I was in the morning seminar making a rather outrageous suggestion. Instead of the attitude that we are either objects of fate which are puppets manipulated by natural forces. And instead also of the attitude if you can’t lick ‘em, join them. That is to say, as it were pretending that everything that happens is just the way you really intended it to happen. There is still something else which is intuited in all forms of mystical experience which is, not that you have to pretend anything, but that in exactly the same way as. Your own organization keeps functioning without your apparently having anything to do with doing it. That process is continuous with is one process with all the behavior going on around you of other people of nature and of the entire universe. And as you contemplate this possibility, you shall I say begin to get the feel of it. And there is a curious point where a concept which after all this is a kind of concept slips over into getting a knack. Of actually feeling that’s the way it goes it’s exactly the same sort of thing as getting say, the feel of the wind in sailing. Well you need to keep a certain. A certain tautness, I say in the sails. Keep up a kind of even pressure. It’s the same as in many many other skills Well there comes a point of getting a knack and at every moment of getting the knack you have the curious sensation that this what you are doing is doing itself.
You get it when you first remember riding a bicycle, when you first actually swam. Don’t you remember the feeling of somehow it is doing it rather than I am doing it in the ordinary way it haven’t. You know, ‘Look Momma no hands.’ And so in it in respect to what I’m talking about. There is a point at which it becomes perfectly clear to you that you are not something struggling against everything else or being victimized by everything else. But that what is going on, insofar as you can experience it is your own doing. And the flip, from one state to the other is just like getting the knack in swimming, riding a bicycle or any other athletic or artistic activity. But then at that point you see, you become from the world’s point of view, crazy. You become a divine madmen. And at that point, you are able to practice what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. Be not anxious, for the morrow what you shall eat, what you shall drink and where with all you shall be clothed. You know that passage is the most of verses passage in the New Testament. And I have never yet heard a sermon. In which any preacher seriously advocated. They say well that’s a very high ideal, and might have been all very well for Jesus who was God. And people like that you see are regarded as completely irresponsible by the clergy in general. See, and somebody actually goes out because they say they that those hippies aren’t really doing it because they are relying on money from home which is by the square father. All from scrounging. And the still not quite the attitude of let it all go.
But you see, if you are a really genuine divine Madman, you are not necessarily at the same time an irresponsible being. Perhaps one of the best examples of the divine Madman, was a Japanese Zen monk by the name of Riokan. He was a poet. And a kind of a solitary lived in the cottage on a hill. And would appear to be completely naive and I want to give you a story about Riokan which shows how a divine madmen relates to the practical world. One day, he was invited to a house I suppose a fairly wealthy home because he was much prized as a guest. And he went into the reception Room. And sat down to serve tea, and then when he thought he was alone he was looking around and he saw a hanging scroll where there was a painting of a tiger. And he looked at it, was delighted it’s great and he said “Ahhr!” And have a great time playing Tiger and suddenly he noticed that there was still present in the room sitting very quietly a servant maid. He looked and said ‘Don’t you tell anybody about that they’ll think I’m crazy.’
At another time he was sitting outside his little heart and he had finished dinner. And he had put his bowl rice bowl on top of one chopstick and the spinning this and suddenly a messenger came from a local diner you know that is to say a noble dignitary, and asked him some important question as to whether he could possibly attend and I know what it was a specialty ceremony or something like that. And all he could answer was the bowl keep spinning, and the messenger went back and said the master says the bowl keeps spinning.
On another occasion, he did very very interesting calligraphy. Though nobody can read it except very great experts because it looks as if an inky spider had crawled on the page. And but it’s highly prized, and today specimens of real comes writing sell for thousands of dollars. And people were always there for asking him if he would do a specimen and he was kind of cagey about it and reluctant. So one day a very cunning nobleman invited him to his house. And laid out on the mats some absolutely gorgeous writing paper great long strips of it with ink stone already full of ink, brushes and everything just sitting there. And Riokan went into the room and sat waiting for the house to arrive and he walked over and looked at this gorgeous paper of the brushes and sniffed around. And then absolutely couldn’t resist the temptation to write a poem down the scroll. Then suddenly he realized he’d done something awful. Because after all this was the most expensive paper you could get. And he didn’t realize that it was laid out for him to do something. He just thought, you know, it was there somehow and he’d And then at that moment the host walked in. And Riokan said “Oh I’m so I’m horrified I’m so sorry I just couldn’t resist the temptation.” The host said, “That’s perfectly all right don’t worry about it at all please he removed the feet try another one. And Riokan also loved to play with children, all crazy people do. Because you can get away with things with children that you can’t with other people.
And I while I just want to put us out of interspersed remark here I don’t approve really of baby talk because I think that’s insulting to children. It somehow makes them into dolls. But absolutely different from baby people, is play talk is that and what I mean not play talk is distinct work, talk about dancing talk you know you can do things you can make faces at children you can. Let yourself go in the company of children in a way that you can’t with other people and that’s there is a certain point in life as children grow up somewhere around five, six, seven but they become spoiled. And they become embarrassed by your really hassling with them anymore in that way. So Riokan loved to play with children, and he used to play all sorts of games of hide and seek with them. And one day he was it, and he had to go off and stay in a certain place and all the children went to hide and then they would say you-hoo and he’d start the fun so he went off to hide. And I know you. So he waited. For you-hoo, to stay there all night. Waiting for this the children does later joke on him and run off. Well one says You see that’s not a very practical man. So, but he was adored by everybody. He was a kind of cherished village idiot, who was yet very much respected because everybody knew that in truth he was the only person in the village who was without basic fear. And who was therefore living life as a Zen monk who is called an un-sui. This is the two words, un, cloud, sui, water. And he’s given this name every month he’s called and I’m sorry because he’s supposed to drift like a cloud and flow like water.
And this is exactly the see the same spirit. As not being anxious for the morrow and going along with the grass of the field in the fowls of the air. One day Confucius was out for a walk with his disciples. And he saw an old man fall into a big mountain stream, and thought alas he is sick and old and tired of life and he’s making off with himself. For below where the point where he fell in there was an enormous cataract and then rocks and rapids underneath. But suddenly, the old man appeared way down below the rapids call out of the stream and went strolling along the banks. Confucius was amazed and he immediately sent a disciple to run after the old man so that he could talk to him. He said I thought you were about to make away with yourself but I see now that you must be a spirit. And he said ‘No I’m not a spirit I’m just a perfectly human being.’ Well then how did you survive the cataract he said in no special way I just went in with the swell and came out with a well. I did nothing I simply adapted myself to the nature of the water. And so in the same way we have it connected with the Taoist and Zen, early Zen traditions many instances of famous monks who were quite mad on the Esalen announcement for this series of workshops and seminars there is a drawing of hunch on. And he and his companion shutter all the Japanese say Han-Shan on and Jitoku. They were two mountain hermits, who are favorite subjects of Zen artists because they are shown. Wandering about together in the woods laughing at falling leaves. And, Sang-Gi used to like that to draw them with the sutras open. Chanting away with their hair all frazzled and laughing chanting the sutras. And really not paying any attention to what they mean at all but just having a ball making these noises. But as a matter of fact, Han-San was an extraordinarily competent poet, in perfect control of the language when he needed to be. But all that controlled mastery was somehow based on. The attitude of what we will call fundamental nonsense, fundamental goofing off because you really don’t need to make life work.
The point is you see these two ways of being. And not incompatible. They appear to be incompatible, when you think that the foundation of everything is the tough discipline. That that’s basic. It is not basic, it’s secondary and it’s an important secondary. But you can’t really make it work. Unless you build it on top of the primary which is the goofing off attitude of the child. To learn an excellent discipline and to learn it well you’ve got to goof your way into it. In other words, you have to learn. say in drawing, how to make very fine lines, by getting absorbed in doodling them. You see, do it not because there’s anything special to be accomplished but just because it’s such a it’s such a gas to make the brush go in a certain way, like that when you practice calligraphy for example Western calligraphy or Chinese calligraphy you begin to dig the in amazing shapes that a brush can make and you play with your hands just as it just goes so you’re not trying to please anybody the master all that make an impression you’re just digging that brush. Chinese are very clever about this because they they make writing such a delight. For example, they puff you in the ink and it has a very subtle perfume is extremely great and then they rub the ink on a stone in water and it makes a beautiful blue black mixture and the feeling of sliding the stick back and forth on the stone is, is just as groovy as can be. Especially when the ink begins to get thick and smooth and the feeling of rubbing that and you get this satisfactory of sense then when you feel it’s just right you pick up the brush in for a while you play with the brush with the point getting it just to the right quality that you want. And then, to write, you learn to dance with the brush on the paper and here again is the thing of knack that when you write correctly you feel it is doing it. Now do you see the spirit in which underneath the accomplishment is playfulness. That it doesn’t matter, and I found in studying the bringing up of children, education and so on, that a child gets completely discouraged when you tell that child that it is absolutely important that success be attained in a certain task.
Well, it just has to be done, I mean there is no wall down to if you’ve got to do it see you’ve got to be able to build it, to learn it to which this this distinction or whatever it is and that’s like pushing the child and knocking them down. It’s totally discouraging. Because if you must do it. The feeling is I don’t think I will ever be able to. So instead every good teacher stirs up interest. Makes it, takes it that goofing off is basic. But subtly, by a kind of Judo, arranges the goofing off to go in this way. So then the world may be taken then to be fundamentally mad, crazy. All basic life is crazy life because it’s nonsense. The death poem of a great Zen master was ‘I have uttered nonsense from the bathtub to the bathtub.’ All the time in which the baby is washed at birth in which the corpses washed before cremation, that’s the two terms of life. And so all his Zen teaching and all his carryings on were just he said to start this stuff and nonsense. Because here we are, you know, we think we make sense.
I’m talking English to you and you understand the meaning of my words, but let’s just drop this situation into another context what is the meaning of your understanding what I’m saying. We’re all sitting around here. And you are listening to these signals and you are interpreting them into signals of your own, but look at the situation from above. What a crazy assembly, because what we’re doing gathering here making noises, very complicated noises, is essentially no different from what this tree is doing out here spreading out its branches with all these little twigs and things sticking out and my job what is it doing well you say if we look at it from a practical point of view. Those leaves have a purpose and they are to absorb moisture and sunlight and to sort of go down into the tree and help the sap to come up and. Then then the real object of this is that it grows some kind of flower or cone and that gets fertilized a little seeds inside and they come out and fall on the ground and get blown about and some get picked up by birds and distributed and they make other trees, you see. That’s the thing, that’s what it’s all about, that’s very very important function, actually it’s sheer nonsense. Is this tree is going to say wow isn’t that great you know let’s spread this around and get everybody else going to do it but you know. What we’re doing exactly the same thing. And the trouble with the loss of civilized people is we don’t know it. He think we’re being serious. And we know we have tremendously important schemes going on and that it’s desperately vital that, for example, the human race survives. And that we go on with this great thing called Circle I think the United States of America the U.S.S.R.. Whatever it is we think that’s the great thing we have to do but that’s what’s destroying us. Because it’s nobody is going to blow up the world with an atom bomb for the sake of da-do-da-do-da-do-da-do. Know life is this fundamentally directionless wandering cloud like River drifting play and yet I casually use the word we should understand. And just as I pointed out earlier on this the problem that when you see that the world is like this and that you are all one with it and it’s your doing and then you get it absolutely clear in your mind it is very clear indeed and you suddenly want to explain it to somebody and you find there are no words for it well so in just the same way, when one is trying to say this is what we should do, there seems to be a complete contradiction. And it’s there’s a verbal and logical hang up here that it’s difficult to get across if you keep on using words it’s only words that are making the difficulty. There is no difficulty in practice.
So I’m saying in words you should do something that you really can’t help doing anyhow. Because you’re thinking about it in words you don’t realize it. You don’t realize that you are doing it anyhow because you are thinking about it in words. And therefore the problem arises why am I saying you should do it when you can’t help doing it anyway. So the words I’m using are getting in the way of the message or the meaning. So that this this could be called understanding is to be so, that we should be madmen in the sense of abandoning this whole project of the survival of the race, civilisation and so on. That this is the only way in which we can really structure human life and unplug various purely abstract and political engines that are totally destructive. But you see, you can’t, you can’t unplug them if you’re still afraid of them. If you are still fundamentally worrying about what is going to happen to civilisation. It’s only when you see, in your own inner experience, that it simply doesn’t matter. That what is important is what is unimportant which is the jazz. And that is important not that it should go on. But in the doing there off.
So this creates, what I would some people might call a new political strategy. Which we will call the politics of diversion. That is to say living a style of life. Which everybody sees that we’re enjoying, that is so great. They’ll say oh I wish we could be like that. No, but we’ve got to be earnest, all that kind of thing is easy. But that doesn’t really achieve much except trouble. It is through application and study and earnestness that we have the atom bomb. We say well now look at all the things we civilized people have achieved. But sure about to blow up the planet that seems to be the prize of it. But here again let me underline the fact that I’m not trying to talk down technical skill, I’m only trying, and let me repeat the point that you cannot employ. Non-hostile, nondestructive technical skill. Unless you realize basically that you yourself are this whole domain of nature that’s the real you. You are not in a fight against nature, you’re not here to conquer nature because there’s nothing that conquer it’s all you. And so when you use technology to bulldoze everything into submission, you’re fighting yourself. You’re all tied up, clutched up, like the person trying to lift himself off the floor by his own bootstraps. And in that process, you’re dissipating all your energy. On something that can’t be done. And therefore you’re just getting tired out need to drop dead. So I know you see that there are paradoxical elements in this, but I repeat, the paradoxes appear because of the nature of the language. When we try to explain these things, we run into contradictions for the simple reason that we are trying to explain it. To put it into a language with either-or categories in it, where you say either you try or you don’t try. Either you let things go as they will or you do something about it. Either there is something you can do and therefore you should do it, or there’s nothing you can do and therefore no one search would say ‘Should.’ No one should say should look how messed up you get. But that’s what the way these difficulties arrive at the linguistic level these difficulties are not a rising at what I will call for the moment the material or the real level. Because there, at that domain, you will find yourself acting in a way that is in many ways more intelligent than you act when you make up your mind. But that you see that simply living in complete natural spontaneity that’s the way of the child. That may be the way of the animals, we don’t know. But certainly, as a child is irresponsible, in that sense, and begins to learn responsibility and so on we must be terribly careful to realize. That irresponsibility is the basis of responsibility. That if we destroy the basic irresponsibility then the consequent style of responsibility that we learn is useless because it’s all for nothing. It’s all a process of continuing with anxiety and guilt and uptightness and making more and more and more and more of it by a kind of Parkinson’s Law. You see what’s happening, if we succeed in business in the ordinary way, what does that lead to? More Business.
So I say we don’t get rid of this business and handed over the computers so they will do all the accounting then what Or you think up some new kind of business see and then we have to hand that over to computers because it’s a boring. And that means new more investments bigger things going chickedy-chick to get it, but it’s all machinery. You think this is a great erection! It never comes off.