Dear Nancy,

If Eliot's "wonders" connote genuine revelation or epiphany, that would be the Christian equivalent of enlightenment, a state that "passeth understanding." In no way is Enlightenment an attachment. While discipline is necessary, attachment to the result of spiritual practice guarantees failure. It's paradoxical. In
Zen in the Art of Archery (not an accurate text in all respects) Eugen Herrigal describes Zen archery this way:
"(...) The archer ceases to be conscious of himself as the one who is engaged in hitting the bull's-eye which confronts him. This state of unconscious is realized only when, completely empty and rid of the self, he becomes one with the perfecting of his technical skill, though there is in it something of a quite different order which cannot be attained by any progressive study of the art (...)"

Sent from my iPod

On Mar 13, 2010, at 12:53 PM, Terry Traynor <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Jerry -- thanks.


Diana --

>he was always asked for miracle stories, which he said were a sign
>along the non-rational path that could prevent enlightenment if the
>disciple got attached to them.
>I see a connection here to Eliot's distinction between signs and wonders.

As I understand it, Buddhism says that _any_thing that a disciple gets attached to could prevent enlightenment.  If so, wouldn't distinguishing between one object of attachment (sign) and another (wonder) be irrelevant?


Nancy --

>During and after WWI there was a massive interest in spiritualism,
>seances, and possible "signs" that would allow grieving people to make
>contact with their dead sons and husbands and lovers and brothers.

As you say, Eliot disapproved of the charlatans who took advantage of the situation, but do you think he believed that communicating with the dead was nonetheless possible?  I ask because I'm wondering what might be in the mind of a poet (and this pertains not only to Eliot) who addresses a real, not fictive, dead person. Is it just a literary convention? Eliot seems to be trying to communicate with the dead when he doesn't just dedicate his Prufrock book to Jean Verdenal, but follows the dedication with the passage from Dante that says: "Now can you understand the quantity of love that warms me toward you, so that I forget our vanity, and treat the shadows like the solid thing."