Alfred Pulyan

Letters from a
Zen Master

Oct 31, 1960

Dear Richard,

Brain-washing or

I am not a “movement” & I haven’t “sucked the brain-blood of mankind.” Very few people write to me and those that “succeed” (even those that do not) are not LESS  intelligent, but more so, not less sceptical but more so. My line is not belief, it is proof. However there is a paradox (IF THERE WERE NOT THE WHOLE WORLD WOULD BE “AWAKENED”!) -- the first step must be belief that proof will come.

Like many others I wondered what satori was, what the Oriental religions were all about, what Gautama, Eckhart, Lao Tse, Jesus, Heraclitus --- experienced. I soon found that there was SOMETHING, & to little Alfred that was a sufficient   challenge. But one has first to dip one toe in the ocean.


Many thanks for the photograph, I see what you mean. [R. had written: “Hope it is of help in your psychoanalysis.”]

Sense or

But speaking of “brain-blood” and so forth you negate your own early words (Aug 17) “I have come to look upon reason as the vanity of the intellect.”

The truth is you are still the Supreme Court to yourself even though Heraclitus says:


ὕβριν χρὴ σβεννύναι μᾶλλον ἢ πυρκαῖήν

(“One should extinguish pride more carefully than a great conflagration.” -- and not leave a spark. ὕβρις or HUBRIS = pride, presumption.)

What do you
hope to
find -- and
Answer me ...

YOU KNOW, and your letters show it, that there is absolutely no way to gain anything by a verbal understanding. If one could, then let us publish it right away in the magazines & newspapers! By “anything” I mean “anything ultimate” as regards ourselves & this universe, the source of it or what is responsible for it.

Thus there is only one way left -- it is work on oneself & it is found, since you cannot decide not to decide, which is essential, that a friend or teacher is necessary.

If I were “only a searcher for truth” we could go on yak-yakking our fool heads off and the correspondence would really be piddling -- as piddling as philosophy or art-criticism.

As Lao Tse
says: Flat,
no obvious
goal ...

Whether I were working personally with you or by mail (as so few, if any, do) the kind of work would be the same, seemingly “flat, stale and unprofitable,” distasteful, uninteresting, no new discoveries, not tit-bits, no theories, plodding, annoying, with no obvious aim or goal & no obvious raison d’être [i.e., reason for being].

WHY IS THIS? A smart fellow would see at once. I have a well-stocked library, I could (& have do so) write fascinating stuff, like, say, Manly Palmer Hall in his “Horizon” magazine. There you can get the low-down, inside stuff on Nostradamus, the Tarot, The Hung Society, Diana of the Ephesians, The Kundalini, Dante, Blake, Mandala Magic, The Harmon Papers, The Nuremberg Chronicle, The Tribes in the Light Blue Mountains & so forth. (3341 Griffith Park Blvd., Los Angeles 27, Calif.)

when the
self is


But that is the whole trouble. These glamorous things actually leave a worse taste behind. It is like knowing how the illusionists & professional magicians do their tricks. It gets terribly blah!

There is One Self, not many. You hold it away by your insistence (like most people) in holding to the hegemony [i.e., predominance] of your “self.” When your hand finally releases its hold of the bedclothes your pretended “ownership” of your body (which you do not even “run”) & of your consciousness (as though it were a piece of real estate) ceases, but the Consciousness goes on.

What will happen to you will happen to me.

However you can know the One Self-Consciousness as well as you know anyone -- indeed far better. By “know” I mean really know, know by experience, know by acquaintance, know intimately -- not any of the theological hot-air & clap-trap. I speak as a mathematician with accounting & auditing background & scientific education -- not as a dweller on cloud 51 or a “true believer.”

kicks up!

But you are judging all the time “I AM IMPATIENT” (lucky I am not), “I FEEL IT IS A DOG CHASING ITS TAIL -- A STRANGE RITUAL.”

You are like all the rest -- maybe
more inaccessible.

You said “A STRANGE AND FRUITFUL RITUAL” as a bare possibility. Well I have been successful with several friends & they did “attain” & they did say “How could you have put up with this nonsense?” (just exactly like yours) & I said “My teacher put up with me.”

When you stop trying to run the show & to discover some verbalized magic, when the maturing change starts to show in self-indulgent & smart-aleck R, then I know we are on the way. As yet you have merely fenced & shown no participation or understanding.

Heraclitus said “Dogs bark at what they do not understand.” So while I chase my tail you bark! (But I am not implying you are a dog or even a s.o.b.)

I am NOT a psychoanalyst -- you are fully capable of tracing your own attitude to various childish manifestations -- if that is the cause. “I don’t wanna, Mom. I don’t wanna” & he grows up another C.G. Jung. Boy, oh boy. But be comforted. Suzuki said of me “no hope & not worth the effort.” He was right, it was IMPOSSIBLE. But it happened because to the One nothing is “impossible.” So of it happened to Alfred who was worse (if possible!!) than you, it could happen to you.



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