The Marriage of Wisdom and Method

Marco Pallis

Man himself becomes identified, to all intents and purposes, with the belief that it is possible both to live by bread alone and be at peace. But such bread never satisfies, for do what man will, the spiritual urge is there, frustrated and gnawing at his heartstrings. That is his hell, but, strangely enough, it is also his last hope, since one day he may yet awaken to the real cause of his discontents and this, for every man in whatever situation or state of mind, is the first step into the Way.

Tibetans, as also Hindus, have a happy way of occasionally turning even a hallowed rule upside down, just to make sure that peoples’ minds do not get so imprisoned in the rule as to render it self-contradictory, which can easily happen where “the spirit of either… or”, so ingrained in European minds, is pushed to the point of pedantry.

Click here to view the PDF.

If the fatality of impermanence, as the Buddha has taught, attaches to all things in existence, be it even those we deem most irreplaceable and holy, it is a grave error to forget the no less certain fatality affecting things that are evil and destructive: looking around the world today one is sometimes tempted to forget the latter aspect of a truth that cuts both ways and it is as much an entanglement for the mind to dwell exclusively on the one alternative as on the other: hope, as well as faith and love, lies where these twin aspects meet.

First published in Studies in Comparative Religion (this is an earlier version of the article in HTML format), Vol. 6, No. 2 (Spring, 1972). Included more recently in Pallis’ anthology A Buddhist Spectrum: Contributions to Buddhist-Christian Dialogue, published by World Wisdom, 2003.