This then, is the last seminar in the series of seminars on the future. Devoted to the subject of the future of politics. All along, I’ve been emphasizing a particular point. Which is this: that the very idea of the future, has something spurious in it. That to live for the future is a an indefinite postponement moment of life. And that the great political systems of the Western world, whether they be capitalist or communist, are based on the notion, that what we live for is the future and this is a very funny thing when you specially when you think about Marxism, because the Marxists have always said that religion is the opium of the people because it’s based on the idea of pie in the sky when you die. But in fact, the politics of Marxism are just as much pie in the sky, it’s always a five year plan for something to turn up that will be better than what we have now later on.
And in the exactly the same way, our notions of the Great Society are based on a futurist approach to life. Wherein you go through, in your education, a whole series of steps. The word in Latin grottos. Means a step. So we have first grade, second grade, grade grottis grottis grottis. I’m a graduate you know you’ve gone along the steps but just still doing it. So that when you become finally successful as the president of your corporation. You have a funny feeling of being cheated. You climbed the stairway, and you got to the top, and there’s nowhere else to go. And since he never been taught to live in the present, you don’t know how to do. So an insurance salesman comes around and says, ‘Listen I’ve got the very thing for you.’ Retirement program, because when you’re sixty five, you’ll drop out of the system. And then you’ll really be able to enjoy yourself, despite your prostate trouble, menopause, false teeth and everything else and.
So really the art of living in the in the eternal now, is not taught in our educational system. And it’s not taught because it’s thought of as being feckless, irresponsible. It isn’t irresponsible at all. It is everybody’s duty. I could put it that way, to enjoy themselves. Because if you don’t do that, you become a nuisance, you become aggressive, you become a robber, you become a thief, you become a somebody who’s trying to organize the rest of the world that is to say a power maniac simply because you haven’t learned the very simple inexpensive art of living in the present moment. It really doesn’t take an awful lot of energy to maintain a human life. If you really consider what you need to eat. What you need to wear, how much housing you have to have. It comes down to something quite simple. And the simpler, the more you have the capacity to enjoy watching a raindrop crawl down a window. But if you watch a raindrop crawl down a window and you think my look at that everybody says you’re crazy, why are you watching a raindrop fold out of their country find something more important to do that means country make more trouble than that?
So the, the mentality, that doesn’t recognize the importance of watching a raindrop crawl down a window. Is the one that is creating the trouble in the world today. I had an astounding session just a day or two ago with the chief of an Indian tribe. He was from the Western Shoshone Indians which are located roughly around central Nevada. And he was explaining how the government of the United States is really seriously trying to get rid of the Indian way of life completely. Especially by virtue of a bill which allows the Indians to borrow money on their own land, you know what I mean that.
So having it when he had told his story. I said Well now ‘What do you want us to do about it?’ He said, ‘That’s the wrong question.’ I knew this was coming. He said ‘You pale faces, you white people, you always think about doing something.’ That means in voting in politicking. That’s what’s the matter with you. So I said, ‘Yeah that’s what’s the matter.’ He said we’re going to do something about it but we’re not going to do it in your terms we expect you to be sensible enough to correct your own actions. We’re not going to fight you, in the ordinary way, not on your terms. He said then further we are in harmony with the physical earth and geography and the sky on the waters of this country. And you’ll strangely find that there are going to be more and more tornadoes more and more earthquakes more and more natural disasters, because you are, as people, you are violating nature. You are destroying it, and it will fight back against you and we are nature we are not. Some strangers on this land, we are the same thing as with the same process as the Land. And we regard ourselves as the same as the continent. And it’s not just us in North America. It’s we’re in touch with the Indians in Peru and Chile, Brazil. We are one great family and we’re just waiting for you invaders from the west from Europe to strangle yourselves and get rid of yourselves.
But the, in other words, he was saying that he wouldn’t play the political game. Not on any account. And didn’t really want us to play a political game on their behalf. Now this is something so inconceivable to most white people. Because for example, when you get Indians on the reservation and they don’t do anything, and they don’t develop it, and they just sit around and we say well they’re no good. They’re just lazy. They cannot make us understand the importance of a contemplative life. We say you are of no value, you’re not even human, unless your changing things unless you’re interfering, unless you are progressing. Unless you we confuse growing with progressing unless something is happening and great operation a new project is going on and you’re busy with it you say, ‘Well you’re you’re lazy, you’re good for nothing.’ Because you are not working for the future. But they say, if you’re working for the future, you’re quite mad. So they don’t work for the future.
Just like a Chinese coolie. Works long enough to make some money. Then he knocks off work and he goes to the gambling joint. And he gambles or he smokes opium or just generally wanders around and digs the scene. And we say well that’s awful that’s irresponsible, you can’t do that that’s not maintaining the world properly. What do you think maybe that is maintaining the world properly maybe it’s we who think that everything should be progressing who are destroying the world. Because we are by our protestant ethic, by our notion of keeping everything in charge it’s true we have a great initial success. We destroy diseases. We keep people alive. But on the end is the H.-Bomb get rid of it, entirely.
So, these nonpolitical people are saying to us, the trouble with you is you don’t know what you want. You have a future, which you’re working for. But you’re al wretch and no vomit. You, you promised yourselves, the good thing is going to happen. You keep promising promising promising promising even your money is a promise it says on the dollar bill that the treasury of the United States will promise to pay a dollar. What they are going to get if you deliver this and say, ‘Come on now.’ Whatever it is that those dollars. And it is can give you credit. Because it’s paper, it’s all symbolism.
So, all these myriads of so-called primitive people. Like Amerindians. Mexican-Indians, Africans. Don’t communicate with us. And we don’t communicate with them. Because they don’t want what we think is the desirable good society, or some of them do, of course. In Japan, for example, the Japanese have been fairly conned into the idea that the Western way of life is a great thing. And so they’re by and large frantic industrialists. And so as a result the cities of Nara, Osaka, Kobe are covered in smog. Tokyo is just a madhouse. They’re getting it.
So the whole point is, the future is an illusion. The basic ideas in Hindu cosmology, that in the course of time you go through the series of yugas, or the epochs. You begin with a great state of affairs and it gradually deteriorates, is a way of saying to people in the course of time, things only follow. Therefore, get out of time. Get off the wheel of sunless out of the rat race. So this underlies my idea of what I call the politics of diversion. Divert Western man from history, from the notion that he is in a historical process which is leading to something always better and better and better but which in fact only leads to more and more destruction. Divert people from time. By living a style of life which is timeless. And which is therefore more attractive than life devoted to time. That doesn’t exclude our technological power. Part of the whole point of technology that I’m going to take up in detail and in a later session is that through technology, we have the power to obliterate poverty completely. But this must not be looked at in a historical way. While it is looked at in a historical way it will not work. That is to say. The whole problem of money. And the distribution of the wealth of the world as produced by technology is a psychological problem not a material problem. People are hypnotized with money which is the symbol of wealth as if it were something that was valuable in its own right. That’s the confusing money with gold when Ramakrishna said that one of the evils of the world was go he was I think perhaps unconsciously quite correct. There’s a story, that once upon a time, all the banks in the world got tired of shipping gold from country to country so they decided to open an office in an island in the Pacific where all the banks had their headquarters, and all the gold was put together there so that all they needed to do and they had to exchange some goal was to trundle it across the street. And operations proceeded beautifully, for about ten years, and then all the heads of the banks from the different countries came with their wives and their children to visit the island and have a great convention. And so, they inspected the books and the transactions and everything was in perfect order. At last, the children said, ‘Daddy I want to see the gold.’ For the bank president said to the man it is, ‘Take our children down to the vaults so that they could see to gold’. And so all those managers said well it’s sort of difficult and problematic and takes a lot of time and them and the president said what don’t be stupid What’s the matter can’t they see the gold. So they hummed and hawed and said well we’re sorry to report that seven years ago it was a disastrous subterranean earthquake. And all the gold was swallowed up. But of course, we all knew how much we had at that time, and so we’ve kept the books according. So it’s a joke. People don’t realize, in other words, that that money is bookkeeping. And nothing but bookkeeping, and therefore the whole idea of taxation for example is a complete anachronism.
The thing that is stopping the flow of the actual wealth of the world is this fixation on money. What you need to do is actually reverse taxation. And issue, instead of charging taxes issue credit then you have to keep the credit balanced to the gross national product in some form of figuring and then everybody can circulate what they’re making. Otherwise, you are in this ridiculous situation, where people are stopping in India, and we are hoarding food supplies and burning them and try and dumping them in the ocean, which is sheer insanity, but it’s all based on a psychological block about money.
So, this kind of psychological block is what an Indian philosophy would be called a Maya. It is an illusion, and it’s the same kind of illusion as that of the future, of the idea that the future is when we’re really going to live. And if that’s the way you operate, when you get there, you’re never going to be able to handle it, because you still want a future at the Europe. You’re a special donkey with a carrot suspended from your collar on a rod is pursuing. Well now, when we approach the subject of politics, you obviously recognise at once that the word is connected to the Greek polis meaning a city. And the city as I’ve indicated in a former lecture is probably an ephemeral phenomenon in human life. As our technology of communication develops, cities are going to disappear. And for the same reason as our technology develops politics and it is.
Let’s go back to an early stage of our development. When human beings changed, from being hunters, to being farmers. This is a very critical stage in the history of technology. When we were hunters, every male knew the whole culture. In other words, he had to fend for himself to make his own clothes to make his weapons to know the arts of hunting and also he was in charge of his own religion. The. Their way up peculiarly religious people in hunting cultures and their culture all medicine men. And the interesting thing about a medicine man as distinct from a priest. Is that he is not ordained by anybody else. He doesn’t have to be approved, by a guru or by an organization or a church. He goes away alone into the forest, and gets his own thing. He may contact what he calls the ancestors, but he has to do it by himself.
Now, when a community settles. Instead of being a roving hunting people living in the forests. And they form instead of village. A great change occurs. Where do villages and towns occur? Where a road crosses a river or a road crosses a road. And then around that which would originally hunting tracks trails, a stockade is built. And that is called the pale. We say a person is beyond the pale. That means he’s an outsider. Because the pale from the Palos the tree is the posts used to make the stockade. So inside the stockade, there are four divisions. Four blocks of Tam. And it is of the essence of an agricultural, as distinct from a hunting culture, that you specialize, that you divide labor. And so, when labor divides itself, it tends to divide into four major groups.
Those, first of all, who are the brains. The Brahmins. The idea people. The thinkers. Second, the brawn. The military men. Who defend the scene. So they are called in India, the Shahtria. Who next why the traitors. The merchants the vice. And then next who? The Craftsman, the skilled workers should. Because then outside there are the people who don’t have any particular qualifications. And there are low outcasts who are untouchable, but there are another group, who are very curious. They’re also outside the pale, but they are respected for being outside the pale and they are called in Sanskrit Shramana. Which is the same as the word Shaman. Or in Chinese, Chamin, meaning an immortal, who lives alone in the mountains. In other words the people who still retain the values of the hunting culture. And say, like this, when you settle down in the city, in the polis. You new divide labor. And your Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Rich Man Poor Man, beggarman, thief. You assume roles, you put on a mask. And say I’m a soldier. I’m a priest but you get more masculine that. You say I am a person the word person means mask. Persona. The mask worn by actors in the Graeco-Roman drama. And you are taught while you live in the polis. That you are your mask. I’m taught that I was taught by my mother, that I was Alan Watts and I’ve never been able to recover from it. And so everybody is assigned this roll that you supposed to play.
Well, you play that role. But in ancient Indian custom it was recognized that that you played it only if for a while. That when you had raised your children. And done your social duties. That you then had to prepare for death. Death, when you were playing a role, seems a tremendous threat because what’s going to become of me. But they’d explain that that doesn’t matter, you would just have to find out, when you are ready to die, you can die properly and with dignity if you know who you really are. So in order to find out who you really are, you withdraw from your role. And you become what is called Vanaprasta, which means forest well instead of grihasta. In other words, you go back to the forest. Away from the polis, outside the pale. The doing of this may take many forms it may be purely perfunctory to retire to a cottage in the backyard you may actually go out into the jungle you may actually tear up all your clothes and run naked and sit by the river. All sorts of ways of doing it. But you give up your name. You become nameless. Or you may assume a name, which is a Divine Name, one of the names of God. There are people trying to do this in the United States today called hippies. I met one the other night and I asked him what his name was and he said My name is you. And he absolutely would not acknowledge any other name in all. Well great. OK. You’re you.
When you got to become Vannaprasta, you’re outside the pale and you concentrate your psychic energy. To find out what’s going on, what is this that we call existence. You just you can find this out quite easily but you have to pay attention to it you have to concentrate you have to give your whole mind to say take hold of a sound. And find out what sound really is. Or you can look at light, and find out what light really is, or you can stop something and find out what is going on here. And when you find out, you stop being anxious. But you see then, politics is the order of that transitory state which is the city arrangement, the role playing, the game of social life, designed in a particular style. And I’m not saying I’m not trying to say in any way that the policy is something wrong. We shouldn’t put it down and say it’s bad. The only thing that could be bad is to take it too seriously. In other words, if you take the fundamental idea that the whole universe all its forms all the forms of biology, all the different species the giraffe, the rhinoceroses, the Buddhas, the the roses, the eucalyptus trees etc. Everything is a form of biological game, it’s a dancing thing on, different styles. And we wouldn’t want to say to any of those things, you shouldn’t happen. Because they’re all the great Maya, other great illusion the great play and so the palace the human community organized with division of labor, with classes with. All the complications of economics and banking and transportation and so on and so on and so on, all this is a particular kind of play. And each form of it is as legitimate as say, different kinds of dancing, a waltz, a rumba, foxtrot, a frog, all other perfectly legitimate forms of dancing that the universe does. But the important thing to understand what the Sanyasan, in the Sramana, the man who goes outside the pale is saying is. Please, people who are in the pale I in my existence reminds you that you’re only playing. Don’t take it too seriously. Because if you take it too seriously, you’re going to start destroying each other and fighting and saying, this city against that city, this country against that country, and so on, because you’re too involved.
So every sane society allows a certain number of people to deviate. Monks. Some sort of outsiders. And says you don’t have to join, you don’t have to play the game. A society which is insane and I’m sure of itself cannot allow that to happen it’s everybody must join everybody must work. Everybody must belong. And then freedom disappears. Because as a matter of fact, the anxiety is, if you say well you don’t have to join, there are conditions under which you can go out then a lot of people get together and say well what would happen if everybody quit? I asked what would happen if everybody decided to take American Airlines Flight three to New York tomorrow? Well they just wouldn’t get on. I mean. And they won’t anyhow. Because a lot of people aren’t interested in that. Are not ready to quit. That doesn’t mean that they’re inferior a be a calling is not inferior to the oak tree. It’s a potential oak. But as an a call it’s just as beautiful and lovely a thing as a full grown. A baby is as lovely as an adult. Sometimes a great deal more lovely.
So, a person who is in the beginning state of evolution is just as marvelous as a person in a high state of evolution. Just as much a manifestation of the divine dance. So, when a society allows a certain number of people to withdraw. It should have no anxiety that everybody will want to withdraw. Because some people are absolutely fascinated and in competition in being involved, in playing the game. They should be fined for that. But we are witnessing in the United States today a great motivation for withdrawal. It’s simply because we haven’t provided for it. We haven’t…there’s no opportunity for a Protestant to become a monk. Or a Jew. The Catholics have half heartedly provided for this sort of thing. And there have to be people who stand outside the game. And do not identify themselves. With a class. With a name with an ego with a persona with a role. And a society which cannot tolerate that is weak and in grave danger of dissolution. A society which can tolerate it is short of itself inside. Doesn’t have to insist on. Everybody agreeing with the way you see things. That’s the nature of democracy you say you have a right to do.
So, furthermore underlying the nature of a democracy is the notion of mutual trust. And this is difficult in a polis. You can obviously. Have an ongoing human arrangement. In which, proper behavior between each other. It isn’t forced. To live violence of some kind by police. After all, who stands behind the police. Who gives the police the authority. Why, the people do? But if the authority of the police becomes something separate from the off already of the people you get in a violent situation you no longer have democracy you have a dictatorship. So, but if you really trust each other you don’t really need much in the way of police. Yes, you need some scouts to direct the traffic who simply establish which row is to move first. Not by authority, but simply pointing out that when we get to a crossroads, there has to be some sort of order here, and we let so many cars go through this way then we stop them and we let seventy cars go through that way that’s the mutual benefit of everybody concerned so there’s a scout there to give a signal. Which we’ve all agreed upon. But when that scout starts dressing up like a storm trooper, and putting on all kinds of guns and whistles and helmets and things like that then he begins to act his role. He begins to behave like that kind of a person. And he becomes a vested interest. And so we have to say to him. Go back to your boy scouts hat. Take off that helmet. On those bandoliers full of bullets, and those boots. Start looking like a human being again. And then you’ll behave like one. Everybody will respect you when you put up your hands say this row please and everybody will cost naturally accommodate themselves.
So, as then a society tolerates within itself a group of people who play no role. Who are in that sense liberated. We come to see all of us, that the political game is not absolutely serious. That the laws of the state are not the laws of nature. That the laws what we could even call the laws of nature are very many of them, nothing but social institutions like time, like space and so on. And so in not taking our civic political life too seriously, we can live it at a decent pace. And stop from the idea that it is our sacred duty to impose our wonderful way of life on everybody else. And that you see is a quality of humor. When you don’t take yourself too seriously. You can laugh at yourself. And this is the most essential ingredient for a politically healthy people is to be able to laugh.
So, that’s why one of the difficulties about churches and law courts. I was in the law court some time ago giving evidence. The two accused people were smiling the judge at the gavel. They said, ‘You two young gentleman, should realize that you’re on trial for a very serious crime. And that this attitude of laughter is disrespectful to the court.’ And their attorney got up and said, ‘Your Honor, this is the first time these two men have ever been in court and they don’t understand what the rules are.’ And he said it’s high time they did it. Now, every great court where every supreme King Chakravarty and presides always provides for a jester to be present. Because the moment the king in charge, or the Justice becomes too serious, he takes himself too seriously, there is tyranny abroad. And so a proper king has sitting right down there on his left a character in cap and bells. And in ancient days, the fools were very powerful people. Very important people. One of the fools of the court of England Rahir, founded some Bartholomew’s Hospital out of as well. As the fool, as Shakespeare puts it, ‘Within the Hollow Crown that runs the mortal temples of the King, keeps death his court.’ And they’re the antic. The antic is an old word for the food there the antics that scoffing at the state grinning it is pomp allowing him a little time to monetise be feared and kill with looks. And at last comes death and with a little pin balls through his castle walls. And farewell King. Because the fool is the one who reminds you all the time that your mortal, your fallible. Human. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
So, at the Congress of the United States at the sessions of the Supreme Court there ought always to be a fool, who says the judges. But you know, the trouble with Republics is that they are little insecure and they don’t allow fools around. Very secure Kings only can allow fools. Dictators can’t allow fools because they rest upon the will of the majority. They get into power through referendums. They sure can’t tolerate fools around. It’s only an aristocrat, a person who has come from a long, long line of rulers and is doesn’t just isn’t insecure about the situation he can allow the fool. So, if a people is to be mature democracy is to be matured it must allow the fool. It must allow the Joker. And not merely as a cartoonist in the daily press. To point fun at the goings on, the presidency. Somebody actually present at Cabinet meetings, who was appointed to be the maverick to be the funny in the hay session. In the same way a university faculty must have in its membership a small percentage of complete scruples. Who are not respectable scholars who have weird ideas because they will keep the rest of the faculty alive. Not too many of them, always a little balance like the salt in the stew, a little bit but not too much. That is always the element of the people who say to the whole system it’s going on to the whole reality of life ‘haha.’