Well we come out of the most difficult part of the seminar. And in, by way of preface, I want to say, to reemphasize the point that I’ve made already, that in presenting ideas, I exaggerate. The reason for this is. That they are that insofar as I present ideas. Whereas the actual content of the philosophy is not ideas but experience, these ideas are intended to act as correctives. And so when you’re walking a tightrope, you learn balancing. And so if you’re in danger of falling in a certain direction, you throw the weight the other way. And there are all sorts of funny tricks to balancing as you know when you ride a bicycle. You turn the front wheel in the direction in which you’re falling, whereas the person who doesn’t know how to ride a bicycle tends to turn the wheel the other way so he falls over.
So in this kind of way what I’m talking about is always a corrective to whatever is a dominant current idea. At the end of that famous classic of Zen Buddhism called the sutra of the sixth patriarch of the Tanji [sic] the Platform Sutra. In a chapter the people of virtually neglected. Explains the whole technique of Zen teaching by saying if somebody asks you a question about metaphysical things you once are in terms of everyday life. If somebody asks you a question about everyday life you answer in terms of metaphysical. For example, what is the ultimate meaning of Buddhism master replies the cypress tree in the yard. Second example. Master and student are working together in the fields and the student says please pass me the knife. The master hands in the night blade first holding the entire handle in his hand the student says please give me the other end. Master says, What would you do with the other end? In the first case the metaphysical is answered in terms of the everyday in the second case the everyday is answered in terms of the metaphysical. And this is balancing, this is the whole meaning of the when Buddhism is called the middle way the middle way doesn’t mean the compromise. It means balancing out. You punish answer referred to this as the path of the razor’s edge.
So in this way if I use an idea at all, it is for the sake of counteracting an idea that is current. For example, Buddhists will explain that when the Buddha taught what are called the three signs of being. The three signs of being anitya, that all things are transient. Anatman, that there is no self. And dukha that everything is prostration and suffering. He did this not to say that’s the way it is really now finally this is the dogma this is my doctrine he did it to counteract. The idea that reality is eternal, [it’s] it’s flux. To counteract the idea that is a self that is the permanent witness of the trance in and around there of experience he teaches no self and to counteract the idea that the aim of life is happening as. He teaches the fact of life. Buddhism is a dialogue. It is not a doctrine. This is terribly important. There are no such things as the doctrines of Buddhism. There is simply a dialogue between a teacher and a student and the student creates the teacher by raising the problem. And so, there is the back and forth. In which if the student tries to fix on this part of you the teacher emphasizes that. And then, when the student says to the teacher, well all right, I’m going to agree with you whoops nothing to stand on goes over here or over here or over here or over here so that in the end of the dialog. You get to a position where you found that all opinions all views all drifty are inadequate. Because every view of Mt Tamalpais is different. And so there is no Say correct way of seeing MT time applies there was once a wonderful Zen master called E.Q. and he lived in Kyoto and in front of his temple there was a very novel in pine tree. And one day he posted a notice by the tree which said I will give one hundred yen which is quite a sum in those days to anybody who can see this tree straight. So soon there were all kinds of people standing around the tree lying on the ground trying to climb up on the wall above it and find an angle from which the central trunk of the tree could be seen as a straight line. There was one fellow who knew it was some monkey business going on at the would be with the problem. And so he went to a friend of recuse who was a priest of another sect but he was very friendly with this priest. And this priest was called…oh, what his name…something like a Rioman. And Rioman said, well the simple way to see the tree straight is of course to look straight at it. And so, the man went back to Ikyu and said I have solved the problem of the tree. To see it straight you look straight at it. And Ikyu looked very suspiciously because he wasn’t convinced this man was a real understanding man but he nevertheless he forked out the hundred yen and said You must have been talking to Rioman.
So, now, let’s it against as a corrective you see to our own fascination with time and our own obsession with the future pose the counter idea. That there is no future at all. And everything we call the future is a complete mirage. So is the past. There is no future, there is no past, there is only this now. And you say well, that’s ridiculous. Because so far as the past is most concerned concern we are quite sure of it. We know we’ve got every kind of historical record we’ve got our own experience to prove that. My mother who is not alive now will really did exist at one time that Socrates, that Jesus, that Alexander the Great, all these people really did exist and there was a past that led up to now it’s all in the history books it’s been photographed it’s been recorded and obviously it’s real and if that’s real then it’s perfectly clear that this process we’re involved in is going to go on, and there is going to be a future. This is such elementary common sense, but I want to challenge it, radically. And we will take as our beginning the act of throwing a pebble into a pool. And you will see concentric circles of waves created. And you see, these actual waves flowing out across the pool. Now the truth of the matter is that they don’t that water goes up and down. But no way travels you let the same illusion when you see a rotating Barber coil, a rotating screw the thing is revolving and it looks as if something is traveling upwards along that [these] excessive red stripes of the bubbles photo are moving up they’re not moving. Now there’s the basic principle this is the basic principle of the world considered as Maya or illusion. So then you might say reasoning from this that. There is something. That is history that there was Socrates, and there was. All these great figures and great movements and wars and all these political shenanigans that we call history. But they are all, what we’re doing now, with simply the names changed. It goes on and on I like to tell a story of A which is the German story and it has Germany there was a fisherman sitting on that the river. And somebody came up on the washing and said it seems to me that you’re doing something very cruel putting those worms on books and he was in they. He said, but they are used to it. What is going on is a constant repetition of the same thing. But appearing to be different all the time. Every day the French proverb plus ca change, the more it changes the more is the same thing. So that always, we get the idea that every situation is completely New You participants new personalities you children involved and yet. It’s the same old process going on. Or you get a similar thing, and this comes out of their last day experiences. If you look at a Rorschach blot, under the illusions of L.S.D. you have the very odd sensation that you are watching. The watery ink flowing into position. It’s still moving as when you know you make the ink blot and then you fold the paper across so underneath your photo all the angles blew up like this and finally fixes in a certain position but you open it and where they are as you can see it’s still happening it is moving but it’s still. And this connects the very very importantly with the Zen philosophy of the nature of time. And I want to read you some quotations from Dogen who was a great founder of the Soto Zen school who wrote a book called Shobogenzo of which has never been fully translated We only have excerpts. And it’s a funny thing as I was talking about this book with a wonderful Zen master who I think is really magnificent man, Morimoto. And I had Gary Snyder as an interpreter and as he’s a magnificent average over the other wonderful command Japanese and an equally good understanding of them so I have the impression of the conversation that remains in my memory. Is that I had a direct talk with Morimoto. The interpreter eliminated. Very strange. So we brought up the Shobogenzo at that parable. He said it explains everything it makes it all completely intelligible. And we were discussing its translation of the discussing the translations and texts in general and he went on to say you don’t need to translation. Not if you really want to understand Zen, that you use your own books, use the dictionary. Use Alice in Wonderland, use the Bible use anything is it that you realize don’t you think that the sound of the rain needs no translation. And a few days afterwards I went with Gary to the morning lecture given by the master of Dido. And he was explaining in Chinese text and in the middle of his explanation tremendous rainstorm. And the thunder of the rain on the roof was drowned out absolutely anything he had. But he didn’t stop. He went straight on with the lecture. Because, there was the sound of the rain. You know, whatever was going on, was it. And there’s a funny lectures they have a show where the teacher sits opposite the Buddha, so if he sits on the side of the wrong but is it’s over there and then the monks sit on the side and the visitors sit on that side it’s a long rectangular and he carries on this dialogue with the Buddha. And everybody is invited to listen but you know it’s a very funny thing it doesn’t make any sense. So, this Shobogenzo, Dogen has a lot to say in it about the nature of time. And the nature of change. And the basic thought here is this. And I’m going to try and show you. How the same experience can be conveyed. By using language expressions that are formally contradictory. He says for example that the screen does not become the summer. And when what is done the word does not become the ashes. He says there is spring, and then there is summer. There is word. And then there is actions. And so by inference you now who are sitting here with me and talking, you will never never die. Just as the world will never become your. T.S. Eliot plays the same idea in the four quartets and when he’s describing that the passengers who boarded the train are not the same people who will arrive at the destination. You are sitting here are not the same people who walked in the door you changed. And so you are not the same.
So this is as if to say time is created by the illusion that this state and the state and the state and the state are in some way connected. Now you would say, well that is a kind of atomism. That is saying that there is that life is a moment like a movie. That movie is a series of frames on film, which by being spun through the camera create the illusion that it’s not a series of friends but it’s a single frame moving. Now this is one way of saying exactly the same thing as could be said in the other way and the other way of saying it is this. The notion that the movement of life is simply a succession of static states is a purely intellectual way of breaking things down. It’s like calculus, it’s like saying that a curve is a series of point instance. That when you hear a continuous some. Aid if you analyze it it that that that that that that that that that that that that that but you get it so fast going together that you can hear the intervals just in the same way as when the eye is deceived by the revolving cigarette in the dark. But one school of thought will say the reality of the situation is guess discontinuous it’s got that that dot dot the other school of thought will say oh that’s mere intellectualism. I’m the reality of the thing is real that you know it is a sweeping curving thing which has no structure. Now both are right. Both are absolutely right. It’s just two ways of looking at the same happening. And as we can describe pain as a hot pang or a cold sting only oppose words so the realisation of the nature and movement of time can be looked at from these completely different ways one you can say there is there is only now. And you say well now is this way we happen to be sitting in this room but at another now we have been driving down the highway. So we driving down the highway, is not the same state as we sitting in this room. But that the point of saying that, that you driving down the highway is one thing and you sitting in this room is something altogether different the point of saying that is simply as a gimmick or what is called in Sanskrit a new idea or skillful means. For getting people to realize what it is to be here and now. And to see that this is what’s important. Whenever you get into the meditative state, by whatever means then. You suddenly understand that the whole point of life is what you’re doing. Where you are. And this results in a kind of untightening of all your muscles. And you suddenly see that it really is worth looking around. That the chips of wood on the log, the funny markings on the concrete. The expressions and just to the people sitting around. Are what it’s all about.
And there is no difference, between the ecstatic state of union with Brahman Nirvana, and the very matter of fact moment in which we are sitting around here in various pastoral feeling various feelings throughout our bodies thinking various thoughts and just because you consented to do so allowing the noises that I’m making to reverberate across your eardrums. This young ion young man that’s going on is the young are young I know that everything is easy that’s a. What it is that’s what it’s about. And you sit back. And you say yeah, that’s what it’s about. A lesson that I get that yeah yeah yeah. It’s not marvelous you know that it does that at all. And that is called in Buddhism, seeing things in their suchness. Tathata, ta-ta-ta-, are saying everything as just that. This person goes this way the other person goes that way you have the style of that style. And so, in the scenery of spring there is nothing superior nothing inferior flowering branches grow naturally some short some long. But however, it is an extraordinary experience to overcome. The illusion that there really is time. Well let’s begin this way. It isn’t isn’t it obvious. Bearing in mind the point that I made this morning. About our present not being a hairline. But I kind of fuzzy span which polarizes past at one end and future the other. These are simply the two ends of the present. As we perceive it directly but beyond that beyond what we perceive directly beyond what you see now here now feel now where is the past. What has happened to the pop of a champagne cork which you had last night. Well it just isn’t there. And where is tomorrow’s edition of the San Francisco Chronicle. It doesn’t yet come of the press. It isn’t there. So, from a sensory material realistic point of view there is no past and there simply is no future. Never was, never will. Your conception of the past is very subjective. You’ve only to study history to realize how subjective it is how many ways history can be written because every historian. What does he deal with? He deals with the records and with memories which are extremely fragmentary. Because he deals with mostly with verbal records and sometimes archaeological record of the past. And not only are these records fragmentary, that they only record those aspects of what happened that were worthy of note. To someone or other who recorded but then when he in turn gets the notes, he uses them like a rorschach blot, and he projects on to them his idea of what happened. Anybody with a lot of experience of courts of law knows for example in cross-examining witnesses their testimony as to what did happen is extremely arbitrary and confused. We are making sense all the time of this rorschach blot.
So history is much more an art than a science it is a reconstruction by a historian. Who uses the materials of evidence in the same way that a painter uses paints. And in this way he reconstruct his version of the past and if it is sufficiently persuasive he convinces other people that that’s what happened. Various sneaky governments have caught on to this, and realize that they can write their own official history about anything. And then they’ve got a doctrine that there is a kind of historical destiny or historical compulsion, certain things as a result of history not happen and then they use this to justify what they’re going to do anyhow. Nowhere is this more apparent in scholarship than in historical studies of the Four Gospels in the life of Jesus. If you study all the great scholars, say from eight hundred fifty to the present day, who have examined the New Testament from an historical point you will find that every one of them has a different history. And that they have seen the texts from the point of view of their own particular way of wanting to present Jesus they’ve got excellent reason for rejecting all those parts of the text that don’t agree with their interpretation and accepting those that do. And they cancel each other out a way down the line. So we know them from a sensory point of view that just as you cannot point to the difference between your. You cannot find the past. Equally, you cannot find any future. All it isn’t here. And the future as such never will be. As the proverb says, tomorrow never comes. So then, you have a situation which is eternal. From the beginning of any form of the whatsoever. Whether it was mineral or merely gaseous whether it was an amoeba whether it was a plant an animal or human being, it knew that it was involved in a process. Or it was involved in the process even if [it] didn’t know. Where the individual form begins and ends. All or does it. Where do you draw the line? Let’s say we have a vibrating like this. Yes, you can point to that tangent you can draw tendons along the top of all the curves along the bottom of all those tangents that’s the way you say this is the crest this is the. Crest is where it is most that the trough is where it is not. But you see at once that you can’t have the wave if you don’t have both crest and the trough. And that every time it goes crest-trough. While that’s away what is a way then we see. In the image of throwing the stone to the pool that there is not a wave. There is waving. But there is really no individual wave. You think you see this individual wave going out like that. Take a piece of cloth. Spread it out on a table, and then push it together so that you get a fold across the center. Right now move your hands so that you make that folding happen all the way across. The cloth doesn’t move. The folding. That is this is a folding. Can you pin it down and say it’s an entity. You can’t. So in exactly the same way all our human history, from our earliest possible imaginable ancestors until now. Is standing still in the same place. Doing the same thing over and over again, coming on each time in such a way as to give us the notion that it’s new. You are your fathers and grandfathers millions of years ago. You say they were sitting around in skins, and using stone implements. From the point of view of somebody a million years, hence we are sitting around in Skins using stone. The past people always were. But you see when those people were sitting around in caves with stone implements and skins, they had ways of conversing and relating to each other, which contained as much qualitative subtlety as we do. As we have. What we call primitive people have perceptions, ways of doing things that we would not even know…we wouldn’t even know what to look for. And so they have in fact a very very high culture. Only its base it’s structured say in a different dimension on a different wavelength than ours. But it is just as human and just as authentic. But we have the illusion you see, that it keeps changing. Getting better, getting worse one thing or another. But that’s the same kind of illusion as the motion apparent motion of the wave across. So let’s see how Dogen puts it because he’s got some vivid ideas. If we washed ashore while we are sailing about we feel that the shore is moving. But if we look nearer to the boat itself we know then that it is the boat which moves. When we regard the universe in confusion of body and mind we often get the mistaken belief that our mind is constant but if we actually practice then and. Back to ourselves we see that this was wrong. When firewood becomes ashes it never returns to being five wood. But we should not take the view that what is Lassally Ashes was formal if I would what we should understand is that according to the doctrine of Buddhism firewood stays at the position of firewood. And then ashes at of the position of ashes. There are fallen latest ages but these stages are clearly cut. It is the same with life and death thus we say in Buddhism that the unborn is also the undying. Life is a position of time. Death as a position of time, they are like winter and spring and in Buddhism we do not consider that winter become spring or the spring becomes some.
Now, another quote: When a fish swims he swims on and on and there is no end to the water. When a bird flies he flies on and on and there is no end to the sky. From the most ancient times there was never a fish or swam out of the water nor a bud who flew out of the sky. Yet when the fish needs just a little water, he uses just a little and when he needs lots, he uses lots. Thus, the tips of their heads always at the outer edge of that space. If ever a bird flies the on that it he dies and so also the fish. From the water the fish makes his life and from the sky that makes his. But this life is made by the bird in the fish at the same time the blood in the fish are made by life. Thus there are other fish who work and life and all three Create each other. Yet, if there were a bird who first wanted to examine the size of the sky, or a fish who first wanted to examine the extent of the water, and then try to fly out as when they will never find their own ways in the sky or water. So what he is saying now. Space is as far as you can see. The father you can see all of them all.
So with time, the element of time is as much time as you can know. But this I mean here direct knowledge your present a section of time which you call the present. To be concerned with the future you see, would it be like the fish who gets out of water. He would die. So, to put it another way. What you call time is not something into which you have been dropped as if somebody had dropped you onto an escalator and you suddenly found yourself carried by it. What you call the experience of time is you. It’s not some, something else altogether you see, in which is a trap for you you are time all right you go on you want to go on? I go on, a great you create time I want to go on. Why do you want to go on? Well you say why, because one must go on why why must you go on? You feel compelled. You know. It’s our duty to go on. How did you learn that? Well we were taught it when we were children by our parents they said you must survive you must live. And they were taught that by that so they knew no better. But if you live a life in which you feel you must survive then your life has a track. And you go on, and feel you must go on, because you are not fulfilled now. If you really understood the now, you would not feel that you have to go on. As Confucius even put it a man who understands the Tao in the morning can die content in the evening. If you feel you say I must go on, I must go on it is because you have not. Lived. You’re always hoping to live. So then if you come to your senses, which will tell you there isn’t anything but the now. And that therefore because there isn’t anything in the now it is supremely important. To rest in it. To get with it, to be one with her. You will understand the point, what’s going on. That you, in your way, are your fathers and your grandfathers come back. Myriads and myriads of past events are still going on in you and you are doing the same thing. Only it keeps looking different, in the same illusory way that the wave appears to be moving across the water.