I feel that I owe a few lines to you, even though I am hardly able to give an adequate account of what happened; I am still rather benumbed.
Your notes on viññāna nāmarūpa have led me away from the abyss into which I have been staring for more than twelve years. (As if I did not know what I was asking from you! At the last moment you gave them to me; when I had almost abandoned all hope!) I had been addicted to a fallacious notion of the Teaching, which I held to be its clue, while, in reality, it was diametrically opposed to it. In accordance with my nature, however, I was given to it in such a way that, even though conscious that I was hanging between earth and sky, neither able to step forward nor backward, I could not surrender myself earlier than this, and, of course, after tremendous struggle. You must have seen what this notion consisted in, especially from my notes on saññā, though you did not directly name it, nor did I (or, rather, I somewhat concealed it)—I would have fallen if we had done so. Even now, I shall not do so, in order not to fall from delusion into delusion. It concerns the reality of things; I am not really interested in kamma and vipāka—those only served me to support my misconception, and well indeed! Even my latest argument on the Arahat consciously aimed at the same thing. I do not think you saw it—and that was good.
Your dispassionate description of nāmarūpa and viññāna has made me realize that I was unable to remove the tint of passion from things—while at the same time denying their existence (or more concisely, because of doing so). I do not know how I stood that position for such a long time. I do not know either by what miraculous skill you have guided me to a safe place where at last I can breathe freely.
It should scarcely be necessary to say that the question of pañcakkhandhā was not just one among others, but was the question. Your interpretation of cetanā as intention and significance, which to me were just the antipodes, was such a nuisance that only your last letter compelled me to enter into the matter at all; I had so far just pushed it aside. The connection cetanā/sankhāra had entirely escaped my consciousness.... I had never any difficulty to follow your argument 'omnis determinatio...', provided, of course, I took it as pertaining to sankhārā, and not to cetanā. I can see the matter clearly now, though not, of course, all its implications. In that way, the subject is removed from experience, and the pañcakkhandhā can function apart from upādāna. Thus the question is settled. I have lost a dimension of thought, at least to the degree to grasp this matter, i.e. my own upādāna...
You have seen that I took your repeated references to the puthujjana in connection with me as a challenge—though I once denied it proudly. In your last letter you have put that challenge masterly; I could not possibly not take it up—and this time seriously.... In fact, I was always passing from one thing to the other—through the depths of my being. In connection with this, I have to confess something that will hardly come out from my pen. I must, however, at once say that, while doing it, I denied only myself—not you; there was no disrespect in doing it towards you. I had recognized your letter as precious, so I have written already, but, nevertheless, the next day, at night, I burnt it—along with all the rest. Even your precious notes. (That appeared, however, quite different at that moment—a temptation of Māra, who seemed to whisper that were there teleological experience, without a self, and free from all dukkha, it could be a fine thing as such!) I cannot even ask your pardon, for I did not offend you. I was constantly trying to find my own image in you by reading the letters; you know that I am passionate, and, accordingly I acted, that is all. And I got the results as soon as I had done it. So the highest purpose of all your hitānukampā has been achieved, and, moreover, I have a good memory, and know almost every word that you have written....
Can the puthujjana really make such a quest as mine has been, even though, as yet, negatively, his own, so as never even for a second to depart from it, as, in fact, I did? Whatever it may be, I am no longer worried about it, now that I have got rid of a great deal of delusion.... [Back to text]
Footnotes to editorial notes:
[14.1] The last six words were underlined by the Ven. Ñānavīra. [Back]