In this seminar on birth, death and the unborn, we’ve been discussing the Buddhist philosophy of change. Of life as a flowing, dynamic pattern process, which is essentially immaterial. Because it isn’t anything you can grasp we use the word substance we use the word silent we use the word matter for something you can catch hold of or stand on or rely on or cling to. And the basis of the Buddhist philosophy of change is that there is nothing of the kind. There is nothing to hang onto nothing to rely on nothing to cling to. But, when we say you see something matters the word has a double meaning in that it means that it’s substantial in that it’s important. And so we are brought up from birth to play the game of life in a certain way that a sudden things we are told by adults who were told by their out so were told by their adults that these things matter. And that one of the fundamental things that matters is that you go on living. And so, everybody is tremendously concerned with the things that matter that they’ve been taught to value, and because these things actually don’t matter that is to say because they’re not substantial but they’re all a flowing pattern as I illustrated. A flame seems to be a substantial object that’s there to burn unit in and watch it for a long time. Actually it’s a stream of hot gas. And so likewise, the human organism is a stream of energy never the same for two seconds. Only we’ve we’ve been taught to watch that thing, and to cherish it and value it and it matters damn it. And yet it’s going to wear out and yet it’s going to get sick and yet it’s going to die. So everybody is involved in playing the game of life in a way that goes beyond play and becomes deadly serious. And as a result, the whole of existence is lived in a state of constant frustration. Because you are trying all the time to hold together and to preserve something which in the long run can’t be preserved at all.
And therefore, in response to this cry of pain which everybody puts up as a result of being in the situation of trying to hold on to things, the wisdom of the various ways of liberation be they Hindu, Buddhist or whatever, is saying to everybody love now, wake up, see what the scene is. This is the kind of thing that’s going on and. You are not a captive in a trap. You’re not just some mere little measly being that somehow or other was brought into an insane universe, but you are what the thing is. You are not the victim. You are the system. Only, you have identified yourself with one wave in it and have forgotten that you are one with the whole energy that’s going on but what you’re doing is you, you have got a particular way that is to say a particular accumulation of memory. Of associations, of skills of things that you’ve learned and you don’t want to let go of them because you found in that accumulation of memories which you call yourself an identity so you know where you are or think you do. But actually, you don’t need to be anywhere. Where is the universe? You know, think up an answer to that one. And so the question of where is the universe is really ultimately the same question as where are you? Said what this is saying is let go. It’s all right to play the game be involved and. Work out the various intrigues problems, creative projects and so on that life involves that’s fine. But if you get involved in it so that you’re hung up, this deprives you of delight and joy in playing the game. So the point is to get people un-hung-up on the whole thing, which in the way we have been accustomed to translate Sanskrit Chinese with because we have been calling unattached but on hung up as much better it’s a much clearer this colloquial phrase a hang-up is a much more direct and exact translation of what the Sanskrit word klesha means. Attachment or evil passion or something like that. [It] is hang-up. It is blocking, being fixed on a particular point of view. And I was trying to show this morning. That we can take ever so many different points of view towards what’s going on no point of view is the right one. Infinitely many points of view are possible. But if you take a point of view and you insist that is the only point of view then you’re hung up on it.
If for example you take the point of view that there are only two kinds of human beings men and women. And either you are a man or you are a woman that’s a hang-up. Because actually we vary a great deal there are men who have much more feminine elements in them than others and women who have much more masculine elements in them than other women and so there is an enormous variation but so long as you insist that black is black and white is white and that there are Republicans and Democrats and capitalists and communists and good guys and bad guys it’s a hang-up. So also between what is you and what is other than you. Well that’s the general area of what we were discussing this morning. And now I want to go further in explaining what I started out to explain, which is the basic Buddhist idea of rebirth. Of our being reincarnated. I said that this was not in Buddhism the idea that one has a kind of spiritual spook or astral spook or soul which travels from one life to another. It is a much simpler idea than that. But it’s so simple that it’s difficult to explain. I would begin you see with the assumption, that every person, every sentient being whatsoever is I. I it is simply the universe aware of itself at a particular place and time. That’s what the word ‘I’ means. William James once said the word. Is a noun of position, like this or here. And so, the feeling that we call eye is how everything feels on the inside. But it is always in a particular place at a particular time. And these particular places and particular times they keep going on and on and on and on and on. Myriads of them, all over. Not only on this globe but probably in well scattered throughout the phone calls plus the I feeling arises, and you feel that you are i just as much as I feel that I am I. And your I feeling and my I feeling are essentially the same. Only we’re looking from different places but it’s all one I. Only we don’t see this because we are hung-up on the coming and going of I. On the particular circumstances in which every I appears. And so, just as the flame changes its physical identity every second every split second every microsecond so do you you’re a stream.
And so, taking us all together supposing you watched the human race from a very different point of view you were watching us. You didn’t know anything about human beings never seen them before and you were observing what’s going on in this planet. From some other point of culture in space and time and you would say well this world is people in this planet peoples, just like a tree bears fruit. And year after year the apples that come up an apple tree all up very very much the same. And you would say, yeah, the apples come and go but they’re always the same apples coming back. It’s only if you look very minutely at the apples and started the details of coloration and formation that you would say that one Apple was different from another. Now we are also used to each other and we know each other so well that we see and emphasize the differences between us but somebody who knew nothing about humanity would see the coming and going of human beings as a repetition of the same process. Just as the flame burning. We say it’s a flame but it’s a repetition of the same process, it keeps on flaming. Now, if you’re going to count each cha as a distinct and separate event, then you cannot hear the rhythm.
So because of our myopia because our point of view is fascinated by the details and the differentiations between everything that’s going on the differentiations between people the differentiations between generations. We are so preoccupied with that particular view of things that we’re hung up on it, and we don’t see that it’s the same thing happening again and again and again and that every I that comes into this world is you. Now you don’t have to have any inside information to understand that. [It] doesn’t require any sort of is a esoteric knowledge and something that can be demonstrated is just looking at things the way they are standing right out in the open and facing. Or eyes I. Wherever some of them scattered because you see this is the place. At the put the point call here in our this universe knows itself on the inside look around you and you see everything as it were presenting and next year or two. Supposing I want to delve into another person how am I going to do that there are many ways I can talk to them I can get them to express their inmost thoughts and their feelings. I can make love to another person and exchange of very fundamental sort of electrochemical union. I can take a knife and like a surgeon go in and analyze but my relationship to the other is always seeing life on the outside. However much I get down to the tiniest cells that constitute your nervous system, I’m still looking at that cell from the outside. If I go down into the molecules, I go down into the atoms, I’m still regarding them from the outside The only point at which I know the thing on the inside is where I am. Then I have inside knowledge of what everywhere else appears to be outside. So if you want to know what it’s what all this is, that’s why mystics say you have to look within. That say so they talk about the inner life within yourself and so on as that’s the point at which. You know what it’s like on the inside. And so, to realize inside there must of course at the same time the outside to realise self, there must be the counterbalance of other. Because this light black and white is like back in front they’re inseparable.
So then, this is where we start from. That every being coming into this world is I. And they keep on coming. It doesn’t matter how long the intervals are between their appearances those in this planet were completely wiped out by a cobalt bomb explosion. That would be the end of this race in just the same way as say a group of insects will eat their food supply up on a plant and the whole population will perish. [It] happens again and again. And so in all probability throughout this galaxy and throughout other galaxies there are human or comparable populations that arise and go arise and go just as we do individually. So don’t get too worried about the thought that this whole human system on this planet may go away and disappear because if you get too worried about it it’s going to happen faster than if you don’t worry about it. Because of the attraction of a Vertigo. The feeling of wanting to throw yourself over the precipice even though you know it will destroy you.
But it seems perfectly reasonable to suppose in other words that there is a constant rhythm. Of what we call consciousness, being awake to life, going on and on. Just as stars go on and on. If the stars are going all over the place and galaxies are going on all over the place. It’s equally reasonable to suppose that life is going on all over the place. And although the distances from our particular point of view between these islands of life may be vast, don’t forget that the distances between the molecules in your own body are equally vast, on their scale. You could go down and blow up the inside of your own head so that the various elements would be hundreds of miles away from each other and yet somehow or other they hang together. Don’t be deceived because distance, space, isn’t just removal. Space isn’t just nothing.
This is the grand delusion. That space is somehow a thing to be ignored. When Buddhists say that the root of frustration or Dukha is other. Avidya means ignore and it’s ignoring not knowing and this is very clearly explainable in terms of the doubt theory of perception the get out theory of perception is that we notice the figure and ignore the background. We notice what is a relatively small enclosed space and ignore the more dispersed we notice what moves against what is relatively still and what is relatively still is ignored so likewise when we get a constant stimulus of consciousness. We begin to ignore it. And not to notice that consciousness tends always to notice novel things, novel changes in the environment. So, everything that that the most unnoticed things in life are those which are the most constant and the most regular. And because you see you lose touch with the most constant, and the most regular things. You screen them out of your your general thought is insignificant, they don’t matter, they’re not there. And the most ignored thing is space. Because space is always the background. The solids other figures. And therefore we say simply the space is just not is there’s nothing there maybe filled around this planet for a little distance with air, which is important, because we do this a while and you notice something so there’s some which going on. But up there space to that’s nothing and all we can do the Michelson-Morley experiment show that isn’t even ether in it. And so we say that is nothing. But all that is saying is that that is the background to every figure, and as the figure cannot be there without the background the solid cannot be there without the space and so the space are the world is that one thing we’ve forgotten. And the one thing that is absolutely essential to there being anything at all. But because in every direction the stimulus of space is a constant, we don’t notice it. Just in the same way you don’t notice when you hear music on the phonograph. You don’t consider the fact that all the music that you hear is a vibrating diaphragm. Whether it imitates drums, flutes, human voices it’s still a vibrating diaphragm but that’s it not we don’t say that’s not important but it is important because without the vibrating diaphragm there wouldn’t be any music at all. Space then likewise, is everywhere. But, we ignore it, because it’s common to everything. A constant stimulation stimulation of consciousness is forgotten.
So then, we must realize that this is what we call separate things, separate molecules, separate lives, separate planets separate star separate galaxies are joined by space. Space, in other words, is a relationship between solids you would not be able to think about space without a relationship between solids. And so the whole theory of rebirth in Buddhism is based on intervals. Not on a transmigrating soul but upon intervals between lives as is the interval that’s important just as in the same way when you listen to music, you hear melody simply because you hear the interval between the tones. If you couldn’t hear that interval you would not hear a melody. Tone-deaf people cannot hear a melody they hear merely a succession of sounds. And they can’t understand why other people enjoy this, because they haven’t got the capacity to hear the interval between tones following each other in succession or the intervals between tones played simultaneously as in a chord. Isn’t that magical when you come to think of it? That music is created by not so much the tones, as the distance. The musical or sonic space between them. But so goes for everything. It is how it is spaced that creates the significance and interest of any being whatsoever. You say, for example, the human body consists of about ninety-five cents worth of chemicals. But how it’s arranged. Playing a violin by a Great Master is just scraping cats entrails with hot air. But how it’s done.
So the order of the way things are distributed is the magic, and that requires the spacing how it is spaced. And so architects, they understand that space is real, because there always they talk about space using space. People, when they first listen to architects talking a very puzzled because they are an architect will use an expression like the function of a space. And the ordinary person says how can space of a function how can nothing do something when the physicist speaks of space being curved. How the devil can space be curved? How going to be properties of space, see? Does the average person simply brought up to ignore space as being a total non entity. So then it is bases between. What we’ll call solids. Instants. Points. That makes it possible for the points to have some point and. Grow all of everything this point nobody would be able to make up. One point from another. So has to be interval.
So likewise then when it comes to considering relationships between lives. Your past life, or past incarnation, your future incarnation. Do you understand this problem I repeat you do not need any spookery. It is all perfectly obvious and I’m going to demonstrate to you. By playing a game with pebbles. Now, [I have] scattered these pebbles at random all over the floor. And let’s consider for the sake of argument that each pebble is a human life, and you see that the slats of the floor going across this way. They may be taken to represent, each one a century in time talked on calendar time. And so here are human lives, all of different sizes, lengths that is to say different breaths how much they travel and how much space they occupied scattered right across a period of time. And we are looking at them from a sort of celestial position. With a kind of eye of God and seeing history happening scattered all over the place. Now one of the first things that we do when we see a scattered arrangement of this kind. The first thing, maybe say oh it’s just a mess. And the second thought, hmm, it seems to have some lines of continuity in it. Because especially you see as…you can make out. Very quickly you can pick out a line you know how you do this lying in bed in the morning and looking at a chintz curtains or lying in hospital and looking at patterns on the ceiling you start to pick out designs and themes. [Leonardo] Davinci used to look a dirty old walls weathers moisture and damp and mold and see in those walls all kinds of paintings that he could therefore bring out the glorious cave paintings. Which are found in the south of France by most prehistoric man they’re done by what’s called eidetic vision. Those people looked in the caves at the patterns on the wall and in them they saw cattle. People and they simply touch them up and therefore got the most vividly realistic impressions It’s called eidetic vision so in just the same way in looking at the scatter of pebbles on the floor. You can with eidetic vision pick out certain continuity is.
So, if for example we…it’s very easy to see as things are to spot this line. It’s almost a straight line, and a straight line is an abstract concept which is useful to us. See, I notice those are all lined up like that. Now is there a line there or isn’t there? How real is the line? There was no intention to make a line, these are just where the things fall, but they do so this particular set of pebbles happens to be pretty much in a straight line now the straight line is a concept. It isn’t something in the actual pebbles, and yet at the same time I can see it that way.
So then, we might argue if each of the pebbles in that line is representing the lifetime of a human being. Because they are lined up in this way, you can say that is a continuity in other words. This one. Here. Reincarnates as this one, and then as this one because they continue each other and form the line they talk about a line of descent. A line of succession. That’s what happens. And you see that continuity in their system just as you see the continuity of the wave moving across the water although actually nothing is moving the water is just going up and down. So you would see the continuity of this. So in the same way as I explained this morning you consider that you sitting here are the same people who came in at the door although you’re not, you’ve changed completely. So this in other words, if I insist upon seeing this continuity of lives, then I’m reincarnating. If I realize however that my seeing of the line here is purely a projection, I’m not reincarnating, I’m liberated. Or we could do it in some other way. You don’t have to see a straight line to make the connections let’s imagine that these are all pebbles in a stream. And what will make connections between them for a little fellow who is walking around you see, and he wants to get across the stream. And so he put his foot on a pebble here and what next one can reach in get that one. And then get that one. Wowee, have a little problem to go on from there. But maybe with a jump you can land on that. And then on that one and whoops with a jump you can hit that. It all depends on the stretch that one. Sees and because they they’re each within a a stretch then that’s another reason for setting up a line of continuity. Being able to see a significant connection between any of the members of the group.
So what you’re doing here you see, you are making sense out of a whole multitude of human lives in just exactly the same way that you make sense out of anything else. The way you make sense out of a Rorscach blot. But after all the whole world is a Rorschach blot. Everything in it is what we’re doing is we’re making sense out of wiggly processes. There is, you see human…wherever you fly across the world in a plane. And the landscape suddenly begin. To look rectangular. Or straight lines. And clear triangles or clear circles you know human beings have been around. Where they haven’t been around the outlines of everything we really like the courses of rivers the shapes of mountains and forests because human beings are always trying to straighten things out. But the… we ourselves are not straightened out. We are wiggles. And we’re interminably wiggling, but we’re trying to regulate our weakling by setting ourselves up in houses and going along streets with traffic lights and regulations and so on, but we are we’re going we’re trying to straighten out this wheedling but wiggling is basic. So the whole world especially us, is a rorschach blot. And science is the art of trying to make unanimous sense of this block what science does. Is it isn’t that there are certain fixed laws of nature which things obey. It isn’t as if the wiggly events of the world are running on tram lines and. They have to they have to do that. They don’t have to. The point is that in order to make sense out of what is going on. There’s no way of making sense, because sense and order the same thing. Therefore, we invent orders, and describe the way things that. In other words, here is the scatter of stones but it just so happens that I scatter them over a regular lives spaced floor. Each of these divides in that plane. And so, I can classify every stone according by by numbering the board which it’s on. And by doing that, I’ll be able to identify them and I’ll be able to talk about various regularities in the way you see I threw them all out like that and there were certain dynamic principles involved in these principles can be measured and discussed in terms of the intervals at which all the stones fell.
But in fact though I invented the order. That order of distances between the divides in the blogs is just as much a projection on the formation of the stones as considering for example that this group lie in a straight line. Something projected onto it. So in just this way there, we are projecting onto a wiggly universe an order. [It] is the only way to make sense out of it. And to a very set because after all wiggles, although they are very irregular, there is regularity in them. And you can only know that those regularity in Wiggles because there’s also irregularity and vice versa. So through noticing the regularity is you begin to make out a consistency in the behavior of events and if you dig consistency and say Great that’s that’s do it again is our this is this was fun all that wiggle was beautiful once more please yeah see then then you dig irregularities and you don’t want to be irregular because deep. I mean well I’ve no idea what was going to happen next no summit is going to be enough great sun to bang, the whole thing’s going to vanish. And I don’t what’s going to happen band show that could be crazy be great you know. But well we don’t really settle for that we like to think to go to bump,bump, bump, long as it doesn’t get too monotonous and boring.
So therefore we’re looking we’re scanning all the time the field of experience for regularities. And thus build our hang ups. It’s got to happen every day, the mail’s got to be delivered every day. You know you’ve got to keep doing your work gotta eat regular meals all kind of Desi and so it keeps going because we’re looking for this regularity thing. But once again you see the Buddhists say, do you know this thing actually is neither regular not irregular. You can pick out I want you to do what you want with it here the chips; what value do you want to put on? What pattern you want to see in? Or do you always want to see them in this call they’re suchness. See that’s the point of the garden the sand at Rionji. You go there and you see in lovely great stretch of white sand five rocks on it. And that’s so those Zen boys made up but I didn’t get away with murder. They set up first rocks in the garden. And everybody comes around and looks at it and I think this must be some deep meaning in this. And so there’s little guide books that explain what it’s supposed to be. They say well it’s supposed to be an ocean with islands in it other people say oh it’s a beach with the rocks on it other people say oh well these rocks have a certain dynamic relationship and they represent kinds of Buddhist principles and there’s a guy at Dyson in where they have another rock and sand garden a very funny cute Zen monk who gives a lecture in English. He doesn’t speak English, but he’s memorized a particular English lecture which explains the symbolism of all the various rocks and how they work out and how eventually you get to the ocean of liberation. All this is made up out of whole cloth because the whole point of the Zen garden is just that it doesn’t mean any more than this means. Or any more than anything else means the the mountain over here the fact of water the fact coastline goes and such and such a way and here we all sitting around wiggling you know only because I’m talking, and you’ve attributed certain sense to my words and so on you think that I’m communicating something. But actually, everything that we’re doing is like this. Now we are brought up to think oh that’s too bad if that’s all it is you see if it’s just this option is if it’s just an arrangement that fell out like that. What’s the point? Life seems meaningless and empty and without purpose and so on but that’s just because you’re geared you have been conditioned so all your thinking to feel that things meaningful unless they’re meaningful. Where you say well life doesn’t have any meaning that’s because you added drilled into you that it ought to have. So you make a meaning out of. And if on the other hand nobody ever told you that life. Ought to have a meaning and that ought to make some sense that it ought to be going somewhere and that you should survive then you wouldn’t expect it. You just dig it as it happens.
So really what this is saying is, that isn’t that things are meaningless it isn’t that they’re meaningful It’s just that they are so happened to be spread this way. And so, there is no fixed way you should look at it. So what is called as the first principle of the Buddha’s eightfold path samyak thrishti. Means samyak perfect. View. Says OK once was giving a lecture about Buddhism you know. And he said. Force noble truth of Buddhism is called a noble rate full path. First step of the Noble Eightfold Path of course shock can mean the view or of Buddhism some up in the. Second step of noble path is.. second step you better look it up in the book.
But the right view doesn’t mean right in the sense of the particular correct view one should take. It means the complete view which is having no fixed view. So in other words, when you say what is the correct position of the stars in the Great Dipper the Big Dipper. Depends where you’re looking for. There is no such thing as the correct position of those stars. So in the same way, what is the what is the right interpretation of these pebbles? Depends how you want to look at it there was a Zen master call it Q In the front of his monastery he had a very very not crooked pine tree. And one day he pinned a notice on it that said I will pay one thousand yen to anybody who can see this tree straight. So all kinds of people came around the tree and started standing on their heads and the getting it in weird ways so somehow they could line up the branches to see them all straight. And there was one very smart man who came and looked at this for a while and then he went off to see another priest who was a friend of the cues. And he said look what is this thing accuse doing. How would you say how would you see that tree straight when he said you look straight at it. So he went back to E.Q. and said I claim that with one thousand yen all you have to do to see the street tree straight is to look straight at it. And he looked at him in a very funny when he forked out the thousand yen and said, You must have been talking to my friend the priest down the road.
So, what of it what are we doing you see you’ve got it you’ve got a universe which you’re living in which is fundamentally wiggly like this. And you are in it and in this way go see. Only you’re trying to straighten it up. You’re trying to see order in it. And your doing this is itself a wake up. After all and you may say part of this. One of two things in here is straight. You know. And that’s their nature to go that way to be orderly things to be straight things or whatever other quality you want to put on and we’re like that. But we are something in this. Which has it in its nature to arrange it this and that way to want to see things straight. But actually, there really isn’t anything in the whole arrangement that is the right way of doing it. There isn’t anything in life in your life that is supposed to happen. You’re not supposed to live to be eighty, or to die when you’re twenty three. It doesn’t make the slightest difference you can be one of the others by the say in the scenery of spring there is nothing superior nothing inferior flowering branches grow naturally some shot some long.
So liberation is the realization there is no way that things are supposed to be. You don’t have to go on living. You are you know you’re what there is it’s up to you to decide is it there’s no way it has to happen. But on the other hand if you want to feel that there is some way you would like to arrange this mean we can stop pushing these things around you know but them in some kind of an order that’s OK too. The point being, you will be miserable to the degree that you are hung up on the notion that things should last go a certain way. That is to say, to have a fixed view. If you have no fixed view, you remain elastic. And about this there is always something that can’t quite be said. When we say I have no fixed view it sounds as if I were just a non-entity like a moron. Chinese proverb says as a hollow room echoes all sounds an empty mind is open to all suggestions but there’s another sense of an empty mind and that not the moronic empty mind, but the lively empty mind. The empty mind that can either let it alone or project patterns onto it. And especially do both. So that instead of saying what do you really ought to do is to project no pattern on the world, and realize that it’s all fundamentally senseless is to say always do both at the same time project the patterns that realize at the same time there is no fixed view that you should take. This is exactly the same thing as being able to realize that there are rights and wrongs and things that should be done and should not be done, but at the same time there’s another point of view from which you can see that everything that happens is right the way it is and that human life never makes an aesthetic mistake just as the patterns of the clouds in the foam never make aesthetic mistakes.