Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

#2632 - Thursday, November, 2, 2006 - Editor: Jerry Katz

Expand Messages
  • Jerry Katz
    #2632 - Thursday, November, 2, 2006 - Editor: Jerry Katz NONDUAL HIGHLIGHTS ... Jess writes: Hello Jerry, I would like to let you know I’m most grateful for
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 3, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      #2632 - Thursday, November, 2, 2006 - Editor: Jerry Katz
       
      NONDUAL HIGHLIGHTS
       
       

       
      Jess writes:
       
      Hello Jerry,
       
      I would like to let you know I’m most grateful for having came across your awesome website. I’ve been visiting it for what must be close to seven years now.
       
      Not long ago I found an essay by Mark Twain which surprisingly I’ve never heard any reference given to with in the world of nonduality (other then naturalistic nondual philosophy.) I wondered if you had not encountered it, at any rate it might make a worthy subject to put on ND Highlights.
       
      Twain sure was an interesting fellow!
       
      Thanks, Jess
       
       
      ----------------
       
       
      Back in Highlights #1147, Heidi sent an excerpt from the essay Jess refers to, What Is Man? It's a very long essay (didn't Twain get paid by the word?) and only the conclusion is reprinted below.
       
      In the excerpt below O.M. refers to Old Man, and Y.M. refers to Young Man. The whole essay can be read here: http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/mtwain/bl-mtwain-whatisman.htm
       
       
       
       

       
      Introduction
       
      OM: To me, Man is a machine, made up of many mechanisms, the moral and mental ones acting automatically in accordance with the impulses of an interior Master who is built out of born-temperament and an accumulation of multitudinous outside influences and trainings; a machine whose ONE function is to secure the spiritual contentment of the Master, be his desires good or be they evil; a machine whose Will is absolute and must be obeyed, and always IS obeyed.
       
      YM: Man has been taught that he is the supreme marvel of the Creation; he believes it; in all
      the ages he has never doubted it, whether he was a naked savage, or clothed in purple and
      fine linen, and civilized. This has made his heart buoyant, his life cheery. His pride in
      himself, his sincere admiration of himself, his joy in what he supposed were his own and
      unassisted achievements, and his exultation over the praise and applause which they
      evoked--these have exalted him, enthused him, ambitioned him to higher and higher
      flights; in a word, made his life worth the living. But by your scheme, all this is
      abolished; he is degraded to a machine, he is a nobody, his noble prides wither to mere
      vanities; let him strive as he may, he can never be any better than his humblest and
      stupidest neighbor; he would never be cheerful again, his life would not be worth the
      living.
       

       
       
      Excerpt from What Is Man?
       
      O.M. You have been taking a holiday?
       
      Y.M. Yes; a mountain tramp covering a week. Are you ready to talk?
       
      O.M. Quite ready. What shall we begin with?
       
      Y.M. Well, lying abed resting up, two days and nights, I have thought over all these
      talks, and passed them carefully in review. With this result: that... that... are you
      intending to publish your notions about Man some day?
       
      O.M. Now and then, in these past twenty years, the Master inside of me has half-intended
      to order me to set them to paper and publish them. Do I have to tell you why the order
      has remained unissued, or can you explain so simply a thing without my help?
       
      Y.M. By your doctrine, it is simplicity itself: outside influences moved your interior
      Master to give the order; stronger outside influences deterred him. Without the outside
      influences, neither of these impulses could ever have been born, since a person's brain
      is incapable or originating an idea within itself.
       
      O.M. Correct. Go on.
       
      Y.M. The matter of publishing or withholding is still in your Master's hands. If some day
      an outside influence shall determine him to publish, he will give the order, and it will
      be obeyed.
       
      O.M. That is correct. Well?
       
      Y.M. Upon reflection I have arrived at the conviction that the publication of your
      doctrines would be harmful. Do you pardon me?
       
      O.M. Pardon YOU? You have done nothing. You are an instrument--a speaking-trumpet.
      Speaking-trumpets are not responsible for what is said through them. Outside influences--
      in the form of lifelong teachings, trainings, notions, prejudices, and other second-hand
      importations--have persuaded the Master within you that the publication of these
      doctrines would be harmful. Very well, this is quite natural, and was to be expected; in
      fact, was inevitable. Go on; for the sake of ease and convenience, stick to habit: speak
      in the first person, and tell me what your Master thinks about it.
       
      Y.M. Well, to begin: it is a desolating doctrine; it is not inspiring, enthusing,
      uplifting. It takes the glory out of man, it takes the pride out of him, it takes the
      heroism out of him, it denies him all personal credit, all applause; it not only degrades
      him to a machine, but allows him no control over the machine; makes a mere coffee-mill of
      him, and neither permits him to supply the coffee nor turn the crank, his sole and
      piteously humble function being to grind coarse or fine, according to his make, outside
      impulses doing the rest.
       
      O.M. It is correctly stated. Tell me--what do men admire most in each other?
       
      Y.M. Intellect, courage, majesty of build, beauty of countenance, charity, benevolence,
      magnanimity, kindliness, heroism, and--and--
       
      O.M. I would not go any further. These are ELEMENTALS. Virtue, fortitude, holiness,
      truthfulness, loyalty, high ideals-- these, and all the related qualities that are named
      in the dictionary, are MADE OF THE ELEMENTALS, by blendings, combinations, and shadings
      of the elementals, just as one makes green by blending blue and yellow, and makes several
      shades and tints of red by modifying the elemental red. There are several elemental
      colors; they are all in the rainbow; out of them we manufacture and name fifty shades of
      them. You have named the elementals of the human rainbow, and also one BLEND--heroism,
      which is made out of courage and magnanimity. Very well, then; which of these elements
      does the possessor of it manufacture for himself? Is it intellect?
       
      Y.M. No.
       
      O.M. Why?
       
      Y.M. He is born with it.
       
      O.M. Is it courage?
       
      Y.M. No. He is born with it.
       
      O.M. Is it majesty of build, beauty of countenance?
       
      Y.M. No. They are birthrights.
       
      O.M. Take those others--the elemental moral qualities-- charity, benevolence,
      magnanimity, kindliness; fruitful seeds, out of which spring, through cultivation by
      outside influences, all the manifold blends and combinations of virtues named in the
      dictionaries: does man manufacture any of those seeds, or are they all born in him?
       
      Y.M. Born in him.
       
      O.M. Who manufactures them, then?
       
      Y.M. God.
       
      O.M. Where does the credit of it belong?
       
      Y.M. To God.
       
      O.M. And the glory of which you spoke, and the applause?
       
      Y.M. To God.
       
      O.M. Then it is YOU who degrade man. You make him claim glory, praise, flattery, for
      every valuable thing he possesses-- BORROWED finery, the whole of it; no rag of it earned
      by himself, not a detail of it produced by his own labor. YOU make man a humbug; have I
      done worse by him?
       
      Y.M. You have made a machine of him.
       
      O.M. Who devised that cunning and beautiful mechanism, a man's hand?
       
      Y.M. God.
       
      O.M. Who devised the law by which it automatically hammers out of a piano an elaborate
      piece of music, without error, while the man is thinking about something else, or talking
      to a friend?
       
      Y.M. God.
       
      O.M. Who devised the blood? Who devised the wonderful machinery which automatically
      drives its renewing and refreshing streams through the body, day and night, without
      assistance or advice from the man? Who devised the man's mind, whose machinery works
      automatically, interests itself in what it pleases, regardless of its will or desire,
      labors all night when it likes, deaf to his appeals for mercy? God devised all these
      things. _I_ have not made man a machine, God made him a machine. I am merely calling
      attention to the fact, nothing more. Is it wrong to call attention to the fact? Is it a
      crime?
       
      Y.M. I think it is wrong to EXPOSE a fact when harm can come of it.
       
      O.M. Go on.
       
      Y.M. Look at the matter as it stands now. Man has been taught that he is the supreme
      marvel of the Creation; he believes it; in all the ages he has never doubted it, whether
      he was a naked savage, or clothed in purple and fine linen, and civilized. This has made
      his heart buoyant, his life cheery. His pride in himself, his sincere admiration of
      himself, his joy in what he supposed were his own and unassisted achievements, and his
      exultation over the praise and applause which they evoked--these have exalted him,
      enthused him, ambitioned him to higher and higher flights; in a word, made his life worth
      the living. But by your scheme, all this is abolished; he is degraded to a machine, he is
      a nobody, his noble prides wither to mere vanities; let him strive as he may, he can
      never be any better than his humblest and stupidest neighbor; he would never be cheerful
      again, his life would not be worth the living.
       
      O.M. You really think that?
       
      Y.M. I certainly do.
       
      O.M. Have you ever seen me uncheerful, unhappy.
       
      Y.M. No.
       
      O.M. Well, _I_ believe these things. Why have they not made me unhappy?
       
      Y.M. Oh, well--temperament, of course! You never let THAT escape from your scheme.
       
      O.M. That is correct. If a man is born with an unhappy temperament, nothing can make him
      happy; if he is born with a happy temperament, nothing can make him unhappy.
       
      Y.M. What--not even a degrading and heart-chilling system of beliefs?
       
      O.M. Beliefs? Mere beliefs? Mere convictions? They are powerless. They strive in vain
      against inborn temperament.
       
      Y.M. I can't believe that, and I don't.
       
      O.M. Now you are speaking hastily. It shows that you have not studiously examined the
      facts. Of all your intimates, which one is the happiest? Isn't it Burgess?
       
      Y.M. Easily.
       
      O.M. And which one is the unhappiest? Henry Adams?
       
      Y.M. Without a question!
       
      O.M. I know them well. They are extremes, abnormals; their temperaments are as opposite
      as the poles. Their life-histories are about alike--but look at the results! Their ages
      are about the same--about around fifty. Burgess had always been buoyant, hopeful, happy;
      Adams has always been cheerless, hopeless, despondent. As young fellows both tried
      country journalism--and failed. Burgess didn't seem to mind it; Adams couldn't smile, he
      could only mourn and groan over what had happened and torture himself with vain regrets
      for not having done so and so instead of so and so--THEN he would have succeeded. They
      tried the law-- and failed. Burgess remained happy--because he couldn't help it. Adams
      was wretched--because he couldn't help it. From that day to this, those two men have gone
      on trying things and failing: Burgess has come out happy and cheerful every time; Adams
      the reverse. And we do absolutely know that these men's inborn temperaments have remained
      unchanged through all the vicissitudes of their material affairs. Let us see how it is
      with their immaterials. Both have been zealous Democrats; both have been zealous
      Republicans; both have been zealous Mugwumps. Burgess has always found happiness and
      Adams unhappiness in these several political beliefs and in their migrations out of them.
      Both of these men have been Presbyterians, Universalists, Methodists, Catholics--then
      Presbyterians again, then Methodists again. Burgess has always found rest in these
      excursions, and Adams unrest. They are trying Christian Science, now, with the customary
      result, the inevitable result. No political or religious belief can make Burgess unhappy
      or the other man happy. I assure you it is purely a matter of temperament. Beliefs are
      ACQUIREMENTS, temperaments are BORN; beliefs are subject to change, nothing whatever can
      change temperament.
       
      Y.M. You have instanced extreme temperaments.
       
      O.M. Yes, the half-dozen others are modifications of the extremes. But the law is the
      same. Where the temperament is two-thirds happy, or two-thirds unhappy, no political or
      religious beliefs can change the proportions. The vast majority of temperaments are
      pretty equally balanced; the intensities are absent, and this enables a nation to learn
      to accommodate itself to its political and religious circumstances and like them, be
      satisfied with them, at last prefer them. Nations do not THINK, they only FEEL. They get
      their feelings at second hand through their temperaments, not their brains. A nation can
      be brought-- by force of circumstances, not argument--to reconcile itself to ANY KIND OF
      GOVERNMENT OR RELIGION THAT CAN BE DEVISED; in time it will fit itself to the required
      conditions; later, it will prefer them and will fiercely fight for them. As instances,
      you have all history: the Greeks, the Romans, the Persians, the Egyptians, the Russians,
      the Germans, the French, the English, the Spaniards, the Americans, the South Americans,
      the Japanese, the Chinese, the Hindus, the Turks--a thousand wild and tame religions,
      every kind of government that can be thought of, from tiger to house-cat, each nation
      KNOWING it has the only true religion and the only sane system of government, each
      despising all the others, each an ass and not suspecting it, each proud of its fancied
      supremacy, each perfectly sure it is the pet of God, each without undoubting confidence
      summoning Him to take command in time of war, each surprised when He goes over to the
      enemy, but by habit able to excuse it and resume compliments--in a word, the whole human
      race content, always content, persistently content, indestructibly content, happy,
      thankful, proud, NO MATTER WHAT ITS RELIGION IS, NOR WHETHER ITS MASTER BE TIGER OR
      HOUSE-CAT. Am I stating facts? You know I am. Is the human race cheerful? You know it is.
      Considering what it can stand, and be happy, you do me too much honor when you think that
      _I_ can place before it a system of plain cold facts that can take the cheerfulness out
      of it. Nothing can do that. Everything has been tried. Without success. I beg you not to
      be troubled.
       
       

       
       
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.