Are you a person like all the others? Profoundly more? Or less? The old Taoist teaching story called The Tenth Man plays with this question, and Wei Wu Wei takes it up again with gusto. "I have only one object in writing books: to demonstrate that there could not be anyone to do it."
Instead of describing or explaining his answer, in sections titled Identity, Self And Other, Non-objective Relation, Time, and Absence, Wei Wu Wei prompts the reader to a deeper exploration of himself. He challenges not only our common-sense notions about life, but also more philosophical ideas of identity.
The subtitle of the book is “The Great Joke (which made Lazarus laugh).” Lazarus of course, was the dead man revived by Jesus. In the old story of the tenth man, each man briefly thought himself to be dead. Why would Lazarus think that was funny?
This is a new edition of a book originally published in 1966.
Republished by Sentient Publications LLC 2003
Softcover 234 pages
98. Absolute Absence
Worried about something?
Yes, what I am. Do you happen to know?
Of course I do.
Well, what am I?
My absence. What else could you be?
But here you are, present, and evident.
You are speaking as a shadow, a reflection, a bubble....
Yes, yes, I’ve read the Diamond Sutra, also.
When people who have understanding happen to ask questions the least one can do is to reply from the Prince-Host-Principal position, not from that of the minister-guest function. We have an obligation at least to do that.
Very well, but what has your absence got to do with it?
My absence is what you are.
Then what is your presence?
My presence you can see, hear, touch - whenever you feel so inclined.
You mean that your absence as a phenomenal object accounts for all phenomenal presence, including mine?
You have come-to at last. Yes, yours and the beetle’s, the elephant’s, the sparrow’s, the seal’s, and my own as a phenomenal object.
You must have a potent kind of absence, old man!