Photo credit: A Dogbane Leaf Beetle, Photograph by George Grall
“For Síle: When the beetle sees”
When the beetle sees, it is I that am looking,
When the nightingale sings, it is I that am singing,
When the lion roars, it is I that am roaring.
But when I look for myself, I can see nothing —
for no thing is there to be seen.
Síle cannot see me either, for when she tries to see me it is
I who am looking: she can do nothing — for only I can do anything.
The beetle can say that also, and Síle, for we are not three,
nor two, nor one.
I am the sea too, and the stars, the wind and the rain,
I am everything that has form — for form is my seeing of it.
I am every sound — for sound is my hearing of it,
I am all flavours, each perfume, whatever can be touched,
For that which is perceptible is my perceiving of it,
And all sentience is mine. They have no other existence, and neither have I —
for what they are I am, and what I am they are.
What the universe is I am, and what I am the universe is.
And there is no other at all, nor any one whatsover.
—Wei Wu Wei
About the Author
Terence James Stannus Gray (14 September 1895 – 5 January 1986)
“Wei Wu Wei” (his pen name) was born in 1895 into a well-established Irish family, was raised on an estate outside Cambridge, England, and received a thorough education, including studies at Oxford University. Early in life he pursued an interest in Egyptology, which culminated in 1923 in the publication of two books on ancient Egyptian history and culture.
This was followed by a period of involvement in the arts in Britain in the 20s and 30s 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 1926-33).
After he had exhausted his interest in this field, his thoughts turned towards philosophy, mysticism, and metaphysics. This led to a period of travel throughout Asia, including time spent at Sri Ramana Maharshis 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 wife in Monaco. 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.