Christmas is over and the New Year begun. My book is off to the publishers and I’m at last able to do other things, including getting back to those Questions!
Chapter 8 asks “Are you here now?”.
I like this question a lot because at first sight – like “Am I conscious now?” – the answer seems as though it must be an emphatic “Yes”. And yet my meditation experiences led me far away from “Yes”. This is not just because I have spent so much time questioning the nature of consciousness that I no longer have any idea what the word means, but because the whole sense of a persisting self has taken so many knocks.
In this chapter I describe a retreat which was extremely painful in many ways and included an interview with John which left me quite disturbed. He didn’t seem to understand me at all, and I didn’t really understand why not, or why he reacted the way he did. I suppose I was expecting a certain kind of help from him and that is not what I got. The way I have written about it makes it seem much less dramatic than the interview described in Chapter 6 but it was just as disturbing.
John clearly thought so too. In the “Response of a Zen Master” which follows the rest of the book, he writes “The interview on p. 132 was a disaster for both of us. I failed to show you a way beyond your intellectual fixation and you persisted in a partial viewpoint that was intellectually convincing to you.”
If you’ve read his response you might like to comment – for I still don’t know what to think about it all this time later.