Now, I’m particularly interested in what Dr. Weaver said about the attitude of the family to children. Because we have an absolutely extraordinary attitude, in our culture and in various other cultures high civilisations to the new member of human society. Instead of saying frankly to children how do you do? Welcome to the human race, we are playing a game and we are playing by the following rules. We want you to…we want to tell you what the rules are so that you will know your way around and when you’ve understood what rules we’re playing by when you get older you may be able to invent better ones. But instead of that, we still retain an attitude to the child that he is on probation, he’s not really a human being. He’s a candidate for humanity. And therefore to preserve the role of parent or to preserve the role of teacher you have to do what they do in the Arthur Murray School of dancing, which is that they string you out they don’t tell you all the story about dancing, because if they tell you you’ll learn in a few weeks and go away. And you know it but instead they want to keep you on. And in just this way we have a whole system of preparation of the child for life which always is preparation and never actually gets there in other words we have a system of schooling which starts with grades. And we get this look creature into the thing with a kind of come on kitty, and we get it everyone is preparing for something that’s going to happen so you go into the nursery school as preparation for kindergarten you go to kindergartners preparation for first grade and then you see you go up the grades to look at the high school and then comes a time when maybe if we can get you fascinated enough with the system you go to college. And then when you’re going to college if you’re smart you get into graduate school and stay a perpetual student and go back to be a professor and just go round and round in the system but in the ordinary way they don’t encourage quite that they want you after graduate school or after graduation commencement as it’s called beginning to get out into the world with a capital W.. And so you know, you’ve been trained for this and now you’ve arrived but when you get out into the world at your first sales meeting they’ve got the same thing going again because they want you to make that quota and if you do make it they give you a higher quota. And come along about forty five years of age maybe your vice president.
And you suddenly it dawns on you that you’ve arrived. With a sudden sense of having been cheated because it isn’t that just the same as the fit life feels the same as it always felt and you are conditioned to be in desperate need of a future. So the final goal that this culture prepares for us is call retirement. When you will be a senior citizen and you will have the wealth and the leisure to do what you’ve always wanted but you will at the same time have impotence. Rotten prostate and false teeth and no energy. So all the whole thing, from beginning to end, is a hoax. And furthermore some other aspects of a hoax just for kicks. You are involved, by and large, in a very strange business system, which divides your day into work and play. Work is something that everybody does. And you get paid to do it because nobody could care less about doing it in other words it is so abominable and boring that you can get paid for doing it. And the object of doing this is to make money and the object of making money is to go home and enjoy the money that you’ve made. With it when you’ve got it you see you can buy pleasure. And that this is a complete solace in money never to buy pleasure because all pleasures depend upon not putting down a symbol of power money but upon disciplines. In other words, now in Sausalito where I live, we have pier after pier of fine boats. Motor cruisers, sailing boats all sorts of things which nobody ever uses. Because they’ve been brought on the falling for the ad line that if you buy this thing you will have pleasure you have status you will have something or other but then they suddenly discover that having a boat requires the art of seamanship which is difficult but rewarding therefore nobody has time for it and all they do with the boats is have cocktail parties on the weekend. And in myriads of ways you see you go home you we’re the wealthiest people in the world and you would think that having your money and go home you would have an orgy and a great banquet and so on but nobody does they eat a T.V. dinner which is just a warmed over airline food and then they spend the evening looking at an electronic reproduction of life which is divided from you by a glass screen. You can’t touch it, you can’t smell it then you look at this thing and you don’t you have a strange feeling to see that the whole procession of grades that was leading to something in the future to that goody that God just as good it was lying at the end of the line. And it never quite turns up.
And this is because from the beginning, we condition our children to a defective sense of identity. And this I think is the most important feature in the whole thing that. A child grows into our culture and as I repeat this is not only Western culture it’s equally true in Japan. But as an area which I can speak with some firsthand knowledge. We condition the child in a way that sets the child a life problem which is insoluble. And therefore attended by constant frustration and as a result of this problem being insoluble, it is perpetually perspire on to the future. So that one lives one is educated to live in the future and one is not ever educated to live today. Now I’m not saying that you know the philosophy of carpe diem, let us drink today for tomorrow we die and not make any plans. What I am saying is that making plans for the future is of use only to people who are capable of living completely in the present. Because when you make plans for the future and they mature. You are if you can’t live in the present you are not able to enjoy the future for which you have planned because you will have a new kind of syndrome a well by happiness consists in promises. And not in direct and immediate realisations so long as you feel that tomorrow it will come to see on a dollar bill, it always has promise to pay. It’s a promissory note. And nobody ever can come across. Because the promise is tomorrow and does is the if we said common speech tomorrow never comes. But everything is based on the idea you see that you will get it tomorrow and you can enjoy yourself today so long as tomorrow looks bright. But Confucius once said, A man who understands the Tao in the morning can die contentedly in the evening. That is to say, if you have ever lived one complete moment. You can be ready to die you can say well. That was it that was the good that I’ve had it. But if you never live that complete moment, death is always the guy who like comes into a bar at two o’clock in the morning and says Time, Gentlemen please. And you say oh oh please one more drink not yet. Because you haven’t really have the feeling that you ever had it that you ever got there.
Now then, the main the main factor in this kind of conditioning seems to me. To be as I said the way in which we give children a sense of identity. And in this respect we do something extraordinary odd. We define a person. Consider this for a moment this word person. Harry Emerson Fosdick once wrote a book called How to be a Real Person. And this in translation means how to be a genuine fake. Because the word person means a mask. The Persona, the mask worn by actors in Graeco-Roman drama which was a megaphone mouth mask so that through it Sunnah the sound goes. And so at the beginning of a place script you will see the dramatic personae the persons of the drama that is to say the list of the masks that the actors are going to wear. But the word has so for them from its original use that to be a person has come to mean your real identity your true sincere honest self the person and we say of someone then he’s a real person that means he’s genuine. But we have confused, you see, the individual organism with the person with that is to say it’s a role and we have defined the role of the person in such a way. That it condemns everybody so defiant to perpetual frustration. Now how is this so? When you are a child, you, your parents, your peers, your teachers, your uncles and aunts, are very anxious to define you. And what they are going to tell you is that you are a free agent. You are responsible that is to say you are an independent First Cause you are an origin of actions and thoughts and feelings and we can praise you or blame you for what you do. And above all we require of you that you love us. You love your parents you love your brothers and sisters as Fred said a child is not allowed to say to let that baby sister go back where it came from because that is not nice all nice children love their brothers and sisters and their parents not of course because we tell you to do so because you would want to do it yourself. You see now what’s going on. You are required and commanded to do certain things which will be appreciated only if you do them voluntarily.
Now you see, when your identity is defined by society you cannot resist it. You don’t have the knowledge you don’t have the wisdom you don’t have the resources to understand that something’s being put over on you. You cannot but help believe the definition of you as a free agent. But you believe yourself to be a free agent as a result of not being free that is to say of being hopelessly unable to resist society’s identification of you. So in the whole sense of our personality there is a contradiction and that is why the sense of ego of being oneself is simultaneously a sense of frustration. The feeling of ‘I’-ness, so far as most people are concerned is a feeling of tension between the eyes and behind them. Trigon burrow a remarkable man did some studies about. Two kinds of awareness which we call die-tension and Co-tension in die-tentive is the normal kind of awareness that we have of being a skin encapsulated ego of being separate from the environment and of confronting an external objective world of which we are the independent observer. And this myth he said goes hand in hand with the physical state which is a state of tension between the eyes then he defined tension as another form of awareness which you might call a certain kind of openness in which you realize. That the external world is just as much you as anything inside your skin. And that you are not something that comes into this world on probation and doesn’t really belong this is you see the attitude that we foster in the child that you are something not that comes into the world but comes out of it in the same way as a flower comes out of a plant or a fruit comes out of a tree that you are an expression you as a human being are a symptom of nature. And that you really belong there and that other laws your actual self what is finally and fundamentally you is not. A separate and lonely pops of the world. But the real you is the world itself everything that is expressing itself as this particular organism here and now and of course as you look across the room as all these other organisms in the here and now we are all tits on the same solve by may put it so crudely or if you want to do it it was poetically, rays from the same sun.
Now, now, children very often lost their parents you see as a result of having been given this funny sense of identity. Mommy who would I have been if my father had been someone else? This is a very common child question, because the child gets the message from the parents using the English language, the French language, the German language or whatever, that I am somewhat in my body you gave me my body. But who am I to whom this was given. You can say to her go. Darling you’re absolutely gorgeous you’re so beautiful and she says How like a man all you think about is bodies I may be beautiful but that’s my parents gave me my body but I want to be admired for myself and not for my sassy. And this poor girl is a chauffeur. She’s alienated from her body. And she doesn’t take any credit, doesn’t assume any responsibility for being what she is physically and this is of course as much true of men as of women it is a common cultural attitude we say I have a body we don’t say I am a body. We feel very sharp distinction in other words, between our consciousness, which is a kind of focused attention, together with all those actions that we are able to perform voluntarily. On the one hand and on the other hand everything both within us and outside us that seems merely to happen to us.
Consider for a moment breathing. Do you breath, or are you breathed? You can feel it either way. If you become conscious of breathing you get the sense that you’re doing it in the same way as thinking or walking but if you forget about it it goes on and you don’t have to do it at all that is why breathing exercises are fundamental in all meditation practices in the Orient because you can understand through breathing and through the experience of breathing that there really is no differentiation between the involuntary experience on the voluntary experience. But when you make set up game rules whereby you identify all that you. Do voluntarily with you and all that happens in voluntarily with the other with what happens to you and then you put a gulf between these things not realizing and this is the secret that is never given away that self and other are inseparable. Just in the same way, that the front in the back of a coin are different but identical is all one can so in exactly the same way the experience of self and the experience of other mutually necessary you wouldn’t know what you meant by self unless you knew other you wouldn’t know of and this you knew what you meant by self they are therefore polarities like north and south pole of the magnet they’re inseparable. But that secret doesn’t get out because civilized language and thought. Ignores the fact. That all classes all logical classes and words are after all labels on classes, are so constructed that they are intellectual boxes and every box which has an inside also must have an outside. And we think that insides exist apart from outside and outside the pot from insides we don’t realize that although they are opposed they go together. And you see that is the secret of the whole thing that is what the child is not let on to. And so instead the child is defined. As a stranger in the earth. And not as a symptom of it. And as a result of that we have the vast terrifying social problem of alienation of feeling that the world outside human skins is unfeeling, fully-automatic stupidity. Which we have to fight. And dominate, otherwise it will swallow us up and condemn us to the imaginary terrors of everlasting nothingness.
Now I feel in a way with it when we say I wasn’t responsible for being born. You know, in one of the great problems of psychotherapy today, is passing the buck. By a kind of superficial Friday and attitude you as a juvenile delinquent are not responsible for what you do because it was your parents who followed you up and so they write articles in the press that instead of prosecuting the children we ought to prosecute the parents so they hold the parents some of the parents I know with mixed up with that was the fault of our parents. And it all goes back to a gag I called Adam and he blamed it on Eve, and she blamed it on the serpent. And God said about the serpent. And I’m not responsible for the serpent. He did it on his own, because the because the serpent is the Left Hand of God. And what we call God Jehovah Jesus Christ etc That’s the right hand but Jesus Christ sits on the right hand of the father nobody ever says it was it’s on the left. Because Let not your left hand know what your right hand do it. See my temper got the better of me I didn’t really mean it. My lust got the better of me. I am really not responsible for them they were given to me. You see now all this idea that. You see. We were laboring under a definition of the self. Which you think extremely is limited. So that we are for example, of knowledge, thinking and walking and we doing things with our hands and speaking. But we don’t acknowledge that we are growing our head and beating our hearts. That is defined as happening to us but it is defined as something that happens to us and when you feel that most of my father’s responsibility he had a dirty gleam in his eyes and went after my mother and so on, and he did it. Yes All right.
[audience] There is this point about responsibility, and one way of looking at it is we aren’t responsible for what happens in our past. We are responsible for what happens now.
[Alan] Now but you see I feel this is a this is a hoax. You see look let’s suppose now that. We will follow the theory of those astronomers who maintain that the universe is not a steady state thing but there was an enormous back. Billions of years ago and from this bang all the galaxies were thrown out into space. Now, then you look back at this as something. Which happened in the past and which is as it were the cause of the present. But what I would say is that bang is still going on. When you take a lovely bottle of black ink and throw it as hard as you can at the white wall and smash it. Only goes like this you know and in the center it’s dense but on the out fringes it has all kinds of interesting color cues and that’s all you see one splash. Now in the same way we are at the moment sitting in this room and talking and thinking we are all the little curly cues out on the end of the original cosmic bang. We are it. We are not effects of it because. To think that you are separate from the Big Bang is simply a matter of definition it’s a way of talking we separate events from each other in order to measure them that is to say the notion that there are distinct things and distinct events in the physical world is a calculus. It is like pretending that a curve is a series of points. And so in the same way, supposing you have a wiggle. Now you’ve got a wiggly line you see and the whole world is wiggly lines clouds mountains people Rivers everything is wiggly lines now how much of a weekly line is a wiggle. You see what is one wiggle and you can see that this is a very arbitrary matter.
So we see the obvious wiggles in the world and we define them as people. Each of you is a wiggle and this wiggle is you! [audience question] That’s simply a repetition of the original explosion. Right of class war and of course. This is an expression, entire earth and yes exactly this is the repetition of the original explosion. [audience] It starts before us. Because the definition of yourself as beginning only when shall we put it where did you begin when a partition at conception or when you heard the evil gleam in your father’s eyes when did you begin let’s go back you began on the first dawn of creation whenever that was that because you did it. See everybody is pretending they didn’t. And you can kind of play a game this is what gurus do is an masters and so on they give you a funny look and you say oh I have a problem please teacher I’m this little me and I caught in this thing called life I got mixed up with all these tubes and. And it’s uncomfortable and I don’t know what to do about it because it’s all going to fall apart. And so the teacher says where this freedom on a machine or whether it’s a zen teacher who is mixed up in this thing who are you who lost this question. Show me find yourself. You say well I just does me and he says oh come on. You just don’t. See it so eventually the person feels very bogged. Because the teacher is calling his bluff. And you are not the Lord God in the Jehovah sense of Christianity who is the cosmic technocrat who knows all the answers to everything but you are the law of God in the Hindu sense was different because the Hindu god doesn’t know how he does everything in the sense that he doesn’t translate it into words he can’t explain it because there’s no point in explaining it. You open and close your hand without knowing how you do it and yet you surely do it but you can’t put it into words how it happens unless you’re a physiologist and then even so it doesn’t help you much to open and close your eyes. Better than anybody else. So you do know how to do it but you can’t explain it because the thing words are very clumsy way of talking about something which from the standpoint of words in the standpoint of logic is a very very complicated process. So, if you asked Shiva how he dances the cosmos he would say I just do it like you say what I just open and close my eyes and…
So then, you go to says to you isn’t Shiva Don’t kid me you know that you are not Shiva. But they are just as a thing called Mary Smith or John Doe etc. And everybody says oh you can’t admit that because you see if I did it that I would have to be considered responsible and I would be considered crazy and I would feel that I really was one with this whole scheme of things. And that’s you see the secret that we don’t let the children know. In all well not in all but in many cultures initiation into manhood consists precisely in finding that out. They finally get around to saying to you after all you know we’ve been pretending all this time that you would just this little boy little girl. But now we’re going to let you in on the real story. But not in this culture. That’s the problem. In this culture, we do have an initiation into adult life called psychoanalysis and that everybody is ruined by education and then it can’t be helped, because they have to know all the conventions and just like you to preserve beef you make it salt and when you’re going to cook it you have to suck the salt out of it. So in the same way, to make a child tolerable companion you have to. It’s going to. Bill you have to be salted with education then when that mixes up all your natural instincts you have to be psychoanalyzed in order to be straightened out. And root cured of your education cured of your upbringing but the difficulty is you see that the assumptions of psychoanalysis. And of a good deal of psychotherapy in various types and schools do not include the insight that you are basically the works. They have in other words, that simply because historically speaking psychotherapy originated in the nineteenth century. And therefore still carries on the nineteenth century assumptions about the nature of the universe. And all those nineteenth century assumptions about the universe were a put down. They included the myth you see, that the universe is actually blind energy it is essentially stupid. And man’s intelligence and man’s values and man’s consciousness are a fluke in the world.
And so, this myth is that the world. Man, in other words, is not a symptom of the world like an apple tree is a symptom an apple is a symptom of an apple tree that man is a fluke. Kind of a joke of chance. And that to be realistic and hardheaded. Factual In other words a strong man you must realize that you are caught in this trap and face the fact.
So then this…for the West at any rate. This nineteenth century philosophy of man’s place in the world and his identity. Has become the most plausible common sense. In other words, people say they are Christians they say they are Jews they say they are the author of his to be done to put is at cetera et cetera but they are not. Because they know in their heart of hearts, whatever they choose to believe that the world. Is as described in the nineteenth century myth because that’s become our common sense if people were Christians they’d be screaming in the streets and not screaming streets. Be taking full page ads they’d be sponsoring T.V. programs about the tremendous sense of this Christian that and then not doing anything they find a few Jehovah’s witnesses are doing it but they are even they are fairly polite when they come to your front door they show no urgency really. So they don’t believe it because the plausible myth of our age is the myth of the fully automatic model of the universe in which man is a fluke and which he doesn’t really belong he has a chance operation and when you’re dead you’re dead and that’s all that is to it. That’s so plausible, that really almost everyone believes in it without realizing that it is made out of whole cloth that’s and nothing but a myth the way of looking at things a way of striking an attitude. But this is the powerful, powerful idea that governs our children, and that gives us our sense of basic identity alienation so that. We live always in expectation of a future, which of course never happens. Well, that’s enough from me for the moment.