MANKIND'S SEARCH FOR TRUTH
Da Shan, Mythical Mountain of Seeking and Finding
THE INFANTRY SOLDIER OVERTONE
In the book A Guide to Awareness and Tranquillity, I wrote briefly of my time in warfare and one of the grand lessons about judgmentalism it afforded me. Over the years people have said how much that story meant to them, perhaps more than all the stories I have written.
To the Western set of mind there is a certain incongruity about an old soldier being one to whom a measure of Light has been revealed. I can understand that. Many singular events that I have never written about occurred during those days. I was, after all, a captain of infantry in two long wars. I lived with Chinese infantry troops in the field for nearly three years---subsisting with them, nearly starving with them. The few American soldiers in China had very little support from the United States during World War II. We were at the end of the world's longest supply line, and anything that reached us from home had been flown over Japanese occupied countries, over the great Himalayan Mountains into Kunming, thence to be trucked and packed in by animals to us, wherever we might be.
I didn't live very well during those years. My last year in China, as the great war came to an end, I joined Chinese troops who were actively engaged against the Japanese and fought in the battles that recaptured Ishan, Liuchow and Kwelin.
In Korea, less than ten years later, I commanded King Company, 279th Infantry Regiment. Things were much harder for me in Korea's combat than in the long, strange war in China. Being older didn't help me in Korea, nor did I have wise old Mr. Shieh (William's Chinese interpreter, Taoist Master and teacher) at Korea's great Sandbag Castle or at Vulture's Roost on the 38th Parallel.
It is interesting that I've never written about those days,even though I've told of the learning events to seekers who have come to visit here in Alabama. I especially relished telling such tales to the metaphysical "absolutists" or to the young zealot idealists who arrived expecting only gentle words of peace from a Godly teacher. Since stories of strife, warfare and suffering are the last thing those people expect to hear from a "metaphysician," that's often what they got.
Show me a revelation and I'll show you a traumatic event from which that Light emerged. Show me a true vision of heaven and I'll show you a descent into the anguish of hell wherein that vision was tried, tested and found faithful. "Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord...." "Put all things to the test," Paul echoed. And now, having written nearly everything necessary for the final book, I sit me down on yet another Memorial Day to remember my soldiers who fought with me in many battles.
Let me write a Glimpse or two from those days. First, harking back to China, Mr. Shieh and I, with five American teammates, were being pursued by a Japanese combat patrol. We were "retrograding," bringing up the rear of our little patrol, trying to get back to the safety of friendly lines. We were close to being captured. In those days, neither the Japanese nor Chinese "gave quarter." That is we took no prisoners. I knew that if I were taken by the pursuing Japanese, it meant certain death. On the other hand, Mr.Shieh might successfully pass himself off as a Chinese peasant. Oh, I cannot write this story! At this minute it is enough to remember Mr. Shieh seeing and pointing out the beauty of those purple blooms on the distant mountain we had yet to climb. I marveled at a man who could see beauty under such oppressive circumstances. I marvel more that he helped me learn to do it.
During the Korean War, an artillery round burst among my men on the left flank. Several bodies were hurled about and I ran to see the extent of the damage and whether the platoon leader was still effective. Sick to my stomach at the sight, I sat down among three of the bodies sprawled along the slope. I became aware of a visual "Presence" hovering beside them. A misty, blue-white light of sorts. A different kind of light, primal, persuasive and powerful. I could not explain what I saw then, nor can I now, but with the sight, and because of the sight, I was absolutely certain within myself I was being shown evidence of the deathlessness of Life--the survival of the Child, the Soul of men. I felt a marvelous sense of relief, almost gratitude, concerning those men and everything happening that day. Within a few minutes of that incident, my regiment, and my part of the line in particular, was hit by an enormous wave of shell fire and oncoming Chinese troops. Hell erupted in a manner that no one can sufficiently describe or picture for another. One simply must experience something like that to fully understand.
But, to the ongoing Glimpse I'd like to write here if I can. In the early moments of that terrible onslaught wherein everything that moved was slaughtered ten times over--advancing troops, men, women, children, dogs and chickens, and every moving creature caught at that place at that time--I was suddenly unable to hear. My world went silent and I was enveloped in an immeasurable calm. In the midst of that horrendous din of exploding bodies and shells, I could hear nothing but my own voice. In some marvelous way, I was caught up in a quiet, tranquil dimension, separate, but attached to the carnage at hand. I had not been wounded. I felt as well as one could be expected to feel under such circumstances. I could hear my own voice and even my breathing quite clearly. I went from gun position to gun position and heard myself giving calm encouragement to my troops. I could see their mouths move in reply and gratitude--and terror--but I couldn't hear them. I heard myself but couldn't hear the shells bursting in my face. I was beset with a wonderful enwrapping calm that let me move fearlessly to do whatever the moment asked me to do, as hideous as those moments were.
Perhaps a man can so detest a situation that his body produces the chemicals which, in turn, erect a barricade between himself and the galling situation. But as this was happening for me on the long day in Korea, there was a clear perception that a superlative Reality stood just behind the events; that there is another Scene just above this one, surrounding it; that Reality was bursting through that corridor of chaos into my own conscious recognition. I walked with a detached courage, as if the mortal body couldn't and wouldn't be hurt. I ran from soldier to soldier, gun to gun. I was knocked down,spun around and stung with rocks and earth, feeling nothing but a calm, clear sense of Life's dominion over the sights and sounds of the world; as though, with the Presence I had sensed and seen moments earlier among the first bodies felled, I was SEEING and FEELING Life's eternal Nature, even in the face of death. Perhaps this was the beneficent calm Mr. Shieh had felt those years earlier when he saw the blossoms on the distant mountain.
That particular hellfire and damnation in Korea lasted four nights and three days, without sleep for my troops and me. I have never forgotten the different time frame and the enwrapping inner peace nor how I was held and supported during that time--or non-time. More significant, that Peace has not forsaken me since those days, at least not when I was mindful of It nor when the chips were down and I called for It. How do I call for It? I bring forth the Child of Me.
Why I write this now after all these years, I really don't know, but on this Memorial Day when I feel everything necessary for the book has been written, I sit me down and write something that might tell others, like Janice and Bill, that there are times when the anguish of the lesson is absolutely necessary--that leaving the anguish may not be the answer.
Now, with absolute assurance, I can tell people, old and young, their lessons can be learned under the most difficult and trying circumstances. Better that we leave our nets after we've learned their lessons. Better that we call on the Child because the Child knows what to do. The Child and the Presence are the same one Presence and It is right here where we are, transcending this world's time and space.
The final tone in this Overtone: The day I moved King Company onto line in Korea, I was given the Order of Battle of the "enemy" opposing me just across the valley on the next mountain. Facing my regiment, and me in particular, was the Chinese 60th Army, the same troops I had lived with and trained for two years in China. We met again, eight years later, in a terrible and senseless slaughter.
In the apparent world, our friends and enemies are the same--and, sometimes, needlessly, insanely, we try to destroy one another, thence to find that Life is eternal. Like Arjuna, in awful combat, I was instructed in certain of the Mysteries and learned the sense of senselessness.
William Samuel, Memorial Day 1985.
THE KOREAN WAR: SAMUEL'S AWAKENING
In no way meant to diminish the overall contents as found in the Soldier's Story as presented above, nor as well, any of the other works written by Samuel, but the primary importance of all that is found within the above contents is the narrowing down to one specific paragraph that has within what it has to say, the specific event that triggered Samuel's Awakening, in turn sending him on his way for all to be what he was to become:
"During the Korean War, an artillery round burst among my men on the left flank. Several bodies were hurled about and I ran to see the extent of the damage and whether the platoon leader was still effective. Sick to my stomach at the sight, I sat down among three of the bodies sprawled along the slope. I became aware of a visual 'Presence' hovering beside them. A misty, blue-white light of sorts. A different kind of light, primal, persuasive and powerful. I could not explain what I saw then, nor can I now, but with the sight, and because of the sight, I was absolutely certain within myself I was being shown evidence of the deathlessness of Life--the survival of the Child, the Soul of men. I felt a marvelous sense of relief, almost gratitude, concerning those men and everything happening that day. Within a few minutes of that incident, my regiment, and my part of the line in particular, was hit by an enormous wave of shell fire and oncoming Chinese troops. Hell erupted in a manner that no one can sufficiently describe or picture for another. One simply must experience something like that to fully understand."
THE JEEP, SIDDHIS, AND THE SUPERNATURAL
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WORLD WAR II, CHINA: PRIOR TO AWAKENING
In the above main text Samuel, speaking of himself while in the military during World War II and well before his Enlightenment experience as describe above unfolded during the Korean War, Samuel writes:
"I was, after all, a captain of infantry in two long wars. I lived with Chinese infantry troops in the field for nearly three years---subsisting with them, nearly starving with them. The few American soldiers in China had very little support from the United States during World War II. We were at the end of the world's longest supply line, and anything that reached us from home had been flown over Japanese occupied countries, over the great Himalayan Mountains into Kunming, thence to be trucked and packed in by animals to us, wherever we might be."
Below is a photograph depicting William Samuel in full military uniform (holding the pointer) accompanied just to his left by his interpreter, the Taoist monk Mr. Shieh, training Chinese troops. The photo is an integral part and prominently displayed in the CMH Publication 72-38 titled China Defensive. The Center Of Military History (CMH), responsible for the production of the publication as well as the inclusion of the photograph, reports directly to the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army --- a U.S. Government agency --- any contents of publications by CMH therein fall into the public domain. The following photograph, so alluded to, is located on page 11 of the CMH publication China Defensive, as found in the link below:
(SEE ALSO WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
(please click, see page 11 for the aforementioned Samuel photograph)
NOTE: By clicking the above graphic to the cover of China Defensive it will take you to a complete free unabridged online PDF version of the booklet. On page 11 inside, although the booklet does not specifically cite Samuel being one of the soldiers depicted, providing only the more general caption underneath that reads "American trainer explains a tactical situation to Chinese soldiers. (U.S. Army Military History Institute)," it is known from sources elsewhere (claimed to be copyrighted) that in the photograph both William Samuel and his interpreter have been clearly identified. For a more thorough and in-depth explanation of the photo and any depiction of Samuel, et al, therein please visit:
JAPANESE INVASION OF INDIA
DURING WORLD WAR II
BEYOND A SOLDIER'S STORY
WILLIAM SAMUEL, Continuing:
Most people don't realize it, but William Samuel's full name, that is his birth name, was William Samuel Levey. He was born September 2, 1924, died May 22, 1996. His father was Bert H. Levey and mother Lena May (nee Hosier) Levey. He was Married twice, first to Ruby Palmer (now Scheinert) in 1946 and then Rachel Knight in 1977.(see). To substantiate the accuracy of Samuel's full name as it relates to himself and things spiritual, please see:
CATALOG OF COPYRIGHT ENTRIES: Third Series. 1968 January - June
Library of Congress Copyright Office, where the following is found on page 663:
LEVEY, WILLIAM SAMUEL
A Guide To Awareness and Tranquility, by William Samuel, pesud. 1st ed. Mountain Brook, Ala., Mountain Brook Pub. Co. 290 P. Copyright William Samuel Levey (in notice; William Samuel); 21 Dec. 67; A961767 (source)
The photo shown previously referenced to the brochure titled CHINA DEFENSIVE: The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II that depicts a group of Chinese soldiers being trained by an American officer relates directly to William Samuel and his full name being William Samuel Levey.
With the above so said, regarding the photo in the brochure there is a photo found through Getty Images on the internet that reeks all the same as being nothing else but the exact same photo --- of which they claim they have the publishing rights to --- so I am unwilling to show their copy of it --- but have offered easily accessible links for those who may be so interested. Why is the photo important and what does any of it have to do with William Samuel --- especially so as it relates to him being along the India-Burma border at a time that would be convenient for him to visit the Ramana ashram, circa April 8, 1944 as I have claimed elsewhere?(see) If you remember William Samuel's birth name was William Samuel Levey, or as it could be written William S. Levey. The photo on the Getty page, which is similar to the ones, if not exactly like the one I cited from the brochure, offers with it a caption not found at any of the other sources on the net and why I am skirting around putting the Getty Images photo up --- because of the importance of the contents of that caption. The caption reads:
"Chinese troops are trained in modern warfare by the Y-Force Operations Staff of the American military mission to China (Dixie Mission), 1944. Here, Lieutenant William S. Levey and interpreter Captain Shien Pai explain a tactical situation usuing a large-scale model of the Great Wall of China."(source)
Please note the name of his interpreter Shien in the quote. In almost every case on the net wherein it describes Samuel and his background, especially so his service in China in World War II, it is mentioned that he had an interpreter named, not Shien, but Shieh, typically as taken from works provided by his own hand or spoken words, re the following:
"During this time in China, William met another teacher, Mr. Shieh. This wise old man was William's Chinese translator. Mr. Shieh was a venerated Taoist Monk and as by divine providence he was there for William during those years, the field, at the very ends of the supply line. Mr. Shieh became William's friend, guide, and spiritual teacher through those years fighting with the Chinese troops."(source)
If it is not a transliteration, pronunciation, or phonetic thing, those lower case "N's," typed or written, then copied by others, can look an awful lot like H's and vice versa (i.e., Shien rather than Shieh).
WILLIAM SAMUEL HELPS IN MY RETURN TO THE MONASTERY
"It has been said, especially so by those who by their very nature carry a certain amount of credibility and admiration ahead of themselves such as Adam Osborne as well as his father, Arthur Osborne, who was the highly respected and well thought of author of over a dozen Sri Ramana books chronicling almost all stages of the holy man's life, many face-to-face and written on the scene, that they and their words were their bond. Adam's father moved to the Ramana ashram just at the end of World War II after being held in a Japanese interment camp, remaining at the ashram until his death in 1970. Adam arrived at the ashram before his father, staying with his mother starting from a young toddler to age 12, a time period that easily overlapped the same period of time that William Samuel was there.
Taking Adam Osborne at his word and with no valid reason not to do so, according to Osborne, Samuel, while at the ashram, participated in a once a month ashram ritual that fell on the night of the full moon called Giri Valam, the circumambulation of the holy hill Arunachala. Samuel did so during the time he was there on the night of the full moon in April 1944. It is quite clear by Osborne's own recollections that the young boy with the Code-O-Graph was there at that same time as well because Osborne has related that the two of them, along with Samuel, participated in Giri Valam.
"Considering the time frame reference for Samuel's circumambulation, April of 1944, the two of us would have to had been at the ashram at the exact same time."
RETURN TO THE MONASTERY
People come forward on a regular basis wanting to know why I seem to put so much emphasis on William Samuel. To many it seems I go on and on way too much about him. My answer for the vast majority of those respondents, and as titular as Samuel is made out to be by some in the Awakening-Spiritual-Zen field, is the same as it is for everybody.
Any specific concern I have towards Samuel has up until recently for the most part circulated around one thing, and one thing only That one thing was the role he himself played personally in determining the day, date, and time that I, as a young boy, was at the Ramana ashram in Tiruvannamalai, South India. Everything regarding Samuel that I presented previously in my works on the internet, for me, either leads up to, circulates around, substantiates, confirms, or points to that one particular issue. Recently, however, I have revealed an expansion of his role and his being at the ashram, a sort of sequel if you will.
Below are two sentences as they appear in the closing paragraphs of the The Code Maker, The Zen Maker, so linked, that are closely related to how William Samuel played a significant role at the ashram and the even bigger part he played in the outcome of events and how they related to me specifically:
"I scooted as quickly as I could across what was left of the ashram grounds between me and the gate and out onto the street, melding into the small milieu of what counted as crowds in those days, disappearing.
"Years passed and one day a friend of mine helping me go through a few things ran across my rather loose knit so-called collection of decoders that were sort of doing not much more than just floating around in an unconnected fashion in a drawer."
Although the physical visual-space between the two sentences that separates them is small, the gap between the two related to the passage of time within the context of the sentences is huge. One moment, when all the trials and tribulations that have been laid out from childhood through to the Army, the monastery, the Himalayas, et al have ended, I walk away from the ashram, suddenly jumping to many years later, apparently comfortably safe back at home in the United States as though nothing ever happened --- simply hanging with a friend sorting through a bunch of decades-old Captain Midnight decoders.
Most people who have read through all that I've presented in The Code Maker, The Zen Maker, with the seeming thousands of interlinking footnotes and all, have had enough. However, every once in awhile there are those who come forward interested in the jump between the two paragraphs and how it was closed. Let me just say, in more ways than one, it involved war torn Burma, the Japanese invasion of India, the crash of a C-47 high in the rarefied air in the Tibetan area of the Himalayas after being lost on a flight from Calcutta, and William Samuel and his visit to the Ramana ashram at the same time I was there.
RETURN TO THE MONASTERY
BEFORE LEAVING CALCUTTA-----------------------------------------------------AFTER LEAVING CALCUTTA
Supporters of Samuel have taken what I have used, that is, the day, date, and time in delineating Samuel being at the ashram participating in Giri Valam around the holy hill of Arunachala on the night of the full moon in April of 1944, as told to me personally by Adam Osborne --- a childhood friend of mine who was present at the ashram as the exact same time as I was --- and, all well and good, used it for a much wider purpose. Because of what Samuel had written or said, ardent supporters of his have always suspected that he had Darshan under, or at the very least, visited the Bhagavan Sri Ramana. They just never had the proof because Samuel, although hinting of having done so on several occasions, never said so directly. What I have presented, albeit unintentional on my part, provided those Samuel supporters just the proof they needed.
GENERAL JOSEPH STILWELL
SRI RAMANA'S WESTERN DISCIPLES
WILLIAM SAMUEL & FRIENDS: A SECRET REVEALED
TERRY'S P-40 FIGHTS ZEROS ATTACKING CNAC C-47
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RALPH A. MULTER
GUNNER'S MATE 3rd CLASS, U.S. NAVY
ON THE RAZOR'S
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
As mentioned at the top of the page, what has been presented here titled "A Soldier's Story" is an excerpt from the William Samuel book The Child Within Us Lives! --- or, more accurately, Book One, Chapter One from the book. As it is, Amazon.com offers a scanned portion of the book for review that actually includes the whole chapter in context. You can see the fully scanned chapter by going to the following link, then scrolling down through the introductions and such until chapter comes up:
THE CHILD WITHIN US LIVES!
Art Ticknor, the prolific author of the most excellent multi-page Self Discovery Portal, provides for us on his page related to William Samuel a couple of alternative versions of the events and time surrounding Samuel's Awakening experience other than the one Samuel writes about himself and I presented above.
The following quote is from the William Samuel related site found on the Self Discovery Portal so sourced. Please note that within the quote there are first person references. Those "I's" and "Me's" refer not to me the Wanderling, but to Ticknor --- who it seems, as it is written, had either spoken to or been in contact with both of the unnamed students personally:
"One of his students wrote that Bill's awakening occurred in the 1960s and was triggered by seeing his reflection in the water of a pond near his home and realizing that 'who and what he is was the witness of that reflection and of the image called Bill.' I assume that this realization provided the conviction that spurred his writing of the above booklet. (As an aside, the details of his awakening sound greatly similar to the fictional depiction of the protagonist's awakening in Douglas Harding's Spectre in the Lake published in 1996, the year of Bill's death. His student told me that Bill was familiar with Harding's teaching, but I don't know if there was any contact between them.)"(source)
On the same page a second alternative as to Samuel's Awakening is also presented:
"Another student wrote that Bill's realization occurred 'around 1956 or maybe at the latest 1958' and that he wrote The Melody of the Woodcutter and the King almost immediately afterward and circulated it among his students although it wasn't formally published until 1976."
As to which of the three examples of Samuel's Awakening is the ONE, my inclination is to stick with the battlefield event. If one or the other or both of the experiences described by his students transpired, the role the experiences played if any, may have been something closer or akin to contributing in some fashion to a deepening or expansion of his initial major experience. Samuel elaborated extensively on the event in Korea, the other two are somewhat more difficult to substantiate via his own documentation. On the other hand, maybe by then he was just getting bored with the whole situation.
For the record, Art Ticknor, the man behind what is published on the Self Discovery Portal, has a background in things spiritual under the auspices of a person of deep Spiritual Attainment by the name of Richard Rose. Interestingly enough, there exists in a round-about way, several very, very close and strong interwoven connections between Richard Rose and myself.
First, the man I refer to in all my writings as my Mentor in things spiritual, met Rose while Rose was just in the beginning stages of his quest towards Insight. By the time of that meeting my mentor, in a well documented event, had already Awakened under the grace and light of the venerated Indian holy man, the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Secondly, several years after my mentor and I met and I began study-practice under him, in that I wasn't making the progress in things spiritual at the level of accomplishment he was hoping for, he made arrangements for me to study under Alfred Pulyan, a person long referred to as an American Zen Master with neither the Zen nor the Buddhism, yet having reached the Finality of the Absolute in the same tradition as in the spiritual Awakenings attributed to the ancient classical masters --- and of whom Rose had intense, long-standing communications with, holding him without equal in the highest regards.
Last, or perhaps it should be first, the person I call my Merchant Marine Friend, who had a profound effect on my early adolescent years, was, during the beginning days of World War II, onboard a ship that at the time was forming up in convoy when it was hit by torpedoes from a German U-boat. Prior to that attack and only a few miles away, Richard Rose's brother James was onboard a merchant ship that was also at the time forming up to join the exact same convoy, when it too was struck by torpedoes from a German submarine.
My merchant marine friend survived the attack although severely burned as he continually came up for air in oil burning along the surface of the water, eventually succumbing to the wounds suffered many years later having never fully recovered. Richard Rose's brother James Rose did not survive, having lost his life during the throes of the attack. Except for one other crew member the remainder of the crew safely abandoned ship, which was able to stay partially afloat. The crew returned the following day, the ship was towed to Miami, repaired and put back in service.
On October 19, 1943, a year and a half after the torpedo attack off Florida, the Delisle was steaming off Newfoundland when another ship traveling in the same convoy hit a mine laid by the German submarine U-220. While the Delisle was picking up crew members from that ship she too struck a mine laid by the U-220 and sunk. The full complement of the ship's crew was accounted for. The ship the Delisle was attempting to assist suffered 26 dead out of a crew of 40.
It has been said that the senseless death of James Rose, as viewed by his brother Richard Rose, is what sent Richard on his spiritual quest, a quest that cumulated in a full Awakening to the Absolute. Most if not all of the above is covered fairly thoroughly in the link dedicated to my merchant marine friend. As for Art Ticknor, as found in the link below, he writes within his works of what amounts to a major spiritual breakthrough relative to himself, a breakthrough having occurred he says on May 10, 2004 during a self imposed retreat in a hermitage cabin at a Benedictine monastery outside Erie, Pennsylvania. For those who may be interested please see:
SELF DISCOVERY PORTAL
THE MELODY OF THE WOODCUTTER AND THE KING
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
The complete unabridged and original source for Samuel's visit at the Ramana ashram, aspects of the full moon of April 1944, Adam Osborne, Giri Valam around the holy hill of Arunachala, etc., etc., can be found in full by going to the following website:
ENLIGHTENED INDIVIDUALS I'VE MET
In my works I have no covert or overt intention in promoting, or on the opposite spectrum, denigrating Samuel in any fashion, although it must be said, in writing about him, it may come across as overt praise or promotion because it is difficult to find fault with him. Matter of fact, I like who he is, what he has done and how he has done it.
However, that level of admiration doesn't translate into escalating me into becoming a jumping up and down drooling at the mouth advocate-pro-advocate or champion of Samuel's cause, and for the same reasons for me it doesn't for anybody. Since his demise most of what comes to us regarding Samuel, his philosophy, et al, is through his written works, some on the internet, but mostly through books or versions thereof. His works have opened the door and provided comfort and insight for many people and I am not beyond advocating that possibility in regards to any number of others I hold up as having merit.
While it is true I have I have read all or most of Samuel's books at one time or the other and I am not beyond reading books of almost any stripe or nature, when it comes to those specifically related to things spiritual, especially so that carry a perfume of or in the vein of things Zen, I find doing so, at least now days for me specifically, other than a quick overview, generally unproductive.
In my last year of high school, a teenage boy not yet having reached my 18th birthday and seemingly more focused on cars and girls, my mentor gave me a book titled ZEN BUDDHISM: Selected Writings of D.T. Suzuki (New York: Anchor Books, 1956).
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The mark the book made on me is more than what some might seem. During that final year of high school and several years thereafter I barely let the book out of my hands. I carried it around with me everywhere I went like some preacher with a bible. Anytime anybody said anything about anything, and much to the chagrin and distress of almost everybody around, out would come my book...always ready with a 'Zen answer.' Then one day, like the ancient classic Zen master Te Shan who out of the blue threw ALL of his commentaries and books on Zen into a pile and set them afire, reducing them to nothing but ashes, something was different. Somehow I just didn't need Zen books much any more.
Te Shan (781-867) was a Zen notable some say is most famous for using his staff to strike his students. However, for me, he is more important because of what he did within hours following his Enlightenment experience --- burning all of his books and commentaries on Zen.
Before that he was on a several week long journey to the south of China to do battle with the teaching of a special transmission outside of doctrine, which for him in Buddhism and Zen was tinged with blasphemy. Near the end of the journey he came across an old woman selling refreshments by the roadside. He set down his knapsack to buy some refreshments whereupon the old woman asked what writings had he been carrying that were so dear. "Commentaries on the 'Diamond Cutter Sutra,'" he responded, commentaries which were actually books on books on ways to reality that he considered so indispensable that he had to carry them with him everywhere he went. The old woman, addressing Te Shan in so many words is reported to have then said, "It is written in the 'The Diamond Cutter Sutra' that past mind can't be grasped, present mind can't be grasped, future mind can't be grasped; which mind does the learned monk desire to refresh?"
Te Shan in all his scholarly learning was rendered speechless. By the time he reached the monastery he was completely devastated by his 'defeat', especially by a 'mere' roadside vendor. But Te Shan was no longer there to contend or do battle with the teaching of a special transmission outside of doctrine.' Within days all was behind him as Te Shan experienced Awakening under the auspices of Long T'an and the now famous 'blowing out the candle' sequence.
The morning following his Enlightenment Te Shan took all of his commentaries into the teaching hall and raising a torch over them threw the burning torch on the pile setting fire to all his commentaries, reducing his once valuable books to ashes.(see)
BOOK LIST: ZEN BUDDISM
SUGGESTED READING: SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI
MAJOR HISTORICAL BUDDHIST MASTERS, ZEN ANCESTORS AND ZEN PATRIARCHS
Bodhidharma, Hui K'o, Hui Shen, Hui Neng, Shih-t'ou Hsi-ch'ien, Zhaozhou, Moshan Liaoran,
Mugai Nyodai, Kuan Yin, Tung-Shan, Te Shan, Dogen
Regarding the old woman's comments Te-shan asked her, "Who is your teacher? Where did you learn this?"
She pointed to a monastery a half mile away.
Te-shan visited the monastery of which one Lung-t'an was the Zen master. Te Shan questioned him far into the night. Finally it got very late and Lung-t'an said, "Why don't you go and rest now?"
Te-shan thanked him and opened the door. "It's dark outside. I can't see."
Lung-t'an lit a candle for him, but just as Te-shan turned and reached out to take it, Lung-t'an blew it out.
At that moment Te-shan had a great Enlightenment. Full of gratitude, he bowed deeply to Lung-t'an.
The next day Lung-t'an praised Te-shan to the assembly of monks. Te-shan brought his books and commentaries to the hall and lit them on fire, saying, "These notes are nothing, like placing a hair in the vastness of space."
Then bowing again to his teacher, he left.
CASE 28: LUNG-T'AN BLOWS OUT THE CANDLE
BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25th CENTURY
THE DIXIE MISSION
For just about anything and everything anybody would ever want to know or learn regarding the "Dixie Mission" please see the chapter titled MISSION TO YENAN: The OSS and the Dixie Mission by Carolle J. Carter, page 302, as found in:
THE SECRET WAR: The Office of Strategic Services in World War II. Edited by George C. Chalou. National Archives and Records Administration. Washington DC (1994).(see)
The above "see" link takes you to a complete PDF version of the whole book. For the specific chapter only, titled MISSION TO YENAN: The OSS and the Dixie Mission, click HERE.