If you believe that God is a monarch, an absolute, omniscient, and omnipotent authority – shall we say a sort of cosmic ego – then to claim to be that, is to introduce democracy into the Kingdom of Heaven. To usurp divine authority and to speak in its name without proper authorization. And they asked Jesus, “By what authority do you speak – of heaven or of men?” And he was tricky about answering that one, he said “By what authority did John the Baptist speak?” And they were nervous about answering that one. He could have asked by what authority did Isaiah speak etc, or Moses?
But Moses became official authority, and if you could wangle it, you said that your words were simply an extension of what Moses said, because Rabbi So-and-so said it who got it from Rabbi So-and-so who got it from Rabbi So-and-so who got it from Moses. Then it was okay. Notice this, that to be an authority today in the academic world depends on documentation. It is not enough to say, “For I say unto you.” You must put in your footnotes, and the more the footnotes, the more the authority, obviously. So our dissertations tend to be books about books about books, and our libraries multiply by mitosis.
So when somebody speaks as an authority, that means to speak as an author, that all it means. It’s a statement of which you are the author and, therefore, for which you assume responsibility. That is to speak with authority, and to be original – is likewise not to be freaky – but to speak from the origin. That is what Christians mean when they say to speak in the spirit, to have your mouth possessed by the Holy Spirit, as they believe the mouth of Jesus was possessed by the Holy Spirit.
So the Gospel of Jesus, which of course was hushed up from its inception, was that, “Wake up, everybody, and find out who you are!” Asking that, again in the Gospel of St. John, they – pointing to his disciples – may be one, “even as you, Father, and I, are one.” And when he was accused of blasphemy, the Jews took up stones to stone him if you know, and he said, “Many good works have I shown you from the Father, and for which of these do you stone me?” And they said, “For a good work we do not stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” Now listen to the reply. He said, “Is it not written in your law, I have said ye are Gods? And if that is what the Scripture says, it cannot be denied. So why do you tell me I blaspheme because I say, ‘I am a Son of God’?” No answer. Because I said, I am a Son of God.
It doesn’t say that in your King James translation, it sais: I am the Son of God. And you will see the italicized, then you will think that is done for emphasis if you don’t realize that passages in italics in the King James Bible are interpolations by the translators. In Greek, leaving out the definite article is equivalent to having the indefinite article. Υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ (Hyiòs toû Theoû) is “a Son of God,” not ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ (ho Hyiòs toû Theoû). So “Son of” in Hebrew and in Arabic means “of the nature of.” When we call someone a “son of a bitch” we mean bitchy. And so if you call someone a “Son of God,” you mean divine, of the nature of God. As the Nicene Creed subsequently defined it, “He is of one substance with the Father.”
But what happened was, that this being blasphemy for the Jews, it became blasphemy for the Christians, for anyone else than Jesus to say it. They said, “Okay. It was so with you, but there it stops! No more of this business.” And as a result of that, Jesus was made irrelevant by pedestalization, by being kicked upstairs, in spite of the fact that he said, “Greater works than these that I do, shall you do.” Oh no. Upstairs with you baby, because we just cannot have that sort of thing going on in a monarchical universe. We’re not going to have democracy in the Kingdom of Heaven. So this is why the Gospel is impossible, because we are supposed to follow the example of Christ when he says for example, “Be not anxious for the morrow.” Do not worry about what you shall eat, what you shall drink, and what you shall wear. God will take care of you. Doesn’t he take care of the birds? Don’t the flowers grow. And they’re wonderful, they’re crazy, they’re great! What are you worrying about? I have never heard a sermon preach on that, never; because it’s totally subversive, the economy would crash. So they said, “Oh yes, that’s all very well, but he was the boss’ son.” He had that colossal advantage, take up your cross and follow him.
Hey! But wait a minute! I don’t know if I’m going to be resurrected three days later, I can’t do all those miracles. He had an unfair advantage, so how can they ask us to follow the example of Christ?
But supposing he didn’t have an unfair advantage, supposing that what was true about Jesus as the Son of God is true for us. Only a few of us know it, and we are pretty careful to be quiet about it, lest the same thing happen to us as happened to Jesus – and indeed it often does.
And you know, you get these people from Arkansas or Texas or, anywhere in the Bible Belt – who never heard of the Upanishads – and they have this cosmic consciousness experience and they realized that that’s what happened to Jesus, they he says, “I’m Jesus, come back.” Well, everybody says to him, “You aren’t Jesus. It’s pretty obvious you’re not Jesus. You’re just Joe Doggs. He says “Well, that’s what they said about Jesus.” He has a perfect argument, except they say, “You’re not much of a Jesus.” They say, “Alright, if you’re Jesus, command that these stones be made bread.” And he says, “A wicked and deceitful generation seeketh for a sign, and there shall be no sign given.”
Now, why talk about this? Is it interesting, is it important for the human being to realize that in some sense of the word – whatever it means – he is God or one with God, as is plainly taught by the Hindus, hinted at by the Buddhists, only they don’t like to put it out as a concept, in case people will use the concept as an idol to hang onto. They want you to find out for yourself – and not believe in it. And certainly the Taoists understand it, the Sufis understand it. A lot of people understand it. But so what?
What the importance of this is this: that to know that you are God is another way of saying that you feel completely with this universe. You feel profoundly rooted in it and connected with it. You feel, in other words, that the whole energy, which expresses itself in the galaxies, is intimate. It is not something to which you are a stranger but it is that with which you – whatever that is – are intimately bound up. That in your seeing, your hearing, your talking, your thinking, your moving, you express that which it is, which moves the sun and other stars.
And if you don’t know that (you are God), if you don’t feel that, well, naturally you feel alien, you feel a stranger in the world. And if you feel a stranger, you feel hostile. And therefore you start to bulldoze things about, to bit it up, and to try and make the world to submit to your will and you become a real troublemaker.
So I feel also, one reason why you become hostile is that feeling that you were just brought into this place, that your father and mother went up to some monkey business, that they probably shouldn’t have done, or it was bad rubber goods, and as a result of this, here you are, and you didn’t ask to be here. You will always feel you can turn around and blame them. You can blame somebody. You can blame the government. You can blame the rascals. You can blame the cheaters. Always supposing you yourself aren’t a rascal, which is a long odds. You always can blame someone and say, “I didn’t ask for it. Take it away.” And yet, and yet, and yet very few people are all too ready to take it away.
Camus said that “The only serious philosophical problem is whether or not to commit suicide.” And if you don’t, if you don’t say “Take it away”, what are you going to do? You really got to assume responsibility for it. You have got to say “yes” to what happens. It is my karma. And that doesn’t mean merely, cause here are many main misinterpretations of the doctrine of karma. It is usually and popularly understood to be that what happens to you, either fortunate or unfortunate, is the result of good or bad deeds in a previous life. Well, that’s popular superstition. The real meaning of karma, the word in Sanskrit means simply “doing.” And if I say of event, that “is your karma”, it is saying “it is your doing.” So the exposition a book which would expounds karma would be not so much a whodunit as a youdunit. But that seems fantastic.
Now therefore what I propose we do is that we, instead of just ideologising, we have a clinical experience. You know, in psychiatric school, in medical school, it’s very usual for a doctor to bring a patient out in front of the students, and talk with the patient. As a kind of demonstration, he says, “I want you to recognise the difference between a psychopath and a manic depressive or a schizophrenic or something” – they don’t know what all these things mean. And especially, there’s schizophrenia, and… so, he has a dialogue with the patient right there. So, let us suppose that I’m the patient and you are the students and the doctors, and I suffer from what you would call the delusion that I’m God. And therefore, you might want to do something about me or with me, or humour me, or ask me questions. And so I’m perfectly willing to submit to your examination and your treatment and invite you to help yourselves.
Male voice: When did you become God?
Female voice: Will you marry me?
Male voice: Do you sleep on your front or your back?
Watts: Sleeping is like politics. One sleeps on the right side, and then when you’re tired of that, you sleep on the left. When you’re tired of that, you sleep on your back, and when you’re tired of that you sleep on your stomach, and it is thus that the world goes round.
[Laughter, light applause]
Male voice: If you are God now, what were you yesterday?
Female voice: How do you become God?
Watts: You don’t become God.
Female voice: Interesting.
Male voice: Am I also God?
Male voice: Are we, then, the same person?
Watts: No. Remember, three persons but one God.
Male voice: God, will you tell us a little bit about Satan?
Watts: Could I tell you a little bit about Satan? [pauses] Yes. Although the matter is a little esoteric, but I told you all about it in the Book of Job, where you will see that in the court of Heaven, Satan is the District Attorney. He is not, as Christians imagine, the enemy of Heaven, and the enemy of mankind. He’s merely the person who sees the bad side of things and carries out the dirty work. And therefore, he saw Job, and wondered whether Job was really as great a guy as he seemed to be, and suggested that God should appoint a committee of investigation to find out. And the committee did its work very thoroughly but the case went against Satan because it was proved in the end that Job was an honourable man. Now you notice that although we pay the salary of the District Attorney, whenever there’s a great criminal case before the public eye, people begin to take the side of the underdog. And the prosecutor always has less public sympathy than the defence – except in political trials. On the right hand of God, and you know the defence is always on the right hand of the judge in court, is our only mediator and advocate, which is the phrase referring to Jesus Christ, Our Lord. So there is the defence, and there is the prosecution, and it is the function of Satan to be the prosecutor. There’s a good deal more to it than that because before all this started, lies in a stage play, there was an arrangement in the green room before coming on stage, in which certain things were understood but that are only to be revealed when the curtain goes down at the end of the play.
Female voice: Is Job God too?
Watts: Yes, but he doesn’t know it.
Female voice: Why do you hide from the sight of so many?
Watts: Why do you hide? It’s for the same reason you’re hiding!
Male voice: God, did you create [inaudible]?
Male voice: [inaudible]
Watts: Who else?
Male voice: Does man have free will?
Male voice: Does man have free will?
Watts: Man has free will to the extent that he knows who he is. Not otherwise.
Male voice: Where does he get free will from?
Watts: Where I got it from.
Female voice: Does woman have free will too?
Watts: Yes. To the extent that she knows who she is, yes.
Male voice: If man has free will and knows just what he is, and man is God, then, you’re saying then you’d say that you are no more than any God in this room – or any man.
Watts: That is correct, I am no more God than any of you.
Male voice: And you only have the power to know who you are?
Watts: Well, that is saying quite a bit. Yes.
Male voice: What is not God?
Watts: What is not God? There is nothing that is not God.
Male voice: How do you learn who you are?
Watts: It’s like waking up from a dream. After a while one’s experience begins to have what I would call a “haven’t we been here before?” feeling. Going round and round and round…and then you begin wondering: “where am I going?” And to answer that question you have to try and find out what you want. And so I went into that very thoroughly. What do I want to happen? And, of course, as soon as you ask yourself that you begin to fantasize. And our amazing technology is of course an expression of human desire, desire for power, for what we want to achieve. So I simply set myself to thinking through how far we could go. And so I soon found myself at a great push-button place where I had a fantastic mechanism, with buttons available for every conceivable thing I could wish! So I spent quite a bit of time playing with those. And science fiction wasn’t doing it. You know, you go “going” like that and here is Cleopatra. And so on – you know press this button; symphonic music in – ahh…4 channel sound, 16 channel sound – anything! All possible pleasures are available. And when you’re like everybody’s dream of the sultan in the palace, you suddenly notice there’s a button labeled “surprise”. You push that. And here we are.
Male voice: Is boredom a problem?
Watts: Yes boredom is of course the problem. Boredom is the other side of creativity. And the energy of creation has as its – that is the Yang. The Yin side of that energy is called boredom. Everything is of course fundamentally Yang and Yin. If you understand that you really don’t need to understand anything else.
Male voice: As God, what responsibility do you feel to ameliorate evil in the world?
Watts: As God, what responsibility do I feel to ameliorate evil in the world? I begin with the point that I am responsible for the way the world is. If I couldn’t feel that I’d have to blame somebody else. I’m not willing to do that because I know that under various changing circumstances, it might be appropriate for me to be as big a rascal as rascals have been. Now as to improving the world, the world is always improving. It may look to some people slow, but it’s improving even when it is declining, because the world works in an undulatory process, like a wave: it goes up and it goes down, it goes up and it goes down. And it couldn’t go up all the time because if it did, we wouldn’t know that that was up. So it goes down some of the time so that we can know when it goes up because if we didn’t know when it went up it would be like being in a space where everything was light. There’d be nothing to write home about. There’d be no black marks on the space and so it would be like a piece of perfectly empty paper. Similarly, to be in a completely black space would also be a kind of unconsciousness with nothing to write home about, as there’d be nothing – nothing would make any difference. So, therefore, if you’re going to have black, you won’t know that it’s black unless you have some white and if you’re going to have white, you won’t know that it’s white unless you have some black.
Male voice: Why do you teach us all to love one another, because if we get to that point, there won’t be any ups and downs?
Watts: Correct, but that’s not a teaching it’s a kōan. A kōan is a Japanese word for a spiritual problem, used in Zen Buddhism, such as ‘what is the sound of one hand?’ And these problems are given to those who ask questions concerning their spiritual development. And sometimes, as St. Paul pointed out, commandments are given not in the expectation that they will be obeyed, but in the expectation that they will reveal something to those who hear them. That was St. Paul’s comment on the whole Mosaic law… Yes, sir?
Male voice: If we are all God –
Watts: Yes –
Male voice: – what of the hereafter? Is there a heaven, is there a purgatory, is there a hell?
Watts: The hereafter is of course now, because if you will examine it closely there is no-when else than now. And if you want to make hell of it, you can make hell of it – if you want to make a heaven of it, you can make a heaven of it – purgatory, purgatory. It’s all here. Always was, always will be.
Female voice: What is death?
Watts: Death is an undulation in consciousness. How would you know you were alive unless you’d once been dead?
Male voice: Do you realise – in the same way that Jesus did the will of God – why was it unnecessary for him to have material possessions and necessary for you?
Watts: It wasn’t unnecessary for him to have material possessions. They said of St. John The Baptist that he was an ascetic – but of Jesus: “this man consorts with gluttoners and wine bibbers and comes eating and drinking.” And when the Lady Mary poured precious ointment on his feet and anointed him, they said the same thing that the members of the vestry say to the ministers today – “why this great expense? Couldn’t it all have been sold for much money and given to the poor?”
Male voice: …but this is a problem…
Watts: It is a problem, sure. But you see, in many ways when you get down to these very deep ethical problems, where there sure is no easy decision one way or the other, you must look at the problem from the point of view of an artist. Which way of doing this is in some sense greater? It may be better to go off with a bang than with a wimper.