I don’t know whether Lin Yutang ever knew anything of meditation. Unfortunately he was a Christian; hence he never went to a Taoist monastery, nor a Buddhist temple. Alas, he cannot know what he is missing. Instead he was just reading The Bible, one of the most third-rate books in the world – except for two small pieces in it: The Song of Solomon in The Old Testament; and in The New Testament, The Sermon on the Mountain. If these are taken out The Bible is just garbage. Alas, could he not have known something of Buddha, Chuang Tzu, something of Nagarjuna, Kabir, al-Hillaj Mansoor…something of these madmen; only then would his book have been authentic. It is artistic, but not authentic. It is not sincere.
Second – another book by Lin Yutang, The Wisdom of China. He has the art of writing so he can write anything, even The Wisdom of China, although he knows nothing of Lao Tzu, who contains the whole wisdom not only of China but of the whole world. Of course Lin Yutang includes a few sentences of Lao Tzu, but those sentences are those which coincide with his Christian upbringing. In other words they are not Lao Tzuian at all. He quotes Chuang Tzu, but naturally his selections are very rational, and Chuang Tzu is not a rational man; he is the most absurd man who has ever lived.
Chuang Tzu is one of my love affairs, and when you talk about someone you love you are bound to use extremes, exaggerations, but to me they don’t sound like that. I could give the whole kingdom of the world to Chuang Tzu for any single parable that he wrote – and he wrote hundreds. Each is a Sermon on the Mountain, a Song of Solomon, a Bhagavadgita. Each parable represents so much, and so richly, that it is immeasurable.
Lin Yutang quotes Chuang Tzu but quotes him like a Christian, not like a man who understands. But he is certainly a good writer, and The Wisdom of China should be put alongside those very few books that represent a whole country, like Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy, or Moorehead and Radhakrishnan’s Mind of India. It is history, not mystery, but beautifully written, correctly written, grammar and all.
He is not only a Christian but was brought up in a convent school. Now, can you think of any greater misfortune that can befall a child than a convent school? So Lin Yutang is right in every way according to the Christians, and wrong in every way according to this madman who is speaking about him. But even so I love him. He is talented. I cannot say he is a genius, forgive me, but he is talented, immensely talented. Don’t ask more than that. Genius he is not – and I cannot be polite, I can only be true. I can absolutely be true.
Third, a book I wanted to avoid but it seems I cannot. It goes on poking its nose in. Of course it is a Jewish book; otherwise how can you get such a long nose? The Talmud.
Why did I want to avoid it? If I say anything against the Jews – as I have always done and will go on doing…. But for the moment I don’t want to say anything against the Jews; only for the moment, just as if one is on holiday. That is why I wanted to avoid this book.