I suppose most of you have heard of Zen. But before going on to explain any details about it I want to make one thing absolutely clear: I am not a Zen Buddhist, I am not advocating Zen Buddhism, I’m not trying to convert anyone to it. I have nothing to sell. I’m an entertainer. That is to say, in the same sense that, when you go to a concert and you listen to someone play Mozart, he has nothing to sell except the sound of the music. He doesn’t want to convert you to anything, he doesn’t want you to join an organization in favor of Mozart’s music as opposed to, say, Beethoven’s. And I approach you in the same spirit as a musician with his piano or violinist with his violin: I just want you to enjoy a point of view which I enjoy.
Now then, when that’s been said—and I hope it’s put your minds at rest—let me give you, first of all, some simple historical information. Zen is a form of Buddhism. It originated in China about 500 A.D., and about 1200 A.D. it migrated to Japan, where it exists today. And it is a form, it’s a way of life, that has had an immense influence on the arts, and on the culture, the poetry, and architecture of the Far East. It has lately become of enormous interest to many people in other parts of the world.
Now, normally, when one talks about Buddhism—and Zen is a form of Buddhism—it is supposed that you’re talking about a religion. And people are apt to classify themselves as Buddhists as they might say, “I am a Catholic”—or a Methodist, or a Baptist, or an Episcopalian, or a Jew. But that is rather misleading. Buddhism is not a religion in that sense. If we want to find an equivalent to Buddhism in our society today, in the West, probably the nearest thing to it is psychotherapy. When a person goes to a psychiatry or psychoanalyst to work out a serious personal problem—not because he’s just nutty. I mean, not necessarily because he has hallucination or excessive singing in the ears with no clear physical origin. But when a person feels that his whole life is somehow disoriented and wrong, and he doesn’t go to the preacher, because the preacher only moralizes to him and says, “My man, you should have more faith in God,” or something. So he goes instead to a doctor. Because in our day, a man with a tag of science on him has more prestige than a man who has the tag of religion. And so, when psychiatrist goes to work on you, his objective is more or less to change your state of consciousness. That is to say, if your state of consciousness, your state of mind, is one of being day after day constantly depressed, the objective of going to a psychiatrist or a psychotherapist is to have your state of consciousness changed to one of happiness.
Now, in a somewhat similar way, the objective of Buddhism in all its forms is to bring about a fundamental change in a human being’s everyday state of consciousness. If I make it yet more specific, it’s to bring about a change in your sense of personal identity—that is to say, in your sensation of who and what you are. And in this way, Buddhism (which I suppose you know) is a method of changing consciousness discovered or invented by a man called Gautama, who lived in India shortly after 600 B.C., who was given the title “Buddha” because the word means “the awakened one:” “the man who woke up.” And therefore, that very title suggests that ordinary people are asleep. I remember a very wise man who used to give lectures like this, and when he came in he used to be silent and he’d look at the audience. And he’d gaze at everybody in the audience particularly for a long time, and everybody would begin feeling vaguely embarrassed. And when he’d gazed at them for a long time he’d say, “Wake up! You’re all asleep! And if you don’t wake up I won’t give any lecture.”
Now, in what sense are we asleep? The Buddhist would say that almost all human beings have a phony sense of identity. A delusion, a hallucination, as to who they are. I’m terribly interested in this problem of identity and I try and find out what people mean when they say the word “I.” I think this is one of the most fascinating questions. Who do you think you are? Now, what seems to develop is this: most people think that “I” is a center of sensitivity somewhere inside their skin. And the majority of people feel that it’s in their heads. Civilizations in different periods of history have differed about this. Some people feel that they exist in the solar plexus, other people feel that they exist about here [the heart], but in American culture today (or in the Western culture in general) most people feel that they exist in here [the head]. And there is, as it were, a little man sitting inside the center of the skull. And he has a television screen in front of him which gives him all messages from the eyeballs. He has earphones on, and that gives him all messages from the ears. And he has in front of him a control panel with various dials and buttons and things, which enable him to influence the arms and legs, and to get all sorts of information from the nerve ends. And that’s “you.”
So we say in popular speech, “I have a body.” Not, “I am a body,” but “I have one,” because I am the owner of the body in the same way as I own an automobile. And I can take the automobile to the mechanic and, occasionally, in the same way, I have to take my body to the mechanic—the surgeon, the dentist, the doctor—and have it repaired. But it belongs to me. It goes along with me; I’m in it. I mean, a child, for example, can ask mother, “Mom, who would I have been if my father had been someone else?” And that seems a perfectly simple and logical question for a child to ask because of the presumption that your parents gave you your body, and you were popped into it (maybe at the moment of conception, or maybe at the moment of birth) from a repository of souls in heaven, and your parents simply provided the physical vehicle. So that age-long idea that is indigenous, especially to the Western world, is that I am something inside a body, and I am not quite sure whether I am or am not my body. Some doubt about it. I say, “I think,” “I walk,” “I talk,” but I don’t say, “I beat my heart.” I don’t say, “I shape my bones.” I don’t say, “I grow my hair.” I feel that my heart beating, my hair growing, my bone shaping, is something that happens to me—and I don’t know how it’s done. But other things I do. And next, I feel quite surely that everything outside my body is quite definitely not me. There are two kinds of things outside my body. Number one is other people. And they’re the same sort of thing as I am. But also they’re all little men locked up inside their skins. And they’re intelligent, they have feelings, and values, and are capable of love and virtue. Number two is the world that’s non-human that we call nature. And that’s stupid. It has no mind. It has emotions, maybe, in animals, but on the whole it’s a pretty grim business. Dog eat dog. And when it gets to the geological level it’s as dumb as dumb can be. It’s a mechanism, and there’s an awful lot of it. And that’s what we live in the middle of. And the purpose of being human is, we feel, to subjugate nature: to make it obey our will. And we arrived here. We don’t feel that we belong in this world. It’s foreign to us. In the words of the poet Housman: “I, a stranger and afraid in a world I never made.”
And so all around us today we see the signs of man’s battle with nature. I’m living at the moment in a marvelous house in the Hollywood Hills. And we’re overlooking a lake. And on the other side of the lake the whole hill has suddenly been interrupted with a ghastly gash where they have made level lots for building tract homes of the kind you would build on a flat plain. This is called the conquest of nature. These houses will eventually fall down the hill, because they are causing soil erosion and they’re being maximally stupid. The proper way to build a house on a hillside is to do it in such a way as to affect the minimum interference with the nature of the hill. After all, the whole point of living in the hills is to live in the hills! There’s no point in converting the hills into something flat and then going and living there. You can do that already on the ground. So, the more people live in the hills, the more they spoil the hills, and they’re just the same as people living on the flat ground. I mean, how stupid can you get? Well, anyway, that this is one of the symptoms of a phony sense of identity: of our phony feeling that we are something lonely, locked up in a bag of skin, confronted with a world—an external, alien, foreign world—that is not me.
Now, according to a certain of these great ancient philosophies, like Buddhism, this sensation of being a separate, lonely individual is a hallucination. It’s a hallucination brought about by various causes—the way we are brought up being the chief of them, of course. I remember, as a child—and you probably have very similar memories to mine—that all our parents were desperately interested in identifying us. Don’t you remember that, sometimes, you went out and played with other children, and there was someone in the group of other children you admired and looked up to, and you came home imitating the mannerisms of that other child? And your mother said to you, “Johnny, Johnny, that’s not you, that’s Peter.” And you felt a little bit ashamed, because somehow you let her down. She wanted you to be you, her child, and not Mrs. Jones’s child, Peter.
And so, in many ways we’re all taught this. For example, the main thing that we’re all taught in childhood is that you must do that which will only be appreciated if you do it voluntarily. “Now, darling, a dutiful child must love its mother. But, now, I don’t want you to do it because I say so, but because you really want to.” Or, “You must be free.” See, this comes into politics. Everybody must vote. You see—imagine: you are members of a democracy, and you must be members of a democracy. See? You’re ordered to. Crazy! Also, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.” Is that a commandment or a joke? You know, if you suggest that the Lord is joking, most people in our culture are offended because they have a very moronic conception of God as a person totally devoid of humor. But the Lord is highly capable of joking, because joking is one of the most constructive things you can do. So when you are told who you are and that you must be free—furthermore, that you must survive, and you must go on living, and that becomes a kind of compulsion—you get mixed up. It’s very simple. Of course you get mixed up if you think you must do something which will only be the thing required of you if you do it freely. These are the sort of influences, then, that cause human beings all over the world to feel isolated. To feel that they are centers of awareness locked up in bags of skin.
Now, this sensation of our identity can be shown and demonstrated to be false by some of the disciplines of our own science. When we describe a human being or any other living organism from a scientific point of view, all that means is that we are describing it carefully. We’re going to describe very carefully what a human being is and what a human being does—alright. And we find that, as we go on with that description, we can’t describe the human being without describing the environment. We can’t say what a human being is doing without also saying what the world around him is doing. Just imagine for a moment that you couldn’t see anything up here except me. You couldn’t see the curtains behind me, you couldn’t see the stage, you couldn’t see the microphone. You could only see me. That was all you could see. What would you be looking at? You wouldn’t see me at all. Because you wouldn’t see my edges. And my edges are rather important for seeing me. My edges would be identical with the edge of your eyesight; with that vague oval curve which is the field of vision. And what you would be looking at would be my necktie, my nose, my eyes, and so on, but you wouldn’t see my edges. So you’d be confronted with a very strange monster, and you wouldn’t know it was a human being. Because to see me you need to see my background. And therein lies a clue of which we are mostly ignorant.
In Buddhist theory the cause of our phony sense of identity is called avidyā, and that means “ignorance”—although it’s better to pronounce it “ignore-ance.” Having a deluded sense of identity is the result of ignoring certain things. So when you look at me and I manage—by behaving up here in a kind of a more or less interesting way—I cause you to ignore my background because I concentrate attention on me. Just like a conjurer, stage magician, in order to perform his tricks, misdirects your attention. He talks to you about something he’s doing here, and he talks to you about his fingers and how empty they are, and he can pulls something out of his pocket in plain sight and you don’t notice it. And so magic happens. That’s ignore-ance. Selective attention. Focusing your consciousness on one thing to the exclusion of many other things. So, in this way, we concentrate on the things, the figures, and we ignore—we don’t concentrate on the background. And so we come to think that the figure exists independently of the background. But actually, they go together. And they go together just as inseparably as backs go with fronts, as positives go with negatives, as ups go with downs, and as life goes with death. You can’t separate it.
So there’s a sort of secret conspiracy between the figure and the background. They are really one, but they look different. They need each other, just as male needs female and vice versa. But we are ordinarily completely unaware of this. So then, when the scientist starts paying attention to behavior of people and things carefully, he discovers that they go together; that the behavior of the organism is inseparable from the behavior of its environment. So, you see, if I’m to describe what I am doing—what am I doing? Am I just waving my legs back and forth? No. I’m walking. And in order to speak about walking you have to speak about the space in which I am walking: about the floor, about the direction, left or right, in relation to what kind of room, what kind of stage, what kind of situation. Because if—obviously—if there isn’t a ground underneath me, I can’t very well walk. So the description of what I am doing involves the description of the world. And so the biologist comes to say that what he is describing is no longer merely the organism and its behavior, he is describing a field which he now calls the organism-environment. And that field is what the individual actually is.
Now, this is very clearly recognized in all sorts of sciences, but the average individual—and indeed, the average scientist—does not feel in a way that corresponds to his theory. He still feels as if he were a center of sensitivity locked up inside a bag of skin. The object of Buddhist discipline (or methods of psychological training) is, as it were, to turn that feeling inside out; to bring about a state of affairs in which the individual feels himself to be everything that there is. The whole cosmos, focused, expressing itself, here, and you as the whole cosmos expressing itself there, and there, and there, and there, and there, and so on. That what, in other words, the reality of myself fundamentally is not something inside my skin, but everything—and I mean everything—outside my skin, but doing what is my skin and inside it. I mean, imagine that every one of us—look, in the same way that the sea, when the ocean has a wave on it, the wave is not separate from the ocean, is it? Every wave on the ocean is the whole ocean waving. The ocean waves, and it says, “Yoo-hoo! I’m here.” See? But I can wave all over the place. I can wave in many different ways. I can wave this way or make my wave that way. So the ocean of being waves every one of us, and we are its waves. But the wave is fundamentally the ocean.
Now, in that way, your sense of identity would be turned inside out. You wouldn’t forget who you were, you wouldn’t forget your name and address, your telephone number, your social security number, and what sort of role you’re supposed to occupy in society. But you would know that this particular role that you play, this particular personality that you are, is superficial. And the real you is all that there is. And that inversion, turning upside down, of the sense of identity, of the state of consciousness which the average person has, is the objective of Buddhistic disciplines.
The method of teaching something in Buddhism is rather different from methods of teaching which we use in the Western world. In the Western world, a good teacher is regarded as someone who makes the subject matter easy for the student; a person who explains things cleverly and clearly, so you can take a course in mathematics without tears. In the Oriental world they have an almost exactly opposite conception, and that is that a good teacher is a person who makes you find out something for yourself. In other words: learn to swim by throwing the baby into the water. There’s a story used in Zen about how a burglar taught his child to burgle. He took him one night on a burgling expedition, and locked him up in a chest in the house that he was burgling and left him. And the poor little boy was all alone locked up in the chest, and he began to think, “How on earth am I going to get out?” So he suddenly called out, “Fire! Fire!” And everybody began running all over the place,and they heard the shriek coming from inside the chest, and they unlocked it, and he rushed out and shot out into the garden. And everybody was in hot pursuit calling out, “Thief! Thief!” and he went by a well, he picked up a rock and dropped it in the well. And everybody thought the poor fellow has jumped into the well and committed suicide. And he got away, and got home, and his father said, “Congratulations, you have learned the art!” So, do you see? William Blake once said, “A fool who persists in his folly will become wise.” And so the method of teaching used by these great Eastern teachers is to make fools persist in their folly—but very rigorously and very consistently and very hard.
So then, if I may now—having given you the analogy, the image—let’s go to the specific situation. Supposing you want to study Buddhism under a Zen master. What will happen to you? Well, first of all, let’s ask the question: why would you want to do this, anyway? I mean, I can make the situation fairly universal> It might not be a Zen master that you go to, it might be a Methodist minister, it might be a Catholic priest, it might be a psychoanalyst. But: what’s the matter with you? Why do you go? And surely, the reason that we all would be seekers is that we feel some disquiet about ourselves. Many of us want to get rid of ourselves. We can’t stand ourselves. And so we watch television, and go to the movies, and read mystery stories, and join churches in order to forget ourselves; in order to merge with something greater than ourselves. We want to get away from this ridiculous thing locked up in a bag of skin. So I have a problem. I hurt. I suffer. I’m neurotic—or whatever it is, and I go to the teacher and say, “My problem’s me. Change me.”
Now, if you go to a Zen teacher he’ll say, “Well, I have nothing to teach. There is no problem. Everything’s perfectly clear.” And you think that one over. And you say, “He’s probably being cagey. But he’s testing me out to see if I really want to be his student.” So I know, according to everybody else who’s been through this, that in order to get this man to take me on I must persist. Do you know our saying “anybody who goes to a psychologist ought to have his head examined?” There’s a double take in that saying, you see? So, in the same way, anybody who goes with a spiritual problem to a Zen master defines himself as a nut, and the teacher does everything possible to make him as nutty as possible. But the teacher says, “Quite honestly, I haven’t anything to tell you! I don’t teach anything, I have no doctrine.” As I said to you in the beginning of this talk: “I have nothing whatsoever to sell you.” So the student thinks, “My! This is very deep!” Because this “nothing” that he’s talking about, this “nothing” that he teaches, is what they call, in Buddhism, śūnyatā. Śūnyatā is Sanskrit for “nothingness,” and it’s supposed to be the ultimate reality. But, as you know if you know anything about these doctrines, this doesn’t mean real nothingness—not kind of just nothing there at all, not just blank—but it means “no-thing-ness.” It’s the transcendental reality behind all separate and individual things, and that’s something very deep and profound. So he knows that, when the teacher said, “I have nothing to teach,” he meant this very esoteric “no-thing.” Well, he might also say, then, “If you have nothing to teach, what are all these students doing around here?” And the teacher says, “They are not doing anything. They’re just a lot of stupid people who live here.” And he knows again, you see, this “stupid” doesn’t mean just straight stupid, but the higher stupidity of people who are humble and don’t have intellectual pride.
So finally, the student—having gone out of his way to define himself as a damn fool in need of help—he’s absolutely worked himself into this situation. He’s defined himself as a nut. And then the teacher accepts him. And the teacher says, “Now, I’m going to ask you a question. I want to know who you are before your father and mother conceived you.” That is to say, you’ve come to me with a problem. And you said, “I have a problem. I want to get one up on this universe.” Now, who is it that wants to get one up? I mean, who are you? Who is this thing called your “ego,” your “soul,” your “I,” your “identity,” for whom your parents provided the body? Show me that. And he says further, “I’m from Missouri, and I don’t want any words. I want to be shown.” So the student may open his mouth to make an answer, but the teacher says, “Nu-uh. Not yet. You’re not ready.” And he takes him back and introduces him to the chief student—all those so-called Zen monks who live together—and the chief student says, “Now, what we do here is so and so. We have this discipline. But the main part of the discipline is meditation. And we all sit cross-legged in a row, and we do that.” And you sit cross-legged and you learn how to breathe and be still—in other words: to do nothing. But you mustn’t go to sleep, and you mustn’t get into a trance. You have to stay wide awake, not thinking anything, but perfectly doing nothing. And there’s a monk walking down all the time with a flat stick—rather long; about so long—and if you go to sleep, or if you get into a trance, or if you get dreamy, he hits you on the back so that you’ll stay quite clear and wide awake, but still doing nothing. And the idea is that, out of the state of profoundly doing nothing, you will be able to tell the teacher who you really are.
In other words, the question, “Who are you before your father and mother conceived you?” is a request for an act of perfect sincerity and spontaneity, as if I were to say to you, “Look, will you be absolutely genuine with me? No deception, please. I want you to do something that expresses ‘you’ without the slightest deception. No more role acting, no more playing games with me. I want to see you.” Now, imagine! Could you really be that honest with somebody else—especially a spiritual teacher? And, you know, he looks right through you: he sees all your secret thoughts, and he knows the very second when you’ve been a little bit phony. And that bugs you. Just like a psychiatrist. You’re sitting in there, discussing your problems with him, and you start picking your nose. And the psychiatry suddenly says to you, “Is your finger comfortable there? You like that?” And you know your Freudian slip is showing! What do fingers symbolize? What do nostrils symbolize? Uh-oh! Uh-oh! And then you quickly put your hand down in a sort of… and you say, “Oh no, it’s nothing. It’s nothing. I was just picking my nose.” And the analyst says, “Oh really? Then why are you justifying it? Why are you trying to explain it away?” He has you everywhere you turn, you see? Well, that’s the whole art of psychoanalysis. And it’s Zen. It’s the same thing.
In other words, when you’re challenged to be perfectly genuine, it’s like saying to a child, “Now, darling, come out here and play. Don’t be self-conscious.” Or it’s like I would say to you, “Now, look, if you come here tonight at exactly midnight and put your hands on this stage, you can wish and have granted any wish you want to—provided you don’t think of a green elephant.” And so everybody will come, they’ll put their hands here, and they will be very careful not to think about a green elephant. Well, now, do you see the point? That everybody—if we transfer this to the dimension of spirituality where the highest ideal is to be unselfish, to let go of one’s self—when you are trying to be unselfish, you’re doing it for a selfish reason. You can’t be unselfish by a decision of the will any more than you can decide not to think of a green elephant! There is a story about Confucius, who one day met Lao Tzu, who was a great Chinese philosopher. And Lao Tzu said, “Sir, what is your system?” And Confucius said, “It is charity, and love of one’s neighbor, and elimination of self-interest.” Lao Tzu said, “Stuff and nonsense! Your elimination of self is a positive manifestation of self. Look at the universe: the stars keep their order, the trees and plants grow up words without exception, the waters flow. Be like this. All your nonsense about elimination of self is like beating a drum in search of a fugitive.”
So, in this way, these are all examples of the thing, the trickery, the master is playing on you. You came to him with the idea in your mind that you are a separate, independent, isolated individual. And what he is simply saying to you is: show me this individual. I had a friend who was studying Zen in Japan, and he got pretty desperate to produce the answer of who he really is. And on his way to an interview with the master to give an answer to the problem he noticed a very common sight in Japan: a big bullfrog sitting around in the garden. And he swooped this bullfrog up in his hand and dropped it in the sleeve of his kimono. And then he went to the master. And to give the answer of who he was he suddenly produced the bullfrog. And the Master said, “Nu-uh. Too intellectual.” In other words: this answer is too contrived, it’s too much like Zen. You’ve been reading too many books. It’s not the genuine thing.
So, after a while, you see, what happens is this: when the student finds that there is absolutely no way of being his true self—not only is there no way of doing it, there is also no way of doing it by not doing it; you can’t do it by doing something, you can’t do it by not doing something. Let me, to make this clearer, put it into Christian terms: thou shalt love the Lord thy God. Now what are you going to do about that? If you try very hard to love God and you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” you find out you’re doing it because you want to be on the side of the big battalions. You want to be right! After all, the Lord is the master of the universe, isn’t he? And if you don’t love him, you’re going to be in a pretty sad state. So you realize: “I’m loving him just because I’m afraid of what’ll happen to me if I don’t.” And then you think, “That’s pretty lousy love, isn’t it?” And you think, “That’s a bad motivation! I wish I could change that. I wish I could love the Lord out of a genuine heart.” Well, why do you want to change? Nu-uh. See? I realize that the reason I want to have a different kind of motive is that I’ve got the same motive. So I say, “Oh, heaven’s sakes! God, I’m a mess! Will you help me out?” And then he reminds you: “Why are you doing that? Now you’re just giving up, aren’t you? You’re asking someone else to take over your problem.” So you suddenly find, you see: you’re stuck.
So, in this way, what is called the Zen problem—or kōan—is likened to a person who swallowed a ball of red hot iron: he can’t gulp it down and he can’t spit it out. Or it’s like a mosquito biting an iron bull: it’s the nature of a mosquito to bite, and it’s the nature of an iron bull to be unbiteable, and both go on doing their thing that is their nature. And so nothing can happen. And you realize absolutely you are up against it. Absolutely no answer to this problem! No way out. Now, what does that mean? If I can’t do the right thing by doing, and if I can’t do the right thing by not doing, what does it mean? It means, of course, that “I” (who is said to do all this) am a hallucination. There is no independent self to be produced. There is no way at all of showing it, because it isn’t there. So you recover from the illusion, and you suddenly wake up and think, “Oh! What a relief!” And they call that satori. That’s awakening; the first step in awakening.
Let me try and translate this. When this kind of experience happens, you discover that what you are is no longer this sort of isolated center of action and experience locked up in your skin. The teacher has asked you to produce that thing, to show it to him genuine and naked, and you couldn’t find it. So it isn’t there! And when you see clearly that it isn’t there, you have a new sense of identity. And you realize that what you are is, as I said, the whole world of nature doing this.
Now that’s a difficult thing for many Western people, because it suggests to them a kind of fatalism. It suggests that the individual is nothing more than the puppet of cosmic forces. So, in the same way, when your own inner sense of identity changes from being “the separate individual” to being “what the entire cosmos is doing at this place,” you become not a puppet, but more truly and more expressively an individual than ever. This is the same paradox which the Christian knows in the form, “Whosoever would save his soul shall lose it.”
Now, I think that this is something of very great importance to the Western world today, because we have developed an immensely powerful technology. We have stronger means of changing the physical universe than has ever existed before. How are we going to use it? There is a Chinese proverb: “If the wrong man uses the right means, the right means work in the wrong way.” Let us assume that our technological knowledge is the right means. What kind of people are going to use this knowledge? Are they going to be people who hate nature and feel alienated from it, or people who love the physical world and feel that the physical world is their own personal body? An extension: the whole physical universe, right out to the galaxies, is simply one’s extended body. Now at the moment, the general attitude of our technologists who are exploring space is represented in the term “the conquest of space.” And they are building enormous shell-like, phallic objects to go pooowww into the sky. And this is downright ridiculous, because who is going to get anywhere in a rocket? You know? It takes a terrible long time even to get to the moon. And it’s going to take longer than anybody can live to get outside the solar system just to begin with. The proper way to study space is not with rockets, but with radio astronomy. Instead of going bang—you know, with a tough fist at the sky—become more sensitive. Develop subtler senses: that’s radio astronomy. And everything will come to you. Be more open, be more receptive, and eventually you will develop an instrument that will examine a piece of rock on Mars with greater care than you could if you were holding it in your own hand. Let it come to you.
But, you see, this whole attitude of using technology as a method of fighting the world will succeed only in destroying the world, as we are doing with absurd and uninformed and shortsighted methods of getting rid of insect pests, of forcing our fruit and tomatoes to grow, of stripping our hills of trees, and so on, and so on, thinking that all this is some kind of progress when actually it is turning everything into a junk heap. It is said, you know, that Americans (who are in the forefront of technological progress) are materialists. Nothing is further from the truth. American culture is dedicated to the hatred of material and to its transformation into junk. Look at Los Angeles! Does it look as if it was made by people who loved material? It’s all made out of ticky-tacky, which is a combination of plaster of paris, paper maché, and plastic glue, and comes in any flavor. The important lesson, in other words, is: technology and its powers must be handled by true materialists, and true materialists are people who love material; who cherish wood and stone and wheat and eggs and animals, and above all the Earth, and treat it with a reverence that is due to one’s own body.