Alfred Pulyan

Letters from a
Zen Master

April 3, 1961

Dear Dick,


“How can you be sure of me (A.R.P.) without having met me, when I said that even after meeting someone I wasn’t sure of their attainment?”


Touché! Very reasonable, but who guaranteed the Buddha? This whole business reeks with paradox.


(1) If Krishnamurti offered to “work” with you & to do so as a friend then it would be foolish to refuse. He is a long way further on than you & that I think is a reasonable inference (from lectures, books, acquaintance etc.). My remark should not have been made . It turned on a very technical point only appreciable after experience.

I did not say I was sure.

(2) Do you ask a FRIEND’S bona-fides?


(3) Unless you solve this dilemma somehow “work” will never even begin! We are only “nagging” now.


(4) To give an opinion is one thing but to act is another. If I were “unawakened” & had the offer you had from some person claiming awakening I would be careful not to lose him completely because if I was wrong I should have thrown away all that life has to offer & if I was right I should have merely prevented some extra trouble for myself, writing, attending sessions or what not (where I could have acquired something anyway).

Time is now running out for you because we are at a definite IMPASSE & writing is becoming futile -- in fact to be honest it seems so now. Don’t forget -- I know “me,” you don’t. But I realize this means nothing from your angle.


(5) A lot of other people DID NOT HAVE YOUR DIFFICULTY. They soon made up their minds. A few however refused abruptly and saved yak yak.



“A concept to be acceptable must explain more than its predecessors.”


Experience -- even sensory experience as of a color or sound -- is not describable or graspable by any kind of concept whatsoever.

Experience is our goal.



“Aquinas inferred that the finite mind can never perceive the infinite.”


He may well have done so whilst writing all that nonsense (the “Summa Contra Gentiles” etc.) because that is the same state you are in -- concepts.

But six months before his death (and my authority is the Catholic Encyclopedia) he had such an experience that he said all his writings were CHAFF (actual word). Yet people still study the nonsense. The Catholic Encyclopedia’s authority is a personal friend of Aquinas & the episode is not controverted -- except by the fact that idiots waste their lives on the “great” Summa, still. (Idiots study books & metaphysics. I was one.)



“What do you think of Van der Leeuw’s ‘Conquest of Illusion’?” Ask Mac. It would be more to the point if you substituted Pulyan for Van der Leeuw. I realize this is not a natural thing to do -- but look at it (IF YOU CAN!) from my angle. If you “work” with me then I am the “master” not all the authors of various books. Books will NOT produce awakening, however interesting & so forth.



“The greatest difficulty I have with you is trying to put you in a category.”

I have no category & you might as well stop this foolish effort at being patronizing & the “great investigator.” I am not threatening, believe me, but don’t you agree we are getting nowhere? This must peter out & that is always regrettable. We can however part pleasantly.





Sorry I forgot this one & it is a lulu. “Let me ask you for the reasons for your interest in other people --- is this some sort of law which must be followed, or do you expect further help for helping others?”

(A) People are tethered to a pole like an animal.

It is ”self,” ego & it controls them.

Thus they always look for an ego-motive, “what’s in it for me?” etc. & this they regard as a TRUISM!

It reminds me of the science-fiction story where a man visited a planet where “utility” ruled -- he observed their plain vases & cups & so on & one day painted a pattern on one!

Consternation! Whatever was the UTILITY of this? (they could not understand any other reason for such an action, or any action).

To be “outgoing,” friendly for its own sake is regarded on this third planet (Earth) as prime aberration!! (or fishy).

However if you want an ego-reason let me say that I have been very well paid in advance in a peculiar way --

But this is false as a reason because NOBODY takes money or its equivalent for this work unless in actual need & then only as between friends who SHARE ALL THEY HAVE. Don’t be alarmed! (I do not refer to all the fanciful organizations.)



(B) On another plane consider that we are disguised modes of the One Self-Consciousness & although separated into so many of us it strives to realize itself in each of us & to unite again. This is crudely stated I know, but not so far from the truth.

(C) Psychologically consider that as we descend into deeper & deeper depths of psychosis we tend to become more & more concentrated on self to the exclusion of others, even in the minutest details.

Instead of being “open” we become “withdrawn.” Thus sanity demands the attitude that so puzzles you.


Your motto is "Stop giving me facts, they confuse me. I refer to the "angelic Doctor", query No. 3, also to query No. 2. As far as our "work", friendship is not a state you can ARGUE yourself into. It happens or it doesn't and there you are.

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