Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Attached - who me?

I've often spoken about attachments on this blog and how our attachments affect us because with attachments come inevitable loss. Kind of the way of life, including birth and death. This is a difficult process for everyone. I'd be the last to preach about attachments. I've also spoken in my poetry about how people places and things only have the meanings we attribute to them and the power we give them.
This is a story about a book, The Gospel Of Buddha by Paul Carus - copyrighted in 1894, that strangely came to be in my possession and led me this digression about a transgression.
Some 30 years ago I was attending Columbia University for my undergraduate degree and was in love with this young Hungarian bike messenger who moved in with me. We were both avid readers and he knew I'd studied and followed eastern philosophy.
One day on his bike messenger travels outside of a fancy mid town - east side office building he espied this book on top of a box of trash and took it. He said he'd imagined I'd love it and that he couldn't think of anyone else who would appreciate this text like me. And he put the book below in my hands. I carefully accepted the gift as the book cover was already worn. The cover feels like leather.
I began to go page through this book and above is what I saw. I was enthralled by the hand drawings illustrating the text.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I saw how old it was and that the illustrations were so lovely.
This is a 1917 edition by The Open Court Publishing Company and is only available in libraries and online pdf of this edition. If you'd like to read the entire book online with the drawings - click here!

Suddenly I realized this book was not only old, it was ancient in the publishing world. It doesn't even have an ISBN number. I searched for the copyright  and found 1894 on the preface above.
Occasionally I read the book. A while back I went to retrieve the book from my shelf and it wasn't there. I missed the comfort I feel when I handle this book. It's become imbibed with meaning.
I realized that my more recent ex had taken it with him when he moved out. I trusted he'd leave my things be when he moved but I was sadly wrong and I was unable to locate many items. It actually took me some time to discover that this book wasn't where I'd kept it.
After our break up I was overwhelmed with trying to get my place my life and my records back in order (and it's still not) and many things slipped by me, like my membership in the National Association of Social Workers lapsed and later it was very difficult to convince them to give me the retirement rate. Five months passed before I realized the book had gone missing. I contacted my ex and he paused before he said he "believed he could locate it," Another month passed before my beloved book was returned to my hands. Guess I'm lucky to get it back at all.
So now here I am with my lovely ancient leather bound volume with original illustrations so I decide to do an internet search to see if it has any value online but in my search for the monetary value (I figure I won't be here forever to enjoy it) I discover uncover Mr. Peter RF Brown and his amazing website, Inter-disciplinary Publications of Peace and Great Souls.

Underneath his title is the following greeting:

WELCOME YOU ARE! to this ... Small Island of Inner Space 

and to the right side of this little tidbit is the following:

"There is a mighty mountain pass,
the causeWay of the sun;
to whom all earth gives homage,
for whom the days began."

deep Himalaya,

Actually the way mountainman has the text from my book laid out on his site is how poetry is laid out which is nicer than my book but Carus' translation is untouched on both. My book also has wonderful hand drawn illustrations.

For those interested in reading reviewing or exploring - esotericism - this man's site would be an excellent place to browse about. His topic listing is extensive and ranges from Western Science to Western Mystics Poets and Religions to Eastern Mystics Poets and Relgions and much much more including but not limited to the Dalai Lama, Australian Aboriginal insights and the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights published by the United Nations General Assembly. I am impressed by the depth of the subjects offered and the quotes Peter R.F. Brown, the designer and everything person I assume, who maintains the site. It took me a second to find him.

For those wishing to know more about what I'm going on about - check these links below:

Inner Self: Esotericism - What Is It? Andrew Schneider

On Wikipedia 

Other online books by Paul Carus

Cambridge Centre for Western Esotericism