So this is the first of a series of four weekends devoted to the subject of the future. And each session is pretty much each weekend is pretty much self-contained. There’s a certain continuity but it’s moving towards the center point from various different points on a circumference. And in the first weekend this weekend, we are considering the subject of time and the whole concept of the future. And the point of departure that I would like to suggest to you is that time is a social institution and not a physical reality. There is, in other words, no such thing as time in the natural world the world of stars. And waters and mountains and clouds and living organism. There is such a thing as rhythm, rhythm of tides, the rhythm of biological processes. But time as such as a social institution. In the same way that language is, that number is. That concepts are. And all measurements; inches, meters, lines of latitude and longitude, all those things are social institutions all conventions the word Convention from the Latin convenere, to come together. To agree about something. To hold a convention. And that’s of course, in its deteriorated sense, and we said something is clearly conventional That is to say you, needn’t take it seriously.
Now of course, are we going to take time seriously that is the big question and it depends what you mean. If you don’t understand the time is a convention of course you take it seriously. And you’re driven by time. Time is Money. Time is of the essence. And we do don’t we live in a culture or a complex of cultures in the Western world where we are literally driven by time. If you read a book like Jules Henry’s marvelous work Culture Against Man. He documents in the most extraordinary way to what extent this particular culture is driven. So that, even the psychologists have altered. The old fashioned word instincts, and now they call them drives. Because there’s this feeling you’ve got to make that deadline is something that you’ve got to get to, and people feel driven even when. Something’s going to happen you’ve got an appointment coming up and some people find that in a strange way unsettling they’re so eager to make this thing also anxious about it that in-between time they can’t do anything else they’re incapacitated until it happens, until the blessed event or whatever occurs. That in the natural physical world, there is resuming there is motion. And time then obviously is a way of measuring motion. By comparing motion with some sort of constant. Now the constant in the question of time is a sec. Knocked out in three hundred sixty or sixty degrees. And that is time. We cause a and a pointer to revolve around that circle at a regular speed and that gives us a constant. With which we compare all kinds of motions and rhythms. And so, the clock is just like a ruler, and is as abstract as a ruler. And must be taken, just for that which means in a way not seriously using. That doesn’t mean of course that you say Well from now on we’re going to melt down all trucks. And use them for something else. Because, conventions, social institutions, are very valuable. Corresponding to the watch there is the compass. And that also is a circle. Divided four always north south east and west. The Buddhist speak of ten directions because they have not only the eight points of the compass but they add to that about them below. And in their mythology they have Guardian Kings whose duty it is to God the ten directions and you see them at the entrances to temples and places like that all assists an aspect of the cosmic traffic cops. Who are that fear Sanaa that certain about it all because it is after all important that I can meet you at four o’clock in the afternoon at the corner of forty second Street and Fifth Avenue. As if we couldn’t make that sort of agreement that sort of convention we couldn’t convene.
And in so far as it is important to us to meet, we require these sorts of compass is and time is in the vast emptiness of the cosmos. But we must recognize that these things are as it were written across vast emptiness. The ground of being is to live coals God has nothing in it where you can stand you can’t catch hold of it you can’t describe it but you can imagine all sorts of things in it indeed perhaps the whole physical universe is such an imagination. That don’t take it for being ultimately real. There are of course sort of gradations of reality. One could say the truck the lines of latitude and longitude and with some things like that abstractions have a rather flimsy kind of reality. Next in order will come of course what we call ordinarily the physical world we say well that’s material that matters and so it has a little hard a kind of reality. And that most people stop that they think there’s nothing at a deeper level than that. And that simply because of the limitations of man’s a to of consciousness of his conscious attention. Conscious attention is so worked out that it tends to ignore all constants. In other words. When you move from the Middle West and come and live in California, at first when you get here you think this is fantastic they think it is so beautiful and so lush, and so on and you stay here after a while and in a few years you stop taking the place for granted, because it’s a constant stimulation of consciousness. Also for example, when you’re listening to recorded music, there is always a kind of electronic hum. But we screen that out and ignore it. And so it becomes unconscious. Well so any similar way there is what you might call a continuum, a something or other, in which all because of who phenomena exist. And you ignore it. Unless in some way or other you can make it hum. And so various practices like performing yoga exercises or zen meditations, or certain kinds of chemicals can cause your entire sensorium to hum and this draws your attention to the ground the background of everything that you are perceiving which you ordinarily ignore. I think there is going around an entirely new religion called hum. And Hum has no organization no hierarchy, no doctrines, only music and ritual. And just hum. If anybody asks What’s it all about is a well come see. Come and see, come along. That would be kind of nice to have something like that I don’t know whether it exists or not but it ought.
At any rate the the continuum in which everything occurs, is of course basically what you are. Only because we get absorbed in details we do we forget all about it. Deep down. Within yourself you know the area well indeed that you are that. And that what we call consciousness and unconsciousness coming and going life and death are changing mode. It is within this whatever it is we are. And your identity is come and go. Your forms your bodies your this your that it’s all oscillating like everything isolates it wouldn’t harm if it didn’t. And so, though we are each one of us, all this cosmos and all this universe it’s ground. We don’t know it. Because we can’t make it an item of knowledge a particular. And we think the only kind of knowledge there is is knowledge of particulars. A logical positivist will argue this to the death. And say well because your York thing that is common to all makes no difference it’s true in a mathematical equation you cancel out as irrelevant terms that are equivalent on both sides of the equation. You remove them as redundant. But you know, these things aren’t redundant. While it’s is perfectly true that a statement about the ground of being is from the standpoint of formal logic quite meaningless. It makes an enormous difference to the way it doesn’t actually feels and behaves whether he’s aware of the ground of being on not the ground of being in the logical proposition. It enters a human life is an extremely vivid experience. And the difference between a person who sees that a person who doesn’t is quite startling. They behave differently. It may not be the way you want them to behave that show different. And so it’s like being in love. It’s quite unreasonable to be in love, but when you’re in love you’re entirely changed then you behave differently, even though you may be crazy.
So, certain crazy things like being in love or like being aware of the ground being are immense factors in human life even though from the standpoint of academic philosophy and the kind of the scientists Santa wants a scientific I want to say scientistismic make a phony science and they don’t they should be masters of scholarly attention. Nevertheless they’re tremendously important. So, within this enormous so-called void call it void not because it’s nothing in the literal sense but because you can’t pin it down. But you can experience. And you when you do experience it you wonder why the devil you didn’t see it all along there’s a bizarre because nothing is more obvious than this. So within that void you see, we set up these two great circles the time circle and the space circle. And we notch them all of a round and we use these concepts in which are really in our heads as constants by which we regulate all sorts of events.
Now then, when you lose sight of the conventionality of these things because you are absorbed in details and have become unconscious of the totality, you begin to invest emotions in them. You may for example go to a game of some kind, football, basketball or chess you know and you watch the game and you know it’s only a game, is that, was what you understood when you went in but as it progresses and you become more absorbed in the back and forth of the game your emotions begin to be affected, and you start cheering for one side or getting want to take the part of the underdog. Something of this kind. And that’s what happened to us when we were bomb. We got into a gaming room. And we we it was only a game but we begin to take it all terribly seriously. And each one of us is given a part in the game. And people tell us who we are we’re from babyhood up say this is the way you are it’s not like you to do a thing like that see your mother says because she is that this is an identity for you and this identity is something you have to make because you’ve got to remember something you’re going to be someone. I mean this if. It was in the beginning I suppose really we’re nobody. But that simply means nobody.
But we are persuaded all along and also life we begin to build up this precious identity which is our part in the game like your play Black I’m playing white. I’m diamonds, you’re clubs or whatever it is. And so we get a tremendous emotional investment in this identity. And its fortunes on a kind of game you know like the old fashioned snakes and ladders when you land on a certain square you have to go back and so on all this, all sorts of this. And then finally we discover that the props that we’ve all put together constitute this identity wearing out. And we’re not able to keep up this identity. And gradually we get old and. We begin to fail and then there’s all this thought that well this is too bad it’s all over because we’ve got them both over the thinking that that what was really going on. So, one of the greatest hoaxes in this whole thing is the future. I don’t watch we’re giving a whole series of seminars on the future but it’s important to understand thoroughly the nature of hoaxes. Now, when I’m talking in this sort of way don’t take me too seriously. I, in all my writing and lecturing, I exaggerate. Because if I don’t exaggerate no one will listen. Because all philosophers who take a moderate tone of voice and say on the one hand this and on the other hand that and after all we should realize that all parts of you should be taken into consideration one reveres them for their calmness and their family but when you listen to it all how they stimulated you have they given you a new idea no. Two to teach in any way you have to make outrageous statements, but with a warning to your listeners that you’re only doing this for effect to get a point across to provoke thought. Because with my position as a philosopher is not a verbal position. My position is a philosopher whose experience will not exist until experience. That is to say, the experience of the ground. And I will take any side. We’ve all kinds of patterns but the whole point of doing that is by showing you how various opinions cancel each other out you can come to the no-opinion, to the ground underneath, and experience that which is as good if not better than falling in love.
So, but it’s important that you see to understand that to some extent you see this is a hoax. That we believe. That future is what we is what we are responsible for what was causing it. And that we say other thing which we don’t think is any good it has no future. Now when you contrast that which is absolute common sense to most people living in the Western world. It’s the future we’ve got to worry about. Contrast that with the Indian Hindu Buddhist idea of time. Where as where in which they feel that in the course of time. Everything falls apart. And that therefore there is nothing to be hoped from hoped for from the future. Now they would say to us isn’t that obvious to you because after all don’t you see that all going isms all entities whatsoever fall apart in the end some go fast some go slow. What do you mean, the future. Individuals all fall apart, eventually whole species fall apart. Something else comes true but for each thing that you can consider as an entity as an individual as a species. Its future is death. And then they say to us Furthermore you think of time as a progress as something like a stairway or an ascending letter that goes on and on and up and up maybe it has bugs in it were the case because dumb but it’s like a graph you know of a successful business cooperation of like this say that’s how they want their graph to look they view says this is your absurd the very thing you use for telling time is wrong. Don’t you see, it just goes round. And so, look at the stars isn’t everything going round on the galaxies going round it is going round and round it isn’t going anywhere except around. And we say to them. Oh you poor Hindus. The trouble with you is you don’t have enough technology. You have a terrible economy most of you are starving you think life is just terrible and therefore you have a pessimistic view of it. Well that makes them laugh themselves silly. They have a pessimistic view. Well, because mine is we’re not as a mystic because we know that the whole thing is a hoax we know who we really are and you poor Westerners you know bugger you you rush around with long noses you have deep set eyes and you go poking your noses into everything. You send out missionaries because you are so uncertain of your own opinions that you have to convert everyone else to agree with you. And you’re quite mad. But you live for the future. And poor suckers. All you do cost by living for the future is you create a great deal of trouble because you think you’re involved in a process called history. Now here comes another very important matter, history. I’ve had the most amusing discussions with Orientals. And they have really no sense of history at all. For them, life goes around and one year instead of pretty much the same as the next year. There are reasons that their rhythms and rulers and revolutions and this and that but they don’t they don’t regard it as as having some important progression. They have chronicles, at least the Chinese kept Chronicles but keeping Chronicles is like keeping a diary or a day book it’s a very different thing from writing history where you’re trying to make out some sort of sense in the course of events it was just keep the records. And the Hindus didn’t even bother to keep chronicles probably. So it’s it practically impossible to establish the date of a document from India, unless it was quite recent because every time they really recited it or recall that they had update the names because the king in it was an archetype a king and every king is an example of the archetype looking about him a story is told all these Hindu scriptures like a fairy tales Once upon a time who knows when a million years ago twenty years ago it’s all the say because the cost of events and the rhythm is psychic.
So, we on the other hand. From St Augustan, was the real trouble maker. I don’t really I’m not absolutely sure that the Hebrews had a linear theory of time. It’s questionable. They might have had, because they did look forward to the coming of the Messiah because the day of the law had to they had this apocalyptic idea that they were in such a wretched situation that there was going to come a day when the divine power would intervene in human events and set everything to right and to be ahead knocking session called The Last Judgment, and everybody would be put in a lot of. Well what sent Augustan did with that you see. He rejected the psychic theory of time. Not quite so much on account of the day of the Lord. Coming at the end of time but on account of the Incarnation. He was somehow fixed on the idea that when Jesus was crucified that was the one full perfect sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It happened once and if time is cyclic he argued, this would have to happen again and again and again and that couldn’t be that’s all there is only one time one progression of time from the creation of the world through its redemption by the sacrifice of the cross and all. On to the final judgment then time would cease and we should be in eternity. And from this, theologians increasing it again think about the historicity of Jesus. And to emphasize that it was a historical fact and that history as worked out in the Bible stories from the creation through the fall to the doings of non Abraham and the captivity of the Israelites in Egypt and the giving of the fall by Moses All this was worked out as being the mighty acts of God which revealed the divine passion for the cause of human events. And the funny thing is, that although many many historians living today are not Christians and not Jews and don’t believe in anything that they still think of history as a significant momentum towards progress, something that children’s children’s children’s children are going to get we all suffered and live for then just go to and has this good on the end of the line. Now, we really don’t know, and can’t talk about progress. Unless we know where we’re going. And making progress towards that desired object. But most people involved in what they call progress haven’t the faintest idea where they’re going. I have found increasingly that businessmen and military men are astoundingly impractical. They just don’t know what they want. They think they know. I had a long discussion with Air Force strategic people They asked me and some other philosophers. What is your basis for moral behavior. So I pulled their legs and said they says my moral behavior is pure selfishness. And very practical self. Said Of course. I am talking like this because you’re all hard headed people I’m not going to give you any sentimentality and stupid stuff about love and so on because you say sorry ality you’re military man and you have to see that the United States of America as a collective selfishness is properly looked after. Now I said of course, in my own personal life when I’m selfish I’m not too crude about it I don’t run around hitting people over the head and in the gimmee gimmee gimmee I pretend like I’m a public servant that I’m out for the best interests and all I saw the thing that’s come up. So that that’s not going to trouble about this is that to be effectively selfish, you’ve got out of the two questions the first is what do you want? And the second is what do you mean by yourself? Well you know that this pulls the carpet out from under everything else what do I want. Well if I answer this kind of a sensible human being what do I want in life. The really important thing I’ve had from the beginning, which is that I’m an incarnation of the ground of being like everybody else. And that’s the most important thing because you can’t get rid of that. The next thing is, of course I want food. I want friendship. Companions. Love. And General singing and dancing and so on. And these are more or less attainable material realities. But then I look at my very wealthy friends who ought to be able to have all these things especially those who are extremely active in business and I realize they don’t have them. They’re the most miserable people.
Here, you’re a great executive of a very very important corporation. Begin with you are drowned in paper. You do nothing but scam paper and make decisions about paper all day you may be the director of an oil company you never get within sight of oil except when you drive your car mostly you are surrounded with statistics about oil finances about oil and you are smothered in this and you have to spend almost all day in a wretched office building in a place like New York. You dress like a funeral director. You…I’ve had lunch or the part of directors of a very important oil company that will shall be nameless, and it’s like eating in a college cafeteria. The food was just I mean it was good food that was extremely ordinary, but you would expect these great millionaires to be having caviar and the glorious fish in Aspen, and wines and beautiful waitresses serving them and to be lounging at tables like Romans knows.
And then if you’ve read an article in Look this week by Marshall McLuhan and George Lemmon on the sex, the future of sex, and asked brings up some information. That what they call the narrow gauge specialized male. That is the sort of guy who gets out there and sells you know and he he mustn’t have any feelings. Because that would be our Mamet anything except think of a kind of rough. And that so many of these men are like that, and it says that that role playing of that kind of male gives you arses and all kinds of complaints and is more deadly than facing the bullets in Vietnam. And they all die before their wives. Because they are engaged in the pursuit of a completely fatuous go. This fatuous goal is the future. And it is symbolized, above all, by money. They make lots of it and have it much more than they can even think about and they have no idea what to do with it except make more except invest it in bigger and bigger units of something. And while they’re harassed about that they’re wondering about the antitrust boys Internal Revenue their competitors and all these ghouls who are involved in the game. They lie awake nights. They can’t go home and throw the whole thing off they have to get completely boozed. That’s one way out or tranquilized which is another way out or something or other. In order to take it, and they call themselves realists. You see their utterly unrelated to the physical universe. As a part of cos because of the education they’ve received you see if you go to an ordinary school such as we’ve had since they. Know the early nineteenth century. You discover that your education is purely cerebral. You are prepared to be an executive, a bureaucrat. Some kind of clerk. You know the word clerk, originally means clever. Because the terrorists were the only people who were clever the word clever cleric, is all the same word originally. They were the literate people. Therefore they did all the cooking and the records. They got away with and they convinced us that the records and the book Eating his mind part and then the actual goods being transacted. So that now people you see a much happier with money than with wealth I think they are trying to persuade themselves that they are, when they bought a lemon. So this guy who thinks he works for the future of this great captain of industry. Condemns himself mostly to misery there are a few exceptions naturally as I said I always exaggerate everything I know a few important business men who have some conception of how to enjoy themselves. But I was amused to meet a young one little while ago who had created one big corporation which had been bought up by another of the biggest shows going today he was a member of the body of directors and he said now and thirty five years ago I made an awful lot of money and I’m going to drop out. So we took off for India. Well, then that’s going to look at we’ve had a little look at business let’s go and look at the the military people. And they don’t know what they want either. First of all, they invented a weapon, which was completely insane because it isn’t a weapon. It’s simply a contrivance for planetary suicide. And our weapon is a very specific thing. Now, a sword as a weapon and notice it’s pointed in shop and directional. Because then you learn first thing you have to know about using a sword is where to put it where to point it. And so it is selective. But things like biological warfare or isn’t gas and nuclear bombs are not selected and you don’t know when they’re going to blow back on which way they’re going what the consequences of them are the only thing you can do with is you can pile them up and start playing lighting matches in the powder magazine this is a very dangerous game people might play with each other. Where with her sitting in a powder magazine, and I dare you to drop that thing he. Ha ha ha you know, we’ll blow ourselves both up if you don’t do what I want. And this is a strategy it’s madness. Beyond that, they don’t they they they don’t have any objective it would be understandable if we were going to Vietnam. The cause of all those gorgeous little oriental girls we were going to capture the whole lot and bring them back. But we’re not. We are out to destroy something called communists. And nobody really can figure out what it is. As if Russia is a communist country all it is is a one great big corporate business. It’s one corporation instead of a cluster of corporations and it’s did it works rather miserably and. I wouldn’t think if you need to fight it it just fall apart because it’s so boring. Of course, things in Russia if you go back to the whole history of the thing there were a lot worse when the brutal barons govern the country. And they are no sort of better in a measly way like in China. Things are pretty terrible ever since the British and their friends made a mess of China many years ago and China’s been an awful place and things again in China and dowdy and uniform and dull, but it’s so far as the basic subsistence is concerned it’s probably better than an cause. But my point is, that we are fighting abstractions. Far abstractions recently the Congress of the United States passed an act against burning the American flag. [whistles] Stiff penalties, for burning the flag, and those same people who passed that act with a great flurry of patriotic speeches were actively burning up the country for which the flag stands they are allowing every kind of scoundrelly use of the water the air the natural resources and exploitation of the people until the whole thing is being converted into a smog boat. I flew not a few days ago from New York right across the country to Los Angeles and from New York to Denver there was smog over the whole country as far as I could see from thirty thousand feet. And this is America the Beautiful. You know blown up the flag is terrible but the country is quite OK because these people are confused completely confused between the symbolic world and the real world.
And so, this historical thing, you see, which is a destiny in the future always been perceived is completely destructive. Because technology clocks, instruments, measurements are fine for people who know how to use them. For people who know what they want. But the people who don’t know what they want and who think that. The clock is the thing that’s what you need I mean the Russians are insane about this moment they move into a place with the army the design has some kind of technical civilization they capture all the responses in sight and the cover themselves with wrist watches like bracelets. Because they’re time-crazy too. But those things are very wonderful for people who as I say, know how to use them. Because you can make significant plans. If and only if you are alive today and now know how to live and know what to do with now. But if you don’t you never will. Because the only other time to start living is immediately do it I mean you know why wait around for something to happen let’s let live it up now let’s have a ball, you see. We don’t. We think that if we have it now, something…we won’t have it tomorrow. But if you always saving up for tomorrow, you’ll never have it at all. Well let’s take an intermission.