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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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Hope for the indolent

June 1st, 2003

dagwoodnappingBY BUD GARDNER

The book was a birthday gift from a friend, as I recall, and I believe it had been intended as a joke. The Lazy Man’s Guide To Enlightenment by Thaddeus Golas was a narrow and very thin paperback, and I’m sure I shrugged it off at the time with a “Thanks, I really need this,” stated with self-deprecating irony but with no idea of just how potent this little book really was.

Like many of us who survived the Sixties I had dabbled in a variety of mind expansion and self-help psychological experiments, none of which had borne any significant or lasting results. All seemed to require buying into an exclusive and exclusionary mindset, dividing the universe of ideas and men into the good and superior “us” and the bad and inferior “them.” All required rigorous adherence to a more or less dogmatic proposition, whether it be “proper” yoga technique or the Ornish diet. All had proved too dogmatic and rigorous for me, and their grim single-mindedness had left me convinced that my “True Path” was yet to be trod, and, moreover, that perhaps I didn’t have the right stuff ever to succeed at self-discovery.

In less than seventy pages of text Thaddeus Golas changed my mind altogether. In the thirty years since I first read The Lazy Man’s Guide I have re-read it, in whole or in part, hundreds of times. I have bought many copies to give away to friends so they, too, could learn that true enlightenment, though elusive, is always within our grasp; that we are really free and independent beings, in charge totally of our own perception of the universe, which is indeed our universe; and that we can enjoy a transcendent perception without fear or sense of loss.

“Perhaps many of us do not like it where we are in the universe now, but we can all be certain that we got where we are by our own decisions to expand in love or withdraw from it.”

“The universe is an infinite tapestry of perfectly ordered love relationships, and when you are loving enough, you rise…. All states of consciousness are available right now. Every possibility in the past and future exists timelessly, it’s always there, and you activate your level of reality with your own vibrations.”

“The motive for purifying yourself — that you feel spiritually impure — will prevent any genuine gain until you learn to love the impurity you started with…. Quite often a flash of enlightenment will give you this message: Go back to where you started and learn to love it more.”

“Go beyond reason to love. It is safe. It is the only safety.”

Golas did not invent these concepts, but he did distill and simplify them. And most compelling to me, the way he frames the proposition of seeking true enlightenment appears to make my general lassitude a pre-condition.

Over the years I have owned and lost or given away a number of copies of this little gem. Most have resided in the bathroom, where often my thoughtful reading seems to transpire. I can’t claim to have undertaken a real “search” for my enlightenment, but I have checked in enough with Thaddeus over the years to content myself that I am tending generally in the right direction. When the business of law becomes stressful, which it predictably seems to do, I embrace once again his admonition: “Your life will change as you become more loving, but not in ways you can exactly predict. What happens is not as important as how you react to what happens.”

When this idea for a Black Lamb issue devoted to notable books came up I went straight to the internet to try and hunt up Thaddeus. Google gave me over 1,200 hits in .32 seconds, and Yahoo over 1,000. Most were quotes from the book found on spiritual or metaphysical websites, chatrooms, and lists of favorite sayings and such; and most of the rest were booksellers who still have or can get the book. You can download it free from several sites. I got a 1981 Bantam paperback used, through Amazon, for $2.65. Thaddeus would love that: enlightenment can be lazy and cheap. Apparently the paperback (originally self-published by Golas in 1972) finally went out of print in the Eighties after 250,000 copies had been sold. A hardback version published in 1996 is now out of print. As best I can determine, Thaddeus, now age seventy-eight, has retired in his continuing anonymity in Florida, but his magical aphorisms and loving little maxims still cheer and encourage thousands from Sedona to Hamburg. The book invariably gets five stars in customer reviews on bookseller websites.

Thaddeus Golas never wrote another book and apparently never lectured or taught. I found in “Columbia College Notes” that his 1948 classmates, because of his Polish heritage, called him “Pan Golas,” a pun intended to compare him to Dr. Pangloss, Candide’s incurably optimistic mentor. His classmates sold him short. •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Book Issue, Books and Authors, Gardner | Link to this Entry

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