Alan Watts – Tao of Philosophy: Calm The Mind, Relaxation

This video is the full Alan Watts lecture ‘Tao of Philosophy’

alan watts


i can’t sleep [Music] i wonder what you mean when you use the word i i’ve been very interested in this problem for a long long time [Music] and i’ve come to the conclusion that what most civilized people mean by that word is a hallucination that is to say a false sense of personal identity that is at complete variance with the facts of nature and as a result of having a false sense of identity we act in a way that is inappropriate to our natural environment and when that inappropriate way of action is magnified by a very powerful technology we swiftly begin to see the results of a profound discord between man and nature [Music] as is well known we are now in the process of destroying our environment as a result of an attempt to conquer it and master it and we have not realized therefore that our environment is not something other than ourselves in assuming that it is we have made a great mistake and are now paying the price for it but most people would agree with the lines of the poet who said i a stranger and afraid in a world i never made because we have the strong sensation that our own being inside our skin is extremely different from the world outside our skin that while there may be intelligence inside human skins and while there may be values and loving feelings outside the skin is a world of mechanical process which does not give a damn about any individual and which is basically unintelligent being gyrations of blind force and so far as the merely biological world is concerned gyrations of libido which is freud’s word for blind lust [Music] it should be obvious that the human being goes with the rest of the universe even though we say in popular speech i came into this world now it is not true that you came into this world you came out of it in the same way as a flower comes out of a plant or a fruit comes out of a tree [Music] and as an apple tree apples the solar system in which we live and therefore the galaxy in which we live and therefore the system of galaxies in which we live that system peoples and therefore people are an expression of its energy and of its nature if people are intelligent and i suppose we have to grant that if then the energy which people express must also be intelligent because one does not gather figs from thistles and grapes from thorns but it does not occur you see to the ordinary civilized person to regard himself or herself [Music] as an expression of the whole universe it should be obvious that we cannot exist except in an environment of earth air water and solar temperature that all these things go with us and are as important to us albeit outside our skins as our internal organs heart stomach brain and so forth now if then we cannot describe the behavior of organisms without at the same time describing the behavior of their environments we should realize that we have a new entity of description not the individual organism alone but what would now be called a field of behavior which we must call rather clumsily the organism environment [Music] you go with your environment in the same way as your head goes with the rest of your body you do not find in nature faces arriving in the world suey generous they go with a body but also bodies do not arrive in a world uh which would be for example a plane ball of scrubbed rock floating without an atmosphere far away from a star that will not grow bodies there is no soil for bodies there is no complexity of environment which is body producing [Music] so bodies go with a very complicated natural environment and if the head goes with the body and the body goes with the environment the body is as much an integral part of the environment as the head is part of the body [Music] it is deceptive of course because the human being is not rooted to the ground like a tree [Music] a human being moves about and therefore can shift from one environment to another but these shifts are superficial the basic environment of the planet remains a constant and if the human being leaves the planet he has to take with him and a a canned version of the planetary environment now we are not really aware of this upon taking thought and due consideration it does occur to us yes indeed we do need that environment but in the ordinary way we don’t feel it [Music] that is to say we don’t have a vivid sensation of belonging to our environment in the same way that we have a vivid station of a sensation of being an ego inside a bag of skin located mostly in the skull about halfway between the ears and a little way behind the eyes and it issues in these disastrous results of the ego which according to 19th century common sense feels that it is a fluke in nature and that if it does not fight nature it will not be able to maintain its status as intelligent fluke so the geneticists are now saying and many others are now saying that man must take the course of his evolution into his own hands he can no longer trust the wiggly random and uh unintelligible processes of nature to develop him any further but he must interfere with his own intelligence and through genetic alterations breed the kind of people who will be viable for human society and that sort of thing now this i submit is a ghastly error because human intelligence has a very serious limitation [Music] that limitation is that it is a scanning system of conscious attention which is linear that is to say it examines the world in lines rather as you would pass the beam of a flashlight across a room or spotlight that’s why our education takes so long it takes so long because we have to scan miles of lines of print and we regard that you see as basic information now the universe does not come at us in lines it comes at us in a multi-dimensional continuum in which everything is happening all together everywhere at once and it comes at us much too quickly [Music] to be translated into lines of print or of other information however fast they may be scanned and that is our limitation so far as the intellectual life the scientific life is concerned the computer will greatly speed up linear scanning but it’s still linear scanning and so long as we are stuck with that form of wisdom we cannot deal [Music] with more than a few variables at once now what do i mean by that what is a variable a variable is any one linear process let’s take music when you play a bach fugue and there are four parts to it you have four variables you have four moving lines and you can take care of that with two hands an organist using two feet can put in two more variables and have six going and you may realize if you’ve ever tried to play the organ that it’s quite difficult to make six independent motions go at once the average person cannot do that without training the average person cannot deal with more than three variables at once without using a pencil now when we study physics we are dealing with processes in which there are millions of variables this however we handle by statistics in the same way as insurance companies use actuarial tables to predict when most people will die if the average age of death is 65 however this prediction does not apply to any given individual any given individual will live to plus or minus 65 years [Music] and the range of difference may be very wide indeed of course but this is all right the 65 guess is all right when you’re doing large scale gambling that’s the way the physicist works in predicting the behavior of nuclear wavecles [Music] but the practical problems of human life deal with variables in the hundreds of thousands here’s just statistical methods are very poor and thinking it out by linear consideration is impossible with that equipment then we are proposing to interfere with our genes and with that equipment also be it said we are trying to solve our political economic and social problems [Music] and naturally everybody has the sense of total frustration and the individual feels what what on earth can i do we do not seem to know a way of calling upon our brains because our brains can handle an enormous number of variables that are not accessible to the process of conscious attention your brain is now handling your your total nervous system to be more accurate your blood chemistry the secretions from your glands the behavior of millions of cells it is doing all that without thinking about it that is to say without translating the processes it is handling into consciously reviewed words symbols or numbers now when i use the word thinking i mean precisely that process translating what is going on in nature into words symbols or numbers because both words and numbers are kinds of symbols symbols bear the same relation to the real world that money bears to wealth [Music] you cannot quench anybody’s thirst with the word water just as you cannot eat a dollar bill and derive nutrition but using symbols and using conscious intelligence scanning has proved very useful to us it has given us such technology as we have but at the same time it has proved too much of a good thing [Music] at the same time we’ve become so fascinated that we confuse the world as it is with the world as it is thought about talked about and figured about that is to say with the world as it is described [Music] and the difference between these two is vast and when we are not aware of ourselves except in a symbolic way we are not related to ourselves at all we are like people eating menus instead of dinners and that’s why we all feel psychologically frustrated so then we get back to the question of uh what do we mean by i well first of all obviously we mean our symbol of ourselves now ourselves in this case is the whole psychophysical organism conscious and unconscious plus its environment that’s your real self your real self in other words is the universe as centered on your organism that’s you you say let me just clarify that a little for one reason what you do is also a doing of your environment [Music] your behavior is its behavior as much as its behavior is your behavior its mutual we could say it is transactional you are not a puppet which your environment pushes around nor is the environment a puppet which you push around they go together they act together in the same way for example if i have a wheel one side of it going down is the same as the other side of it going up when you handle the steering wheel of a car are you pulling it or are you pushing it no you’re doing both aren’t you when you pull it down this side you are pushing it up that side it’s all one so there’s a push-pull between organism and in bond we are only rarely aware of this as when in curious alterations of consciousness which we call mystical experience cosmic consciousness an individual gets the feeling that everything that is happening is his own doing or the opposite of that feeling that he isn’t doing anything but that all his doings his decisions and so forth are happenings of nature you can feel it either way you can describe it in these two completely opposite ways but you’re talking about the same experience you’re talking about experiencing your own activity and the activity of nature as one single process [Music] and you can describe it as if you were omnipotent like god or as if it were completely deterministic and you hardly existed at all but remember both points of view are right we’ll see where that gets us but we don’t feel that do we ordinarily what we feel instead is an identification of ourselves with our idea of ourselves or i would rather say with our image of ourselves that’s the person or the ego you play a role you identify with that role i play a role it’s called alan watts and i know very well that that’s a big act [Music] i can play some other roles besides alan watts if necessary but i find that this one is better for making a living [Music] but i assure you it’s a mask and i don’t take it seriously i don’t know the idea of my being a kind of messiah or guru or savior of the world just breaks me up because i know me so i you know it’s very difficult to be holy in the ordinary sense so i know i’m not there but most of us are taught to think that we are whom we are called [Music] and when you’re a little child and you begin to learn a role and your parents and your peers approve of your being that they know who you are you’re predictable so you can be controlled but when you act out of role and you imitate some other child’s behavior everybody points the finger and says you’re not being true to yourself johnny that’s not you that’s peter so you learn to stay peter or to stay johnny but of course you’re not either because this is just the image of it it’s as much of you as you can get into your conscious attention which is precious little your image of yourself contains no information about how you structure your nervous system it contains no information about your blood chemistry it contains almost no information about the subtle influences of society upon your behavior it does not include the basic assumptions of your culture which are all taken for granted and unconscious you can’t find them out unless you study other cultures to see how their basic assumptions differ it includes all kinds of illusions that you’re completely unaware of as for example that time is real and that there is such a thing as the past [Music] which is pure hokum but nevertheless all these things are unconscious in us and they are not included in our image of ourselves nor of course included in our image of ourselves is there any information about our inseparable relationships with the whole natural universe so uh this is a very impoverished image when you ask a person what did you do yesterday they’ll give you a historical account of a certain number of events in which they participated a certain number of things which they saw used or were clobbered by but realize at once that this history leaves out most of what happened i in trying to describe what happens to me this evening will never be able to describe me because there are so many people here that if i were to talk about everyone whom i’ve seen what they were wearing what color their hair was what sort of expressions they had on their faces i would have to talk till doomsday so instead of this rich physical experience which is very rich indeed i have to attenuate it in memory and description say oh i met a lot of people in philadelphia and there were men and the women and lots of them were young and some of them were old the most utterly impoverished account of what went on so therefore in thinking of ourselves in this way what i did yesterday what i did the day before in terms of this stringy mangy account all i have is a caricature of myself and you know the caricaturist doesn’t draw you all in he just puts certain salient features whereby people will recognize it it’s not a skeleton so we can cons we are as if we’re conceiving ourselves as a bunch of skeletons they’ve got no flesh on just a bunch of bones and no wonder we all feel inadequate we’re all looking for something to the future to bring us the goodies we know we ought to have there’s a golden goodie at the end of the line somewhere there’s a good time coming be it ever so way far away that one far off divine event which all creation moves [Music] and therefore we say of something that’s no good it has no future i would say it has no present but everybody says it has no future [Music] now [Music] here we are as it were psychically starved [Music] and always therefore looking for looking seeking seeking thinking and this confused seeking is going on everywhere we don’t know what we want nobody knows what they want we say yes we think of what we want in vague terms pleasure money wealth love [Music] um fulfillment personal development but we don’t know what we mean by all that the person really sits down to figure out write a long essay 20 pages on your idea of heaven it’ll be a sorry production you can see it already in medieval art whether it depictions of heaven and hell hell is always much better than heaven although it’s uncomfortable it’s a sado masochistic orgy wow you know hell is really rip roaring whereas all the saints in heaven are sitting you know very very smug and demure like they were in church and you see also the the multitudes of the saved instead of this writhing wormy thing you can see all their heads which the artist has drawn to abbreviate them just the tops of their heads in masses they look like cobblestone street flattened out so what has happened then is this that our eye [Music] is an illusion it’s an image and it is no more ourself than an idol is the godhead but we say it can’t be so because i feel i really exist it isn’t just an idea in my head it’s a feeling i feel me but what is it that you feel when you feel i [Music] well i is it that you feel when you feel i i’ll tell you what do you do when somebody says pay attention what is uh the difference between looking at something and taking a hard look at it or between hearing something and listening intently what’s the difference what’s the difference between waiting while something goes on and enduring it why the difference is this that when you pay attention instead of just looking you screw up your face you frown and stare that is a muscular activity around here when you will you grit your teeth or clench your fists when you endure or control yourself you pull yourself together physically and therefore you get uptight you hold your breath you do all kinds of muscular things to control the functioning of your nervous system and none of them have the slightest effect on the proper operation of the nervous system if you stare at things you will rather fuzz the image than see them clearly if you listen intently by concentrating on muscles around the ears you will be so much attending to muscles here that you won’t hear things properly you may get singing in the ears if you tighten up with your body to pull yourself together all you do is constrict yourself i remember in school i sat next to a boy who had great difficulty in learning to read and what they always say to children is try if you can’t do something you must try so the boy tries and what have you done when he’s trying to get out words he grunts and groans as if he were lifting weights and the teacher is impressed the boy is really trying gives him b for effort oh he’s doing it [Music] has nothing to do with it now we all make this muscular strain with the thought that it’s achieving psychological results the sort of psychological results it’s intended to achieve now all this amounts to is this like you’re taking off in a jet plane you’ve got a mile down the runway and the thing isn’t up in the air yet you get nervous so you start pulling at your seatbelt that’s what it is [Music] now that is a chronic feeling we have it in us all the time and it corresponds to the word eye that’s what you feel when you say i you feel that chronic tension because when an organ is working properly you don’t feel it if you see your eye you’ve got cataract if you hear your ears you got singing in your ears you know getting in the way of hearing when you are fully functioning you are unaware of the organ when you’re thinking clearly your brain isn’t getting in your way actually of course you are seeing your eyes in the sense that everything you see out in front of you is a condition in the optic nerves of the back of the skull that’s where you’re aware of all this but you’re not aware of the eye as the eye i’m talking about the optical eye so when we are aware of the ego eye we are aware of this chronic tension inside ourselves and that’s not us it’s a futile tension so when we get the illusion the image of ourselves married to a futile tension you’ve got an illusion married to a futility and then you wonder why i can’t do anything [Music] why i feel in the face of all the problems of the world impotent and why i somehow cannot manage to transform i now here we get to the real problem because we’re always telling each other that we should be different i’m not going to tell you that tonight why not because i know you can [Music] nor can i that may sound depressing but i’ll show you it is it’s very heartening but everybody you see who is at all sensitive and awake to their own problems and human problems is trying to change himself we know we can’t change the world unless we change ourselves if we are all individually selfish we’re going to be collectively selfish if we don’t really love people and only pretend to somehow we’ve got to find a way to love after all it’s said in the bible thou shalt love the lord thy god and your neighbor as yourself you must love yeah we all agree sure but we don’t [Music] in fact one psychologist very smartly asked a patient with whom are you in love against [Music] and this this particularly becomes appalling when we enter into the realm of higher things by which i mean spiritual development everybody these days is interested in spiritual development and uh wisely because we want to change our consciousness many people are well aware that this ego centric consciousness is a hallucination [Music] and that they presume it’s the function of religion to change it because that’s what the zen buddhists and yogis and all these people in the orient are doing they are changing their state of consciousness to get something called satori or mystical experience or nirvana or moksha or what have you and everybody around here is really enthused about that because you don’t get that in church i mean there have been christian mystics but the church has been very quiet about them then the average church all you get is talk there’s no meditation no spiritual discipline they tell god what to do interminably as if he didn’t know and then they tell the people what to do as if they could or even wanted to then they sing religious nursery rhymes [Music] and then to to cap it all the roman catholic church which did at least have an unintelligible service which was [Music] which is you know it was real mysterious and suggested vast magic going on they went and put the thing into bad english [Music] and they took away incense and they took away they became a bunch of protestants the thing was terrible so now all these catholics are at loose ends this clear booth loose put it out to be a pun but she said you know it’s no longer possible to practice contemplative prayer at mass because you’re being advised exhorted edified all the time and it becomes a ball thing of god listening to all those prayers i mean do have i mean talking about grieving the holy spirit it’s just awful people have no consideration for god at all [Music] so but in in pursuing these spiritual disciplines yoga and zen and so forth and also psychotherapy there comes up a big difficulty and the big difficulty is this i want to find a method whereby i can change my consciousness [Music] but the therefore to improve myself but the the self that needs to be improved is the one that is doing the improving [Music] and so i’m rather stuck i find out the reason that i think i believe say in god is that i sure hope that somehow god will rescue me other words i want to hang on to my own existence and i feel rather shaky about doing that for myself but i just hope there’s a god who’ll take care of it or if i could be loving i would have a better opinion of myself [Music] i’d feel better about it i could face myself as people say if i were more loving so the unloving me somehow by some gimmickry has to turn itself into a loving me and this is just like trying to lift yourself off the ground with your own bootstraps it can’t be done and that’s why religion in practice mainly produces hypocrisy and guilt because of the constant failure of these enterprises how people go and study zen [Music] and they come back and say wow getting rid of your ego is a superhuman task i assure you it’s going to be very very difficult to get rid of your ego you’re going to have to sit for a long time and you’re going to get the sorest it’s legs work all you wretched kids who think you’re getting rid of your ego one part or something or other and uh easy yoga you don’t know what you’re in for when it really comes down to the nitty-gritty you know the biggest ego trip going is getting rid of your ego [Music] and the joke of it all is your eco doesn’t exist there’s nothing to get rid of it’s an illusion as i tried to explain but you still want to ask how to stop the illusion so who’s asking i mean do you think in the ordinary sense in which you use the word i how can i stop identifying myself with the wrong me well the answer is simply you can’t [Music] now the christians put this in their way when they say that mystical experience is a gift of divine grace man as such cannot achieve this experience it is a gift of god and if god doesn’t give it to you there’s no way of getting it now that is solidly true [Music] you can’t do anything about it because you don’t exist [Music] you say that’s pretty depressing news but the whole point is it isn’t depressing news it is the joyous news there’s a zen poem which puts it like this talking about it it means the mystical experience satori the realization that you are the eternal energy of the universe like jesus did it says like this you cannot catch hold of it nor can you get rid of it in not being able to get it you get it when you speak it’s silence you’re silent [Music] now in not being able to get it you get it because this whole feeling what krishna murthy is trying to explain to people for example when he says why do you ask for a method there is no method all methods are simply um gimmicks for strengthening your ego so how do we not do that he says you’re still asking for a method there is no method if you really understand what your eye is you will see there is no method this is so so sad but it’s not this is the gospel the good news because if you cannot achieve it if you cannot transform yourself that means that the main obstacle to mystical vision has collapsed [Music] that was you what happens you can’t do anything about it you’re at your wits end what are you gonna do commit suicide well supposing you just put that off for a little while wait and see what happens you can’t [Music] control your thoughts you can’t control your feelings because there is no controller you are your thoughts and your feelings they’re running along running along running along just sit and watch them here they go you’re still breathing aren’t you still growing your hair still seeing and hearing are you doing that i mean is is breathing something that you do do you see i mean do you organize the operations of your eyes know exactly how to work those rods and cones in the retina do you do that [Music] it’s a happening it happens so you can feel all this happening your breathing is happening your thinking is happening your feeling is happening you’re hearing you’re seeing the clouds are happening across the sky the sky is happening blue the sun is happening shining [Music] there it is all this happening and may i introduce you this is yourself this begins to be a vision of who you really are that’s the way you function you function by happening that is to say by spontaneous occurrence and this is not a state of affairs that you should realize i cannot possibly preach it to you because the minute you start thinking i should understand that this is the stupid notion again of i should bring it about when there is no you to bring it about if that’s why i’m not preaching you can only preach to egos all i can do is to talk about what is it amuses me to talk about what is because it’s wonderful i love it therefore i like to talk if i get paid for it then i make my living sensible people get paid for doing what they enjoy doing so this is not on a you see this is the whole approach is not to convert you not to make you over not to improve you but for you to discover that if you really knew the way you are things would be would be sane but you see you can’t do that you can’t make that discovery because you’re in your own way so long as you think i’m i so long as that hallucination blocks it and the hallucination disappears only in the realization of its own futility [Music] when at last you see you can’t do it you cannot make yourself over you cannot really control your own mind see when we try to control the mind a lot of yoga teachers try to get you to control your own mind mainly to prove to you that you can’t do it [Music] there’s nothing you know a fool who persists in his folly will become wise so they what they do is they speed up the folly [Music] and so you get concentrating [Music] and you can have a certain amount of superficial and initial success by a process commonly called self-hypnosis and you can think you’re making progress [Music] and a good teacher will let you go along that way for a while until he really throws you with one why are you concentrating see buddhism works this way buddha said if you suffer you suffer because you desire your desires are either unattainable or always being disappointed or something so cut out desire so those disciples went away and they stamped on desire jumped on desire cut the throat of desire and throughout desire then they came back and buddha said but you’re still desiring not to desire [Music] and they wonder how to get rid of that so when you see that that’s nonsense there naturally comes over you a quietness in seeing that you cannot control your mind you realize there is no control [Music] what you took to be the thinker of thoughts is just one of the thoughts what you took to be the feeler of the feelings which was that chronic muscular strain is just one of the feelings what you took to be the experience of experience is just part of the experience so there isn’t any thinker of thoughts feeler of feelings we get into that bind because we have a grammatical rule that verbs have to have subjects [Music] and the funny thing about that is that verbs are processes and subjects and nouns which are supposed to be things how does a noun start a verb how does the thing put a process into action obviously it can’t but we always insist that there is this subject called the noah and without a noah there can’t be knowing well that’s just a grammatical rule it isn’t a rule of nature in nature there’s just knowing like you’re feeling it and i have to say you are feeling it as if you were somehow different from the feeling when i say i am feeling what i mean is there is feeling here when i say you are feeling i mean there is feeling there i have to say even there is feeling what a compass and language we have chinese is easier you don’t have to put all that in or you can say things twice as fast in chinese as you can in any other language well anyway when you come to see that you can do nothing that the play of thought of feeling etc just goes on by itself as a [Music] happening then you are in a state which we will call meditation and slowly without being pushed your thoughts will come to silence that is to say all the verbal symbolic chatter going on in the skull don’t try and get rid of it because that will again produce the illusion that there’s a controller just it goes on it goes on it goes on finally it gets tired of itself and bored and stops [Music] and so then there’s a silence and this is a deeper level of meditation and in that silence you suddenly begin to see the world as it is [Music] and you don’t see any past [Music] you don’t see any future you don’t see any difference between yourself and the rest of it that’s just an idea you can’t put your hand on the difference between myself and you you know you can’t blow it you can’t bounce it you can’t pull it it’s just an idea [Music] you can’t find any material body because material body is an idea so is spiritual body somebody’s philosophical notions see reality isn’t material that’s an idea reality isn’t spiritual that’s an idea reality is [Music] so we find if i’ve got to put it back into words that we live in an eternal now you’ve got all the time in the world because you’ve got all the time there is which is now and uh you are this universe and you feel the strange feeling when when ideas don’t define the differences you feel that other people’s doings are your doings that makes it very difficult to blame other people if you’re not sophisticated theologically you may of course run screaming in the streets and say that you’re god in a way that’s what happened to jesus because he wasn’t sophisticated theologically he only had old testament biblical theology behind him if he’d had hindu theology he could have put it more subtly but it was only that rather primitive theology of the old testament and that was the conception of god as a monarchical boss and you can’t go around and say i’m the boss’s son if you’re going to say i’m god you must allow it for everyone else too [Music] but this was a heretical idea from the point of view of hebrew theology so what they did with jesus was they pedestalized him that means kicked him upstairs so that he wouldn’t be able to influence anyone else and only you may be god and um that stopped the gospel cold right at the beginning it couldn’t spread well anyway [Music] this is therefore to say that the transformation of human consciousness through meditation is frustrated so long as we think of it in terms of something that i myself can bring about by some kind of angle by some sort of gimmick because you see that leads to endless games of spiritual one-on-one and of guru competitions of my guru is more effective than your guru my yoga serve faster than your yoga i’m more aware of myself than you are i’m humbler than you are i’m sorry for my sins than you are i love you more than you love me it is interminable goings-on about which people fight and wonder whether they are a little bit more evolved than somebody else and so on all that can just fall away and then we get this strange feeling that we have never had to see in our lives except occasionally by accident some people get a glimpse that we are no longer this poor little stranger and afraid in a world it never made but that you are this universe and you are creating it at every moment because you see it starts now it didn’t begin in the past there was no past see if the universe began in the past when that happened it was now see but it’s still now and the universe is still beginning now and it’s trailing off like the wake of a ship from now the wake of the ship fades out so does the past you can look back there to explain things but the explanation disappears never find it there things are not explained by the past they’re explained by what happens now that creates the past it begins here that’s the birth of responsibility because otherwise you can always look over your shoulder and say well i’m the way i am because my mother dropped me and she dropped me because she was neurotic because her mother dropped her away we go back to adam and eve or to a disappearing monkey or something we never get at it but in this way you’re faced with it you’re doing all this that’s an extraordinary shock so cheer up you can’t blame anyone else for the kind of world you’re in and if you know you see that i in the sense of the person the front the ego really doesn’t exist then it won’t go to your head too badly if you wake up and discover that you’re god it’s very commonly said that the root of most human unhappiness is the sense that one’s life has no meaning this is i suppose most frequently said in circles interested in psychotherapy because the feeling of meaninglessness is often equated with the existence of neurosis and so many activities into which one is encouraged to enter philosophies one is encouraged to believe and religions one is encouraged to join [Music] are commended on the on the basis of the fact that they give life a meaning and i think it’s very fascinating to think of what this idea itself means or what it is intended when it’s said that uh life has to have a purpose i remember so well as a child listening to sermons in church in which the preacher would constantly refer to god’s purpose for you and for me and i could never make out what it was because when questioned about this the reverend gentleman seemed to be evasive what is the purpose of god for the world we used to sing a hymn too god is working his purpose out his ear succeeds the year and uh the nearest clue one got to it was in the sort of um refrain of the hymn nearer and nearer draws the time the time that shall surely be when the earth shall be filled with the glory of god as the waters cover the sea and of course that raises the question what is the glory of god [Music] well now it’s pretty obvious i think that when we talk about life having or not having a meaning we’re not using quite the ordinary sense of the word meaning as the attribute of a sign we’re not saying are we that we expect this natural universe to behave as if it were a collection of words signifying something other than themselves [Music] it isn’t a point of view which would reduce [Music] our lives in the world merely to the status of signs and it’s obviously in some different sense than that that goethe wrote his famous lines at the end of faust allah’s fair game forgive my pronunciation of german all that is mortal or all that is perishable is but a symbol [Music] and so a symbol of what [Music] what do we want to feel what would satisfy us as being the meaning behind this world it’s so often you know that we don’t follow our ideas and our desires through most of the things that we want very fervently are things that we’ve only half glimpsed our ideals are very often suggestions hints and we don’t know really exactly what we mean when we think about it [Music] but there is this obscure sense in which we feel that life ought to have significance and be a symbol in at least that sense if not just so uh buried a symbol as a mere sign or it also may mean that life is meaningful an individual feels that his life amounts to something when he belongs and fits in with the execution of some uh group enterprise he feels he belongs in a plan and this too seems to give people a sense of great satisfaction but we have to pursue that question further too why is it that a plan why is it that a fellowship with other people gives the sense of meaning does it come down perhaps to another sense of meaning that life is felt to be meaningful when one is fully satisfying one’s biological urges [Music] uh including uh the sense of hunger sense of love the sense of uh self-expression in activity and so on but then again we have to push that inquiry further what do our biological urges really point towards are they just however things always projected towards a future this biology and its uh process is nothing but going on towards going on towards going on or there’s a fourth and more theological sense of the meaning of life in all theistic religions at any rate the meaning of life is god himself in other words all this world means a person it means a heart it means an intelligence and the relationship of love between god and man is the meaning of the world the sight of god is the glory of god and so on but again here there’s something to be further pursued what is it that we want [Music] in love with a person and even a person in the sense of the lord god what is the content of it what is it that we are really yearning after well now if we go back to the first point taking goethe’s words that all that is transitory is but a symbol and that we want to feel that all things have significance it does seem to me that there’s a sense in which we often use the word significance where the word seems to be chosen quite uh naturally and yet at the same time it’s not quite the right word we say for example often of music but we feel it to be significant when just at the same time we don’t mean that it expresses some particular kind of concretely realizable emotion and suddenly it’s not imitating the noises of nature the program music you know would simply uh imitate something else and it deliberately sets out to express sadness or joy or whatever uh is not the kind of thing i mean so often when one listens to the beautiful arabesque character of the baroque composers vivaldi [Music] it is felt to be significant not because it means something other than itself but because it is so satisfying as it is and we use then this word significance so often in those moments when uh our impetuous seeking for fulfillment cools down and we give ourselves a little space to watch things as if they were worth watching ordinary things and in those moments when our inner turmoil has really quietened [Music] we find significance in things that we wouldn’t expect to find significant at all i mean this is after all the art of those photographers who have such genius in turning the camera towards such things as peeling paint on an old door [Music] or mud and sand and stones on a dirt road and showing us there that if we look at it in a certain way those things are significant but we can’t say significant of what so much as significant of themselves or perhaps the significance then is the quality of a state of mind in which we notice [Music] that we’re overlooking the significance of the world by our constant quest for it later [Music] all this language is of course quite naturally vague and imprecise because i think the wrong word is used and yet not entirely the wrong word because as i said it comes so naturally to us uh it was clive bell the great aesthetician who wanted to say that all the characteristic of art especially the characteristic of um aesthetic success in painting was the creation of significant form again a very vague imprecise expression but it certainly is an attribute not only of those moments in which we are tranquil inside but also of moments of deep spiritual experience of what would be called a moksha or release in hinduism or satori in zen that in those moments the significance of the world seems to be the world seems to be what is going on now and we don’t look any further the scheme of things seems to justify itself at every moment of its unfoldment i pointed out that this was particularly a characteristic of music it’s also a characteristic of dancing and in the sensation of belonging with one’s fellow man in the carrying out of some significant pattern of life uh which i mentioned was a second sense of the world being meaningful again the character of this feeling is again something that is fulfilled in itself to dance is not to be going anywhere when we dance in the ballroom we don’t have a destination we’re just going around the room [Music] and it’s in doing this it’s in executing the pattern in singing the music with other people that even though this doesn’t point to anything outside itself we again get the sense of meaning and this is also obviously the case so often in the satisfaction of the biological urges does one live to eat or eat to live i’m not at all sure about this i’m sure i very often live to eat because uh sitting around a table with people i don’t like eating alone and uh enjoying food is absolutely delightful and uh we’re not thinking when we do this at least certainly i’m not that we have to eat because it’s good for us and we’ve got to throw something down the hatch as henry miller said and swallow a dozen vitamins uh just because uh our system needs nourishment i remember quite recently there was an article in the consumer reports about bread and uh there have been some correspondence and protests saying that the bread one bought white bread one buys in the stores is uh perfectly inedible and lacking in nutrition and that is much better to eat peasant type breads rough pumpernickel and things of that kind and the experts replied that uh our white bread is perfectly full of good nutrients and uh there’s nothing really the matter with it at all well i felt like saying it doesn’t matter perhaps of the bread being deficient in the essential vitamins bread isn’t medicine it’s food and one’s complaint against it is that it’s bad cookery it tastes of nothing and uh we do tend don’t we to look upon food so often for what it will do for us rather than the delight of eating it but if the satisfaction of biological urges is to mean anything surely the point of these urges is not the fatuous one of mere survival of we might say the the point of the individual is simply that he contributes to the to the welfare of the race and the point of the race is that it reproduces itself to reproduce itself to reproduce itself and keep going and that isn’t really a point at all that’s just fatuous surely [Music] the race keeps going because going is great because it’s fun and if it isn’t and never will be then there’s no point obviously in going i mean looking at it from the most hedonistic standpoint but then when we come to the question what is fun what is the joy of it again we come down to something that can’t very well be explained in the ordinary language of meaning of leading to something else [Music] and this i think becomes preeminently true if we think of it in theological language that the meaning of life is god in any of the theistic religions what is god doing what is the meaning of god why does he create the universe what is the content of the love of god for his creation well there’s the frank answer of the hindus that the godhead manifests the world because of leela which is the sanskrit word for play and this is likewise said in the uh in the hebrew scriptures or the christian old testament in the book of proverbs where there is a marvelous speech by the divine wisdom sophia [Music] which in describing the function of the divine wisdom in the creation of the world the world in other words is a manifestation of the wisdom of god a wisdom uses the phrase that in uh producing men and animals and all the creatures of the earth wisdom is playing and it was the delight of wisdom to play before the presence of god the wisdom of god a wisdom uses the phrase that in uh producing men and animals and all the creatures of the earth wisdom is playing and it was the the delight of wisdom to play before the presence of god and when it is likewise said in the scriptures that the lord god created the world for his pleasure uh this again means in a sense for play and certainly this seems to be what the angels in heaven are doing according to the traditional uh symbolic descriptions of heaven they are as ringed around the presence of the almighty calling out alleluia alleluia alleluia through all eternity well alleluia may have meant something originally but as it’s used now it doesn’t mean anything except uh well in our own slang be it’s a an exclamation of nonsensical delight and it was dante in the paradiso who described the song of the angels as the laughter of the universe and this sense of nonsense as the theme of the divine activity comes out also very strongly in the book of job i always think that the book of job is the most profound book in the whole bible old testament and new testament because here is the problem of the man the righteous man who has suffered and uh all his friends try to rationalize it and say well you must have suffered because you really had a secret sin after all and deserve the punishment of god or because rationalize it somehow and when they’ve had their say the lord god appears on the scene and says who is this the darkeneth counsel with words without knowledge and then proceeds to ask jobe and his friends a series of absolutely unanswerable conundrums pointing out all the apparent irrationality and nonsense of his creation why for example he said do i send rain upon the desert where no man is [Music] most commentators on the book of job end with the remark that well this poses the problem of suffering in the problem of evil but doesn’t really answer it and yet in the end himself job seems to be satisfied uh he somehow surrenders to the apparent unreasonableness of the lord god and this is not i think because job is beaten down that he’s unduly impressed with the [Music] royal monarchical and paternalistic authority of the deity and doesn’t dare to answer back [Music] he realizes that somehow these very questions are the answer [Music] i think of all the commentators on the book of job the person who came closest to this point was old pk chesterton he once made the glorious remark that it is one thing to look with amazement not a gorgon or a griffin a creature who doesn’t exist but quite another thing to look at a hippopotamus a creature who does exist and looks as if he doesn’t in other words that all these this strange world with its weird forms like hippopotami and when you look at them from a certain point of view stones and trees and water and clouds and stars will you look at them from a certain point of view don’t take them for granted they are as weird as any hippopotamus or any imagination of fabulous beasts of gorgons and griffins and things like that they are just plain improbable and it is in this sense i think that they are the alleluia as it were the nonsense song why do we love nonsense why do we love lewis carroll with his it was brilliant and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wave all mimsy with the borogroves and the mom wraths outgrabe why is it that um all those old english songs are full of foldy riddle ido and hainani nani and all those babbling choruses why is it that when we get help with jazz we just go booty booty boo and so on and enjoy ourselves swinging it it is this participation in the essential glorious nonsense that is at the heart of the world that isn’t going anywhere that is a dance but it seems that only in moments of unusual insight and illumination that we get the point of this and find that thus the true meaning of life is no meaning that its purpose is no purpose and that it senses nonsense [Music] but still we want to use about it the word significant significant nonsense yes nonsense that is not just chaos that is not just blathering balderdash [Music] but that has in it rhythm fascinating complexity a kind of artistry [Music] it is in this kind of meaninglessness that we get the profoundest meaning it’s really a very unorthodox and unacademic thing to do to start a discussion with a group of psychologists on the subject of metaphysics but we have to do that because a lot of people say that their approach to life is scientific as distinct from metaphysical and that metaphysics is bosch anyway but everybody by virtue of being a human being is really nearly a metaphysician that is to say everybody starts from certain fundamental assumptions as to what is the good life what he wants what are his uh shall we say axioms for living and i find that psychologists tend to be blind to these fundamental assumptions [Music] maybe it’s truer of psychiatrists than it is of psychologists but they tend to feel that they are scientists they’re rather bending over backwards to have a scientific status because that of course is fashionable in our age [Music] but you know it’s so amusing that when say let’s take psychoanalysis for example has pointed out to many philosophers that their philosophical ideas [Music] are capable of being shown to have a psychoanalytic reference for example john wisdom wrote a book about the philosophy of berkeley in which he attributed a great deal of his point of view to his experiences in toilet training as a child the philosopher is very grateful to the psychoanalyst for revealing to him his unconscious and its emotional contents but the psychoanalyst must in turn await the revelation from the philosopher as to his philosophical unconscious and the unexamined assumptions which lie in it so if i may start by insulting your intelligence with what is called the most elementary lesson the thing that we should have learned before we learned 123 and abc that somehow was overlooked [Music] now this lesson is quite simply this that any experience that we have through our senses whether of sound or of light or of touch [Music] is a vibration and a vibration has two aspects one called on and the other called off vibration is seems to be propagated in waves and every wave system has crests and it has troughs [Music] and so life is a system of now you see it now you don’t and these two aspects always go together for example sound is not pure sound it is a rapid alternation of sound and silence and that’s simply the way things are only you must remember that the crest and the trough of a wave are inseparable nobody ever saw crests without troughs or troughs without breasts just as you don’t encounter in life people with fronts but no bags just as you don’t encounter a coin that has the heads but no tails and although the heads and the tails the fronts and the backs the positives and the negatives are different they’re at the same time one and one has to get used fundamentally to the notion that different things can be inseparable that what is explicitly true can at the same time be implicitly one if you forget that very funny things happen if therefore we forget you see that black and white are inseparable and that existence is constituted equivalently by being and non-being then we get scared [Music] and we have to play a game called oh oh black might win and once we get into the fear that black the negative side might win we are compelled to play the game but white must win and from that start all our troubles because you see the human awareness is a very odd mechanism i don’t think mechanism is quite the right word but it’ll do for the moment that is to say we have as a species specialized in a certain kind of awareness which we call conscious attention [Music] and by this we have the faculty of examining the details of life very closely we can restrict our gaze and it corresponds somewhat to the peripheral field i mean the central field of vision in the eyes we have central vision we have peripheral vision central vision is that which we use for reading for all sorts of close work it’s like using a spotlight whereas peripheral vision is more like using a floodlight our civilization and civilized human beings for maybe five thousand years maybe much longer have learned to specialize in concentrated attention even if a person’s attention span is short he is as it were wavering his spotlight over many fields the price which we pay for specialization in conscious attention is ignorance of everything outside its field i would rather say ignorance than ignorance [Music] because if you concentrate on a figure you tend to ignore the background you tend therefore to see the world in a disintegrated aspect you take separate things and events seriously imagining that these really do exist when actually they have the same kind of existence as an individual’s interpretation of the rorschach plot they’re what you make out in fact our physical world is a system of inseparable differences everything exists with everything else but we contrive not to notice that because what we notice is what is noteworthy [Music] and we notice it in terms of notations numbers words images what is notable noteworthy notated noticed is what appears to us to be significant and the rest is ignored as insignificant and as a result of that we select from the total input that goes to our senses only a very small fraction and this causes us to believe that we are separate beings isolated by the boundary of the epidermis from the rest of the world [Music] you see this is also the mechanism involved in not noticing that black and white go together not noticing that every inside has an outside but the inside what’s inside goes on inside your skin is inseparable from what goes on outside your skin [Music] you see that for example in the science of ecology one learns that a human being is not an organism in an environment but is an organism hyphen environment that is to say a unified field of behavior if you describe carefully the behavior of any organism you cannot do so without at the same time describing the behavior of the environment and by that you know that you’ve got a new entity of study you are describing the behavior of a unified field you must be very careful indeed not to fall into old newtonian assumptions about the billiard ball nature of the universe the organism is not the puppet of the environment being pushed around by it nor on the other hand is the environment the puppet of the organism being pushed around by the organism the relationship between them is to use john dewey’s word transaction [Music] the transaction being a situation like buying and selling in which there is no buying unless somebody sells and no selling unless somebody buys [Music] so that fundamental relationship between ourselves and the world which is in an old-fashioned way by people such as skinner who have who has not updated his philosophy interpreted in terms of newtonian mechanics he interprets the organism as something determined by the total environment he doesn’t see that in a more modern way of talking about it we’re simply describing a unified field of behavior [Music] which is nothing more than what any mystic ever said that’s a dirty word uh in the modern academic scientific environment but um if a mystic is one who is sensibly or even sensuously aware of his inseparability as an individual from the total existing universe he’s simply a person who has become sensible aware through his senses of the way ecologists see the world so when i’m in academic circles i don’t talk about mystical experience i talk about ecological awareness senses and uh so the next aspect of our metaphysical introduction must be about games you know i think there are really four questions that all philosophers have discussed from the beginning of recorded time first is who started it [Music] the second is are we going to make it the third is where are we going to put it and the fourth is who’s going to clean up when you think these over it poses a fifth question is it serious and that’s the one i want to discuss [Music] is existence serious like you said doctor um after he’s looked at your x-ray picture is it serious what does that mean means am i in danger of not continuing to survive the question is ought i to continue to survive in other words must i survive [Music] if life is serious then of course i must survive if it is not serious it really doesn’t matter whether i do or i don’t [Music] now in western culture it is practically a basic assumption that existence is serious this is particular particularly true among people who call themselves existentialists when they talk about a person who exists authentically they mean that he takes his life seriously and other people’s lives seriously but the poet and sas g.k chesterton once observed that the angels fly because they take themselves lightly [Music] and if i may venture into mythology if the angels take themselves lightly how much more so the lord of the angels [Music] but you see we have been brought up in a mythological context where the lord god definitely does take himself seriously and is indeed the serious person so that when we go into church laughter is discouraged in the same way as it’s discouraged in court this is a serious matter and everybody has to have the right expression on their faces [Music] because this is the great great authority figure this is grandpa [Music] and we don’t realize that he has a twinkle in his eye [Music] but the basis of it all is there if we say you must survive or i must survive life is earnest and i’ve got to go on then your life is a drag and not a game now it’s my contention my personal opinion this is my basic metaphysical axiom shall we put it that way the existence the physical universe is basically playful [Music] there is no necessity for it whatsoever it isn’t going anywhere that is to say it doesn’t have some destination that it ought to arrive at but but it is best understood by analogy with music [Music] because music as an art form is essentially playful we say you play the piano you don’t work the piano why music differs from say travel when you travel you are trying to get somewhere and of course we because being a very compulsive and purposive culture are busy getting everywhere faster and faster and faster till we eliminate the distance between places i mean with the modern jet travel you can arrive almost instantaneously what happens as a result of that is that the two ends of your journey become the same place so you eliminate the distance you eliminate the journey because the fun of the journey is to travel not to obliterate travel so then in music though one doesn’t make the end of a composition the point of the company of the composition if that was so the best conductors would be those who played fastest and there would be composers who wrote only finalists people go to con just here one crashing chord because that’s the end say when dancing you don’t aim at a particular spot in the room that’s where you should arrive the whole point of the dancing is without now but we don’t see that as uh something brought by our education into our everyday conduct we’ve got a system of schooling which gives a completely different impression it’s all graded and what we do is we put the child into the corridor of this grade system with a kind of come on kitty kitty kitty and yeah you go to kindergarten you know that’s a great thing because when you finish that you’ll get into first grade and then come on first grade leads the second grade and so on and then you get out of grade school you’ve got high school and it’s revving up the thing is coming then you’re going to go to college and buy a job then you get into graduate school and when you’re through with graduate school you go out to join the world then you get into some racket where you’re selling insurance and they’ve got that quota to make and you’re going to make that and all the time the thing is coming it’s coming it’s coming that great thing the success you’re working for then when you wake up one day about 40 years old you say my god i’ve arrived i’m there and you don’t feel very different from what you’ve always felt and there’s a slight letdown because you feel as a hoax and there was a hoax a dreadful hoax they made you miss everything by expectation look at the people who live to retire put those savings away and then when they’re 65 they don’t have any energy left they’re more or less impotent and they go with rotten and old people’s senior citizens community [Music] because we’ve simply cheated ourselves the whole way down the line we thought of life by analogy with a journey with a pilgrimage which had a serious purpose at the end but the thing was to get to that end success or whatever it is or maybe heaven after you’re dead [Music] but we missed the point the whole way along it was a musical thing and you were supposed to sing or dance while the music was being played but you had to do that you didn’t let it happen [Music] and so for this in this way the human being sometimes becomes an organism for self-frustration let’s take uh kojipski called man a time binder that means that he’s the animal peculiarly aware of the time sequence and as a result of this is able to do some very remarkable things he can predict he studies what’s happened in the past and he says the chances are so and so that happening again so he predicts the horse is very useful to be able to predict because that has survival value but at the same time it creates anxiety you pay for this increased survival ability involved in prediction by knowing that in the end you won’t succeed you’re all going to fall apart by one way or another it might happen tomorrow might happen 50 years from now but it all comes apart in the end when people get worried about that they get anxious so what they gained on the roundabout they lost on the swings [Music] so then if you see on the other hand that existence this is as i’ve said my basic metaphysical assumption which i won’t conceal from him that existence is musical in nature that is to say that it is not serious it is the play of all kinds of patterns we can look upon different creatures as we look at different games as we look at chess checkers backgammon tennis there’s the tree game the beatle game the grass game or you can look at them as you look at different styles of music berserkers uh sonata et cetera et cetera all down the line they’re all these different things doing their stuff and they’re going to do to do do do do do do do you know in different rhythms and we’re doing that if you were in a flying saucer from mars or somewhere and you came and looked trying to make out what was living on this world from about ten thousand feet at night or early morning you would see these great ganglia with tentacles going out all over the place and early in the morning you see little blobs of luminous particles going into the middle of them see then uh in the late afternoon or early evening it would spit them all out again and they say well this thing if things breathe and it does it in a special rhythm it goes in and out in and out in and out once every 24 hours but then it rests today and doesn’t spit so much it just spits in a different way that’s a kind of irregularity and then it starts spitting all over again the same way but i say that’s very interesting that’s the kind of thing we have see this is something that goes this way now existence you see is something that is spontaneous the chinese word for nature means that which happens of itself [Music] your hair grows by itself your heart beats by itself you breathe pretty much by itself your glands secrete their essences by themselves you don’t have voluntary control over these things so we say it happens spontaneously so when you go to sleep and you try to go to sleep you interfere with the spontaneous process of going to sleep try to breathe you know real hard and you find you get bald up in your breathing so uh if you you go to be human [Music] you just have to trust yourself to have bowel movements and go to sleep and digest your food uh of course if something goes seriously wrong and you need a surgeon that’s another matter but by and large uh the healthy human being doesn’t right from the start of life needs surgical interference and he lets it happen by him by itself though so with the whole picture that is fundamental you’ve got to let go and let it happen because if you don’t you’re going to be all clutched up you’re going to be constantly trying to do what can happen healthily only if you don’t try and when people uh when you think about what people really want to do with their time what do they do when they’re not being pushed around and somebody’s telling them what to do it like go they like to make rhythms they listen to music they dance and they sing or they do something algorithmic nature playing cards or bowling raising their elbows [Music] everybody wants to spend their time swinging [Music] that’s that’s the nature of this whole thing we’re in you see it like the swing that’s why it does it well now what i want to do is have a mutual brain picking session and i’m going to start the ball rolling by saying why i as a philosopher i’m interested in many things that you were all probably interested in professionally basically what we’re going to talk about i suppose is the problem of control as exemplified in the ancient latin question chris custodia custodials ipsos who guards the guards now we we know that we’re living in an age when uh there’s been an enormous proliferation of techniques before subjecting every kind of natural process outside the human skin and now increasingly inside the human skin to some form of rational control [Music] and as we succeed in doing this it also becomes apparent that we’ve we’re failing that the process becomes of such a high degree of complexity that we begin to feel that we’re standing in our own way [Music] that uh everybody complains the state of affairs in the modern world in the technological world is so complicated that nobody can understand it nobody really knows what to do that for example you want to run a small business and you find you run into such enormous legal hassles that you need so many secretaries to do the paperwork that you can hardly do the business that you’re trying to run a hospital but that you have to spend so much time making records and writing things down on paper that you don’t have much time to practice medicine that you’re trying to run a university and the requirements the recording the endless red tape of the registrar’s office of the administration building is such that the actual work of research and teaching is seriously hampered so the individual increasingly feels himself obstructed by his own cautiousness this is basically what it is now uh to explain myself first of all because most of you are strangers to me i am a philosopher who has for many years been interested in the mutual fructification of eastern cultures and western cultures studying oriental ideas uh not in the spirit of saying to the west you ought to be converted to oriental ideas but in the spirit of saying you don’t understand the basic assumptions of your own culture if your own culture is the only culture you know everybody operates on certain basic assumptions but very few people know what they are you can say uh very often encounter the sort of character who’s an american businessman and he says well i’m a practical businessman i believe in getting results and things done all this thinking and highfalutin logic and nonsense is of no concern to me now i know that the practical basic assumptions the metaphysics of that man can be defined as pragmatism as a school of philosophy but it’s bad pragmatism because he’s never thought it through [Music] and so uh it’s very difficult to see to get down to what are your basic assumptions what do you mean by the good life what do you mean by consistency what do you mean by rationality the only way of finding out what you mean by these things is by contrasting the way you look at something by the way it’s looked at in another culture and therefore we have to find cultures which are in some ways as sophisticated as our own but as different from our own as possible and of course for this purpose i always thought that the chinese were optimal and the indians the east indians [Music] and that by studying the ideas of these people by studying their life goals we could become more aware of our own it’s the old principle of triangulation you don’t uh establish the situation of a particular object unless you observe it from two particularly different points of view and thereby calculate its actual distance from you so by looking at what we are pleased to call reality physical world from this basic standpoints of different cultures i think we’re in a better position to know where we are and if we only have one single line of sight and therefore this has been my interest in my background and arising out of this there has come a further question which i would call the problems of human ecology uh how is man to be best related to his environment especially in circumstances where we are in possession of an extremely powerful technology and have therefore the capacity to change our environment uh far more than anyone else has ever been able to do so are we going to end up not by civilizing the world but by los angeles in other words are we going to foul our own nest as a result of technology but all this gets down to the basic question is really what are you going to do if you’re god if in other words you find yourself in charge of the world through technological powers and instead of leaving evolution [Music] to what we used to call in the 19th century the blind processes of nature that was begging the question to call them blind but at any rate we say we’re not going to leave evolution anymore to the blind forces of nature but now we’re going to direct it ourselves because we are increasingly developing say control over genetic systems control over the nervous system control over all kinds of systems uh then simply what do you want to do with it most people don’t know what they want and have never even seriously confronted the question of what they want you ask a group of students to sit down and write a solid paper of 20 pages on what is your idea of heaven what would you really like to happen if you could make it happen and that’s the first thing that starts people really thinking because you soon realize that a lot of the things you think you would want are not things you want at all supposing just for the sake of illustration you have the power to dream every night any dream you wanted to dream and you could of course arrange for one night of dreams to be uh 75 years of subjective time or any number of years of subjective time what would you do well of course you’d start out by fulfilling every wish you would have routes and forges and uh uh all the most magnificent food and uh sexual partners and everything you could possibly imagine in that direction when you got tired of that after several nights you would switch a bit and you’d soon find yourself involved in adventures and uh contemplating great works of art fantastic mathematical conceptions you would soon be rescuing princesses from dragons and all sorts of things like that and then one night would say now look tonight what we’re going to do is we’re going to forget this dream as a dream and we’re going to be really shocked and uh when you woke up from that one you’d say wasn’t that an adventure [Music] then you would think more and more far out ways to get involved and let go of control knowing that you’d always come back to center in the end but while you were involved in the dream you wouldn’t know you’d come you were going to come back to center be in control and so eventually you’d be dreaming a dream in which you found yourselves all sitting around in this room listening to me talking all involved with the particular life problems which you have and maybe that’s what you’re doing but here’s the difficulty the difficulty of control are you wise enough to play it being god and to understand what that question means we’ve got to go back to metaphysical assumptions underlying western common sense and whether you are a jew or a christian or an agnostic or an atheist you are not uninfluenced by the whole tradition of western culture the models of the universe which it is employed which influence our very language the structure of our thought the very constitution of logic [Music] which are going into say computers the western model of the universe is political and engineering or architectural it’s natural for a child to ask its mother how was i made it would be inconceivable for a chinese child to ask how was i made it might ask how was i grown or how did i grow but not how was i made as if i were an artifact something put together something which is a construct but all western thought is based on the idea that the universe was a construct and even when we got rid of the idea of the constructor the personal god uh we continued to think of the world in terms of the machine in terms say of newtonian mechanics and later in terms of what we call quantum mechanics although i find it rather difficult to understand how quantum theory is in any sense mechanics it’s it’s much more like organics which is to me a different concept however that may be it has percolated you see into the roots of our common sense that the world is a construct as an artifact and therefore as one understands the operations of the machine by analysis of its parts by separating into their original bits we have bitted the cosmos and see everything going on in terms of bits bits of information and have found that this is extremely fruitful in enabling us to control what’s happening after all the whole of western technology is the result of bidding let’s suppose you know you want to eat a chicken you can’t eat the whole chicken at once you have to bite it you have to reduce it to bits but you don’t get a cut-up fryer out of an egg it doesn’t come that way so what has happened is this that we don’t know the origins of all this it’s maybe go back thousands of years the way we develop the art of thinking which is essentially calculus is this the universe as it comes in nature the physical universe is something like a rorschach plot it’s all wiggles uh [Music] we who live in cities are not really used to this because we build everything in straight lines and rectangles and so on wherever you see this sort of thing you know human beings have been around because they’re always trying to straighten things out by nature itself it’s clouds it’s water it’s the outlines of continents it’s mountains is uh biological existences and all of them wiggle and wiggly things are too human consciousness a little bit of a nuisance because we want to figure it out and it is as if therefore some ancient fisherman one day held up his net looked at the world through the net he said my just think of that there i can see the view it’s one and that peak of that mountain is one two three four five six holes across the base is one two three four five holes down i’ve got its number see so the lines of latitude and longitude the lines of celestial and terrestrial latitude and longitude the whole idea of a matrix of a uh looking at things through graph paper painted on uh printed on cellophane is the basic idea of measurement this is the way we calculate we break down the wiggliness of the world into comprehensible countable geometrical units and thereby figurative and constructive in those terms and this is so successful up to a point that we can of course come to imagine that this is the way the physical world really is discrete discontinuous uh [Music] full of points in in fact a mechanism but i want to just put into your mind the notion that this may be the prejudice of a certain personality type you see in in the history of philosophy and poetry and art we always find the interchange of two personality types which i call prickles and goo the prickly people are um advocates of intellectual procurement uh they want a rigor they want precise statistics and they have a certain clipped attitude in their voices and you know this very well in academic circles where there are people who are always edgy like that and they accuse other people of being disgustingly vague and miasmic and mystical but the vague miasmic and mystical people accuse the prickly people of being mere skeletons with no flesh on their bones and they say to you you just rattle you’re not really a human being you know the words but you don’t know the music so therefore if you belong to the prickly type you hope that the ultimate constituent of matter is particles if you belong to the gui type you hope it’s waves if you uh prickly you’re a classicist and if you’re gooey you’re a romanticist and they’re going back into medieval philosophy if you’re prickly you’re a nominalist if you’re gooey you’re a realist and uh so it goes but we know very well that this natural universe is neither prickles nor goo exclusively it’s gooey prickles and prickly goo and uh you see it all depends on your level of magnification if you’ve got your magnification on something so that the focus is clear you’ve got a prickly point of view you’ve got structure shape clearly outlined sharply defined a little out of focus it’s going to go blue and you’ve got goo but we’re always playing with the two because it’s like the question is um is the world basically stuff like matter or is it basically structure well we find out of course today that in science we don’t consider the idea of matter of just end of there being some sort of stuff because supposing you wanted to describe stuff in what terms would you describe it you always have to describe it in terms of structure something countable something that can be designated as a pattern so we never get to any basic stuff [Music] it seems to me that this way of thinking is based on a form of consciousness which we could best call scanning the capacity to divide experiences into bits is somehow related to a physical facility which corresponds to sweeping a radar beam or a spotlight over the environment the advantage of the spotlight as it gives you intensely concentrated light on restricted areas [Music] a floodlight by comparison has less intensity but if you examine say this rumor in total darkness and you use the spotlight very thin beam and you scanned the room with it you would have to retain in memory all the areas over which it passed and then by an additive process you would make out the contours of the room [Music] and it seems to me that this is something in which civilized man both in the east and the west have specialized in a in a method of paying attention to things which we call noticing and therefore it’s highly selective it picks out its punctive it picks out features in the environment which we say are noteworthy and which we therefore register with a notation be it the notation of words the notation of numbers or such a notation says algebra or music [Music] so that we notice those things only those things for which we have notation when a child very often child will point at something and say to his parents what’s that [Music] and they’re not clear what the child is pointing to the child is pointed to something which we consider is not a thing the child is pointed to an area say of funny pattern on a dirty wall and has noticed a figure on it [Music] but the child doesn’t have a word for it and says what’s that and the adult says oh that’s just a mess because that doesn’t count for us as a thing [Music] so you come through this to the understanding what do you mean by a thing it’s very fascinating to ask children what do you mean by a thing and they don’t know because it’s one of the unexamined suppositions of the culture what do you mean by an event well everybody knows what an event is but nobody can say because a thing is a think it’s a unit of thought like an inch as a unit of measurement and so we thing the world that is to say in order to measure a curve you have to reduce it to point instance and apply the calculus so in exactly the same way in order to discuss or talk about the universe you have to reduce it to things but each thing or think is as it were one grasp of that spotlight [Music] like this you see so we reduce the infinite wiggliness of the world to grasps for bits we’re getting back to biting you see the idea of the teeth to grasps of thought and so we thereby describe the world in terms of things just as that fisherman could describe his view by the number of nether over through which the view was showing [Music] and this has been the immensely and apparently successful enterprise of all technological culture superbly emphasized by ourselves the western model of the universe is political and engineering or architectural and therefore as one understands the operations of the machine by analysis of its paths by separating them into their original bits we have bitted the cosmos and see everything going on in terms of bits bits of information and have found that this is extremely fruitful in enabling us to control what’s happening after all the whole of western technology is the result of bidding and so we thing the world that is to say in order to measure a curve you have to reduce it to point instance and apply the calculus so in exactly the same way in order to discuss or talk about the universe you have to reduce it to things but each thing or think is as it were one grasp of that spotlight going to turn like this you see so we reduce the infinite wiggliness of the world [Music] to grasps or bits we’re getting back to biting you see the idea of the teeth to grasps of thought [Music] and so we thereby describe the world in terms of things just as that fisherman could describe his view by the number of net whole over through which the view was shown but the problem that arises is is this first of all very obviously everybody knows how they need to mention it go to the science of medicine [Music] you get a specialist who really understands the function of the gallbladder and he studied gallbladders gallbladders gallbladders add infinity and he really thinks he knows all about it [Music] but whenever he looks at a human being he sees him in terms of gallbladder and so if he operates on the gallbladder he may do so very knowledgeably about that particular area of the organism but he does not foresee the unpredictable effects of this operation in other connected areas because the human being’s gallbladder is not a thing in the same way as the um a spark plug in a car can be extracted and a new one replaced [Music] because the system isn’t the same there is a fundamental difference between a mechanism and an organism which can be described operationally mechanism is assembled you add this bit to that bit to that bit of that bit but an organism grows that is to say when you watch in a microscope a solution in which crystals are forming you don’t see this thing of little bits coming in coming coming and joining each other and finally making up a shape you see a solution where well it’s like when you watch a photographic plate developing but suddenly all the whole area which you’re watching seems to organize itself to develop to make sense moving from the relatively simple and gooey to the relatively structured and prickly but not by addition so then if we are trying to control and understand the world through conscious attention which is a scanning system which takes in everything bit bit what we’re going to run into is that if that’s the only method we rely on everything is going to appear increasingly too complicated to manage so that you get for example uh let’s take the problem of the electronic industry the catalogs of products that are being produced over the world by the electronic industry who has read all the catalogs how do you know uh where you’ve got a something you’re working on whether it’s patented or not who else has taken out a pattern has anybody had time to read all the catalogs well nobody has they’re just voluminous and it’s exactly the same in almost any other field there’s an information explosion like a population explosion how on earth are you going to scan all that information yes of course you can get computers to help you in this direction but by parkinson’s law the sooner sooner you become more efficient in doing this uh the more the thing is going to develop so that you will have to have more efficient computers still to assimilate all the information you’ll be ahead but only for a short time so you see this is problem of uh the the sort of competition of consciousness of its how fast can you go and keep track of everything and say i’m a i’ve got a good memory i can keep track of that you say to you i bet you you can’t i’ll go more complicated than you let musicians do this we’re drummers and they get things going and they start and they and so long as they count and lots of musicians do count it’s crazy but they do and they can’t count count and they out complicate each other to the point where you can’t retain it any longer in memory so you say okay if i can’t retain it we’ve got this gadget here that can and we’ve got these um marvelous mechanical memories that they will retain they will go much more fancy they’ll go this duty-duty-duty at a colossal speed like that you see but it’s the same old problem because you’ve got something that cannot do that [Music] so we end up asking yeah [Music] yeah but supposing there were some other way of understanding things let’s go back from the spotlight to the floodlight to the extraordinary capacity of the human nervous system to comprehend situations instantaneously without analysis that is to say without verbal or numerical symbolism of the situation in order to understand it i hope you understand what i mean we do do that we have this curious ability of pattern recognition which uh the mechanical systems have only in a very primitive way xerox have put out a machine which recognizes figures uh written in almost anyone’s handwriting provided their handwriting is fairly uh great school normal but a computer has a terrible time trying to recognize the letter a when it’s printed in say the sans-serif gothic uh long hand or whatever kind of a you may write the human recognizes instantly this pattern but the computer is still at a disadvantage here seems to lack a kind of uh capacity i would call field organization because it’s all punctuative it’s digital like a newspaper you know which when you look at it under a microscope is all dots now so but the problem the problem is [Music] in developing technology are we leaving out of consideration our strongest suit which is the brain itself see we are at a situation where the brain is still uh not really worked out by even the most competent neurologists it puzzles them they can’t uh give a model of the brain in numerical or verbal language now you are that you see you are this thing you yourself are this thing which you yourself can’t figure out in the same way that i cannot touch the tip of this finger with the tip of this finger i can’t bite my own teeth [Music] but i who is attempting to touch the tip of this finger with this finger and by the sheer complexity of my structure far more evolved than any system which i can imagine this is in a way uh slightly akin to the girdle theorem that um you can’t have a a system of uh say a logic which defines its own axioms the axioms of any given system must always be defined in terms of a higher system all right so you are the most complex thing that has yet been encountered in the cosmos and you can’t figure you out [Music] now you suppose we’re going to try to do that and become as it were completely transparent to ourselves so that we could entirely understand the organization on the mechanics of our own brains [Music] what happens when we do that well you’re in the will you you’re back in the situation of god when you’re god what are you going to do when you’re god you know what you’re going to do you’re going to say to yourself man get lost because what you’ll want is a surprise when you figured everything out there won’t be any surprises you’ll be completely bored but on the other hand a a person i would say who is um really functioning completely is basically a person who trusts his own brains [Music] and permits his brain to operate at a more optimal level in other words he knows how to think things out but he makes his best discoveries without thinking [Music] in other words you all know very well the processes of creative invention you’ve got a problem you think it over and you can’t find out any answer to it because the digital system of thinking is too simple to clumsy to deal with it it’s more complex there are more variables than can be kept in in mind at one time so you sell sleep on it or you go to the institute of advanced studies at princeton uh behavioral sciences at stanford where they pay you to goof off which is highly excellent idea and you moon around and you’ve got a blackboard and you look out the window and pick your nose and so on and your brain eventually hands you the solution to the problem [Music] and you immediately because you have technical knowledge you recognize that’s a solution but then naturally you go back and check it [Music] and you work the bit by bit form of thinking on it and see now does it come out in those terms and if it does everybody will agree with you yes that’s the answer but if it doesn’t come out in those terms they won’t agree with you because you haven’t subjected it to the socially acceptable traditional form of an analyzing knowledge but here’s the problem it takes an awful long time to check these things out it takes an awful long time to arrive at the solution which you’ve got like that by a purely calculated process most of the situations of life are such that they don’t wait for us to make up our so that an enormous amount of carefully worked out scientific knowledge is trivial we all very well very finely worked out but much too late because life presents you life comes at you from all sides all over everywhere at once and the only thing you’ve got to deal with that is the thing inside here in the skull but it so happened that in the 18th century western thought began to change they became increasingly doubtful as to whether there was a maker whether there was a god but they continued to look upon the creation as an artifact as a machine and by the time of newton people were explaining the world in terms of mechanism and we are still under the influence of that idea because after all in things like life magazine and so on when they give you an article on human physiology they usually make drawings which show the human being as a kind of mechanism as a sort of factory and they show how the peristaltic action carries the food in and how it’s processed by this organ and that organ as just as if uh a certain product is fed into a factory cow at one end and it comes out can corn be for the other [Music] just in such a way the human is illustrated and so too in uh some kinds of rather degraded medicine that is now practiced when you go to the hospital for a medical examination you are treated as a machine they process you you are not a person you are put in a wheelchair immediately even if you the perfectly healthy walk nevertheless they have to have you in this wheelchair and they put you through a process and the heart specialist looks only at your heart because he can’t understand anything else the oto rhino laryngologist which means an ear nose and throat man looks at that section of you and he doesn’t know about anything else and maybe a psychiatrist takes a look at you and uh goodness knows what happens there and so on and so on everybody looks at you from their specialized point of view as if they were a bunch of mechanics examining your automobile because as i said last night but we we just asked for this because most of us consider ourselves as chauffeurs inside our bodies which we own in the same way as you own a car and when it goes wrong you take it to the mechanic to fix it you don’t really identify with your body just as you don’t really identify with your car so here is this whole theory of nature which has grown up in the west as an artifact something made [Music] now let me take a second theory of nature this is an indian theory nature not as an artifact but as drama basic to all hindu thought is the idea that the world is maya that is a sanskrit word which means many things it means magic illusion art play all the wells of stage and in the hindu idea there is the ultimate reality of the universe is the self which they call brahman or atman that’s what there is the self universal eternal boundless indescribable and everything that happens happens on the self like you say it’s on me the drinks tonight are on me [Music] or like we say uh when you hear the radio it’s on the speaker you see everything you hear on the radio flutes drums human voices traffic noises any imaginable sound all those sounds are vibrations of the diaphragm in the speaker but the radio doesn’t tell you that the announcer doesn’t come on and say every morning good morning ladies and gentlemen this is kqed the following sounds that you are going to hear are vibrations of your the diaphragm your speaker and they’re not really uh human voices or musical instruments but just that they never let you in on that and in exactly the same way the universe doesn’t let you in on the truth that all sense experiences are vibrations of the self [Music] not just yourself but the self and all of us share this self in common because it is pretending to be all of us [Music] brahman the ultimate principle plays hide and seek eternally and he does it for unspeakably long periods of time the hindus measure time in what is called a calmer k-a-l-p-a that’s 4 million 320 000 years don’t take this seriously it’s not meant to be taken literally but just for an unspeakably long time the brahman the self pretends that it’s lost and is us and all our adventures and all our troubles and all our agonies and tragedies it gets mixed up then after the period of four million three hundred and twenty thousand years has adapted there is a catastrophe the universe is destroyed in fire and after that the brahman wakes up and says well good crazy what an adventure that was he wipes the sweat off his brow says let’s rest a while so for another 4 million 320 000 years the divine self rests and knows who it is it’s me then it says well this is rather boring let’s get going again let’s get mixed up and it does it in a very strange way because uh the way the hindus time it the first period of getting mixed up getting lost is beautiful that’s the longest period [Music] everything’s right it’s just life is glorious then it has the next period in which things get a little wonky something is vaguely out of order that doesn’t last so long then the next period the third is when good and evil are equally balanced [Music] and that’s still not so long finally comes the shortest period when everything bad triumphs and the whole thing blows up and we begin all over again [Music] we’re supposed to be living in that now it’s what’s called the kali yuga [Music] age of darkness and it began on friday february the 23rd [Music] 3123 bc and it has 5 000 years to run but as it goes on time gets faster so don’t worry [Applause] [Music] so you see that’s a theory of nature as a drama now there’s a third theory of nature which is chinese this is very interesting the chinese word for nature they call and this expression means of itself so what happens of itself [Music] or we might say spontaneity it almost means automatic because automatic is what is self-moving only we associate the word automatic with machinery but ziran [Music] what is also of itself is associated in the chinese mind not with machinery but with biology [Music] your hair grows by itself you don’t have to think how to grow it your heart beats by itself you don’t have to make up your mind how to beat it that’s what they mean by nature the poem says sitting quietly doing nothing spring comes and grass grows of itself [Music] so their principle of nature is paul the dao pao pronounced dao in the mandarin dialect tao in the shanghai dialect told the cantonese dialect take your choice dao means the course of nature and loud sir who was a philosopher who lived a little later than 400 bc wrote a book about the dao and he said the dao which can be spoken is not the eternal dal you can’t describe it he said the principle of the dao is spontaneity he said the great dao flows everywhere both to the left to the right it loves and nourishes all things but does not lord it over them it accomplishes merits and lays no claim [Music] so there is a very great difference between the chinese idea of tao as the informing principle of nature and the judeo-christian idea of god as nature’s lord and master because the tao does not act as a boss in the chinese philosophy of nature nature has no boss [Music] there is no principle that forces things to behave the way they do it is a completely democratic theory of nature correspondingly you see most westerners whether they be christians or non-christians don’t trust nature of all things nature is the thing least to be trusted you must manage it you must watch out for it it will always go wrong if you don’t watch out you know the goblins will get you if you don’t watch out so we’re always feeling that you can’t trust it see we’re absolutely instilled with the idea of original sin you can’t trust nature because it comes out with weeds and insects and above all you can’t trust human nature because if you don’t hold a club over yourself you’ll go out and rape your grandmother now the chinese would say if you can’t trust yourself you can’t trust anything because if you can’t trust yourself can you trust your mistrust of yourself is that well-founded see you’re if you can’t trust yourself you are totally mixed up [Music] you have the leg to stand on you have the point of departure for anything and in this respect the taoist philosophy and the confusion philosophy are in agreement in confucius philosophy the fundamental virtue of a human being is called young spelled j-e-n reasons best known to chinese scholars uh i don’t know what they are but it’s pronounced [Music] and it’s a character chinese character that confucius placed as the highest of all virtues higher than righteousness higher than benevolence and it means approximately human-heartedness now confucius once said that goody goodies are the thieves of virtue virtue in chinese is yeah we romanize it as p e [Music] h it means virtue not in the sense of moral propriety but virtue in the sense of magic as when we speak of the healing virtues of a certain plan [Music] a man of true virtue is therefore a human-hearted man and the meaning of this is that one should above all trust human nature in the full recognition that it’s both good and bad [Music] that it’s both loving and selfish now let me give an illustration of the wisdom of this when people fight wars uh i trust them if the reason for which they fight a war is to expropriate somebody else’s possessions and women because they will fight a merciful war they will not destroy the possessions and the women that they want to capture they want to enjoy them and that’s a war based on simple ordinary everyday human greed the most awful wars that are waged are the wars waged for moral principles you are a lousy communist you have a philosophy that is destructive to religion and to everything that we love and value and reverence and therefore we will exterminate you to the last man unless you surrender unconditionally such wars are ruthless beyond belief we can blow up whole cities white people out because we are not greedy we are righteous [Music] that is why the good eagles are the thieves of virginia if you are going to do something evil do it for a play honest selfish motive don’t do it in the name of god because if you do it turns you into a monster who is no longer human a sadist a pure destroyer [Music] so an inflexibly righteous person is not human and that is why in chinese ideas of justice a good judge is not somebody who abides by the book their idea of justice is for god’s sake keep the case out of court let us have a consultation behind the scenes and let’s arrange a compromise because we know our opponent is a rascal i know i am a rascal and therefore there can be a mutual arrangement between themes so we summon or we talk about it we call the judge in in an unofficial capacity and the judge hums and halls and if he’s a good judge he has a sense of what is called lee i’m going to talk to you about another meaning of a word pronounced later on but it’s quite a different word lee is justice but you can’t write it down [Music] there is another word for justice or law in chinese and this word represents in its chinese character form a cauldron for cooking sacrifices and a knife in the high and far off times of chinese history there was an emperor who when the people brought their sacrifices of meat and so on to be put in the cauldrons he also scratched with a knife on the side of the cauldrons the laws of the state so that all the people could read them and understand what they were but the sages who advised this emperor said that was a very bad thing to do because the moment people see the law written down they develop a literature spirit that is to say they think our ways of wangling around it and that’s what we do all the time don’t we moment congress passes a law tax law especially all the lawyers get together and they think they think they fill it full of holes they say well it didn’t define this and it didn’t say that and some of those confusions wanted to put the language in order and to make all the words mean just so but the taoists laughed at them and said if you define the words with what words are you going to define the words that define the words so they said therefore the emperor should not have written the laws down because a sense of justice is not something you can put in words it’s what our lawyers call equity and you talk to any lawyer and you in discussing various judges around town he will say well judge so-and-so is pretty much a stickler for the letter of the law but on the other hand judge so-and-so has a sense of equity he knows when the law the letter of the law just doesn’t apply to this particular case and he just has an innate sense of fair play that’s the man to be trusted as a judge so this is what the chinese mean by a judge who has the sense of me of real justice it can’t be written down it can’t be explained because every case is individual but what such a man has fundamentally in his arm he trusts the good and bad of human nature human beings are complex we don’t know ourselves at all really [Music] consider your nervous system neurologists haven’t even begun to figure it out yet all your conscious decisions are based on this thing that you don’t understand you are unbelievably more wise in your nature than you ever will be in your conscious thoughts because behind your conscious thoughts lies your nervous system [Music] and if you say well my nervous system is unreliable it is just a bunch of strange weird biological chances that have got mixed up somehow then this very opinion that you’re expressing you see is a function of that nervous system so you’re saying that you are a total hoax you can’t trust yourself at all so that is a a set of game rules that don’t lead anywhere it’s totally self-frustrating [Music] so you see what the chinese have developed here is a theory of nature i said there are three theories the western mechanical theory nature as an artifact the hindu dramatic theory and the chinese organic theory nature human nature included is an organism and an organism is a system of orderly anarchy there is no boss in it but it gets along by being left alone and being allowed to do its stuff that’s what the chinese taoist philosophy calls wu wei which means not doing nothing but not interfering with the course of events not acting against the grain now this is the time to introduce the second word in chinese [Music] the first lee meant justice secondly is a character which had the original meaning of the markings in jade the grain in wood fiber and muscle and it’s usually translated reason or the principle of things these are not very good translations the best translation of lee is organic pattern now look here when you look at the clouds [Music] they aren’t symmetrical they don’t form fours they don’t come along in cubes but you know at once that they’re not a mess a dirty old ash tray full of junk may be a mess but clouds don’t look like that when you look at the patterns of foam on water they never make an artistic mistake [Music] and they are not mess [Music] they are wiggly but in a way orderly and it’s difficult for us to describe that kind of order now take a look at yourselves you’re all wiggling we think you know we are pretty ordinary because there are a lot of us that look approximately the same so when we see a human being we think well that’s pretty much an order and a regular and it’s okay we don’t realize how wiggly we are we’re just like clouds rocks and stars look at the way the stars are arranged you criticize the way the stars are arranged would you like them to form fours would you like them to be uh sort of set out like a needlepoint on the canvas of the skies there was somebody in the 18th century in the days when they built formal gardens and clipped hedges and made all the tulips stand together like soldiers who criticized the stars for being irregularly arranged but today we don’t feel that way we love the way the stars are scattered and they never make a mistake in their arrangement what about mountain ranges do you criticize the valleys for being low praise the peaks for being high just say it’s great it’s the way it is now that kind of order the artist pays a tribute to it by painting a landscape people you know in every national park there’s a place called inspiration point and people go there and they say oh it’s just like a picture [Music] and nobody knew this 400 years ago it took the artists to paint landscape and then people realized how beautiful it is nowadays artists are painting [Music] pictures of damp stained walls [Music] and floors where people have dropped a lot of paint one day people will walk into a room where there’s a lot of paint that’s scattered on the floor and a general thing and they’ll say my goodness it’s just like a jackson pollen [Music] oh write it just like a picture let’s see it always takes the artist to show us the vision [Music] but of course in the meantime it is difficult you go to an exhibition of contemporary non-objective painting the kind of square fellow walks in there and he said that’s not what i call a picture because he is against his prejudice but i say to people now excuse me wait a minute take a look at that again i’m going to tell you something that painting is a colored photograph of guess what and he looks at it in astonishment his entirely new eyes what could that be a photograph of he begins to see it might be a photograph or a microscope globules of germs floating in liquid might be anything but there it is it suddenly comes at him goodness knows whether that was what the artist intended but that’s a method of giving people a shock seeing things in a new way [Music] you know a gi visited picasso in paris during the war and said i can’t understand your paintings they’re absurd life doesn’t look like that picasso said do you have a girlfriend he said yes have you a picture said yes joined him so he drew out his billfold and there was a little colored photograph of his girlfriend and picasso looked at it and said is she so small as that [Music] now then the the idea of lee the idea of natural order is like this patterns on foam patterns in jade the shapes of the clouds the shapes of trees and mountains they are orderly but we cannot put our finger on the order we know it’s orderly but we don’t know why and we know it’s completely different from a mess from a mess the order of nature is in that way then indefinable we when saint augustine was asked what is time he said i know what it is but when you ask me i don’t so in the same way the chinese would say we know what the order of nature is but if you ask us we don’t the poet says picking chrysanthemums along the eastern fence gazing in silence of the southern hills the birds fly home through the soft mountain air of dusk in all these things there is a deep meaning but when we are about to express it we suddenly forget the words [Music] that’s nature as a self-ordering principle but it doesn’t really know how it does it another poem says if you want to know where the flowers come from even the god of spring doesn’t know this is a very remarkable attitude to nature politically you see you translate this into politics it is a high philosophical anarchy and there’s a lot to be said for this as a political point of view that in other words government is always a mess because the state opposes itself to the people [Music] we live under a constitution where we are supposed to be governed by ourselves somebody once said down with democracy when we get it [Music] because the state always the government always creates itself as a business in competition with all the other business and it wins because it’s the biggest one of the bunch the taoists said of the state that it should be as anonymous and as unobtrusive as possible that is to say that the emperor instead of going around in processions and being heralded flag’s way should be as unobtrusive as the head of the sanitation department you know he’s a man just a guy who goes around in a plain ordinary suit and uh really attends to his job and the sanity the head of the sanitation of the city of dallas uh goes around you don’t have a police escort and sirens blowing and flags waving he simply does his job and the feeling of loud sir is that the president or the emperor should have the same kind of attitude that he should simply help the people and retire and not claim any merits for it always withdraw himself always be behind the scenes not striving for power but simply to help things along [Music] govern a great state he said as he would cook a small fish now you know when you’ve got a small fish in the frying pan don’t keep tossing it around and fidgeting with the spatula otherwise it’ll fall apart do it gently softly softly catchy monkey [Music] monkey monkey monkey [Music] monkey [Music] so then here is a conception of nature as something you must trust [Music] outside nature the birds the bees the flowers the mountains the clouds and inside nature human nature now nature isn’t trustworthy completely it’ll sometimes let you down to the wall of it but that’s the risk you take that’s the risk of life what’s the alternative i do not trust nature at all it’s got to be watched you know what that leads to it leads to 1984 and big brother it leads to the totalitarian state where everybody is his brother’s policeman where everybody is watching everybody else to report them to the authorities where you can’t trust your own motivation where you have to have a psychoanalyst in charge of you all the time to think to be sure that you don’t think dangerous thoughts or peculiar thoughts and you report all peculiar thoughts to your animals and your analyst keeps a record of them and reports them to the government [Applause] and everybody is busy keeping records of everything it’s much more important to record what happens than what happens this is already eating us up it’s much more important that you have your books right and that you can conduct your business in a good way in universities it’s much more important that the registrar’s records be in order and that the library be well stocked after all you know your grades are all locked up in safes and they’re protected from delivery and pilfering and they’re the most valuable property that the university has the library can go hang on then furthermore the main function of the university is when every sensible person would imagine to teach students and to do research so the faculty should be the most important thing in the university on the contrary the administration is the most important thing people who keep the records who make the game rules up so the faculty are always being obstructed by the administration and being forced to end irrelevant meetings and uh do everything but scholarship do you know what scholarship means what a school means the original meaning of a scholar he talked of a scholar and a gentleman because a gentleman was a person who had a private income he could afford to be a scholar he didn’t have to earn a living therefore he could study the classics poetry and things like that today [Music] nothing is more busy than a school they make you work work work work work because you get cut through on schedule they have expedited courses and you you go to school so as to get a union card phd or something so you can earn a living that’s a whole contradiction of scholarship scholarship is to study everything that’s unimportant [Music] not necessary for survival all the charming irrelevances of life do you see the thing is this if you don’t have a room in your life for the playful life’s not worth living all work and no play makes jack a dull boy but if the only reason for which jack plays is that he can work better afterwards he’s not really playing he’s playing because it’s good for him [Music] he’s not playing at all you have to be able to be a true scholar you have to cultivate an attitude to life we are not trying to get anything out of it you pick up a pebble on the beach look at it beautiful don’t try and get a sermon on sermons and stones and god and everything be damned just enjoy it don’t feel that you’ve got to solve your conscience by saying that this is from the advancement of your aesthetic understanding enjoy the pebble if you do that you’ll become healthy you become able to be a loving helpful human being but if you can’t do that if you can only do things because they are somehow you’re going to get something out of it you’re a vulture so [Music] we have to learn we don’t have to you don’t have to do anything you don’t have to go on living but it’s a great idea it’s a great thing if you can learn what the chinese call purposelessness they think nature is purposeless when we say something’s purposeless that’s put down there’s no future there’s a washout when they hear the word purposeless they think that’s just great like the waves washing against the shore going on and on and on forever with no meaning the great zen master said as his death poet just before he died from the bathtub to the bathtub bathtub in which the baby is washed at birth bathtub in which the corpse is washed before burial all this time i have said many nonsenses like the birds and the trees go three three three three three what’s it all about everybody tries to say ah it’s purposeful trying to get their mate you know attract them for the song that’s why they have colors butterflies have eyes on self-protection engineering view of the universe why do that they say well it’s because they need to survive but why survive what’s that for well to survive see human beings really a lot of tubes and uh all living creatures just tubes and the tubes have to put things at one end and let it out at the other then they get clever about it and they develop nerve ganglia on one end of the tube the eating end called a head and that’s got eyes and it’s got ears and it’s got little organs antenna and things like this and that helps you to find things to put in one end so you can let them out the other well while you’re doing this you see the stuff going through where’s the tube out and so the show can go on the tubes have complicated ways of making other tubes will go on doing the same thing in at one end out the other and they say well that’s terribly serious that’s awfully important we’ve got to keep on doing [Music] but when chinese say nature is purposeless this is a condom it’s like the idea of the japanese have a word you get and they describe you again as watching wild geese fly and be hidden in the clouds as watching a ship vanished behind a distant island as wandering on and on in a great forest with no thought of return haven’t you done this haven’t you gone on a walk with no particular purpose in mind carry a stick with you when you occasionally hit at old stumps wander along sometimes with your thumbs it’s at that moment that you are a perfectly rational human [Music] is music getting somewhere if it were i mean if the aim of music were of a symphony were to get to the final bar the best conductor would be the one who got their fastest [Applause] see dancing when you dance do you aim to arrive at a particular place on the floor is that the idea of dancing [Music] the aim of dancing is to dance is the presence well it’s exactly the same with our life we think life has a purpose i remember the preachers used to say i was a small boy i’d always hear him we must follow god’s purpose his purpose for you and his purpose when i asked these cats what the purpose was they never never knew they didn’t know what it was they had a hymn god is working his purpose out this year succeeds the year god is working his purpose out and the time is drawing here [Applause] the time when the earth shall be full of the glory of god as the waters cover the sea what’s the glory of god well they weren’t quite sure i’ll tell you what it is in heaven all those angels are gathered around the glory of god that is to say the witch than which there is no witcher catholics call it the beatific vision the jews call it the shekinah they’re all those angels they’re standing around it they’re saying hallelujah alleluia alleluia hallelujah means nothing they’re just having a ball [Music] see that’s what happened in the beginning when god created the universe it was created like all stars all planets all galaxies they’re vaguely spherical he created this he said have a ball but before he said that he said you must draw the line somewhere that was the real thing he said first before let there be light that came later first thing was you must draw the line somewhere otherwise nothing will happen you know you’ve got to have the good guys the bad guys you’ve got to have this you’ve got to have that black white light and darkness must draw the line somewhere now here’s the choice are you going to trust it or not if you do trust it you may get let down and this it is yourself your own nature and all nature around you you’re going to be mistakes but if you don’t trust it at all you’re going to strangle yourself you’re going to fence yourself round with rules and regulations and laws and prescriptions and policemen and guards who’s going to guard the guards who’s going to look after big brother to be sure that he doesn’t do something stupid no go first thing i get annoyed with somebody in the audience i’m going to throw this ash tray up but i don’t want to hit my friend sitting next to that person i want to be absolutely sure this ashtray hits that individual and so i don’t trust myself to throw it i have to carry it along and be sure i hit that person on the head see i don’t throw it because i can’t let go of it to throw it i must let go of it to live i must have faith i must trust myself to the totally unknown i must trust myself to a nature which doesn’t have a boss because a boss is a system of mistrust that is why laos’s dow loves and nourishes all things but does not lord tonight at any rate we’ve got to go through some theoretical materials so we’re on a head trip i don’t know where the trip will end up it depends on you but in order to lay the foundation for this we’ve got to examine ideas that are basic to our common sense ideas are very powerful it’s not only emotions that are powerful in human life psychoanalysis has of course examined the emotional basis of human opinions and beliefs but one should also examine the intellectual bases of psychological principles or theories or therapies because everybody who speaks a language at all as underneath the surface of the language or the figuring that he uses certain basic assumptions which are usually unexamined and these unexamined systems of belief are extremely powerful in their influence over our lives [Music] we’ll begin with one very common idea [Music] that’s built into our common sense which is that [Music] the world the physical world consists of two aspects respectively for and matter this was fostered on us by aristotle and also by the bible because it is said that god created man out of the dust of the earth and as it were made a figurine in his own image and then breathed the breath of life into its nostrils so that this form of clay became a living being and so underneath that lies the notion that everything material is made of some sort of basic stuff like clay is the basis of pots [Music] and for centuries scientists philosophers wanted to know what is that stuff what are we made of now look here a carpenter makes tables out of wood and a potter makes pots out of clay but i ask you is a tree made of wood [Music] obviously not a tree is wood it’s not made of it [Music] is a mountain made of rock obviously not it is rock see our language contains innumerable ghosts [Music] supposing i say the lightning flashes surely the flashing is the same as the lightning there is not one thing called lightning and another called flashing the lightning is the flashing it is raining what is this that is raining the rain i can make a noun out of a verb any time by turning it into a gerund so we populate the world with ghosts which arise out of the structure of our language and thus therefore of the structure of our thinking because we think in language or in figuring in numbers and so it’s of intensely fascinating investigation to find out what are the hidden assumptions that underlie language and figuring in other words language and mathematics and here is this basic assumption you see that is almost with us all it comes again and again into our everyday speech that form pattern [Music] organization organisms are made of something as if there were some inert primordial and of course stupid stuff [Music] which had to be put into shape by an energy and an intelligence other than the stuff like the intelligence of the potter shapes the clay [Music] so therefore we have a basic picture of the world in which everything is being pushed around there’s a boss there’s somebody in charge who is different from what that somebody is in charge of and puts everything into shape because our common sense does not allow that things shape themselves very hard in chinese the word for nature is iran which is that which is so of itself the spontaneous chinese have no difficulty in thinking about nature as self-shaping a chinese child would not ask its mother how was i made it would ask its mother how did i grow which would be quite different [Music] so to be made is to be commanded and therefore every good being obeys whether you obey god or whether you obey the laws of nature you obey and the an analog therefore of the world that has been put into our common sense is one of military command note that because the image of god i would go further and say the idolatrous image of god which has been handed down to us is one of the beneficent parent the boss big bubba soda when our physicists started to find out what stuff was they went into it and into it and examined it with ever more minute instruments they first started cutting up things with knives and cutting them smaller and smaller and smaller until they particle that they wanted to dissect was exactly the same width as the edge of the knife and so they got an atom and that word in greek atomos means the non-cuttable ah thomas cuttable that’s the basic atom what you can’t cut anymore because you got down to the end well they weren’t satisfied with that so they got an atomos in other words a particle of something or other that was just the same width as the blade of the the knife edge and they looked at it under a microscope and they saw that it was seem to be composed of more small particles so they found out means of working those out and then they found out extraordinary means of uh investigating the properties of matter then they reached a point where they couldn’t decide whether it was particles or whether it was waves so they called them wavicles they thought they had come to certain ultimate equals called electrons but then unfortunately everything fell apart and they found protons mesons and many other extraordinary things because of course what they didn’t realize was that as you make more and more powerful microscopic instruments the universe has to get smaller and smaller in order to escape the investigation just as when the telescopes become more and more powerful [Music] the galaxies have to recede in order to get away from the telescopes [Music] because what is happening in all these investigations is through us and through our eyes and senses the universe is looking at itself [Music] and when you try to turn around see your own head what happens see it runs away you never get at it you can’t bite your own teeth you can’t touch the tip of this finger with the tip of this finger this is the principle shankara explains it beautifully in his commentary on the kana upanishad where he says that that which is the noah the ground of all knowledge is never itself an object of knowledge just as fire doesn’t burn itself so there’s always that profound mystery that you are never going to be in absolute control of what goes on because if you were to be like making love to a plastic woman who wants that there always is the mystery the thing we don’t know as vandalium put it the mystery of life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced if there were not that you see there would be no life [Music] the reason why certain people turn to philosophy why i became a philosopher was that since i was a little boy i always felt that existence as such was weird [Music] i mean here we are and isn’t that [Music] odd because it’s odd what do you mean what do you mean by odd well that’s what’s different from even i mean what’s art stands out what’s even lies flat but you can’t see the outstanding without the flat background is there you know is this thing standing out that’s odd each one of you is odd strange unique particular different how do we know what we mean by that except against the background of something even that is not differentiated like space and so you get this philosophical itch you begin to scratch your head and think about why is that so well after a while you realize that’s a meaningless question then you ask how is it so well that leads you into science and other investigations [Music] so you wonder what is it i mean this this happening this thing called existence what is it [Music] you ask that question long enough and it suddenly hits you that if you could answer it [Music] you wouldn’t know what terms to put the answer in [Music] i mean when we investigate the properties of nature and we do get some answers all the answers are in terms of particular structures forms patterns these can be measured and their behavior can be predicted but when i want to ask the question what are the forms made of i mean what is it really we can’t think of any way in which we could answer the question [Music] because we would have to have a class of all classes when you ask the question what it’s like saying is you is or is you ain’t is you animal is your vegetable is your mineral are you a republican or a democrat are you male or female are you a christian or a jew or a hindu or what have you we classify always to give an answer to the question what is it and when you classify you distinguish an inside group from an outside group right so what we want to know is what is the group of all groups well we can’t imagine what the outside would be so we can’t answer the question what is it so the physicists finally abandoned the quest for stuff and they gave us the description of the universe entirely in terms of form [Music] the pattern not the stuff when people ask what’s the web yeah but you can’t do that what’s the pattern made of surely there mustn’t be an answer to that see what happens is when you turn up the microscope all stuff turns into form it becomes articulate you know the carpet looks like some sort of stuff [Music] but when you look at it under a microscope you will see the crystalline structure of the nylon or whatever it’s made of see they want to know what are those crystals made of all right turn up the volume and you’ll find uh molecules turn up the volume you find wavicals but we think the the wavicles must be of something but of course they’re not we find substance or stuff totally vanishes and we’re left with form [Music] sanskrit doesn’t really have a word for mata it has which means named form [Music] it’s the form that matters or let’s put it in another way everything is a matter of form [Music] now let’s go into this it’s fascinating they say does it matter [Music] what does that mean does it matter is it important in other words does it measure up to anything all right let’s go back to the indo-european roots of the language mata comes from a sanskrit root matra which means to measure lay out the foundations say for a building so from this matra we get going on into sanskrit we get the word maya and maya is generally translated illusion although it also means magic creative power [Music] the word illusion switch over we get that from latin and that comes from the latin ludery to play let’s pretend that we matter also from the root matra see you get meter that is also to measure you get meter in greek mater in latin which means mama mother the mother of buddha was called maya mary ma again is the mother of jesus mama you see is a matter of form [Music] pattern the chinese called the basic principle of nature li and the character for li means the markings in jade fiber and muscle the grain in wood [Music] so joseph needham translates it organic pattern that’s what’s going on and there isn’t any stuff involved what stuff is is a pattern seen out of focus where it becomes fuzzy like k-pop see we said kpoc is the stuffing of a cushion and that’s stuff it’s you know some kind of goop but when we examine the k-pop closely we find structure and that’s what you will find and there never will be anything else crazy because it completely flouts our common sense we say but surely philosophers beat tables that are in front of them and you know they say it is there because bang you know there must be something that is stuff that is substantial but the only reason why you can’t pass your hand through a table is the tables moving too fast it’s like trying to put your finger through an electric fan only it’s going much faster than an electric fan anything solid is going so fast that there’s no way to get this through it [Music] that’s all [Music] so you say what is it that is going so fast well that question is based on a grammatical illusion the grammatical illusion is that all verbs have to have subjects can you imagine anything more weird than the idea that a verb or an action or event must be set into motion by a noun that is to say a non-event or thing now what’s the difference between a thing and an event i can’t for the life of me tell we say this is a fist that’s a noun what happens to it when i open my hand this thing is unaccountably disappeared [Music] so i should have called this a fisting and this is a handy it may also be a pointing so we we could devise the language such as that of the new indians where there are no nouns there are only verbs chinese is very close to that i think the superimposition of the idea of noun and verb on the chinese language is a western invention [Music] i can’t think of any chinese word for a noun [Music] but the all those languages of indo-european origin have nouns and verbs in them they have agents and operations and that’s one of the basic snags when we divide the world into operations and agents doers and doings then we ask such silly questions as who knows who does it what does it the what that is supposed to do it is the same as the doing and you can very easily see that the whole process of the universe may be understood as process nobody’s doing it because when you go back to doing it you go back to the military analogy the chain of command the boss who goes bang and the object of base it’s a very crude idea very unsophisticated [Music] so if you compare it we have suddenly eliminated a spook and the spook was called stuff [Music] so we’re now more at ease with ourselves in a world of form nama rupa [Music] named forms [Music] we can of course get rid of the names we can go further and try the experiment of not calling the forms by any names [Music] just [Music] observing the forms although when we’ve got rid of the names we can’t even call them forms because that’s a name [Music] and there’s the the bizarres going on [Music] which uh what is called and that means suchness or dustness actually is because when a baby first talks it says and fathers flatter themselves that it’s saying it isn’t it’s saying and so the upanishads say you’re it the basics done but that doesn’t mean anything da is like everything else see the world is a musical phenomenon good music never refers to anything except the music itself you don’t ask mr park mr ravi shankar what do you mean by this music what is it intended to express bad music always expresses something other than itself like the 1812 overture or the sunken cathedral good music never talks about anything other than the music if you ask bach what is your meaning you say listen that’s the meaning giraffes are giraffing trees are treeing stars are starring clouds are cloudy rain is raining and if you don’t understand look at it again and people are people wow [Music] we notice that all these suchnesses appear and disappear they keep changing they come and they go but if you get hung up on your particular form i’ll have to alter the language a little bit because you see your form makes a duality whereas you are your form [Music] you’re what you’re doing now you think for some strange reason i must make that go on as long as possible and therefore you think you have an instinct to survive and so the only thing anybody can agree about today so far as the discussion of ethical and moral problems are concerned is that we ought to survive and therefore certain forms of conduct have survival value and certain forms don’t [Music] but when you say to yourself you must go on living you put yourself in a double blind because you said to a process which is essential essentially spontaneous that it must happen [Music] and the basic form of the double bind which is imposed upon all children is you are required to do that which will be acceptable only if you do it voluntarily [Music] so when we say to ourselves you must go on [Music] the reason is you see that we are not living in the eternal now where reality is we are always thinking that the satisfaction of life will be coming later there’s a good time coming ever so far away that one far-off divine event to which all creation moves don’t kid yourself [Music] as the hindus have taught us in the course of time everything gets worse [Music] it eventually falls apart comes kali yuga and shiva at the end of poom [Music] which is to say [Music] only suckers would hope in the future [Music] i tell you there are three classes of people in the western world the aristocrats proletariat in the bourgeoisie the aristocrats live on the past because they come of noble family [Music] and they’re like potatoes because the best part of them is underground the proletariat live in the present because they have nothing else and the poor bourgeoisie live for the future they are the eternal suckers they can always open to a con game so when they find out that really uh there isn’t much of a future [Music] you’re going to die they transpose the future into a spiritual dimension [Music] and they figure uh this material world is not the real world but the spiritual world is the real world and there will be somewhere somehow an eternal life for me a charge to keep i have a god to glorify a never dying soul to save and fitted for the sky well and they say to them what are you going to do there well then the faintest idea you know that if you ask theologians about what they think is going to happen in heaven they just dry up [Music] i’m going to play harps i mean there’s a symbolic meaning to that which i could go into but the average person’s idea of heaven is an absolute ball [Music] i mean it’s like being in church forever children see this immediately children when they hear a hymn like weary of earth and laden with my sin i looked at heaven and long to enter in they oh god heaven is to be in church for always and they think hell is preferable there’s some excitement going on and you see it in medieval art you take you go to the metropolitan museum in new york and you see jan van ike’s painting of the last judgment heaven on top hell below in heaven everybody is looking as that like the cat that swallowed the canary sitting in rows and very smug god the father as president and uh oh dear beneath this there’s a winged skull like a bat and squirming bottles all nude [Music] all being eaten by snakes and i don’t know is a fantastic thing going on but in that [Music] you see van ike had a ball painting that because in in medieval way it was the only way you could get away with painting nudes and sexy scenes sado masochistic see so that’s naturally why hell became much more interesting than heaven so therefore this hope for the future [Music] is a hoax it’s a perfect hoax but maybe we we will make spiritual progress everybody puts it off [Music] maybe if i work at yoga for 10 years 20 years and uh to do this thing i will eventually make it to moksha to nirvana whatever that’s nothing more than a postponement it’s this business of because you’re not fully alive now you think maybe someday you will be [Music] look supposing i ask you what did you do yesterday now what did i do yesterday in fact i’ve forgotten so but most people say well let me see now let me get out my notebook i got up at 7 30 and i brushed my teeth and i read the newspaper over a cup of coffee and then i looked at the clock and dressed and uh got in the car and drove downtown and did this and that in the office and so on and you go on and on and on and you suddenly discover that what you’ve described has absolutely nothing to do with what happened [Music] you’ve described a scraggly skeletal fleshless list of abstractions whereas if you were actually aware what went on you could never describe it [Music] because nature is multi-dimensional language is linear language is scrawny and therefore if you identify the world as it is with the way the world is described it’s as if you were trying to eat dollar bills and expect a nutritious diet or eat numbers a lot of people eat numbers people play the stock market and do nothing but eating numbers and they’re always unhappy absolutely miserable because they never get anything [Music] so therefore they always hope more is coming because they believe that if they eat enough dollar bills eventually something satisfactory will happen so eating the abstractions all the time we want more more more time confucius very wisely said a man who understands the dao in the morning may die with content in the evening because when you understand you don’t put your hope in time time won’t solve a thing [Music] so when we enter into the the practice of meditation of yoga we are doing something radically unlike other human activities [Music] of course the way yoga is sold in the united states like everything else is it is supposed to be good for you it isn’t it has nothing to do with anything that’s good for you [Music] it’s the one activity which you do for its own sake and not because it’s good for you not because it will lead anywhere [Music] because you cannot go to the place where you are now obviously the yoga is to be completely here and now why the word yog means join get with it be completely here and now this is the real meaning of concentration to be in your center and the christian word for sinning in greek is which means to miss the point and the point is eternal life which is here and now come to your senses [Music] so yoga is defined in sanskrit in the yoga sutra yogas difficult to translate but roughly yoga is the stopping [Music] of uh [Music] britti is turning see like a wheel and chitta is consciousness turnings in consciousness in other words the attempt of the mind to catch hold of itself which is what we call thinking worrying so we could say loosely yoga is the cessation of thinking it’s not the cessation of awareness but of symbolizing trying to catch clutch reality in terms of thoughts symbols descriptions definitions give it up it’s not easy because we do it [Music] habitually but until there is silence of the mind it is almost impossible to understand eternal [Music] life that is to say eternal now if you could come to the place where you suspend conceptions conceptions in sanskrit are called the alpha and so this state is called near calpers not conceptual and this will be basic to everything i’m going to talk about to understand non-verbal reality non-conceived realities what i call suchness it’s really very easy it’s too easy that’s why it’s difficult but that when you are fully aware and not thinking you will notice some amazing absences there is no past and you hear anything past incidental [Music] can you hear anything future they’re just not there for the plain sense of one’s ears [Music] ears are easiest to begin with can you hear anyone listening to something else other than sound you know can you hear the listener [Music] no well then presumably it’s not there [Music] then you become again as a child and simply forget all that you ever were told and contemplate what is all these ghosts go away and weird but they just go and then you enter into the eternal state well there’s no problem willian you go back and you collect your opinions again you think well that won’t do how how can i be practical and be in that sort of state well i remember in the sermon on the mount that jesus said to them a lot of things about this consider the lilies of the field how they grow they toil not neither do they spin and yet sulaiman in all his glory was not clothed like one of these if god so clothed the grass of the field which today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven shall he not much more clothe you faithless ones wow so do not worry about tomorrow saying what should we eat what should we drink or how should we clothe ourselves oh the rabble seeks after these things [Music] sufficient to the day is the worry of it nobody ever preaches a sermon on that text [Music] never i’ve heard lots of sermons never one enough because people say look that’s all very well because jesus was the boss’s son and and he knew you see that he was really in charge of the universe and he’s nothing to worry about but we have to be practical oh what do you suppose the gospel was the good news you know it never got out you two are the boss’s son that was the gospel if jesus had lived in india they wouldn’t have put him to death because everybody in india knows that we’re all god in disguise [Music] so if he had said i am the father i won in india they would have said hooray [Music] lots of people in india know that perfectly well [Music] but here that’s a no-no who the hell do you think you are you own the place you keep your position you’re just a creature a critter it’s in the family system it’s in everything [Music] because they have their own way of doing it in india because um [Music] they have a delayed action on it when you get to be a certain age and after you’ve studied long enough with a certain guru then and then only may you realize this but until then it’s still a no-no but if you put in the time they finally let you in [Music] here you have to wait until you’re dead [Music] [Laughter] [Music] well uh the only place to begin is now because here’s where we are [Music] so why put it off a lot of people say well i’m not ready you mean you’re not ready what do you what what do you have to be to be ready well i i’m i’m i’m not good enough because i’m neurotic i’m uh perhaps not old enough not mature enough for such knowledge i uh still am frightened of pain and of course i’d have to overcome that i’m still uh dependent on material things i have to you know eat a lot drink a lot and sex around and all that kind of thing and uh i think that i better get all that under control first oh you mean you’ve got a case of spiritual pride you you want to be able to congratulate yourself for having gone through the discipline [Music] which is rewarded with realization [Music] that is trying to [Music] quench fire with fire in other words the reason wouldn’t it be great to be a mystic look at it this way i mean crazy to have no fear no attachments no hangouts to be as free as the air so that uh you know you could just wander out in the streets and uh give away all your clothes to the beggars and uh let go of the whole thing let it all hang out then it’d be crazy to have that courage you look into yourself honestly you find that inside you’re actually a quaking mess of sensitivity no so that this desire to be the great mystic is nothing more than a symptom of your quaking mess it’s self-defense [Music] so you think wow we will do that yoga bit and we get real tough but that only means you’re going to be increasingly insensitive [Music] running away from the quaking mess escaping [Music] you never can you’re stuck with it there’s nothing you can actually [Music] to do your own nature into unattached selflessness because you have a selfish reason for wanting to do it [Music] well that’s pretty depressing isn’t it you mean to tell me that the only people who get really enlightened and liberated are those whom the grace of god somehow hits in an arbitrary way and all you can do is sit around and wait let’s begin with that supposition let’s suppose there’s nothing we can do to change ourselves no psychotherapy religion all this is absolutely in vain there’s nothing nothing nothing you can do about it by trying as i said to bite your own teeth or lift yourself up by your own bootstraps incidentally it strapped me as funny a lot of people are using that phrase in the wrong way they say when something very difficult has to be done we have to lift ourselves up by our own bootstraps you can’t [Music] it’s impossible say that’s terribly depressing you mean alan whilst you’ll come here simply to tell us that there’s nothing we can do i mean here we are all presumably assembled in a cultural uh media spiritual media psychotherapeutic media where we are supposed to get better and i tell you there’s nothing you could do about it well i said give us our money back go to somebody else who’ll be more encouraging but [Music] but what does it mean that you can’t do anything about it [Music] it’s singing loud and clear the reason you can’t do anything about it is that you don’t exist [Music] that is as an ego [Music] as a soul separate will just isn’t there well when you understand that you’re liberated they’re saying zen you cannot take hold of it nor can you get rid of it in not being able to get it you get it when you are silent it speaks when you speak in silence now don’t misunderstand me this is not any kind of fatalism when i say you as you conceive yourself to be that is your ego your image of yourself isn’t there it doesn’t exist it’s an abstraction it’s like three do you ever see three [Music] it’s plain ordnance three no nobody ever saw it so it’s a concept it’s a vicar so in the same way as oneself there’s the happening the suchness yes sure you bet but it’s not pushing you around because there’s no you to be pushed around none other than there’s no billiard ball on the end of the queue there’s the queue no it goes this way and goes that way the way they call a buddha one who comes or goes thus [Music] this way in that way he went that away so this illusion of the persecuted ego who is pushed around by faith is it’s all together disappeared and so in likewise the illusion of the ego who pushes fate around has also disappeared there’s a happening so in this still see what has happened by dying to yourself by having become completely incompetent [Music] and found that you don’t exist you’re reborn you become everything in the words of sir edwin arnold foregoing self the universe grows i [Music] thank you for listening i hope you sleep [Music] you

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