The word persona, as you know, means a mask worn in Greek or Roman drama.
So if you are this, come on to the guru and say, well, he asked you who you are, Sri Romana Maharishi, when anybody came to him and they said to him, as people do. Who was I and my last incarnation? Or will I be reincarnated again? He always replied. Who’s asking the question? And everybody was irritated because he wouldn’t give them answers about what they were in their former lives. But I said, Who are you?
And he looked at you if you looked at photographs of this man. I keep a photograph of him close by because of the humor in his eyes. They’re looking at you with a dancing twinkle saying, come off it.
Now they’re in these Asiatic traditions. It is well recognized. That people who get the knowledge that you’re at.
May very well run amuck. And therefore, they always couple any method of gaining this, whether it is yoga, whether it is smoking something or drinking something or whatever, is the method, they always couple it with a discipline. Now, I know the word discipline isn’t very popular these days. And I would like to have a new word for it, because most people who teach discipline don’t teach them very well. They teach it with a kind of violence. As if a discipline was something that is going to be extremely unpleasant and you’re going to have to put up with. But that’s not the real secret of discipline. I would prefer to use the word skill.
Discipline is a way.
Expression. Say you want to express your feelings in stone now, stone doesn’t give way very easily. It’s tough stuff.
And so you have to learn the skill or the discipline of the sculptor in order to express yourself in stone. So in every other way, whatever you do, you require a skill. And it’s enormously important, especially for American people to understand that there is absolutely no possibility of having any pleasure in life at all without skill.
Money doesn’t buy pleasure.
Ever look if you want to get stoned drunk? And go out and get a bottle of bourbon and done it. You can’t do that except for people who have practiced the distillers art. You can’t even make love without art. Where I live in Sausalito, we have our harbor full of ever so many pleasure craft, motor cruisers, sailing boats, all kinds of things, and they never leave the dock.
All that happens with them is their owners have cocktail parties there on Saturdays and Sundays because they discovered having bought these things that the discipline of sailing is difficult to learn and takes a lot of time. And they didn’t have time for it. So they just bought the thing is a status symbol. So in other words, you can’t have pleasure in life without skill. But it isn’t a unpleasant task to learn a skill. If the teacher in the first place gets you fascinated with it.
There is immense pleasure in learning how to do anything skillfully. To make carpentry things to cook to right. To calculate anything you want can be immensely pleasurable to learn the discipline. And it is completely indispensable. Because, look, you may be a very inspired musician.
I am not a musical technologist. You see. And I regret it, but I am a world work technologist. But I can hear in my head all kinds of symphonies and all kinds of marvelous compositions. But I do not have the technique to write them down on paper and share them with somebody else.
Too bad. Maybe next time around.
But you see, so far as words are concerned, I can express ideas because I have studied language and I work very hard, not that I didn’t like it. I intensely enjoy the work of writing a book, although it is difficult, but it’s fascinating to say what can never possibly be said.
So we do see what’s happening, what you have to do. You have inspiration, but then you have to have technique to incarnate to express your inspiration.
That is to say, to bring heaven down to earth. And to express heaven in terms of earth. Of course, they are really one behind the scenes, but there’s no way of pointing it out unless you do something skillful. You see, we are all at the moment absolutely in the midst of the beatific vision.
We are all one with the divine or some.
I don’t like that sort of wishy washy language, but we are all there, but we are so much there that we like fish and water. They don’t know they’re in water like the birds don’t know they’re in the air because it’s all around them. And in the same way, we don’t know what the color of our eyes is. I don’t mean whether you got blue or brown eyes, but the color of the lens of your eye. You call that transparent? No color.
See, because you can’t see it. But it’s basic to being able to see anything. So in order to find out where you are, there has to be some way of drawing attention to it and that involves skill who pay out in Sanskrit skillful means.
So it’s all very well. Anybody can have ecstasy.
Anybody, as a matter of fact, can become aware that he is one with the eternal ground of the universe. But since that what’s what you are?
Anyway, I am going to ask, so what, when a hero goes on an adventure and he leaves his people and is going to a strange land. He can go away and just hide himself around the corner in an obscure house and then appear a year later and say, I’ve been on a heroic journey until all sorts of tales. And they say, prove it.
Because they expect him to bring back something, something which nobody has seen before. Then they believe you’ve been on the journey. So in the same way. Exactly. Anybody who goes on a spiritual journey must bring something back. Because if you just say, oh, man, it was a gas.
Anyone can say that.
Now, this is why in the doctrines of Buddhism, there is a differentiation between two kinds of enlightened beings. They are both forms of Buddha. Which is to say the word Buddha means somebody who has awakened, who has discovered the secret behind all this. In other words, all this thing we call life with its frantic concerns is a big act.
Would you in your unconscious depths are deliberately setting up?
So you can do one of two things when you discover this. You can become what’s called a practical Buddha.
That means a private Buddha who doesn’t tell anything or you can become a Buddhist advert.
Protect a Buddha goes off into his ecstasy. And never seen again. Bodie Sava is come one who comes back and appears in the everyday world and plays the game of the everyday world by the rules of the everyday world. But he brings with him up higher. He brings with him some way of showing that he’s been on the journey, that he’s come back and he’s going to let you in on the secret to.
If you if if if you will play it cool and also come back. To join in the everyday life of everyday people, because this is the rule.
If the world is dramatic. If the world, as the Hindu say, is a big act put on by the divine self. One of the rules of coming onstage is that you don’t come on as yourself. You come on as the part that you’re going to play.
It’s very bad form if an actor always acts the same way.
That’s what’s called a star as distinct from an actor, a real actor can become anything.
And so but in private life. Well, he’s just Mr. Jones.
And but he doesn’t come on the stage that way. So in the same way, if you know that behind the scenes, in the depth, fundamentally, you are it, you don’t come on that way. It always comes on as something else.
That’s the rule of the stage. Because without that, there wouldn’t be a play. It would only be reality, no illusion.
And the whole point of life is illusion. From the word Latin lottery to play.
Show biz, the show must go on. So don’t give it away.
But the truth has a way of leaking. It gets out. But then the important thing is you see when the truth gets out.
Those who catch hold of it.
Must find a way of staying in contact with what society calls reality.
That is to say, if you have a radio, you don’t only need an antenna. You also need a ground. So what happens in the world of mysticism, of psychedelic visions and so on needs to be grounded?
So then there are always two directions in which such a discipline works. One preparatory. In other words, those who taught disciplines for awakening in the Orient were always careful to screen, first of all, to screen those who applied.
And then after screening them to make them sensible so that they knew how to handle the game and of ordinary human existence and play it by the ordinary human rules.
In other words, that they had strength of character and were not the sort of people who would be wiped out because they had no strength of character. By an overwhelming experience. Then they let them in. But there are certain disciplines such as Zen, where you get into the essential secret very early on in the discipline. And after that, they are concerned with much more training in showing you how to use it, how to use the power, to use the vision which you have acquired.
But when these people, you know, really feel threatened by this thing, they start sending around messages and public utterances, which sound exactly as if they had taken LSD, had had a bad trip with it and were coming on paranoid. And so they are spreading subtle rumors that this substance causes permanent brain damage and utter destruction of the super ego. There is a there are people in New York, likewise, who are spreading around the idea that you see once this thing has touched you, you as if you’ve had a prefrontal lobotomy.
You are somebody who ought to be put in a concentration camp because you’ve lost your conscience. You’re out of order. Nothing more can be done about it. Now, do you see how alarming that could be in our day and age?
I think that your brother, your aunt has got permanent brain damage. You took some LSD.
You see what the situation is exactly. Power. You know, the thing that we learn from history is nobody ever learns from history. Consider just go back a few hundred years.
To the days of the Inquisition.
And realize that the theologians of the church were in those days accorded the same kind of respect that we now accord to the professor of pathology at the University of California Medical School.
Or to the professor of physics at Caltech.
We think those people are real authorities. They know it works. They’ve experiment. They have knowledge. They’re the wisest people in our society. All right. Few hundred years ago, so were the theologians and they had the same sense of responsibility. It was the community that are great scientists and physicians have today. And they knew there was a thing called heresy going around.
That was not only capable once you caught heresy of making you damned to hell forever and ever and ever to the most unimaginable tortures that would go on without end, but that it was infectious.
And one heretic would soon make other heretics. So those are entirely humanitarian and merciful. Church fathers got together, said, what are we going to do to stop this? Well, are they new? There is an eternal life beyond the grave.
And so perhaps just in the same way as if you’ve got a cancer and that’s something terrible because it might spread and destroy the whole body. Cut it out, even burn it out. If you have to add a little pain on the part of the patient in the several months on the end of tubes, won’t be too bad for if you get rid of it. So they said we’ve got to torture these people because they might in the middle of this this extreme experience recount. And if they won’t recount, we’ll burn them because there’s just the chance that in the agony of burning at the stake, they will say at the end, oh, God, forgive me for my sins and it’ll be all right. Now realize the absolutely merciful intent behind the inquisitors. Perfectly responsible, acting on the best knowledge that they had in their day. Don’t you see how that can happen again? Anytime.
So this scared talk is simply without foundation. But nevertheless, there are certain reasons to be cautious. And for those who understand the operation of these chemicals, to issue certain clear warnings.
And this I want to talk about quite seriously.
Now, this class of psychotropic chemicals, which includes LSD, mescaline and its original form, peyote, psilocybin, cannabis and so on, which is a very mild psychotropic.
These do not.
In moderation and proper use in any way harm the physical organism nor form such habits that you can’t get rid of them without unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. But if you take them an absurdly large doses. You are in for trouble. I knew a Methodist minister who was a very violent totalitarian and became extremely sick from drinking too much milk. So after all, if you sit down and you buy a bottle of whiskey, which you can get at any store anywhere.
Perfectly legit and you consumed one quarter whiskey in one hour. You can expect trouble. So in the same way, if you’ve got LSD or something of that kind and you take a thousand micrograms because some friend of yours took 500 and you want to one up him, watch out. You’re being just stupid. Furthermore, you’re being rather stupid if you buy the kind of LSD that is currently being circulated in the black market.
Because for two reasons, you don’t know what else is in it. You don’t know how much is in it.
There are two sorts of producers of LSD on the black market. One is the enthusiastic graduate student in chemistry who wants to turn the whole world on.
And his product is apt to be pretty good but excessive in dosage, and what says 100 micrograms may well be 300?
There is another kind of producer who wants to make a good thing out of it. Oh, well, who wants to give you a big jazz, but you mix it with amphetamines. There’s another more sinister kind of producer who’ll either cut the amount or mix it with heroin. Are anything any other substance? Maybe. Again, amphetamines or whatever to get you hooked on it?
So you. There is no control of the quality of what is being circulated. None, whatever. And you just don’t know what you’re getting.
Now, this situation is the result of the fact that the United States never learns from history.
It is the same old story of prohibition to think the naive notion that you can control something that might turn into a social evil by handing it over to the police.
Now, after all, who pays the police, you?
And if you can’t control yourself, if the police won’t control you either, but in lieu of controlling you, they can suppress you.
Now, I all conscience the police have enough to do.
Not only to control the traffic, which is getting worse every day by virtue of Parkinson’s law, but also all the possibilities of robbery, violence, murder and so on and so forth, which is a full time job. But to ask the police.
To go and look for people who have LSD or marijuana or heroin or opium or whatever, or who are living irregular sex lives or who have a gambling joint or a whorehouse.
This is to ask the police to act as officers of the state in service of the church. Uniformed ministers. And that’s not their job. And when the police are asked to do that, they are put by lawmakers into a position which brings them into public disrespect, as it did in the days of prohibition. It is not fair to the police.
The only way to handle a thing of this kind is to bring it all out into the open. Nothing can be controlled when it’s driven underground. It ought to be controlled. Just in the same way as we have learned how to control automobiles, we license people to drive them. So in the same way, we don’t sell liquor to minors. We expect them to have some kind of education and grown up responsibility before they go boozing around. So in exactly the same way, society has got to face the fact that it’s going to have to license people for certain spiritual adventures or perhaps just plain pleasures, if that’s what you want to call it. After all, you can’t even join some churches without can’t join the Catholic Church without taking a course of instruction that takes a few weeks and then they put you through an initiation and you may say when you get through that, well, what was all that preparation for?
I didn’t feel anything.
But so in exactly the same way with this, it is completely urgent. In other words, that we.
Prevent the occurrence of a very serious, socially destructive criminal situation. Created by law. You’ve heard of the Trojan diseases. That means diseases caused by physicians. There are no majestic diseases or shall we say, no majestic crimes. Like somebody said, the only serious side effect of marijuana is that you may go to jail. This is a no majestic crime. In other words, it is a ritual crime in exactly the same way that when the early Christians refused to burn incense in front of the Roman gods in whom the Romans themselves didn’t believe they were guilty of a crime.
It was a ritual crime and they refused. A reasonable man like the Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, said to the Christians, Now come off it. Really? Do you have to refuse to burn incense?
Said, yes, we’re serious about it.
So there’s a ritual crimes. And so in the same way various ritual crimes exist and are police poor devils are supposed to enforce it. And if they don’t, they’re going to get it from the politicians.
So I would say in general, to sum up. Substances like LSD, which give away a secret. About. The nature of the social game, the human game and what underlies it.
Are potentially dangerous.
Of course, like any good thing is electricity is dangerous. Fire is dangerous. Cars are dangerous. Planes are dangerous, but not so dangerous as driving on the freeway.
The only way to handle danger is to face it. If you start getting frightened of it.
Then you make it worse because you project onto it. All kinds of bogies and threats which don’t exist in it at all.
The rule about all terrors going back to where I started from the dweller on the threshold. The rule for all terrors is head straight into them. When you are sailing in a storm, you do not let a wave hit your boat on the side, you go bow into the wave and ride it.
So in the same way old folklore says this is an old wives tale with a lot of truth in it.
Whenever you meet a ghost, don’t run away because the ghost will capture the substance of your fear and materialize itself out of your own substance.
And will kill you eventually because it will take over all your own vitality. So then whenever confronted with a ghost, walk straight into it and it will disappear.
And so in the same way, when people stir up the depths of the unconscious and are confronted with their own monsters or with the terrors of discovering that they’re in a relativistic world where black implies white and white implies black.
So who’s in charge? You know, grandfather’s dead, father’s dead, too. This leaves me who’s the authority?
See, when you get that that sense of terror, go right at it.
Don’t run away. Explore, feel, fear as completely as you can feel it, head straight into it and just it so happens that these things give you the property and the opportunity. Let me put it that way.
The opportunity to go into some of your very, very most closely kept skeletons.