I wonder how many of you have ever read a romantic Victorian novel called Zan Ngoni. It was written by Beau Willimon. And it’s the story of an alchemist, an aristocratic, very good looking man called Zan Ngoni, who was several hundred years old, living in Naples shortly before the French Revolution. And he was several hundred years old because he had discovered the elixir of life. Which was, of course, supposed to be the quest of all alchemists all over the world, not simply something that would turn led into gold and give one indefinite riches about the secret of immortality. And this was the quest of alchemy both in the West and in the Far East. And many of the great emperors of China died because the Dow as priests gave them mysterious concoctions purporting to be the elixir of life. I only had an apprentice, and one day while the master was out, The Apprentice could not resist taking a very close look at some certain crystal bottles hidden in the depths of his cupboards. And this was the elixir. And he removed the stopper and took just a slight sniff.
And then suddenly there appeared before him an absolutely monstrous being.
And trembling, he put the stopper back into the bottle. And face this appalling apparition, which is called the dweller on the threshold. The something or other one has to come to terms with before crossing the border into immortality. Now, today, we are living in an age which is quite peculiar because in the world of science, there are no longer any secrets.
Because the method of science. Requires that all scientists be in communication with each other and therefore that every scientist, as soon as he has discovered something or got a good idea, he rushes into print.
And it’s important for him to do so because some other scientists somewhere else in the world might be thinking about something on the same lines and would be stimulated in his work by this man’s speculations, even if not by discoverers.
And so the whole scientific world tries to remain in communication. And for this reason, it was an absolutely impossible to keep atomic energy a secret. In former ages, that might have been managed because there were many secrets once upon a time. And people were not admitted to these secrets unless they were in some way tested and found capable of handling them without running amuck. We live in such a dangerous age because all the secrets are out in the open and anybody can run amuck with them.
And that’s just the situation we have to face and that is just the situation we have to handle. It is too late to stop it because that would be, as they say. Locking the door after the horse has bolted. And there is a certain reason why such a thing as a sudden chemical. Which is capable of opening people’s minds in a certain way should be something extremely disturbing.
Because this particular chemical in common with a number of others that have been known for centuries. But I’ve been rather played cool through those centuries.
Is capable of doing something which simply cannot be tolerated.
That is to say, capable of letting properly prepared individuals or sometimes improperly prepared individuals in on a secret which is very closely guarded. And which is, as a matter of fact, the deepest and most fundamental of all our social taboos. I have just finished writing a book, which I’ve had with a sort of tongue in cheek attitude, had the temerity to call the book, and it is subtitled the book you see on the Taboo against knowing who you are. Because that is really the thing that cannot be let out. Sex is not really a serious taboo in our culture.
If you are initiating a young person into life and you realize that your son or daughter is going to college and that you ought therefore to have a serious talk with them, they’ll laugh at you and say all this thing you’re telling us about sex we knew years ago and we know more about it than you do. So that is not a subject for a serious initiation. Talk to a young person. So we have to think again and try and find out. Think deeply what is fundamentally taboo in this culture and perhaps in other cultures as well. What would what information? In other words, would really let out let the cat out of the bag and give away the show?
Now quest around a bit.
Ask yourself this for what reason would a person be considered hopelessly insane? What sort of claims? Must a person simply not make it? Well, there is one, and that is if anybody claims that he is God. That simply isn’t done. Certainly not in our culture, although it’s very frequent in India, but in our culture, that is simply not allowed because we most of us from a Christian background and if not that from a Jewish background, and there’s a great deal in common because both Christians and Jews are deeply concerned about somebody called Jesus Christ.
Both Christians and Jews are, in a way, followers of Jesus Christ in different ways. He is a problem to both because he was the man who came out and discovered he was God. And that simply is impermissible. The Jews handled it in one way. The Christians handled it quite as effectively. In another way, the Christians handled Jesus perfectly, even more tactfully than the Jews by putting him on a pedestal and saying this was the only man who ever was God, and nobody else was really so before.
And certainly nobody can be so afterwards. Stop right there. Put him on the altar, bow down to him, worship him so that everything he had to say will be null and void. And it worked beautifully, but you see, the trouble about deep secrets is they can’t be repressed indefinitely.
As a certain president of the United States, one for once remarked, you can fool some of the people some of the time. But you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.
And we human beings have been systematically fooled by ourselves.
It isn’t as if there were some deep, dark conspiracy with somebody else to blame for quite a number of centuries into the notion that we are strangers in the universe.
That the world that lies beyond the border of our skins is not ourselves and is some quite alien mechanical contraption into which we arrived. And from which we will disappear.
And we really have nothing very much to do with it. It’s something about which we can take an objective point of view. We can look at it. We can measure it. We can calculate it. But it all turns out in the end to be some sort of stupid, stupid mechanism in which we are involved, because as bodies, we are part of it.
But it is. Common sense. For most individuals.
That they themselves. Aren’t even their bodies. They are alienated spooks which have bodies like people have cars and in which they go around. And confront. The external world. As if it was something in which you were trapped. And children can say to their parents.
I didn’t ask to be born. Just because of your funny love affairs and all that. I got mixed up in this world and you are responsible to.
And we don’t even think that we had anything personally to do with the fact that our fathers once had an evil gleam in their eyes. But that evil gleam was you coming off.
Only U.S. by this idea of our own identity that we have, we are able to disclaim responsibility for all kinds of things. And say, no, it was my parents see if as a fellow taken in juvenile delinquency and he knows a little Freud, he can say, well, I couldn’t help it because I was psycho analytically fouled up when I was a baby. Even before perhaps I was born. My mother had all sorts of complexes. And then if he gets away with that, the people in the press say for juvenile delinquents that the kids should not be punished. But the parents and the parents say, hey, wait a minute, we got fouled up by our parents. And we are we are pretty bad parents, we admit. But our parents before us brought us up in a certain way that we are hopelessly neurotic and we can’t really raise children, but we have to. So every kid, everyone can pass the buck all the way down the line.
The woman that Dow gave us me. She tempted me and I did eat.
And then when God wagged his finger at the serpent. Subban didn’t say anything because a serpent knew the answers.
He knew the thing which must not be admitted that the left hand goes with the right hand. That black goes with white and that you wouldn’t know what white was unless you knew what black was.
And that, you know, wouldn’t know what is was unless you knew what isn’t is and you wouldn’t know what here is unless you knew what that is. And you wouldn’t know what you meant by self unless you knew what was meant by other.
And that is so simple.
But everybody contrived to ignore it.
Now, here’s the problem, you see that there are certain processes, some of which are. What you might call spiritual exercises. Others are simply chemicals. Others are just horse sense. Whereby one comes to see very clearly indeed that black goes with white and self goes with other. And as this becomes clear to you, it’s rather shaking. Because, look, if what you define as you. Is inseparable from everything, what you define as not you. Just as front is inseparable from back. Then you realize that deep down between self and other. There is some sort of conspiracy.
If these things always occur in combination. And look very different from each other and feel quite different. Nevertheless, the feeling of difference between them.
Allows each one to exist.
And so underneath the opposition or the polarity between self and other or between any other pair of opposites you can think of. There is something in common as there is, for example, between figure and background.
You can’t see a figure without a background. You can’t have an organism without an environment. Equally, you can’t have a background without a figure or an environment without organisms in it or without things in it. You can’t have space which is unoccupied by any solid. You cannot cannot have solids not occupying some space. This is absolutely elementary. And yet we don’t realize it. Because, for example, the average person thinks that space is nothing. But is this just sort of not fairness in which there are things?
And we are slightly afraid that not the fairness, that nothingness, that darkness, that the negative polls of all these oppositions will win.
That they will eventually swallow up every kind of being and every kind of Venice. But when you catch on to the game, you realize that that won’t happen. Because what is called not existing is quite incapable of being there without the contrast of something called existing. It’s like the crest and the trough of a wave. You can’t have a wave that is all trough and no crest, just as you can’t have a wave which is all crest and no trough. Such a thing has never been manifested in the physical universe.
They go together.
And that is the secret, there really is no other secret than that.
But it is thoroughly repressed.
And therefore, we are all educated to feel. That we’ve got to fight for the white. Because the black might with.
We’ve got to survive.
You must survive.
That’s the great thing we’re all working on now and pounding it out day after day and anxiety because this is a description of anxiety. Anxiety is the fear that one of a pair of opposites might cancel the other.
And if by any chance, by any means, you’ll find out that that is not so.
You have an entirely new attitude to what human beings are doing.
Which may be very creative, but which also may be very dangerous. You see through the game. The game called White Must Win.
Because you know that neither black nor white are going to win because they belong to each other.
So one of the problems of the various chemicals which can change the human mind in certain ways so that it becomes apparent that inside and outside go together, is that they do rather give the show away. And people who take these chemicals and see through the human game.
Cannot be trusted.
They may decide to be good sports and go back into the game and play it as if it were for real. Or they may not. And if they don’t know what’s going to happen. If you wanted some sort of appropriate illustration for a Life magazine article on the effects of LSD, you would have one very simple solution.
You would publish the most gorgeous color reproductions of Persian miniatures. And of Moorish Arab Basques and of the illuminations of Celtic manuscripts that would give you the story. So far as changes in human sensation are concerned.
But there would be one thing very difficult to put across in pictures because the people who looked at them, if they didn’t get the point of view, wouldn’t see it. And that is what I will call the sensation, as well as the intellectual understanding of polarity. That is to say that the inside and the outside, the subjective and the objective, the self and the other go together.
In other words, what? There is a harmony, an unbreakable harmony. I’m when I’m using the word harmony, I don’t necessarily mean something sweet. I mean, absolute Concorde relationship between what goes on inside your skin and what goes on outside your skin. It isn’t that what goes on outside is so powerful that it pushes around and controls what goes on inside. Equally so it isn’t that what goes on inside is so strong that it often succeeds in pushing around what goes on outside. It is very simply that the two processes, the two behaviors are one.
What you do is what the universe starts. And what the universe does is also what you do. Not EU in the sense of your superficial ego.
Which is a very small, little, tiny area of your conscious sensitivity, but you in the sense of your total psycho physical organism conscious as well as unconscious.
This is not something that arrived in the world from somewhere else altogether that confronts an alien reality. What you are.
Is the universe in that, in fact, the works? What there is and always has been and always will be forever and ever. Performing an act called John Doe.
And this is such a subversion of common sense. But is that fact, matter of fact something if you stop to think about it, that is completely obvious.
Only everything conspires to prevent you from seeing that obvious thing.
Because when you were babies, practically all your parents and your teachers and your aunts and uncles and your older brothers and sisters got together and they told you who you were. They defined you as Johnny.
Was just Johnny. No. And don’t you come on too strong, Johnny. Because we’ve got elders and betters around here.
But you’re responsible.
You’re a free agent. You’d better be.
And so when you are told from childhood that you are expected and commanded to behave in a way that will be acceptable only if you do it voluntarily.
You remain permanently mixed up that if anything is permanent brain damage.
But that’s the idea you see, because that’s the game we’re playing. You started it. I didn’t say that’s the game we’re playing. We can make all kinds of complexities out of that and really in a way, have enormous fun. But once anybody sees through that.
Well, we are frightened.
Once you get this sense of polarity of your inside being the same process as your outside and your ego being one and the same process as the whole universe going on.
Then we are afraid that people may say. Well, good equals bad. And we can do anything we like and we didn’t in any way be further subject to the ordinary rules of human conduct. And we can wear what clothes we like or no clothes at all. We can have what sexual life we like. We can do anything. And we are going to generally because the world is being rather oppressive towards us, challenged the whole thing and run amuck. And a lot of people are doing just exactly that.
So I want to introduce into this whole problem some ancient wisdom. I have really two things to talk about how cultures which always did know in some way or among whom a large number of people always did know this secret handled it. And then I want to make some observations about how we are trying to handle it and how it’s not going to work.
Among the Hindus and among the Buddhists. This view of the real identity of a human being has always been known. At least by a very influential minority.
The central doctrine of the Hindu way of life. I call it that rather than a religion is in Sanskrit. Tad Devine Marcy, you’re it. Put it in a kind of colloquial way, you’re it and it is the which then which there is no which are which they call the Brahman or the Ottoman with a capital, a meaning the self. You are only just kidding that you’re just poor little me. See the function of a guru. That is to say, a spiritual teacher in India is to look give you a funny look in the eye, because you come to him and say, Mr. Guru, I have problems.
I suffer. And it’s the mess. And I can’t control my mind. And I am miserable and depressed. So on. And he gives you a funny look.
And you feel a bit nervous about the way he looks at you. Because he you know, he is reading your thoughts.
And this man is a great magician. He can read everything that’s in you. He knows right down into your unconscious and you know, all the dreadful things you thought and all that awful desires you have. And you are rather embarrassed that this man looks right through you and sees them all. That’s not what he’s looking at. He’s giving you a funny look for quite another reason altogether, because he sees in you the drama, the Godhead, just claiming it’s poor little me. And he’s going to eventually buy all sorts of subtle techniques that are called in Sanskrit empire that in politics means chicanery and in spiritual education means skillful pedagogy. He is going to try and kid you back into realizing who you really are.
That’s why he gives you a funny look. Why seems to see right through you. As if to say Shiva, oh, boy, don’t kid me.
I know who you are, but you’re coming on beautifully in this act. You’re somebody else altogether. And I congratulate you.
You’re doing a wonderful job playing this part, which you call the person. My person, you know, a person is a fake. It with the word means a mask. So if you read books on how to be a real person, you’re reading books on how to be a genuine fake.