This seminar is going to be a fundamental course on cosmic gamesmanship. We shall discuss, first of all, the yang and the yin, because what we are studying is the way (whatever may be called) the “universal energy” plays. And so the fundamental thing is yang and yin, the positive and negative principles, to use the Chinese words. Next, we shall discuss relativity. Next we shall discuss group theory; in and out. And finally, we shall discuss identity: who are you?
But in starting, the moment one talks about cosmic gamesmanship it carries with it the assumption that the physical universe is a game. And that doesn’t seem to be taking it sufficiently seriously. Of course, according to Hindu philosophy, the physical universe is an illusion. They use the word māyā. But māyā has many meanings. And among these meanings only one is “illusion.” And the word illusion, of course, always carries a bad connotation to Western ears. We want something that’s for real. But it doesn’t necessarily carry such a bad connotation to Hindu ears, because the word māyā also means “magic,” “creative power,” “art,” and of all things, “measurement.” Because it comes from the Sanskrit root mātṛ, from which of course we get “meter,” “matter,” and the Latin mater: “mother.”
In other words, the world is looked upon (or can be looked upon) as a perfectly good illusion. Because all art, in a way, is a creation of illusion. On a stage the actor plays. And Hindus think of the world by analogy with drama: the whole thing is a big act. And there is one actor behind the whole thing, which is you—not you in the sense of your so-called empirical ego. Not you as you imagine yourself, and as you ordinarily sense yourself to be, but what is really and truly you at a much deeper level.
But, you see, when we use the word “game” or “play” in English, we usually tend to mean that it’s something trivial. You see, we divide life very strictly into play and work. Other peoples don’t do this. And that’s one of the shatteringly awful features of our culture, this division of play and work. So that most people are working at tasks which they hate so that they can make enough money to stop doing it and play. This is perfectly ridiculous! Nobody needs to do that. Because what you get with work—done in this way; done heartlessly and without joy—is money. And what can you do with it? Supposing you do earn time to spare and money to spend, what is there to buy with it? The answer is: the other fake and joyless products made by other people who hate their work.
So there is a certain phoniness, a certain lack of essential quality in almost all the work that we perform, because the work is done not for the work, but for money. And play is considered something separate from work. Work is serious. Play is not serious. In fact, we have a strange incapacity to play at all. Because we always—especially in the United States—play with an ulterior motive. That is to say, play is good for you. And we do everything because it’s good for us, because we judge the physical world without our senses. We judge in theory. We believe that the proof of the pudding is not in the eating, but in the chemical analysis.
It is often my fate to have to take lunch in college cafeterias. And what must be happening to the intellectual life of the nation as a result of professors, graduate students, and students eating this kind of stuff? It must be catastrophic. Because I go all over the United States to various colleges, and everywhere the fare is exactly the same. You get a so-called salad, which is a piece of that wretched iceberg lettuce, with a dollop of cottage cheese and a wedge of canned pineapple on top of it. Then you get slices of beef that have been tormented for hours in an electronic purgatory. Sloshed over (or rather, coated is the exact word) with a gravy made a water, library paste, and bouillon cubes. Then there are peas, carrots, and corn which have been sterilized (because that’s important) by boiling for hours. And finally, there is a pie which is a slab of beige goo, encrusted in reconstituted cardboard and topped with sweetened shaving cream squirted from an aerosol bong. And all this has been analyzed by dietitians, and by the whole Department of Home Economics, and is found to veritably contain the right amount of calories, proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins. Now, actually, this is all a result of academic politics. Because academic politics, you know, is mainly concerned with feuding between departments. And this is the way in which the Home Economics Department has won out by rotting the brains of historians, anthropologists, mathematicians, and physicists with this miserable fare.
And this goes on all over. Things are judged, you see, because they are good for you. And if we inquire carefully as to what this good for us is, you know, you mustn’t look into that. It’s taboo. The whole culture would fall apart if we found out what it was. Because what is the good that is good for you is always and necessarily something in the future. It never happens and is never going to happen. All of these vitamins and carbohydrates and things can do for you is keep you in a state of reasonable survival and in which you never catch up with anything.
Because, you see, time is strictly an illusion. There is no such thing as time any more than that is such a concrete thing as the equator. The measurement of time—time is a measure of motion, just like lines of latitude and longitude are a measure of the geographic surface of the Earth. and nobody will ever tie up a rolled roast with the equator. There is, however, such a thing as timing, which is quite different from time. Timing is skillful rhythm. But you cannot ever attain proper timing if you hurry; if you’re in a hurry to get to the future. Because the future is never going to arrive.
So if you hurry to get to the future, you always get a punishment for it. For example, instant coffee. TV dinners. The sort of food they serve on airplanes. Or beef that is cooked in electronic ovens, where you push the switch on and EEEEOOOWNNN! and a whole roast is done. It isn’t. It’s heated through, it’s not roasted. And all these things are awful because they are the result of the illusion of time: that there is something that is good for us and that we’re going to get to.
And so this is the result of an educational system which is completely geared to literary and mathematical pursuits, which trains everybody to be clerks, insurance salesmen, and bureaucrats. And only with great reluctance does education offer any kind of instruction in material competence, and then only for people who are considered too stupid to be intellectuals, to go on to college. So the basic arts of life in our culture—farming, cooking, dressing, furnishing, lovemaking—are utterly neglected. There is no sophisticated training widely available in any of these things for the average person. And so that’s the reason why there is nothing on which to spend the time that we save and the money we earn, except trash. So fake cars, pasteboard houses, bread made of squishy styrofoam (vitamin enriched), and all that sort of thing, you see? Because of the illusion that we’ve fallen for the illusion of time.
So what is absolutely necessary for a culture—that means a society of cultivated people—is the cultivation and devotion to the present, to the material world, rather than to the purely theoretical world. You see, māyā, in Sanskrit, does indicate in one sense the physical world—in the positive sense, that the physical world is actually a marvelous work of art. But māyā, in another sense, in the sense in which it means “measurement,” refers to all the ways we have of numbering and naming and dividing up into categories the physical world. So time is māyā. Latitude and longitude is māyā. The future is māyā, in the less exciting sense of illusion.
So, you see, because of this state of mind we don’t think that play is important. We play in order to refresh ourselves to go back to work, and that’s not playing. Playing is a real absorption—in the delight of a dance, for example. You don’t dance because it’s good for you, you dance because you’re happy. But, you see, we have a very odd incapacity for happiness because we are happier when we expect good things to happen rather than when they’re happening. And so we say of a thing that we consider bad, “It has no future.” Well, nothing has a future. There isn’t a future! There’s always a present. And one has to get this is a kind of a basic approach.
So then, one can also, therefore, use the word “play,” or “game,” in a sense that is not trivial. We don’t think, for example, that when we hear a performance of a Bach cantata—or better, a purely non-symbolic thing like a fugue—we don’t think that that’s trivial. We don’t think it’s trivial to play the organ in church. We don’t think that the plays of Shakespeare are trivial. They’re plays. Play, you see, in the sense that I’m using it, is a musical thing. It is a dance. It is an expression of delight in the sense of Blake saying that energy is eternal delight. And, for example, the art of Islam, the arabesques, which aren’t pictures of anything. They’re just fantastically intricate, beautifully colorful designs. They are play. And according to this thesis, the universe is just like that. It is a very, very elaborate play system.
And the fundamental elements of this play the Chinese call the yang and the yin. Yang means the positive and yin the negative. Yang refers to the south side of a mountain which is in the sun, and yin the north side which is in the shade. Yang refers to the north bank of a river which is in the sun, and yin the south bank of the river which is in the shade. Yang is symbolically or prototypically male, yin is symbolically female. That’s not to cast any reflections on women. So you might say the reason they’re called male and female is that yang is aggressive and yin is yielding. Yang is convex, yin is concave.
Now, the secret about the opposites—which is as important as realizing that there is no such thing as time—the secret about the opposites is this: that they appear to be as different as different can be. We say of opposites like black and white that they are the poles apart. But in using that phrase, poles, you imply a connection between them. As there is a connection of the north to the south pole of the Earth, and as there is a connection between the north and south poles of a magnet. They are two ends in the same stick. Two sides of the same coin. Two opposite points on the same sphere. And that means that they go together. In Chinese this is called a rising mutually. As in the second chapter of Lao Tzu, where he says, “When all the world knows beauty to be beautiful, there is already ugliness. When all the world knows goodness to be good, there is already evil. For to be and not to be arise mutually.”
What confuses people is that they don’t see this. They think, for example, that the positive is something there which truly exists, whereas the negative has less reality. It doesn’t exist. We think that, for example, the space in which this universe floats is a nonentity and has no importance. And we are thereby—because we see energy manifested in the positive aspect of things and no energy manifested in the negative—we are afraid that energy and its delight is threatened by nothingness. That it’s going to be swallowed up and that, in the end, darkness will win. We feel that about ourselves and we feel it about the universe as a whole. Because energy is effort. And effort, after a while, you get tired and you can’t keep it up. And so darkness must win.
According to Chinese philosophy that is a hallucination. Because energy cannot be manifested without inertia. There must be something to push against for there to be any manifestation of energy. You cannot dance without a flaw to use your energy against. When energy or any kind of motion is completely unobstructed, there’s a sort of squish, a fizzle, and nothing happens. Because fundamentally, as we shall see next hour, motion is only realized when there is stillness. Relative stillness. And so energy is only realized when there is inertia, and the positive is only realized when there is the negative to bring it out. These things work together. But when you don’t realize it, you are anxious. You are afraid that the dark side is going to win.
Now, the minute that happens, you become unable to play. You start getting serious and the game degenerates into a fight. Because you feel it absolutely urgent and necessary, under those circumstances, that the positive must be made to win. “Accentuate the positive,” you see? And that leads to all this beastly kind of religion where people go around with false smiles and hearty handshakes and accentuate the positive. And the moment that a person does that, you know that it’s a big fake, it’s a put-on, and that there’s something utterly unreal about it. That’s why you may have often experienced the fact that certain kinds of virtuous people are offensively virtuous, and they are very difficult to get on with. They don’t have any light touch. And, of course, this is particularly prevalent in religions. Because—not all religions, but many religions—are states of terror about the negative side.
I was talking with a very enlightened nun the other day—Catholic—and she was open to all sorts of new ideas. I said, “You know, there’s one thing wrong with your worship and the way you sing your hymns and chant your chant and do all these rituals. You don’t swing.” I don’t mean by that that it isn’t syncopated. I mean by that that there is not an attitude of delight about it. It’s always you feel the service is being conducted in the presence of the chief inspector of morals. The the original stuffed shirt, the appalling grandfather, in whose presence you daren’t show any kind of sprightliness. Because, after all, you know, when we are children and we are very exuberant and we leap around and bounce all over the place, we make the adults tired.
Because the moment a child starts getting exuberant, we try to give him a guilty conscience. You have no business having so much fun. There are other people in the world who hurt. There are people who are starving. There are people who suffer. And for you to go around, leaping around, as if the whole thing were gorgeous is a kind of irreverence. So be guilty! Shut up! So as a result of that, where we think that an occasion is of particular celebrity—where you’re in church or in court or standing in a row of Marines or something saluting the flag—everybody gets grim. And so there is no delight in religion of that kind. Well, this nun agreed with me that they really ought to do something about that. And I said, “Well, maybe I’ll come to your convent and teach you how to sing.” But, you see, all of that is because of the fear that the nothing will win over the something.
Now, it’s true: in games there is a winner and there is a loser. But in a fight it’s different. In a fight the object of victory is to get rid of the defeated party because he’s bad and he ought not to be there at all. But in a game it’s quite different, because if there is to be a winner, there has to be a loser. So it’s terribly important not to get rid of the opponent. You could have no chess unless you had the black side as well as the white. Impossible! So in a game, we admire a person we call a good loser—that is to say, a good sport—because he does not take the loss seriously. It’s very instructive, for example, to play any game that you know well (whether it’s chess or checkers or whatever), but with yourself. And each time you move over to the opposite side, play it with your best skill.
For example, you can play a very marvelous game. You take two cocktail olive toothpicks. You know, the kind they make in the little plastic swords? And you do a fencing match with yourself and actually try to stick one of your hands, on the other hand really tries to defend itself. You’ll find this is extremely interesting. It’s a meditation exercise. And then you realize, you see, what is the nature of a game? Because if you are a good chess player you may congratulate yourself, if your opponent wins, if you have given him a good contest. Because then the game as such was interesting, and you come to realize that you and your opponent in a game of chess together constitute a single organism, like your right hand on your left hand fencing with each other. Let not your left hand know what your right hand doeth. That means: have a conspiracy to pretend that they don’t belong to one organism and that they’re different, like black and white, like space and solid. They must look as different as possible, but underneath—in order that there be a game; in order that there be, in other words, a relationship of these two—there has to be a secret agreement. They have to be tacitly one, but openly two. Exoterically two, esoterically one.
Because, you see, on the stage, when you get the hero and the villain, they are really friends behind the scenes because they belong to the same company of actors. But this mustn’t be admitted on the stage because that would give the show away. Now, you see, it is true. We must not give the show away. That’s why there are esoteric teachings. But on the other hand, there is another opposite extreme, which is not realizing that the show is a show. And that’s as bad as giving the show away. So you have always, when you are in the theater—say you go to the movies, and you go to see some great horror movie, you know? Awful thing. Well, why does one do it? You want a thrill. And the whole of the universe wants a thrill. That’s what it’s all about. Otherwise it would be boring. But when you go to the movie, you know in your heart of hearts that it’s only a movie. And yet you contrive to some degree to forget this while you you’re there, and therefore get scared and feel real creeps. But that’s great. Some people like to go and cry. They go and see some tragedy and just love to weep. Because it’s a catharsis, it gets all the salt out of you or something, I don’t know. And so you you do this thing, and we say it’s vicarious, yep. But that is the spirit of showmanship, of play.
So one might say, then, that it is possible in this life to attain a sort of metaphysical courage in which you know (really know, deep within) that the most harrowing experiences that physical existence can offer are a show. Now, this is what you might call ultimate nerve. And, for example, when the samurai in Japan studied Zen, that’s what they wanted to get from it. They wanted to get ultimate nerve so that absolutely nothing would phase them. So there is a poem which says:
Don’t hesitate, you see? Don’t be blocked. Don’t be phased, nonplussed, by the illusion.
Now, you would say, well, that’s all very well, but I can’t bring myself to that. I start to shake and I can’t stop it. It’s not to do with my will. And no amount of gritting my teeth, clenching my muscles, exercising my willpower, can get rid of the shakes when I am really scared. That’s true, but you must remember that the secret to all this is not to be afraid of fear. When you can really allow yourself to be afraid and you don’t resist the experience of fear, you are truly beginning to master fear. But when you refuse to be afraid, you are resisting fear, and that simply sets up a vicious circle of being afraid of fear, and being afraid of being afraid of fear, and so on.
And that’s what we call worry. Worry is simply a chronic condition, and people who worry are going to worry no matter what happens. Because when one possible threat is exterminated, they will immediately discover another. Because worry is an infinitely skinned onion. And you can go on and on and on, because the moment you reduce the size of the onion and you get your worry out about this, suddenly your whole sense of distance and size changes. And because you’re looking so intently at this little onion, it fills your whole field of vision and is once again a big onion. You see? You start peeling that down. But as you get another one about this size, then it enlarges itself in your judgment and your sense of values. And once more, it’s colossal. Now, that’s always going on.
So if you are disposed to worry, there is always plenty to worry about. You make plenty of money and you have no troubles about that, then you start wondering if you’re going to get a disease. And the doctor says, “No, it’s alright. Nothing wrong with you.” Then you wonder if you’re going to get into an accident. And then you take precautions. And then you wonder if there’s gonna be a political revolution, et cetera, whether your house is going to be robbed. There’s always something. So really, this kind of worrying is a completely useless pursuit, and yet we feel a little guilty if we don’t do it. Because it somehow put into us that a proper amount of worrying is showing a good sense of responsibility. You’re concerned.
And Paul Tillich used this word, “concern,” in a special way. Quakers always use the word concern. And all people, you might say, who are socially conscious are concerned. So when we say I’m concerned, it means I have a frown on my face, and I’m worried—about you, about the nation, about the war, and so on. Concerned. And Tillich said religion is ultimate concern. I am concerned about the universe. And he used his wonderful decontaminated word for God, which he got from Eckhart: the “ground of being.” You see, “God” still has whiskers on it. But the “ground of being” doesn’t, obviously. And so the ultimate concern is to be concerned about the ground of being.
Well, now, I don’t think—I’m not sure about Tillich. I knew him, and he was a very wonderful man. But what I call concern—the way I would want to interpret it instead of this sort of frown, is something more like amazement. In other words, that existence is extremely peculiar. I mean, I can’t explain this feeling because I don’t know quite how to ask a question about existence so that I could be said to be wondering about it in some sort of clear thinking way.
This is a very nice thing to consider to yourself: that, if you were going to have an interview with the Lord God, and you would have only five minutes, and you might ask one question, what would you ask? And you’ve got plenty of time to think this over in advance. And you realize, question after question you say: no, that’s not really the thing I want to get at. Nuh-uh, it’s not that. Like, “Do you exist?” God would say, “Well, of course! Yes, here I am.” “Am I having a hallucination?” He said, “No.” “How can I be sure that this isn’t a hallucination?” You see? Then you reject all that sort of question. And when you finally come down to it, you don’t know what to ask. There is a sort of question in your mind—not so much a question as a questioning. A feeling of: it’s all unbelievable. It’s amazing. I wonder at it. I marvel at it. It is a miracle that there is anything. But it’s like a friend of mine who went to a Zen master. Got an interview after a good deal of trouble [finding] an interpreter. And he sat down and said, “You know, now I’m here. I don’t know what to ask. I just feel like laughing.” The Zen master said, “Well, let’s laugh!” And they just broke up.
But that feeling, you see, of the marvelousness of being is what I call (or would want to mean by) Tillich’s phrase “ultimate concern.” It’s also: love is involved in it. See, that’s the part of the problem. An abstractionist culture such as ours—as I indicated, we are not materialists, we’re abstractions. A materialist is a lover, and therefore is somebody related to the present. Because, you see, you you can’t love except in the present. When you have under your hands a piece of wood, and you say, “My, isn’t that a gorgeous grain?” You know? And you fondle it. If it moves fondly. And you you run over this and think, “Hey, isn’t that gorgeous?” You see?. Well, you’re loving it. It may be that it’s an apple in your hand and you say, “I love you so much I could eat you.” And you eat it. And you relish it. That’s loving in a special way.
So concern and love—and there are many forms of love. There’s a whole spectrum of different kinds of love which runs from the red of libido to the violet of divine charity. But all of them are equally important because, as you know, you can’t have the violet end without the red and vice versa. You wouldn’t know what violet was unless you had all the other colors. The colors create each other. So it isn’t simply black and white. Between black and white is the spectrum. And just as black and white arise mutually, so, you know red in relation to yellow, in relation to green, in relation to blue, and so on. But if they all come out of black and white. That’s the secret. I think Mr. Land has invented a camera that made a rather spectacular demonstration of this.
So if, then, you try to obliterate fear—the fear that black may win—you’re working in the wrong way. To attack a fear is to strengthen it. Because immediately you feel guilty if you don’t succeed. Or you feel inadequate. But fear is something that arises naturally and spontaneously under certain circumstances just as you will feel warm if you get near a fire. And you can’t go up to a fire without some sort of self-hypnosis and then say, “Well, I refuse to be warm.” There’s something a bit weird about that. Besides, you often want to feel warm when you get near a fire. No, on the contrary, it is very natural to be afraid. And so if you don’t try to knock it down, you don’t try to make yourself over into some sort of preconceived idea of what you ought to be, then you are on the track.
Now, when you think, for example, that I ought to change myself into something different, what is the agency which will affect this change? Well, we could say two things. On the one hand, it’s the same self that you want to change, so how can it change it? Or, on the other hand, you can say that the idea that there is a sort of separate ego in you which can go to work on the rest of you is a hallucination. And that’s why gurus and teachers set their students weird tasks [so that] they may discover that the dissociated ego is indeed a hallucination.
Now, for example, one of the ones that is commonly used is to get yourself a pure mind. And that means you control your thoughts and emotions. You mustn’t have any violent or hateful emotions. You must not hate anybody. You mustn’t have any sexy emotions. All pure ideas. Clean up! You know what happens? So many—in the parent/child relationship many parents can’t stand their children. They are a nuisance, they are the result of bad rubber goods, and they didn’t mean to have them anyway, and they’re expensive and noisy, and they’ve disturbed the peace of the place, and they detest them. But you cannot admit (in this culture) that you detest your child. That’s the most awful thing. But you see what happens if you don’t admit it is that, whereas outwardly you go through the motions of being loving and dutiful, you don’t smell right and the child gets it. The child knows intuitively and inwardly that there’s a crossed-up message here. It says “love,” but it acts “hate.” Vise versa: a lot of children hate their mothers, hate their fathers. That’s supposed to be very bad. And the whole pandemonium that’s going on these days is largely due to that nobody can come out and be honest about it. So now: control your thoughts. Watch that hate the moment it arises. Doinggg! Knock it down.
Well, now, you know, the guru who’s teaching you all this—you’ve projected quite a bit on him. The fact that you accepted a guru at all shows that you have endowed another person with much greater wisdom than yourself. That’s your opinion, incidentally. And therefore, people will invariably attribute to gurus all kinds of astounding powers, especially of a telepathic nature. And indeed, a good guru is a very sensitive fellow and can tell by people’s eyes and gestures and tone of voice all sorts of things about them, as can any experienced psychologist. But, you see, when you are trying to control your thoughts and you know you have some kind of wrong thought, you project upon the guru to recognize it instantly. He reads you. He sees right through you. And therefore, you know that he almost must look at you as a terrible worm, because you can never quite succeed in doing it, you see?
And the lesson of this is—you see, the whole point of this lesson—is to discover that the alleged you, which is different from your thoughts and feelings, is a hallucination. There is a stream of thought and feeling going on, just like there is a stream of water going by, and that’s you. It’s an organized stream just in the same way that when you see a whirlpool in a river, it’s organized, it’s recognizable, it has a shape. And it has an enduring shape, even though it is a constant flow. Or take a better illustration still: a flame on a candle. It is a stream of gas. And no particle of this gas stays in the flame for but a split second. But the flame keeps apparently there and is recognizable. I can say one, two, three flames. This one, that one, the other one. And that’s like us.
But that stream which we are—thought, feeling what we call the body, everything like that—but the body is one of the most intangible things there is. You seem to be able to grab hold of it, but it is nothing more than a vibrating pattern of energy. And on it flows. So when you understand that, you can see a little bit more why Hindus speak of the body as māyā, as illusion, because one of the things they mean by illusion is transitoriness as distinct from permanence. That is to say, everything in this world is disintegrating. In fact, if it weren’t, it wouldn’t be there. Disintegration is life. And it’s as important to see that as it is to see that there is no time, and that black and white go together.
Because to the extent that you see it is disintegrating, and that there’s no way of stopping this, you can get into a frame of mind where you get with it. Where you, as it were, give up and fall apart along with everything else. Now, you might think—you see, again: in our general Western frame of mind we would think, “Well, that’s just giving up! That’s spineless. That’s cowardice. That’s awful.” And anybody who would just give up like that would be expected to become a slob. But the contrary is true. You see, in all what you might call the dynamics of the spiritual life there are what appear to be many paradoxes: courses of action—which in common sense would lead to one result—turn out in fact lead to an opposite result.
So you would think that a child who admits to hatred of parents or vice versa would act out the hatred, would do something violent. No, it is precisely the one who does not admit it that will act out and who will do something violent. Because, like the monks of Siberia, who are fasting, grow wearier and wearier, the violence will at last bus from its cell. It can’t be contained. And I found again and again and again, going around—especially in religious circles, where so many people are trying to not admit what they feel; especially Puritans, prudes, very frequently have a strong streak of cruelty. And this, of course, can be a kind of a sexual substitute, a sadistic or masochistic thing, that is simply because they don’t admit to having a negative side. And so the negative side will express itself in a violent way. People who are always doing things for other people’s good will be liable to bomb them for their benefit and utterly destroy them in the name of goodness. And this is because such people are not ever going to be good soldiers.
I was talking a few weeks ago to the Air Force Weapons Research Lab at Kirtland, near Albuquerque, and I was somewhat surprised to be invited to this sinister institution, but it was full of extremely brilliant people, fantastic minds, and so naturally we got onto the subject of strategy. Because military strategy is a very, very interesting thing. It contains all the basic life problems. And I said to them, when I started out, I said, “Now, you have asked me to tell you, as a philosopher, what are my basic premises for moral behavior?” Well, I said, “They are total selfishness. I’m not going to beat around the bush with you people, and to be sentimental or anything like that, because you’re dealing with military matters where you have to be tough, and where you have to be so tough that you’ve no time for finer feelings. So let’s begin that way.”
Now, I said, “You might imagine, therefore, that if I base my behavior on total selfishness, that I would go around being rude to people and aggressive and pushing through and so on.” But I said, “I don’t because I found that doesn’t work. People put up resistance. They get obstreperous and I don’t win them over. So my self-interest is better conserved by putting on a pretense of politeness, and that I really are concerned about you all, and so on.” But I said, “I am not. This just a big act.”
Now, then, I said, “The next thing that happens is this: when I decide that I am going to base everything on total selfishness, I start wondering what I want.” Well, so many things that I thought I want—when I got them, I found out I didn’t. So I have to go very deeply into the question, “What do I really want?” What sort of friends do I want? What sort of the house do I want? What sort of a life do I want? What sort of a job do I want to do? And, you see, people don’t think this through. They get all sorts of ready-made ideas of what they ought to want. Because what education does to so large an extent is to fit us into a set of prepared stereotypes, and we never stop to find out what we really want to do.
Well, that’s one thing. But then something else very odd comes up when I say I’m purely selfish, which is: “What is ‘me’?” Then I come across this curious thing that I don’t know who I am unless I know who you are. If I would live without any other people, I don’t think I would know I was there. I see myself in terms of others—that is to say, by a social relationship. I am I because you are you. You are you because I am I. But then there’s something that’s gone screwy here. Something funny about this. Which is, of course, that myself isn’t at all what I thought it was. Myself is almost everything else as well as myself.
Well, then I really don’t know what to do, because there’s no point my thinking anymore that I can just go around attacking people and getting rid of them and so on, because all I’m doing is, sort of, if I was hungry and I started chewing on my own toes. Because I have discovered that hurting others hurts me. Now, of course, you do have to cut your toenails and take care of your hair and things like that, and there’s always some kind of violence is necessary in life, just like you have to kill a fish to eat it, or you have to kill an apple when you chew it. Well, it’s sort of like cutting off the toenails and combing your hair and so on, clipping, things like that, and so like getting rid of dead skin and the general elimination process. But fundamentally, you see, when you think that there are dreadfully wrong people who ought to be obliterated, or that the world outside you is something that you are in a fight with, well, that’s just like a person who is completely insensitive in the middle. So that he doesn’t know that his leg end goes with the top end.
You know, if a worm gets damaged it develops a sort of callused area in it. And the worm, when it wiggles, the rhythm of the wiggle doesn’t pass through the callused area. It has to wiggle separately on each end. So the worm, instead of going wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, goes wiggle-bump, wiggle-bump, wiggle-bump, wiggle. And so a lot of people are like that physically. This is one of the important things that Wilhelm Reich found out: that people tend to have a state of tension in the diaphragm, as a result of which they can’t swing. You know, have you ever tried to teach anybody to dance the hula? Lots of people just cannot bring themselves to make that hip motion. They’re too rigid. And they like the worm with the callus.
Or then, there’s another myth about this. You know, there’s a famous snake called ouroboros, and he’s always drawn chewing his own tail and eating it. Imagine what happens when the tail gets inside, and he gets inside, and inside, and then blweeah, the whole thing is clutched up, you see? And this worm, this snake, is a symbol of what the Buddhists call saṃsāra, that is to say, the round or rat race of life and death. And this goes on so long as the worm doesn’t know that his tail is himself. When he discovers that, he lets go of it and wiggles happily along like every good snake.
Of course, there is more to it than that. You might say, well, why in the first place did he not realize that his tail was his own? Well, because he wanted something else. See, there wasn’t anything except this snake in the beginning. Of course, the snake is the symbol of God. But in the Upanishads, in the Isha Upanishad, first line of it said that “in the beginning there was the one”—God, the Īśvara—and he said, “I’m lonely.” And so he made another, which was a woman. And he made love to her—as a result of which all gods were born. But the woman got guilty about this, because she felt it was incest. And so she turned herself into a cow. And he became a bull, and he made love to her. And so came all cattle. And the same thing happened. She got guilty and turned herself into a sheep. And he turned himself into a ram, and so on. And by this means the universe was created.
So this is othering. It’s called in Christian theology by the Greek word kénōsis, which means “self-emptying:” where God others himself in the sense of getting himself into a position where he forgets he’s God; aware he has abrogated omnipotence. Now, in the theory of games it is absolutely important to abrogate omnipotence. Because you realize that if your knowledge and power was without limit, there were no obstacle to it whatsoever, there would be no way of realizing it. When we know for certain the outcome of a game, we don’t play it. We call it off and we invent a new game in which we don’t know the outcome. So power—whether partial power or omni power—will always be in a state of abrogating itself.
So the fundamental game, therefore, the fundamental game form which is manifested in the yang and the yin (the two opposites), is of course the game of hide and seek: of remembering and forgetting. You see, really, to forget is the opposite of remember, only the word hasn’t the same form. We should put “remember” opposite “dismember.” Because to re-member is to put back the members of something that has been dis-membered. So when the snake thinks that its tail isn’t itself, it is dismembered. When the snake finds that its tail is itself, its remembered. So that’s why the Catholics say the words of Jesus at the mass, “Do this in remembrance of me.” So that you will discover that you are one body—which is, of course, the only body there is.
So lesson number two is relativity; lesson number one having been the opposites in this course on cosmologic or cosmic gamesmanship. We were discussing the fact, this morning, that any manifestation of energy needs an opposition. In other words, nothing happens—there is no motion, there is no possibility of energy—unless there is something opposing it. There is no dancing except on a floor against which you can push and move. And so I pointed out, therefore, the sense of self depends entirely on the sensation of there being something other, but that this is a kind of a māyā. In other words, the general feeling that one side is definitively split off from and separate from the other is an illusion.
But nevertheless, the opposition between energy and inertia, motion and stillness, is something that, as it were, is the bifurcation or two aspects of a single process. And you know it’s a single process because they can’t do without each other. If they could do without each other, then it would be a divided process. Radically divided: split down the middle. But as it is, the interdependence of these two sides of things are two ways of looking at things shows that there is something in common between the two. And to understand this is the essential key to living in a sane way. Because if you’re insane, you are split up. An idiot, you know—the Greek word ἰδιώτης means “private.” Purely private. Isolated. Out of communication. Out of relationship. And so this is a way of saying that insanity is a lack of awareness of relativity, because all existence is relationship.
Now, if we can take a very fundamental illustration of this: I want you to imagine a universe in which all that there exists is one ball. This ball will, of course, have to be floating in space. Because if there is no space outside the ball, nobody knows that it’s a ball. There’s no possibility of a ball which has no space beyond it, because then the ball itself—the solid material of the ball—would be all that was and there would be nothing outside it. So there would be no way of defining it as a ball. So there has to be [in] our universe one ball in space. And the space outside the ball, furthermore, must be regarded as depending upon the existence of the ball. The ball and the space go together.
Now then, however, there is no way of telling what this ball is doing; whether it’s moving or whether it is still. It could be roaring through this space at thousands of miles an hour and there’d be no way of proving it. There would be no air friction upon it, there would be nothing relatively stable with which its movement could be compared and against which it could be measured. So this ball has no energy. It can’t even be said to be still. It can’t be said to be in motion.
And, of course, this is the situation of the universe as a whole. In the beginning, one of the things that God said before the Bible started—the first thing, according to the Bible, was: “Let there be light.” But actually, there were several former pronouncements, one of which was: “You’ve got to draw the line somewhere,” and the other was: “Have a ball.” And this is why most objects of celestial existence are spherical. Don’t you think it’s very odd to be living on a spherical rock revolving ’round an enormous spherical fire? This is weird when you wake up and find yourself in that situation!
So he said: have a ball. Now, this is the fundamental situation. The universe as a whole is presumably some kind of ball. It’s curved space, and there it is. And nothing can be said about the whole universe as to whether it is moving or whether it is still. It’s neither. That’s why the Hindus, in trying to make some indication of the ultimate reality, say “it is not this, it is not that.” It is not one thing, it’s not the other. It doesn’t exist, it doesn’t not exist. It doesn’t both exist and not exist, it doesn’t neither exist nor not exist.
So you can’t say anything about it. Your tongue is tied up. That’s why it is said in the Mumonkan, which is a great Zen text, that when you’ve attained enlightenment you’re like a dumb man who’s had a marvelous dream. Everybody who’s had a marvelous dream wants to tell everybody about it. But if you’re dumb, you can’t say a thing. So, in the same way, the moment you realize that you are one with all that there is, well, it’s this fundamental ball and you can’t say anything about it. Because it isn’t moving, it isn’t not moving. You can’t think about it. And the reason you can’t think about it is not because it exceeds you, it’s because it is you. You can’t get at it like you can’t bite your own teeth.
So then, if we introduce two balls into our cosmos, then we can say something about motion. Because it is apparent that they can approach each other or get away from each other. But no one can say which one is doing it or whether both are doing it, because there is no way of determining it. One may be still and the other moving to it or away from it. Both may be moving towards each other or away from each other. But there is no way of saying which one starts. And furthermore, they can only move with respect to each other in a straight line. They have no possibility of moving on a surface. They have defined, linear motion.
Now we will introduce three balls into our system, and suddenly we find not only that they can move on a surface with respect to each other, but also that there’s going to be a little fight started. Because if two balls stay together at a constant space apart, and one ball appears to approach them or to recede from them, well, here is a problem. Are the two standing still and the one likes them or doesn’t like them, so moves closer or away? Or is the one standing still and the two moving towards it or away from it? Well, there’s only one way in this thing of deciding: two balls that stay together constitute a majority. And according to the majority vote, they will decide whether they are moving away from the other one or approaching it, or whether it is standing still, or whatever.
Now, then, the third ball, of course, can lick them by joining them. It can always stay, if it wants to, at a constant space from the other two, unless they break up and go off in different directions. So long as they stay together, it can stay with them. And then we are back to the original situation because no one is moving at all, however much they move. Because the three constitute, now, one constellation; one triangle.
Alright, introduce a fourth ball. Now we have the possibility of motion in three dimensions. And you would say, well, now this is good because we’ve got an umpire—somebody who stands at the distance of objectivity and looks down upon those three balls and will decide which of them are moving and which of them are still. Very good, but the problem is: which one of them is the fourth? Who’s the umpire? Everyone is in a position of a third dimension to the other three. So everyone is both involved in the game of three, and could be the external observer who is the umpire of what the three are doing. Now that is exactly your situation as sensing yourself as an external observer of the world. And this is a simple basic principle in terms of which all bodies in the cosmos may be understood. It’s simply nothing but a multiplication of this situation. It’s complicated, yes, so that you have to scratch your head to think about it. But it all reduces down to this fundamental mutual motion of balls. So you see, from this, what is the meaning of relativity.
So none of the balls, incidentally, have such a thing as a true position. Because the position of any one of the four is where it seems to be from the the different points of view of each member of the group. The members of the group can get together and agree upon a theoretical positioning of the balls, but they can never directly see all of the balls, including the one that’s looking, in this theoretical position—just in the same way as you have a theoretical idea of the dimensions of a room which would correspond to an architect’s ground plan and elevation. And you would say you know that that corner up there is a right angle, although you see it as an obtuse angle.
Now, this agreement as to what are the true positions of things is very important, because upon such agreement depends all possibilities of human communication. We have to have a standard of what is north, south, east, and west, of what is a unit of measure, of what languages and what words or what noises are to mean what experiences. And by constructing this conventional standard of measures we are able to agree with each other. But one must see at the same time that this is a convention. There is no reason for driving on the right side of the road rather than the left, except that everybody must agree what side they’re going to drive on. One isn’t really preferable to the other. The point is to agree.
So when we agree about certain social conventions—whether they be legal or moral or descriptional, aesthetic—whatever they are, they are a construct. They are an abstraction. And nobody—well, let’s say they’re an abstraction, and this abstraction is never directly perceived. Just as you cannot possibly go up to the ceiling to a position where you can see the whole floor as a rectilinear pattern as it would be drawn in an architect’s blueprint. Your vision will always be distorted—if by distortion you mean departure from the blueprint.
So then, except in terms of some sort of convention of this kind, there is no such thing as the true position of the four balls in space. Because you must always ask when you ask about truth: truth for whom? Or: truth in relation to what standards? Now, you see, when we measure something by inches—inch number one is the same length as inch number two, three, four, et cetera. When we measure things by the clock, the clock is a circle regularly divided into 360 (or multiples thereof) degrees. But I’ve often wondered whether it wouldn’t be interesting to have elliptical clocks, or Mae West shaped clocks, so that certain times of the day would go faster than others or slower than others. It might be very convenient to have the evening to last longer. Slow time down for the evening, you see? Speed it up at some other time. Why not? But, you see, we tried to fit everything into an ideal of regularity.
Now, the next point is that if relationship is existence, we are going to discover from this that the existence of any identifiable thing or event in the whole cosmos depends upon (and in an opposite sense, is responsible for) the existence of everything else. But to do that we’ve got to understand another image, which I will illustrate with the parable of a rainbow. Now, you know, there’s an old philosophical conundrum: if a tree falls in a forest and there is nobody around to hear it, does it make a noise? This is a very simple problem, but it has been discussed in ways that make it very confusing. A noise is a neurological experience caused by a vibration of air interacting with an eardrum and an auditory nervous system. So therefore, obviously, when the tree falls, it will set up a vibration in the air. But if this vibration in the air does not pulsate upon an eardrum, there will be no noise. You can see it in a simpler way: what will happen if I hit a skinless drum? There will be a hit but no sound, because the drum has no skin. So if there is no eardrum, the vibrations in the air will not make a noise. I don’t need to prove there’s any spookery about mind as distinct from matter or anything like that. That’s quite straightforward.
But now, let’s take the somewhat more subtle case of seeing a rainbow. To perceive a rainbow there must be three variables present, three factors: there must (A) be the sun, (B) there must be moisture in the atmosphere. And, funnily enough, (C) there must be an observer at a certain angle relative to the angle of the sun and the moisture. The observer will, in other words, be standing, shall we say, on a straight line between the sun and the body of moisture, and what will then appear to be the center of the rainbow. That’s why the side of a rainbow is always off to one side. You never see the side of a rainbow directly in front of you. So the position of a rainbow differs for every observer just in the same way as that the position of this table differs for each one of you in the room. Depends where you’re sitting as to where you see it.
Now, the trouble with this illustration is that a rainbow is a rather diaphanous thing and we tend to accord it a rather low reality status. And yet, fulfills all the requirements necessary for a genuinely existent thing. Oh, it’s true, you can’t grab hold of it. But neither can you grab hold of the moon—at least not yet. Now it has these criteria. It isn’t a hallucination, because everybody standing around will curse and swear, and they see that at such and such a time and place, they veritably do see this rainbow. So it’s not like a ghost or a hallucination. But everybody sees it in a slightly different place. And, you see, if there were no sun shining, there would be no rainbow. If there were no moisture in the atmosphere, there would be no rainbow. But let us suppose that the sun is shining and there is moisture in the atmosphere, but nobody is around. We only say with great reluctance that there would be no rainbow. Because that way of looking at things upholds a particular mythology of the world—the world is something independent of us. This is the great superstition of Western culture: that the world is independent of you. That you don’t make any difference to it. It’s just something into which you come and it’s going along and along and along, and you come in and you look in the box and say, “Well, that’s the way it is,” and then they kick you out again.
But now, let’s set up the situation in another way. Let’s suppose the sun is shining out on the ocean somewhere, and I am on a ship, and I could look over there and I say, “My goodness, isn’t this a nice day? If there was some moisture right over there, we would have a rainbow.” Then everybody says, “Well, there isn’t one.” It just does not truly exist that there is a rainbow. Alright. The sun is shining out on the ocean and there is some moisture. If there were a ship sailing near it so that there could be someone to see, there would be a rainbow. Now, in these two situations, they are both exactly the same. There would be a rainbow if there was some moisture around, but there isn’t. And equally, there would be a rainbow if there was someone to see it, and there isn’t. Those are two completely equivalent situations. Because this isn’t, again, a question of spookery, it’s a question that the existence of the phenomenon “rainbow” depends on the presence of three factors—like the existence of a human being depends on the existence of two factors: a man and a woman. Everybody has to have a father and a mother, or have had. Otherwise, with exception of that relationship, you don’t exist.
Well, now, the case of the rainbow is exactly the same case as everything else. It’s just because a rainbow is rather diaphanous and intangible, although it sure hits you in the eye. And the eye, the seeing, is a form of touching. Seeing is touching at a distance. When you find that the table is hard, that is a way of feeling with your fingers the same thing as that you cannot see through it with your eyes. So we we are funny about this. Purely optical sensations are regarded as having a lesser grade of reality than tactile sensations. When you get hold of something and can grab it and you feel it’s solid, you feel you are sure of its existence than if you merely see it. But it’s all the same thing. Touch is a sensation as if your finger ends were full of millions of little eyes. Every nerve end an eye. And they close around this and they find: it is not transparent. There is a limit. Here is something we don’t go through. But that’s exactly the same as when you see with these eyes, here. You don’t see through something.
So then, the physical world responding to the sense of touch—I mean, it’s another way of saying that the table would not be hard and is not hard except when touched. It is the touch that evokes the hardness in the table. When it is not touched, it’s not soft, it’s not hard. It has no quality at all. Nothing which is not in relation to us has any existence—or I will add: in relation to some other kind of responsive creature. Just in the same way that, when light energy goes out of the sun into space, the energy will only be manifested as light if there is somebody outside the sun to reflect the light. Otherwise, the light does not in any way illumine the darkness of space. You must bring something into it to manifest the light in space. So a Zen poem says: “The tree manifests the bodily power of the wind, the water manifests the spiritual nature of the moon.”
Because, you see, if the wind is blowing—that is to say an energy is moving along and there is nothing to stand in its way—the energy is not there. The energy in the situation is evoked only by something standing in its way. Then it’s manifest. “The water manifests the spiritual power of the moon.” Why? Because in the breaking waves, the moon can be shattered into thousands of fragments. And yet it always remains one. That’s its spiritual power. You wouldn’t see that miracle of the Moon if it weren’t for the waves. They divided up like that. Alright, you can say it’s a distortion. That’s not the way the moon is. The waves are not reflecting it correctly. But that’s only trying to say that things reflected in a smooth and still surface are reflected more really than things reflected in a vibrating surface. Okay, if you want to construe it that way, it’s your your privilege. But you can have any kind of reflecting you want.
So, in the same way, it is with you. What you see, therefore, depends on the way your senses are constructed. You have certain kinds of sense organs, and these sense organs evoke the kind of universe appropriate to them. It’s not necessarily the way things are because there is no way that things are apart from their impact (or better, relationship) with some kind of perceiver or perceiving organism. Because things are only in relation. When there is nothing to which they can relate, nothing is happening. And the so-called existence which we perceive and that to which it is related come into being together.
Now, is that to say that, before any living organisms existed, there wasn’t any universe? Is that to say that all our knowledge of the prehistoric and geological past of the world and the cosmos before life came to it is nothing but an extrapolation? That is to say, all we are saying is that this is what would have been happening if there had been people around to see it. But since there weren’t, since there was no living organism around to witness this, nothing was going on. Now, it’s possible to make a very good case for that point of view. But I would like to be a little more modest and not make it quite that radical.
And I would say rather this: there would never have been a universe before living beings existed unless there was going to be a creature called man. Man living in a future, say, implies, in the past, a certain state of affairs. In other words, this planet had to come into being with an adequate amount of temperature, oxygen, gases, everything else, food supplies, for the organism called man to exist. So let me say, then: the existence of man implies a certain kind of environment—meteorological, geological, and astronomical. But the other side of this proposition is that such an environment implies man.
Now, where you get two sides of the situation where they imply each other mutually, you have, in fact, a truly relational and unitary system. Well then, therefore, the answer to this problem is that, prior to the existence of any form of life, the universe at that time is dependent upon the fact that those forms of life are going to emerge. Now, this is a thing that is very difficult for us to understand because we think of reality proceeding forward into the future, but dependent only upon the past. It’s very difficult for us to see that events that we call past are dependent upon events in the future. That a lot of things would never have started unless certain results were going to happen. Again, this is another of those ideas which is an affront to common sense.
But there are a number of ways of showing that it’s quite a sensible idea. Unless you were—if, you know, you’re flying an aeroplane. You leave London, you arrive in New York. You wouldn’t have started out from London unless you had known in advance there was a place called New York where you could land. So, in a very similar way, the energy system of the universe does not start out with certain, say, very primitive, amoebic creatures until it knows that it can arrive. I don’t know where—where it’s going on beyond man—but at least it’s got to get as far as man. Because if it’s not going to be able to do that, it won’t even start.
Now, you can put this in other terms: an electric current. Electricity isn’t like water. When you turn on the faucet, the water goes right down the hose and waits at the nozzle. So as soon as you turn on the nozzle, there’s the water. But an electric current isn’t like that. When you’ve got two wires—I mean, two terminals, positive and negative—and you’ve got the positive one hitched up, and here’s your wire, and you leave the end of that wire just an inch away from the negative terminal, there is no electric current moving. It hasn’t flowed down the wire from the positive terminal so that it waits to be ready to jump. Trouble is that electricity moves so fast we don’t see these things. And you can only see it if you do it on a colossal scale. Supposing that we had an electric wire that was, oh, 300 million miles in length. Now we connect it at the positive end. Nothing at all happens. Connect it at the negative end so that, too, can have a possibility. You see? That’s the other terminal. Then immediately the circuit starts. But the circuit of electric current does not start until there is a place for it to arrive. See, that’s the point. So, in exactly the same way—you see, it makes no difference whether the wire be something that is 180,000 miles and is traversed in one second, or whether it’s 60 billion miles that will take a somewhat longer time. In either case the current will not start until the receptor terminal, the minus terminal, is secured.
So, in this way—I would say just exactly the same way—life will not start up in a universe to which it really doesn’t belong, in which it can be regarded as nothing more than a stranger. So if you follow that out, you see this, that the whole existence of the universe depends on every individual. It isn’t a question of how long you last; that the universe will only last as long as you do. That’s not the point. The universe is much bigger than you are and you are very small. But at this moment, it depends on you. The universe is much longer than you are and you are very short in time, but nevertheless it depends on you. The universe, in the future, long after you’re dead, will still be depending on the fact that you once existed. The universe in the past, existing long before you were ever thought of, still depends on the fact that one day you would exist. And it depends on each person.
So, in other words, there is in everything that happens—every whole depends on every part. Because, you see, in truth there are no parts of the universe. Parts are an abstract creation. When we think of someone or something as a part, we are quite arbitrarily cutting him off and saying: by convention we will agree that our skins are our boundary. And therefore, since our skins do not include the whole cosmos, we are only a part of it. But there are no parts. Just as, when you study your own organism, all of it is continuous. All the so-called parts flow into the others, like the motions of waves. You don’t have detachable parts that you can unscrew inside you, you see? Unless you’ve got false teeth or something like that, then you can take it out, see? In the ordinary way you can’t unscrew parts of the human being from another. They are continuous. Well, in exactly the same way, you are continuous with this environment. And although we have been habituated to looking upon ourselves as separate things, we are no more separate from what’s going on around us than each of these waves, here, are separate from the ocean, or that Mount Tamalpais is separate from the planet Earth. We have great freedom of movement. So do the waves. So do the gulls floating in the air. So do the trees waving in the wind. We have a larger degree of freedom than that because we are more volatile. But we are just as much waves in the total process—it depending upon us, and we in turn depending upon it.
Now, understand the meaning of there being no parts. All parts are ideas. We have an idea of a part. We chop things up and say: one human being, two human beings, three human beings, and so on, and so think of it as parts. But that’s not the way it works. You can see this from the most elementary neurology by understanding that it is the way you are as a living body that evokes the kind of universe that you see. It is your body which turns the sun into light, which turns it into heat, which turns water into wet, and rocks into hard. And in turn, your body is one of the pulsations of nature, along with the sun, the rocks, the water, et cetera. So there’s a mutual arrangement. It creates you, or evokes you, or does you—whatever word you want to use—and at the same moment you do it, and you do all of it.
So this is why there was some kind of truth in astrology. I say this, but at the same time, I certainly don’t consult astrologers and plot my life by the crude calculations of horoscopy. Because if you do that, you get into endless tangles of self-deception because it isn’t accurate. But it has a principle. The astrologer was right: when he drew a map of your soul, he drew a crude map of the universe. He drew the universe as it was at the time and place of your birth. The universe as it was, as seen from the point of view where you were born. And that was your soul. So your soul, you see, is not in your body. Your body is in your soul. Because your soul is the entire network of relationships in terms of which you live. Your soul is the whole universe. But each one of us, as it were, is a different point in it. But all these points in it are the center.
We can go way beyond Ptolemy and Copernicus now, and if we think that space is curved, every point of space is the center of the universe, because any point on a ball is the center of the sphere; of the surface. See, you could turn any point of a ball, and wherever you look at it it’s the center, isn’t it? See? So, in the same way, take a crystal ball in your hand—a crystal mirror. No, what I mean, it’s not a crystal mirror. I mean a spherical mirror. Look at it. And wherever you turn it, your face will be in the middle. So, in exactly the same way, every place in the universe is the middle of the universe from a standpoint of curved space. So we go back to an entirely new Ptolemaic view of the world, beyond Copernicus: not that the Earth is—yes, the Earth is the center of the universe, but every other place is also the center of the universe. There is no absolute center.
So this is a an astronomical way of saying, in Sanskrit, tát tvam ási: you’re it. Everyone is rightly the center. You may think—my mother used to say to me, “You’re not the only pebble on the beach!” No, indeed. But in a way, everyone is the central pebble. And the feeling that you have of being the center (which turns out into selfishness and all this sort of conflict and scrapping) is nevertheless based on something true. What we do is we misinterpret it. We don’t realize that everybody else is the center, too. In that sense you are not the only pebble on the beach. You’re not the only center of the universe. And yet there is only one center.
And that’s why—who was it? I think it was Bonaventure who first thought up the description, or the definition, of God as “that circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” And this is a poem I seem to remember from Alfred Noyes:
So this, then, you see, what I’m playing with here is what the Buddhists call the jiji muge (事事无碍). That means, ji means a “thing-event.” And you repeat it twice, so that means “between thing-event and thing-event.” Muge: “there is no mutual obstruction.” This is called the doctrine of the mutual interpenetration of all things and events.
So it would be like those lovely drawings where you take a circle—and you can play with this; it’s a nice thing to play with—and you mark out twelve equal points around the circumference of the circle. Then you join every point to every other point. You get a beautiful star. And incidentally, this is the diagram of the twelve notes of the scale. Bach worked this out. And it’s a lovely thing, you see? This beautiful star. So this is the diagram of the way it all fits together.
Now, if you study that—and by study, again, I mean not just think about it, but feel it out—you will find a very strange thing happening. You will find that the present moment, with all its particularity in which you live and are functioning now, is exactly the same thing as anything you could possibly conceive of as eternity. You will find that your limited life—and remember what I said about limits: you have to have something to push against—your limited life with its frustrations and with its particular problems at this instant is the same thing as omnipotence. And that your situation in space—which appears to be in Sausalito, California, sitting on a boat which is a rickety old thing; miles and miles away is China and Russia and England and Mars, Venus, and everything—but this particular point in space (you will find in the same way by this law of relativity) is the same thing as infinity. Infinite space. Because it all goes together. It implies the infinite, the eternal. All the energy of the universe is implied in any tiny hair on your skin. It goes with it. “Mutually implies”—this is the point. Just as the kind of cosmos and atmosphere in which we live, my existence implies that kind of an environment, so the environment implies me, mutually. And it all goes together.
Now, the only reason for saying this, you see—this is really terribly obvious—but the only reason for saying it is that people don’t know it, and think instead that they don’t belong. That, because of the parents put down the children and said, “Little children should be seen and not heard. You don’t belong here.” Like, I read the other day in some paper, some young person was addressing a girl and saying—he was trying to make love to her. He was trying to woo her. And she said, “You won’t be friends with me because you say, ‘I don’t like your personality.’” But he said, “You don’t have to have a personality. A personality is something you had to put on because your mother didn’t love, you and you had to make up to her.” Really, you don’t need a personality because you’re the essential thing, you see? And a personality is just a way of performing to ingratiate yourself. Well, we all do it because we put on personalities when we act like clowns and entertain the audience. Put on masks, funny faces. But, really and truly, the mask covers the one Self that we all have. And we all know it. Only, just like black and white, we are pretending to be as different as possible while remaining the same.
I said that one of the aspects of cosmic gamesmanship that we were going to deal with was the group theory. And, of course, I don’t mean exactly by that a sort of mathematical meaning, but the relationship that’s tremendously important and that is not sufficiently recognized between in-groups and out-groups. You know how you’ve heard about little birds where they’re cold and they’re all huddling together? The idea being to see who can get most inside. And human beings are just like that. And so, also, is everything else. Because this is a an absolutely basic requirement of having an identity. To have an identity is, in some way or other, to be in.
I often try the experiment in giving a lecture and drawing a circle on the blackboard, and asking the assembled multitudes what I have drawn. And people will almost invariably say that I have drawn a circle, a ring, or a ball. Only very rarely there’s some bright person who suggests that I have drawn a wall with a hole in it. Because the Gestalt theory of perception shows us that our attention is captured by enclosed areas as against open areas, and by moving objects rather than still.
And so, always, therefore, we tend to prefer the in-situation that is something, you see? The star is an in-situation with respect to space. The space is the out-situation. And so we feel that space is not important, it is nothing, it is just unimportant in a way. But the in-situation is something. So then, whenever human beings get into an out-situation—like being a rejected minority, living on the wrong side of the tracks—they will find reasons for convincing themselves that their situation is the truly in one, and that the people who claim to be in are really out.
So, as I’ve sometimes said before—I hope this doesn’t bore too many of you—but in Sausalito we have exactly that situation. We have the hillbillies who are the old time people, who regard themselves as in because they have the money and they live in the fancy houses up on the hill. And then we have the waterfront people whom they regard as out, as a nefarious bunch of beatniks and bohemians and scallywags. And so the people of the hilltop fortify themselves at their cocktail parties with conversation about how awful the people are down on the waterfront, and at the cocktail parties down on the waterfront people fortify themselves by discussing the squares on the hill. And we believe, down here, that we have the true way of life, that we are not beating our heads out, making money to buy pseudo rocket ships—although I do own a pseudo rocket ship, but it was wished on me!
Because, you see, I try to be a bridge person. That’s what’s called a pontifex: one who, between opposed classes, points out the connections. Because the connection is that neither class would know who they were without the other. So it’s tremendously necessary to have an out-group in order to know that you’re an in-group. In other words, if you belong to the church (which is the assembly of the elect of God), or if you belong to the synagogue (which is to be a member of the chosen people, an outsider, all those goys), then you know you’re in, you see? But you must have the outsiders to know that you’re in. There must, in other words, be (beyond the pale of the village) the howling waste. Then you feel cozy, you feel protected, you feel you’re there.
And so, in that way, bodies have skins, eggs have shells, and so on all through nature. Inside versus outside. But this versus must be understood as a form of symbiosis. And this is the crucial matter. This is absolutely of critical importance to anyone who wants to understand politics or military strategy or any of the real hard, tough games of life: that social conflict, or conflict between the various biological species, is a form of symbiosis.
Now, ordinarily we consider the symbiotic relationship to be one of mutual support, as is obviously the case between bees and flowers. Which came first, bee or flower? This is the same question as: which came first, egg or hen? Because where there are no flowers, there can’t be bees. And where there are no bees, or other fertilizing insects, there cannot be flowers. So the truth of the matter is that bees and flowers, different as they are in appearance and separated as they may be in space, they constitute a single organism. This is the real lesson of the bees and the flowers. And the same must be said, truly, of man and woman. There are no men without women. There are no women without men. Because it always takes a man and a woman to produce a human being. So we are a man-woman arrangement, a woman-man arrangement. Whichever way you want to look at it.
And so, although, you see, therefore, we move and look as if we are individuals and separate from each other, this is not the case at all. So now, what I want to point out is that this same sort of relationship exists between groups that would seem to be hostile to each other. Now, what are some of the bases of hostility? The real basis of hostility is that the biological order is a mutual eating society. It’s a very curious game indeed. And if you are philosophically inclined, it is one which might bother your conscience. When you realize that you, as an organism, are a compound of murders. You are actually a bag of water, because the human organism consists mostly of water, and this water is held together and prevented from slobbering all over the floor by a very complex arabesque of tubes and cells and films, the material of which was invariably belonging to some other being before you got it. You had to kill a chicken, a cow, or a cabbage, or an apple in order to get that tensile film of tube, or whatever, to hold the water in you and as you. And so we are, as human beings, a predatory creature. In fact, we are more predatory than anything else in nature. The sharks are supposed to be predatory, but they stay in the ocean. The piranha fish are supposed to be very predatory, but they stay in the Amazon. The Eagles are predatory, but they stay in the air and on the land.
Only man ranges the whole range of elements: earth, air, and water, and preys on things. And he eats like a swarm of locusts. Not only does he prey on the living beings, he preys on the minerals. And someone recently described our civilization as a lot of people sitting in the middle of a sewage dump shooting rockets at the moon. Because if you get Playboy magazine for September and read about the use of water, or rather the misuse of water, in our civilization, and it is absolutely horrifying. We’ve got to get that atomic power bringing us water from the ocean in nothing flat, or we’re going to be very thirsty. And you can see how we use water in the most amazingly uneconomical ways. So we are a predatory monster eating up the planet.
And I have seen, say, a sorrel plant in the country covered with greenfly. One day it is full of little green, succulent bodies having a ball. A day or two later, stalk with gray dust all over it. See, they’ve multiplied to the point of eating up the plant, and so they turn into gray dust. Human beings could do just exactly the same thing. And the reason why human beings are in danger of this is that they have refused membership in a mutual eating society. They want to be top and only eater, and do not want to be eaten.
So that instead, nowadays, of returning what you ate to the earth, we return our remains to the earth in an unassimilable form. Our remains include not only mummified formaldehyde in bodies—courtesy of the morticians, encased in concrete, so that no worms even get in—but also the fact that many things that we return to the Earth are no longer in the organic cycle. For example, rust does not assimilate properly. All sorts of chemicals, all sorts of gases that we give off, do not return into the organic cycle. And we are ruining—we are we are actually abolishing animals. Wild animals have less and less of a prospect of living. Wild birds are being greatly reduced in numbers. Whales are ceasing to exist because the whaling industry is getting rid of them. And what is more, some of the animals we farm, like chickens, are no longer chickens. They are strictly non-chickens which lay pseudo-eggs because they are raised in enormous wire cell blocks and fed on chemicals under the superstition that anything fed to a chicken will turn into chicken. And it won’t. That is why you may have noticed that the chickens you buy don’t taste like chickens could taste, especially those that have been allowed to run around in the sunlight and scratch. Those can become real chickens.
Because, you see, the necessary thing about any species that you live on is that you must love it. I love you so much, I could eat you. Or: I eat you so much, I could love you. But where you get things raised without love—you cannot love a whole cell block of chickens, you cannot love wheat when it is grown in vast wastelands out of any trees and it is sheared off the Earth and then winnowed and reduced to pancake makeup, and then chemicals are added to it, and it is converted into this styrofoam material called bread. You know, like one converts milk into casein, so one converts wheat or rye into a plastic material, which is a kind of universal solvent, which is nothing at all and tastes of nothing at all. In fact, you know, when you feed babies that kind of nasty white pablum, and you feed it in and they will spit it back into the spoon? Well, our white bread reduces itself to that instantly on the contact with liquid and becomes a miserable paste. It’s not bread at all.
So if you are unwilling, you see, to join the mutual eating society, and you want to conquer everything and not be eaten by anything, the penalty you pay for this is the annihilation of your species. And you eventually annihilate through eating things that taste like chalk and string. That’s what it will come to, because you don’t love what you eat. You have no respect for the raw materials.
So what we haven’t understood, then, is that all groups need an enemy group, but that the enemy group which preys upon it is actually a kind of friend. Because the enemy group prunes your own group. It keeps your population at a reasonable level and it keeps you on your toes. Because you have to defend yourself against it so you don’t become flabby. But, you see, we have lost the meaning of chivalry in all war situations and all conflict situations. Chivalry is indicated, for example, still, in such customs as that the partners to a fight salute each other before beginning to fight, and salute each other again at the end. You shake hands before boxing. You do these various things. You bow before a judo contest, and so on. And that means that you recognize the opponent as an honorable opponent; as somebody with whom a fight is a really important matter.
And that is really one of the most essential laws of survival: to recognize that enemies—unless they are predatory locusts who have no respect; who do not, in other words, farm the species that they prey upon. That’s the essence of the thing: you must cherish the species you prey upon. You must see, like, for example, in in lumbering: you must resow. So you must plant a tree for every tree you take. That is cherishing the species. If you farm cows, you don’t treat your cows, you often treat them better than you would your servants. Because the servants can go hang, but the cows are valuable, and so you nurture them because they’re going to sell as beef and they’re going to provide milk or whatever it is.
So the perception of the fact that it is absolutely necessary to have an out-group for your having an in-group, and that you cannot do without it, is the beginning of sociability. And so what you get, then, in that case, is a situation of contained conflict. A conflict gets out of hand when an in-group does not realize that it needs the out-group. Then it says, “Let’s get rid of the out-group! Get the dirty communists off the face of the Earth!” But do you realize what a fix we’d be in without communists? The whole economy would fall apart because there would be no external threat. And the communists are in exactly the same situation. Their kind of politics would fall apart unless there was some wretched capitalistic imperialists with whom they could contrast themselves, and against whom they could organize their energies.
Because it is a curious thing that it’s very difficult to get human beings to organize their energies for something pleasant. It’s only under fear, under external threat to their life, that human beings will really get busy and cooperate. So the solidarity of any group of human beings depends to an enormous extent on an external menace. And therefore, that menace is friendly to the solidarity and the cooperative enterprise of the group. And this will be true of big groups as well as of small groups. Even people who say—say, in matters of religion—that religious exclusivism is bad, that bigotry is terrible, those same people are actually playing a game called “I’m more tolerant than you,” and so constitute an in-group of the tolerant opposed to the out-group of the bigots.
There’s no way of getting away from this except by transcending it with a sort of humor. When you see that the two groups need each other, you start laughing. When—for example, if I have people who argue with me with contrary opinions and who belong to different religions, I can’t get mad about it because I realize that I wouldn’t know what I thought unless somebody disagreed with me. And therefore, your disagreement is necessary to the preservation of my opinions. And this is the secret of humor. So, when you realize that, you are given one of the most important clues that there is to the nature of yourself.
Now, you see, we are all brought up in a huge historical, cultural, linguistic background, which has a very powerful influence upon the way in which we experience self. And we experience self as an enclosed island confronted by an enormous out-group called the universe. Within me, within my body is a palpitating, soft, sensitive reality, there is the self. But outside I don’t feel. When I hit you, you suffer but I don’t. The outside is therefore somehow alien. And it has been drilled into us, therefore, that the world as a physical entity or process is an organization that goes on and on and on, probably through all eternity, but that the individual is in it as a brief occurrence. And is furthermore, as man, a tiny little germ living on an obscure rock revolving around an unimportant star on the fringe of one of the minor galaxies. And that the other galaxies are much bigger, and that there are more of them than you can think of. And so this puts us in this extremely remote position. As if to say: you don’t really belong at all!
Now, I explained yesterday a new cosmology where we can surely say that any point in the universe can be regarded as the center of it. There is no absolute center, but all points are the center. And so, in the same way, if we can see that, we can make a very curious psychological readjustment to our life situation, and learn how what it is that we call “I” is not a poor little puppet, but that the situation of I-ness—that is to say, of feeling central to all things—is a kind of distortion of the true situation, which is that I-ness and being, I-ness and existence, are the same thing. Only, just as the sense of self requires the sense of other, the sense of being here requires also the interval of apparent nothingness, which we call death. Life goes with death in the same sense of self goes with other. We saw there has to be this yang-yin rhythm, the crest of the wave and the trough of the wave. The crest is the life, the trough is the death, the interval.
Someone has asked me what I think about the survival of the individual personality. And so, you see, this problem of death is very critical to us. But you have to understand it and approach it by seeing that the real you is not the individual. If, for example, we draw a circle, and that circle represents the universe, then we draw rays coming from that circle in such a way that you’re drawing tangents to the circle which meet at points outside it. And so making a star in which each ray is a point which focuses the entire diameter of the star. Now, turn it inside out so that the rays go inwards into the circle. So that, inside the circle, the whole circle focuses itself at innumerable points within it. And then you have something like what we are. I said, using the astrological illustration that the soul is not in the body, but the body is in the soul. The soul is the whole universe focused at a particular time and a particular place; a here and now. And that is what you really are.
In other words, those galaxies that are immensely far off, and which you could think would have nothing to do with you at all—all that’s in you. And what you call your body, your brain, your nervous system, and so on, is in you, too. Now, you can never get at—just as we can’t get at the whole universe in the sense that, if there is only one ball in space, and that one ball constitutes the whole universe, I showed you that we couldn’t say whether that ball was moving or standing still. Because there is nothing else in relation to which it moves or stands still. So there’s something about the universe as a totality which is always indescribable and un-getatable.
Now, that is the same indescribability and un-getatability as your own mind. There is no way, in other words—just as we cannot find a name for the color of vision, the color of the lens of the eye. And so we call it transparent: no color. Of course we have to, because in the same way—a mirror has no color, otherwise it would not be able to reflect colors. So at the root of all experience whatsoever there is the non-experience which is fundamental to it. It can never be described in terms of any of the experiences within it. But it’s basic. And it lies between light and darkness, coming and going, life and death. But there is no way of your, as it were, possessing it. And you have to realize that there is no way of your possessing it for the very simple reason that it is you.
So because of the invisible and intangible nature of this reality, one tends to forget all about it and to become fascinated instead with subsidiary features inside it. Because it has no color, no shape—at least none that could be defined, because it would have to get outside itself to define its shape, and therefore, for all practical purposes, it doesn’t have any shape. Therefore, it slips out of attention, and especially out of conscious attention, because (as I’ve pointed out to you) conscious attention always is a concentration on figures in contrast with backgrounds. And so, naturally, the total background of everything that’s going on—this is, again, what Tillich means by the ground of being—escapes attention. It is the very first thing we fail to notice.
And so, in this way, we’ve become absolutely fascinated with all the things going on inside it. And we start identifying with them and taking sides, as if, for example, again: when you read the newspaper and you read out about all the terrible things going on, you find you get worked up. You get mad about this, that, and the other. And before you know where you are, you’re completely absorbed. That’s just in the same way as going to a play or in the cinema. You get infuriated. You get excited. You get—you’ve identified, you see, with the contest going on. If you could look at your blood with a microscope and see all the different kinds of creatures in your blood eating each other up, you would think that you were in grave mortal danger if that side is going to win. Wowee! Look at that poor thing. And that’s part of me. And so you get absorbed, you’d get partisan in that quarrel. So we’re all, in this way, absorbed in the daily events going on—the conflicts and everything like this—and we’re taking sides. Not realizing, you see, that you can’t actually take sides, because you need both sides. You are both sides. You are self and other. You are inside and outside. How can you take the side of the outside against the inside? Because if you won, you wouldn’t be outside. You wouldn’t be inside, either.
So then, the project of ways of liberation—like Hinduism and Buddhism and Taoism—is to restore to the fascinated individual an awareness of his eternity and his infinity. Not necessarily in terms of what we ordinarily call personal immortality, a system in which we would be able to go on into a future life with memories of all the past lives through which we have lived or past times in which we have been. So that I could address myself to the pleasures of heaven in the person of Alan Watts. I think there might be something mutually exclusive about that. But in another way, a much more interesting way. Because you well know, if you think it through, that, if you remembered forever and ever, and it had a kind of continuous, cumulative experience that after a while you would want to forget things that had happened.
You see, forgetting is as important to remembering as elimination is to assimilation. Just as you don’t simply eat food, but you let out the excrement, so, in the same way—we were discussing this morning, or somebody brought it up: an analogy between the mind and the digestive system. So forgetting is tremendously important to one’s mental functioning. That’s why we sleep. That’s why we have these intervals of unconsciousness. And unconsciousness renews things. You remember, don’t you, your childhood? When the world was new to you, and how extraordinary it was, and how very beautiful. Well, if you want to go on being an adult for always and always and always, you can never have that experience again. Because you’ve got to die first and see it all anew.
And that is why all initiation ceremonies involve a symbolic death; what you call “dying to yourself.” In various rituals people are put in coffins. And all books of the dead, like the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the Egyptian Book of the Dead, actually are coded references to initiation rites and initiation processes whereby you die to come alive. And that is for this reason: thinking about death is extremely productive. You know, it’s so difficult to think about death, isn’t it? Imagine what it would be like for consciousness to cease and never occur again. To go to sleep and never wake up. This is a consideration which teases you out of thought.
What would it be like to start out of nothing at all, as it seems that you did when you were born? That equally teases you out of thought. What is outside space? You see? All these questions which are beloved of children bring you to a point where you have to stop thinking. You can’t possibly imagine it. And that is a creative moment: when thought is nonplussed. Because what you have got to, at that point, is yourself. Just in the same way as you cannot conceive yourself—in its vastest sense, in the sense of being one with the universe—so you cannot conceive these particular questions that I have raised.
And you will find, if you think long enough about death, about the possibility of your total disappearance—and which will, so far as you’re concerned, be the total disappearance of everything else, there’s a clue in that, you see, as to who you are—if you think long enough about that, there will occur a curious flip. Yang leads to yin. You will realize that the infinite nothingness into which you will disappear when you die was the same infinite nothingness out of which you came when you were born. Do you remember not existing for millions and millions of years before you were born? You see how it flips? And so you will see the rhythm of this. That you know, of course, from objective observation, that after you are dead there will be babies born. Baby humans, baby snakes, baby beetles, babies spiders, baby fish. Billions of babies. You’ve watched people die and you’ve watched babies born later. So then, you will be every one of those babies.
Only, one of the interesting properties of being a baby individual is that you can only experience yourself one at a time. That’s the game. There would be no point in experiencing yourself as many eyes simultaneously, because the nearest thing to that would, of course, be the self of all the cells in your body, which are coagulated into one individual. But you are all of those ones that are born. But each one, of course, experiences itself in the singular. So you can expect very well after you’re dead to have the same experience in general as you had when you were born. Now, it may be that you are born again as a human being, or you may be reborn as a fish. But if you are a fish, you will be in a situation where you feel that you’re a human being, and that people are fish. I mean, they are something else. They are another species. You are the center species, which is the human situation. So it will be like it is now. It keeps repeating itself. Only, it does it with variations on a theme. That’s the reason for the many different species, many different kinds of consciousness.
So you do not need—if you understand the sense of this—you do not need to believe in any secret supernatural information which I might have access to and you don’t. It is perfectly obvious what’s going on. You would say, “But there is no connection between me and somebody else living later.” My dear friends, there is no connection between the molecules composing your hands! There are no strings joining them together. There is nothing but space between them. There is, as I talk, no connection between the sounds I am uttering, because they are vibrations. And if you magnify the sounds—I’m saying: that means you would have to slow them down on a recording system—you would eventually get something that goes: ah, ah, ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah aaaaah ah ah. And, you see, I can gargle that a little so that I get a deep bass enough you can actually hear the texture of the sound. That is to say, you’re beginning to hear the spaces in the vibration.
What is the connection between these things? Well, you say as you listen to it while I’m talking to you, it makes perfect sense. Or it’s just one sound. Aaaaaaaaaah! Sounds like it’s one sound, continuous, but it’s not. It’s discontinuous. But when you look at it from far enough away, it looks like it’s continuous. So it is with connections between lives, with connections between anything whatsoever. There are no connections. You could look at the universe from the prickly philosophy point of view and see it as purely discontinuous particles. Putt, putt, putt, putt, putt, putt, putt, putt. Machinery. But if you are a goo-type person, you see it as all continuous. Woo deedoo deedoo. Wavy, you see, instead of going putt, putt, putt. But both points of view are correct.
So if you want to be continuous, you go a little bit to goo. If you want to be discontinuous (and some people would much rather be dead when they’re dead), then you can go over to particles. But you must realize, you see, that the differentiation between particles and waves is a differentiation that is necessary to both sides of the difference. You’ll always find this is so, whatever kind of duality you make. You will never be able to escape nonduality, which is what holds dualities together. So cheer up! The whole system is rigged! You’re it!
Only, you learn to be bugged. Yes, to be bugged: to be phased by eventualities. See? Well, when you’re a baby, see, this is pushed into you by the whole society. The babies know—you see, when they first arrive in the world—the babies know that they can’t say because they don’t have any language. But they know who they are. They have what Freud calls the oceanic experience. (I don’t know really how he found this out….) See, the problem of a child psychologist is that we would just love to teach an infant to talk so that it can tell how it feels not to be able to talk how things are before you get any concepts. And so we have a kind of a theoretical notion that a baby experiences the whole world is its own body. And it makes no differentiation between itself and its mother, and so on. Maybe. Very probable. It is a matter of inference, because none of us remember quite how it was. We can’t remember because we didn’t have any words to put our memories into. No notation. Memory depends to a large extent on such notations. Well, you can get regressions by hypnosis, and maybe they tell us something, maybe they don’t.
But at any rate, what happens is that, as you start to grow up, you—let me put it like this. I think I can get this across. To a baby, nothing has any special value. Life is just a thing that goes nyooing nyooing nyooing nyooing nyooing nyooing nyooing nyooing nyooing nyooing nyooooooooouuuuooonngg blibb-blibb-blibb dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee KRRRAAOOWUPP dagga-dee dagga-dee dagga-de HWUPP, see? There’s something just happening. There’s just the play of energy, see? And there’s nothing to say in it that this is the right noise and that’s the wrong noise, this is the right shape and this is the wrong shape. It’s all just shape! It’s jazz with no discrimination as to what ought to happen, what ought not to happen. When the baby’s in pain, it hasn’t yet been taught that pain is bad. The baby just squawks. And squawking isn’t necessarily bad—until mommas teach babies that they ought not to squawk. Then squawking becomes bad.
Now, when you get enlightened at the other end of the road, you will once again see that everything that’s going on is just jooeeyoeeyoeeyoeeyoeeyoo in all kinds of ways. Marvelous! It has no value. It doesn’t have to go on. But, as a matter of fact, if it stops, stopping means going on later. It’s just an interval. There’s nothing except intervals. You can’t—just as there’s nothing outside space. You can’t stop permanently. Supposing you take the theory that the universe—you know, it’s called the explosion theory of the universe—that there was a big bang some time or other, and that all these galaxies were flung into space, and they are systems of falling energy. And eventually they’ll fade out. And that’ll be that. Well, then what? Well…. But then, how did it ever get to start? I mean, presumably, before it all happened, there was nothing going on—which will be the way it is when it stops. Anything that happened once can happen again.
So—I mean, you may say I can’t prove that. You may say that is my metaphysical leap of faith, that anything that happened once can happen again. But I would like to be able to bet on it if I could find some way of collecting the winnings. Of course, if I lose I’ll never know I lost. But I think this is the way it works, because everything works that way. Only, the thing is: don’t worry about not retaining your personal identity. Because you would get absolutely bored with it if you could. Enough of it would kill you—and indeed does!
So in the Far Eastern philosophy, human life is looked upon very much as one looks on the seasons. And spring, summer, autumn, winter. And it is felt, especially in Japanese poetry, to be an absolutely essential rhythm in the rhythm of the seasons. So, too, there is felt to be this marvelous rhythm in the biological cycle, in the life cycle. And you will disappear. But you will reappear. And the interesting thing about it is this: you could reappear in a form very like what you are now, just in the same way as two performances of a given musical piece are different performances and yet the same composition. And there are all possibilities of making this energy system go into every conceivable kind of complexity, and differences of shape, and differences of games, and every conceivable sort of possibility. And it’s going waah waah waah waah all through time.
Now, the moment—you see, this is an essential step, you might call it, in the meditation process; is to see this. Is to see everything as nonsense, as completely meaningless. Being just what it is. It is what Buddhists call seeing things as of one suchness. The words “suchness,” in Sanskrit, is tathātā, and that means “da-da-da.” See? Da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da da da! Da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da da da! Like this. And you get to seeing everything like that, where nothing matters—it doesn’t matter if you die this instant (because that will be one kind of a jazz), if you go on living a long time, it’ll be more kind of jazz if this happens, if that happens. It’s all just kind of jazz, you see? You get to being able to see that.
And simultaneously with seeing that, it becomes perfectly obvious that you, sitting here, are a continuous life with everything else all around you. One life. But that the jazz—which is called feeling that I am myself—has a way of going booey booey booey booey this way. And then feeling that there’s something other is a thing that goes brappata rappata rappata rappata, like that, you see? But it’s all, as it were, bonging on the same drum. And you’re the drum.
Well, now, following on from our discussion yesterday afternoon about relativity, and about the mutual interpenetration of every individual thing or event in the universe with every other one, and having previously discussed in the morning the yang-yin principle (the interrelation of the opposites), we are in a position to take a look at the meaning of this extraordinary classic of China, the Book of Changes, called the I Ching—not the “why ching.” I’m afraid that the way that we romanize Chinese words, there’s very little resemblance to the way they’re pronounced. That’s because the scholars have a secret conspiracy to out-group everybody else, because only if you’re in the know do you know the fact that it should be “jing” when there’s no apostrophe after the “ch”, but “ching” when there isn’t an apostrophe after this the “ch.” And so it goes.
So the I Ching, or the Book—ching means a classical book, a scripture. The Sanskrit sutra is translated into Chinese by ching. So the “classical book.” The book of I, which is change. It is suspected that the character for I was once a picture of a chameleon or lizard. Because in the same way that the chameleon changes its color on whatever background it’s put, so it came to mean change. But, you see, in that idea of change, it isn’t simple, it is is an idea of adaptation, an idea of harmonization with surroundings. And one of the basic ideas of Chinese thought about nature is a word that means resonance—as when tuning forks respond to each other. And so the resonance between any individual event and the context in which it occurs is one of the most important things that strike the Chinese mind.
For example, if we take blood: blood in the veins is not the same thing as blood in a test tube. Because it’s in a different environment, it is not behaving in the same way. And, to a very large extent, you must say that a thing is what it does. I never tire of pointing out this fundamental confusion in our thinking: by reason of the fact that grammar contains both nouns and verbs and therefore gives the impression that there are two quite distinct classes of reality. One is process denoted by verbs, the other is stuff, objects, entities denoted by nouns. But actually there is no need for this division because all nouns, all so-called things, are processes. They are particular forms of behavior. And we never can possibly describe anything but their behavior. We can say what they do, but we never can say what they are, and we can never say what does things. There isn’t any need for anything that does anything. All you need is doing. That is energy. And that’s enough for anybody.
What is energy? Well, look at it and you can see for yourself. You don’t need to define energy, just like mathematicians found out that, for purposes of geometry, you don’t need to define a point. You use points, but you don’t say what they are. To say that the point is that which has position but no magnitude is a lot of nonsense. Position but no magnitude—that’s just gobbledygook. And it’s based on human beings being confused by the words they use.
So in this way, then, in Chinese thought, the world is process. And it’s changes. Because behavior is change. And so they watched the rhythm of behavior, And as you see, basically, one of the basic rhythms of behavior is a wave. Waves on the water, waves of sound in the air, light waves. And the nature of a wave is that it’s yang and yin: it has a crest and a trough. Now, you can’t have a crest without a trough. You can’t have half a wave. There is no such thing in nature as a half wave. So there are always full waves, at least one full wave, in any energy system. And that implies a “now you see it, now you don’t.” An up and a down, a crest and a trough. And the crest is the yang and the trough is the yin.
Well, now, the Book of Changes has a very mysterious history, and scholars are naturally disposed to believe that a great deal of this history is pure legend. But there was supposed to have been, many thousand years ago, a great sage emperor by the name of Fuxi, who was followed in due course by a king whose name was Wen. And Fuxi is said to have looked around and studied nature, and to have felt the forces in it, and to have invented what are call the bagua, or the eight trigrams.
Now, you see, if you will arrange yang and yin—which are represented by broken and unbroken lines; unbroken line for yang, a broken line for yin—if you combine these in groupings of three, you have eight possible combinations. For example, three yang lines which are unbroken will then represent what the Chinese called tian, or heaven. Three broken lines, being all yang, all female, will therefore represent the opposite of heaven, which is earth. Two broken lines on either side of one unbroken line will represent water, and the opposite arrangement (two unbroken lines on either side of one broken one) will represent fire. And so on, until you get eight fundamental elements. And this—they call the bagua—you will see on the national flag of Korea. There it is with the yang-yin symbol, the two interlocked black and white commas in the middle. And you will find this symbol of the yang-yin and the bagua on ever so many plates, and Chinese objects, the backs of mirrors, and things like that. It’s a very common thing. And the idea is, you see, that it represents eight elements of the process of nature.
Now, we used to say in the West—before, in a pre-scientific age—that there were four elements: earth, water, fire, and air. We got this from India. The Indians add another one, actually, called ākāśa, which is space. We say now that is pre-scientific gobbledygook, because actually there are how many elements today? Ninety-something have been established by chemistry. But it’s the same sort of thing as saying there are three primary colors, so many colors in the spectrum, so many notes in the scale. It is simply that, in order to describe nature, you have to divide it up some way.
For example, in classifying people there are various schemes that have been worked out. We talk about there being extroverts and introverts, and Jung made up his four functions so that he could describe intuitive type, sensation types, thinking types, and feeling types. Sheldon has his own special way where he can talk about ectomorphs, mesomorphs, and endomorphs, and then have them variously cerebrotonic, somatotonic, and viscerotonic. And he could combine these three in various ways.
Now, a man like Aldous Huxley was quite obviously a cerebrotonic ectomorph: a long, skinny, intellectual. But if you look at any of these sort of classifications, you can always find flaws in them. They never really fit. And so, in the same way, the, say, political classifications that we have don’t really fit people, because their opinions are always too complicated (unless they’re quite stupid) to be able to be fitted into any of these divisions in a precise way. But nevertheless, you can’t do without classification of this sort. You can’t do without spectra.
We used to have a sergeant in training in the in the army in England who used to teach us about rifle shooting. And he said “Today, we’s goin’ to practice aiming all for wind. Now, there are three kinds of wind. Mild, fresh, and strong.” Three kinds of wind—there you are, stuck with it! You see, because, as always, you can always think of this extreme, that extreme, and something in the middle. See? Well, now, you’ve got us something a little richer to play with if you have eight instead of four. And that’s the the sort of thing that the I Ching classification is based on.
Now then, that was Fuxi, who was supposed to have invented these things. And there is another legend that he saw these trigrams by heating the shell of a tortoise until it cracked, and then studying the cracks. In the same way, Leonardo da Vinci used to go to a filthy old wall where there were all sorts of bird droppings and scratches and markings, and he would do a Rorschach blot on it, and he would see a great battle scene. And this would give him inspiration for a painting.
This is the same thing that you do when you gaze in a crystal ball, or when you look into a deep pool of ink: there are all sorts of ways of what is called divining. To divine is to consult the oracle. Like, it’s like a word, to divine—you see, there’s a subject called divinity, which has to do with the scriptures. So to divine is to study the oracle, just as Wittgenstein wanted to make a verb out of philosophy. Philosophy—he always taught to do philosophy. Philosophy isn’t just a subject, it’s an activity. And so to divine is to call upon the unconscious. Instead of thinking something out in a logical way, you allow your imagination to flow into something that is useful for an oracle—whether it’s a Rorschach blot or a crystal ball or a hexagram of the Book of Changes.
For, after Fuxi, King Wen combined the eight trigrams, and there are obviously 64 possible combinations of eight. And so the Book of Changes is simply a setting out of the 64 hexagrams with a commentary on them. And when you are a beginner in the art of the Book of Changes, you need the book. You look up the commentary to help you find out what the hexagram means. But when you are an expert you don’t need the book, you simply feel the meaning of these combinations of two elements.
Now, the theory of the Book of Changes is a very curious one. It is related to jiji muge—that is to say, the mutual interpenetration of all things and events—and is based on the idea that anything that happens at this moment will be related to this moment, because it’s in the context of this moment. Therefore, the way I would do something at random at this time will be what we call a sign of the times, or a manifestation of what in German is called the Zeitgeist. The spirit of the time, or the mind of the time. Another way of putting it would be the configuration of the time. And it’s in the same way that, for example, astrologers cast what is called a horary horoscope. That is to say, as of the moment, what are the stars? What is, in other words, the configuration of the universe? And so, in exactly the same way, the I Ching philosophy is based on the idea that how one randomly selects the yarrow stalks (or the sticks, or tosses coins) in a given situation—and you might define the situation by asking a question—that random pattern that falls will be related to the situation, and you can divine something about the situation from it.
I remember a Zen master who used to use the I Ching. He had another way. He would take anything. He took, for example, one day, a bowl of flowers, and he looked at the pattern of the arrangement of the flowers and derived a hexagram from the pattern. And from that he told us about the mood the person who had arranged them had been in. Now, of course, this is all (from our scientific point of view) unverified and maybe unverifiable. And, of course, a scientific person pooh-poohs this kind of thing. Because he’ll say, “That’s not the way to go about deciding what to do in an important situation.” When you have to decide upon action in an important situation, what do you do if you’re a scientifically minded person, is: you study all the relevant data, and you get information, and then (on the basis of that information and past experience and previous scientific studies of behavior) you decide how this situation is likely to turn out.
But there is a very serious problem about that. It is not any use for practical purposes. It is only applicable in trivial situations which are highly controlled in an experimental way. For example, in the old times when you went to the doctor, he would look at you and prod you and smell you and come up with some feeling about what was the matter with you. No doctor will do that today. They daren’t move unless they take innumerable tests. See? So you’re tested and measured precisely. Then they come back and they think about it. But, you know, they still don’t know what to do, because there comes a point in any decision-making process where you have to act on hunch. How do you know when you’ve gotten enough data about any situation; when to call a halt? Because you can go on collecting data forever. There are always infinitely many variables in any situation whatsoever, and especially in the human situation. So ultimately, don’t kid yourself. You are always deciding on a hunch what you’re going to do. Even the best informed person ultimately comes to a leap of intuition before making a decision.
So then, when you really don’t know which way to decide on a certain thing, people say: flip a coin. You know, you can always rip Christians on this because the disciples of Jesus cast lots to make a decision. But we’re always doing that. You’re fundamentally always at the point where you don’t decide for what we call purely rational reasons. So then, flipping a coin gives you two possibilities: yes or no. Now, let’s suppose you had an eight-sided coin. See, six-sided dice is a little bit richer. Instead of giving you only two decisions or possibilities, here you’ve got a possibility of variation.
Now, let’s consider a 64-sided coin. That’s what you’ve got here. Now, again, when you get the oracle in the I Ching, it is never terribly specific. Although sometimes, in your given situation, it seems to be absolutely specific when you consult it. But on the other hand, you use it like theologians use the Bible. That is to say, they read into it anything they want to find. Only, you mustn’t do this deliberately. You have to let your own unconscious processes read the oracle for you and decide what it means. In other words, you use the oracle like a Rorschach blot.
And the wisdom of that is this: that your brain—if it is your brain, and nobody really knows. You see (just to put something in parentheses) is the brain the mind? Some say yes, some say no. One would think that the structure of the brain has something to do with the structure of thought. But, on the other hand, it may not—in the same sense that a structure of a radio has nothing to do with the message that comes over it. Although Marshall McLuhan says (he belongs to the other school, you see) that the medium itself is the message. What is the relationship, for example, between the grid pattern of a newspaper photograph and the picture? The same grid pattern can convey any picture. So there seems to be a complete irrelevance between the two. But, on the other hand, there is not quite as much irrelevance as you might think, because any picture reproduced by this method has some connection with a time and with a technology that can produce this method. It’s a rather roundabout connection, that one. But nevertheless, from a big point of view, it’s a very close connection. Depends where what framework you’re looking at it in—whether you’ve got a very big framework or a very narrow one.
So when it comes down to it and you don’t know how to make a decision, alright, then you consult your brain. Now, I’m using the word brain here to mean a complex organization which you have at your disposal which you don’t understand and which is much smarter than you are. Because, you see, whatever it is that is the mind, the brain, or whatever—I don’t care what you call it—it takes care of ever so many things at once which you could never possibly think of consciously. You can’t be bothered consciously to regulate your glands, to see that your blood flows alright all the time, but your nervous system is taking care of that. It is regulating it all. Your nervous system is receiving information which you don’t know anything about. Because when we look consciously, we by no means notice all that our eyes see. But your mind or brain registers everything that is input to your eyes. So genius in thinking is fundamentally based on being able to trust your own mind and not confuse your mind with the content of conscious perception. The content of conscious perception is a tiny fragment of what’s going on around you.
You can train yourself to be more receptive than you are in ordinary consciousness. But this isn’t quite the point. It is not like: how many things did you notice? You know how you can play a game with children when they become boring in a car, and they get out a pad and write down how many things you noticed as you went along. Scouts play this sort of thing. Well, that’s all right. But that’s not the point here. The point here is not how much did you notice, because there’s no end to that. You can play that game and there are infinitely many things that you could notice. The point is to take them all in in one glance. And you can’t do that with conscious attention, but you do do it with your basic neurological or mental equipment, whatever you want to call it.
So, therefore, you have at your disposal this amazing computer, or whatever it is, that can think multidimensionally on ever so many levels at once. Now, thousands of years ago—we don’t know how far all this goes back—but people naturally trusted their minds to tell them what to do. They didn’t make decisions. They did what they felt like. Or, as we should call it, they followed instinct as animals do. Then they discovered how to figure—through language and through numbers. They found that figuring could be very effective. And they started using it and relying on it more and more and more, and as a result of this developed anxiety. Because when you don’t figure and you live purely spontaneously, you never worry. If this decision is disastrous, it’s disastrous and death will hit you in a hurry and you never know what hit you. You don’t spend all your time worrying about: did you make up your mind in the right way? And, you see, that may lead to trouble.
But the thing is that people don’t realize is that everything leads to trouble in any case. If you develop the intellect and its calculation processes to an excessive degree, what do you have? Well, you have the weapons lab of the United States Air Force, and you have the Russian this, that, and the other, and the Chinese something else. You have planned disaster. If you leave it alone—which is what the Taoists mean partly by wu wei, or non-interference—there will still be troubles in the world, but you won’t have to worry about them. And you will float along and you will feel very free. And the question is to try and calm modern people into living that way.
Now, I’m putting this—you mustn’t take me too literally. Because for a really well-developed human being, he isn’t one who simply abandons thinking and planning. Because, after all, that is some faculty that we have in just the same way that a bird has a beak. And you don’t want to, as it were, amputate your faculties. The point is rather something like this: we have to recognize the hierarchical situation of our faculties. That the thinking faculty is the servant of the larger mind, which doesn’t need to think. Just as God—if I may use that expression again—if you asked him: “How high is Mont Blanc in millimeters?” He would say, “Well, I really don’t know. I’ll have to measure it.” Because to ask that question is to ask the relation of Mont Blanc to a ruler. Mont Blanc is not in itself any millimeters or meters in height. That is what is simply a short way of talking about comparing it with a scale. And knowing what it is in height is the same thing as comparing it with the scale. So the Lord would have to say, “I must get out my ruler.” Just in the same way as you don’t know how you breathe, but you do it, so the Lord God creates the universe without knowing how it’s done. That is to say, knowing in terms of technical considerations. But you still know how to breathe, even if you don’t know how you do it, because you do it. That’s knowing how to do it. You know how to walk. Do you know how to think? Nobody does, but they do it.
So then, this unknown process produces the knowing process, but the knowing process is subordinate to it. And therefore you have to learn how to include thinking in spontaneity. But it’s subordinate to spontaneity. That’s when I wrote that thing in the bulletin about Suzuki and ended with a quotation in which he described his own life as a thinker—because he was an intellectual, he was a scholar. But he did scholarship in the spirit of spontaneity. He used thinking, he was not used by thinking. And when I say “he” here, I am referring to the mind beyond consciousness.
Now, the mind beyond consciousness—we discussed a little bit of this yesterday—that we call the Self (with a capital S) as distinct from the ego. And I pointed out why the horoscope was traditionally considered to be the map of the soul. And that the body is in the soul, not the soul in the body. So the mind that I am talking about is not merely your nervous system—if we will talk about it now in physical terms—it is not merely the nervous system, but it is the entire physical environment in which your nervous system exists and all the relationships operating within it. That’s your mind. In other words, the kind of mind you have at this moment is impossible without your living in this kind of a society. Your mind includes the telephone book, the Encyclopædia Britannica, the University of California, and everything else going on, say, in the intellectual world. Every one of us exists mentally in relation to the total intellectual process going on in this day and age in society. You draw on it, it infiltrates you, it provides you with language. You didn’t invent the English language, it was given to you as a result of a social enterprise going on for thousands of years. So, in this sense, when you consult your mind, you are consulting the entire organization of the universe as it is more immediately reflected in the structure of your nervous system, and everything that your nervous system is doing; all the kinds of messages that are running through it. It is these messages that constitute the mind.
And so this is what Buckminster Fuller means when he talks about synergy. Synergy means—from the Greek συνεργός—“working together.” And he believes that any organization has more intelligence than any one of its members. And he therefore goes on to believe that the industrial complex of communication systems covering the face of the Earth is developing its own intelligence. And it will be much more intelligent than any one of us. And this may perhaps save the situation—we don’t know.
I mean, one illustration of this (that I’m very familiar with) is air transportation. Now, every country in the world has invested a fortune in jet aircraft. And by Jove, these things have to run, otherwise they fall apart. So they must run on time. And this network of air communications is joining every city in the world together, so that by 1968, according to Buckminster Fuller, we have a one-town world. Figure it: if it takes you an hour to get from here to New York in a supersonic craft, New York is only as far away as Palo Alto. Well, that’s practically in the same community. And this is going to include Tokyo, and Moscow, and Paris, and so on, and they’re all going to become the same place. They’ll speak increasingly the same language, share the same culture, eat the same food. You can fly in San Francisco bread to Paris, which is being done because of some of the bread made here is better than the bread made in Paris. You know, it can go the other way, too. And we’re going to share a common urban culture. And this is the work of synergy. Also, the aircraft people get increasingly bored at passport and customs regulations, because they hold up traffic.
Well now, then, you might like to see how the I Ching is used. And I have here (mainly for symbolic reasons) three ancient Chinese coins. You will see that they have a square hole in the middle, and that on one side they’re inscribed and on the other side they’re not. And the inscribed side is counted as the yin face and the uninscribed side is counted as the yang. And when you use the book of changes, you usually face it with a question. And it seems to me that a good question that it might be faced with is: what should the people of the United States do about China? And you respectfully request the wisdom of the oracle in this matter, and you throw the coins down to see how they fall. And what I have is one yang and two yins. Now, strangely enough, that counts in this system (and I don’t quite know why) as. what’s called the “young yang.” I think maybe I do know why. You would think it would be a yin, with two yins and one yang. But it counts as the “young yang,” and that’s the bottom line of the hexagram. And by being a young yang, it means it’s a fixed line. It doesn’t change. Perhaps the reason why that’s called the the young yang is that, when you’ve got two yins and one yang, it means the yin is weakening and the yang is coming up. Because when you reach a point at which the yin force comes to a maximum, there is in it the seed of the yang force, and vice versa.
And, you see, you have to do this six times to get six lines. And so this time we have two yangs and one yin, which gives us the “yang yin.” And that, again, is a line which doesn’t change. Then we get to yins and one yang, which gives us another young yang. And it’s made the hexagram of water—no, fire. And this time we get three yin, which gives us a changing yin line, which is written like this. That means that after you consult the hexagram in its first form, you consult the hexagram, which is (so far as that line is concerned) the opposite. Again. Two yins and one yang, giving us the young yang. And we get here two yangs and one yin, which gives us the young yin. And so we get fire over water. Fire—no, water over fire. Water over fire. Cool it, baby! So that is five over… sweet, sweet, sweet. Yeah. Karma, believe, 63.
See, the oracle is often very surprising. 63. Jiji, meaning “after completion.” This hexagram is the evolution of t’ai, or the hexagram number eleven, meaning “peace.” The transition from confusion to order is completed and everything is in its proper place, even in particulars. The strong lines are in the strong places, the weak lines in the weak places. This is a very favorable outlook. Yet it gives reason for thought. Therefore, it is just when perfect equilibrium has been reached that any movement may cause order to revert to disorder. The one strong line that has moved to the top, thus effecting complete order in details, is followed by the other lines, each moving according to its nature. And thus, suddenly, there arises again the hexagram pi, number twelve, which is “standstill.”
Let’s see, we’re going to move to 47. Now here comes the the oracle itself. It says: after completion—which is the name of the hexagram. Success in small matters, perseverance furthers, at the beginning good fortune, at the end, disorder. Then, following the judgment, comes another part of the oracle called the image. Water over fire. The image of the condition in after completion. Thus, the superior man takes sort of misfortune and arms himself against it in advance. And then there’s a comment on the lines. And we have an eight in the—no, a six—in the one… fourth place. And the oracle here says, of this line, which is a moving one: the finest clothes turn to rags. Be careful all day long.
Now, there are many comments on this. But we should look first at the hexagram it turns into, which is number—what’d I say? 43, I think I said. No, 47. Turns into forty seven. The one it turns into indicates the direction of the motion. It turns into kun, which means oppression or exhaustion. With the lake above and the water below. The judgment is oppression, success, perseverance. The great man brings about good fortune. No blame. When one has something to say it is not believed. The image. There is no water in the lake. The image of exhaustion. Thus, the superior man takes his life on following his will.
There is a comment on this one. It says: the lake is above, water below. The lake is empty, dried up. In other words, the water flows out. Exhaustion is expressed in yet another way. At the top, a dark line is holding down two light lines. Below, a light line is hemmed in between two dark lines. The upper trigram belongs to the principle of darkness, the lower to the principle of light. Thus everywhere, superior men are oppressed and held in restraint by inferior men.
Now, the commentary on the judgment of the original hexagram reads: the transition from the old to the new time is already accomplished. In principle, everything stands systematized, and it is only in regard to details that success is still to be achieved. In respect to this, however, we must be careful to maintain the right attitude. Everything proceeds as if of its own accord. And this can all too easily tempt us to relax and let things take their own course without troubling over details. Such indifference is the root of all evil. Symptoms of decay are bound to be the result. Here we have the rule indicating the usual course of history. But this rule is not an inescapable law. He who understands it is in position to avoid its effects by dint of unremitting perseverance and caution.
And then the image, which is water over fire: when water in a kettle hangs over fire, the two elements stand in relation, and thus generate energy. But the resulting tension demands caution. If the water boils over, the fire is extinguished and its energy is lost. If the heat is too great, the water evaporates into the air. These elements here brought into relation, and thus generating energy, are by nature hostile to each other. Only the most extreme caution can prevent damage. In light of junctures when all—