[L. 118 | 128] 4 May 1964

Your second letter arrived this afternoon. Though you say 'Don't bother to reply', it would be very churlish of me not to do so. In so far as anyone acknowledges a mistaken judgement, it is only a fool who refuses to accept it. And on my part I would ask you to forgive me anything I may have said that I should not have said. This sort of affair easily sends people's temperatures up, including my own when I get their first reactions. It is then a question of returning to normal as quickly as possible in order to discuss whatever needs discussing.

Certainly, I can't be sure in any absolute sense that there is no remedy for the satyriasis. But it does not seem to me that the growth of a tumor or the enlargement of the prostate would adequately account for the actual symptoms as they occurred. Now, I do know that damage to the nervous system is (notoriously) difficult to cure by direct treatment, and that the usual remedy (if it is a remedy) is simply time. (You may remember, many years ago, my right leg went numb through sitting in padmāsana on a hard floor. This—so the doctor told me—was due to damage to the sciatic nerve, and I was given vitamin B, in some quantity. The leg has partly recovered, but my toes remain paralysed.)

And the situation is not improved by the fact that the disorder and its ramifications are not very easy to discuss with other people. Besides, I know also from past experience that I suffer from (or enjoy—whichever is the right term) erotic thoughts more in Colombo than anywhere else, and on that account alone I am reluctant to go there. So, although I am very much disinclined to come to Colombo, and do not propose to take any initiative myself in this matter, if there is anyone who feels strongly enough about it, and is himself prepared to take the necessary steps to get me to Colombo, arrange for examination, for treatment, and so on, then I am prepared, passively as it were, and without enthusiasm, to fall in with his arrangements. I say this, because I don't want to give the outward impression that I am sitting here brooding over my miseries and neurotically refusing all efforts to help.

On the other hand, I propose to be obstinate about continuing here. People in Colombo frequently advise me to stay there and not to go back to my solitude; but, particularly in the present circumstances, this is a misunderstanding of my needs. You will see that there are two sides to this question, since you have presented them both, one after the other, in your two letters.

I think I should add that even a completely successful treatment of the satyriasis does not get me out of the wood. It is the persisting digestive disorder that is the root of the trouble, and the satyriasis is simply the last straw that broke the camel's back (or nearly did).

I have been wondering about the rights and wrongs of telling people about myself in this way. The three or four people I have told were alarmed and upset when I first spoke of it, but now seem to be rather unwillingly reconciled to the prospect. Should I perhaps have done better to keep silent (as I could have done, being the sort of person I am) instead of disturbing their peace of mind? The Anglo-Saxon tradition, of course (which has a certain prevalence in this country), is in favour of the strong silent man. But it seems to me that, without going to the other extreme of the French, who dramatize themselves on every possible occasion, it should be possible to speak of such a 'painful subject' in, shall we say, a normal tone of voice. In the first place, it may actually ease the tensions and postpone a decision (Fabian tactics are the thing—putting off a definite engagement with the enemy from day to day); and in the second place, if the worst does come to the worst people are partly prepared for it, and they have some understanding, at least, of what has happened. And in any case, if one is prepared to bring it out into the daylight, it is hardly likely that one has shirked the issues.

Please convey my respectful salutations and kindly thoughts to the Colombo Thera.