Seminar on Taoism

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Alan Watts talk - session 2

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This reel was part of the original SR pilot collection, but is not SR speaking.


I have been stressing a difference between what for want of better terminology we will call the world as is and the world as described. Following Lao Tzu's saying, the not named is heaven and earth's origin. Naming is the mother of 10,000 things. 10,000 things is a literal translation of the Chinese way of saying everything. But it must be apparent and clear to understand this that a thing is a product of thinking. And you can understand that without accepting what Western philosophy calls subjective idealism, the doctrines of people like Berkeley and Hegel and Bradley, which assert that the universe is a creation of mind.


The difficulty of that is that we can't find very much meaning in the word mind or really in the idea of differentiating two substances called mind and matter. Nobody has ever come up with any really illuminating ideas about this differentiation between the mental and the material, which has so haunted all philosophy for generations. In my own way of thinking, I don't use either concept, either mind or matter, but simply keep a view of the world which


is basically one of form or pattern and I explain to you that the word Li in Chinese which describes the order of the world means literally the markings in jade and therefore might best be translated as Joseph Needham has suggested by the term organic pattern. And I've shown you in what way that differs from mechanical pattern. Mechanical pattern is always describable. Its aesthetics are much clearer to us than those of rather more enjoyable organic patterns. such as we find in clouds and waves, fire, contours of land and the human body.


So, we don't have to think of naming or thinking as the origin of things. quite in the same way as an idealist would think of mind as the origin of things. The point is difficult sometimes to make clear because it's so simple. When I say there are no things in the real world, that doesn't mean that the real world, if correctly seen, would appear to be void in the sense of something like infinitely empty space. It means that there are no things in the world as we see it. What we call things, I prefer to call using a pattern word, wiggles.


In the wiggles of the world, wiggles in the world, the world wiggling, however you want to put it, because the world is the wiggles and therefore one doesn't really want to say the world wiggles there is no difference between the world and the wiggles and the wiggles aren't part of the world because they're not mechanical in nature that is to say they're not screwed in and brought from somewhere else so every wiggle is the whole world wiggling in the sense that it implies all other wiggles. This is the image that is called in Japanese Jijimuge, which means literally, the Chinese say Shersheruai, which means a sher or a ji means a wiggle or a thing event. And it literally means


between thing-event and thing-event there is no obstacle which is the negative way of saying this world is the mutual interpenetration of all things and events so that if a scientist from another universe altogether were to be given a fingernail pairing with sufficient insight he would be able to reconstruct not only the kind of being from which this fingernail pairing was taken but the kind of environment in which that being lived going out to the outermost galaxies because every part implies the whole That's why it's not a part in the ordinary mechanical sense.


Indeed, playing with words, we would say it's not a part from the whole. It cannot exist without it. We can see this in holographic photography. The crystalline structure of a photographic negative is such that if we study a small area of it, we can use lasers to reproduce the whole photograph from which this area was taken. In other words, snip a small square out of a negative and laser projection can give you the whole negative from which it was taken. It will be a picture in which the images near the piece you snipped out will be relatively clear and the images relatively fuzzy as you go away from it. That is following the rule that some sort of proximity that the thing events in some sort of proximity to the thing event we're talking about will tend to have more relevance to it than those further away but that's only a vague rule because very often what is most relevant to any given thing event may be something that at first sight would appear to be completely trivial


that is to say you married somebody you met entirely by chance this chance meeting had momentous consequences and we would never have thought of it in making plans we would have thought more rationally that is to say in accordance with a more obvious method of measuring relevance of one thing event to another but we don't know how to set up the rules of relevance And so all our laws of logical connections between thing-events, laws of causality, laws of statistical prediction, and so on and so forth, are really very unreliable. So the point here then is this. A thing or an event of which the naive person who lives under the influence of western rational scientific mythology he thinks that the world is an assemblage of things and events not realizing that a thing is a unit of thought in the same way


that for example an inch is a unit of measurement or a bit of information is a unit of information theory. You can see at once that a thing is arbitrarily designated because everything you can think of can be subdivided into smaller things or made a subdivision of a larger thing. So what we find is this, a thing is any area of the world which can conveniently be represented by a concept. And so when we ask what is a wiggle, you can imagine a picture of a coastline and it suddenly projects as what we call a cape. Now we see clearly that the cape isn't really separable from the coastline or from the land.


One could say the land capes at this point. That's a caper. But there isn't a thing called a cape which you can say begins exactly there and there and comes to a climax out there. just in the same way there is no actual rigid line which divides your head from your neck and your neck from your shoulders nor is there a place where the shoulders end and the trunk begins or does the trunk include the shoulders I showed in the same way that if we want to define the Sun we do so rather arbitrarily the naive view being that the Sun is where the visible flames terminate some people might get persnickety about that and say that's too much because the flames come out from the liquid body of the Sun or whatever it is and that's where the Sun ends the flames are merely excrescences well it's just a matter of opinion let's define it as where its heat reaches to let's define it as where its light reaches to


uh it's a matter of opinion and we talk with each other and understand each other because we decide arbitrarily that we will agree about certain opinions or maybe it's not so arbitrary maybe somebody forces it upon us because a government dictates what shall be the language spoken what shall be the conventions of communication as when the British government recently decided to alter the way of counting money with disastrous inflation as a result. Or when it's going to be decided by the United States government that we will drop inches and feet and all that kind of thing and go on to a metric system, meters and so on. So somebody sets up the standards. But It's originally really very arbitrary as to how much of a much is an inch and how much of a much is a meter.


A meter is a certain fraction of the Earth's circumference. So what? That's a way of starting out a reckoning. And one starts out with something which everybody will somehow give assent to. But the point is that the division of the world into meters is as arbitrary as its division into things only since there are features that is to say celestial bodies which are generally speaking globular floating in space we are inclined to regard them as separate units because they are separated by space but I pointed out to you yesterday that space joins the world together as much as it separates it that it's a kind of a two-way phenomenon that in other words I am I and you are you by virtue and by virtue only of a space between us


And in that sense, space differentiates us. But by differentiating us, it joins us together. It makes, as it were, a unity of differences. We see this when we get far enough away from it. then these vastly distant stars are seen as a galaxy and we say a galaxy and if we got far enough away from all the now known galaxies we would see a universe and call it a thing it all depends where you look from what language you talk and how your group has decided and agreed among itself to figure it So therefore a thing is really a think.


And it's in that sense that I mean there are no things in the world without implying at the same time that the world, the real world, is featureless. This is a mistake commonly made by students of Indian philosophy, whether they be Westerners or Indians. when they hear about the highest state of consciousness in which there are no things they imagine that the highest form of consciousness should be a Samadhi which is so abstracted from what we would call normal perception that one is as it were floating in a void which may be luminous or mauve as in spiritual drawings but I don't think that's what it is at all of course you can get into a state like that yes you can by auto hypnosis get yourself into almost any state of consciousness you can imagine but if you think that the highest form of consciousness is to be like that well that's a matter of taste


it's a free country you can be in that state of consciousness if you want to and there are gimmicks whereby if you can manipulate yourself by auto-hypnosis and things deeper than auto-hypnosis into these various states you can start reading other people's minds and doing some very startling things that will be called miracles but as I explained my comment to that is so what? But we manipulate enough already with not always beneficent results. And I hate to think what would happen if we were all manipulating each other's minds. Miracles aren't really a very profitable line of investigation. It so soon exhausts itself. I'm much more interested for me and I tell you I'm talking to you quite personally and I'm not laying down the law as to how you should behave or think or what state of consciousness you should be in.


There's no should in this. But I would rather remain in the human state. I don't want to be an angel. And I found that human beings who have ambitions to be angels usually become devils. And the human state is really, you could say, the Taoist ideal. It's an extraordinarily humane philosophy. and in certain ways later I'll try and show why but for the moment it is very important to get the point to understand the full meaning of this expression naming is the mother of ten thousand things because here naming simply means representing working out correspondences between thoughts


and the world. This things the world and thinking is a divisive process. One sees how disastrous thinking can sometimes become when we get over a specialization in medicine and somebody specializes in hearts and somebody in ears and somebody in eyes as if those organs could be separated from the others and so they will perform surgery at one point of the body which may heal that part of the body but have disastrous consequences somewhere else so the operation was successful and the patient died and that piecemeal way of looking at the human organism is a result of excessive thinking In Whitehead's language we call it reification, from the Latin res, a thing.


Note the parallel res, thing, and reor, I think. And also he called a certain kind of thinging, the fallacy of misplaced concreteness. the ego for example being a fallacy of misplaced concreteness or the equator if we talked about it as a thing would be the fallacy of misplaced concreteness so therefore the real world is the not named the world as not named and that as I said is the world of the baby before the baby has been taught the table of distinctions which the culture into which the baby is born observes before the baby has been taught the social conventions the baby sees the unthought unnamed world unfortunately it cannot tell us anything about it


because we have brainwashed ourselves to the point where we can't understand anything we haven't been told we will put the baby through this brainwashing as a result of which it will no longer be in the state of consciousness that it could tell us about although it has been suggested with some degree I think of wisdom that if you would treat a baby like a person and instead of treating it in a baby way treat it as a small adult and talk to the baby in natural language as you would address another adult that by the time the baby is three years old it will have an astonishing mastery of the language and will be able to tell you lots of things you don't know because it will be still close enough to its oceanic consciousness it's Freud's word to still be in touch with the undivided view of the world.


For the baby sees no difference between the voluntary and the involuntary, the doing and the happening, the subjective and the objective. That's all learned. Now we're of the opinion that it's a very hard matter to get back to that state and we're scared of it. because the psychoanalyst will call it regression and will say you are not facing up to the reality principle you're not facing the real world you're wanting to withdraw into the amniotic fluid of the womb now this is bullshit it isn't necessarily that way at all Eric Erickson has seen the point And so he now talks about regression in the service of maturity.


Because it isn't a question of going back to what you were like when you were a baby. You can't do that. You can't degrow. What you're doing is you're rather like this. You were given a sheet of paper to make a drawing on. As you made the drawing, the piece of paper disappeared. And you have the drawing without any basis, which gives you a lot of separate things. What you're going to do by regaining the oceanic consciousness, you're going to regain the paper. Now you can see the drawing properly. Just like that. I mean, this is not the best metaphor. but if we could have a baby's oceanic consciousness plus a knowledge of all the tricks and games that adults play we would have a most amusing combination and that would be what we're talking about as people in Taoism or in Zen see the world or


any good mystic will see the world that way. Now, having set aside the people who say that's regression and terrible, let's look at the people who say it's impossibly difficult. The problem of stopping thinking and therefore getting back to the world as it is before it's been thinged, thinked, is to realize it is not a matter of getting rid of thoughts because there's nothing wrong with thoughts. Thoughts grow in the mind as naturally as grass grows in the field. Or if you don't like the word mind, I'll say they grow in the nervous system.


Terminology doesn't matter, it's all pattern. What we do is, we assume all too readily that the thoughts in the mind reflect the state of the world. But they don't. Any more than the leaves on the trees reflect the grass in the field. but we could work out an arrangement whereby we set up a code so that the leaves on the tree would represent the grass on the field or the cows in the field or whatever you want why we could number the leaves and number the cows and say you know here's a representation so there are wiggles in our minds fluctuations, vibrations and we arrange for these to represent the world and so we've got thinking I mean it was rather smart of us to see that that that could be done but you can be too clever sometimes and get yourself into a mess because you were too smart that's a very familiar phenomenon so


don't get involved in a you don't need to get involved as I say again you can if you'd like to but from my point of view you don't need to get involved in any attempt to suppress your thoughts all you have to do is to understand their nature to understand that they are a babbling stream going on in the skull and you need not take them any more seriously than that. That is why, for example, Sufi dervishes will repeat the name of God, Allah, or repeat their own names until they become meaningless and by this process they've seen a critical thought the thought of God or the thought of oneself back in its place as noise and so this puts all thought back in its place as babble


and then there is no longer any split between the natural world and the mind world the world that can be touched and the world that is conceived because they belong to the same the same order of vibrations and it's in this way you see that really without doing anything it's possible to switch from one level of consciousness to the other and that's you see that move over without doing anything is the trick


you it's what's reflected in the poem which says entering the forest he does not disturb a blade of grass entering the water he doesn't make a ripple it's also what is meant by the Taoist Zen image of the moon in the water here are thousands of puddles and ponds and lakes and rivers. When the one moon rises, instantly, there are thousands of reflections. The water does not wait or intend to receive the image of the moon. The moon has no mind to cast a reflection. And as it were, where there is water and where there is moon, there is instantly moon in water.


No interval, no hesitation, no block. That is why Satori is called sudden. It doesn't mean quick. It doesn't mean something that happens in a hurry. It means the instantaneous. the hands are struck and the clap is instantaneous because really the sound and the coming of the hands together are the same event and it's awkward to say that the sound is the result of the clapping it is the clapping so the Taoist just as he uses minimal effort not in order to be efficient but just because perhaps he's lazy that he has gravity in him so in this process of spiritual awakening I don't like those terms but


nobody's invented better ones yet he does it without fuss this expression without fuss translates the Chinese wu shi and it's interesting because the character shi is the same ji which also means thing event but it means two business thus and affair. So you get the expression wu shi ren which means a man of no business. In a way a dropout. So a man of no business is a man who has switched from being an ordinary man to a sage without announcing the change, without anyone knowing about it, without having gone through some kind of a shemazl to turn out the other way.


So fast it couldn't be noticed. And so I'm trying to point out the level at which this flip can so easily happen. Let me illustrate what I'm pointing out by going at it from another direction. We'll say that pain is a problem and we wish to overcome the problem of pain. Now, two obvious methods suggest themselves. One is to take dope and stop the pain that way. Another is to muster up courage, to lay will against the pain, to become very tense and grim and stern and fight one's reactions to pain.


of those two ways there really isn't much to choose between them probably the dope is better but the Taoist approach to pain would be this the problem of pain is that you don't like it the problem of society is it says to all us children of course you don't like pain but you must pretend that it doesn't bother you and here's where the trouble starts because it isn't so much that pain will make me scream but it's the screaming that I'm not supposed to do that really bugs me if I felt I could scream when I hurt the whole problem wouldn't be so difficult because I would know that nature provides a responsiveness to pain that somehow allows it to


blow itself off, to clean itself up. But if I'm forbidden this response, then I don't know where to go when I hurt. And so often people who are in pain have this sensation of having nowhere to go. You can't get away from a migraine headache. So they take you to hospital. and there are lots of other people in pain in the hospital and if they were all screaming they would madden each other and even more madden the nursing staff and hospitals you must remember are run for the convenience of the staff so that wouldn't do at all so everybody has to be doped up Now, I used to hate going to the dentist.


And the only reason I hate going now is that it's such a... I'm so busy with other things. But I overcame the fear of going to the dentist by overcoming the fear of reacting to pain. you cannot stop pain happening or you could perhaps by auto-hypnosis but let's supposing we're not using any tricks but pain is a stage in a chain of reactions so you have a reaction to it that is thus and so a certain kind of vibration set up in you you allow that to happen allow the next thing to happen allow the chain of events to follow well then you see your pain is cushioned by a lot of subsidiary bounces which you've allowed society doesn't want you to cushion it it wants you to hold it in so do you see in this way the problem of pain is addressed without


some colossal, bombastic, and pompous program of self-change. And that's the essence of Daoism. When I hear people are in for a program of self-change, and that they're going to this esoteric school, they're going to undergo a terrifically complex manipulation. I often think, wowee, how much fuss do you have to make in order to postpone this thing? It's like those sort of games people play in love. that I'm going to make myself as difficult to get as possible so that anybody who wants my love will really have to make a fuss on the thought that they will appreciate it all the more when they get it, which may or may not be true.


You may find that you put a tremendous investment in something that wasn't worth it. I think then, well, when somebody tells me that the path of spiritual development is very, very, very difficult and that it requires a person of unusual guts and terrific indomitable will, I think what a trap for egotist this thing is. I mean it's just beautifully baited. The challenge, wowee. and so when you approach it in that way by you have to show results when you come out of that school if you're still human you'll be suspect and this appeals very much in the United States


because we have by no means shaken off our Puritan ways of thought. We believe fanatically that your mind should rule your matter. And we're hypocritical about it because we're the biggest pill takers on earth. But The general thing is, you ought to be able to command the physical with the mental. If you can't, you're weak. And this makes us very cruel. That's why we make taking heroin a crime. Why we don't really seriously treat alcoholics as sick. say you ought not to be sick you see you ought to be able to resist that bad habit okay so at immense profit to our racketeers we forbid human nature and we ask our policemen to act as armed clergymen to enforce sumptuary laws of a purely religious nature


to enforce laws against crimes without victims. Whereas, it's axiomatic that in a free country you must be able to go to hell in your own way. Otherwise, there's no risk. Otherwise, it isn't free. It's a mockery. So, I must say, I'm very, very suspicious of all these Puritans. but that's the nice thing about the Taoist philosophy that it does not impose on you the requirement to be a Puritan only that you be a human being and so for this reason you will find that many of the so-called mystical ways certain forms of yoga of Buddhist meditation, of Christian practice, Hindu practice, will say that a spiritual person doesn't have sexual relations.


Well, when this yoga and Buddhism came to China and they told the Chinese that to practice you had to be celibate, the Chinese were absolutely horrified. because the whole of the Chinese social order, so far as it's Confucian, is based on the family. I mean, not to have children seemed to them absolutely ridiculous. Then they found out, you see, that the Hindus were uptight about sex because they equated loss of semen with loss of blood. now from a biological point of view there is no analogy between the two situations and they couldn't make a clear distinction between feeling rested and at ease after sexual intercourse and feeling exhausted after loss of blood


and so they felt that the sexual energy must be conserved and diverted so that the Kundalini or the serpent power which resides at the base of the spine instead of sending all its energy out in sex would withdraw that energy send it up the Sushumna into the thousand petal lotus in the brain where the sexual would be spiritualized. Now the Chinese had some similar ideas that they took over from the Hindus, the Taoist meditators, only they found a way of cheating. This is of interest to men. They found that instead of suppressing the sexual orgasm there was a way of putting pressure on the tubes between the scrotum and the penis so that the semen would go into the bladder instead of being ejected.


it's a kind of a groovy method of birth control but they discovered this and although they made a lot of hoo-ha about this was the way of causing the semen to ascend back into the brain of course it didn't do that but this is such an amusing sidelight on the Chinese way of handling Hindus So the Daoists, therefore, tend on the whole to be what we would call rather agreeable people. To have attitudes that are well represented in a poem I want to read you.


it's by Po Yijian and he wrote it about his studio which he called the hall of idleness I'm too lazy to read the Taoist classics for Tao doesn't reside in the books too lazy to look over the sutras for they go no deeper in Tao than its looks The essence of Tao consists in a void, clear and cool. But what is this void, except being the whole day like a fool? Too lazy I am to read poetry, for when I stop the poetry will be gone. Too lazy to play on the chin, for music dies on the string when it's born. Too lazy to drink wine, for beyond the drunkard's dream there are rivers and lakes. Too lazy to play chess, for besides the pawn there are other stakes.


Too lazy to look at the hills and streams, for there is a painting within my heart's portals. Too lazy to face the wind and the moon, for within me is the Isle of the Immortals. Too lazy to attend to worldly affairs, for inside me are my hut and my possessions. Too lazy to watch the changing of the seasons, for within me are heavenly processions. Pine trees may decay and rocks may rot, but I shall always remain what I am. Is it not fitting that I call this the hall of idleness? And I've made a remark this morning about the way we teach children to distinguish between what is important and what is unimportant and therefore inculcate a mental habit of skimming over life and rejecting an enormous number of experiences as being unprofitable


and this gravely restricts our taste. Well here's a Taoist philosopher who made a list of 32 happy moments and uh 33 excuse me and uh listen to some of the things that he finds I have nothing to do after a meal and try to go through the things in some old trunks. I see there are dozens or hundreds of IOUs from people who owe my family money. Some of them are dead and some still living. But in any case, there's no hope of their returning the money. Behind people's backs, I put them together in a pile and make a bonfire of them. And I look up to the sky and see the last trace of smoke disappear. Ah, is not this happiness?


I get up early on a summer morning and see people sawing a large bamboo pole under a mat shed to be used as a water pipe. Ah, is this not happiness? It has been raining for a whole month and I lie in bed in the morning like one drunk or ill refusing to get up. Suddenly I hear a chorus of birds announcing a clear day. Quickly I pull aside the curtain, push open the window and see the beautiful sun shining and glistening and the forest looks like having a bath. Ah, is this not happiness? I am drinking on a winter's night and suddenly note that the night has turned extremely cold. I push open the window and see that snowflakes come down the size of a palm and there are already three or four inches of snow on the ground. Ah, is this not happiness? To cut with a sharp knife a bright green watermelon on a big scarlet plate on a summer afternoon.


Ah, is this not happiness? To open the window and let a wasp out of the room. To keep three or four spots of eczema in a private part of my body and now and then to scald or bathe it with hot water behind closed doors. I wake up in the morning and seem to hear someone in the house sighing and saying that last night someone died I immediately asked to find out who it is and learn that it is the sharpest most calculating fellow in town to keep oh here was one where is it well


to take a stick of red ink and rub it in a drop of dew on the windowsill. So on. Spinoza said that the more we know of particular things, the more we know of God. But you see now some sort of paradox coming up. I started out by saying that there aren't really any things.


and then suddenly we find ourselves arriving at a state of consciousness where what we have hitherto called things and very particular things indeed become of enormous importance and this gets us back to the place where in answer to the very general question what is the fundamental principle of Buddhism The Zen master replies, the cypress tree in the yard. And the haiku poem is always very, very concrete, very specific image. You know, it creates a scene that you could almost cut with a knife. the dense mist, what is being shouted between hill and boat?


That's all. So somehow at the point where everything becomes most particular and we get these apparently trivial everyday occurrences of human life we suddenly have done a flip in which we see that the high high absolute the Tao is not something way off there from all that it is just precisely this little everyday event now we can talk about that sort of flip in western language like this let's suppose that you are really God we could say first that you are God dreaming that you are who you are


and there might come a point where you would wake up and instead of having your present kind of consciousness you would survey and understand the whole universe and you would be up there watching all galaxies or something like that or even more complicated But let's get more subtle about this idea. Supposing being aware that you are God would not involve that change of consciousness but would be instead a coming to the understanding that the consciousness you are in at this moment is omniscience. There is a way of seeing that and it often happens when people who've taken LSD and have, as it were, blown their minds and gone into all sorts of amazing spaces, return to normal consciousness.


And just at the moment of re-entry, see that the normal consciousness is just as divine as any other one. and I can't describe a weirder feeling than that. Then the identity of the consciousness of the absolute with the kind of consciousness you're in now. Now that's talking about it in a very highfalutin metaphysical way by introducing this loaded word God. because then whenever we say God we get an inflated idea we see the enthroned monarch at the top of the steps and hear the trumpets and see the peacock fans and the battalions the lighting


the spotlights, the central figure, the glory. But Lao Tzu says that the great Tao flows everywhere both to the left and to the right. It loves and nourishes all things but does not lord it over them. And when good things are accomplished it lays no claim to them. It's rather different. I am the Lord and there is none else. Me only shalt thou serve for there are no other gods beside me. It's very different from the pomp and circumstance of cathedral rituals where the architecture is designed after the design of the courts of the Roman emperors. so our problem in talking about this is our word God is so loaded and that we do towards it what I will call our relationship to God to Jesus Christ to the gurus to the buddhas is blocked by the phenomenon of excessive reverence


I also call it pedestalization. Put that fellow high enough in your estimation and you can't reach him. This is a way of kicking him upstairs so he won't bother you. So, with this attitude of God, God, blah, [...] the most obvious what there is. You know, so screamingly obvious that only a well-educated person can miss it.


You know how to conceal things by making them obvious. It's often done. you just don't miss, you miss completely the thing that's staring you in the face and this is so of all really important discoveries the person who makes them feels foolish for not having seen it before it was obvious that's why there's such a joy in any scientific or mathematical discovery because suddenly it zooms at you that you were looking at all the time and that you didn't see it because you were looking for something more recondite. So, when you've got this pedestalization, this great phenomena of excessive reverence, that prevents you from seeing the obvious.


You think, surely it couldn't be that. Surely it couldn't mean that the Tao is, you know, what there is. It's just as simple as that. Just, you know, stop taking your thoughts seriously and view the world, including thoughts, from a non-think point of view, from a no-word point of view, and there it is, baby. That's the Tao. And, you know, you almost think, But shouldn't I ask a question? I mean, surely it can't be that simple. You know, what if everybody saw it? What would that do? Well, wouldn't that be terrible? Well, you see, this is a typical philosophical gambit that one learns by reading too much. Which is that if you give a philosopher a real answer, he can't ask you any further questions. So his game ends. But if he could say to you, to your answer, I'm not sure what you mean by that, and then you are foolish enough to give him an explanation, he can still play the game because he can take your explanation to pieces because it's only words.


But if you end up with something that isn't a word, you'll say, well of course that's nothing to do with philosophy, and wander off and find somebody else to verbalize with. Huh? So what? You know, suddenly you hand him the universe, he says, so what? So, but the point is that there it is, it's that simple. Here's this marvel, which has completely got you teased out of thought, as Keats said, as doth eternity. Well, you say that leaves me with nothing to think about. And then you've been brought up by IBM. with a notice that says, think! Really, if you don't have something to think about, go on thinking. Something terrible is going to happen. It can't be that easy.


But there it is, it's too bad if it is that easy, but it is. The thing that puts people off is false modesty. You think, oh surely I, I mean I'm just a slob. I remember Varda, my dear friend, who lived with his neighbor for 10 years. He was a Greek, a very joyous, exuberant man, full of mischief. And he had a stroke about a year before he died. During the stroke, he had a colossal mystical experience. Absolutely incredible. And he said to me afterwards, he said, I cannot imagine how such an experience happened to me. You know, I am nobody. I am a lecherous man. Oh, here he thought, oh, no, no, it couldn't happen to me because we all look inside ourselves, you know, and we all find that


there's a kind of quaking mess of anxious sensitivity down in there let's forget that let's put on a brave front and identify with that if we can and forget that quaking mess but you know we're all like that underneath and if you weren't you wouldn't be human the object of these mystical ways is not to turn you into non-humans in Zen they differentiate between a living Buddha and a stone Buddha a stone Buddha has no feelings in other words no quaking mess and you're right if you have that out it's like a prefrontal lobotomy I'm sure we could lobotomize everybody castrate them and do a few other little surgical tricks so that they wouldn't give any more trouble they wouldn't have any ideas they would subside into torpidity and to be from one point of view in total Samadhi.


But I'm suggesting how to understand Samadhi, understand the mystical experience beyond words and at the same time be a human. And for me that is the way that I find that I want in life to synthesize the spiritual and the sensuous, the life of contemplation and the life of action, the way beyond the world and the way of the world, so that we don't live anymore in a skitzy universe. Let's take an intermission.