00:06

I want to start by giving (what may be to many of you) a new definition of the word “myth.” As normally used, the word “myth” means an idle tale, a fable, a falsehood, or an idea that is out of date, something untrue. But there is another, older, and stricter use of the word “myth,” whereby it doesn’t mean something untrue, but it means an image in terms of which people make sense of life and of the world.

00:49

Supposing, for example, you don’t understand the technicalities of electricity, and somebody wants to explain it to you—he wants to explain about the flow of currents—well, to do that he compares electricity to water. And because you understand water, you may get some idea about the behavior of electricity. Or, if an astronomer wants to explain to you what he means by “expanding space,” he’ll use the metaphor of a balloon: a black balloon with white spots on it. The white spots represent the galaxies. And then, if you blow up the balloon, they all get farther away from each other at the same speed as the balloon blows up. In neither case are we saying that electricity is water, or that the universe is a balloon with white spots on it. We are saying it’s something like it.

01:43

And so, in the same way, the human being has always used images to represent his deepest ideas of how the universe works, and what man’s place in it is. And tonight I’m going to discuss certain aspects of two of the greatest myths, in this sense of the word, which have influenced mankind’s thinking. First of all, the myth of the universe as an artifact, as something made—as a carpenter makes tables, chairs, and houses, or as a potter makes pots, or as a sculptor makes figurines—and on the other hand the image of the world as a drama in which all the things in the world are not made, but acted—in the same way as a player acts parts. For these are the two great images which govern, respectively, the religions of the West descending from Hebraism (that is to say, Hebraism itself, Christianity, and Islam), and on the other hand the myth which governs those religions which have had their origin in India (most particularly Hinduism itself, and to a lesser extent, Buddhism).

03:18

And I want to make it perfectly plain before I go any further that, in talking about these two great religious traditions in terms of images, I am talking about the way they express themselves at a rather popular level. Sophisticated Christians and sophisticated Hindus think beyond images. For example, a Christian may think of God as the father, but a sophisticated and educated Christian does not imagine that God is a cosmic male parent with a white beard sitting on a golden throne above the stars. Nor does a Hindu imagine literally that God is the super showman, the big actor. These images are what it is like, not what it is. And perhaps, when I get through with discussing them, we’ll be able to ask the question as to whether any of these images still make sense to us in this 20th century when we have a view of the world so powerfully shaped by Western science.

04:33

Now, let me begin, then, with a few things about the image of the world—and thus the image of man—as it comes to us from the Hebrew Bible. It’s said in the Book of Genesis that the Lord God created man out of the dust of the Earth, as if he had made of Adam a clay figure. And then he blew the breath of life into its nostrils, and the figurine became alive. And it said that the figurine was made in the image of God. For God—who is conceived in this particular image as personal, as a living, intelligent spirit—creates in man something like that. But you must note very definitely that this is a creation, as the potter makes a pot out of clay. For the creature that the Lord God has made is not God. The creature is something less than God; something like God but not God. And you will see some very interesting consequences follow from this idea of the world as an artifact.

06:04

What follows from it is that the whole universe is seen as a marvelous technical accomplishment. And if it is made, there must be an explanation of how it is made. And the whole history of Western thought has in many ways been an attempt to discover how the creator did it: what were the principles, what were the laws laid down? What, in other words, was the blueprint that underlies this creation? And this image has therefore persisted throughout Western history, and continues on into a time when very many people do not believe in Christianity, or Judaism, or Islam. They are, you might say, agnostics or atheists, but they still carry on something of this idea of the world as an artifact. If you are a Christian or a Jew, you believe that the world is the artifact, the creation, of the intelligent spirit called God. But if, in this culture, you are an atheist or an agnostic, you believe that the world is an automatic machine without a creator; something that made itself. We might say, then, that our original model of the universe was the ceramic model. And the Bible is full of references to God as the potter who makes the world out of obedient clay.

07:53

But then Western thinkers in the 18th century began to drop the idea of a personal God. They kept the idea of the artifact. And so we could say that, after the ceramic model of the universe, we got the fully automatic model. And still, you see, underlying our way of thinking about things is the question: how are they put together? And if you want to find out, one of the obvious ways to proceed is to take them to pieces. Everybody knows that if you want to find out how something is made, you unscrew the parts and see what the secret is inside the box. And so Western science, in its beginnings, took everything apart. It took animals apart, it took flowers apart, it took rocks apart. And then, when they got it reduced to its tiniest pieces, they tried to find methods of taking those apart, too, so that we could eventually discover what the very smallest small things were, and so know what building blocks the creator (or the fully automatic model) used in order to put it all together, hoping that that would lead us to an understanding of how life works.

09:12

Man himself in all this was looked upon as a creation; something made. Only: there were some difficulties about this, because if you believe in the world in accordance with the idea of the fully automatic model, you’ve really got to admit that man, too, is fully automatic. In other words, he’s a machine rather than a person. Man is something, in other words, that doffs its hat to you and says, “How do you do? I’m a person. I’m alive. I’m sensible. I talk, I have feelings.” But you wonder: do you really? Or are you just an automaton? Am I real, or am I just an automaton?

10:01

The general result of the Western image of man hasn’t been quite that. What it’s come down to, under the dispensation of the fully automatic model, is this: we are living beings, we’re very sensitive, and inside the human skin, by an extraordinary fluke of nature, there has arisen something called reason, and there have also arisen values such as love. But this was a fluke because it happened inside a fully automatic universe, which is stupid because it’s merely automatic. You won’t, in other words, find anything really intelligent outside human skins. And therefore, if that is so, the only thing that people can do if they want to maintain reason and love in this universe is to fight nature and beat the stupid, external world into submission to the human will.

11:11

And so the war against nature is the great project thus far of Western technology. Because, you see, each one of us—because we inherit from thousands of years of history a view of man as something made and almost of a sort of breath breathed into a pot of clay, or an image of clay—each one feels himself as a globule of consciousness (or mind) living inside a vehicle called my body. And since the world outside that body is stupid, we feel estranged from the world. When we find out how enormous the universe is, that makes us, as individuals, feel extremely unimportant and rather lonely.

12:19

Because, you see, we consider ourselves—our basic image of ourselves is of a soul, or an ego, or a mind, all by itself in its little house, looking out at a world that is strange and that is not me. I am therefore a brief interval of consciousness between the darkness and the darkness. And that isn’t too happy. I would like to be able to believe that is was more than that. “If I could,” so many of us say, “if I could only still believe that there is an intelligent and eternal God in whose eyes I am important, and who has the power to enable me to live forever, that would be very nice.” But for many people that’s an extraordinarily difficult thing to believe.

13:19

Now, I want to contrast this image of the world with another—what I call the dramatic image, as distinct from the image of the potter, or the ceramic image. And this will be the presiding image of Hinduism. Their idea is this: that God didn’t make the world like a technologist, but he acted it. That is to say, every person—and every thing, for that matter; every tree, every flower, every animal, every star, every rock, every grain of dust—is a role or part which the godhead is playing.

14:11

You must understand, of course, hat the Hindu image of God is a little bit different from the Jewish, the Christian, and the Islamic. When I was a little boy, I used to ask my mother interminable questions. And when she got sick of it, she said, “My dear, there are some things in this life that we’re just not meant to know.” Well, I said, “Will we ever know?” She said, “Yes, if you die and then go to heaven, God will explain it all.” And so I used to hope that, on wet afternoons in heaven, we would all be able to sit around the throne of grace and say to the Lord, “Why did you do this?” and “Why did you do that?” and He would explain.

14:56

Every child in the West asks his mother, “How was I made?” And nobody knows. But they know that, perhaps, somebody does, and that’ll be God. And he’ll be able to explain. Likewise, if anybody gets mentally deranged and claims to be God, we always humor such people by asking them technical questions: “How did you make the world in six days?” Or: “If you are God, why couldn’t you change this plate into a rabbit?” But that is because, in our popular image of God, God is the supreme technocrat. He knows all the answers, he understands everything in detail and could tell you all about it. But the Hindus don’t think of God that way. If you ask the Hindu God, “How did you create the human body?” he would say, “Look, I know how I did it, but it can’t be explained in words, because words are too clumsy. In words I have to talk about things slowly. I have to string them out, because words run in a line. And lines add up to books, and books add up to libraries. And if I explain to you how I made the human organism, it will take all eternity for me to tell you. Fortunately for me, I don’t have to understand things in words in order to make them happen. Nor do you.” You don’t have to understand in words how you breathe—you just breathe. You don’t have to understand in words how to grow your hair, how to shape your bones, how to make your eyes blue or brown—you just do it. And somebody who does understand, to some extent—maybe physiologist—he can’t do it any better than you can.

17:00

So that, you see, is the Hindu idea of divine omnipotence. And that is why their images of the gods very often have many arms. You’ll often see the god Śiva with ten arms, or the Buddhist Avalokiteśvara with one thousand arms. And that is because their image of the divine is a sort of centipede. A centipede can move a hundred legs without having to think about it. So Śiva can move ten arms very dexterously without having to think about it. And you know what happened to the centipede when it stopped to think how to move a hundred legs? It got all balled up.

17:43

So, in this way, the Hindus do not think of God as being a technician in the sense of having a verbal or mathematical understanding of how the world is created. It’s done in a simpler way, just like that. Only, if we had to describe this simple way in words, it would be very complicated. But God, in their idea, doesn’t need to do so. But the remarkable difference is that the Hindu doesn’t see any fundamental division between God and the world. The world is God at play. The world is God acting. Now, how could you possibly arrive at such an idea? Very simply: when he tries to think why there is a world at all—because, if you think about it, it is extraordinarily odd that there is anything. It would have been much simpler and required a great deal less energy for there to have been nothing. But here it is. And why?

18:57

Well, what would you do if you were God? Or let me put it in a simpler way: supposing that every night you could dream any dream you wanted to dream. What would you do? Well, first of all, I’m quite sure that most of us would dream all the marvelous things we wanted to happen. We would fulfill all our wishes. And we might go on that way for months. Besides, you could make it extraordinarily rich by wishing to dream 75 years in one night full of glorious happenings. But after you had done that for a few months, you might begin to get a little tired of it. And you would say, “What about an adventure tonight in which something terribly exciting and rather dangerous is going to happen? But I’ll know I’m dreaming, so it won’t be too bad. And I’ll wake up if it gets too serious.” So you do that for a while. You rescue princesses in distress from dragons, and all sorts of things. And then, when you’ve done that for some time, you say, “Now, let’s go out a bit further. Let’s forget it’s a dream and have a real thrill!” Ooh! But you know you’ll wake up. And then, after you’ve done that for a while, you get more and more nerve until you sort of dare yourself as to how far out you can get. And you end up dreaming the sort of life you’re living now.

20:42

Now, why does one do that? Why would one do that? The reason—the Hindu would say—is that the basic pulse of life, the basic motivation of existence, is what we call the game of hide-and-seek: now you see it, now you don’t. You see, everything is based on that because all life is vibration, pulsing. Light is a pulsation of light/darkness. Sound is a pulsation of sound/silence. Everything is going da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da at various speeds. And in order to have, say—it’s like the motion of a wave. Now, a wave consists of two pulses: the crest and the trough. You can’t have crests without troughs, you can’t have troughs without crests. They always go together. You can’t have hide without seek, you can’t have seek without hide; just as, for example, you can’t have here without there, because if you didn’t know where there was, you wouldn’t know where here was. You can’t have is without isn’t, because yon don’t know what you mean by is unless you also know what you mean by isn’t, and vice versa. So, in that way, they think that hide-and-seek is the fundamental game. As if the lord God—the Brahman, as they call it—said in the beginning, “Get lost, man! Disappear, and I’ll find you again later.” And then, when, you know, the disappearance gets very far out, then the contrary rhythm begins and the dreamer wakes up, and finds out: whoo, that was a relief! And then, after a rest period—in which everything is, of course, at peace—it starts all over again, because the spirit of adventure springs eternal.

22:42

Now then, the Hindus had extremely vast ideas of space and time for their period in history. And they have the theory that the hiding-part of the game goes on for 4,320,000 years; a period called a kalpa in Sanskrit. And then the seek-part, that is to say—let me put it this way: the dreaming-part is followed by the waking-part. The dreaming is the hiding, where the Godhead imagines that it’s all of us. Then, for another 4,320,000 years, there’s a period of awakening. And then, at the end of that, again begins the dream.

23:33

Now, the dreaming period is further subdivided into four stages. The first stage is the longest and it’s the best. During that stage the dream is beautiful. The second stage is not quite so long, and it’s a little unsettling. There is an element of instability in it, a certain touch of insecurity. In the third stage—which is not, again, so long—the forces of light and the forces of darkness, of good and of evil, are equally balanced and things are beginning to look rather dangerous. And in the fourth stage, which is the shortest of them all, the negative, dark, or evil side triumphs, and the whole thing blows up in the end. But then, that’s like the bang in the dream—you know, when you get shot in a dream, and you wake up, and it was, after all, a dream. And so then there’s a waking period before the whole thing starts again. But you will notice, if you compute—I haven’t gone to the mathematics of it—but if you do, you will find out that in this drama the forces of the dark side are operative for one third of the time, the forces of the light side for two thirds of the time. And this is a very ingenious arrangement, because we are seeing here the fundamental principles of drama.

25:08

Consider drama: here is a stage, and over the stage, here, is what we call the proscenium arch, and out there is the audience. Now, you’re supposed to be in the world of reality. Let’s suppose this isn’t a lecture tonight, but a show. And you’ve come outside into the show, and you know you’re real people living in the real world, but you’re going to see a play which isn’t real. There are actors coming on the stage, but behind the scene here, they’re real people like you. But so that you don’t see them that way, they’re going to put on their costumes and their makeup, and then they’re going to come out in front here and pretend to various roles.

25:55

But, you know, you want to be half convinced that what they’re doing on the stage is real. And the work of a great actor is to get you sitting on the edge of your chair in anxiety, or weeping, or roaring with laughter, because he’s almost persuaded you that what is on the stage is really happening. That is the greatness of his art: to take the audience in. And of course, in the same way, the Hindu feels that the godhead acts his part so well that he takes himself in completely. So that each one of you is the godhead, wonderfully fooled by your own act and—although you won’t admit it to yourself—enjoying it like anything. Because you mustn’t admit it! That’d give the show away!

26:57

Now, it’s a funny thing: when you say, “I’m a person,” the word “person” is a word from the drama. You know, when you open a play, the script, you’ll see the list of the actors, and it’s called dramatis personae: the “persons of the drama.” And the word “person” in Latin is persona, that means “through sound.” “Something through which sound comes.” Because the persona (in Greco-Roman drama) was the mask worn by the actors, and because they acted on an open-air stage, the mouth was shaped like a small megaphone, and that would project the sound. So the person is the mask. Isn’t it funny, now, how we’ve forgotten that? And so Harry Emerson Fosdick could write a book called How to Be a Real Person, which—if translated literally—is: “how to be a genuine fake.” Because in the old sense, you see, the person is the role, the part played by the actor. But if you forget, you see, that you are the actor and think you’re the person, you’ve been taken in by your own role. You’re en-rolled, you’re bewitched, spellbound, enchanted.

28:37

So then, look at something else about the drama and its nature. In the drama there has to be a villain—unless, of course, you are acting some kind of a non-play which does not have any story. But all fundamental stories start out with the status quo where everybody’s sort of going along, and then something has to come in to upset everything. And the interest of the play is: how are we going to solve it? It’s the same when you play cards. Supposing you’re playing solitaire: you start by shuffling the deck, and that introduces chaos. And the game is to play order against chaos. So in the drama somebody has to be a villain and play the dark side, and then the hero plays against him. If you go to the theater for a good cry, then you let the villain win and you call it a tragedy. If you go for a thrill, you let the hero win. If you go for laughs, you call it a comedy. There are different arrangements, then, between the hero and the villain. But in all cases, when the curtain goes down at the end of the drama, the hero and the villain step out hand in hand and the audience applaud both. They don’t boo the villain at the end of the play, they applaud him for acting the part of the villain so well. And they applaud the hero for acting the part of the hero so well. Because they know that the hero role and the villain role are only masks.

30:19

And so, you see, behind the stage, too, there is the green room where, after the play is over and before it begins, the masks are taken off. The Hindus feel that, behind the scene—that is to say: in reality, under the surface—you are all the actor, marvelously skilled in playing many parts and in getting lost in the mazes of your own minds and the entanglements of your own affairs, as if this were the most urgent thing going. But behind the scenes, in the green room (you might say in the very back of your mind, in the very depths of your soul) you always have a very tiny sneaking suspicion that you might not be the you that you think you are. The Germans call it a Hintergedanke: a thought way, way back in your head that you will hardly admit to yourself. Because, of course, you’ve been brought up (most of you) you were brought up in the Hebrew-Christian tradition. It would be very wicked indeed to think that you were God. That would be blasphemy, and oh-oh-oh! Don’t you ever dare think such an idea! Which, of course, is all as it should be, because the show must go on—until, of course, the time does come to stop.

31:58

Now, you will see that this involves two quite different ways of dealing with the two fundamental questions. One: what is man—that is, who are you? And in the Hebrew-Christian answer, we more or less say, “Well, I’m me. I’m Alan Watts. I’m John Doe. I’m Mary Smith. And I firmly believe I am, because I really oughtn’t to think anything else, ought I?” And that “me” is a finite ego, or a finite mind—whatever that is. On the other hand, the Hindu will say that the real self—which he calls Ātman—is what there is. It’s the works, it’s the which than which there is no whicher. The root and ground of the universe and of reality.

33:03

The next problem where they differ so sharply is: well, why have things gone wrong? Why is there evil? Why is there pain? Why is there tragedy? Now, in the Christian tradition you have to attribute evil to something else besides God. There, God is defined as good, and he originally created the scheme of things without there being any evil in it. But there was a mysterious accident in which one of the angels, called Lucifer, didn’t do what he was told. There was the fall of Man. Man disobeyed, he went against the law of God. And from this point, evil was introduced into the scheme of things and things began to go wrong—that is to say, against the will of the perfectly good creator.

34:05

Now, the Hindu thinks in a different way. He feels that the creator, or the actor, is the author of both the good and the evil. For the reasons that I explained it to you, you have to have the evil for there to be a story. And in any case, it isn’t as if the creator had made evil and made someone else its victim. It isn’t like saying, “God creates the evil as well as the good, and poor little us are his puppets, and he inflicts evil upon us.” The Hindu says, “Nobody experiences pain except the godhead. You are not some separate little puppet which is being kicked around by omnipotence. You are omnipotence in disguise.” And so there is no victim of this; no helpless, defenseless, poor little thing. Even the baby with syphilis is the dreaming godhead.

35:14

Now, this makes people brought up in the West extremely uneasy, because it seems to undercut the foundations of moral behavior. They say, “If good and evil are created by God, isn’t this a universe in which just anything goes? I mean, if I am God in disguise, surely if I realize that, I can get away with murder!” Well, think it through. Didn’t I point out that in the game, as the Hindus analyze it, the evil part has one third of the time and the good part has two thirds? What sort of a game do you want, anyway? You will find out, you see, that all good games—games that are worth playing, that arouse our interest—are constructed like this: if you have the good and the evil equally balanced, the game is boring. Nothing happens, it’s stalemate. The irresistible force meets the immovable object. On the other hand, if it’s all good and there’s hardly any evil—maybe just a weeny little bit of a fly in the ointment—it also gets boring. Just in the same way, for example: supposing you knew the future and could control it perfectly. What would you do? You would say, “Let’s shuffle the deck and have another deal.” Because, for example, when great chess players sit down to a match and it suddenly becomes apparent to both of them that white is going to mate in sixteen moves and nothing can be done about it, they abandon the game and begin another. They don’t want to know. There wouldn’t be any “hide” in the game, any element of surprise, if they did know the outcome.

37:19

So a game with good and evil equally balanced isn’t a good game. A game with the positive or good forces clearly triumphant isn’t an interesting game. What we want is a game where it always seems that the good side is about to lose, in really serious danger of losing, but manages always to sneak out. You know how it is in serial stories, when they get the hero at the end of an installment in some absolutely impossible position, where it seems he’s going to be run over by a train because he’s tied with his girlfriend to the rails. And you know, somehow, in the next installment, the author is going to get them out of the difficulty—only, he mustn’t do it too obviously, because you won’t go on reading the next installment. So then, what’s necessary is a system in which the good side is always winning but never is the winner, where the evil side is always losing but never is the loser. That’s a very practical arrangement for a successful, ongoing game which will keep everybody interested.

38:39

And you must watch this in practical politics: every in-group (or group of nice people) needs an out-group of nasty people, otherwise they wouldn’t know who they were. And you must recognize, then, that this out-group is your necessary enemy, whom you need. He keeps you on your toes. But you mustn’t obliterate him. If you do, you are in a very dangerous state of affairs. So you have to love your enemies in this sense, regard them as highly necessary, and to be respected chivalrously. We need the communists and they need us. The thing is to cool it and play what I call a contained conflict. When conflicts get out of hand, all sides blow up. Oh, of course, I suppose then there’s another deal; maybe a million years later.

39:55

Now, let me see if I can for a moment put these two visions of the world together. It seems that, if you believe the Christian-Hebrew-Islamic view, that you can’t admit the Hindu view. Because if you’re a Christian, one thing you cannot believe—that’s if you, say, you’re at all orthodox; you’re an orthodox Protestant Bible type, or if you’re a Roman Catholic—you can’t believe that you are God. And so that excludes Hinduism, apparently. But let’s go back to Judaism for a minute and ask this question: if Judaism is the true religion, can Christianity be true, too? No. No, because there’s one thing in Christianity that the Jew can’t admit, and that was that Jesus Christ was God. That is unthinkable for a Jew; that any man was indeed God in the flesh. Alright, second question: if Christianity is the true religion, can Judaism be true, too? The answer is: yes. Because all Christians are Jews. That is to say, they have taken in the Jewish religion—lock, stock, and barrel in the Old Testament—into their own religion. Every Christian is a Jew, plus something else—which is his particular attitude to Jesus of Nazareth.

41:26

Now then, let’s play this game once again. If Christianity is true, can Hinduism be true? The answer is: no, for the reason we’ve seen: the Christians will say, “Jesus of Nazareth was God. But you aren’t, I’m not.” Now then, if Hinduism is true, can Christianity be true? The answer is: yes, because it can include it. But how? What would be the attitude of a Hindu to a very sincere and convinced Christian? He would say, “Bravo! Absolutely marvelous! What an act! Here, in this Christian soul, God is playing his most extraordinary game. He is believing and really feeling that he’s not himself. And not only that—but that he is living only one life, and in that life he’s got to make the most momentous decision imaginable. In the course of this four score years and ten, he’s got to choose between everlasting beatitude and everlasting horror. And he’s not quite sure how to do it.”

42:55

Because in Christianity there are two sins to be avoided, among others. One is called presumption, and that is knowing surely that you’re saved. The other is called despair, which is knowing surely that you’re damned. There’s always a margin of doubt about this. Work out your salvation in fear and trembling. So you might say that this is preeminently the gambler’s religion. Imagine, you know, at some great casino, late at night, there is some marvelous master gambler who has been winning, winning, winning all night. And then suddenly he decides to stake his whole winnings on whether the ball lands on red or black. Sensation! Everybody gathers from all over the casino to watch this terrific gamble. So, in the same way, the predicament in which the Christian soul finds itself is this colossal gamble, which is saying: this universe can possibly contain in it ultimate tragedy. There could be such a thing as an absolute, final, irremediable mistake. And what a horror that thought is! And so the Hindu is sitting in the audience, fascinated by this Christian’s extraordinary, reckless gamble. He says, “That’s a beautiful game!” The Christian doesn’t know it’s a game, but the Hindu suspects it is. And he’s a little bit admiring it, but not quite involved.

44:42

Now, you would say, perhaps: you ought to be involved. Give your whole self to this. Make an act of commitment! You know:

Once to every man and nation

Comes the moment to decide,

In the strife twixt truth and falsehood,

For the good or evil side.

Then it is the brave man chooses

While a coward stands aside.

et cetera. That sounds great, doesn’t it? Commitment! Stand up and be counted! It is a virtue—but on the other hand, you see another virtue: what we call being a good sport. If your enemy in the battle of life is to be regarded as an absolute enemy who is pure evil, black as black can be, you can’t be a good sport, and you can accord him no chivalry, no honors of battle. You’ve got to annihilate him by any means possible, fair or foul. That leads to some pretty sticky situations, especially when he has the means of annihilating you in just the same way.

45:53

But if, on the other hand, in all contests you know that while you’re going to take it seriously and regard it as very important, in the back of your mind—in that little Hintergedanke—you know it is not ultimately important; although very important. And this saves you. This enables you to be a good player. You may worry about the word “play” because we often use the word “play” in a trivial sense. “Oh, you’re just playing.” “You mean life is nothing but a game?” The Hindus indeed call the creation of the universe the līlā, or the game, or the play, of the divine. But we also use “play” in other senses.

46:46

When you see Hamlet—which is by no means trivial—you are still going to a play. In church the organist plays the organ. And in the Book of Proverbs it is written that the divine wisdom created the world by playing before the throne of God. Play also, you see, has a deep sense. When we say music, even the music of Bach, as a great master of what we call serious music, is still playing. And so in the deeper sense of play, the Hindu sees this world as play, and therefore that the intense situations—personally, socially, and so on—that we are all involved in are seen not as bad illusions, but as magnificent illusions; so well-acted that they’ve just about got most of the actors fooled. So that they’ve forgotten who they are. And man thinks of himself, when he’s been fooled, as a little creature that comes into this world, which is all strange and foreign, and he’s just a little puppet of fate. And he’s forgotten that the whole thing has at its root the Self, which is also yourself.



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