The Spirit Works

Wei Wu Wei Biography

The publisher of the Second Edition of Wei Wu Wei's book, "The Tenth Man" requested me to write the forward.

By profession I am a licensed clinical psychologist. I was in private practice for thirty-seven years. My work as a psychotherapist was fairly traditional. I was always drawn to Eastern religions and philosophies. Most of my private studies were in this area. I viewed myself as a dedicated "seeker", and enjoyed the fantasy that this put me into the center of everything exciting, critical and significant. There were answers and I was going to find them in this lifetime.

One day a friend handed me a book by Wei Wu Wei and asked me if I knew anything about it. He said he didn't understand it and wondered if I would read it to see what it was all about. In retrospect, I now see that nothing was accidental about this moment at all. I read the book that night from cover to cover. Two things stood out. First, I didn't have a clue what the book was about, and, second, I knew in my bones that I had been handed a gift. Unconsciously, I knew exactly what the book was about. It made the hair on my arms stand straight up and my heart raced for no apparent reason. At the conscious level, I was permitted, thanks to denial, to grasp every ninth word if I was lucky. The book's style was very abstruse, even a bit pedantic and "Oxfordian", but the hidden message set off a firestorm of inquiry that persists to this day. That was over twenty-five years ago.

I have since read all of Wei Wu Wei's books, and I love them all like children. Each is an exquisite gem. I have also read everything everyone else said or thought about him. It is clear now that he had a profound impact on many seekers, including the great and wonderful Balsekar.

It is poetic justice that very little is known about Wei Wu We. This is certainly in keeping with his belief that there is no one to know anything about. What we do know is that he was born into a very affluent family in Ireland in the year 1895. He died at the age of ninety-one in 1986. Curiously, not unlike Siddartha, he left the fold to study, travel and learn about life's great mysteries. His chief mentor was Sri Ramana Maharshi at Sri Ramanashram in Tiruvannamalai, India. At the age of sixty-three he published his first of eight books, which were released between 1958 and 1974. He also made contributions to a variety of periodicals, including The Mountain Path, as well as The Middle Way and Etre Libre, a French periodical.

Psychology is all about working with people and their problems. We Wu Wei's interpretation of Buddhist philosophy shook the very foundation of all my beliefs; particularly those that apply to the dynamics of psychotherapy. Little did I know that I was going to engage in along struggle between what we say is, and what might actually be. Little by little, materialism gave way to the truth that everything we refer to as reality isn't what we insist it is.

These new views forced me to alter the way I worked with people. As I began to see things differently, my practice shifted from the standard Western view of life to a much vaster view of existence as a dream in which everything we do is content in the dream. The shift was from real people in trouble to spirits in trouble trying to be real people. Denial saw to it that this shift came very slowly, but the pull in this direction was as arresting as the ideas in We Wu Wei's books. There was no turning back. The whole process reminds me of waking up from a giant slumber, a trance that locks fiction into fact and fact into fiction. This metanoesis, as We Wu Wei refers to it, feels like 180-degree shift in course, in which enlightenment happens to dreamers in the dream and not to the dreamed figures who pretend to be real people.

The following biography is the work of Matthew Errey of THE 'WEI WU WEI' ARCHIVES. Matt has developed the definitive internet archive.

Between the years 1958 and 1974 a series of eight books appeared attributed to the mysterious 'Wei Wu Wei'. In addition to these texts there were pieces contributed to various periodicals during the 1960's, including 'The Mountain Path', a periodical dedicated to the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, 'The Middle Way', the U.K. Buddhist Society's journal, and 'Etre Libre', a French-language periodical published in Brussels. These works draw on a variety of sources, including Taoism, specifically the texts attributed to Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu, Buddhism, especially The Heart, Diamond and Lankavatara Sutras, and Chan Buddhism as taught by Hui Neng, Huang Po, Hui Hai, etc., as well as the teachings of Padma Sambhava and Sri Ramana Maharshi, among others.

The identity of 'Wei Wu Wei' was not revealed at the time of publication for reasons outlined in the Preface to the first book 'Fingers Pointing Towards the Moon' (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1958). This well-considered anonymity will be respected here, though a few background details may help to put the writings into context. 'Wei Wu Wei' was born in 1895 into a well-established Irish family, was raised on an estate outside Cambridge, England, and received a thorough education, including studies at Oxford University. Early in life he pursued an interest in Egyptology which culminated in the publication of two books on ancient Egyptian history and culture in 1923. This was followed by a period of involvement in the arts in Britain in the 20's and 30's as a theorist, theatrical producer, creator of radical 'dance-dramas', publisher of several related magazines and author of two related books. He was a major influence on many noted dramatists, poets and dancers of the day, including his cousin Ninette de Valois, founder of the Royal Ballet (which in fact had its origin's in his own dance troupe at the Cambridge Festival Theatre which he leased from 1926-33).

After he had apparently exhausted his interest in this field to a large extent, his thoughts turned towards philosophy and metaphysics. This led to a period of travel throughout Asia, including time spent at Sri Ramana Maharshi's ashram in Tiruvannamalai, India. In 1958, at the age of 63, he saw the first of the 'Wei Wu Wei' titles published. The next 16 years saw the appearance of seven subsequent books, including his final work under the further pseudonym 'O.O.O.' in 1974. During most of this later period he maintained a residence with his wife in Monaco. He is believed to have known, among others, Lama Anagarika Govinda, Dr. Hubert Benoit, John Blofeld, Douglas Harding, Robert Linssen, Arthur Osborne, Robert Powell and Dr. D. T. Suzuki. He died in 1986 at the age of 90.

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