Drawing by Lars Weller Photo by Catanya Saltzman
A good friend of mine had drawn a great portrait of a man. I didn´t know the man, read his name underneath the drawing: Robert Saltzman. I wanted to know more about him. Soon I saw the photo that was the original for my friends drawing. A wonderful photo. Those eyes! They captured my attention. Before I knew it I was listening to Robert speaking on You Tube. Loved it immediately. Found his website. Read on it. Was heart-fully taken by what I read. Found Robert on Facebook. We became friends soon after my request to him. He mentioned his book, The Ten Thousand Things (4T), and I was invited to a zoom-meeting online in which people can ask him questions about the book, or give responses. He recommended I read the book first. He said its quite expensive but no profits will go to him; he said the e-book is much cheaper. I proposed to Karin, my wife (we are not married but sure she is my wife), that we should buy an e-reader and purchase Robert´s manuscript in the digital form. In the meantime, before I would attend the zoom-meeting on the 17th of March, I could read the five chapters that Robert has made available for free online for anyone who is interested, and those gave me already a good impression of what Robert conveys to his readers. Not only his words made me more hungry for the whole book but also his wonderful black & white photographs, a copy precedes each of the chapters. Two weeks ago the e-reader arrived at our home and the same day the manuscript was ordered and send to the digital device, hooray!, and I started reading. The book opens with three quotes.
To study the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things.
――― Eihei Dögen (1200-1253)
The rage for wanting to conclude is one of the most deadly and most fruitless manias to befall humanity. Each religion and each philosophy has pretended to have God to itself, to measure the infinite, and to know the recipe for happiness. What arrogance and what nonsense! I see, to the contrary, that the greatest geniuses and the greatest works have never concluded.
――― Gustave Flaubert
Humility is not a peculiar habit of self-effacement, rather like having an inaudible voice, it is a selfless respect for reality…
――― Iris Murdoch
While reading chapter after chapter I felt enchanted and revived. After a Catholic upbringing, in 1982, I experienced an impressive spiritual experience that took my already doubtful idea concerning the virtue and value of believing in God, definitely away. I concluded that believing was not enough, I had to know what it really was all about. I started reading books on Taoism and Zen-Buddhism, which I enjoyed a lot because they addressed the importance of ones own experience. Studied a lot of teachers and schools of wisdom since then to end up reading mainly books of Advaita Vedanta, a non-dualistic school from India. My favorite teacher of this school was and is Nisargadatta Maharaj who, in his dialogues, clearly gave answers suited to the person in front of him, which made it a living teaching. In the Netherlands, where I lived at that time, more and more non-dualistic teachers stood up and most of them spoke the same jargon. It started to irritate me; was this living teaching? It didn´t feel like that, apart from some exceptions. On Facebook my aversion to the jargon full of clichés increased and gave me the feeling that Advaita Vedanta in many communities was degenerated to a belief system according to which the members where talking like parrots. Clearly I saw that a so-called way of freedom had the power to create addicts to dogmas. Second problem that I encountered was that the methodless immediacy that Nisargadatta taught was degenerated to a progressive way with a future goal that one could strive for via techniques and obedience to the teacher. I´ve had my fill of it and couldn´t continue with this.
Nisargadatta was and is still a good read for me, and I enjoyed reading and listening to UG Krishnamurti who criticized the whole spiritual market and the con men leading the circus. But I had to admit that I at least wanted to continue to listen to wise people, the addiction still was operative in me. It is this sense in me, this feeling of depending on someone else’s wisdom, that I felt addressed to by the words of Robert Saltzman. It can be something that might scare a person but prevalent to this was the feeling of relief and consent with every word I read in 4T.
It´s not my intention to summarize 4T, because that would spoil the lovely spirit that is breathing the manuscript. My aim is to let those of my readers who also have gotten sick with parrotlike teachers and teachings find their way to this book that has the potency to take away your last crutches that prevent you to see for yourself, to devour those obstacles against standing alone and living fresh and with a clean slate. Robert does this in a very clear language, as a real friend of the one who reads him, but without the willingness to compromise on what he honestly sees. Every dialogue in this wonderful book shows so, may you enjoy it thoroughly.
Here one can find some chapters, enjoy!