Thursday, March 9, 2017
My Lent Book
This year it is a book I have been nibbling at for some time already, My Father's Guru by Jeffrey Masson (the picture illustrates him with the said guru). The guru in question was a chap called Paul Brunton - I hadn't heard of him until the book's title caught my eye in a charity shop.
It tells the story of how his parents' relationship with the guru strongly influenced Masson's upbringing. In fact one of the crits on the cover describes it as the most peculiar upbringing imaginable. While I don't think that is necessarily true, for me the book is a strong portrait of how parents' more bizarre interests can fuck up the kids. Of course I can say that secure in the knowledge that I am never going to have children, so will never have to deal with the problem of telling them that their dad is a witch and while we know that's fine, the world outside may not be keen.
Masson's portrait of Brunton is not without its critics, as you would expect:
'Many well-respected people -- whom one simply can't pass off as easily duped -- hold a view of Paul Brunton so markedly at variance with the one created by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson in "My Father's Guru" (review, Feb. 7) as to cast significant doubt on the objectivity of Mr. Masson's memories and the conjectures based upon them.
'Library Journal, for example, described Brunton's posthumously published "Notebooks" as "vigorous, clear-minded and independent . . . a synthesis of Eastern mysticism and Western rationality." A review in Choice said that "his work can stand beside that of such East-West 'bridges' as Merton, Huxley, Suzuki, Watts and Radhakrishnan." The San Francisco Chronicle observed that "the meticulousness of [ Brunton's ] reading and interviewing, as well as his personal, inward application of that knowledge, reveals a genius for balance."' (http://www.nytimes.com/1993/03/14/books/l-my-father-s-guru-878893.html)
I don't really have an opinion on Brunton's character or philosophy, which seems to be the standard adaptation of Eastern ideas by a Westerner, but frankly I'm not impressed by that list of the Great and the Good who are bridges. I was so pleased when a deacon visited the monastery where I was a novice in my misspent youth and said of Merton, 'Imagine having that prick in the monastery'. And of course I'm never impressed by the Great and the Good or by gurus for that matter.
It has even come to my attention that there are even people who read this blog in the hope of learning something about witchcraft from me!
I like Masson. His only other book I have read is the one against psychotherapy, in which I thought he made the mistake of referring to abuses of psychotherapy to bolster his argument that the whole of psychotherapy is an abuse, while in fact very few psychotherapists use cattle prods. I think the guru book will always be open to criticism because it is the recollections of a teenage boy. Nonetheless the musings of a grown man on the nature of spiritualiry and sexuality and so on, are present. This book is a reflection rather than a biography. Masson is vegan and his more recent books are all about animals. If such is his Will, then so be it.
My reading of this book has come at the time of the downfall of two monastic turds I knew in my youth. One has been sent down for child abuse and perjury - I and others genuinely had no idea which probably indicates the great danger of the man. The other has not been caught breaking the law but is a shit of the first order, and this is now finally out in the media. These events and reading this book have reinforced for me how dangerous putting people on a pedestal can be and how turds seek protection in respectability.
That said I have a feeling that one of my present colleagues is a paedophile. I have no evidence, I just Know in the way witches do. I conferred with my Goddess mother who had exactly the same sensation, and I am really impressed with how extremely ill he has been looking since then. As it happens, the witches are the ones who make the difference in the world and I would hope that turds in our ranks are firmly prevented from harming.