Now, as you know, this is the great discussion going on in what we call today the new theology: the revolution within standard brand Christianity. Because, you see, for years and years the clergy—the ministry of the various churches such as Episcopalian, Methodist, Baptist, Congregational, Unitarian, even in some cases disciples of Christ, and Lutherans—their theological seminaries have been discussing religion in terms utterly different than you will normally hear from the pulpit. And every graduate of an intelligent theological school has a sense of intense frustration as he has to get out to work in a community or parish church, because he does not believe what he is supposed to preach. And this has, in a way, been true for a long long time.
Clergy—except in the Roman Catholic church, where the situation is somewhat different—are very heavily controlled by the laity, because he who pays the piper calls the tune. And therefore they are in a state of constant frustration, because those who contribute most heavily (and therefore are most interested in the church) tend to be conservative-minded people, and they want that old-time religion—although, as a matter of fact, what they call the old-time religion is really quite modern. But still, that’s what they want. And they’re people who, as I would say, would tend to be conservative in their whole attitude to life. Because, you see, people of a more liberal disposition couldn’t care less about going to church.
In the British army they have a thing called church parade. And there’s a famous story about a drill sergeant who got all the troops up for church parade on a Sunday morning, and used to call out: “Catholics to the right! Protestants to the left! Fancy religions in the middle!” And to the degree, you see, that intelligent people in our culture have any religion at all, it tends to be a fancy religion: something in the new kinds of things that may be Unity, Christian Science, Theosophy, Buddhism, Vedānta, or some kind of special Protestant offshoot, such as the Fellowship Church in San Francisco, or the Community Church in New York, and things of that kind. Very liberal, very left-wing, theologically.
So the the new theology comes at this time to a very large extent because (a) the clergy are fed up, (b) Christianity has its back to the wall. And the pope knows this better than anybody. And so hand in hand with this Ecumenical movement there goes along a reconsideration of what on Earth it’s all about? Is there a God? Is there God? And a lot of people are boldly saying that is to be abandoned. As an English priest, Father Maskell, put it: “It is the basic assumption of the secularist movement’s interest in theology that life is a journey between the maternity ward and the crematorium, and that is what there is.” That’s it. And that—and that only—is the life that the Christian religion has to do with and to encounter. And therefore, more than ever, being a Christian—if it isn’t an abandonment of God or of the idea that the universe is supernaturally controlled—the Christian religion fastens itself, therefore, with peculiar and increased fervor to the figure of Jesus of Nazareth. As one wit put it: “There is no God, and Jesus Christ is His only Son.”
Because, you see, what otherwise makes you a Christian? There’s something strange about Christianity, in that it shares with Islam and Judaism what we might call theological imperialism. Christians of even the most liberal stripe fervently believe that their religion is the best religion, and they will state it by saying either Jesus Christ is the only son of God—that’s an orthodox way; as a matter of fact, it isn’t really an orthodox way of saying it, but it’s the way orthodox people do say it—or they will say Jesus is the greatest man that ever lived. The point is that you make a commitment to the following of Jesus as an historical personage.
And, for some reason or other, people who commit themselves to this exclusive kind of following of Jesus become exceedingly obstreperous. Because they will either damn other religions outright, or (far more insidiously) damn them with faint praise. “Old Buddha taught some very good things, you know? And we all are indebted to is great and moral principles. But!” And then comes this pitch, you see, for the sole following of Jesus as the lord and master, head and shoulders above all.
Well, the trouble with that as always been that, when you get into a theological argument with a person who is a Christian, you get into a situation where the advocate and the judge are the same person. That is to say, Jesus is judged the best man in the world by the standards of Christianity. Because those are the standards with which this kind of person judges. And therefore—and you’ll find that people who leap to these judgments usually don’t know very much about any other kind of religion. The courses on comparative religion in theological schools are shockingly superficial and grossly inaccurate.
And so this is coming to the front now, you see. In order to belong to the church, really, is to be saved. And to be saved is to belong to the inmost in-group. You have to have an in-group, you see? If you want to know who you are, you have to belong to something. Say, if you want to distinguish yourself. Because you know who you are because of the people who aren’t like you. There, you get a contrast. Now, this is this is the basic arrangement for a church. So, you see, if you want to be in some kind of an in-group, you must put everybody else beyond the pale. St. Thomas Aquinas gave the show away, actually, because he said that the blessed in heaven will often walk to the battlements and look down and delight in the justice of God being properly carried out in hell. But you may not believe in hell. You may be very liberal, and after all, it’s not nice or sophisticated nowadays to believe in everlasting damnation. But we have new words for it, such as failing to be a real person, sinking below the human level, or entering into final irremediable psychosis. All these are new words, either for damnation or heresy.
And so you join, and you know you’re saved only if somebody else isn’t; if somebody else is damned. It’s very difficult to believe or even to imagine a state of affairs where everyone and everything is saved. You have to be a mystic even to think about that. Because it requires having a state of consciousness which transcends oppositions. And you can’t do that along the line of ordinary logic. You have to have a new kind of logic which takes over at a certain point. And this logic I’m using at the moment by pointing out that damned people and saved people need each other. They are in a symbiotic relationship with each other. They go together in the same way as the back and the front of something. Because if something has a front, it has to have a back, too. And so the very fact that fronts and backs go together indicates that there is a unity between these two opposed sides. So, also, there is a unity between the dammed and the saved.
And it’s only as you begin to realize that you need the damned people in order to be saved, and that the damned people need the saved people in order to be damned, that you start laughing about it. And that laughter is very subversive. And it’s—you know how it is: you’re not supposed to laugh in church, and not in courts of law, either. They are places where laughter makes people nervous. Because it’s supposed to be a sign of disrespect. Now, it may not be so at all. Dante said that the song of the angels in paradise sounded like the laughter of the universe. But in church—especially any rather more serious kinds of church—laughing is very bad form.
Why? Because if you look at the design of a Catholic church, you will notice that it is based upon the design of the courtroom of a king. And if you look at a Protestant church, you will see that it is to based upon the design of a law court. Indeed, the Protestant minister wears exactly the same robes as an American judge. And all those pews and box-like stalls are the same you will find in the old-fashioned court with the witness box, jury box, and all that kind of thing. But, you see, the original idea of the Christian church—these ancient Roman churches are called a basilica. That means the courtroom of a king. The throne room. The altar is the throne of God.
Now, in a courtroom the king is very nervous, because anybody who takes it upon himself to govern other people and rule them had better watch out. And therefore he always has his back to the wall, and he is flanked by attending guards and high ministers of state. And just so that nobody’ll get up and make trouble, he has them either on their knees or flat on their faces when they come into his presence. And of course no one must laugh, because he’d be laughing at Mr. Big. And so this was the pattern, this was the model, upon which the Judeo-Christian idea of God was based. It is a political model, and the title of God is taken from the supreme emperors of Persia the, dayyaan khan, the king of kings, the lord of lords. And so, in the English Church at morning prayer, the clergyman gets up and says: “Almighty and everlasting God, the only ruler of princes, king of kings, lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all dwellers upon Earth, most graciously deigned to behold our gracious sovereign lady, Queen Elizabeth, and all the royal family.” That’s the picture and the metaphor.
And you may not believe, literally, that God sits on a throne, or even has a body to put on one, or that he wears a crown, or that he has a beard. But the image colors your feeling about the character of God. And imagery is much more powerful than intellectual concepts. You may know it says in the prayer book that God is a spirit without body parts or passions, omnipresent to all places, eternal through all time. And therefore one thinks as Haeckel does, of a gaseous vertebrate, or else of an enormously diffused sea of luminous jello filling all time and space. Everybody uses images. But behind those images are the old images that influenced us in childhood. And if you still attend a church and you use that imagery, you still think emotionally—you feel towards God—as one would if you took it literally.
So this political model of God has dominated the West. And the world is related to God as subjects to a king or as artifacts to a maker. We have, of course, a ceramic model of the universe, because it’s said in the book of Genesis that God made Adam out of the dust of the ground. In other words, he made a clay figurine and then blew the breath of life into the nostrils of the figurine so that it came to life. Now, the Hindus don’t have that model of the universe to cope with. Because they don’t look at the universe as God’s creation (in the sense of being an artifact), they look at it as God’s drama. Because they see the world as acted, not created: God is that which is pretending to be all this. And everybody is really God, is a mask of God, who is playing that he’s you. But he’s doing it so well that he’s taken himself in, because he’s the audience as well as the actor. It’s a really successful play. Because the good actor—although you know a play is just a play—a good actor is going to try and make you think it isn’t. He wants to get you crying, he wants to get you sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation. And God, as the best actor, has convinced himself completely that the act is real. The Chinese, again, have a different model. Their model of the universe is an organic one: it is a great organism. It is alive. It grows. It is an intelligent order. So those are the three great models of the world.
When the West stopped believing seriously in God a long time ago, they however retained the idea of the world as an artifact. And so we graduated from the ceramic model of the universe to the fully automatic model, which is actual commonsense for most people living today. I return to the point, then, that the clergy and the church people don’t really believe in God in the old-fashioned sense of right God at all. If they did believe the Christian religion in some of its orthodox form seriously, they would be screaming in the streets. And even the most far out lunatic fringe Jehovah’s Witnesses are even more or less polite when they come and call at your house. Because if they really believed that you were going to hell they would make more fuss about you than if you had the bubonic plague.
But nobody really takes it that seriously any longer. That means they don’t believe in it. They know they ought to believe in it. In fact, many sermons are exhortations to have more faith, which means that we all recognize that we don’t really believe in this, and we ought to. We feel very guilty about it. We don’t have the moral strength to believe in this. But it isn’t only a matter of morals strength, it’s a matter of being asked to believe what most people feel is nonsense: that the world is run on the lines of a state. How, for example can you be a citizen of the United States, having taken an oath that a republican form of government is the best form of government, and believe that the universe is a monarchy?
So what has happened is: intelligent people have always realized that this political model for the cosmos won’t do. Now, actually, no seriously Logan ever did believe that God was at the old gentleman with whiskers on a golden throne. Never! What the bishop Woolwich says in his book Honest to God—you know, that there isn’t some sort of a someone out there. He is very naïve, in a way, because he could have taken huge quotations out of St. Thomas Aquinas, out of the great fathers of the church, from Oregon from Clement of Alexandria, from St. Gregory Nazianzen, from St. John of Damascus, from St. Basil the Great, from St. Augustine, and from St. Ambrose, from Bernard of Clairvaux, and Albert the Great. He could have quoted all those perfectly orthodox, very correct theologians, and shown that they never believed in a God like that with whiskers. And he could have come forward and said, “You see, this is a perfectly orthodox book,” and, “I’m not a revolutionary. I’m just going back to the real old-time religion.”
We didn’t do that. And you know why? He told him he’d never read those writers in theological school. He was entirely confined to biblical studies and never got as far as that, you see? But it’s just the same with ever so many people. One of the reasons why so many people turned to an Oriental religion was that the intellectual level at which oriental religions were first presented in the West was so much higher than the intellectual level at which Christianity was presented at the local church. If you lived in India or Ceylon, of course there would be the local Buddhist monastery, and it would be just as junky is the stuff was around the local church. They don’t tell people all about the great void, and how to practice meditation, and those things. That’s for specialists; a minority. All they care about is gaining merit, mostly by making contributions to the clergy, or better circumstances in your next life, or getting out of evil karma. That’s the real thing that popular Buddhism is about. But, you see, the trouble in the West is that everybody’s getting educated. There’s a terrific literacy. And therefore, the public has to be treated as if it were intelligent. You can’t say “the public be damned” anymore. Too many intelligent people.
Now, let’s look at the lineup. What sort of a situation is this, really? For my part, I would say the God that is dead is this political model God. However conceived, the divine paternalistic authority who rules the universe, and to whom you, as an ego, are related as a subject to a king—by analogy. See? Now, that one just isn’t holding up. But what’s the alternative? Especially, think about what could be an alternative for Western people with a Christian background? What other kind of god could we have? Well, one a possibility is none. And this is what people like Althusser are discussing. He’s on the far left of this new theology. I would say a man like James Pike is on the right of the new theology. He very definitely believes in God. He’s a theist. But he doesn’t believe in anything with whiskers on it, nor does he really believe in the political model.
Are we going to settle, then, for the fact that the universe is just what it appears to be? Or are we going to have a very refined conception of God, which will be called “It” instead of “He?” That makes a lot of difference. Very powerful, what pronoun you use. Or even “He/She.” I had a Christian Scientist talk about the father/mother. It’s too, sort of, complicated. People feel that’s a little bit weird. “It” is rather simple, but then, when you say “It,” does it mean that God is something like electricity, which doesn’t seem to have any independent intelligence of its own? You can use it intelligently, but it’s just energy. It’s just something that goes zoom. See? Is that God “It,” like that? Or what?
Well, it’s a funny thing, but it’s very difficult to be a complete atheist, a real atheist. Like, in the House of Parliament in England, when in 1928 the Church of England wanted a new prayer book, a revised prayer book. Because the church and the state are inseparable in England, and the Houses of Parliament had to vote on whether this prayer book might be used. And somebody got up and said, “This is perfectly ridiculous, an assemblage which contains a number of atheists voting on the inner politics of the Church of England!” And another member got up and said, “Oh, I don’t think there are any atheists here. Not really. We all believe in some sort of a something somewhere.”
Now, you see, in the theological world it just doesn’t do to believe in some sort of a something somewhere. Because one thing that theologians detest is vagueness. You should listen to them. Either no god at all, because that’s clear and precise. No beating around the bush, old man. You know, it’s just fuzzy thinking to have the great universal mind, the undifferentiated aesthetic continuum. That’s all some sort of a something somewhere. Woolly thinking. Either no god, or a god with a definite character, and a clear model of will, and precise standards, who will not be pushed around: the biblical God. Wowee!
What do you do? Do you put your mind into two watertight compartments, in one of which you’re abreast of science in the modern world and all that kind of thing, and then the other compartment would simply have nothing to do with that. It is a completely cut off thing called religion, where you believe in absolutely ludicrous propositions. A lot of people do that. But a lot of people want a religion which is difficult to believe in, because that’s a kind of a test of faith: whether you can swallow it. It’s like the story about Abraham being told to sacrifice his son Isaac, and he was about to do it, because you do what you’re told. It’s a test of faith. People like the security of a definite religion. Something you’ve got to believe in, and this is the truth!
I was once having an argument with a Jehovah’s Witness, and he said, “Don’t you think that if there were really a loving God, who was concerned about the human race, that he would provide us with an infallible textbook that would tell us how to live?” I said, “He would do nothing of the kind! It would completely destroy the human mind.” You know, you’d never have to think if that was the case. And so while there is that, there is, then, this possibility, you see: is it to be no God? Is life just this trip from the maternity ward to the crematorium? And that the issue of religion is to improve that trip. That is to say, through social concern, through getting rid of poverty and war and exploitation and disease—is that the whole business of religion, or is there something else?
Those who take this view—which we will call the secularist position in theology—are, of course, strongly influenced by contemporary philosophy, especially in that form which is called scientific empiricism or logical positivism, which maintains that the idea of God is not a fallacy, but is a meaningless idea. That, in other words, the proposition that there exists God, and that God is the origin and creator and governor of everything that is happening, they maintain that those sentences are utterly devoid of meaning. As much so as if I were to say: “Everything is up.” Because they will say no logical proposition can be made about all processes whatsoever. Because all propositions are labels on boxes. And you can’t have the box containing all boxes, because this box would have no outside, and therefore it wouldn’t be a box. So all propositions, all words, must refer to classes of some kind. And you can’t have the class of all classes.
And also, they would say the notion that there is a God is meaningless because it doesn’t help you to make any prediction. Or they can ask it in this way: what evidence—supposing somebody could bring it forward—would completely satisfy you as disproving the existence of God? And no believer in God can think of any evidence that would conclusively prove that there wasn’t a god. Just like psychoanalysts are completely incapable of thinking of any evidence which would disprove the existence of the Oedipus complex. So they, on logical grounds, take this position. And so, since many theologians are in fact influenced by modern philosophy, take these arguments seriously, they would like to secularize the whole conception of religion. Or, to put it in Bonhoeffer’s words: have Christianity without religion.
Well, now, when you might say there is nothing to life except the trip between a maternity ward and the crematorium, that’s what there is—I’ve heard something like that before. When asked: “What is the Buddha?” the Chinese master replied, “It’s windy again this morning.” Another Buddhist master on his deathbed wrote the poem: “From the bathtub to the bathtub I have added stuff and nonsense.” The bathtub in which the baby is washed at birth, and the bathtub in which the corpse is washed before burial. “All the time between,” he said, “I was going yackety yack.”
Now, what about those poems? Do they mean what they say? Well, not quite. They are something different here. Because they are based on a life devoted to the discipline of a very particular kind of meditation culminating in a completely shattering experience, which is very difficult to talk about. But generally speaking, it is the encounter with eternity, with the eternal—not necessarily in the sense of that which goes on and on on through time, but the eternal as the timeless: that which transcends time, is beyond measurement in terms of hours and days. And when a person who is in that state of consciousness, or has been through it, looks at the ordinary everyday world, it’s true, he sees the ordinary everyday world as we see it, but with a very, very extraordinary difference. And if we would have to put that different into some sort of Western Christian-influenced language, he would perhaps say, “Don’t you realize that sitting around here in this room, with our ordinary everyday faces and clothes and personalities, we are sitting smack in the middle of the beatific vision. And that this sitting here, in this room, is infinity and eternity, precisely. It is it. And this is the beatific vision. This is God.” And it feels that way, too. It really does—or something like it.
But in this kind of religion they still have temples, they have Buddhas, and they chant sūtra, and offer incense, and ring gongs, and all that kind of thing. But they’re always saying that the highest religion—really, to get there, you have to kill the Buddha. Supposing a clergyman got up one day in pulpit and said, “Every time you say ‘Jesus Christ,’ you have to wash your mouth out.” Or, “If you meet God the Father, kill him. If you meet God the Son, kill him. You meet God the Holy Spirit, kill him. You meet the Pope, kill him. If you meet St Augustine, kill him. If you meet your father and mother, kill them. Kill them all right away!” Alright, what I’ve been saying is simply translating into Christian terms a Buddhist’s teacher talking about the year 800 AD. That’s what he said, only he put the Buddhist’s names in where I put the Christian ones in.
But I don’t think this is what is happening in the movement of the new theology. I think that what’s happening there is that they are just getting rid of God. This is not this other thing I’m talking about, which could be called the religion of no religion. You see, if you—you could take this right into Christianity, because to the extent that every Christian is a Jew. You see, we use the Jewish scriptures as the Old Testament. So every Christian is that Jew. You’re supposed to believe in the Ten Commandments. Well, one of them says, “Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image of anything that is in the heavens above or the earth beneath or the waters that are under the earth. Thou shalt not bow to them nor worship them.” And that is what this thing I’ve been talking about is: it is a destruction of idols.
Because the most dangerous graven images are not those which are made of wood and stone, they are those which are made of ideas. And it is well known to the great mystical tradition of the world—all over the world—that the, sort of, supreme vision can only come when you have got rid of every idea of God whatsoever. It would be like (as I’ve often used this image) cleaning a window on which somebody has painted blue sky. Well, to see the sky, you’ve got to scrape off the paint. Well, you say, “My goodness, you shouldn’t take that nice blue painting off. It’s very good. It was done by a great artist. See how pretty the clouds are. You mustn’t do that, because we won’t have that blue sky anymore.” See? So in that spirit the great mystics have always ceased to cling to God. That is because the only god you can cling to is the idea of God. In order to discover God, you have entirely to stop clinging.
You see, why does one cling to God? For safety, of course. You want to save something. You want to save yourself. I don’t care what you mean by “saved”—whether it just means feel happy, or feel that life is meaningful, or, you know, there’s somebody up there who cares. So one clings. And if you don’t cling to God, you cling to something else: the state, money, sex, yourself, power. These are all false gods. But there has to come a state when clinging stops. And only then does the state of faith begin. People who believe in God don’t have any faith, because they want something to hold onto.
So real faith is when you do not hold on to anything anymore. In the Christian tradition this is called the “Cloud of Unknowing.” There is a book of that title written by a fourteenth century British monk, anonymous. And he got it from Dionysius the Areopagite, who assumed the name of St Paul’s Athenian convert. He was a Syrian monk living in the sixth century. Both Meister Eckhart, St. Thomas Aquinas, John Scotus Eriugena, and many other great medieval theologians studied Dionysius the Areopagite. He wrote a book called the Theologia Mystica in which he explains that, in order to come to a full union with God, you must give up every conception of God whatsoever. And he enumerates: don’t think that God is oneness, or threeness, or unity, or spirit, or any kind of anything that the human mind can conceive. He is beyond all that. This is called apophatic theology. This is a Greek term contrasted with “cataphatic.” When you speak cataphatically, you say what God is like.
So this man, Dionysius, wrote two books. One was called The Divine Names, and that was cataphatic theology. And the other was called “the mystical theology,” which is apophatic. Cataphatic: what God is like according to analogy. He is like a father. We do not say God is a cosmic male parent. But God is in some respects like a father, like spirit. Like we say nowadays: like, man, it’s like it’s raining. You know? There’s a certain relativity to that statement. So this is the the cataphatic language. The apophatic says what God is not. And all those theologians in the following of Dionysius said the highest way of talking about God is in negative terms. Just as (to use Dionysius’s own image) when a sculptor makes a figure, he does it entirely by removing stone; taking something away. So, in the same way, St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Because God, by his infinity, exceeds every idea to which the human mind can reach, the best way to speak of him is by remotion.” That is to say: by removing from our view of God every inadequate concept. This is what the Hindus call neti neti, saying of the Brahman, of the supreme reality: “It is not this, it is not this.”
But this intellectual operation of destroying concepts must go hand in hand with a, shall we call it, psychological operation which is ceasing to cling to any image whatsoever, or simply ceasing to cling. Now, why? Well, because there’s no need to. There’s no need to cling. Because when you were born you were kicked off a precipice. And it was a big explosion, and a lot of other things are falling down with you, including some pretty large lumps of rock. One of them’s called the Earth. And it won’t help you to cling to the rocks when you’re falling off the precipice. It may give you an illusion of safety. But everything is falling. It’s falling apart. That’s what the ancients said: “All is transient.” Panta rhei: “all flows,” in the words of Heraclitus. And you can cling to anything. It’s like grabbing a smoke with a nonexistent hand. That’s all that clinging will ever achieve. All it does is make people anxious.
So when you come to the realization that you cannot cling of anything, that there is nothing to cling to, there transpires an inner change of consciousness which we can call either faith or letting go. And then suddenly the thing hits you. In Sanskrit they put it this way: tat tvam asi. It means literally “that art thou,” or as we would say: “you’re it.” And if you are God, then you can’t have an idea of God any more than you can chew your own teeth. You don’t need one. The sun doesn’t need to shine on itself. Knives don’t need to cut themselves. Your eyes don’t need to look at themselves. What color is your head to your eyes? It isn’t black, is it? Can’t see anything. Matter of fact, the way it feels inside your head is what you call what it looks like outside. All these things you see outside are states of the nervous system in the brain. That’s how it feels, that’s how it looks inside the head. Only, you said, “Well, I thought that was what was outside.” True.
Same way when the Zen master suddenly discovered that carrying the pail with water is it was a miracle. He discovered that. He realized there isn’t anything except God. And boy, if you really know that, you see, you don’t need to have a religion. But you can have one, because it’s a free world. I mean, if you want to try and express this in some way. And all religion is pure gravy after that. See? Any outward manifestation of religion. You know, it’s like a man with lots of money making some more. Only, it’s quite unnecessary.
But so, according to the very best theologians, it was never necessary for God to create the world. Didn’t add anything to him. He didn’t have to do it. He was under no compulsion. So he did it out of what Dionysius the Areopagite calls [???]. Or we would anglicize it hyper-[???], “super fullness.” In other words: for kicks. I mean, you know, we don’t like using that language, but it’s completely contemporary and exactly right. That’s what the Bible says, only it puts it in a more sedate way. It says, “His Majesty did it for his pleasure.” Well, that’s the way you talk about somebody who’s the king. As Queen Victoria said, you know: “We are not amused!”
And it says in the Book of the Proverbs that where the divine wisdom speaks—and speaks, you see, as an attribute of God standing aside from God; sort of primitive polytheism—and wisdom says that, “In the beginning of the world, her delight was to play before the divine presence, and especially to play with the sons of men.” The word, in Hebrew, is “play,” but in the King James translation it is “rejoice,” because that is a more sedate word than “play.” You may rejoice in church but not play. You may not have fun in church, but you may rejoice. See the difference?
So then, the point of the matter is, then: there was no reason to make the world, and it was done for making celestial whoopee. That’s why the angels a laughing. They’re just splitting their sides. Only, when you hear it in church, everybody’s forgotten what Alleluia means. It’s lalling. Don’t you see? Alleluia! Hallelujah! It’s like blwee blweddle blwweee blwoo, you know? It’s just verbal. And it’s like birdsong. Birdsong isn’t about anything, it’s just for kicks. Why do you sing? Why do you like dancing? What’s music for? That’s what this Hallelujah is.
So when nothing is being clung to, when one gets to that point, everything blows up. This is what’s meant by satori in Zen: “sudden awakening.” And you suddenly see: good heavens, what was I making all that fuss about? Because here we are. It’s what we’ve been looking for all the time. It’s right here! And that’s the thing. And you realize that you, basically, through and through, are all this. Only, you got into a kind of a funny illusion.
I think we get into that illusion in rather a complicated way through our upbringing as children. Because many little children know from the beginning what it’s all about, only they haven’t got words to put it in. See, that’s the whole problem child psychology: what the child psychologist is ideally looking for is an articulate baby who can explain what it’s like to be a baby, you know? Never get there. By the time you teach—by teaching the child to speak, you mess it up. You give it this language, and you can think big thoughts like that with this funny limited language. Especially with the words they start children out with. And then, finally, when they’ve got the poor thing completely hypnotized, they tell it the most preposterous things. They tell it that it must be free. They say to you: “You, child, are an independent agent, and you’re responsible.” See? “Now, therefore, we command you to love us.” And, in other words, we require that you do something which will please us only if you do it voluntarily. Yeah! Do you want people who are mixed up?
But I’m afraid, you see, that the new theology isn’t on to this. The new theology really is serious about there not being any God, and that the universe is therefore… pffft… a rather pitiful predicament in which we’re caught, has some compensations. But all this is a continuation of the 19th century philosophy, the fully automatic model, which is that it is an essentially stupid universe. It’s a mechanism. It is a gyration of blind energy in which human intelligence and values happens to be a fluke, and a rather uncomfortable one. Because nature doesn’t give a damn about us. And so we have to fight it. Now, all that is pure mythology, it is grossly unscientific. But most people believe. It’s common sense for today.
But what an opportunity, though, there is in the new theology, and in this whole ferment going on, to get them to see this other point of view and realize that, when you get rid of God, all you are doing is: you’re destroying an idol. And all idols must be destroyed respectfully. Not like those wretched Puritans, who went around destroying all the saints figures and the stained glass in the medieval churches. That was disrespectful iconoclasm. Respectful iconoclasm would be, for example, every Easter Sunday the Bible should be ceremoniously burned. Because if Jesus is truly risen from the dead, you don’t need the Bible anymore. He’s around! Available. You don’t need the books. Burn it up ceremoniously with great respect! Because certainly, God doesn’t take himself seriously. If he did, I shudder to think what would happen.