27 June 2008

Letter 2.20

The epoxy had to go through customs (something one would expect to get stuck there), but finally arrived safely with a duty of RS. 1.50 (25¢) and yesterday I finally finished the desk, putting on the last coating of French polish. The graining -- which is matched and very handsome -- stands out nicely in the wood, which is the color of dark honey with a low gloss. But I've certainly had enough carpentry now to last me for a good long while.

I imagine you find the Letters somewhat disquieting and not at all 'healthy' I would not dispute this, but I would again emphasize that they represent my own view, and were sent not to evoke any emotion whatsoever but simply to afford an avenue of understanding -- if you wish it -- of the way I am. If you don't want them, by the way, don't return them -- let me know and I'll send you an address to mail them to: there is one person (Eric [1] -- remember him? -- who is now in Canada) who might fine them of use and I'd like him to see them. At any rate, you'll receive (if you want it) a copy of the complete work when it's published. (I've had a letter only a few days ago from a complete stranger in Colombo, who has offered to pay all publishing costs and says he will be coming here on the 24th to discuss the matter further. But there is no shortage of people anxious to be the publisher of the book.)

Anyway, perhaps the Letters will help you to understand why I can't accept your conditional offer of round trip transportation. If not, all I can add is that it seems to me that your stipulation that I doff my robes for the occasion shows that you are more interested in seeing me-as-you'd-like-me-to-be than in seeing me-as-I-am. But me-as-you'd-like-me-to-be – alas! -- does not exist. I think I've already told you that I can feel affection for you without missing you, and that if I did visit it would be primarily (though not entirely) at your desire. That I would return here is beyond question and discussion. Therefore even if I did agree to go in Western clothes it hardly seems likely that the visit could be a success, since your stipulation shows that you would try -- directly or indirectly -- to induce me to remain and then there would be tension conflict, anxiety, and unhappiness. And if my going to the States would cause that then it seems that the only reasonable thing is not to go. If and when the conditions which would be responsible for the tension, etc., are eliminated there would no longer be any need for any stipulations or conditions, and then it might be possible to plan a successful visit.

I gave the lunar photos you sent to the Maha Thera; he appreciates that sort of thing. My explorations are in an entirely different direction. Speaking of the sky, though, Venus (or could it be Sirius?) has been so bright of late that it actually casts a distinct shadow at night for the few hours it's still visible after dark. Now, of course, we're getting a new moon, which is also up before the sun has set, so it's no longer visible: but in another few weeks, perhaps the star will be visible again, after the full moon. I've never seen a star so bright before.

Eric returned to Canada (his wife is Canadian; he is American) via Japan (from Australia), from which he sent me a lovely little Japanese Buddha seated crosslegged on a lotus blossom which rests on a pedestal supported by a cat (or perhaps some other animal -- I don‘t know its significance, since the Japanese teachings -- which are multitudinous -- are far removed from the work I am doing here; though Japanese Zen seems to be the big thing among some of the California set), the whole of this structure is carved out of a piece of ivory about 3/4 of an inch high mounted in a polished walnut shell which rests on a wooden base. Some very fine details in the Buddha (if it is in fact a Buddha -- it might be some Japanese deity or patriarch for all I know).

[1] E=II (Hum)

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