Notes to Poem:
Waiting for the Great Pumpkin

Peter Y. Chou

Preface: I was deeply touched when Linus said that the Great Pumpkin prefers sincere pumpkin patches (October 30, 1960). When the Peanuts comics featured Linus waiting for The Great Pumpklin in San Jose Mercury News (October 27, 29, 31, 2014), I clipped them out as well as finding their colored counterparts online. I pondered on Linus's patience in his Pumpkin Patch waiting year after year for The Great Pumpkin's coming. This poem honors the virtue of patience and how sincerity brings wonders and blessings to one's life.

Commentary on Poem "Waiting for the Great Pumpkin":

Year after year around Halloween time,
Linus is in his Pumpkin Patch waiting
to welcome The Great Pumpkin's coming.

Charles Schulz, Peanuts: Linus Welcomes Great Pumpkin

Linus Waiting

Pumpkin Patch in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
Halloween also known as All Hallows' Eve is celebrated yearly on October 31 in several countries. Some festive Halloween activities include children going out trick-or-treating for candies, attending costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, lighting bonfires, visiting haunted house attractions, and watching horror films. The Halloween business is growing with $5.8 billion spent in the U.S. (2009), and $7.8 billion sales in 2014. The average person will spend more than $77 on Halloween goods. The Great Pumpkin is a fictional holiday figure in the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz, first mentioned by Linus van Pelt in 1959. Every year, Linus sits in a pumpkin patch on Halloween night waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear, but it never showed up. I enjoyed reading about Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin (1, 2, 3) around 1968 when I began my spiritual search for enlightenment at Cornell. Photo Sources: Linus welcomes Great Pumpkin (; Linus Waiting (; Dallas-Fort Worth Pumpkin Patch (

Sometimes, Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Snoopy
are with him, but most of the time, he is alone.
Some say Charles Schulz is talking religion

Charles Schulz, Peanuts (October 29, 2014)

Charles Schulz (1922-2000)
Charlie Brown is the central protagonist of Charles Schulz's comic strip Peanuts. Charlie Brown's best friend, Linus van Pelt often got him to wait in a pumpkin patch to see "The Great Pumpkin" which Charlie Brown doesn't believe to exist. Lucy van Pelt is Linus's 8-year old sister who's a bully to other kids. Snoopy is Charlie Brown's pet dog, a beagle with human traits. According to Danny Gallagher, the original "Great Pumpkin" story was actually about religion— Schulz's "Great Pumpkin" story got its start in his comic strip before finding a permanent place in popular culture on television. In David Michaelis' book Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography (2008), Schulz received a rare complaint letter from a reader asserting that the Great Pumpkin was "sacrilegious". He wrote a response agreeing with her assessment. He felt that the concept of believing in Santa Claus was just as ridiculous and sacrilegious as the Great Pumpkin and that he was "trying to show this in the Great Pumpkin strips." Image Sources: 10-29-2014 Peanuts (; Charles Schulz (

transforming Halloween into Christmas
the way kids wait for gifts from Santa Claus
bringing toys to good children in the world.

It's the Great Pumpkin (1966)

It's The Great Pumpkin 1966 Title Card

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965 TV)
It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a 1966 American prime time animated television special aired on CBS (10-27-1966) based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. It followed the TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas that made its debut on CBS (12-9-1965). It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was so successful winning 50% of the TV audience that it aired every Halloween from 1966 to 2000 on CBS and on ABC from 2001 to present. Linus's unshakable belief in the Great Pumpkin, and his desire to foster the same belief in others, has been interpreted as a parody of Christian evangelism by some observers. In his 4-23-2004 essay, Michael Koresky admires Linus staying in his Pumpkin Patch rather than partake in kids going trick-or-treating for candies on Halloween. Linus's "single-minded philosophical questing, separates him from the crowd." In the climatic scene of 1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas (Video), Linus is on the school auditorium stage, with a single spotlight shone on him. Linus reminds his schoolmates about the true origins and meaning of Christmas, quoting from Luke 2:11: "For unto you this day is born a savior, which is Christ the Lord." It's truly a transcendent scene, reinstating spiritual awareness in a godless commercialzed world of aluminum Christmas trees. Linus waiting for The Great Pumpkin's coming on Halloween is like waiting for the Bethlehem Christmas Star (also 1919 poem "The Second Coming" by W.B. Yeats). Image Sources: It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (; It's The Great Pumpkin 1966 Title Card ( A Charlie Brown Christmas (;

Waiting for a long time to reach one's goal
brings more joy than instant gratification—
Edison inventing incandescent light,
Cartoonists often show a light bulb above or inside someone's head when they come up with a new idea or solve the problem to some mystery. Such flash of insight implies an inner light shining within us in making such discoveries. In 1879 Thomas Alva Edison invented a carbon filament that burned for 40 hours. In 1880 Edison improved his light bulb using a bamboo-derived filament that lasted over 1200 hours. Historians Robert Friedel and Paul Israel list 22 inventors of incandescent lamps prior to Joseph Wilson Swan and Thomas Edison. They conclude that Edison's version was able to outstrip others because of a combination of three factors: an effective incandescent material, a higher vacuum than others were able to achieve and a high resistance lamp that made power distribution from a centralized source economically viable. Another historian, Thomas Hughes, has attributed Edison's success to the fact that he invented an entire, integrated system of electric lighting. U.S. Patent #223898: Electric-Lamp. Issued January 27, 1880 to Thomas Edison. Inspiring Thomas Edison quote: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
Image Sources: Light bulb in head (; Thomas Edison (

Wright Brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk,
Edmund Hillary's conquest of Mt. Everest,
Bannister breaking the four-minute mile.

First Flight at Kitty Hawk
by Wright Brothers (December 17, 1903)

Mount Everest (29,029 ft): Tallest mountain on Earth,
first summit ascent by Edmund Hillary (May 29, 1953)

Roger Bannister breaking
Four-Minute Mile (May 6, 1954)
There are many feats that witnessed repeated failures before they were successfully accomplished. I have selected Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, Edmund Hillary, and Roger Bannister among my heroes as their triumphs were etched more deeply in my memory. First successful flight of the Wright Flyer, by the Wright Brothers. The plane traveled 120 ft (36.6 m) in 12 seconds at 10:35 a.m., December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Orville Wright was at the controls of the machine, lying prone on the lower wing with his hips in the cradle which operated the wing-warping mechanism. Wilbur Wright ran alongside to balance the machine, and just released his hold on the forward upright of the right wing in the photo. The starting rail, the wing-rest, a coil box, and other items needed for flight preparation are visible behind the machine. This was considered "the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air, powered flight" by the Fédération Aéronautique. Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on Earth. It literally means the top or the head of the sky. Mount Everest touches the borders of China, Tibet, and Nepal and is a part of the Himalayan Range. Its total height above sea level is 29,029 ft. The first successful ascent was by the New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepali sherpa climber. They reached the summit at 11:30 a.m. local time on 29 May 1953. Breaking the four-minute mile barrier was first achieved on May 6, 1954, by Englishman Roger Bannister at Oxford University's Iffley Road Track. Photo Sources: Wright Brothers (>; Mount Everest (; Roger Bannister (;

Linus is practicing patience— a virtue
lost in today's world— who has time to wait
for a soul mate the way Tristan did for Iseult,

Charles Spencelayh
Patience (circa 1930)

Linus waiting in the Pumpkin Patch
It's the Great Pumpkin (1966)

Bédier's cover of Tristan & Iseult
from Manesse Codex (1304)

Hendrik Goltzius
Patientia (1615)
The painting Patience by Charles Spencelayh (1865-1958) depicts a man fishing waiting patiently for his catch. Although patience is not one of the three Christian theological virtues (Faith, Hope, Charity), it is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control). While other kids are collecting candies on Halloween (gluttony & greed for material goods), Linus is practicing the virtue of patience waiting for the Great Pumpkin (spiritual endeavor). Trisan and Iseult is a 12th century tale on the adulterous love between the Cornish knight Tristan and Irish princess Iseult. Richard Wagner popularized the tale in his opera Tristan und Isolde (1859). Iseult was to marry King Mark whom she has never seen. They drank a love potion and were enamored with each other. After her marriage to Mark, she still loved Tristan, who pined for her till his last dying breath. The engraving Patientia (1615) by Hendrik Goltzius (1558-1617) is one of the Judaic "Three Virtues" in the British Museum, the other being Scientia and Diligentia. Patience and forbearance are the virtues exemplified by the Biblical character Job, who despite all the travails and hardships never lost his faith in God. Photo Sources: Charles Spencelayh's Patience (; Linus in Pumpkin Patch (; Tristan & Iseult (; Goltzius's Patientia (

Dante for Beatrice, Héloïse for Abélard?—
true love is a long-maturing process
like fine wine needing time for aging.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)
Study for The Salutation of Beatrice (1849-1850)
Pen and ink and wash, 14" x 26", Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, MA

Abaelardus and Héloïse
in 14th century manuscript
Roman de la Rose

Jean Vignaud (1775-1826)
Abelard & Heloise Surprised
by the Abbot Fulbert
The love of Beatrice Portinari by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) is detailed in La Vita Nuova (1295). When Dante writes in La Vita Nuova XX: “Love and the noble heart are but one thing” we see how the purity of his love for Beatrice has transformed him. His “new life” or spiritual rebirth has energized his mind and heart, so that he could honor his beloved with even more passion and devotion. The fruit of Dante's love for Beatrice is his epic poem The Divine Comedy— how through romance he was able to attain the beatific vision and enlightenment. Dante's love for Beatrice enables him to glow “with a flame of charity” (La Vita Nuova XI). From here on, his spirit would rise to the fifth chakra (throat)— the voice of poetry, then ascend to the sixth chakra (third eye)— celestial vision, and finally soar to the seventh chakra (thousand-petal lotus)— spiritual awakening and bliss. We may partake in Dante's illuminating journey to paradise when studying his Commedia. Héloïse d'Argenteuil (1100-1164) was a French nun, writer, scholar, and abbess, best known for her love affair and correspondence with the philosopher & theologician Peter Abélard (1079-1142). In Roman de la Rose, a French poem on the art of love, Guillaume de Lorris wrote the first 4058 lines (1230) that was completed by Jean de Meun's additional 17,724 lines (1275). The passionate love of Héloïse & Abélard are covered in this romantic tale. Thousands of students came to Abélard's lectures in Paris (1110-1116), among them was Héloïse whom he began an affair (1115-1116). Once her uncle Priest Fulbert found out, he separated them, but they continued to meet in secret. To punish Abélard, a group of Fulbert's friends broke into Abélard's room one night and castrated him. After this, Abélard became a monk in the Abbey of St Denis in Paris and Héloïse became a nun. However, they wrote passionate love letters till the end. Image Sources: Rossetti's Beatrice (; Roman de la Rose (; Abelard & Heloise Surprised by Abbot Fulbert (

Linus feels The Great Pumpkin will come
to his Patch because it's the most sincere—
How endearing! The sage Chou Tun-yi said:

The first time Linus says that The Great Pumpkin prefers sincere pumpkin patches—
Charles Schulz, Peanuts (October 30, 1960)

Chou Tun-yi
The Great Pumpkin was first mentioned by Linus van Pelt (1959) in the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. The first time Linus says that the Great Pumpkin prefers sincere pumpkin patches is on October 30, 1960. Linus tells Charlie Brown— "I doubt if he likes large pumpkin patches. They're too commercial. He likes small homey ones. They're more sincere." So wonderful! This reminded me of the Chinese Neo-Confucian sage Chou Tun-yi: "Sincerity is the foundation of the sage." (Penetrating Book of Changes, Ch. 1). And in Ch. 6— "The way of the sage is nothing but humanity, virtue, harmony, and rectitude. Preserve it and it will be ennobling. Practice it and it will be beneficial. Prolong it and it will match Heaven and Earth. Is it not easy and simple? Is it hard to know? If so, it is because we do not preserve, practice, and prolong it." Photo Sources: October 30, 1960 Peanuts (; Chou Tun-yi (

"Sincerity is the foundation of the sage."
How true! Having a sincere heart will bring
sages and all good things to those who wait.

Anthony Damiani

Paul Brunton

Wei Wu Wei


Sivaya Subramuniya

Seung Sahn
"All good things come to those who wait" is a proverb on patience as a virtue. Violet Fane (1843-1905) wrote in her poem "Tout vient à qui sait attendre"— Ah! "All things come to those who wait"— / (I say these words to make me glad). / But something answers soft and sad, / "They come, but often come too late!" [From Dawn to Noon: Poems, (1872), page 95]. An earlier attribution may be found in Clément Marot (1496-1544)— "tout vient à point à qui sait attendre" (1552). Biblical citations on patience may be found in Galatians 5:22: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,"; Psalm 37:7: "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him."; Lamentations 3:25: "The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him." I learned about Chou Tun-yi from Paul Brunton when I first visited his home in Montreux, Switzerland (August 30-31, 1972). There was a tanka of Chou Tun-yi on the wall along with three other Chinese sages— Lao Tzu, Confucius, Wang Yang Ming. After persuading Dad to translate Chou Tun-yi's works into English, I tried to live his philosophy. Having a sincere heart also clarifies one's mind, so I could do better research in predicting protein structures. The sincerity of my activities also brought many sages to my life who guided me to peace and blessings. I didn't know when walking into his American Brahman Bookstore in Ithaca on April 5, 1968, that Anthony Damiani would be my first spiritual mentor. His free Wednesday seminars on perennial philosophy introduced me to the spiritual quest for enlightenment. Through Tony, I was fortunate to meet Paul Brunton in Switzerland on my four trips to Europe (1972-1979). PB writes "Learn how to wait patiently for the right answer. Only by a profound patience which is willing to continue waiting until the correct answer comes through intuition." [The Wisdom of the Overself (1943), p. 224]. "This Quest is not an undertaking of a few weeks or months. It is, as I have often said, a lifetime's work: patience is required from us and must be given by us." [Notebooks of Paul Brunton: Volume 2: The Quest (1985), Ch. 2, Para 107]. I met Chinmayananda in 1972 and attended over 100 lectures on the Gita and Upanishads in Boston and New York (1972-1977). Chinmayananda quote: "Patience always elevates and strengthens our character." Another insight: "Faith is the belief in what we do not know, so that we come to know what we believe in." [Chinmayananda, "Say Cheese!": Witty Wisdom (2004), p. 100]. Professor Stuart Edelstein introduced me to Master Subramuniya when he lectured at Cornell (June 13, 1970). I invited him to my apartment where he gave me darshan and presented me with three books The Clear White Light, The Self God, and Cognizantability (June 14, 1970). When he came to Barnes & Noble in Redwood City, he autographed his Merging with Siva (June 15, 1999) almost exactly 29 years later. He was clean shaven and had the brightest eyes I've ever seen back then, but now he looks like Moses (1999). Subramuniya on patience: "The devotee learns patience. He learns to wait for the proper timing of things in his life, or for many more lives. There is no urgency. He trust God and trust the path he is on." [Merging with Siva (1999), p. 877]. Larry Rosenberg invited me to the Cambridge Zen Center where I heard many Dharma talks by the Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn (1974-2000). He signed my copy Dropping Ashes on the Buddha (1976) after my interview with him (April 10, 1980). Discussing the six paramitas (generosity, conduct, patience, effort, meditation, wisdom), Seung Sahn writes "Perseverance (patience) means whether good or bad feelings appear, in a good or bad situation, whatever condition appears, whether suffering or well, I only try to help all beings. We sometimes call this try-mind. Try, try, try for ten thousand years, nonstop. Not only this life, but I vow that in life after life I will attain enlightenment and help others get out of suffering. This is our practice. Our practice never ends, because our job of saving all beings never ends. Another name for that is the Great Bodhisattva Way". [The Compassion of Zen (1997), p. 201]. Of the six spiritual mentors above, Wei Wu Wei is the only one I've not met personally. I write about my encounter with his books at the Cornell and Stanford Libraries (1968 & 2008), and the correspondences we had. Searching for a Wei Wu Wei quote on patience in his books, I found none in the index of his books or online. It suddenly occurred to me that Wei Wu Wei never writes about patience because this virtue takes time to cultivate. But to a sage abiding in timelessness, there is no waiting at all. PB confided in me that he has met only one person who has experienced timelessness, and I guess it's Wei Wu Wei. However in his letter of September 17, 1979, Terence Gray (Wei Wu Wei) writes "Our spiritual sadhana is largely in making wine and we hope that one day you will participate in our grape-harvest and taste some of our wines." Fine wine is not produced instantly. There is patience and time involved cultivating grapes to grow and harvest in making wine. PB reminds me: "A lapse in artistry may be pardoned but a lapse in sincerity may not. Be sincere! That is the message from soul to self, from God to man." [Notebooks of Paul Brunton: Volume 5: Emotions and Ethics (1986), Ch. 1, Para 282]. Linus's patience in his sincere Pumpkin Patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin inspired this poem. In these Notes, I'm honoring that virtue and thanking my spiritual mentors for teaching me much about patience and sincerity that has brought me much joy and blessings. Photo Sources: Anthony Damiani (; Paul Brunton (; Wei Wu Wei (; Swami Chinmayananda (; Sivaya Subramuniya (; Seung Sahn (

— Peter Y. Chou
    Mountain View, 11-6-2014

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