Marco Pallis on extinct traditions

For a tradition to fulfill its purpose in any given case, it must be “viable” in relation to the circumstances of the person concerned, that is to say it must be sufficiently accessible in time and space, as well as assimilable in itself, to render participation “operative.” It would, for instance, be useless to try and attach oneself to an extinct form such as the Pythagorean tradition; and even with a still extant form such as Taoism, it would be practically impossible to establish contact with it, save by rare exception, because of the immense physical and psychic obstacles standing in the way of any Occidental who wished to resort to a Taoist master—always supposing that such is still to be found hidden in some remote corner of the Chinese world, which today is not easy to prove or disprove.

Marco Pallis in Some Thoughts on Soliciting and Imparting Spiritual Counsel

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