Kev’s Author Interviews, Presents…
A Short Bio
I was born. I lived. I loved. I succeeded. I failed…. a lot. I practiced meditation my whole life, took up mathematics, physics, and developmental psychology. Someone described me once as a Rinzai Zen Master. I denied. One day I read Herman Hesse’s Siddartha and was moved to write something from an insider’s perspective. Making myself the main character in a timeless tale, I started with where I was in life: married with a daughter, and running a college. I then mapped my future life in metaphor. I had no idea it would come true, that I would be destroyed and become….
Kev: What is your latest book about and what is its genre?
The Ascension was written at the beginning of 2003. I no longer write any fiction. I can’t. I now write books on cosmology and consciousness mostly.
The Ascension is a story outside of time, a fairytale, a legend. It could happen any time in the past, but its real setting is a future utopia where the human world is as right as it can be. It can be classified in a variety of ways: mythology, fantasy, science fiction, spiritual, Buddhist, Zen… But it is characteristically a-technical, focused exclusively on the evolutionary process of mind and consciousness.
Kev: Who or what influenced you to write it?
In 1992 I wrote a Zen textbook. I was very disappointed because the academic treatment, while interesting, completely took the life out of Zen. Zen is a living thing…. It is life, a practice of formally evolving your consciousness. Most think it is something you go do in your spare time, but really it is everything you do, so you must embrace life to its fullest.
I invented PŭMa Tse as a character and started writing little story snippets in which he imparted Zen wisdom. I was very disappointed and all those snippets are now gone. The name is a koan. It begins with Pŭ, the naturally shaped piece of wood. Ma is like punctuation, having three meanings depending on the ideogram: question, exclamation, or what precedes it is profound. The last is the signature you now see in all my writings. Tse means son or venerated master.
Herman Hesse made a very noble effort. At first I nearly threw the book away for being an inaccurate depiction of Gautama’s life. Then I read the introduction, read a little further and saw the main character meet Gautama. I was actually quite impressed with Hesse’s outsider perspective, especially with how little he could know at the time he was writing the book.
Bruce Lee’s Silent Flute (better known as Circle of Iron) was an insider view, but I didn’t like the martial arts distraction. I wanted an adventure more fitting to life, without obvious conflict. I stole outright the hermitic character the Blind Man from the Silent Flute.
Kev: Did you do any specialised research for your story?
Aside from life-long practice, expertise in developmental psychology that helped map the plot, and the academic study of Zen? The key to the story is Chapter 7: Ch’an Ching (Meditation Classic). I wrote it first. It solved an age-old problem I had with developing the character. I could never visualize the character. The last 100+ lines of the epoch poem the Poet character is never referenced specifically, and in the end the reflection in a fountain does not notice. This gave me what I really needed: PŭMa Tse is an illusion. When I was finally destroyed, I needed an illusion to function in your world. PŭMa Tse became an illusion people could almost relate to, and still remains without sexual or racial identity or visual representation.
Kev: What challenges did you face while writing the story?
Funny how I answer the questions before they are asked. There was a serious challenge beyond the character: imagery. I wanted to be realistic, but at some point I couldn’t be. I had to use literary devices and depictions I would never agree with today. I leave them stand because they are accessible for people. People cannot understand what enlightenment really means, or that to achieve it is not something you want because you and all your want must be utterly destroyed. When you finally learn what enlightenment really is, you run away from it but it is too late. It will catch up and systematically destroy you.
Kev: Who is the protagonist?
The main character is named Turner. I began with the name Cheng Wei (to become) but opted to make the name more accessible to Western audiences. One of the few other names in the book (Pallaver) means a business man. Every name, color, or other adjective in the story has meaning.
Kev: What would you say is the protagonist’s greatest weakness or obstacle and why?
His greatest weakness is that of everyone else in the world: what he believes is real. You cannot reasonably differentiate factual from fictional/illusory knowledge. What you believe is real to you, but that is subjective. The only way to really know is to understand. To understand you need to find the working processes, the concepts linking disparate categories of knowledge. Most people get set in a very limited range of information that simply works for them. Much of that is merely social function, not the way things are in reality or are necessarily right.
The wilderness is the space and time in which you face reality and cannot escape with your illusions. It destroys you in every way. The story really doesn’t explore that, though my later books do. What you take into the wilderness is all you have to work with to develop your understanding. In other words, the more broad your knowledge base, the more intense and comprehensive your enlightenment.
Kev: What would you say is the main antagonist’s greatest strength?
In similar stories the antagonist is Maya, the demon of illusions, the ego. This book is a very easy but deceptively deep read with absolutely no conflict in it because it is about life generally. The closest you can come to conflict is man versus self, but you do not see struggle. When reality is exposed at the end, the reader is compelled to go back and look for what isn’t there: the conflict. Maya’s greatest strength is conflict. By depriving Maya a place in the story, the ego is allowed to dissolve in peace.
Kev: Could you provide a short passage from your book to give us a taster?
I will extract a piece of Ch’an Ching:
When the best hears of Tao
with greatest effort he follows it.
When the average hears of Tao
he thinks of it occasionally.
When the fool hears of Tao
he laughs out loud.
Seeking out of body
you are accomplished
Yet you laugh as a fool
so explain this…
Manjusri then laughed
as he rode away—
Poet remained stunned
Poet became slap
Rising in the swamp
Or perhaps the first and last sentences of the book:
First: “PŭMa Tse, the grand master, the living Buddha has died!”
Last: I could not deny the recognition of my experience: “PŭMa Tse.”
Kev: Do you use some kind of formula when you write?
I map the plot using the process of ego-identity development. When I taught this, I used this book to help illustrate the process and challenged the students to identify its steps. Not easy.
Kev: Preference for writing: Day or Night?
When I am not sleeping.
Kev: What is your editing process?
I used to start at page 1 every day and edit to where I left off in the story. This story simply flowed without need for editing.
Kev: Who creates your book covers?
I do. My cover designs have significantly improved this past year.
Kev: How do you promote your work?
This is definitely an area I need to improve in. I spend too much time researching, writing, and developing Akademe.
Kev: What advice would you offer to new authors?
Read everything. Find things you like, emulate them. Make a lot of mistakes and don’t be afraid to throw away your first 20 or so books. I threw out my first twenty, published over twenty others before being destroyed, and am not keeping track right now, but put 3 in print this year and several last year. Don’t describe things that are irrelevant. I don’t care what the character looks like. Show me who they are. If they wear fancy shoes that say something about who they are, wax poetic on them. Action builds theme, dialog makes the action mentally accessible. I can go on all day.
Kev: Which two social media platforms do you use the most and why?
I have a FB ID and several associated pages and groups.
Psycho-social Philosophy: https://www.facebook.com/profoundpu
Topics in Factual Integrity: https://www.facebook.com/AkademeFoundation
Kev: Do you have a website?
Akademe.org at the time of this writing has not been reconstructed. Maybe some of it will be active by the time this goes to “print.”
Kev: Is there anything else you would like to add?
If you love this book, you will certainly appreciate the other books of Lesser Pu, as well as Love and Consciousness (available separately and together). If you really want to jump off the cliff from mind into physical reality see Phase Theory Cosmology. I am presently working on a very advanced cosmology book titled Quirky Quantum Relativity. It will explain how fields work and create all the phenomena we observe, complete with the math and proofs.
PŬMA TSE, everyone!