Why Lazarus Laughed: The Essential Doctrine, Zen--Advaita--Tantra

Why Lazarus Laughed: The Essential Doctrine, Zen--Advaita--Tantra, by Wei Wu Wei. This is the second book written by Wei Wu Wei in a collection of what are now considered spiritual classics in the area of Zen Buddhism, Advaita, and Taoism. Why Lazarus Laughed is a powerfully written book of aphorisms, meditations, and startling ruminations on the nature of time, consciousness, freedom, enlightenment, duality, and free will. Wei Wu Wei described his books as reflections of the moon in a puddle because he does not set himself apart from any other, does not profess to be a teacher, and does not claim to have the last word on spiritual truth. His modest assessment of how well he succeeds at his task would most certainly be disputed by his many enthusiastic readers: Essential understanding might have found its way into occasional pages. Indeeed, profound insight seems to leap from every sentence.

Play your part in the comedy, but don't identify yourself with your role! says Wei Wu Wei, and he follows his own advice. He writes his works anonymously and uses his iconoclastic humor to drive home his points. Those who discover his books feel they have found a secret teaching that brilliantly delivers the purest truth. He has become a sort of underground spiritual favorite whose fans anxiously await each reissued book.

As the subtitle states, Why Lazarus Laughed explicates the essential doctrine shared by the traditions of Zen Buddhism, Advaita, and Tantra. The author is not interested in these traditions as religions, but only in so much as they reflect the moon for us. To read this jewel of a book from the immortal Wei Wu Wei is to enter into the heart and mind of one who possessed a very clear insight into the essence of understanding.

The identity of Wei Wu Wei was not revealed at the time of the publication of his first book. But we now know a few background details that help put the writings into context. He was born in 1895 into a well-established Irish family, was raised on an estate outside Cambridge, England, and went to Oxford. Early in life, he pursued an interest in Egyptology. This was followed by a period of involvement in the arts in Britain in the 1920s and 1930s. Having exhausted his interest in this field, he turned to philosophy and metaphysics, traveling throughout Asia and spending time at the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi. In 1958, at the age of 63, he saw the first of the Wei Wu Wei titles published. Over the next 16 years, seven more were published, including his final work under the new pseudonym O.O.O. During most of this later period, he maintained a residence with his wife in Monaco. He is believed to have known, among others, Lama Anagarika Govinda, Dr. Hubert Benoit, John Blofeld, Douglas Harding, Arthur Osborne, and Dr. D. T. Suzuki. He died in 1986 at the age of 90.