Maharshi and, feeling greatly drawn to him, decided to go to Tiruvannamalai. When I met him he had already been with the Maharshi for a year, sitting uninterruptedly day and night in the hall with the sage.(source)
As you can see it is a known fact, not just from De Acosta, but numerous other sources as well, that Guy Hague was at the ashram and studied under the Maharshi. What is not known is if Hague reached Enlightenment under the guidance of Ramana or anybody else for that matter. No one who champions Hague as Darrell seems to address that issue, which is odd in the fact that Maugham makes it quite clear that the Larry Darrell character experienced Full Attainment. Without THAT experience, what is the use of the story? If Hague NEVER had the same experience --- regardless of the other strikes against him being however forgiven --- then any prospect of him being Darrell would most certainly be negated.
The question is, how would one know or tell if Darrell or Hague or anybody else was Enlightened? Maugham wrote the following about Darrell, although it must be remembered when Maugham sat down to actually write The Razor's Edge circa 1940-41 or so he had already gone to India, met the Maharshi and had experienced personally the level of the holy man's spritual Attainment --- even fainting in his presence. So he "knew" Enlightenment even though in the book he writes it as though he knows nothing of either the Maharshi or Awakening. Maugham, remembering back in time to how he felt during that initial pre-Maharshi 1931 meeting with Darrell in Paris he recalls the following for the reader in what he sensed:
"I felt that there was something within him, I don't know whether to call it(see)
awareness or a sensibility or a force, that remained strangely aloof."
My case was not so completely different from Maugham's pre-Maharshi days. Now, while it is true that as a young boy I once had the great and good fortune of meeting Franklin Merrell-Wolff, an American of great spiritual Attainment and write about an uncanny experience in a paper titled The Tree while in his presence, at the time we are talking about here, although it was several years after my Merrell-Wolff experience, I truly knew nothing of Enlightenment, Maharshis, or seekers along the path on any sort of verbal or intellectual level. I didn't even know there WAS a path. Still the same, when I met my mentor I sensed something. In ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds regarding same I write:
"When we made eye contact for the first time I was set aback, almost stunned, by the overwhelming calmness and serenity that seemed to abide in his presence."
The following, from the website How To Recognize Enlightenment, exploring if an outside observer can, in all cases, determine if a person is Enlightened or not, the venerated Indian Sanyasin, Sri Adi Shankara (sometimes spelled Sankara) (788-820), in his work "The Crest Jewel of Discrimination" or as it is sometimes known, "Viveka Chudamani", states that the Knower of the Atman (i.e., a person Awakened to the Absolute, Enlightened) "bears no outward mark of a holy man" (Stanza 539). Continuing, although there are variences found in the actual wording between various translators and translations the gist behind the words remains the same, Shankara writes:
"Sometimes he appears to be a fool, sometimes a wise man. Sometimes he seems splendid as a king, sometimes feeble-minded. Sometimes he is calm and silent. Sometimes he draws men to him. Sometimes people honor him greatly, sometimes they insult him. Sometimes they ignore him." Sri Shankara goes on: "The ignorant see the body of a knower of Brahman and identify him with it. Actually he is free from the body and every other kind of bondage. To him the body is merely a shadow."
Continuing on my own in a similar or like vein, in Dark Luminosity I cite from the Sutras:
When the Buddha was walking along the road to Benares following his post-Enlightenment pause he was approached by a wandering ascetic. According to the custom of the time the ascetic greeted him and asked who his teacher was or what doctrine he followed. The Buddha told the wanderling that he was "the Victor and Conqueror of the World, superior to gods and men, an All-Enlightened One beholden to no teacher." The wandering ascetic could see no hint of anything of the Buddha's nature and wandered off as wanderlings are oft to do, mumbling under his breath something like, "If it were only so!"
Later on in the text, making reference to the fact that the wandering ascetic, even in the presence of the Buddha himself, was not able to recognize anything significant about the Buddha, I write, speaking of my own mentor:
What I am saying is, whether a deeply religious follower, an Enlightened master of the first degree, or just a poor working dolt with no penchant toward things religious, sometimes Enlightenment can be recognized in others, sometimes not. In my case, even though I didn't know it or what Enlightenment was at the time, I still recognized whatever it was in the man I met.
And that is the punchline. Even though I did not know what Enlightenment was at the time, I still recognized whatever it was in my mentor. Although it must be agreed that it does not make it so, I recognized no such manifestation under any circumstances at any time when in the company of Guy Hague that was in any way similar to what I recognized in the presence of my mentor --- and I am probably the only person that ever had the opportunity to meet both of them and make any sort of a comparison.
ADDITIONAL RAMDOM THOUGHTS REGARDING GUY HAGUE:
Mercedes De Acosta, the author of the book Here Lies the Heart, states she visited the ashrama of the Maharshi Sri Ramana at the end of November, 1938. In the Extracts of that book the following is found, which gives the exact dates of her visit:
21- 22 November, 1938
583. Ganapati Sastri, known as well as Ganapathi Muni, showed Sri Bhagavan a letter from a Spanish lady, Mercedes De Acosta, saying she would be arriving here the next day. Sri Bhagavan remarked: "See the trouble to so many because I am here."
24 November, 1938
587. The Spanish lady and her lady friend sat in counsel with Sri Bhagavan asking of him several questions.
Both ladies then kneeled before Sri Bhagavan, one after another, and asked for blessings. Then they left for Pondicherry on their way to Colombo.
During her first day of her stay at the ashrama she met Guy Hague. She presents that meeting to the readers in her book as follows --- and of which I presented above previously:
It was the voice of an American named Guy Hague, who originally came from Long Beach, California. He told me later that he had been honourably discharged from the American Navy in the Philippines and had then worked his way to India, taking up the study of yoga when he reached Bombay. Then he heard about Sri Ramana Maharshi and, feeling greatly drawn to him, decided to go to Tiruvannamalai. When I met him he had already been with the Maharshi for a year, sitting uninterruptedly day and night in the hall with the sage.
De Acosta says that Hague was "honorably discharged from the American Navy." Maugham writes in his book that Darrell was a pilot in World War I, an American flying for the British through Canada. Flying was more than just a mere excuse or entry way into the war. Darrell, who flew primarily a Sopwith Camel against a variety of German aircraft including Zeppelins and was wounded twice says:
"I loved flying. I couldn't describe the feeling it gave me, I only knew I felt proud and happy. In the air I felt that I was part of something very great and beautiful. I didn't know what it was all about, I only knew that I wasn't alone any more, but that I belonged. I felt that I was at home with the infinitude."
Doesn't sound much like the typical American sailor. Plus, being in the American Navy as well as having been a pilot for the British in World War I is a rather long stretch --- even for Maugham doing as historians have: "to give liveliness and verisimilitude to scenes that would have been ineffective if they had been merely recounted," OR, as Maugham also alludes to: "to have in other ways taken pains to make sure that no one should recognize them." Regarding Maugham's attempt in trying to make it so no one would recognize him or not, on page two of ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds, I substantiate my mentor being a pilot from my own experience with:
When I was growing up there was an 'old' man that tended the oil derricks not far from where I lived. Every year on the Fourth of July he would take a bunch of us kids to the top on one of the derricks to watch the fireworks being shot off in the surrounding communities. He lived in a combination caretakers shack, repair shop near the wells. One day I took my mentor to his place just for the heck of it. On his wall were several framed photographs of biplanes with men standing around in front of them dressed in WW I flight regalia. Come to find out the oil well man had been a pilot fighting for the French in theLafayette Flying Corps and was one of the men in the photos. Next thing I knew my Mentor and the oil well man were swaping war stories about everything from pulling thousand foot long Zeppelins out of the sky using Twin Vickers armed with tracers to R & R in Paris. My Mentor flew Sopwith Camels, the oil well man Nieuport 11s.
Notice as well that De Acosta writes that when she and Hague met he "had already been with the Maharshi for a year, sitting uninterruptedly day and night in the hall with the sage."
Where De Acosta got that "year" figure regarding Hague sitting uninterruptedly day and night in the hall is not known. If it was from Hague himself or if she just heard it around, there is huge discrepancy between the one year figure she cites and what the official ashrama publication "Talks With Sri Ramana" has to say.
"Talks With Sri Ramana" Volume III Talk #594, dated December 15, 1938, Hague is mentioned as "a temporary resident (at the ashrama) for the last two months."(see) The last two months! Considering the need for a certain lead time between writing an article and actual publication of an article, the author may well have written the piece on Hague sometime during the month prior, that is in November, 1938. That would make his arrival at the ashrama at the earliest September 1938, but most likely October, 1938 --- just one month before De Acosta's visit.
Hague sitting in the meditation hall day and night for one full year uninterrupted as De Acosta writes OR doing so for only two months as cited by the ashrama publication, the action was typical of the devotees in the 1938 time bracket. Not so in the time of Darrell. He arrived at the ashrama ten years before Hague, in 1928, and two years later, on his birthday in the fall of 1930, he Awakened to the Absolute. Interestingly enough, according to Maugham, he did not stay at the ashrama continuously during that two year period (i.e., sitting uninterruptedly day and night in the hall with the Bhagavan) nor did his Realization occur there.
He had met a man that was a forestry officer and devotee of Sri Ramana who would spend a few days at a time at the ashrama. The forestry officer gave Darrell a key to a secluded forest service bungalow that was a two-day journey by bus followed by a long hike high into the mountains. It was in that isolated area that Darrell had his Awakening experience, which means his Enlightenment did NOT occur on or about Ramana's the holy mountain Arunachala or at the ashrama.
De Acosta sat in the meditation hall with the Maharshi for three days and three nights. She wanted to stay longer but toward the end of the third day Ramana told her that she should go back to America, saying "There will be what will be called a 'war,' but which, in reality, will be a great world revolution. Every country and every person will be touched by it. You must return to America. Your destiny is not in India at this time." Most likely, somewhere along the way, in that Hague was an American too, Ramana probably offered the same sage advice to him as well. It seems extremely odd that Ramana would tell De Acosta to return to America after being at the ashrama only three days and, with the exact same ramifications facing Hague, wait to tell him after he had been there a year. Most likely Hague had only recently arrived just as the article in the #594 issue of "Talks With Sri Ramana" alludes to.
Whether on his own or from a hint from Ramana --- or possibly even De Acosta --- it is known that by the time the war broke out Hague had returned from his travels abroad and took a job in the shipyards on Terminal Island located right next to Long Beach, Californa (where he claimed to be from). There is however, no solid evidence when he left India or which route he took home. Since he told De Acosta he had worked his way to India from the Philippines and the fact that the Japanese military was in the process of flexing their muscles all over China and Asia and heading toward the Pacific and possible U.S. interests, he probably returned to the states by going through Europe rather than backtracking over any previously covered ground. However, in the fact that the war began in Europe between Europeans before it started with the U.S. there is a good chance Hague was in the states by 1940. The German Army invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 and had reached Paris by June 14, 1940. In the process, as might be expected, many, many lives, both large and small --- including those of Maugham, Hague and De Acosta --- were adversely impacted. For more on that click HERE.
I might be able to shed some light on the timing of Hague's whereabouts during the period in question because of a conversation I overheard at the ex-merchant marine's house one afternoon. I had returned from my errands and was in the process of dusting and restacking books like I often did when I became privy to a discussion between the merchant marine and the former Navy man. The Navy man had said while he was in India he had learned there was NO ego. Now I wasn't sure what an ego was, but the merchant marine insisted there was one. To prove it he had me get down a book and the two of them went over the contents in a somewhat heated manner, all the while neither of them changing or altering their views. The Navy man said many years before he had tried to talk to the man in the book inorder to discuss with him the same issue, but was unable to see him. He said while he was in Paris he had met a woman that was a princess who knew the man --- and that the man had stayed at her house one year before on his way to London. The Navy man told the princess he would like to talk to the man so she gave him a letter of introduction. When the Navy man went to London to see the man, even though he had the letter of introduction in hand, he was unable to meet with him because he was too sick to take visitors.
The man they were discussing was Sigmund Freud. On June 4, 1938, escaping the oncoming grip of the Nazis, Freud and his family left Vienna on the Orient Express. They stayed overnight in Paris at the apartment of his friend Marie Bonaparte --- a princess --- then continued on to London. A few months later Freud had surgery to remove a cancerous growth. By February 1939 the cancer had returned, only this time the tumor was considered inoperable. Over the next eight months Freud became weaker and weaker and by September the cancer had eaten a through to the outside of his cheek. He died September 23, 1939.
The princess had told the Navy man Freud had stayed at her house one year before, which would make the Navy man and the Princess' meeting sometime at least during or after June 1939. We also know Freud died in September of the same year. If all the information is correct, that would put Hague out of India but still in Paris sometime during or after June 1939 --- BUT in London, apparently on the way back to the United States, possibly BEFORE the German Army invaded Poland, but for sure before Freud's death in September.
Ramana informed De Acosta "Without ego, the world is." Of the egoless state, he said, "The Gnani (the Enlightened) continually enjoys uninterrupted, transcendental experience, keeping his inner attention always on the Source, in spite of the apparent existence of the ego, which the ignorant imagine to be real. This apparent ego is harmless; it is like the skeleton of a burnt rope--though it has form, it is of no use to tie anything with."
I think Ramana's view is where the Navy man was coming from --- without ego, the egoless state, the Death of the Ego, all almost a complete antithesis to Freud and his westernized view of the ego. -In the Way of things Zen, the Navy man, that is Hague, and his view of the ego, vis-a-vie Ramana, was the correct one. My friend, the merchant marine, wrong.
In the photo of Hague with the Maharshi the Bhagavan is shown with a beard. It is well known that he was shaved every month on Purnima (full moon). In the 1938 period we are talking about here with Hague, Purnima fell on Sunday, October 9, Monday, November 7, and Wednesday, December 7. Although the beard is short, the length is such that it shows enough growth for the Maharshi to be within only a few days of his next shave. Because Hague would have been new to the ashrama, protocol would have probably dictated waiting to be photographed with Ramana (after all you do not see pictures of Somerset Maugham or De Acosta with Ramana). That means the picture was probably taken early November but most likely early December 1938.
Before she left the ashrama De Acosta wrote down several questions for Hague to ask the Bhagavan that she had not had a chance to ask. It has been reported, and she wrote as much in her book, that while still in Europe she received a letter from Hague saying he had discussed the questions with Ramana and in the letter enclosed Ramana's responses. Writing in her book that she received a letter from Hague intimates within its context --- but not necessarily so if you dissect how it is written --- that the letter was delivered via conventional means (i.e., the postal service). The following is referenced from Mercedes De Acosta:
"There is some discrepancy regarding how the flow of information was achieved between the Maharshi and De Acosta after she left the ashram and if it was totally by "letters" or possibly by some other means --- say, if some of the information was actually delivered in person by Hague in the process of his transit through Europe on the way to the U.S., for example. True, there may have been letters involved and received by her, but not all of them delivered exclusively via the postal service. Some of the information seems to have been delivered by hand, possibly still in letter form to De Acosta, but on a face-to-face basis by Hague, then discussed at some length between the two personally."(source)
De Acosta was a beautiful, exotic woman in search of some sort of spiritual inspiration. Hague was a known quantity from under the wing of Ramana. There was only two years difference between De Acosta and Hague. It is my belief, as stated in the above quote, that Hague delivered a letter or letters to De Acosta personally on behalf of the Bhagavan, possibly with aspirations on Hague's own part other than spiritual --- that in the end could not or would not bear fruit.
If Hague left India for the United States shortly after the December photograph, say sometime in early 1939 by traveling through Europe, BUT did not leave Europe until sometime later, there is a remote possibility he and Maugham could have crossed paths --- but it is pure speculation as nothing has ever surfaced that the two of them ever met --- in Europe or any place else for that matter. The problem is Maugham was at his villa in the south of France during that period. Like Maugham and De Acosta, there is a possibility Hague traveled by ship, although I have no information that leads me to believe it was exclusively so. If by ship --- like both of their ships --- his ship most likely docked in Naples or possibly Genoa, Italy. From there he probably went directly to Paris to see De Acosta, which, in a direct route, would completely bypass the south of France and Maugham's villa, then on to London, New York, and points west.
Why Paris to meet with De Acosta and not somewhere else --- say the south of France? After all, De Acosta writes in her book that before she left to see the Maharshi she "had very little money, far too little to risk going to India" and traveling by steamship she had booked herself into one of the cheapest cabins on the ship. Paris would seem out of reason over any period of time. However, her sister Rita De Acosta Lydig, who had died some ten years earlier, was a legend in Paris where she always spent parts of each year. Rita would arrive at the Ritz with a hairdresser, masseuse, chauffeur, secretary, maid, and forty Vuitton trunks, so Paris was a natural for De Acosta --- regardless of any financial ability to pay.
Nothing has surfaced that De Acosta sought out Maugham while she was in Europe. A few years after her visit to the ashrama De Acosta did meet up with Maugham in New York (possibly 1940) and inquired if he had actually been to see the Maharshi. He said he had. However, even though De Acosta, Hague, and Ramana were closely interwoven entities at the time, and Hague could have been a mutual acquaintance easily brought up by either Maugham or De Acosta, he wasn't --- which seems to indicate Maugham did not know him or of him --- at least not worth recording one way or the other.
What about the other way? Could it have been possible --- or even in the realm of reality --- that Maugham could have met up with Guy Hague in India PRIOR to writing The Razor's Edge?
Again, the offical ashrama publication "Talks With Sri Ramana" Volume III Talk #594, dated December 15, 1938 mentions Hague being "a temporary resident (at the ashrama) for the last two months." De Acosta, who writes in her book that she met and talked with Hague during her visit to see the Maharshi, was there at the end of November, 1938 --- which makes Hague's stay at the ashrama having started at the earliest sometime after late September, 1938 --- and as I figure above, most likely October, 1938. Maugham was in India for a total of three months. He arrived by ship in January, 1938, was in Madura at the southern tip of India by his 64th birthday, January 25, 1938, and departed Bombay, India by ship to Naples, Italy on March 31, 1938. If such was the case, then they missed even crossing paths with each other by nearly six months.
Remember how Maugham described Darrell --- supposedly in 1919 but actually in 1931 --- saying he was:
(J)ust under six feet, thin and loose-limbed. He was a pleasent looking boy, neither handsome nor plain. He was slightly built but not delicate in appearance as well as wiry and resistant. His face, grave in repose, was tanned, but otherwise there was little color in it and his features, though regular enough, were undistinguished. He had rather high cheekbones and his temples were hollow. He had dark brown hair with a slight wave in it. His eyes looked larger than they really were because they were deep set in the orbits and his lashes were thick and long. His eyes were so dark that the iris made one color with the pupil, giving them a peculiar intensity.
Ramana was 1.90 meters tall, which is about a quarter of an inch over six feet. Hague is easily taller than Ramana by a couple of inches in the photo, which makes him well over six feet. The photo was taken in 1938. Hague was born in 1895 which would make him around 43 when the picture was taken and Ramana just about 60. Maugham calls Darrell a pleasent looking boy and a boy, pleasent looking or otherwise, Hague would have been in 1919 --- although he would have been 24 years old which is pushing it for a boy (in the novel Darrell was 20 in the fall of 1919). As for slightly built, which most of us know can come and go over time, you can decide.
In 1940 Maugham was forced to flee his villa in the south of France as the Nazi military machine plunged through Europe. He sought refuge aboard one of two coal barges on what turned out to be a horrific twenty-day voyage to England crammed together with 500 other British refugees --- and the reason why I think Hague had already returned to the States well prior to Maugham (i.e., sometime in 1939). Maugham had waited to the last minute for whatever reason. Hague, as well as De Acosta, in that they were farther north in France (Paris), most likely acting independently of each other, took the Maharshi's earlier advice and got the heck out.(see)
Maugham ended up in the United States for the duration, first settling in South Carolina at a former plantation called Parker's Ferry owned by his publisher Nelson Doubleday. There he started, or continued work on, The Razor's Edge. Shortly after that he moved to Hollywood to work on the screenplay for The Razor's Edge. About the same time Hague showed up in the city of Long Beach located some 27 miles south of L.A. --- which is the closest the two ever got to each other.
NOTE: If you have not read any of the footnotes please scroll down to the bottom of the page.
SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI'S WESTERN DISCIPLES
THE RAZOR'S EDGE: TRUE OR FALSE?
THE WANDERLING AND WIKIPEDIA
ON THE RAZOR'S
The fact that Darrell arrived in India during the summer of 1925 is made fairly clear by Maugham in his book. The "after traveling on and off elsewhere in Asia for a couple of years..." statement in the paragraph this footnote is referenced to is pretty well substantiated by Maugham in his book as well. Maugham asks Darrell's fiancee' Isabel about what news he has of Larry and Isabel responds with:
"I? None. I haven't set eyes on him since before you were last in Paris. I knew slightly some of the people he used to know and I did ask them what had become of him, but that was years ago. No one seemed to know anything about him. He just vanished."
"We know the manager of the bank in Chicago where Larry has his account and he told us that every now and then he got a draft from some queer place. China, Burma, India. He seems to have been getting around."
In Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery the following is found:
One morning the old man took me down stream quite some distance. In the rough rock hewn hillside somewhat above the stream just before it tumbled down into rapids over a rather steep waterfall the Zen man showed me what appeared to be the remains of fallen-over, onetime rock shelter. I had seen a shelter built in nearly the exact same manner high in the mountains of the Sierras in California some years before. In High Mountain Zendo I described the Sierra-based shelter thus:
It is actually a natural space, like a small cave that has a handmade pile or rocks forming a "C" shaped wall that protects the inside area from the prevailing winds and allows for a small fire for warmth and cooking. There is a log with a piece of canvas that can be put over the entrance and dropped to the ground if need be as well as it can get quite cold in the altitude and the winds quite strong.
From the remains of the onetime shelter I could tell that the one in the Sierras replicated almost down to the last stone the shelter I stood before --- it was as though the same person had built both of them from the same design. If such was the case, at the moment I stood before the ruins, I did not know which one came first, although I knew the shelter in the Sierras had seemed much more recent and was still intact. A strange non-weather related cold-like chill came over me as I crouched down and looked inside, gently poking the ground beyond the rocks with a stick. The feeling was broken by the Zen man putting his hand on my shoulder followed by a gesture as though he wanted to show me something else. He walked over to a close by tree and pointed to markings carved into the trunk. I could barely make out three letters and just below them four numbers, which appeared to be the date of a year, 1926. The letters were the exact same letters as the initials of my Mentor. My mentor told me he had arrived in India a year after his future teacher to be, Sri Ramana, had been accosted by ruffians in his ashram. That incident has been dated at June 26, 1924, which would make my mentor's arrival in India somewhere just before or during the summer of 1925. However it was not until 1928 that he showed up at the ashram. He traveled in "China, Burma, India" and it has been said he showed up in the temple of the south south Indian city of Madura "two years later." It was apparently during those two years he ended up in the mountains along the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, possibly even doing study practice in the same monastery I was staying.
In relation to the above encounter with the Zen-man at the rock shelter, there is much more to the story than meets the eye, albeit too long to go into here as well as veering away from Guy Hague. However, for those of you who may be so interested, the 'more than meets the eye' comment refers to the monastery in question and being beyond the reach of time, bordering up along the edges of such legendary places in Buddhist history as Shangri-La, Shambhala, and Gyanganj, the mysterious hermitage of immortals said to be high in the Himalayas. Please see:
THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER
SHANGRI-LA, SHAMBHALA, GYANGANJ, BUDDHISM AND ZEN
The following is also found in Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery and in the process clears up the WHY the real life main character in Maugham's book, thus then Maugham's Larry Darrell, ended up going to India. In doing so it also underlines and strengthens my continuing thesis that my mentor and NOT Guy Hague was the role model for Darrell:
In the midsummer, early fall of 1922, before going to India, my mentor met a Benedictine monk in Bonn, Germany who was on a research-study leave from his monastery in Alsace, France.(see) At the time, the Father noticed my mentor seemed to be stuck in the beginning stages of a deep spiritual quest so he invited him to return with him to his monastery. In the summer of 1923 my mentor went, staying three or four months or more, studying and partcipating in all the monastery duties and activities. When he decided to leave, the following is said to have transpired:
"Those good fathers had no answers that satisfied either my head or my heart to the questions that perplexed me. My place was not with them. When I went to say goodbye to Father Ensheim he didn't ask me whether I had profited by the experience in the way he had been so sure I would. He looked at me with inexpressible kindness."
"I'm afraid I've been a disappointment to you, Father."
"No," he answered. "You are a deeply religious man who doesn't believe in God. God will seek you out. You'll come back. Whether here or elsewhere only God can tell."
What I was told, the good Father, figuring IF my mentor was just put into the right environment, he should be able to bridge the gap between the religious aspects he was familar with and that of the potentially deeper spiritual aspects he was seeking. In so figuring, he suggested that he go to India and visit a certain monastery high in the Himalayas called Hemis (sometimes, Himis). How it has been related back to me is that the Father told my mentor that he heard sometime in the late 1880s early 1890s a man by the name of Nicolas Notovitch had ended up in the monastery of Hemis recuperating from an injury. While at that monastery he was shown an ancient manuscript that indicated Jesus of Nazaerth had been in India during the so-called missing years of his life as indicated in the bible. The manuscript Notovitch was shown was a translation of the original which was kept in the library of the monastery of Marbour near Lhasa. The original text was written in Pali, whereas the Hemis Manuscripts were in Tibetan, consisting of fourteen chapters, of which contained a total of two hundred and twenty four verses --- all related to Jesus being in India.
Some thirty-five years following Notovich's sojourn to Hemis, around the sametime that my mentor arrived in India (1925) a follower of the Theosophist sect by the name of Nicholas Roerich, who would eventually go on to be nominated three different times for the Nobel Peace Prize, arrived at Hemis to see the Hemis manuscripts and then on to Tibet in search of the originals. Foreigners, especially white people from the west, did not travel much in Tibet in those days, especially to Lhasa, and Roerich and his party were held incognito in Tibet during the years 1927-28, during which five of his party died. He was eventually released in 1928 and returned to India. It is reported he saw the same manuscripts as Notovitch. If you recall from the above, my mentor carved the date 1926 in the tree along the stream near the rock hut. It is my belief he went in search of the same manuscripts seeking the truth. If he ever met Roerich or saw the manuscripts --- or if the manuscripts ever existed --- is not known. However, it seems to me my mentor had a massive change regarding his approach to things spiritual and religion after going to Tibet, especially so how he viewed things in a western sense. Between the time he got off the boat in Bombay and the time he arrived at the temple in Madura some two to three years later and met a Holy Man there, who inturn was sent by that Holy Man to study under Sri Ramana, enough of a change occurred that he was Awakened to the Absolute --- that is, Enlightened in the same manner as the ancient classical masters.
To my knowledge my merchant marine friend never left his house except for two times during all the time I knew him. The first time was around three months after I started working for him. During that period a continuous series of high-powered winter storms battered the coastline all along Redondo Beach for a good two weeks straight, with giant two-story high waves tearing out a good portion of the beach and destroying houses all along the Strand. The damage received a good amount of national coverage and almost nonstop local coverage. My merchant marine friend, who could barely get between rooms without collapsing, decided he wanted to see the waves and destruction himself in real life. He got a couple of merchant marine buddies along with a couple of ex-navy guys he knew, one of whom was Guy Hague, to carry him down to the street along with all of his breathing stuff, put him in the back of a panel truck, and take him down to the Strand.
Several women observing the waves recognized one of the sailors and came over to talk and fuss over the merchant marine who had been carried up on a stretcher. Interestingly enough, and much to the surprise of the men and the merchant marine, a couple of the women recognized me. None of it would had meant one thing one way or the other except that the women worked for Fifie Malouf.
Five years before I had lived with a foster couple and, not liking the arrangements for one reason or the other, ran away from home. Without anybody knowing where I was or having anybody's consent I ended up staying with a World War II ex-Marine taxi driver that had fought his way up through all the islands in all the major battles in the Pacific from Guadacanal northward. The taxi driver and I would have breakfast several days a week at Malouf's Happy Hour Cafe and sometimes I would hang out in the cafe in the afternoons or evenings while the ex-marine "visited a friend" in one of the apartments attached to the cafe. As a young boy basically unattended in the cafe it wasn't long before some of the women --- who worked for Fifie and knew what was going on --- befriended me. It was a couple of those same women who recognized me that day I was with my merchant marine friend.
I don't recall if any of them recognized Guy Hague.
In the opening section this footnote is referenced to I write that the first time I ever saw a picture of Guy Hague I knew I had seen him before. Actually, the very first, first time I ever saw Guy Hague in the flesh at my merchant marine friend's house I was overcome by the strangest feeling that I had seen him before, and I had. It just took me a long time to figure out when and where.
During the war, as a special treat, my dad had taken my brothers and I to the Pike in Long Beach, in those days a sort of wide-open Terry and the Pirates boardwalk like place with all kinds of rides, games, and a humungous roller coaster. No sooner had we arrived than my dad, who had been a one-time "carny" or barker, began meeting up with old friends, basically forgetting my brothers and I and why we were there.
Without permission or my dad noticing I slipped away, taking in all the glowing actions of the rides, games, and booths. It wasn't long before I passed a heavily made-up yet strikingly beautiful woman sitting on a stool along the midway who looked all the same as being a Hollywood version of a gypsy. She was basically staring straight ahead not really focusing on any of the goings on. After I passed I turned back to look at her over my shoulder and without moving her head I could see she had followed me with her eyes. As soon as we made eye contact she redirected her gaze. Then a man in well worn oversize brown suit with a vest and the jacket unbuttoned put his hand on my shoulder bending over to my height looking straight into my eyes. I tried to break loose from his grip but he just held tighter. "Like your fortune told, boy," he asked, adding that it would cost twenty five cents. Just then my dad stepped up with a couple of his new found friends and the man let loose, backing away saying he was just trying to make a living.
The woman dressed like a gypsy said to wait. The man looked at my dad to see if was OK to proceed, receiving a nod of approval. The man turned and asked if I had anything of value and I did, at least to me I did, something I carried with me everywhere I went as a kid, a Captain Midnight Code-O-Graph. With his back to the woman he took the decoder into his hand and put it to his forehead and asked a couple of simple questions then turned and handed the decoder to the woman. Before she could answer, as soon as her fingers touched the badge she slumped over and fell off the stool to the ground, the decoder falling to the ground as well, just beyond the reach of her outstretched arm.
The man assured my dad it wasn't part of the act as they tried to revive her. With the assist of a man who stepped forward from the crowd the woman was back on her stool albeit somewhat disheveled. During the assist the man from the crowd had also picked up the decoder. She motioned to the man, who by now was talking to my dad as they seemed to know each other from the shipyards, to hand her the decoder. Holding the hand of the man who assisted, using her other hand she placed the decoder in the palm of my hand and while slightly touching her lips to my forehead, she gently folded my fingers closed over the top of the decoder and said, "Your future and past is already marked by what is held in all of our hands." The assisting man from the crowd that my dad knew from the Terminal Island shipyards and now holding hands with the gypsy through to me was Guy Hague.
It took awhile, but eventually Guy Hague and I recalled where we had seen each other. It had to do with my father and Hague both working at the shipyards and Hague knowing in a roundabout way from my father the color of my mother's hair.
The seeds were first planted several years after the Pike incident when I was living on a ranch for a few years when I was in the fifth grade or so. At the time there was a much older boy that lived down the road on the next closest ranch. He collected every cowboy western comic book he could get his hands on and had hundreds of them neatly stacked in brand new turned-up orange crates made into shelves in his room. All the comics were in pristine condition and always kept in chronological order by month, date, and number. I used to go to his place whenever I got a chance sitting around all day hanging out and reading them.
During that period, one of the comic books he collected centered around a female western hero who, according to the storyline, had been found near death and saved by Native Americans. She was then adopted into the Dakota Tribe who gave her the name Firehair because of her red hair.
Both my mother and her sister had beautiful long red hair. In that they were so close together age-wise and looked so much alike almost everybody mistook them for twins. Although I do not remember much about my mother I remember my aunt very well, and because of their look alikeness I always felt I had a good idea of what my mother looked like. As a young boy I always held a certain affinity towards the Firehair character because I liked to believe my mother, with her red hair and all, would have been like her, maybe even found by Indians and saved.
A couple of years later I was living in the home of a foster couple that I ended up running away from on more than one occasion. One day I traded two or three comics for a copy of Rangers Comics #63 dated February 1952, a comic I wanted for two reasons. One, the lead off story was about Firehair, who I had not seen anything on since leaving the ranch. And secondly, it had a section on Billy the Kid whose gravesite I had gone to with my uncle on one of our travels. As I was reading the comic for the 100th time the woman of the foster couple, seeing the story I was reading was about a redheaded woman, grabbed it out of my hands and threw it across the room telling me to get over it, my mother was dead and long gone, and she was my mother now. As soon as I saved a few bucks I packed up some things including the comic book and ran away.
I ended up at my stepmother's then my uncle's for the summer before going to my grandmother's and starting high school in the fall. It was then I met my Merchant Marine Friend and it was he who brought up the lost continent of Atlantis. Interestingly enough the same copy of Rangers Comics #63 that I had been hauling around with me since running away from the foster couple had a three page story on Atlantis. I took it by to show him and it just so happened on the day I did Guy Hague was there. Hague, learning why I had the comic in the first place, that is, because of my mother's red hair, and he already knowing my father having worked at the shipyards in Terminal Island put two-and-two together and asked if my dad had been a circus carny at one time. When I answered yes, we both knew we knew each other and that I had been the boy at the Pike with the Captain Midnight Code-O-Graph.
For those who may be so interested, the paragraph in quotes below from the source so cited, pretty much sums up what followed after I ran away from the home of the foster couple. Without anyone's knowledge I took a Greyhound bus searching down and eventually locating my then just divorced-from-my-father stepmother, or ex-stepmother as the case may be, at her newly acquired ranch out in the middle of the Mojave Desert after her return from a two year sojourn to Mexico and South America:
"Although impressed that I ran away just to be with her she thought it best to get in touch with my dad and see what she should do next. Unwilling to talk with my grandmother she called the woman of the foster couple I ran away from, who she knew and was friends with, hoping to find out if I should be returned to them or to locate my father, telling the woman that I was in good care and everything was OK. The woman of the couple, Aunt Pauline, told my stepmother to 'keep the fucking little asshole, I don't give a shit what happens to him.' Then she added, 'Don't forget his prick of a little brother, either.' My stepmother, taking into consideration there were no subtle or hidden messages in her response, being quite clear as well as taking her at her word, contacted my uncle to see if he had any idea where my dad was. He didn't, but told my stepmother if she could find no other solution and she could get me to Santa Fe he would deal with situation until everything could be hammered out. With that, having no success locating my dad for whatever reason, rather than sticking me on some grungy multi-day cross desert bus ride to my uncle's and not knowing for sure if I wouldn't just get off somewhere on the way, she arranged for the same former World War II P-47 pilot that flew my uncle and me to Sacramento a few years before to fly me to Santa Fe, ensuring, she hoped, I would be less likely to get out mid-trip."(source)
As for the former World War II P-47 pilot that flew my uncle and me to Sacramento, he basically came into the picture when my just into his teens older brother and cousin hopped a freight train on the Southern Pacific mainline near our ranch and didn't get off until reaching the Sacramento yards some 500 miles north and getting caught in the grasp of a railroad bull that was going to beat them with a club. The pilot flew us to Sacramento for my uncle to pay off the bull and get my brother and cousin back. On our return trip we flew over the Sierras to an abandoned, remote rock strewn airstrip south of Reno in the middle of the night to pick up a mysterious no questions to be asked woman covered head to toe wearing dark glasses and fly her to Las Vegas --- a woman that turned out to be an incognito movie star. The whole story can be found in:
RIDING THE CAB FORWARDS
In the above, referenced to this footnote, I write:
"I truly knew nothing of Enlightenment, Maharshis, or seekers along the path on any sort of verbal or intellectual level. I didn't even know there WAS a path."
Please refer to the linked site below and read the information contained therein. In doing so you will find there is a HUGE caveat to what is presented in the sentence above, primarily presented for expedience sake here, and the meaning behind it:
SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: THE LAST AMERICAN DARSHAN
RECOUNTING A YOUNG BOY'S NEARLY INSTANT TRANSFORMATION INTO THE ABSOLUTE DURING HIS ONLY DARSHAN WITH THE MAHARSHI
It should be noted that Adam Osborne, who, as a young boy grew up at the Ramana ashram and the son of one of the foremost Ramana biographers Arthur Osborne, played a prominent role in the Last American Darshan as linked above.
Sitting here right now writing about the conversation between the merchant marine and the Navy man I can recall it in my mind's eye as vividly as if it just happened only yesterday. The reason it is so vivid is because after the Navy man left and I was putting the book back on the shelf I wrote Freud's name on a slip of paper thinking I would look him up and read about him more when I got the chance.
A few days later, without the merchant marine knowing about it, I went down to the public library in Veterans Park and asked one of the librarians where I could find some books on Freud, pronouncing his name as it looked when written, "Frooed," rhyming with food. The librarian asked "Who?" and again I said "Frooed, Frooed," showing her the slip of paper. By then several other libraians had gathered around, and one of them laughing, said, "Oh, the boy means Freud" (rhyming with "froid") with all of the others soon joining in laughing and pointing at me like I was some kind of a dolt. I ran out of the library as fast as I could, but before I even reached the bottom of the steps one of the librarians caught me and talked me into coming back. She sat me down at one of the tables way in the back by myself and brought me a whole bunch of books and information of Freud. On and off throughout the afternoon and up until the library closed she went over them with me. As much as I read that day and as much as she tried to explain it all to me I still didn't get or figure out just what an ego was. It wasn't until a year later or so when a movie came out called Forbidden Planet that it all started to make sense. In the movie the main villain was a creation of the mind, a monster from the Id. The Id was part of the triad Freud proposed along with the ego and superego --- and suddenly it all made sense, except that is, why the Navy man insisted there was NO ego. That information was destined for later.
For a quick, concise overview on the Ego, Super Ego, etc., from a Buddhist/Zen perspective, please visit Thirty Minutes To Enlightenment and scroll down to Number Six. See also The Ally In Shamanism.
ESCAPE FROM IMPENDING NAZI DOMINATED EUROPE, CIRCA 1940:
The same set of events leading up to what Maugham, Hague and De Acosta faced when the Nazis invaded France and headed toward Paris, was the same set of events dramatized so well in the movie Casablanca starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
If any of you have ever seen the movie you may recall the story is set in Vichey-controlled Morocco across from Nazi-dominated Europe somewhat south along the northwest coast of Africa circa 1941. It basically unfolds in a popular nightclub-casino located in Casablanca called Rick's. Following the invasion of Europe by the Germans, Casablanca had become one of the most important travel hubs for refugees escaping the occupation. The city played host to everybody from just regular folk trying to reach freedom from the heavy boots of the Nazis, to arms dealers, spies, and revolutionaries --- all of whom walked side-by-side through the crowded streets seemingly crawling with never ending reams of pickpockets and other unsavory types. At Rick's, however, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. The owner, a somewhat mysterious American and apparently onetime gunrunner by the name of Rick Blaine, played by Bogart, is happy just serving customers and making money --- that is until the day Ilsa Lund, the love of his life walks into the cafe.
As the Nazis moved into Paris, Rick and Ilsa fell in love. But in the act of a planned fleeing the Nazi advance, Ilsa sent Rick a note at the train station informing him that she could not go with him. At the time, with the note, Ilsa offered no explanation. Eighteen months later, roughly November of 1941 --- one month before the U.S. entered World War II --- she showed up at Rick's in Casablanca with her longtime husband, fugitive and resistance leader Victor Laszlo in tow.
After Rick and Ilsa meet unexpectantly in Casablanca and have some time alone together she explains what happened in Paris. She tells Rick that right after she married Laszlo --- which was sometime well before she ever met Rick for the first time --- Laszlo had to return to Prague, traveling without her apparently in some sort of top secret resistance related capacity. In Prague or the surrounding countryside he was caught and put into a concentration camp by authorities. Some months later word got to Ilsa that he had been killed attempting to escape. Shortly after that she met Rick. Then, following their whirlwind romance, just as she and Rick were about to leave Paris together, she found out Laszlo was still alive. Laszlo needed her, so she made the decision to stay with him. She didn't tell Rick because she knew he wouldn't leave Paris if he found out. She also knew if Rick stayed then the Gestapo would arrest him. Finishing her story, Ilsa then begs Rick to help Laszlo escape. As for whether she will go with Laszlo or stay with Rick, Ilsa says she doesn't know what's right anymore and tells Rick, "You have to think for both of us."
As mentioned previously in the main text above, during the exact same time period as the Casablanca story, as well as that of the De Acosta and Hague meetings, W. Somerset Maugham himself, at age sixty-six, was absconded in his villa in the south of France. When the Nazis crossed into France and raced toward Paris, he too was forced to flee. Waiting too long, Maugham sought refuge aboard his then only means of escape, one of two coal barges slowly plying their way off the coast of the Mediterranean. His escape turned out to be a horrific twenty-day voyage to England. Onboard the barge, a vessel that was not designed for even one passenger, he was crammed together with 500 other fellow escapees. It has been reported a number of the children as well as older and weaker refugees, because of the severe and crowded conditions and lack of food and water and other amenities, died of malnutrition and thirst.
Also in the above main text I write:
De Acosta was a beautiful, exotic woman in search of some sort of spiritual inspiration. Hague was a known quantity from under the wing of Ramana. There was only two years difference between De Acosta and Hague. It is my belief, as stated in the above quote, that Hague delivered a letter or letters to De Acosta personally on behalf of the Bhagavan, possibly with aspirations on Hague's own part other than spiritual --- that in the end could not or would not bear fruit.
There may have been a slight Rick-Ilsa element to Hague's and De Acosta's Paris meetings, at least as Hague viewed it. However, even if there had been a semi-fling of some sort between the two of them it would have been short lived because, as I have stated above, in the end it could not or would not bear fruit --- primarily because of how De Acosta viewed the world in things romantic.
It should be noted that Dennis G. Wills, as cited by David Godman in the quote this footnote is referenced to above, and I, who I refer to as "THE formost Guy Hague researcher around," have been in contact together regarding Hague over a period of time. The two of us have highly compatible and shared interest in the man, however, it must be said, we have totally different end differences in mind when it comes to Hague. Wills' interest in Hague is him as a whole person --- who he was, where he came from, where he went to, what happened to him --- not as being somebody else or a role model for somebody else. My interest, except where and how it intertwines with Wills' research, circulates almost exclusively around Hague NOT being able to be Larry Darrell OR the role model for Larry Darrell under any circumstance. Much of my research and facts regarding Hague come from early personal interactions and remembrances with Hague while I was still a teenage boy in high school. Wills has done much more indepth and extensive hard research, including interviews with close relatives and close friends of Hague --- and done so on a much more recent basis besides. To show the extent of Wills research into Hague I have included below two exceprts from personal correspondence between Wills and myself:
"Many years ago I received the photo of Guy Hague with Ramana Maharshi from Ramana's great nephew in India, as I had been researching Hague for a long time. A reporter friend and I went to the Long Beach Public Library in l988, spread out many old city directories on the floor and eventually located Hague's youngest brother and interviewed him. This led to Hague's great nephew who provided me with scores of photographs and documents belonging to his great uncle and indicating just where he was and what he was doing, which I photographed. I eventually interviewed some people who knew Hague toward the end of his life, and I still need to drive to where he died and where his ashes ended up for further research."
Wills has gone on to say:
"You have probably also seen Anthony Curtis' reference to my Hague project in his Introduction to the Penguin edition of the book. Mercedes de Acosta was incorrect with regard to some aspects of Hague's past, but she did indeed provide enough clues to get this research started. Hague was not a causal link for the formation of the Larry Darrell character, as Maugham had been thinking about this theme for many years prior to going to India in l938. Hague will remain, however, an example of many who, touched by war or tragedy, set off on a spiritual quest. I had hoped for years that Hague, de Acosta and Maugham had met in Los Angeles in l941 when they were all there, but thus far I have not found any "smoking gun" proving this. At some point I hope to write an article or perhaps a small book about all of this. Throughout all of this I have been in touch with the major Maugham scholars around the world."
As to the Curtis reference of Wills' Hague project in the Introduction to the Penguin edition of The Razor's Edge, in the opening sentence of THE RAZOR'S EDGE: W. Somerset Maugham, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Guy Hague, and Zen I write:
"Many people have read the paperback Penguin Classic edition of the The Razor's Edge that in the preface mentions a man by the name of Guy Hague (sometimes spelled 'Hauge') that has been suggested as possibly being the model for Maugham's main character Larry Darrell."
From that point forward I pretty much go on with the thesis that it is highly unlikely that Hague could possibly have been the real life role model for Darrell. The following quote, which I am in agreement with, as presented in the main text above, is from the previously cited article by David Godman Somerset Maughm and the Razor's Edge:
"The similarities are striking but there is no evidence that Maugham met Hague either in India or anywhere else. Hague was not at Sri Ramanashram, or even in India, on the day that Maugham visited Bhagavan, and Dennis Wills informs me that despite intensive research he has been unable to come up with any evidence that Maugham met Hague in the years prior to the publication of The Razor's Edge."
On more than one occasion the question has come up regarding the quote below that this footnote is referenced to:
"There is some discrepancy regarding how the flow of information was achieved between the Maharshi and De Acosta after she left the ashram and if it was totally by "letters" or possibly by some other means --- say, if some of the information was actually delivered in person by Hague in the process of his transit through Europe on the way to the U.S., for example. True, there may have been letters involved and received by her, but not all of them delivered exclusively via the postal service. Some of the information seems to have been delivered by hand, possibly still in letter form to De Acosta, but on a face-to-face basis by Hague, then discussed at some length between the two personally."
In the above main text I cite the paragraph as being referenced from Mercedes De Acosta with no further clarification as to it's source. The reason I didn't go further with the quote is because when the Hague page first went online the De Acosta link elsewhere within the main text took you to the page the quote appeared on. However, that particular De Acosta link went down years ago. When it was brought to my attention the link was down I changed it to a totally new De Acosta page --- albeit without the quote. That original De Acosta page is no longer available nor have I been able to locate a repeat of the page or the quote in other works on the net elsewhere. I still consider it as valid and thus, therefore, the quote remains. The following may be of some help:
In My Meeting With Ramana Maharshi which are excerpts from her book Here Lies the Heart, De Acosta writes "Before leaving the ashram I wrote down several questions for Guy to ask Bhagavan..." She then writes "In Europe I got a letter from Guy saying he had discussed my question with Bhagavan. She writes "He wrote, 'Bhagavan told me to tell you...'" First she states I wrote down several questions and in the same paragraph she then writes he (Hague) had discussed my question with Bhagavan. In the narrative she goes from the plural SEVERAL questions to the singular MY QUESTION. Later on she writes, now back to the plural, "In another letter Guy answered my questions, which led to others. He wrote down my questions and Bhagavan's answers." She then says Guy added, "Bhagavan says to tell you that he sends you his blessings."
She starts out the subject with "Before leaving the ashram..." then goes into the whole question and answer thing, apparently of which, transpired in Europe. She also writes, "In another letter Guy answered my questions, which led to others. He wrote down my questions and Bhagavan's answers." At the end of the sequence she then seemingly jumps backward to having only just left India by saying "On my way back to Europe my boat stopped at Port Said."
The key to all of the above is, "Bhagavan told me to tell you..." and "Bhagavan says to tell you that he sends you his blessings." Although both quotes may have been in the letters in some context, most likely they were presented verbally to De Acosta by Hague in person while in Europe. Why she would write it the way she does in her book is not known. It could be no more than a writers gimmick because it just makes the flow of the book go smoother. However, there is a big difference knowing and talking with a person in the atmosphere of a dusty ashram as a traveler on the cheap and coming in contact with the same person in say, Paris, for example, especially when possibly being re-emeshed back into a socialite role. Although, it must be said, De Acosta comes across more like a person that would show off a person like Hague rather than hide him. Plus, it seems, she really liked him --- and vice versa -- although nowhere does it come up that they remained friends or in contact over any period of time following the time frame reference we are talking about here. It seems pretty clear if you follow the thread in her writings that in the particular instance we are talking about here she is either leaving something out, making an end run around the topic, or simply ignoring the fact that she and Hague had met in Paris.
It is clear that somewhere along the way she and Hague lost contact, otherwise there would have been little or no reason to search him down by going through me. Even as little contact I had with him I had become privy to he fact that he had passed away, most likely a year after I had graduated from high school. Apparently De Acosta was not privileged to the same information, even after all those years.