You know the more I study people’s religions, and I’ve started them for an awful long time, the less I am inclined to quarrel with anybody’s position or belief. Or way of practice. And this is also true of various philosophical systems. It’s all right that philosophers should argue with each other. I’m not going to quarrel with that either. But from my standpoint, the more I look at it, the more of the extraordinary variety of human opinions and ways of life, becomes comparable to a flower garden. Where these plants and trees and worms and birds and snails and slugs are playing all kinds of different games.
Now some of you may be unaccustomed to the side there because I see some new faces here. But it’s my fundamental philosophy that the universe is essentially a game. We use the word game or we use the word play in varying senses, and it may give the wrong impression because very often people. Assume that when such a word is used it indicates something trivial. As we say it’s only in play or only a game and then when you consider what an appalling amount of suffering the universe contains. No one wants to feel that it’s worthwhile. You see either you mistake the point of view that if there is this deplorable suffering the universe is one hell of a mess. And the only response that you can make to it is to do battle. Or you may say no it isn’t really a mess. Somehow all the suffering amounts to something in the end, it creates energies, it’s a kind of a process like an oyster suffering to mature a pearl. And therefore, people who feel bothered about that, can’t quite emotionally contain the idea that it’s all a game. Because then if that was so I would be the sport of some cosmic process whether God or whatever, that plays with me as a child might torture an insect about a fly by pulling off its wings or burning it with a magnifying glass with the sun, or something like that. Only, as I will develop it, we shall see, that there is no system. In which somebody tortures and somebody else is torturer.
In my view of the world which is a semi-Buddhist semi-Hindu. The Creator and the creature are one. And all beings whatsoever are the masks. And plays. And ploys of the central self. There is just this Self. Which plays itself through all forms through all of us. Endlessly. So, if you look upon the different forms of life. Human, animal, insect, plant or whatever. As comparable to. Mazurkas, waltzes, rumbas, Charleston’s, twists, or whatever. Or to poker, bridge, backgammon, chess. Or, if you want to get more highbrow, who can cherish the symphony is part of Peter’s few and so on. You can see that everything is a way of dancing. And so, this also applies to people’s different religious attitudes. There is the Baptist game, you see, and the Roman Catholic game. The Bible game, the ritual game. These are all ways of doing a dance but the religious ones have a way of trying to express some sort of fundamental attitude to everything that there is.
Now, I was thinking about this in New York recently. My wife and I attended a very marvelous ceremonial. Which is held in Holy Week, and it’s called Tenebrae. It’s really very simple. But it’s extraordinary dramatic. It goes on for about two hours and consists of the chanting of Psalms interspersed with the most gorgeous anthems composed by I think Victoria. And enduring the chanting of the Psalms, fifteen candles on a triangular shaped candlestick like they’re standing up so slowly extinguished, until only one is left. And this is supposed historically, to represent the desertion of Christ by His disciples in the Garden of Gerthemane. And at the crucifixion. There that one candle is taken out behind it all time. And the place is totally dark. And the choir sings the psalm. Miserere, have mercy upon me your god after the A great goodness which is a penitential Psalm the fifty first Psalm. For behold I was shaped in wickedness and in sin have my mother conceived me. And then they make an enormous crash, and the candle is brought back put on the stand and everybody goes away. While we they this is a church it’s a high a high way out Anglican Church, where they do everything to ultimate perfection in music the ritual is just, there’s nothing like it in the world. And so, I began to think about what those people were really doing what are they digging in this rightfu repentance about the death and the crucifixion of Christ. So this led, I mean, to begin thinking about their areas ways or fundamental attitudes that run through all the religions. And I classify them in a scheme and the three R.’s and I use they are simply as a mnemonic device so that you could remember easily. And we get this scheme. So here is the attitude of repentance. And I question what is its opposite? Well obviously it’s opposite is rebellion. I won’t give in.
When I was a little boy, and I was taught all sprout at my mother’s knee. When we got to the sea the phrase thy will be done, I would never say it. Because I thought that the saying I will be done and I was damned if I were to be done. And now, over here is another attitude, resignation. And over at the opposite side I consider what is the opposite of resignation now this is difficult to find the word for and so I’m using an old word in a new sense reincarnation. This is not being used exactly in the sense of successive lives. But incarnation means, entering into the flesh into life. So reincarnation is when we don’t do it once but we say that was that was something and so we do it again. So, no it’s the attitude of a child when a child sees you do something that’s amazing the child says do it again. And an English poet once said that when the Lord God created the world and commanded the stars and to shine on the planets to revolve around the Sun. He was so fascinated that he said do it again and it kept on happening so he was saying this to express an attitude of what we call lately, getting with it. Of complete affirmation of life.
So, now the point is this that every one of these can be seen as a way leading to a center at which point they all coalesce. And you can get to the center that is to say, to the transcendence of our ordinary sense of isolated individuality. You can get to the center by following any one of these ways to an extreme. Only it’s very difficult for a person who follows this way to understand this way. Offer a person who understands this way. To get with this. Or even between right angles, they are a little difficult to understand. And I imagine many of you here what you wouldn’t be in this kind of a scene. If for example you understood the way of repentance. And that was the way that you like to follow you would be in church instead. So I’m starting out with this way because it’s the most difficult for probably most of you to understand and the most repugnant. The extreme of repentance you know, of course is the penitentiary cult. In Mexico and the southwest here. Among the Indians an extreme of identification with Christ and His crucifixion, kind of self-torture. And the extreme of this way is of course the penitentiary. The most interesting experiences that many of us that have through exploring the prison world. The world of the asylum, the world of the enemy of society. And that as a kind of yoga you know that San Quentin. Looks like the potent of a classic. The great Tibetan monastery it’s the same almost the same architectural design. And there are, I lecture San Quentin about once a year. And the most extraordinary question out of the most attentive audience you could imagine. And lots of. It is a kind of monastery, as asylums for the insane are also signs on the street.
So I’m just saying these general things to give you an outline of the scheme we’re going to follow. And then, I’m also going to illustrate these moods, by playing music appropriate to them. It’s difficult in a short time that I’ve had to prepare this to find the music that is perfectly appropriate but this is suggestive and I’m going to say something about that in general later. Now then, let’s go back to the fundamental assumption that all people, and this also includes all beings whatsoever but we’re talking mainly of course about human beings. All people, are manifestations, disguises, of the total reality behind this cosmos. And that if that is so, there are not any mistakes in the world. When you look at patterns on the foam of the breaking waves on the seashore. And you look at the outlines of mountains, and the grain in wood, and the markings on marble. You notice that it never makes an aesthetic mistake. Never. Also, when you study plants, and you go into relationships with each other and with insects. The fact that these so-called diseases of plants are the full life of some other kind of organism having a ball. And you see this complexly interrelated world and you realize that it all hangs together. That everything outside the human world is a system of balances. Where you couldn’t have really any form of life without the other is going on too. There have to be friends and there have to be enemies. Because if there aren’t enemies. The friends get too prosperous. And they kill themselves by their excessive exuberance.
So they are constantly being pruned via various kinds of enemy species. And what is when you got down there a new suppose you identify yourself with a certain plant. You would thoroughly object to if you were a lettuce, to the snails eating you up. And also a person who gets identified with lettuces you see you say somebody who grows lettuces or is living gets mad at the snails. But actually, the lettuces need snails. Because that would be too many lettuces, if there weren’t snails. And those lettuces would choke each other. Now of course, a human being comes in and starts organizing the lettuces, you see, so that the seeds don’t propagate in the usual way because he puts them out in rows and that’s a different kind of a scene and so he objects to the snails. But that’s because he’s looking at the problem of letters from a partisan point of view and it’s quite right that he should do so. What he may not see, because he’s taken the side of lettuces against nails. He fails to see, that conflict at one level, is health at another. Just as a conflict going on between microorganisms in your bloodstream is absolutely essential to the health of your organism as a whole. But you don’t, you are not aware of that conflict going on, because conscious attention doesn’t need to ordinarily to focus upon it. And so you don’t get involved and you’re not anxious about what party is winning and what party is losing that keeping up a kind of balance.
Now then, to take this a step further, we are all amazingly involved in the process of being human and playing our game and taking our side. And therefore our victories and defeats our sicknesses and our health. Are things we get mighty partisan about, and therefore we cannot see that human behavior is just like everything else. It never makes a mistake. Only, it’s never making a mistake must include the feeling that mistakes can be made. See that’s where this point of view would differ somewhat from the point of view of a Christian Scientist who strives manfully in a way to as insane as assert that evil is purely illusory. But doesn’t quite grasp the point that the illusion of there being something evil is important and good too. But we’re not trying to get rid of it you see, because if you get rid of it. You would have problems.
It’s…I could say for example that the character. A historical character like Hitler, is someone about whom it is very natural for most of us to feel angry. And that’s perfectly right that we feel angry. Although he is a as much a natural phenomenon as an earthquake. So, what we have then is a system of a sort of hierarchy of levels. And at the point where you are involved you can’t stand aside from yourself and look at it objectively in the same way as you look at the patterns of problem on the seashore, or of the life of the fishes of the type. But to be liberated is to be able to see human life in the same way as you see all other life. And to do that you have to be able to live as it were, on two levels. The level of involvement and the level of detachment. And therefore, cultivating the level of detachment is something that is done through the mysterious human property of self-consciousness. To be able to know that you know to feel that you feel. And by possessing that faculty which is self-consciousness is being able to reflect upon one’s own life, we are able to become, as it were to go to a level at which our own life is seen in its total context in the universe. That is to say, to realize, that your Self is not your ego which is the standpoint at which you are involved in your game and taking sides. But yourself. Is the eternal, immeasurable reality, that is what there is. Only the difficulty here is, that this capacity this capacity of self-consciousness, although it is that which enables us to awaken is also capable of getting us into perfectly frightful messes. Into all kinds of, what must be called feedback snarls, where you know that you know. You can think about thinking and the moment you can think about thinking you can think whether your thinking was right or not did it come off was or did I do the right thinking then you start to worry then you start to worry about the kind of thinking you are doing about thinking.
And so builds up our particular human anxiety. When these creatures that are not self-conscious behave they behave spontaneously that is goes a zoo so our way and do what they have to do. And so if it doesn’t work they die, but they don’t worry about it in advance. That’s that magnificent you see, and human beings have a faint memory kind of archaic sort of. The. Active unconscious Jungian-style feeling that there was a time when we didn’t have to worry. And where we could never be in your writing. And most…a great deal of religion you see is an attempt to regain the Golden Age The Paradise Lost. And so it involves as it were an attitude of surrender. Be not anxious for the morrow. What you shall eat, what you should drink or what clothes you will wear. Or consider the flowers of the field. They don’t work they don’t spin they don’t gather into bombs. And yet Solomon in all his splendor was not closed like one of those. And so if God closed the grass of the field which exists today and was thrown tomorrow into the oven. Shall he not much more close you’ll faceless ones. I’m translating it myself to put it in a way that doesn’t just go so familiar that you don’t hear it. Now, I mean that’s totally subversive! There’s words in the Bible are outrageous. And everybody says well it’s all very well for Jesus from the Saints I mean for all practical purposes that’s ridiculous you can’t live that way after all you’ve got to plan for your old age we’re going to have a savings account going to Sharon’s going to get a job you’ve got to do all those things. So you have to think about that. Why can’t I do that? So you see, in this way, the human being comes to reflect upon himself and begins to see that there’s something wrong.
Now there isn’t, but it’s right that he should feel that something is wrong because it is through this that his capacity for self-knowledge and self-consciousness develops. So you see, there is the sense that somehow or other at some time there was a fall. A point at which we became unnatural. There’s a great deal of worry going on about this now, because of the rise of the computer. Do you know this this is terribly interesting that a new form of. Intelligence to see is come into the world which is in certain directions vastly superior to human intelligence. And people are beginning to worry like anything about whether the machines are going to take over. But we’ve got to realize that machines aren’t…see, machine is becoming a dirty word. Just a machine, mere machinery, but actually there has grown out of us through these things enormous electronic circuits that are new forms of life. And the these are all connected with us they’re not separate from us they’re not something. Like a different order of of beings that might come from some other planet and conquer us that the the whole development of the electronic minds and brains that we have are new cortexes. See the cortex overlaps the original central brain. And as it were when you play this game you know but it hands over and over countless children like to play you it’s a game called capping with a cortex caps. The central brain that is more like the brain of a of an animal, and enables us to reflect on it now all this machinery that we are making is an extension of our brain, and is a new kind of life. But it worries us. And when we start to do that we get the feeling that something is going wrong. There is been a fall there has been a mistake and exactly the same sensation you see is ancient connected with the development of self-consciousness in the cortex. Something went wrong. Because every time we get that feeling it means that we’ve taken a new step in controlling things. Instead of relaxing and letting our windows fly us like a moth or a bird we now have these jet plays where we have an elaborate system of anxious people Morning, noon and night checking it that those things go right. And marvelous that they do our friend Ralph Johnson who often attends these seminars, is an American Airlines captain who saved the jet. The other day and very dangerous for them for the. Fantastic but, here it is.
Now when you haven’t yet discovered that the new development such as self consciousness. Is really a new form of nature like a branch coming out of a tree which is a kind of a new development of the trunk and it’s something just as healthy and just a splendid as that. Then you’ll begin to reproach yourself. And say, ‘Oh dear. I am awful.’ You begin to be alienated you see, from your own center but do understand that being alienated from your own center is a form of a way of stepping apart so that you can see yourself. That’s important, that is resonance. When you sing in the bath tub you find you’ve got a better voice than when you sing in a nonresident room because you’ve got a little echo you mustn’t get too much echo. But just a little echo is resonance and that’s more fun because it’s more conscious if you’re happy and you don’t know you’re happy you see you’re not as happy as if you know you’re happy but if you know you’re happy you may spoil it by getting anxious about it. So, this of consciousness is a kind of resonance. But then you see when it gets to the point of this terrible feeling. I can’t trust my instincts and I’m out. I’ve got to decide. I have as it were taken over the prerogatives of God. That’s a terrible thing to do, because you can’t be genuine anymore. You see, you know that when you love somebody, you also want to get as much out of them as you can. You know that when you act as a responsible citizen you do so. So as to have a good image in your own view of yourself. This is your ego kick, only you dress it up so that it’s not an ego trip at all perfectly sincere public service and charity and good feelings towards everybody haha. And so then there begins this awful thing. Repent. Behold I was shapen in sin. And in sin as my mother can see. And so somehow there comes up the state of mind when you appear to yourself as a rotten. Some people when they take L.S.D.. get visions that everything is glorious you see and is light inside it but occasionally, people get the vision that everything is corrupt. That all faces are things that are slowly drooling away into into a sort of pus or rot. And the just everything is falling apart. And they begin to get the feeling that life is a disease we originally had here a nice clean planet with nothing but rocks fire. And it was sterile and nice. And all those dreadful goo develop you. Have the best thing for it is to wipe it up life is a terrible mistake. And a lot of people feel that. And therefore would want to get away from their bodies to a purely geological Electronic state which is called Spirituality. You know what most people think of a spirituality something totally abstract something mathematical something electronic something that has no no kind of pus or or goo, especially no flesh you see. That’s the spiritual state. So that expresses the feeling these people. Fundamentally who are at variance with their essential life.
Now, this is going to get complicated I want. Their ambivalent about it you see in those. Hebrew and Christian and I should add Islamic theology. Sin of which one repents, is a spiritual thing. It does not arise from the body. The author of evil is An Angel. A body, of his being. And therefore he is something closer to say equals MC squared than to a rosebud. But at the same time in practice that’s the theory in practice, what so many Jews, Christians and Muslims regard as evil, is the body. The physical world and our involvement in it our interest in it and so you see for this reason materialism is a dirty word. You shouldn’t be a materialist although William Temple very wisely said once that Christianity is the most materialistic religion. But… that is true theoretically. Judaism is only equally materially different theoretically. Sometimes more so practically Christian. Because materialism is the love of material.
And as we shall see, it is fundamental to Judaism that God’s creation of the world not in the state. But a great good thing in the material world at that. So that, if you can see what I’m pointing out to you is this, how ambivalent we are. We say that evil is spiritual, and yet we treat it as if it were fleshly. As if one couldn’t escape from this flesh. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Within this wall of flesh there is a soul can’t see how creditor and with advantage means to pay the I love. See, the wall of flesh, the image of the prison and the soul inside. I’m quoting Shakespeare. Oh this too too solid flesh would melt. And you see when you get sick when you get old, when you find it your body is something tiresome to carry around. It grows up this resentment against physical existence. And so all of these different moods. To one’s own perverse so.Horror at being involved in a corruptible body will be involved in the penitential mood.
Now, I presume most of you have had personal experience of this at some time in your lives. It’s always puzzling to children when I’ll start out on this kick. I know in the Anglican Church. They have a for everybody you know says a general confession that the services and children can never understand that they don’t know what all these terrible things that they’re supposed to have done are say Almighty and most massive all Father we have heard and strayed from byways like lost sheep we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts we have offended against by holy laws. We have done those things which we ought not to have done and we have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and there is no helping us. Think of it the children, that the most amazing [sic] thing to say. Aura that awful one they have at the Holy Communion. Talking about our sins the remembrance of them is grievous onto us the burden of them isn’t tolerable. And then of course it’s in the Catholic Church it’s a place where they say I confess to God almighty and all the various saints stars Syndic sitting in thought word and deed by my fault by my own fault by now most grievous fault in that it mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa for the story is told of an altar boy who didn’t understand Latin always is a mere cowboy me a cowboy, me aMexican cowboy.
But you see, first of all, there is a wonderful security in admitting that you’re wrong. Then you’re short of the right thing. If you know your rotten and make a great point of it. And if you’re suffering. And pain a punishment you see for being wrong then you know it’s OK. Oh I bless the good Lord for my boils for my mental and bodily pains for without them my face all congeals and I’m doomed to hell is ne’er ending flames. So the way of the cross is interpreted by many people as this way of life live in chronic frustration. And I’ve read many manuals on this. The spiritual advice for example, they say when you get a headache don’t take aspirin. Live the pain through and offer it to the Lord in union with the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Always a Ranger life in such a way that it will be a little difficult. That’s why some people where I have heard there are always I’m comfortable they always itch. And this this thing they do it to keep them going I mean this keeps you alive you know you are there. I was in Mexico last August studying this because I wanted to go down there and find out why their form of care Catholicism is so agonizing. And I even meditated a long time and on this in the cathedral in Oaxaca. And, here it was the main altar now not the main altar the chapel where the sacrament is reserved for the central figure behind the altar is a huge crucifix. Of Christ covered in blood and will. The saws are all modeled you know. And then on either side of the walls facing this there are a great paintings one of Christ carrying the cross and being mocked and scourged and the other of the agony in the garden of get seventy and all around in the scars that were there where they sell bonds years of the in the neighborhood of the cathedral you can buy these agonized faces of Christ with the crown of thongs and every thought on the individual is sticking in the middle of cripples of blood the face is kind of green and ghastly. And the people dig this. They love it. They all go walking into the shrine of valet de of Guadalupe you go for a whole mile on their knees you see young girls doing this now. What is this about? Well you see some people don’t really feel they exist until they are sitting on the point of the thorn. And they put it that way. Pain..to reality is a measure of pain. The pain in this way of looking at things is the most real thing that there is. Pleasure the pleasures of this world a skate that disappear pass away has nothing to cling to so don’t go after pleasure my dear friends. That’s all fall out service seat because the real thing in life is pain and so what you do is you train yourself from childhood to deal with pain. We were brought up in a school system where it was simply axiomatic that suffering builds character. So therefore, any time you inflicted pain in on anybody you were perfectly justified in your own conscience because you were doing him a favor. You were building its character for him to do him good it out on the other side of that a hundred.
And so this is based on, this philosophy of pain is reality. Is the ultimate penitential philosophy of go down down down into the most awful. I am wrong see I am a mistake I am responsible for this mistake therefore I ought to suffer. And I go right into that state of mind. And if I’ve got guts and courage I’ll go as far into it as possible. And what will I find out at the end? Now if you go far enough, the trouble is a lot of people don’t, and they stay around Middlemount going about their sins them all out as a sort of disgusting. And they never really get down to it. They never find out. Them what our call for the moment the hidden motivation behind all this behind self-renunciation, behind wallowing in the reality of pain. They don’t see that it’s phony. Because nothing can be more egotistical than true repentance. As I pointed out you’re safe. When you repent and do not. And therefore you can see all for yourself temporarily but in a good test you are. But if you really get down to the bottom of this thing are some of the Christian saints I’ve done and find out what that repentance is all about and you suddenly see, why it’s there all sin all over again what I thought was good was as a matter of fact evil it was the same self-seeking and self righteousness and in a radical pride an irreducible rascality which the Hebrews call the yetzer hara. Which means the evil inclination, but they say that the evil inclination was created by the Lord God. And probably the Lord God as against Iraq himself. That the Lord has his own element of irreducible rascality and that is of course what you might call the dark side the left hand of God. That have town that doesn’t know what the right hand do it. Because that mustn’t be let out that’s the secret you see.
If the game of the cosmos is of the fundamental pattern of hide and seek, then when hide turns up and it’s the time for hide to happen. Then darkness has its day. Hide in the dark. But when it’s time to seek then light has its day and we find out what was hidden in the dark under the right hand suddenly discovers what the left hand is doing. Now first, it’s shocked. What that? What is that by the way. What is the fundamental taboo? The thing you really mustn’t do. Freud said if you stack. But because he said that you see we’ve recovered from. The e pop beer before pride in the a part AF are very different. Sexes and the topic maybe it’s incest. Why is incest. It’s getting kind of close to home. Going back to mama. Going back about not going back in the ordinary way is going back and I doubt not as a baby and you mustn’t do that because why because this is a simply a biological analogue of the great taboo is to discover who you really are. Going back to Big Poppa. And that, that’s all, but that’s what is discovered when you discover you are a phony…you see what is a phony? A phony is a mask. And the masks used as I’ve told most of you in classical drama were megaphones. They had mouth pieces so that the voice would be projected in an open air theatre. So we get the phone. And the mask was the person or that’s the Latin. For that through which the sound passes so the persona is the mask the phony.
So to discover that you are a phony through and through and through is to discover that you’re a big act. That you’re a game. And when you discover that, then you wake up to find out who’s the player.