Wei Wu Wei
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14 September 1895|
Felixstowe, Suffolk, England
|Died||5 January 1986
|Pen name||Wei Wu Wei|
|Notable work||Open Secret|
Between the years 1958 and 1974 eight books and articles in various periodicals appeared under the pseudonym "Wei Wu Wei" (Wu wei, a Taoist term which translates as "action that is non-action"). The identity of the author 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). Eventually it was revealed that the author had been Terence Gray.
Terence James Stannus Gray was born in Felixstowe, Suffolk, England on 14 September 1895, the son of Harold Stannus Gray and a member of a well-established Irish family. He was raised on an estate at the Gog-Magog Hills outside Cambridge, England. He received a thorough education at Ascham St Vincent's School, Eastbourne, Eton and 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 1920s and 1930s 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 origins in his own dance troupe at the Cambridge Festival Theatre which he leased from 1926 to 1933).
He maintained his family's racehorses in England and Ireland and in 1957 his horse Zarathrustra won the Ascot Gold Cup, ridden by renowned jockey Lester Piggott in the first of his eleven wins of that race.
After he had apparently exhausted his interest in the theatre, 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 second wife, the Georgian princess Natalie Margaret Imeretinsky, in Monaco. He had previously been married to a Russian noblewoman, Rimsky-Korsakov. 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.
Wei Wu Wei's influence, while never widespread, has been profound upon many of those who knew him personally, upon those with whom he corresponded, among them British mathematician and author G. Spencer-Brown and Galen Sharp, as well as upon many who have read his works, including Ramesh Balsekar.
It is apparent from his writings that "Wei Wu Wei" had studied in some depth both Eastern and Western philosophy and metaphysics, as well as the more esoteric teachings of all the great religions. It can also be understood from the writings that he regarded himself as merely one of many seeking so-called "liberation", the works themselves being seen in part as a record of this quest. The attitude adopted towards the writings is perhaps best indicated by the following quote from an introductory note to Open Secret (Hong Kong University Press, 1965).
- Why are you unhappy?
- Because 99.9 per cent
- Of everything you think,
- And of everything you do,
- Is for yourself —
- And there isn't one.
- -Wei Wu Wei
Wei Wu Wei is seldom studied by modern scholars of eastern religion and philosophy, although he is discussed in some detail in the book Taoism for Dummies (John Wiley and Sons Canada, 2013).
- Fingers Pointing Towards The Moon; Reflections of a Pilgrim on the Way, 1958, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul (out of print); 2003, Boulder: Sentient Publications. Foreword by Ramesh Balsekar. ISBN 1-59181-010-8
- Why Lazarus Laughed; The Essential Doctrine Zen-Advaita-Tantra, 1960, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. (out of print); 2003, Boulder: Sentient Publications. ISBN 1-59181-011-6
- Ask The Awakened; The Negative Way, 1963, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd. (2nd ed. 1974)(out of print); 1973, Boston: Little, Brown & Co. ISBN O-316-92810-0 (out of print); 2002, Boulder: Sentient Publications. Foreword by Galen Sharp. ISBN 0-9710786-4-5
- All Else Is Bondage; Non-Volitional Living, 1964, Hong Kong University Press (reprinted 1970, 1982). ISBN 962-209-025-7 (out of print); 1999, Sunstar Publications. ISBN 1-886656-34-7 (out of print); 2004, Boulder: Sentient Publications. 1-59181-023-X
- Open Secret, 1965, Hong Kong University Press (reprinted 1970, 1982). ISBN 962-209-030-3 (out of print); 2004, Boulder: Sentient Publications. ISBN 1-59181-014-0
- The Tenth Man, 1966, Hong Kong University Press (reprinted 1967, 1971). ISBN 0-85656-013-8 (out of print); 2003, Boulder: Sentient Publications. Foreword by Dr. Gregory Tucker. ISBN 1-59181-007-8
- Posthumous Pieces, 1968, Hong Kong University Press. Foreword by Wayne Liquorman. ISBN 0-85656-027-8 (out of print); 2004, Boulder: Sentient Publications. ISBN 1-59181-015-9
- Unworldly Wise; As the Owl Remarked to the Rabbit, 1974, Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 0-85656-103-7 (out of print) (Note: this book published under the further pseudonym 'O.O.O.'); 2004, Boulder: Sentient Publications. ISBN 1-59181-019-1
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