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by Wei Wu Wei:
FINGERS POINTING TOWARDS THE MOON
Reflections of a Pilgrim on the Way
Foreword by Ramesh Balsekar, author of The Ultimate Understanding
Fingers Pointing Towards the Moon was the first of a series of extraordinary spiritual manifestos written by the anonymous Wei Wu Wei. Like a master instructing every reader who has the dedication to read this book, the author maintains direct and unrelenting perspective, giving Fingers Pointing to the Moon its status as one of Zen Buddhism's essential classics. The depth of understanding evinced by Wei Wu Wei places him with Paul Reps, Alan Watts, and Philip Kapleau as one of the earliest and most profound interpreters of Zen.
In the preface, he explains why he has chosen to write under a pseudonym. “Is not a name essentially the name of an ego?” he asks. “But the Self, the Principal, the I-Reality has no name.” The builders of the Taj Mahal and of “a hundred cathedral symphonies” knew this and remained nameless, he points out. If the reader does not understand this, he should give the book to a pilgrim on the Way. “Why? Because it would have helped the pilgrim who compiled it if it had been given to him, and that is why he compiled it, and why he presumes to offer it to other pilgrims.”
Despite his anonymity, we do know a bit about the author who called himself Wei Wu Wei. He was born in 1895 into a well-established Irish family, was raised on an estate outside Cambridge, England, and received a thorough education, including studies at Oxford University. He was a major influence on many noted dramatists, poets and dancers of the day, including the founder of the Royal Ballet, who was his cousin.
The assistance he offers to pilgrims like himself includes an explanation of time and space from the point of view of the eternal and infinite. “Science is built on the arbitrary assumption that the universe exists in Time and Space.” We are aware of only the aspects of the universe that our senses inform us about, he says, and we should not presume that we perceive all that there is. Furthermore, much that we think to be true, is not. “Nine-tenths of the ideas which occupy our thoughts, which are the subjects of our conversations, discussions, discourses, public and private, have no existence in Reality.”
He also discusses prosperity, work and play, health, dreams, personality, and spiritual practice--all considered in the context of ultimate reality. Throughout this book, the author’s finger points constantly to the moon of understanding. Reading his words, one feels the winds of eternity at one’s back, propelling the mind towards Truth. This is a book to be read and reread, in hopes that its message connects with, and is absorbed by, the reader’s own latent understanding.