Friday, July 23, 2010

Interview with the Author - Part 13

This last section of the manuscript for The Book of Chen Jen is broken down into several posts. To see all the posts in chronological order, go to the Book of Chen Jen Index Page (scroll down to Section 3). For the sake of these posts, the questions posed by the interviewer, Sue-tzu, will be in bold and the answers by the author will appear as regular text.

Chen Jen shares a great deal more than you.

Yes. And this is one way in which we are dissimilar. There is a great deal of what I call ‘content’ in Chen Jen. He seems to have a message and a desire to share it. I have neither. Chen Jen is a finger pointing to the moon. His way has arisen from his heart, but it is his heart and his path — not that of his readers. The value of his book to his audience — if there is one — is by way of example; seeing that he has found his path, perhaps they can find their own.

Another thing about Chen Jen that I find curious is his extensive use of the imperative — especially in the Sayings. The imperative — telling others what to do — is not an attribute of indifference or of not-knowing. He redeems himself a bit in the Wanderings where he is much more careful to avoid such statements, although they appear there as well. But then, I suppose it is somewhat unavoidable if we answer enquiries about our way. I have only just now given you an imperative: ‘Follow your own heart.’

It struck me that oftentimes when Chen Jen is using the imperative he might be speaking to himself. For instance, when he says “Lay down the burden ...” or “Let your dragons be ...” he is instructing himself. He is grappling with his own experience, trying to follow the pointing of his own finger.

Yes. That is very insightful. And it points again for the need for the reader to see Chen Jen as an instructive example, not as some kind of realized guru whose teaching we are to adhere to.

I find it ‘curious’ — to use your word — that you sometimes disagree with Chen Jen even though you created him.

Forgive me for being pedantic, but I ‘created’ no one — but I think you have understood that. Just as Nature arises spontaneously from Mystery without apparent volitional intention and is thus not ‘created’, so what arises from spontaneous human endeavor is likewise not ‘created.’

But let’s look at this from a more psychological point of view. As you insightfully commented, Chen Jen might very well have been teaching himself, rather than any prospective reader. He was working it out for himself. Might it not be that Chen Jen’s finger pointing was my pointing, as well? And finger pointing, by its very nature — not being the reality itself — is necessarily a fallible activity? This being so, having seen my moon, the finger pointing is clearly seen in its fallibility.

Chen Jen in his writing was engaged in an exercise whereby he was in a process of realizing harmony with Mystery. I tagged along for the ride. Maybe.

Perhaps it might be worth mentioning at this point that I do not find all of Chen Jen’s writings — especially in the Sayings — to be of equal quality. Some of them, for me, facilitate ‘an experience of understanding’ — an experience of insight beyond mere understanding. But many others leave me uninspired. And although I will admit to having edited some out altogether, for the most part, I felt it was best to let them stand. They did, after all, arise. Those that did not seem to so arise are the ones I have discarded. And I might have missed some, having become enamored with their words or ideas.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.