Now, the title of the seminar is a very strange word translatable into English as thus ness or suchness, in Sanskrit, tathata. This is based on the Sanskrit word tat which is Etymologically the root of our word that. And its supposed in India you see, that this is the first word that a baby says. We all know babies say da da da, and in our highly paternalistic culture it’s assumed that the baby is addressing its father and so does our means father. But in India which is, where the cultures anciently were matriarchal, it didn’t even mean mother but da which was the fundamental word of all words it is the baby pointing to it and saying that. Because when the baby wakes up and the… as I said last night and aperture through which the all looks at everything the great and proper exclamation is when it sees it is to say duck and so. Is that about. And it means just exactly that. In the same way as there was a dot a school of painting in the West because they wanted to go beyond words and names because they died I would argue when you call a dog a dog doesn’t sound anything like a dog Psalms or shot in French sounds nothing like a dog but if you called a dog one that would be a proper name for a dog.
So, this is a fundamental word. And we have great difficulty in translating it because in a way it’s a meaningless word. Now then, in order to understand the subject properly I must not take too much for granted. I have to give you some introduction to Buddhism because this is all part of Buddhist philosophy, and Buddhism finds its context in the philosophy of India. And we have to go first of all very thoroughly into what Buddhism is about. And the first thing I want you to understand about Buddhism that very few people do understand is that Buddhism does not have a doctrine in the same sense that Christianity has a doctrine. There could be no such thing as a Buddhist creed. The word dharma D H A R M A in Sanskrit, which describes what Buddhism is Buddhism is called the Buddha dharma. Dharma means method. Not doctrine, not law it’s often translated law that won’t do it all. Dharma sometimes means function. The function of somebody his svadharma, means roughly what we would call his vocation. The hallmark can also mean. In a peculiar way a thing, a basic portion of the world, a thing or event. But its primary meaning as used in the phrase Buddha dharma, is method. And so Buddhism is a method for something or other.
And so, for this reason, all Buddhism is a dialectic. A discussion, an interchange between a preceptor or guru or teacher. And his student between the Buddha and his disciples. Now what is it about first of all the word Buddha comes from a Sanskrit root budh, B U D H. And budh means to be awake. So it is a person who is awake. It is therefore a title, it’s not a proper name. And it’s not the name of a divinity. There are many many gods recognised angels we might rather call them in Buddhism. But they are regarded as being inferior to a Buddha the gods are not yet fully awakened. Buddhism divides the world into six divisions. And this is very important for understanding what’s it about. You don’t have to take these six divisions literally because they may equally well refer to states of human consciousness. But the six divisions are like this you see you draw the circle of the wheel of life. And in the top section of the circle you have the Deva world. And Deva from which we get our word devil, actually means the angels. In that the reason is this that when the the Iranians had battles with the Aryans, the Northern Indians, the Northern Indians called their gods Deva. So the Persians insulted them by using that word for devils. And then they had here Asura, who are in this division and these are spirits of wrath, and so opposite in passion are who are our mother is a lot of light. Because they were enemies but so here are the Devas on top and next to them on this side are the the powers of Divine. Wrath in the sense of energy vigor. And below opposite the devas are the NACA and those are the purgatory that’s where everybody is as unhappy as they can possibly be. Here are animals in this section. Here are men and women. And here are things called pretas. Pretas are frustrated spirits with very large stomachs and very small mouths. Now this is the rat race of existence of all the Samsara, in Sanskrit, Samsara, the round of birth and death. And this is the nadir, I mean this is the zenith, and this is the nadir. This is as high as you can get that’s as low as you can get and that’s always going to happen to you while you work on the principle of a squirrel cage. That is to say so long as you are trying to make progress you will go up. But up always implies down. So while you are trying to get better and better and better that means that when you get to the best you can only go on to the worst. And so you go round and round and round ever chasing the illusion that there is something outside yourself, outside your here and now, to be attained that will make things better. And the thing is to recover from that illusion so a Buddha would mean somebody who has woken up and discovered that running around this thing. Maybe fun and it may be good to run around but if you think you’re going to get something out of it you’re under illusion because you’re forever the donkey with a carrot suspended from his own halter.
Now then, it goes on to say that there’s only one place one point in this wheel, from which you can become a Buddha, and that’s here. The devas are too happy to become Buddhas, or to worry about becoming a Buddha. The pretas are too miserable. The Asuras are too angry, the animals are too dumb and the predators too frustrated only in the middle position the position of man which is you could say the equal position the position of sufficient equanimity to begin to think about getting off this rat race only from there you see it can you become a Buddha. So the position of a Buddha may be represented either as not on the wheel at all or is right in the middle of it. It makes no difference. And so he is just as in a way the axle point, The Still Point of the turning world as to use T.S. Eliot’s phrase is the unmoved center of the Unmoved Mover the primo mobile, the axletree of the world all thought the navel that’s why yogis are said to contemplate their navel the navel isn’t on their tummy it’s this place. The navel of the world. So that’s the scheme of cosmology. Of Ancient Indian cosmology in which Buddhism arises. So you see that for a Buddha is one who awakens from the illusion of some sorrow. That is, from the thought that there is something to get out of life. That tomorrow will bring it to you that in the course of time it will be all right. And therefore, one is set pursuing time, as if you were trying to quench your thirst by drinking salt water. Now I can exemplify this a little more strongly by relating Buddhism to the social system in which it arose. A Buddhist Monk is sometimes called a Sramana. This is closely allied to the word Shaman. And a shaman is the Holy Man in a culture that is still hunting it isn’t settled it isn’t agrarian. There is a very strong and important difference between a shaman and a priest. A priest receives his audience nation from his superiors. He receives something from a tradition which is handed down. A shaman doesn’t. He receives his in lightened by going off into the forest by himself. To be completely alone. A shaman is a man in other words, who has undergone solitariness. He’s gone away into the forest to find out who he really is, because it’s very difficult to find that out while you’re with other people. And the reason is that other people are busy all the time telling you who you are. In many many ways, by the laws they impose on you by the behavior ruts they set on you, by the things they tell you by the fact that they always call you by your name and by the fact that when you live among people you have to be in a state of ceaseless chatter. But if you want to find out who you are before your father and mother conceived you, who you really are, you almost have to go off by yourself. And go into the forest and stop talking even stop thinking words. And be absolutely alone. And listen to the great silences. And then if you’re lucky, you recover from the illusion that you’re just a little me the so and so, and you attain the state of nirvana, which means the blown-out state. The relieved state the sigh of relief. Nirvana may be translated into English as phew. I’ve at last discovered that I don’t have to survive. I can survive of course but I don’t really have to. Because you discover you see that what you really are doesn’t have to survive because it’s what there is. The real you is it, or that, tat tvam asi, the Hindu say. So then. In the normal life of India. Which is not a hunting culture but a settled culture. There are priests. But there is something beyond the priest. That is to say when a man or woman has fulfilled his or her life in the world of society. It’s the normal thing to do for a person to quit their status in society and become what’s called a forest dweller. That is almost, you see, to go back to the hunting culture. Bait it would divide people into two classes agree hostile which means householder and Vanna Prosper which means forest dweller. And the older people will hand over their occupations. And positions to their children and into the state of Vannaprasta at their whim or become a trauma and go outside the stockade I’m speaking metaphorically they sometimes do actually they sometimes don’t and become a nobody. They give up their name. That is to say, the label which designates who they are in terms of caste or class. They become unclassified people. That’s why, strictly speaking, you see, Hinduism and Buddhism are not religions you can classify the religions you can say what’s your denomination that does Methodist Catholic Presbyterian Episcopalian Quaker cetera et cetera et cetera you see. But strictly speaking a van a prostitute a shaman A has no label he is a labeled bottle.
So, in the time when the Buddha lived about six hundred B.C., the Hindu system had become somewhat decadent. It isn’t altogether clear what had happened to it, but it was certain that it did seem in some way to be in need of reform. And so, there were many reasons for this. And the Buddha as a young man, being basically troubled by the great problems that we are all troubled with. The problem of suffering. And the problem of what all this universe is about he endeavored to follow the methods that were then being used by people who were prominent as. Vanna prospers far as well as and at that time it’s very apparent that the main method that these people were using was an ascetic discipline. Starvation, very arduous meditation practices. Probably self flagellation and things of that kind. And it said that for seven years he practiced these austerity is. But he found out that they didn’t lead to liberation and all the people who were practicing them knew they didn’t either but they felt that that was only because they weren’t doing it hard enough. And so he propounded instead the middle way. The way that led to liberation from the rat race that I’ve drawn, neither through austerities, nor through pleasure seeking. So these are the two ways the two paths the people who say. The whole point of life is to enjoy it to get the most out. It you see and the other people who tried that and then they found it was sour grapes or something you know or they burned their fingers in the pursuit of pleasure. The girl that was so beautiful eventually fell apart [was] turned into a shrew and whatever it was. So they said instead let us torment ourselves. A lot of people enjoy this or get something special out of it I was in Mexico this summer and what I went there for was to study Mexican Catholicism, where they make a great cult of suffering. And I was very puzzled about this and wanted to understand it and everywhere you know they have these ghastly tormented Christs, all drooling with blood hanging on the crosses in very contorted positions. And I realized certain people who find that the sitting on the tip of a spike is the realest place in the world. Because when you’re on the tip of a spike, you know you’re there. There’s no doubt about it and also you know that your expiating for everything this somehow by sitting on that’s on the spike you are paying for your guilt and so long as you hurt you’re all right. So these sramanas were doing something of the same kind. And the Buddha became enlightened, became a Buddha he woke up at the moment when he gave up that kind of quest the moment he gave up as we should say trying to take the kingdom of heaven by storm. Now what does this mean? It means, that in his time, the way of liberation had become competitive, which meant it was on the wrong track. There are a lot of people who we call it the holier than thou attitude but we find it today with some objectionable Westerners who go over to Japan to studies Zen Buddhism and then come home and brag about the great disciplines they’ve undergone. And say I sat with my legs crossed in one position for ten hours as distinct from somebody else who only sat for five. And always, there’s this tendency you know, to have a marathon and be in a competition with others or with oneself about these things. But the moment you do that you’re back on the wheel. The best thing you can get by asceticism is to get up to the Deva world you can’t get anywhere else by it. You may get down to the narakaworld by asceticism too. Read the story of Thais by Anatole France.
So he found you see that the real path. The middle way. The meaning of the middle way is that it’s the path that can’t be followed. Because to get you on to the middle way I have to get into a dialogue with you you see and you say to me because after all it’s always the student that raises the problem not the teacher. You say, Well now what’s the right thing to do. I say back to you why are you looking for the right thing to do. And then you have to consider your situation where you are. And you say, well I’m looking for the right thing to do because I feel that I’m in the wrong situation I don’t have peace of mind. Why do you want peace of mind? Because my mind is disturbed. That in other words you as a disturbed mind are trying to find peace of mind your quest for peace of mind is the same thing as having a disturbed mind. Now, if you don’t have a disturbed mind, you won’t ask for peace of mind. Well, how can I quote my mind why are you asking to quiet your mind because it’s disturbing you see where you are. So in this way by this dialogue the guru the teacher brings a person back to center. So then, this is the point all Buddhist teaching is a dialogue. Really and truly, the man who goes out and leaves society and becomes a monk is it a little bit too much. Buddhism involves this act as a preliminary gesture, but what it comes to in the end is the position of what’s called a bodhisattva. A bodhisattva means somebody who went out of society. Or we should say gave up the world in some way took on the the robe took on the discipline. He found what he was looking for but his finding it was absolutely simultaneous with his coming back into society. And he’s called a bodhisattva. As distinct from a Pratyeka Buddha,which means a private buddha, one who goes out and doesn’t come back. And the Bodhisattva is considered as having is superior payment. Superior insight.
So the important thing to remember then is Buddhism is a dialogue. And its teaching is a method, and not a doctrine. Now the teaching of Buddhism is summed up in what are called the Four Noble Truths. The truth of suffering. The truth about the origin of suffering. The truth about the ceasing of suffering. And the truth about the way to the ceasing of suffering. DUKHA is in the Sanskrit word we translate suffering. Discord, frustration something like that that’s always the problem you see and this because of suffering is the reason why human beings seek out teachers and saviors. I hurt, and I don’t want to hurt. So that’s the the universal problem you see that everybody brings. So then, the teacher replies to this problem. Programme that by saying my problem. You suffer because you crave things. T R I S H N A We from which we get our word first thrishna, craving or desire, is the cause of suffering that claim I’m going to die are you. Now the Buddhist analyze is this that. The world is Dukha that all of us ration and it’s also characterized by in the prominence Anita. And by. I. Non-entity in this. That means that no thing exists independently. Everything is a thing only in relation to everything else therefore there are no separate things no real selves or souls or egos. And trying to cling to the world, which is necessarily changing, trying to have a separate self and to protect it. All these things are thrishna. They are the cause of dukha. So the teachers having said this then the student comes back and says Well how do I get rid of Trishna. If Trish not desire is the cause of suffering couldn’t I get rid of desire so as not to suffer. And the teacher says well you try. And this then is the first part of the discipline to try and not to desire. To calm your mind. To practice centering to practice getting rid of all what they call Klesha K L E S A, disturbing thoughts distractions evil passions, immoderate appetites, and come to a picture or it can imitate of mind. And so the student practices that. And this is a very difficult an arduous discipline and all the time he sees the teacher watching him of the slightly sour expression on his face. And he knows of course, or thinks he knows that the teacher is fully aware of his inmost thoughts because you know it’s the Indian way they go to meeting with the teacher and the teacher says. It’s under a tree and smokes a cigarette or a pipe or something and all the students sit around a cross legged and they they meditate and sometimes the teacher meditates and they can see him occasionally looking at them like this you know. And they think uh-oh, the teacher knows what I’m thinking. Because he has the power of infinite vision you see and all seeing this and this bugs them completely. Because you see you remember how it was in school when you were trying to do something the teacher walked around and looked over your shoulder. It puts you off completely. And so, the Hindu teacher, or the Buddhist teacher, deliberately puts his students off. And finally he raises in their minds an insoluble problem. That if you are trying to stop desire so that you will not suffer, aren’t you still desiring to stop desire? All the students may very well find that out for themselves and they say to the teacher but how are we to stop desire when we’re desiring to stop desire. So then the teacher can engage them in [an] extremely marvelous trap. Which is to say. He can he can play it in a number of different directions one direction is to say well, don’t try to stop all desire. But try to stop as much desire as you can stop. You see where this is going to go. Then they’re going to say well, I’m a little excessive about desiring to stop desire. Well, if you’re naturally excessive about it he says try to be as us. Likely excessive as you can see. Now do you see what’s leading here? If you follow that course, you are being brought to center. In the same way as I demonstrated before. You are being brought to yourself, to accept yourself as you are here and now totally. But you can’t do that directly. Because if you try to accept yourself you will always find that in yourself there is a spirit of the non acceptance of things and you have to accept that. So the teacher would say, don’t try to accept yourself more than you can accept yourself except yourself as much as you can accept yourself. Because then you see, you are also accepting the part of you that doesn’t accept. Or, he may try on another tack he may say. All right now if you’ve seen that it’s, that desiring not to desire is simply another form of desire. You’re trying for example, to get rid of your sensuous appetites. You are going to give up booze and women and. Or whatever it may be. And you then think well now, yes this I must do. And eventually. You find that you are becoming proud of your success in mastering your appetites. And you’re beginning to depend on that. So the teacher says, Do you see you’re in the same trap as you always were. Formally you sought spiritual security in booze and women and so on now you are seeking it in holiness. Formerly, you bound yourself with chains of iron now you are bound with chains of gold. Formerly, you boasted to all the boys how many sins you committed. Now, your boasting before the lot of how many virtues you have same trap. Why do you do it. So, the student eventually finds there’s no way at all. To not desire. Even desiring not to desire is desiring. Even trying to accept oneself is a way of trying to escape from one’s self because one hopes psychotherapeutic clear that by accepting yourself you will get rid of your nasty symptoms. So you’re not accepting them you’re not accepting them by the gimmick by the pretense of trying to accept them. So this is the way, in which the dialogue of Buddhism begins to work. And as it progresses step-by-step. Let me try and show you a little bit more how it works because I’m shortening it enormously, in order to give you an outline of the whole thing what is going on between the teacher and the student the Buddha and his disciples is not merely a dialogue. There is the verbal dialogue else that goes on but there are also it spread over a long period of time. And in the intervals the students are practicing meditations. They are making efforts to control their minds and emotions, and practicing those things which are the Buddhist equivalents of yoga.
So that, in parallel to the intellectual discussion that is going on, there is a total devotion of one’s whole being to a quest. Morning, noon and night. And so you see this works up to a very considerable. Psychic alertness it makes the student put a very considerable psychic investment in the task. And as he goes on you see he becomes more and more frustrated. Because as the trap closes. And he finds that it’s impossible to do the right thing because the right thing is always done for the wrong reason. When the wrong man uses the right means the right means work in the wrong way. You see. There is something you could do to attain liberation or as the Christian would say union with God. If you could do it. But the Christian would say by reason of original sin you can’t because through Original Sin everybody is basically selfish and you can’t be unselfish for a selfish reason but you have only selfish reasons. So to him that hath shall be given. But of course he doesn’t need it. From him that hath not be taken away even that which you have. Poor fellow what is he to do. So you see in this way, the teacher closes a trap on the student where he finds himself completely impotent. Not only can he not do anything that will bring about his salvation, he is also unable not to do anything. One might say, you must do nothing. You must be completely passive, but you can’t do that because the moment you try to be passive you are doing something. So you get into the state which they call in Zen Buddhism a mosquito biting and iron bull. Or as we would say, in our Western idiom the state when the irresistible force meets the immovable object. Where something must be done but simply cannot be done. And in this state of maximum frustration. There is an opportunity. To understand the situation. To understand. That I. The meaning of the state I cannot do I cannot not do. The meaning of this state is that the separate I thought yourself to be is an illusion that’s why it cannot do and why it cannot not do. You see, what is are I, our ego? Sometime in the development of man, maybe three four or five thousand years ago. We developed self consciousness in a peculiar way. We began to realize that by directed thought, we could control our environment. And then it was, you see, that we had a sense of responsibility let’s just assume for the sake of argument that there was a time when nobody deliberated they did exactly what they felt like. When you were hungry, you ate. When you were thirsty, you drank. When you were angry, you hit something. When you were happy, you downs but you never stopped to think what was the right thing to do. You just trusted your intuition your instincts your unconscious or whatever it might be called. Well that was great because nobody wanted. Nobody had any problems when it was like that. See a baby is in the same situation today. Now maybe you were unsuccessful maybe the thing you did spontaneously was absolutely the wrong thing and the tiger ate you up well that was all right because it really doesn’t matter if the tiger eats you up so long as you want spending a previous time worrying about it see everybody dies and if you die clunk like that that’s that you don’t spend all your life before you die worrying about death you don’t spend all your time before you get sick worrying about getting sick. And when you see you move on that level of unpremeditated spontaneous behavior that’s the golden age. And the reason people look back with nostalgia for the golden age is because that was the time of irresponsibility. That when people began to see that they could provide for the future, and that they could look after things and take care of and direct everything, immediately anxiety came into the world. So that was the fall of man.
Because then the moment you start doing that you begin to think now having thought this question through and decided that such and such is the right thing to do have I thought it over carefully enough. Now that’s a real bugaboo of a question. You know you go out of the house and you wonder did I turn off the gas stove. I think counted but on the other hand I’m not quite sure that’s go back and see so having gone about five blocks to work back yes you did turn it off so you go out again. And you wonder again, now I wonder if I really looked, or whether I was so keen on finding out that I did turn it off that some sort of wishful thinking about it diverted my consciousness and whether I hadn’t better check that I really did look properly or see well this way you never get away you’re trapped. So this you see is the problem of all self-conscious beings. They are they feel responsibility and then they feel responsible for being responsible and responsible for being with sponsible for being responsible and there’s no end to it. So when in this obscure way everybody wants to get back to the Golden Age. But they say, if I just acted as I felt and was completely spontaneous, goodness only knows what would happen. Jesus you see, said to do that. He did, and everybody reads it in the King James Bible where it means nothing. Take no thought for the morrow, watch you should eat, what you should drink and wherewithal you should be clothed. Consider the lives of the field how they grow toil not neither the days. But I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not a raid like one of these I have God so the grass of the field which today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven shall he not much more close you oh ye of little faith or I mean it sounds lovely read in church. But what it says. Her bosses know that’s that’s the summit on the mountain that’s not practical nobody can do that maybe for a few saints but after all in our practical life was of practicing Christians in the modern world we can’t do that kind of thing. Well. Isn’t that funny. Why can’t you do it I mean that’s the real reason for saying it in the first place Jesus said many very strange things. For example, in the parable of the Pharisee in the publican, how the Pharisee goes up into the front row. And says how good he is and that he has fulfilled all his obligations and pay the ties and then there’s this this publican who goes into the back and sits there and beats his breast and says God be merciful to me of sin and Jesus says now that man, was the Right man, he was justified, but the moment he’s told that story everybody creeps into the back row and says God be merciful to me a sinner and they’re all in the front row again but I’m nobody can do it, you see that’s why the story is told in the same way he says Take no thought for the morrow, stop being anxious like going to a psychiatrist he said you don’t want any stopping novus. Can you see nobody can. And also they find out to see that really in the end nobody can be God. Nobody can make life any better by being responsible about it. Because whatever you gain in that direction you lose at the same time. By being responsible, we’ve created civilization medicine care of the poor, everything, but what a headache the thing is becoming. As we solve all our problems we make more problems every problem you solve gives you ten new problems I’m not saying don’t do that but don’t think you’re going to get anywhere by doing that. That’s one way of arranging it, that’s one kind of dance you can have is to improve everything and have technology but it doesn’t really solve anything. And it’s only in the moment you see, when you fully understand that your situation as a human being is completely insoluble. [That] there is no answer. And that you give up looking for the answer that’s, that’s Nirvana and that’s how Buddhism works.