A Maverick Who Makes Some Valid Points
Dialogues On Reality
Dr. Robert Powell
Dr. Powell is widely recognized as one of the most inspired writers on the subject of Advaita, the teaching of non-duality. In each of his books, he takes us on a journey beyond the realm of the ego, beyond the subject and object, good and bad, high and low, to the ground on which the manifest universe rests. This is where the mind and intellect cannot reach and which is beyond words. Yet in these books, Dr. Powell does a masterful job clearly indicating the path to where we ever have been.
Robert Powell: I am happy to see so many old faces here today. What I have decided to do for this meeting is to ask Alan to read a passage from a most unusual book that he has discovered, The Mystique of Enlightenment, by a namesake of J. Krishnamurti, a man called U.G. Krishnamurti—not because it is indispensable for our spiritual guidance or anything like that, but because it is interesting, stimulating, and it might, perhaps in some unintended way, be very instructive as well. There are many pitfalls if you take this work too seriously, which you will realize as we go into our discussion of it.
Visitor: [Reading pp. 55 and 56 from the quoted work] "What is keeping you from being in your natural state? You are constantly moving away from yourself. You want to be happy, either permanently or at least for this moment. You are dissatisfied with your everyday experiences, and so you want some new ones. You want to perfect yourself, to change yourself. You are reaching out, trying to be something other than what you are. It is this that is taking you away from yourself.
"Society has put before you the ideal of a perfect man. No matter in which culture you were born, you have scriptural doctrines and traditions handed down to you to tell you how to behave. You have commandments to obey, virtues to cultivate. You are told that through due practice you can even eventually come into the state attained by the sages, saints and saviours of mankind. And so you try to control your behavior, to control your thoughts, to be something unnatural.
"We are all living in a thought sphere. Your thoughts are not your own; they belong to everybody. There are only thoughts, but you create a counter thought, the thinker, with which you read every thought. Your effort to control life has created a secondary movement of thought within you, which you call the I. This movement of thought within yourself is parallel to the movement of life, but isolated from it; it can never touch life. You are a living creature, yet you lead your entire life within the realm of this isolated, parallel movement of thought. You cut yourself off from life—that is something very unnatural.
"The natural state is not a thoughtless state—that is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated for thousands of years on poor, helpless Hindus. You will never be without thought until the body is a corpse, a very dead corpse. Being able to think is necessary to survive. But in this state thought stops choking you; it falls into its natural rhythm. There is not longer a you who reads the thoughts and thinks that they are 'his'.
"Have you ever looked at that parallel movement of thought? The books on English grammar will tell you that I is the first person singular pronoun, subjective case; but that is not what you want to know. Can you look at that thing you call I? It is very elusive. Look at it now, feel it, and tell me. How do you look at it? And what is the thing that is looking at what you call I? This is the crux of the whole problem: the one that is looking at what you call I is the I. It is creating an illusory division of itself into subject and object, and through this division it is continuing. This is the divisive nature that is operating in you, in your consciousness. Continuity of its existence is all that interests it. As long as you want to understand that you or to change that you into something spiritual, into something holy, beautiful or marvelous, that you will continue. If you do not want to do anything about it, it is not there, it's gone.
"How do you understand this? I have for all practical purposes made a statement: 'What you are looking at is not different from the one who is looking'. What do you do with a statement like this? What instrument do you have at your disposal for understanding a meaningless, illogical, irrational statement? You begin to think. Through thinking, you cannot understand a thing. You are translating what I am saying, in terms of the knowledge you already have, just as you translate everything else, because you want to get something out of it. When you stop doing that, what is there is what I am describing. The absence of what you are doing—trying to understand, or trying to change yourself—is the state of being that I am describing."
R.P.: Now who is going to comment on this—this fine piece of prose?
V.: I would be curious to know about the author.
V.: Just curious.
R.P.: [To Alan] You are somewhat familiar with the author. Maybe, you would like to give us a brief sketch of him, because a lot of it is not generally known.
Alan: It is hard to know how he became what he is. Even he himself says he is not quite sure about what or how it happened... probably it would be most interesting to understand where he is really coming from. He was very deeply involved in all the Indian traditions, and with many, many gurus of various kinds, from the Theosophical Society onwards, through J. Krishnamurti, and many places, many other teachers. Years of effort and struggle lay behind him before he came to this, the 'natural state of being' that he talks about, where he constantly emphasizes the fact that no amount of effort, of thinking, will bring you to it, because the very instrument you are using for reaching that is the greatest obstacle to it and perpetuates itself through its actions. That is the gist of it.
Second Visitor: According to J. Krishnamurti, the thought creates the thinker, and at the same time the thinker is the thought; so then it is as though thought creates itself. There seems to be a logical contradiction somewhere.
R.P.: But if as you say, the thought creates itself—for the thought does not really think itself into being, but appears spontaneously, isn't there also some supreme logic at work? How could it be otherwise?
V.: But what is the 'I' really? Is there any permanency there?
It is kind of scary that thinking is always there until you actually die.
S.V.: U.G. Krishnamurti said that thinking would continue until you are a corpse—that is still not contradictory.
If we take thinking as where our self is, it really is a big problem. But if we see thinking simply as just another mechanical function and that its content is not really personal—because all thinking, all thought, comes from all of us, at the same time—then there is no issue. There really is no problem until you identify with thought and say, that's 'me', or you feel that you are the thought or hold the thought.
Third Visitor: The thought is the 'I' as well as the seeker. Going back to what this lady says, it seems there is already a division because I am what I am seeking.
V.: In my own experience I find there are moments when we are not thinking, but they are so... 'momently'... they go through and then we are back to thinking again, at least for me.
S.V.: I don't know, because as soon as you say there is a moment I was not thinking... it seems a very slippery statement.
Third Visitor: I only know through experience, and there is no way that one can describe that moment.
V.: But is it an 'experience'? I don't know what word would describe it.
S.V.: There isn't a word for it.
V.: If there is no thinking, then you are silent.
S.V.: No, but if there is a moment of silence, the mind grabs it and puts words around it, and that's the end of it.
R.P.: Very nicely put.
V.: That is very true.
S.V.: J. Krishnamurti calls it the observer and the observed, and tell us that they are one. I find what you have read sounds just like J.K.
R.P.: It sounds just like J.K., parts of it, but the essence of U.G.'s teaching, if you can call it that—because he denies there is a teaching—the essence of his book, is that no matter what you do, you are not going to break out of this limited state of consciousness, simply because this alleged 'transformation' is a biological phenomenon; it is not a psychological happening at all. It is recorded in the coded messages we carry in our genes that determine what we are and what we will be. He goes as far as saying to the people around him: You are wasting your time, go away—don't bother me. Of course, that's an obvious gimmick, because why does he talk in the first place?
Now consistent with his reasoning is that there should among those coded messages also be one that determines your breakthrough out of this limited consciousness into this state of—if I say 'enlightenment', he won't accept it, so let us say 'changed being'. And either you've got it or apparently you haven't got it. So if you haven't got it, tough luck!
V.: But how did he come to this conclusion, though?
R.P.: He does not explain that. To him that is a fact; it is not a theory to him.
V.: You are either born with that, or...
S.V.: But he also says that it can happen to anybody, and he is not special. There is no distinction; it is just as much available to anyone as it is to him.
R.P.: If you happen to be lucky enough. He says so. If perchance... by luck... it happens... but then it is determined by one's genes. I don't determine my genes chart. So whatever he may say to anyone, if he is serious about it, this genetic explanation, then it is not available to most people.
V.: No, it is not very fair! [laughter]
R.P.: Also, he says that it is primarily a physical change. There are all sorts of physiological phenomena that take place, and his body underwent certain fundamental changes. For example, he lost his masculinity, and became androgynous...
Have you any further comments on this?
V.: No, except the more you explore the man this way, the more contradictions you will find. The only reason I read that particular chapter is that the point he is making there could be very valuable to all of us.
As you say, it is similar to J.K., but it is like listening to it from a different angle. There really does not seem anything spurious in what he said in that particular chapter. It is applicable to us, because my mind, 'me', is always in movement, always seeking something, and I know it is that very movement which keeps me away from my natural state of being—or simply being, without any search, any demand. As long as my mental attitude is such that I identify with that thought, the idea that there is something special to be achieved, then I have to be like a dog chasing its own tail. I think that's very frightening.
R.P.: I think the main point is that if he is right about his theory, then everything is futile, obviously. If it is all a matter of either/or, either you are born this way, that is what it amounts to, or you are not born this way... he says it is a matter of only one in billions who can break through. And if that is so, then we are just wasting time and many other people, many spiritual seekers, have been wasting their time, too—because it is purely a physical, biological event. Now if you accept that, then that is the end of all such activity. Personally, I don't accept it, but you will have to find out for yourselves.
V.: What about awareness, is not that part of it... that could be increased?
R.P.: He says 'choiceless awareness' is a gimmick invented by J. Krishnamurti and is 'phony baloney', as he calls it.
The other important part of the book, I think, is—and you have to see where he is misleading us—when he is talking about the negative approach. We in this group have talked about this on many occasions. Now he says the negative approach does not really exist: you have made it into a positive approach. That is his broad generalization in the matter.
As you all know, we have ever been very careful to state that we will approach matters entirely in the sense of looking at what we are here and now, not from the point of view of some idealized existence which may or may not be a reality. We will look at our way of functioning which is so obviously unsatisfactory, because we are in conflict, in sorrow; we are always striving to reach out to something that we do not even know... we have done so out of a deep inner dissatisfaction throughout our lives. And this is one of the reasons why we are searching for something which we call spiritual. Most of us who are interested in spiritual things have a basic dissatisfaction with the everyday life, as presently lived. Because if you are totally satisfied, you don't need all this; then you live with that state of superficial contentment until it ends or the body drops. Now we have been saying in these meetings: Let's look at the way we function at the moment. Let us forget about the way we might be able to function; in other words, forget about all these goals, because that's what all these conventional religious groups are doing. They have an image of what man could or should be.
V.: The 'Golden Rules'!
R.P.: Yes, that is his behavior. But we are going into it even more fundamentally than that. Man should be 'perfect', whatever that means. He should be in the image of God. And when you have a goal, an ideal, you are all the time approximating yourself to that ideal, and therefore you are in the clutches of time—because it is always tomorrow that one will attain. And while you are striving to attain that miraculous state, you are still there with all your misery and conflict. So obviously, it is getting you more and more into a mire of self-deception, thinking that you are arriving somewhere, making progress and in actual fact you are just the same as you were yesterday.
So we have been saying: Look at the false, the way that we operate currently, which is full of falseness. Because we pursue all these limited ideals, we don't even know what we want. We want 'happiness', which is a mere word, and we always try this way and that way. We are striving to find fulfilment because we feel incomplete within ourselves. So we pursue fulfilment through wealth, through sex, through possessions, through all kinds of activities—and yet it always eludes us. Isn't that right? We may have a momentary satisfaction; but it never lasts and we are back in the old state of dissatisfaction. So that is what we have been saying: Look at all this, before going on to some highfalutin ideal or goal. Because once you have that goal, you have rules, a path, with guidelines like all the conventional religious teachers have given us: Do this and don't do that. And then you are no longer an authentic human being, because you are just repeating what somebody has told you... something that you don't know anything about... you are merely following.
Now the difference between U.G., where he attacks and demolishes the negative approach, and what we have been saying and discussing here among ourselves is the following. He is saying you have made that negative approach into a positive approach, because you are deluding yourselves, because through that negative approach you are still trying to get something. So it is just a subtle way of kidding oneself, of a method, a 'how-to'.
On the other hand, what we have been saying here is to forget about all goals; in fact, we have been emphasizing this very same point, excessively. We have been saying there are no do's and don'ts... there are no guidelines. You must totally forget any other state that might be attainable. Just look at and concentrate on what is here and now. Once you do that, which is following a hundred percent negative approach, you immediately begin to discover how you function and create misery for yourself. Upon seeing that clearly, something else falls into place all by itself. You don't do it; this whole process that is continually taking place within us is in thought. Thought is always striving to reach some delightful state. It wants gratification for itself. All the time, trying to attain, it is in conflict. So when you look at things with or through thought—and that is where the crux of the matter lies, a point which U.G. emphasizes very much—you will ever be defeated, because thought will translate what it sees according to its own conditioning. In other words, you will not look with clear eyes, you cannot, because thought creates the thinker, the ego, the 'I'. And the 'I' will not allow itself to be demolished. The definition of the 'I' is that it is a dynamic entity that is always looking out for its own security, trying to expand and aggrandize itself, so that it has greater security. Once you have created that entity, the 'I', it is the end, you are finished because you are totally in its clutches.
So to look at one's thought process requires a very special way of looking. It needs looking without a background—that is, the entire thought mechanism, which is always saying: this is good, that is bad, always deceiving itself, must be inactivated. And that is what J. Krishnamurti refers to as 'to look without the observer'. When the observer and the observed are one, then that is an entirely different kind of seeing. That is a seeing in which you are not really involved at all. It is as our friend here observed a little while ago, in that split moment when thought is resting and the mind has somewhat subsided, that you can see clearly and only then. But as long as thought is active, feverishly as it normally is, to give sustenance to the ego, there is no possibility of seeing one's conditioning. Do you see that?
The observer is the sum-total of the conditioning, and that is the entity that looks at conditioning! So obviously, the observer has a vested interest in what he observes and will seek to protect it. Therefore, such a process will never under any circumstances lead to a fundamental change. It cannot, and thought will always try to find some satisfaction and will even abuse what we are pointing to, this spiritual state, or call it whatever you like—liberation, enlightenment—it will even downgrade that into another kind of ordinary gratification.
We ever want something. Have you ever been in a state that you don't want something? Only when thought is acquiescent, only when your mind isn't there. As long as your mind is there, you are searching for something, always 'on the make', in a subtle sort of way.
V.: I don't agree with that!
R.P.: You don't agree with that. Have you observed yourself?
V.: I think a person can control his thinking.
R.P.: What is it that controls the thinking?
V.: Well, your own mind.
R.P.: Well, there you are! Because the mind and the thinking are not different—the continuous flow of thought is what we call the 'mind'—control is not possible. Control would only be possible if it concerned two completely separate and independent entities. But that is here plainly not the case. Ramana Maharshi said in this connection, it is like the policeman trying to catch the thief who is himself. The policeman is no different from the thief. You see, this is a very good example of how we are deceiving ourselves. I am not being personal, madam, I am talking in general. Of course, what you are expressing is so universally valid: we think we have some kind of super-truth within ourselves that can control all this falseness, a higher self that can manage the lower self. The point is that this 'I', this ego, has innumerable mechanisms at its disposal for deceiving itself. The resulting conclusion, or the action flowing from that conclusion, is always the end product of the interplay of all our thoughts and concepts. So on the level of thought, it is not possible to rise above our own ego-sphere.
You just have to give up on the mind altogether if you understand what the mind is: a bag full of tricks. Don't just take my word for it; each of us has to see this for himself and come to that point where you have totally exposed the mind and can't be deceived any longer.
So when you have come to that point and see the total impossibility of achieving a breakthrough in and through the mind, then you are in that state that U.G. has described, where you just back off completely; you are totally helpless. When you are in that condition, and you see that by yourself and through yourself you cannot do anything at all, only then can something be triggered off. But don't try to quieten the mind in order to get something; this is an obvious device that thought will seize upon when it hears something like what we have been saying just now. It will try another trick upon itself: it will hypnotize itself that it is quiet, concentrate on a mantra so that it will fall asleep. But the mind that has fallen asleep is not a still mind. A still mind is a mind that has seen through all this, realized the futility of its striving. It can't go any further; it has tried everything to no avail. And in that moment of giving up, of letting go, there is a break in its usual activity. Then the mind falls totally silent, which is a blessing.
This moment may not last very long. So the mind comes back; the mind has just had a wonderful experience. It has been free of burden for a split second or a little longer. So what happens? It says to itself: I must get this experience back. It was marvellous, I must have it again. And the very fact of trying to regain it means it will not happen!
V.: But as long as it is getting 'experience', it is still the mind that is at it.
R.P.: Yes, but that moment of silence we talked about is really an absence of experience. As one of you said earlier, we have not even got a word for it in our language, so we call it an 'experience' of silence for lack of a better term.
V.: But Robert, don't you think that was the one interesting thing U.G. brought out in this thing, the condition of what he called the "parallel thought process" going on. We don't take it that way. I take it that I am seeing my thought, or I have an idea and I can preserve it as such, and he is very clear when he says that what actually takes place is the mind splitting itself up into parallel movements of thought, so while one thought is going on, another thought is moving alongside it, judging it, and these images reverberate from one to the other. So I tend to think, like I believe most of us do, according to what you've said, I am standing at a distance from the rest of the crazy thoughts and I can kind of control them. What he is trying to expose—with such deep insight—and it is very difficult even to understand it, because most of us don't realize there is this parallel movement of thought...
S.V.: Because that movement is always there?
V.: Yes, but do you see why it is so strong, so powerful? Because in the essence of the parallel movement of thought lies the image of myself as a concrete entity. I really believe that is 'me', that is my ego, which is judging whether or not you are clever, whether or not I am clever, or something like that; whether my thought is moving in the right direction. It is constantly censoring everything and pretending the process to be different from all the other thoughts inside of me; it sort of gets separated out from the rest of the thought process, but it is just the same thought process.
S.V.: That is which makes it difficult to see, because we see from that "I."
V.: More than that. It may be that which is responsible for the whole thought process itself, because it seems to be the center of gravity like the sun around which all other thoughts spin and are kept in motion. Because of the clinging to that image of myself as an independent 'I' who is clever enough to eventually get out of this whole quandary that we are discussing; therefore all thought is dependent upon that, all thought circumnavigates it. And I keep calling it 'I', because I have split up things into the observer and the observed, or, if you like, the thinker and the thought, but they are both pure thought, purely mechanical movements.
S.V.: So the one keeps the other going; they are not separate at all, they are together.
V.: You are right, you have caught the point. But then what can you do in such a situation?
R.P.: And the odd thing is that without this inner tension within thought, the very thought momentum would collapse, the mind would not be there at all.
In my book, Crisis in Consciousness, I referred to a mechanism which, I think, is similar or identical to U.G.'s parallel movement of thought. I was describing an ongoing adjustment of one's behavior by means of a psychological feedback system, which is kept alive mainly by the 'second-thoughts' we have—the afterthoughts which sneak in and aim at modifying the thoughts that have passed in an effort at 'self-correcting'. Remaining largely on a lower level of consciousness, these thoughts are not dealt with adequately in the here-and-now, and so leave a psychological residue. Thus, they add to the karmic reservoir that determines the destiny of the body-mind entity.
Hubert Benoit, in his book, The Supreme Doctrine, talks about an 'inner lawsuit' which is continually being enacted in our subconscious mind. I believe he is referring to the very same mechanism that we have been discussing. These are all valid descriptions of aspects of what goes into the process of 'becoming', which is really what sustains the 'mind'.
V.: Does that come from the subconscious, that parallel function you are talking about?
S.V.: I wonder about that, the subconscious; it is always going on, I am identified with it and I think of the subconscious of being way back in the brain cells and memory, and influencing me from some distance, but this is right here, all the time. If you look at me, insult me or say something that may give me a funny idea about myself, then that springs into action, instantly; it goads all my activities, it is my notion of myself. So it is right there. I don't have to go to a therapist and dig at it. It is always there, as much as the consciousness is there.
R.P.: It also depends on how much you repress the observation or the thought. If the truth that you are observing is sufficiently unsavory to you, you will repress it and it goes into the subconscious. However, that is a purely artificial dividing line, separating the subconscious and the conscious. But this ideal of the parallel thought, as U.G. calls it, has actually been institutionalized in Indian religion, where they talk about the higher self and the lower self. The higher self is the self, which we think is the noble part; and the lower self is that which we do not really like, is not very respectable. So, they have institutionalized that split and they can hide behind it...
V.: You don't believe in the superconscious?
R.P.: All these are words, madam. These are artificial divisions.
V.: I know, but then give me your definition of "mind."
R.P.: I don't give definitions of mind. The mind is beyond definition, because definitions are only on the level of thought. Any such definition could never be more than a kind of circular argument, for like can never determine like.
Once you really look at thought, you are beyond thought. Obviously, your definitions then are no good anymore. You can give a definition on the level of science, of what our physiological mechanism is like, or what a brain cell is, you can give definitions in that realm, but you can't give definitions that concern our most fundamental being and functioning. That would be absolutely futile, because it means to be caught within a set of words.
Words are merely symbols, abstractions; but this goes far beyond words. You have to understand it for yourself, you have to see it in action. Then you won't ask for definitions any longer, once you have seen clearly what we are doing to ourselves; how this artificial entity, which we call the 'I' or the ego, has come about and how we create it from thought, because thought itself is totally fluid, void of any entities. We have formed this static entity, the ego, from this fluidity. So merely see the unreality of that entity. Then, where is the need for definitions? That's the beauty of it. This is not science that we are doing, not spiritual science. There is no such thing! You can't put this into a set of equations.
V.: Sir, you speak of fluidity. I want to inquire into a question that arises from this reading, this notion of the biological program, when one is to be enlightened, because to me this rings up a very deep question, of looking at it as a biological or mechanical sequence of events. Then, what he calls 'enlightenment' is a consequence of a certain mechanical process, just like a clock. The alarm goes off and that is when it happens. And the difference between the word 'consequence', the mechanical result, and something which originally happens.... I find I have to look more deeply into the word 'happens' and what we mean by something happening, and related to that also the words 'hapless' and 'happy'. Does it not imply some kind of freedom or fluidity or space wherein there is, albeit it may be choiceless, a possibility of Creation; there is not just a mechanical, linear process.
R.P.: Well, I can't answer for U.G. I don't know how he has worked it out; he just makes this blunt statement that—but maybe the key word to this problem is what he says about... he does not want to call it 'enlightenment', as a matter of fact, he calls it a 'calamity' because when these physical changes took place he was in great pain for several days—this change is acausal; that is, it has no cause. Now I don't know if you can reconcile his theory of genetic origination with acausality.
V.: It does not connect.
R.P.: How can you? I don't think there is a way.
V.: It sounds like what he is talking about is mutation. It is something that just happens.
S.V.: It is a problem, for how do you find the right word for something that does not fit into categories?
R.P.: The other part of his conclusion, which states that consciousness transformation is acausal, I wouldn't knock at this stage. He may well be right there; all the great advaitic thinkers have testified similarly. The subject is so vast that it would warrant a whole discussion session by itself.
My more serious objection to his theory is this. Fundamentally, the body and mind are one. We have split these two. In actual fact, what we are is a psychosomatic entity, a piece of psychosomatic machinery if you like, and to single out the soma, as he does, and to give that primordial importance, does not make any sense to me. What he is saying in effect is that the body cells are more important than the consciousness. Whether you understand yourself or not does not count or is secondary. All that is overridden by the condition, the structure, of one's cell material. So, with one stroke of the pen he has set back the clock to the era of the materialist philosophers, who believe that matter is the basis of all reality. And at the same time, it reinforces our erroneous notion that we are our body, for how we function depends exclusively on our body cells. So by saying that man's ultimate transformation is primarily biological, physiological—physical, if you like—then the basic reality, the primordial reality, to him, is the physical world, doesn't that follow logically?
Now my point is—and I have driven it home on many occasions in my books and so on—that what we call the physical world is not a primordial reality, because without consciousness we would not even know, there wouldn't even be, a physical world. There is consciousness first; otherwise, you couldn't talk about the body. What do you mean by 'body'? Body is merely a set of sense impressions, coordinated, interpreted by the brain, emerging into this consciousness. That sum-total of these impressions we call 'body'. So consciousness is prior to everything—a primordial reality. Everything else comes subsequently, arises within consciousness. Thus, this whole world is within consciousness. It is not like they used to believe, the scientists of the mechanistic era, that the body produces this consciousness. Do you remember that, not so long ago? There are still scientists who believe that. The very latest physics indicates, however, that this sharp demarcation between matter and mind is no longer tenable.
V.: Regarding consciousness, isn't it so that some of us are conditioned to think that consciousness is a function of the ego, whereas one can also look at it differently and say that ego is a malfunction of consciousness?
R.P.: But there is something, a different consciousness that is not limited by the ego. There is that limited consciousness; and there is a consciousness or Awareness which is timeless and spaceless, since it is not based on memory—the changeless matrix which itself is the source of the changeful and without which you would not even be able to designate anything as changeful. But do you agree with me, can you see, that consciousness is more basic than the soma; that the soma is a product of that consciousness?
R.P.: So, what becomes of his argument then—U.G.'s argument that this process is a biological one, primarily? It doesn't make sense, does it? Also, one wonders why he keeps on talking, because what good does it do... to tell people that they're out of luck? That's really all it amounts to. It's just for the chosen few.
V.: Well, maybe he's a prankster.
R.P.: He may be. I feel that is so, I feel that very much. When I first read this book, which was lent to me by Alan, I said to him, "I feel this book was written tongue-in-cheek, to a large extent, if not all of it." And he has the background of a prankster, too. We needn't go into that here, but it's known.