the Wanderling

In an online forum discussing the merits of Wei Wu Wei, the following was posted sometime back by one Jasper Solomon:

I haven't found anything else with the breadth and depth of understanding in his (Wei wu Wei) books but would love to hear of any suggestions.

Solomon's post was quickly followed with a response from a Senior forum member who calls himself Groundless that went:

"I AM THAT" by Nisargadatta Maharaj is, IMO, better distilled and a slightly easier read. Pretty much the same concepts but less flowery in syntax.

In addition, Awakening 101 has lots of good stuff but it is a huge volume of reading and not as distilled as either Maharaj or Wei wu Wei.

For Groundless to place AWAKENING 101 in with the likes of Nisargadatta Maharaj and Wei Wu Wei, and implicating through his suggestion that AWAKENING 101 could an equally viable vehicle in its own way as the works of either such great personages is truly noteworthy.

However, as the compiler, presenter, and sometimes author of many, but NOT all, of the works found in AWAKENING 101, it is equally noteworthy the follow-up response of Solomon. Within a couple of days Solomon replied with the rather astute:

Thank you Groundless. I go along with your comment on Nisargadatta Maharaj, whose I AM THAT I read avidly, followed by Ramesh Balsekar's (disciple of Nisargadatta) many books. Incidentally, Ramesh pays great tribute to Wei Wu Wei and accepts that his 'knowing' came from his guru and his 'understanding' of what he knows came from Wei Wu Wei.

Awakening 101 looks great as a path and good luck to anyone who wants to take a path and get to somewhere he isn't. Basically this seems to be traditional Zen and could well be an excellent introduction but I sense more and more that young people (and even the not so young) are impatient and not inclined to undertake the interminable path to enlightenment that the traditions prescribe. Enlightenment is instant and unpredictable and it's doubtful whether more people have become enlightened as a result of treading paths than those who have never heard of Zen or Buddhism. The traditions tend to teach that there is somewhere you have to get to , a belief in which is precisely what is likely to prevent it happening.

Wei Wu We sets out the understanding of what the sages in their knowing have tried to convey. Yes, it's an intellectual exercise and his books are mind-stretching but the insights that arise from reading his books are flashes of intuition that, after all, are moments of knowing, any of which can be the trigger that is enlightenment.

It is interesting to note that, in much of the literature by and about the enlightened, they refer to the knowing as overwhelming and blissful but often confess to not knowing what it is they know. Many, after several years and awakening curiosity, start to search for the understanding of what it is they know. It can be a frustrating experience for the seeker to always be presented with the words of the enlightened (who keep on repeating that words are useless to describe what has happened to them) that nothing they do can be of the slightest use in attaining enlightenment. Wei Wu Wei explains why this is the case.


What Solomon writes is very good and for the most part pretty close to right on, especially, for example, wherein he states "more and more that young people (and even the not so young) are impatient and not inclined to undertake the interminable path to enlightenment." The bone I would pick is the notion presented regarding a concept of such a thing as "traditional Zen" --- and for sure, when such a notion, real or imagined, is applied to AWAKENING 101. There is a wisp under it's breath denoting a negative connotation weaved within it's substance --- thus then, blanketing AWAKENING 101 within the same connotation --- a notion I would most heartedly disagree with.

Now, I suppose it could be stretched that within the context of Zen itself, Zen might be able to be framed as "traditional." However, when it is compared to the original source it sprang from, Buddhism, and to the much wider spectrum of the world at large, Zen by its very nature and in it's pure form, that is not spoon fed in a palatable fashion by western sycophants, is far from traditional.

Although there are some large and small splinter sects in Zen, IF Zen is conceived at all to be an entity in the traditional sense, most people would conjure up and apply that concept to the two main schools, Soto and Rinzai --- both schools, as they have warped through the centuries down to us today, far from pure.

Soto was founded under the venerated Zen master Dogen Zenji, while Rinzai, originally in direct lineage from China, was established in Japan primarily through the efforts of the monk Myoan Eisai, following his return from China in 1191 --- and then down from there to the west. It is from those two schools that most people in the west who become familiar with or enter into a formal arrangement with Zen typically encounter. Briefly, even though both schools incorporate a form of Zazen, with the mildest form going toward Rinzai, Soto's main emphasis toward the Awakening experience is through Shikantanza. Rinzai relies more heavily on a sort of initial breakthrough step toward Enlightenment called Kensho, usually brought about through the use of Koans, a sort of riddle-like give and take question answer go-around between master and student. The aim of both schools, be it through Koans or Shikantanza, is to place the mind into being ripe for a breakthrough.

Followers of both schools, in the process, as does Buddhism, involve themselves way too much into non-Enlightenment related rituals and trappings --- where I think Solomon gets his "traditional" from. The following is found in Silbbata Paramasa Ditthi, which explores if the the practice of Zen, which by its own nature professes the Enlightenment experience as attained by the Buddha and the ancient masters Outside the Doctrine, is in direct contrast with, or violate the premises of, the Buddhist concept of Wrong Practice:

While the core of the Therevada tradition consists of a non-religious technique of Vipassana Meditation, the core of the Mahayana tradition consists of devotion to the Buddha and Bodhisattva's, who are perceived almost as gods. Zen Buddhism is a break away experiment within the Mahayana tradition, which again uses non-religious meditation to understand the emptiness of Self. That is to say, Zen returns to the original roots of Vipassana meditation while other traditions seem to have strayed.

The second bone is with Solomon's statement: "The traditions tend to teach that there is somewhere you have to get to, a belief in which is precisely what is likely to prevent it happening," implying by default in a sense that what is presented AWAKENING 101 does the same thing --- when in fact, the opposite is true. The issue is constantly addressed and weaved throughout the offerings, most explicitly so as found in Folder Four Fear In Enlightenment and Zen (i.e., Tony Parsons: The most effective way it (the mind) AVOIDS Awakening is to SEEK it, etc.).

While it is true the general thesis with AWAKENING 101 is Enlightenment no matter what, when, where, or how --- using the methods of either school or any other way --- does not matter. AWAKENING 101 sees no reason, except for those who may need them to prove to themselves or others their status or possibly some comfort reason similar to a child with a favorite blanket, for robes, rituals, prayers, scriptures, or any other outside trappings or talisman.

"The Buddha said that neither the repetition of holy scriptures, nor self-torture, nor sleeping on the ground, nor the repetition of prayers, penances, hymns, charms, mantras, incantations and invocations can bring us the real happiness of Nirvana. Instead the Buddha emphasized the importance of making individual effort in order to achieve our spiritual goals. He likened it to a man wanting to cross a river; sitting down and praying will not suffice, but he must make the effort to build a raft or a bridge."

Incident at Supai

AWAKENING 101 harkens back to the days following the Buddha's Enlightenment experience, before any of that paraphernalia or regalia ever existed --- the see no reason reason primarily brought about initially through the personal experience of the Wanderling Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery somewhere high in the mountains along the southern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. Enlightenment came to the Buddha without any of it other than say, meditation, more rightly Vipassana meditation. The following quote is found in the above Doing Hard Time in A Zen Monastery link:

"There are many strong, notable, and well respected members of the Buddhist, Zen Buddhist, and Enlightenment commmunity that have gone to, studied under, written books about, and run a number of excellent and fine Centers both in America and abroad. Many of the notables went to India or Japan and studied for months and possibly years under highly venerable teachers. Other teachers came to the U.S. passing their understanding to others and they still to even more. However, very little of what has been gleaned or passed on bubbled up untainted and unlayered from the unspoiled roots of their ancient past. I am the only person I am aware of operating at the level that I do that truly bypassed most of the layers --- primarily because where I was none of the layers existed. While at the monastery, I studied under the direct bold, unbending hand of a non-English speaking Chinese master of Zen and Enlightenment. The monastery itself was a cold, stark environment high in the mountains above the tree line, far removed from the western world and civilization, operating beyond the bounds of time, whose lineage, rituals, and beliefs hearkened straight back unbroken and unfettered to the likes of Hui Neng, Bodhidharma and the Buddha. Doing so enabled me to be guided, via the master's skillful means, through to the full level of the unveiled truth, springing unhindered and unencumbered from it's original grounding source."

After following several teachers initially, the Buddha turned to a path of individual asceticism, experiencing various tortures and austerities along the way including a prolonged period of fasting and battling the evils of Mara. Eventually a young girl variously called Sujata or Nandabala in the sutras offered him a rice-milk gruel, and from his emaciated state slowly regained his strength. He then began meditating. With a total of six or seven years invested, on the morning of December 8th sitting under the Bodhi Tree, he glanced up and saw what some say was the planet Venus and others say was a star, and experienced what is called Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi, the Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment.

However, all or any of it may not even be necessary --- witness those found in The Awakening Experience in the Modern Era --- or the young boy, with no previous religious of spiritual practice or study, who in an instant, basically out of nowhere, his mental barriers were reduced to nothingness:


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.

The third bone relates to Solomon's final paragraph --- which, although most likely not aimed at me specifically, does seem to do so as my own written extant of the Awakening experience, Dark Luminosity, reflects his concerns. From the above Solomon writes, and again I must say, most astutely so, the following:

It is interesting to note that, in much of the literature by and about the enlightened, they refer to the knowing as overwhelming and blissful but often confess to not knowing what it is they know. Many, after several years and awakening curiosity, start to search for the understanding of what it is they know. It can be a frustrating experience for the seeker to always be presented with the words of the enlightened (who keep on repeating that words are useless to describe what has happened to them) that nothing they do can be of the slightest use in attaining enlightenment. Wei Wu Wei explains why this is the case.

If any of you have gone to the Wei Wu Wei link listed in the above text you will find the following:

In 1977 the Wanderling, who had been on R & R in Hong Kong in the mid 1960s while in the military, was visiting again, only as a civilian just prior to going to Jamaica for two years. His Mentor coincidently was the same person Maugham used as his model for the main character in The Razor's Edge, and had introduced him to Wei Wu Wei's friend Shunyata in 1974. During the Wanderling's visit to Hong Kong, who had gone there to seek audience with the famous translator Upasaka Lu K'uan Yu, a mutual acquaintance of Shunyata that was familiar with the Wei Wu Wei party traveling in Hong Kong for basically the same reason, became privy to the information that the Wanderling was in the city and, in an interesting set of Karma and Conditions, put together a meeting between the two.

Solomon is quite right in his assertion, at least in the first part, that it can be a frustrating experience for the seeker to always be presented with the words of the Enlightened who keep on repeating that words are useless to describe what has happened to them. The second part is somewhat questionable, at least as I view it, when he says that nothing they do (i.e., the Enlightened) can be of the slightest use in attaining Enlightenment. Wei Wu Wei explains why this is the case.

Wei Wu Wei was NOT Enlightened, nor did he ever claim to be. However, in Wei Wu Wei's case his ability to "explain why," which he was able to do and did so quite eloquently within reason, is because of an unusual set of circumstances. He did what nobody else has ever seemed able to do. He set out on a quest to explore Enlightenment. If he was seeking Enlightenment himself is not totally clear. He met, talked with, and interviewed every Enlightened person of notoriety he could cross paths with. Wei Wu Wei squeezed every bit of information out of those he crossed paths with then filtered and distilled out all the non-essential flotsam. He then took all that he garnered from a highly intuitive yet non-Enlightened state and presented it in a comprehensive body of works that bridged the gap between those Enlightened and those who either seek along the path or desired a better "word-based," thus intellectually dissectable, understanding of Enlightenment.

There is a problem with an intellectual understanding of that which its Enlightenment. In What the Buddha Said that problem is addressed:

People equate what the Buddha said and did and call it Buddhism. Actually, what the Buddha said and did, which was later written down and translated into the sutras, was string together a group of words around already in place phenomenon veiled to others by the samsara world. In a sense it was really not much different than what Albert Einstein did when he wrote the Theory of General Relativity and Special Relativity. Einstein did not create a system of master laws and then force nature to follow, but instead, 'intuitively figured out' what went around the already in place existing occurrences, then wrote his theories to fit accordingly. No offense to the 10,000 things, but for lack of more in depth discourse, bottom line, what Sakyamuni's Enlightenment did was awaken him to the Void or Emptiness, period, that's it, Emptiness. That is, that all things are inherently Empty...which goes hand in hand with what is called for the most part, Dependent Origination, or Arising Due To Conditions. Again, all being simply written or spoken words giving verbal syntax expression around existing phenomenon FOR THOSE INTERESTED in pursuing some understanding of the Enlightenment, Awakening experience.

When speaking of Einstein and the Buddha and what either or both accomplished do not confuse the two issues. They are quite different. Einstein's efforts were a product of the intellect while the Buddha's were not. True, everyday conscious intellect may have driven Shakyamuni's initial thrust, but in the end, for Einstein, his theories were an outcome that were expressed and shared exclusively through thought processes and language, mathematical language true, but language non the less. If Shakyamuni's Awakening was nothing more than some intellectual mental construct applied over a "Law of Nature" that just happened to be waiting to be discovered by the first person to come across it, any rational person could, using logical intellect could "learn" Awakening in the same fashion one can "learn" Einstein's theory of relativity. Such does not seem to be the case, however.


The Sudden view of Buddhahood says that our Dukkha (a fearful attachment to life and death) is because we doubt our present absolutely unconditioned worth (Buddha Nature). Enlightenment is a total letting go of this doubt to intuitively realize our equality with the Buddha. There comes a moment when there has to be realized an overcoming of the Fear of Enlightenment. Being liberated from our Dukkha, we become content with ourselves and others just as we are.

In a sudden breakthrough a simple intellectual realization of the above forces one to let go of pride in one's own effort to seize Enlightenment. This lack of pride, or humility, in the face of the characteristic accidental nature of Sudden Enlightenment is a form of letting go of self as a source of Dukkha and thus, actually a kind of pre-enlightenment Enlightenment. Actually, just this alone is for some people sufficient Enlightenment, while for others this preliminary kind of Enlightenment means a greater chance for a breakthrough to something more. This is especially true with a preparatory practice in place. Preparatory practice must be clearly distinguished from the practice that involves Gradual Enlightenment. While no form of pre-enlightenment practice is a requirement for Sudden Enlightenment, and can certainly not cause or ensure such Enlightenment, it nonetheless has an important function.

Sudden Enlightenment may come to one, but unless he or she is prepared to recognize it, and even more importantly to integrate it into his or her everyday psychological being, it will almost certainly come only to slip away.

Solomon has on his homepage a link he calls Links of which on he lists ten or fifteen teachers or advocates in the Enlightenment field, albeit, without any attempt of noting Awakening 101 or the Wanderling. Now, I am not sure how successful any on the list are, but to my knowledge of such things, all are well respected in the Enlightenment community. However, in my own case I get, or hear of many such responses as the one found below:

The following question was asked on YAHOO: Answers:

Are there any online Buddhist teachers?

Not long after the question was posted on the Yahoo site, one Arjuna Ranatunga replied. Arjuna, who goes by the screen name Goodfella, and who holds an earned Master's Degree in Buddhist Studies with Merit from the University of Sunderland, North-east England (2011) as well as a YAHOO: Answers respondent for over 15 years offered the following:

The most famous site with perhaps the most integrity is "Awakening 101", authored by "the Wanderling". I met an Enlightened person who'd used it in His approach / initial studies / on His journey.

It has facilities to ask questions of the Wanderling, too.





  • Best Wishes in your Quest, Friend,


  • In the realm of things, Arjuna is no small-potatoes guy either. Click his name linked above and see what comes up.

    Please note the second of the two links above has been sub-planted from the original post with two additional albeit equivalent links. The site initially
    so cited by Arjuna had not been kept current within it's own the site originator, although a recent check has shown otherwise, hence it's return.

    See also A CHILD OF THE CYBER-SANGHA: Enlightenment From the Internet?


    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.