And I say to someone, have you practice the piano today, and I say to another person do you practice medicine, it’s obvious that the word practice has a different meaning in both senses. When you say do you practice the piano, it means do you prepare for a concert. Have you practiced as a preparation for your performance. But when you say do you practice medicine it means is medicine the regular thing you do is a way of life. And so, when one talks about the practice of yoga or of meditation which senses it meant and. Most people take it in the first sense, practicing the piano. Because they tend to look upon meditation as a sort of mental gymnastic. Like doing physical exercises in the morning because it’s good for your health. But if you understand the practice of meditation in that way, you’re not meditating. Because it’s quite erroneous to consider it as a preparatory exercise with an objective. And of course that that. That bugs people because then they say well why do it. I mean aren’t you trying to do something for yourself and you’re trying to improve aren’t you trying to get in lightened. And. You say well no. Because fundamentally, meditation is not anything except a way of being. People of course usually sit when they practice yoga or zazen, they may also walk you can actually carry on meditation while you’re doing almost anything except intellectual work. And even that can by someone competent in it be used to. But that’s difficult.
Meditation is not really to be considered as something special apart from the rest of life. However, when Zen monks or yogis sit for a long time, they aren’t doing anything else, except breathing. And, you might imagine that they were doing this for some purpose. They were trying to become Buddhas. Very far back in the early history of Zen, there was a master by the name of Basho. And he when he was a young man was practicing meditation. And when his teacher came along one day, or the man who became his teacher. The teacher said What are you doing? And he answered I’m sitting to become a Buddha. And the teacher picked up a brick and started to polish it. And Basho said What are you doing with the brick where he said I’m polishing it to make a mirror. And Basho said well however much you polish a brick it will never become a mirror. And the teacher said however much you meditate or sit you won’t become a Buddha, because Buddha is in no special state. If you become attached to sitting, your Buddha will only be a static Buddha. Nevertheless, in spite of this, Zen monks still continue to meditate to do Zazen. Japanese simply means sitting sitting Zen as distinct from standing then lying Zen and walking Zen because in fact. There is in Buddhism what are called of the three dignities of man. And they are walking standing sitting and lying. Forces me for dignity as a man. And so that to to to sit in meditation is simply really to sit the way a Buddha sits. And so they say in Zen, if you want to walk, walk, if you want to sit, sit, but don’t wobble.
When Yakojo was asked what is what are all your monks doing in this monastery and he answered we eat when hungry we sleep when tired. The man said Well everybody does that what’s special about Yakoojo they don’t do anything of the kind. When they are hungry they don’t just eat but they talk and think about all sorts of other things when they’re tired they don’t just sleep but they dream all sorts of dreams. And it’s interesting you know that if your supreme profession people in then I. Suppose it’s said that they don’t have any dreams. The Taoist philosopher Chuang Tzu says that when a wise man sleeps he breathes deeply from his heels and is without dreams. So he sleeps thoroughly The Hindu’s distinguish four states of consciousness waking state, the dreaming state, and dreamless sleep and then the fourth state which they don’t call anything except the fourth. And they value very much. Long long periods of dreamless sleep in which you go to a very, very deep level. And it’s so deep that you can’t remember it when you wake up. And that’s the non dream or the beyond dream state. However then, you might say that the whole principle therefore of meditation. Is along the lines of when you sit sit or as the Japanese Zen priest Dogen put it, sit just to sit. Not to become a Buddha, but because you are one. And so in the same way how koans song of starts out by saying from the beginning all beings are Buddhas it is like ice and water, apart from water no ice can exist. But ordinary people are like a man swimming in the middle of a lake crying out imploringly in thirst. So here is our initial apparent paradox. That if as we saw this morning, cosmic consciousness involves the recognition. That everything is right. Or harmonious the way it is. That the unit universe is a terrific play of energy. This energy is you. But part of the game is that this energy myopia-sizes itself, if I may invent a word. And it becomes identified with particular individual expressions of the pattern. Individual bits of the pattern. And once that has happened. There is it as it were a taking of sides. And you become identified with one particular wiggle and therefore concerned with that one particular wiggle and therefore eventually anxious about the destiny of that one particular wiggle. And that’s the result of your not seeing the whole thing but that very entanglement, that very identification that taking sides is part of the whole system of wiggles in its own turn. I mean imagine the system of wiggles. It’s like a a great vine. And there’s a central branch and then other branches come off and then other branches come off that and then other branches come off that and then on the end of those they begin to be twigs and right out on the end of the twigs you know how the vine clings to things that are little a little weakly legals.
Now, we could talk of a vine at various levels. The main trunk is level number one. When any trunk branching off the main trunk is at level two any trunk branching off the subsidiary trances at level three then each branching again we’ll assign the numbers four five six until maybe. At about fifteen we get to those little curly things, you see. Now on every level you see, the thing is harmonious. But you might think you might mistake levels. You might think that something that was one of those little very complicated curly things was a level two phenomenon. You say, well that’s not the way we should behave on that level. Because level two isn’t supposed to be a spiral like that level two goes like this but you’ve mistaken levels. When you know how often we do this in ordinary human relationships. We mistake the level on which a message is given to us we take for example someone who’s kidding as if they were speaking seriously that’s a mistake the level. Or so in exactly the same way. When you get involved in the life game and you think you really are a separate ego that itself is part of the life game. That getting involved. But it’s way out on the end you see it’s very far out, to get so immersed in the illusion of separateness. And so as a result of getting immersed in the illusion of separateness, we play all our complex social games of one upmanship. But they’re all in the scheme, they’re very far out. So you never really you never get away from the vine. The whole thing is a play and it’s perfectly from a fundamental view as say the mystic sees it, from his standpoint. All the people wandering around in ignorance are all perfectly divine. So then there’s a basic difficulty arises about this. I can put it in two ways. If the mystic sees this. And says well I see that everyone is Buddha, everyone is God or whatever you want to say. Has he really said anything at all. And if you ask that was that master he would laugh and say no that nothing whatever. Because you see from the standpoint of strict logic, you can’t say anything about everything. Because the only meaningful statements you can make are comparative statements which involve some sort of classification. And there isn’t a class of all classes. There isn’t you can’t classify everything.
And, so very naturally, a person who thinks logically I would say well this mystic is just talking out of the top of his of as talking through his hat. But nevertheless you cannot get away with the fact that the person who is saying this has had a very very moving and profound experience. And this is the way in which he tried to say what he meant. And that’s why some of them just shrug their shoulders and give up and say it can’t be put into words. You have to realize it, because you see whenever you put it into words you talk nonsense. But it is rather easy to see this. That. The lens of your eye is what we call transparent or colorless. If it were not so we were not be able to differentiate between all the colors we can see it is just possible that the lens of our eye has a color, only we are unaware of it because it’s always the background to everything else. It is possible that the windows are colored. There might be some being with a different kind of iron from ours who would see our windows as colored and he would say Good heavens why do people always look at things through colored glass because it distorts your vision. If I have read glass you see, I will not be able to differentiate red in the outside view. So, would be some means then, you might say whereby I could discover the color of the lens of my eye. And if so, then it would be like putting on colored spectacles. And so, if I put on red spectacles I will see that everything is red. But I could only say that having remembered another situation where it wasn’t. And I have by in my memory, I could compare the present situation with the former situation so I would know it was red. I can also have spectacles which simply turn everything upside down. And you see the world upside down. And if you wear them for some time, your brain will simply turn the image the right way out. And then you will be perfectly adjusted. Because you see consciousness eliminates all constant stimuli. Because the moment a stimulus is constant it is of no interest, no further interest to ordinary attentive consciousness. It isn’t a warning sign it isn’t something I have to look out for it’s going to be the way it is we were talking about bad smells the only way to get Master a bad smell is to get used to it. If you live in a neighborhood where the tannery or a gas works or a slaughterhouse something you soon think that that’s the nothing at all it vanishes. But you see, to talk about this though, it is not entirely to talk about meaningless things. There is the transparency of the eye, through which everything seen is filtered. There is likewise the speaker in a radio. And on that speaker all the sounds that come from the radio vibrate on it. But you’re not normally aware of that, because the speaker makes no difference to what is said on the radio or what music is played but they all go through it just the same. So then assuming that the there is this unitary energy or whatever it is that is at the basis of the universe. There is no way of making it a thing that you can ‘thing’ about. Because if it wasn’t there nothing else would be there. It’s basic. It’s what Paul Tillich called the Ground of Being his decontaminated name for God. So you say, well what difference does it make? If this ground is basic to everything what difference does it make Well it doesn’t make any difference that’s the whole point in let’s you can say all differences that are made are in. It makes. Then again a logician is going to quarrel with that statement because you say all. But by analogy with the function of the speaker in the radio or the lens of the eye you can see that very well might be some completely indefinable continuum at the basis of the multiplicity we call life.
But how to get at it? It seems to be the same sort of problem as discussing color with a congenitally blind man. But apparently this is what the mystic has seen. Has become aware of in some way. And the difference that it makes is this. Having discovered that that’s what there is and that’s what you are. You then see that there is really no need to cling to life. That you are just what there is what there will be, what there always was. This energy this continuum that’s at the basis of consciousness. And having seen that, you get an enormous access of psychic energy. Because in the ordinary way you waste a colossal amount of energy defending yourself worrying. Fighting this, and pushing that. When you don’t when you see you don’t need to do that anymore all that energy is available for something else. We could say, for creative work. For just wonderful life and goofing off and everything it’s all there so it makes a difference in that sense. So then though, that’s that’s the first public part of the puzzle the second part of the puzzle is this. If it is true that everything that is happening is in accord. It is the expression of this energy down to the very wiggles and if even we can add to that confusing wiggles on one level with wheels on another. That’s also in the game. Then wouldn’t the best teaching be. To say to people. Why do you have any kind of religious therapeutic meditative practice at all? Why not just be as you are? Eat when you’re hungry, sleep when tired etc. Why is something special? After all we’ve never seen cats go to church with each other. I’ve never seen dogs practicing Zazen. They don’t have the special thing they do. Why couldn’t human beings be just natural like that? Why all this hocus pocus?
Furthermore we could go on to say. It may very well be that this hocus pocus gets in the way of realizing. The basic unity. That because if you are a Buddha, trying to become one is based on the presupposition that you aren’t so already. And therefore it becomes like what the Taoists called beating a drum in search of a fugitive. Or as we would put it I’m driving to a police raid with the siren on because when they hear you coming get out of the way. So in this way Bankei describe it as trying to wash off blood with blood. Or we would say, trying to put out fire with fire. And there is an enormous amount of truth is. Because one would be astonished at the extent to which religious people are pretty mixed up. And you find this everywhere. One doesn’t know whether they’re religious because they’re mixed up or mixed up, or because they’re religious. And in Zen, this is called Zen stink. So then you see, it’s like a very interesting meditation exercise you can employ is to take two knitting needles. And practice fencing with yourself. And really do it and see if you can stick one hand with the other and yet the other hand has got to defend itself. What happens? Well, nothing happens because one hand always for knows what the other one is going to do. There’s no means of one hand surprising the other. So you got a stalemate. It’s like those baseball games between two equally good sides. [[it’s] absolutely boring perfect playing but nothing happens. So there has to be a surprise so then you ask the question how do you surprise yourself. When you can’t arrange to do that. Satori, enlightenment is always a surprise. Pickups is a surprise is it difficult to plan things out. Or you know, the old Indian superstition that if you think of a monkey while you’re taking medicine the medicine won’t work so you must try not to think of the monkey while taking the medicine. See there’s the whole hang up. Now, one answer to this is yes that’s perfectly true. And therefore the only thing you can do is wait until it happens by itself. And say oh heavens, I might wait all my life for Satori, and it might never happen. It’s like one of the kings of Spain went for twenty seven days without a bowel movement. And. Heaven you know what anxiety what frightful purge it would take. But as George graphic the contemporary of Freud used to say just don’t worry about it. There’s a hold on at the end it’s got to come out something.
So there are things you see it like going to sleep the children have a great day off and have a great deal of difficulty going to sleep because they’re so excited. And their mothers tell them to try to go to sleep well that’s a ridiculous thing to say you can try to go to sleep as merely a way of staying awake, because you develop anxiety about it. All when they are going back to the matters of the toiletry, children used to be. I don’t know what they do today since the age and no spark whatever. But we used as children to be absolutely hounded. To have bowel movements every day regularly after breakfast. And if you didn’t work. And they they first of all gave you a California syrup or figs. If that didn’t work they gave you Senate Tea if that didn’t work they gave you Cascara. If that didn’t work they gave you a calomel pill and if that didn’t work the final blast was caused their oil. And this developed in so many children a kind of chronic peristaltic anxiety. And they were just always in trouble. Because the mothers and nurses wouldn’t let nature take its course they had to have it all on schedule. Well in just the same way, you can’t schedule your own enlightened. You can’t say you must be enlightened every day at six o’clock. Or when when I want it. You do have to wait. But now, there are two ways of waiting. One way is the way of expectancy. Oh when will it happen? Oh when will it happen? You know and you wait like that. Another way of waiting is to abandon enlightenment altogether. Give it up. When you say how can you do that because I am I can’t help being fascinated with the prospect that there is another state of consciousness which is somehow more harmonious than the one I’m in. See, the grass on the other side of the fence is always green. And I want to get that other state of consciousness. Well now, then teachers you see have all kinds of clever gimmicks that they use to get in here. They say such as. You should realize that enlightenment is really the actual state of consciousness you’re in now. There’s nothing to be attained. And, or it was like one of the monks came to JoShu the other early Chinese and master and said What would you say to someone who comes to you with nothing? Joshu answered throw it away.
It’s so…right. In ordinary consciousness. We are normally trying to get into another state of consciousness. We call it say the quest for pleasure or the quest for happiness I would like to be happy all the time. Therefore I I don’t like the state of consciousness I’m in I want to get out of it. Now then, if I say somebody says no you can only change your consciousness by accepting it as it is. Then if I do something about that like trying to accept my state of mind as it is why am I doing that obviously that I want to change it so I didn’t accept it at all. So then the teacher can say alright look, just leave everything alone. Because it’s all there the way it is. See? Now, he may just if he’s lucky get you to see something at that point. What he says in that way may surprise you, that what will you be doing then you see, you will be in fact in so far as you’re not striving to change your state of consciousness. You’re at last meditating. But it’s that you see it’s that little problem to get over. One thinks in other words, wouldn’t it be nice to have cosmic consciousness. She Think of all the problems that would solve they have all the new energy I would get. Well what’s wrong with this consciousness? What’s wrong with being in this state can’t you you know get rid of your troubles anyway. By seeing that you really can’t going to think about them. Because you see if you do do anything about your problems in practical life. It’s like what you’re going to do if you win the war? Supposing you know you’ve got money troubles and you buy some shrewd business you get some more money you think you’ve solved your problem for a while. But then you start worrying about something else as I pointed out this morning. You got the same old trouble back only got another form. And we’re always doing that we’re always doing the same thing over and over again in all kinds of different ways pretending each time that into a new trick or a new situation or a new problem. That’s what makes the world go round. It’s like a squirrel cage see, this animal going to turn and turn turn turn turn, on the bottom of the cage you always stays in the same place but the Cage goes round and it looks as if it were getting somewhere. But he’s not, Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, mentioned those more it changes the more of the same thing. And so it is likewise with all beings in this universe, whether they be as high as the gods or as low as the demons. They’re all on the make. And they all think they have the same problems. You can see this to a certain extent in human life, that very poor people have their problems. Very rich people have their problems and from a subjective standpoint the two can feel equally bad. So it is somehow isn’t it a matter of coming to where you are. What’s the difference then between coming to where you are. And going on just as you did before. Isn’t there some little itty bitty difference? Well if I say no there isn’t. There is none whatever, some people will simply dismiss the subject out of hand. Other people will be very deeply affected by it, because that understanding. Will lift away their anxiety. They’ll become come inside they will not be struggling with their own state of consciousness as it is and that will be exactly like leaving the pool of water alone, so that the waves die down and the mud sinks to the bottom. Now when that starts to happen, and you’ve learned, somehow or other to leave your mind alone. You can begin to practice meditation. Which is that you make the discovery, that to sit quietly in this present state of consciousness. Letting whatever happens happen. In this way your mind pacifies itself and the activity becomes extraordinarily pleasant. So that those people are proficiency in meditation just plain like to meditate. They’re not doing it for any Alterian reason but just that they like to be in that state. But the question is, you see, how get to that little jumping point between the two? And as you examine it and go back behind the motivation you see why do you want to jump from one to the other. Because I’d feel happier. How do you know you would if you haven’t already been then. When all those mystics who come back with reports of it say they’re happy that the little girl wrote to me the other day that Dear Mr. Watts, are you enlightened? I would be like to be enlightened too will you please tell me how I can be enlightened age fifteen. I have announced the letter yet. And. I think I’ll send a hula hoop or something, I don’t know but what would be a nice present for a fifteen year old girl…[audience murmurs] Oh that’s right, yes, that’s right. Kangaroo Balloon
So, this is then, let me try first of all and put it in this way. Generally speaking, the simplest way to learn to meditate is yes, by all means sit down. In Lotus posture or any posture that is reasonably comfortable. And let your mind alone. You could say to that your thoughts OK OK OK, go ahead. Think anything you want to. Say to your feelings all right feel. Your body yes by all means it. Fidget or whatever. As Li-Tzu put it, I let my mind think whatever it liked. I let my mouth say whatever it wanted I let my eyes see what ever they wanted to see and my ears whatever they wanted to hear. That is in a way you see in the direction of the democracy of the body others don’t. Give free speech to your mouth. Free hearing to your ears. And you can free vision your eyes then he said he let his legs go wherever they wanted to take him and then he discovered he was had the sensation of walking on the wind. And he says I didn’t know whether I was riding on the wind of the wind was riding on me. In other words, he was describing the tremendous liberative effect of trusting your own organism to do its own thing. Of course, we feel that that’s dangerous because we think that the human organism is really a kind of the naked ape. And that if left to itself and not in the ordinary sense of discipline that is to say not disciplined by violence, everybody will be like the monk of Siberia. Fasting grew weary and weary and the last of the yell he burst from the cell devour the fathers of period and that there’s is what will happen well yes to some extent it would. With Westerners I think that if this became. A sort of popular religious attitude. All sorts of people would break loose. And do things they never would have dreamed of doing before this has happened to some extent in the hippie revolution. Because when people go and get a lot of mystical experiences from using L.S.D. or marijuana or something and they somehow get an insight into this thing. They are very liable through the karma or backlog of resentment they have for their off already figures teachers parents and so on they will do something calculated, to shock those parents completely. They will wear the kind of clothes that would be quite outrageous. See, responsible Americans always appear in a certain way. You can turn through the pages of photographs of important people. And by Jove, it’s amazing how much alike they look, especially in dress. And short hair and so on. And so naturally, the hippie having realised this experience grows is how long. Whereas womanish be. And, generally it does all sorts of petty thievery and rights fall out of words all over the place and. You know the whole pitch. Well that’s a swing you see that’s one of the dangers that’s the thing that’s always liable to work. When you stop moving in one direction you tend to be shoved in the opposite even though your intention was to come to the middle way. Now but on the other hand if you persevered. Now that sounds like a practice word in the sense of practicing piano. Therefore persevere isn’t quite the right word to use for meditation. Not persevered but. Simply go on doing it for no purpose at all. You know, when you’ve got the hot water faucet on and cold water is coming out and you leave it along. And it keeps coming cold water cold water you may have with your things on the tap be impatient and say oh, it’s never going to come. Sometimes it comes quickly. But this is the idea of meditation is putting your fingers under the cosmic hot water tap. And then you have to wait for it to happen. Now there’s a difference between the experience in the state. If I say you wait for it to happen. And there is the thought Oh, I shouldn’t be just lazy like that. Surely there’s something I can do. Just some little bit of a thing I can do to hasten it along. But if the teacher says no nothing. You see. What he’s saying on one level and this again is a question of levels as I numerated them in the analogy of the vine will have a different sort of effect on another level. It’s as if for example Calvinists who are fatalists, and believe in absolute predestination. How come that people who can believe that get so spiritually energetic. It’s a paradox. But that’s true for all the same. The person who sees In other words that any forced meditation can’t solve anything, thereby leaves his mind alone. There’s a Tibetan poem. For the verse [Tibetan phrase] which means don’t. Think. Don’t meditate don’t concentrate. Don’t. Practice contemplation but keep your mind in its natural state. From the precepts of Tilopa. Well you can’t do it. There’s no way of keeping your mind in its natural state. But. If I say to you, but you don’t need to you always are. If, you, then and there. Get what I’m saying. So you just simply believe me. Then you will by doing that stop doing the things that are preventing you from being in the natural state. Only you mustn’t say so. Otherwise it gives the show rights I’ve given the show away to you. So you can’t do this anymore, ‘cause you know about it. So what will you do next. Let me put it in another way. You can say. Whether you like it or not, you’re a Buddha already. And nothing you can do will get rid of it. Not even trying to get it will get rid of it. So you have gone to another level now. I haven’t said, by not trying you will get it. I have said you can’t get away from it even if you do try. Now you see the psychological effect of that, you feel perfectly free to try i.e. to be as you are. And in this state then you are no longer wrestling with yourself. But the point is we always do wrestle with ourselves even people who we would consider, oh I don’t know, spiritual bums and total failures and eve of positively vicious people they’re wrestling with themselves like anything well let’s take the people who was a special kind of cheating the income tax. And what you do is you go all over the country filing false returns. And then claiming something on them so the government will send you a check and you keep a place in ever so many different cities and you go around collecting the checks but you could earn far more money at an honest job. And this is one of the great fallacies of the criminal life that it becomes very complicated. Because you have to tell lies to cover up lies you have to commit murders to cover up murders and you get so involved.
So in that sense you see it is more work, to be neurotic, to be a slob, than it is to actually meditate. That’s in a way the easiest thing to do but the trouble is when you are used to a life of criminality. When you’re used to anxiety. You can’t give it up because you think it’s good to be anxious. In all this talk by existentialist like Rollo May about authentic humanity. How a person who is not anxious. [laughter] Surprise The person is that anxious is not really human. And therefore it sort of becomes your duty to be anxious. Well a lot of people are like that. They think if I don’t worry the thing I’m worried about is going to happen. That if we don’t get excited about something see, well then we won’t do anything to correct it because you want it but the point is if you do get excited about it if you do you know liar awake nights thinking about your sins and what specially your sins of omission. You [won’t] wake up in the morning with any energy to do anything about it at all all your psychic energy will be will be dissipated in trying to steam up motivation. Now you don’t need to do that. Because if you need to alter some situation in life and actually do something about anything you will do it not from worry. But from an overpass of psychic energy. It’s like the industrial revolution everybody always worried about what to do with the poor people and the sick, but until the Industrial Revolution came along, there was no energy for it. And it’s only as we harnessed electricity and steam and things like that that we could produce effectively to feed everybody in the world.
So in the same way when you have let go, then you’ve got all this energy to do things with. You don’t ask where. We’re going to get the energy from like asking where are we going to get the money from. Money doesn’t come from anywhere. It’s an invention and so where are you going to get the energy from where the answer is you are imaging you are nothing but and your whole being is a pattern consisting of nothing whatsoever except energy. There isn’t any. Kind of lump of body that you are carrying around that’s a koan and then who is it that carries this corpse around. Now, there is a very curious relationship between great energy and activity and stillness. These two like each other very much. Take a guy like Joe Louis the boxer. He would spend a great deal of time just lounging around. He was like a great big cat. And it went and study cats. Because they’re just like this cats will relax like this completely open. They’ll curl up. They’ll sit for a long time quite still but wide awake, watching. And then Zingo, the minute a cat needs to do anything it’s all they’re just full of energy. So in exactly the same way anybody who is. Has realized energy. He will very much enjoy being like a cat, and spending time just sitting. And that’s meditation practice. And that’s real meditation practice as distinct from something which is self-conscious, cultish, phony.. Well one of the most offensive things about. Certain people in Japan who go over there are studies and they’re always bragging. About the difficult times they had how long they sat how much their needs ached. How difficult it all was, but by Jove have we suffered. You know this is the good old Protestant conscience suddenly coming along in a Buddhist rope.