It would seem that Corky Ra has been caught with a hand in the cookie jar of plagiarism. But the accused deserves his day in court.
Take the webpage entitled, “SUMMUM and The Kybalion,” which is attributed to Corky under his venerable honorific. Here we find what amounts to a case for his innocence: “Summum . . . rewrites the information found in The Kybalion in a manner more appropriate for our modern era. It also presents new material not found in The Kybalion, thus giving a complete and more indepth outline of an age old philosophy. The US Copyright Office considers Summum . . . a ‘derivative work,’ while from a broader perspective, it is a continuation of a neverending story.”
In addition to this defense, there is, on the webpage “The Pendulum of Pleasure and Pain,” a transcription of a tape of one of Corky’s informal talks. Among other things, he says that “in the Kybalion, there is a little comment, and you can see the guys that put it in there, they slipped in this little comment and it doesn’t belong in the book at all. It has been passed down for tens of thousands of years and these guys did their own interpretation of it . . . and in one paragraph they say something like, we cannot have any immorality in society like if you saw some frontal nudity on cable TV and stuff it would be the worst thing you could do, and to condone anything like that would be a person not on the path and stuff like that. I thought, ‘Jesus! These guys really got a lot of balls to put something like that in this kind of book!’ It came from no where and there are a lot of them in there, and they are personal opinions from the commentator, and you sort of have to look over them and look for the deep truth that is in the book that has been passed down for thousands of years.”
It appears, then, that Corky’s defense against the charge of plagiarism can be said to begin with his confession that he has “rewritten” what he and his brain trust—Su Menu, Bernie Aua, and Ron Temu—like to call “our little book,” then proceeds to offer a set of arguments:
(1) The truths of The Kybalion are nothing new, having been embraced by such ancients as Adam, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Christ, and Mohammed, all of whom have been taught by “the angelic beings”;
(2) The earlier book lacks an account of the “Principle of Creation,” which SUMMUM supplies;
(3) The earlier book needed updating to a more contemporary style; and
(4) The Kybalion also contains mistakes consisting of The Three Initiates’ inclusion of their “personal opinions,” which needed to be excised from theSUMMUM edition.