Since this was Wei Wu Wei’s last book, though he wrote again to seekers about their oh-so-serious search for enlightenment, he created a dialogue between a wise owl and a naïve rabbit and then illustrated it with cartoons! If you want to continue taking yourself seriously, don’t read Unworldly Wise.
When conversation with the owl during a heavy wind frightens the rabbit, the owl comforts him - "Safety is relative," explained the owl, shouting down the wind, "friends and enemies also. All that is my eye."..."Quite so," commented the rabbit slyly, "and lucky we have two."
Are these animal characters symbolic? After you’ve met the acquisitive squirrel, religious unicorn, and misunderstood dragon, and heard what they all have to say, you’ll have a better idea.
The author signs with the pseudonym O. O. O. and describes it as the “cube-root of zero.” He acknowledges it as a pseudonym for Wei Wu Wei, which we now know as a pseudonym for Terrence Gray. What a funny way to point out that all these are names for something incalculably smaller. With this book, can we also say incalculably less serious?
With its 15 Thurberesque line drawings by David Eccles, this playfully serious little book was originally published in 1974. The light-hearted tone makes it a completely unique expression of non-dual teaching.
22. Who Indeed
“You seem to know a good deal about those two-legged monsters who cook us in pots and roast us on skewers. How is that?” asked the rabbit.
“I know everything,” answered the owl with modest simplicity.
“But how do you know that?” queried the rabbit.
“Knowing is ‘knowing’ that I cannot not know,” the owl replied with finality, “you also, as I.”
“Then they are ‘enlightened’?” the rabbit inquired.
“Even they are,” he replied almost sadly, “but they don’t know that either.”
“Do they know that we are?”
“One of them at least did, an Indian sage.”
“How did he know it?” asked the rabbit.
“Because he himself ‘knew’ it,” the owl replied. “He had a friend who was a cow, called Lakshmi, and when she died he had her buried beside his mother where only the so-called ‘enlightened’ were buried.”
“And did other people understand?”
“‘Others’ cannot understand,” the owl explained, “only I.”
“Then, if they don’t understand, what do they think?”
“They think because they ‘wish’ to think and cannot help thinking, because they are conditioned to think, and they imagine that when a phenomenon extended in space-time suddenly becomes aware of what-it-is - it is thereby ‘awake’, ‘enlightened’, ‘liberated’, or whatever they like to call it.”
“And it has not become aware of what-it-is?” asked the rabbit.
“No phenomenon ever has, ever does, or ever will do - in space-time!”
“Why should that be?” asked the rabbit puzzled.
“Because only what-it-is can become aware of what is via the phenomenon, of course!” answered the owl, swivelling his head an focusing the rabbit with a transpiercing glance of his luminous eyes. “Can you not see that so it must necessarily be?”
“Then what is ‘being enlightened’?” asked the rabbit.
“Being what-you-are, of course,” replied the owl.
“But what is that?” the rabbit insisted.
“No thing whatever,” the owl answered. “What could there be for you to be?”
“And who could there be to have it?” the rabbit added spontaneously. “But then what can it do?” she asked hurriedly, as though shame-faced.
“Do?” the owl answered quietly, “It can say what you have just said without thinking about what you were saying.”
“So that was . . . ?” the rabbit ruminated.
“It was,” stated the owl, “but not, of course, the words or the speaking.”
“Then what did say it?” demanded the rabbit, her ears flapping.
“I did,” snapped the owl, closing his eyes and reswivelling his head with finality.