Thaddeus’s final essay on :
How This Book Came To Be
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Thank you for all the lovely messages you have sent me over the years. What can I say that will not fall short of your imagination about me? I am mortal, your equal, and that's the message I was trying to deliver we can all do it. Recently I was asked, "What led to your opening up to cosmic consciousness?"
Was it at age fourteen during dental work, under gas, when I was aware of the pain as spirals of light? Was it when I slammed my head against a wall in Holland during World War II, was knocked out, and realized I was out in space seeing stars as I was coming to (just like the comic strips!)? Was it in 1950, when I casually wrote in my journal, "Space is to energy as energy is to mass"—an idea that kept me busy for twenty years, especially after I equated space with consciousness? Was it the satori in a Manhattan, Kansas, restaurant in 1966? Was it in 1969 when, the very weekend I was having a pamphlet published with my theories (terrible writing, impossible to read now), I was offered LSD and went Home? That was when I decided I wouldn't advertise my personal illumination, but would try to show it by my behavior and by what I produced. And it seems I succeeded, miraculously, with The Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment.
I did not at all anticipate the kind of experiences I had on LSD. I had never taken refuge in castles in the air. In college days at Columbia, John Hollander had cued me to The White Goddess by Robert Graves when it was first published. I was interested enough in matriarchy to read most of Graves' other books, including King Jesus and the little-known Watch the North Wind Rise. I read enough metaphysics to check out my theories, but I was rooted in the Earth, and spent more time scanning scientific works to see if anything that was known to be true contradicted my lines of thought. Of course I do recall reading Indian Yoga when in high school, but I remember that only because Allen Ginsberg (all of thirteen years old!) told me, "Some people go crazy from reading books like that."
I never varied from my determination to evolve hard information, a way of being that could be relied on even in chaos. It was chaos that taught me. I was so ruthless in testing, suspecting every sentiment, that I came to feel I was a destroyer of ideas, and indeed my books are based on what I could not demolish. Anyone who wants to tear those books down will have to work harder and longer than I did.
At times on my psychedelic trips I was distinctly aware of myself as an unmoved watcher, a still core of awareness immune to changes. However, there were often wild storms of emotion, and I made a deliberate effort to be completely passive, open to anything. There were beautiful states of being where I would have loved to linger, but they vanished the instant I embraced them willingly. I took reassurance just knowing they were there and that I might return. There were states I recalled from previous trips but which flashed by as I went somewhere else. There was a constancy in these realms where I was unpredictably bouncing around.
I might have constructed a whole life of behavior on the basis of only my first trip, as some have done after a single illumination, but I was greedy for more. I wanted to live there.
The full story of the 1960s can never be told because so much of it consisted of subjective experiences. Readers who have no echo in their own experience can give no credibility to what might be written or said. Only the music transcended such limits. Otherwise, those images most publicized were usually the silliest.
Many people who had transcendent experiences made the mistake of believing their euphoria would effect changes in our social reality, that mystical exaltation would have a physical consequence. One day when sitting on a hill in San Francisco, overlooking the ocean, I thought about what my expectations were. I did not want beings in higher consciousness to come down and rescue me—I preferred that they stay where they were, so they would be there when I arrived. I had a strong intuition that the rules we make for others apply to ourselves, and I would have to be extremely careful about what I told people. I understood that the way up was just as easy as the way down, and it would not be honest to tell people that enlightenment was a long or difficult learning process. Strange and tricky, perhaps, in the light of reason, but not laborious. It once came to me that if I had followed all the good advice available, I would never have written my book. My intent has never been to have unusual experiences or to "be enlightened," but to understand how the world works, how to go to the spirit and stay. What I wanted, I decided, was a little handbook that would tell me how to do it myself. That was what I then proceeded to write: a little guide.
I bought a thick-covered bookkeeper's journal with "Day" on the cover.
As soon as I began to write, my right arm began to hurt with a constant fierce pain, the same sharp pain I had felt when I cracked my humerus at the age of eight. It made me sweat, and I tried all kinds of mental tricks to make it go away, but nothing worked. I did not stop writing. For several days I got little sleep, though I took aspirins, which should have knocked me out. I wrote a few pages every day in longhand. At last I decided to go to Everyman's Free Clinic.
The doctor proposed to give me a shot of cortisone. First, to alleviate the pain of that, he gave me a shot of Novocain. I had stopped taking LSD because I knew I would not finish writing the book unless I stayed earthbound, but when the needle went in, it was like an LSD trip of pure pain—I was out in space in a universe of pain. My body broke into a cold sweat. After a moment or two, which was a true eternity—no past or future—the pain subsided. He then gave me the cortisone.
In the days after, an enormous bulbous growth arose in my right armpit, as big as a small teacup, and I was ready to believe the demons were after me. When I went back to the clinic, the doctor gave me a shot of penicillin, and over the next days the growth disappeared.
For six weeks, I wrote every day. Six weeks may seem like a short time, but in the twenty years preceding, I had written and discarded thousands of pages.
One day when I did not write, I awoke in the middle of the night and wrote a few pages. I still have that journal, and the handwriting is terrible, the writing confused. But some of the passages made it all the way to the published book, including the first sentence, "I am a lazy man." I never considered any other title but The Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment.
I borrowed an old office typewriter and wrote the first coherent manuscript. At least it was now passable. Half was commentary on the contemporary scene, correspondences between historical nomadic tribes and the hippies, and so on.
I wanted to make Xerox copies to give away, but that would have been expensive in double-spacing. I decided to type it single-spaced, in two columns per page because long lines would be hard to read. In those pre-computer days, this felt like hard work! When I was about halfway through, I realized the book was complete at that point, and the rest was journalism. I added some of the last chapter to the short version, and that was it.
This version came to twenty densely typed pages and was inexpensive to reproduce. Over the next year I gave away hundreds of copies, with occasional small revisions. I suppose it was a sort of market testing.
Previously I had often wandered around town, talking to people at random, sometimes as many as five or six in an afternoon. When I started to write, I found that many of the things I had been saying were stored in my mind as if taped. Also, a number of lines in the book were words that came to me on psychedelic trips. The book was more talked than written.
I really intended it for other "acidheads," so that those of us in the psychedelic culture would have a language to use in describing our experiences. I was quite astonished later when the book found wide acceptance by the general public.
For some time I had been mailing copies to various people, and now significant feedback began coming in.
In July of 1971, I sent a copy to Alan Watts, whom I had met briefly, and told him he was free to do anything he wished with it. (Over the years I had tried to give the idea away, to get someone else to do the work of developing it.) Watts replied that he had read it with "the greatest interest" but suggested I should do the further work myself. The importance of his reply to me was that he did not dismiss it as something already existing in the literature, since he was more scholarly than I was.
However, I never did become a popular "New Age" figure, and people in the movement seemed to find me shocking and disturbing. Well, love may sometimes be blind, but it does not require us to be blind. To "love it the way it is," in the phrase from the Guide, it is necessary to see it the way it is. Or, in a thought that came to me once, God must love us even though we are stupid, but God does not love us because we are stupid.
At the beginning of 1972, I myself was about to enter a maelstrom, not from belief in portents and wonders, but from misreading social cues. I survived, and the book survived, but it took enormous strength of will to accomplish it. (This story of Joe C, the "publisher" of the first printing, is recounted fully in my autobiography.)
When the date for delivery of the manuscript to the typesetter was less than two weeks away. I quit my job so I could concentrate on the rewriting.
My studio had a refrigerator but no kitchen. For my one hot meal a day, I used a hot- pot to heat up boil-in-the-bag frozen entrees and vegetables, and then used the same pot to heat water for coffee. But now I had no money even for that and was half-starved during the last revision of the book, living on occasional sandwiches of Velveeta cheese and wheatberry bread. I could have gone to the home of friends for dinner, but that would have taken too many hours out of the day. I was in a frenzy of concentrated effort.
I revised the book completely. I cut up the Xeroxed version and spread the pieces on the floor, moving sections around. Then I pasted the pieces on regular stationery, leaving room for typed corrections and additions. I did a chapter a day until the book was done. Then I stopped revising, because I knew it would lose its spontaneous quality if I made the book any more literary.
I was using all I learned from working on hundreds of books as Production Editor for Ballantine Books and Fawcett Publications. In fact, I began to feel that everything I had ever done was contributing in some way to this one small book.
While waiting for the published books to arrive, I went to the library and made a list of two hundred bookstores, including all the stores that knew me as a salesman for Harper's in the mid sixties. I typed labels and prepared envelopes, ready to send out sample copies as soon as the book was delivered, with a note that it could be ordered from Book People, a distributor in Berkeley. I also prepared labels for major book-chain and department-store buyers.
(A year afterwards I learned that the sales manager of B. Dalton gave the sample copy to his secretary, who convinced him he should order it. Their computer automatically reordered books selling well, and B. Dalton for years accounted for about a third of the book's sales. I owe a lot to that secretary.)
I went to various bookstores in San Francisco, leaving one or two dozen copies on consignment. When I visited these stores a couple of days later, they were already sold out. As a former book salesman, I knew that was a miracle. The book was selling itself. There was no limit to the number it would sell. As I write this in 1995, The Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment has been in continuous publication for twenty-three years.
For the first time in my life, I felt like a man who had done his work.
I got wonderful fan letters, some from people who said that while reading they suddenly found themselves out of their bodies. I don't know how I managed to achieve this, so I am reluctant to change a word of the book, even though I know now it was an error to speak of "rapid vibrating" as a high state of consciousness. The book communicates the reality of the spirit, beyond the literal meaning of its sentences.
The book was selling so fast it was obvious by the first week of August 1972 that a second printing would be necessary at once. (One store in Palo Alto sold six hundred copies during July.) When I suggested this to Joe C, he said he had to go camping in the Sierras for a weekend to cool out. He had never paid the last half of the printing bill and was out of money, though he would not say so. Of course, 1 never saw any royalties. He left for the weekend and did not come back for three weeks.
When he returned, he was still disorganized. I gave him another week to get started on the second printing, and then sent him a registered letter dissolving our agreement on the grounds that he was not performing his responsibilities as a publisher. For the time being, the future of the book was in limbo.
I left the house where I had been staying in San Rafael and moved back to 1541 California Street in San Francisco. The manager remembered me and let me have a room even though I would not have the week's rent for a few days, when I got my VA check. Returning there felt like a disastrous retreat. I had no money and no prospect of keeping the book in print. The future was deep black. But coming back was the luckiest move I could have made, because 1541 California was the address in the Guide.
One evening someone knocked on my door and said I had a call on the hall phone. It was Deray Norton calling. He had just been told by Book People that the book was out of print. (Deray had added a room onto the back of the Plowshare Bookstore in Palo Alto, stocking it with metaphysical books and naming it title Seed Center. It was he who sold six hundred copies of my book in July.) I told him briefly what had happened, and he said he would take up the publishing.
Deray, along with his lady Sura, came to visit, and I explained the Joe C. situation in more detail. Deray was satisfied there was no legal impediment to taking over the book. Deray and Sura were both drop-out Mormons, whom I have found the most reliable people to do business with. Deray had taught economics and had done well in the stock market but left that career to work in the bookstore.
Fortunately, he was able to get the page negatives from the printer and made an arrangement with another printer in San Jose to produce twenty thousand copies, specifying better paper and cover stock. He made this deal on a handshake, not even paying any money until returns from sales came in months later. He paid me a royalty of 10 percent, which he later increased to 15 percent retroactively on his own initiative. He has always been an exquisite bookkeeper, and on this score I could not have been more fortunate. Like a good angel, he saved the Guide.
Considering all the euphoric expectations of the psychedelic era that turned to mush, it was amazing to me that I had managed to distill this little book. It was popular as a gift: people often wrote to me that they bought twenty, thirty, or fifty copies to give away. A hippie from Santa Cruz came to Deray's house and bought five hundred copies to pass along, paying cash.
A girl told me she was sitting in the park reading it when a man came up and said, "When you've read that book, you don't need to read any of the others." I heard that a woman slept with the book under her pillow. A class in Los Angeles discussed whether the book had been written by "someone famous" under a pseudonym, but decided it wasn't because of the dedication to my father. There were hippie rumors that I was so "far out" that I had gone crazy or had returned to another plane of existence.
I took it as evidence the readers had gotten the message that no one showed up to regard me as a guru. I had written the book as a letter to friends, and I was hoping to make new and interesting friends.
But suddenly all the LSD-takers seemed to have disappeared from my life. Just as I had been one of the twelve million people in the armed forces during World War II and then rarely met a veteran afterwards, now the acidheads had vanished. The rescue of my book did not mean I entered a time of calm and that I could now savor the culmination of two decades of devoted effort. I was heart-torn over the break-up of a romance and still missed the family feeling of the psychedelic world. Joe C. was endlessly declaiming about my evil character, until people grew tired of hearing about it. I knew such gossip deliberately to drown or otherwise to die scandalously: it happened at Weaver's Ranch, at Oompali, at The Farm, at Tim Leary's ranch in southern California, and elsewhere.
Even worse, when devotees submitted their will to a leader, they set the trap of instant gratification for the unwary teacher—sooner or later he would be accused of moral turpitude, or go mad with one delusion or another.
I decided that teachers who claimed to have the complete answer had damned well better understand the mechanisms they were dealing with. Many gurus spoke of avoiding desire, but never noticed the seduction of becoming the object of desire.
My book was apparently a feature of the New Age movement, but I felt embarrassed at being identified with much of the nonsense being promulgated. To those who are offended, I can say only that The Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment is an authentic expression of space consciousness, and I am the kind of person it took to write it.
Consciousness will not give you power to control the world; it is not a sentimental reassurance; it won't make you healthy or rich or successful; it is not a benign form of therapy. Most of all, it is not energy and has nothing to do with energy of any kind. Consciousness is the way OUT of this material reality, and that's all it is.
Expanding consciousness is not a process of expanding like a balloon, it is a process of PROLONGING your conscious state. You must be either conscious or unconscious in any given instant. Energy is the rapid alternation of these states: when you are being energetic you are only half-conscious, and even that in millions of tiny bits per second, running together like a filmstrip.
The significant variable is the length of time you are either conscious or unconscious. Therefore (the sum of all my knowledge): "No matter what happens, I am conscious all the time."
and mass in a uniform, nonspecific way (we call it "gravity"). Therefore, if you stay conscious continuously, you will push away the material world, all of it. Other than prolonging your consciousness, there is no idea or action on earth that makes the slightest bit of difference to your spiritual future.
I repeat the line often: "No matter what happens, I am conscious all the time."
But what if we are not ready to leave this sphere? Wisdom and poetry seek for final answers, but our human world is made of energy that never rests, never stops changing. Our world is an endless rearrangement of the same variables.
Love is the pleasure of the universe.
All feelings are variations of love or the absence of it. Love is any agreement of action between entities or systems. Love is available anywhere in the universe, high or low, wherever entities agree in their behavior.
Pain, both physical and emotional, occurs wherever there is a difference of behavior.
Love is not a property of either consciousness or unconsciousness alone, but of perfect identity in behavior. That perfect identity is difficult to maintain in relations involving energy because of its never-ceasing vibrations.
Following the star of love will not necessarily lead us upward to full consciousness and freedom from pain. If we make the pleasure of love our priority, it can fix us where we are, or even lead us into more confusion.
Love is a measure of our relations with others. The love we feel is formed by our own behavior and the actions of others, not by our ideas or intentions. To love another perfectly is to experience a oneness so complete that there is no sense of another. A perfect agreement of action can be sustained only by entities who are continuously conscious or continuously unconscious; in energy realities, love is always temporary and mixed with pain. Since we human beings live in a material/energy reality, the occurrence of pain is frequent and common, and enduring it is necessary for our survival.
Therefore, love is not the universal answer to all our problems, since material systems must maintain their differences from other systems.
All agreements of action are equally pleasurable. In this respect, there is no standard of value by which to judge realities or states of consciousness. We can be happy anywhere in the universe or unhappy anywhere, depending on whether or not we agree readily with the behavior of those around us.
We must always choose which others we wish to relate to. A choice to move to a different state of consciousness will place us in disagreement with those we now love. Transitions are exciting but painful. On the other hand, if we automatically choose to avoid pain and to take whatever love is easiest and nearest, we will not move out of our present reality.
Perfect functional agreement is not possible between human beings, and we should not expect perfect love from each other. No one person alone is responsible for the pain of a relation. The pain is in the difference in the behavior of two people, not in the actions of either one alone.
Feelings never lie. Emotions always tell us exactly the degree of our agreement or disagreement with others. If we suppress our feelings because we prefer our ideas about what is happening or what we think should be happening, to that extent we will probably encounter more pain.
Perception is the experience of differences in function. The more we perceive, the less pleasure we feel. The more intense the perception, the more painful it is.
Agreements can be felt and known but cannot be perceived, which is why we sometimes doubt our good feelings. A perfect functional agreement is invisible. Love and good feelings grow with agreement: the better we feel and the more we know, the less we perceive. "Love is blind."
To love consciousness, we must be space. To love energy, we must not only be energy, we must be synchronized energy. To love mass, we must be unconscious. Love is an absolute identity of action with our neighbors.
Our energy reality is pervaded by the frequent probability of non-love, or pain. There is no higher or lower value of energy. All rapidly alternating entities are energy, and suffer the same liability of potentially unsynchronized vibrations, of persistent pain.
The oneness of space is not a mystically difficult state to achieve. All an entity needs to do is to cease vibrating: to will to be continuously conscious. Energy imagines a mysterious power that knows all and controls all. But space has no interest in the information that energy wants, and has no desire to engage in energy's passion for gaining agreement by manipulating others. Is love the power? No. Consciousness is the power. But it is not the power to do anything specific. It is the power to push away from itself all unconsciousness, to remove itself from all energy and mass entities. Consciousness is not the power to control the material world: it is the absolute power to be free of it.
When we are continuously conscious, we will feel a profound love, so rich that it is incredible to human mentality. But we cannot reach it by setting love as the only goal. If we wish to move back to space consciousness, we must disagree with our current material reality: we must be "unloving" or indifferent.
When we do choose to be continuously conscious, we awaken where we have been sleeping. That is, in the proportion of time when we are unconscious, we are propelled to the vicinity of others equally unconscious; and when we open to continuous consciousness again, we then awaken to the perhaps dismal thoughts around us, as well as the pain of being newly different from our neighbors. If we cannot endure this unpleasantness, and retreat from consciousness to feel the pleasure of human agreement, to feel love now, then we will remain in this Earthly reality.
In human life, love must always encounter pain, because the differences between nations, races, cultures and individuals are real. Highly conscious people have told us to love others as we love ourselves. We all recognize this as wonderful advice, and we all know it is impossible to follow while living a normal life. As self-conscious systems, we must maintain a degree of difference from others in order to survive. It is neither possible nor desirable to eliminate all our differences. Laws based on pious wishes will fail. Understanding the roots of pain, perhaps we may control the urge to kill, the instant gratification of violence. Good manners may be our best hope. To love whatever we encounter will give us relief and frequent pleasure, but we will have no reliable character or consistent relationships with anyone.
We become what we agree with and love. Therefore, we must choose to love what we wish to become. We must behave now as that which we wish to be. To reach the existence we want, we must behave the same as those entities who now enjoy that existence. Each of us has the responsibility of choosing the kind of love we wish to know, the reality in which we wish to live, the other beings with whom we wish to relate.
Love is truly a blessing, and can happen in any reality, but we should not expect love to do what it cannot do, and certainly should not expect love to happen where it cannot happen. A perfect love is not possible in our imperfect human reality.
Love is universal because it can happen anywhere, but love is not a means to take us to higher consciousness and the life of the spirit. Love is always profoundly wonderful, but it is not the answer, the power, or the means for our deliverance.
And now that I have delivered to you all my common sense, I have to ask you: Why are these statements less convincing, less inspiring than the text of The Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment?
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Thank you Sylvain, for this page :-}
Last updated: 9th June 2005