The fist number of L. refer to the standard CtP edition published in 1987. The following number shows correspondence between letters in the new 2010 edition. Note that on this website CtP is available only 1987 edition with minor additions.

[L. 31 | 38] 9 June 1963

I think that you have met Mr. Samaratunga. It is he who is busying himself with the publication of the Notes on Dhamma I have written, and it is on this account that I have thought it advisable to inform him of the nature of my present bodily disorders, of the fact that I have already attempted suicide, and that it remains a possibility that I shall make another attempt.[1]

That is to say, I did not wish him to embark on an undertaking that he might later regret, in the event of my suicide in the not-too-distant future. He seemed to be distressed at what I had to tell him, and has kindly offered his help; but he says that the situation is beyond his unaided powers, and has asked me if he can discuss the matter with you. I have told him that I have no objection. If, therefore, he does consult you, please consider yourself at liberty to talk to him freely about it; but I would prefer that you erred on the pessimistic side rather than the optimistic, for two reasons: (i) If things go wrong he will be less upset if he has not been led to expect too much, and (ii) I have not, in fact, asked for his help, and unless there is a very good chance of cure or at least substantial relief I am not at all inclined to start upon a course of treatment that will be burdensome for me and perhaps expensive for him. There is nothing more discouraging than to submit to a course of medical discipline and at the end of it to find oneself no better off than before.

In my last letter I told you that the condition had been cured by good mental concentration. This (as expected) did not last—both the weather and the guts went wrong.

P.S. If you should meet Dr. __ and he asks after me, please assure him that I am taking honey daily for my heart. He insisted that honey is very good for strengthening the heart, adding that 'it contains all the unknown vitamins'—an irresistible recommendation! If we were offered the choice between a pill containing a generous quantity of all the vitamins hitherto discovered and one containing all those not yet discovered who would hesitate for a moment? The effect of the discovered vitamins is known and limited, but the undiscovered vitamins hold out boundless hopes of regeneration (especially if swallowed during a total eclipse of the sun).

Besides, the assertion about honey has the delightful property of being irrefutable except retrospectively—it is always unassailable at the time it is uttered. For suppose some new vitamin is discovered in (say) the skin of a certain plantain but is found not to be present in honey, then it is true that before the discovery of this vitamin the assertion about honey was mistaken, since this particular unknown vitamin was actually not contained in honey; but now that this vitamin has been discovered it is no longer amongst those that are 'unknown', and though we may have to confess that, yesterday, our assumption that honey contains all the unknown vitamins was perhaps a little premature, today we can be quite sure, without fear of contradiction, that it is absolutely true. The question arises, if a well-known doctor were to announce impressively, 'Gum arabic contains all the unknown vitamins', would he get people to swallow it?


Editorial notes:

[31.1] another attempt: The sequence begins with L. 45. [Back to text]