Pulyan Correspondence


Excerpts from Pulyan's Correspondence

August 27, 1960

Every step is contra-ego & that is a synonym for disagreeable, isn't it? (I got mad with my teacher. I got physically murderous.) Ego doesn't relinquish his boss idea without mayhem, squawks, screams, evasions, smarming----- At times the student tries to discredit the master, at other times he withdraws--- There is a black leopard on the stairs. You meet him! What will you do? You can't pretend he isn't there. You can withdraw (run away), you can fight furiously, you can say "nice pussy," you can try tricks to divert him, you can call for help----- many things--- But he must eat you.

What shall I do when I meet a Zen master? (see the August 2003 TAT Forum).

God comes easiest if you tell him he has made a mess of things. Try it! He is so grateful that AT LEAST you acknowledge his existence that he comes through with seventh-heaven treatment and ecstasies....

The body dies & is dissipated. The mind is one with it at all times and is therefore also dissipated. Nothing of you remains. There is no survival or reincarnation or "immortal soul," "conscious entity." As far as that goes you are the exact equal of a drop of water & have the same possibility! Or an electron. Or a cabbage. Grim? Not at all, this is the wonderful truth & is the purpose of our work. The Zen Master asks: "What happens to you when the great Universe disappears in fire?"

If you have had some inklings of experiences, even the transient ones, if you are discriminative & can balance almost imponderables (i.e. if you are cunning & smart with true self-interest, like a serpent) then there is a chance, but Jesus said "FEW."

September 23, 1960

... The dog of the mind "investigates every lamp-post -- and in plainer English how hard it is to reject the thousands of fascinating paper-backs and other publications.

We do not pull flowers up to see how they are growing, but Ego (Self!) cannot endure being out of the driver's seat and so even in the "work" he tries to be both objective and subjective.... This schizoidal device preserves Ego-1 at the expense of a fictitious Ego-2!!

September 28, 1960

[Re. yoga:] "Joining" what is already one!! Quite a trick.

October 6, 1960

... The search is into ONESELF.

... the SELF acts as an OBSTACLE to the light coming in. Can we remove the SELF? No! Only by dying. But the SELF itself is not the obstacle, it is the FIERCE CONTENTION of the SELF that it is the FINAL COURT OF APPEAL, the final JUDGE, the "owner" of the organism, the boss, & so forth.

Just as we need an outside point to rest a lever on if we are to move the earth (Archimedes), so we need a friend to help our ego-fight FROM AN EXTERIOR POINT OF VIEW TO OURSELVES. It is necessary that this "master" be "awakened" himself, because this is NOT a mechanical system and this mystery, this "God" is very much alive, conscious, & directs the process (and everything else) even though in the student it is still HIDDEN. (Our little consciousness hides the big Consciousness like a penny hides the Sun.)

Sacrifice is not even contemplated but IT IS THE ONLY WAY. There is a price-tag on everything & to get all you must give all; for less you only get a substitute.

October 12, 1960

[Re. friendship:] It is the "transmission" of Zen. It is when each of you is "open" with the other. It is an approach to the One-Self in each. It is a way to realization.

What difference does it make whether we come to know God or not? Nothing and everything. This is a paradox to make the angels weep!! Since you are "God" & nothing else it is God realizing himself in this time-space episode.

We are puppets. We are perhaps even "nothing." But we are "nothings" that can be "something."

... Ego is so obstinate he would rather be extinguished than step down!

February 27, 1961

Simple, unassuming people may be the true "knowers." As for "what is a guru?" a teacher does not actually "teach" anything, but quietly persists like a mother until the child grows up with often no thanks & asking no reward.

March 6, 1961

The procedure toward awakening (see the March 2004 TAT Forum).

April 29, 1961

Suppose truth is a rabbit (see the April 2003 TAT Forum).

May 17, 1961

It is the softening of attitude that is so vital. We try to be so rock-ribbed, we poor mortals!


Francis Thompson
Fortunately even though life may get rough "all will be well, very well." I cannot logically prove this but it is a fact (if you will let your friend make a mere observation of what is true by his own experience), & it is a fact according to a lot of others too, that there is a Something that seeks us individually & personally with a humility & open simplicity we lack. The poem "The Hound of Heaven" illustrates this (by Francis Thompson: "I fled him, down the nights & down the days....")

"Awakening" is perhaps a sad knowledge -- like growing up! But I asked my teacher if she would "go back" & she said "No!" Now I myself can answer my own question! My answer is "I would not think of it. No!" I remember in New York getting a telephone installed for her & her husband. I felt "This is the end! Tomorrow there will be thousands of people lining the street & sitting on the sidewalk & steps -- all waiting to see her and get enlightenment." Surprise! There wasn't one. Only me & a few private students of hers. Nor are there more than a handful who write to me now. Yet this is worth more than all the wealth of the world because the wealth of the world will not buy it.

I wish we were kinder to the animals. I wish we were kinder to one another. There is nobody on earth ... who will not feel one day his or her utter loneliness, utter insulation from any other human being. To avoid knowing this we engage in commerce (must work to eat you say? YES, but I have known millionaires go on working!) & fill our time with distractions. The "work" I do helps toward breaking down this separation we human-beings feel. It is not necessary, it is only the impulse to defend ourselves, -- we are terribly afraid of "coming out" just as ourselves & being stepped on! This is a false fear.... This "I" of ours has a better side of course. Its basis -- apart from memories -- is the strange "self" conception. This is a direct reflection of the One Self & it is this we can see in one another.

Pulyan's published writings
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Alfred Pulyan | What Is Transmission? | Correspondence Excerpts | Published Writings