Alan Watts Why The World Is A Lie

when one speaks of awakening it means D hypnotizing coming to your senses but of course to do that you have to go out of your mind sounds true presents out of your mind essential listening from the Alan Watts audio archives many of these lectures we recorded during the late 1960s in the home of Alan Watts an old ferryboat in Sausalito California we begin with the lecture on the nature of consciousness with author philosopher and self-proclaimed spiritual entertainer Alan Watts [Music] I find it a little difficult to say what the subject matter of this seminar is going to be because it's too fundamental to give it a title I'm going to talk about what there is now the first thing though that we have to do is to get our perspectives with some background about the basic ideas which as Westerners living today in the United States influence our everyday common sense our fundamental notions about what life is about and there are historical origins for this which influenced us more strongly than most people realize ideas of the world which are built into the very nature of the language we use and of our ideas of logic and of what makes sense all together and these basic ideas I call myths not using the word myth to mean simply something untrue but to use the word myth in a more powerful sense a myth is an image in terms of which we try to make sense of the world and we are present are living under the influence of two very powerful images which are in the present state of scientific knowledge inadequate and one of our major problems today is to find an adequate satisfying image of the world well that's what I'm going to talk about and I'm going to go further than that not only what image of the world to have but how we can get our sensations and our feelings in accordance with the most sensible image of the world that we can manage to conceive all right now the two images which we have been working under for two thousand years and maybe more are what I would call two models of the universe and the first is called the ceramic model and the second the fully automatic model the ceramic model of the universe is based on the book of Genesis from which Judaism Islam and Christianity derive their basic picture of the world and the image of the world in the book of Genesis is that the world is an artifact it is made as a potter takes clay and forms pots out of it or as a carpenter takes wood and makes tables and chairs out of it don't forget jesus is the son of a carpenter and also the son of god so the image of God and of the world is based on the idea of God as a technician cutter carpenter architect who has in mind a plan and who fashions the universe in accordance with that plan so basic to this image of the world is the notion you see that the world consists of stuff basically primordial matter substance stuff as pots are made of clay and the Potter imposes his will on it and makes it become whatever he wants and so in this way we inherit a conception of ourselves as being artifacts as being made and it is perfectly natural in our culture for a child to ask its mother how was I made or who made me and this is a very very powerful idea but for example it is not shared by the Chinese or by the Hindus a Chinese child would not ask its mother how was I made a Chinese child might ask its mother how did I grow which is an entirely different procedure from making you see when you make something you put it together you arrange parts or you work from the outside to the in as a as a sculptor works on a stone or as the Potter works on clay but when you watch something growing it works in exactly the opposite direction it works from the inside to the outside it expands it virgins it blossoms and it happens all over itself at once in other words the the original simple form say of a living cell in the womb progressively complicates itself and that's the growing process and it's quite different from the making process and so there is for that reason a fundamental difference between the maid and the maker and this image the ceramic model of the universe originated in cultures where the form of government was monarchic oh and we're therefore the maker of the universe was conceived also at the same time in the image of the king of the universe King of Kings Lord of lords the only ruler of princes who dust from thy throne behold all dwellers upon earth I'm quoting the Book of Common Prayer and so all those people who are oriented to the universe in that way feel related to basic reality as a subject to a king and so they are on very very humble terms in relation to whatever it is that works all this thing I find it odd in the United States that people who are citizens of a republic have a monarchical theory of the universe because we are carrying over from a very ancient Near Eastern cultures the notion that the Lord of the universe must be respected in a certain way people kneel people bow people prostrate themselves because the ruin and you know what the reason for all that is that nobody is more frightened of everybody else than a tyrant he sits with his back to the wall and his guards on either side of him and he has you face downwards on the ground because you can't use weapons that way when you come into his presence you don't stand up and face him because you might attack and he has reason to fear that you might because he's ruling you all and the man who rules you all is the biggest crook in the bunch who's he's the one who succeeded in crime the other people are pushed aside because they the criminals the people we lock up in jail simply the people who didn't make it so naturally the real boss sits with his back to the wall and his henchmen on either side of him and so when you design a church what does it look like Catholic Church with the altar as it used to be it's changing now because the Catholic religion is changing but the Catholic Church has the altar with its back to the wall at the east end of the church and there the altar is the throne and the priest is the chief vizier of the court and he is making a basin's to the throne in front but there is the throne of God the altar and all the people are facing it and kneeling down and a great Catholic cathedral is called a basilica from the Greek basileus which means king so a basilica is the house of a king and the ritual of the Catholic Church is based on the court rituals of Byzantium a Protestant church is a little different but basically the same the furniture of a Protestant Church is based on a judicial courthouse the pulpit the judge in an American Court was a black robe it wears exactly the same dress as a Protestant minister and everybody sits in these boxes like there's a jury box there's a box for the job is the box for this the box for that and those are the pews in an ordinary kind of colonial type Protestant Church so both these kinds of churches which have an autocratic view of the nature of the universe decorate themselves are architectural II constructed in accordance with political images of the universe one is the king and the other is the judge your honor a sense in this when in court you have to refer to the judge as your honor it stops the people engaged in litigation from losing their temples and getting rude there's a certain sense to that but when you want to apply that image to the universe itself to the very nature of life it has limitations for one thing the idea of a difference between matter and spirit this idea doesn't work anymore long long ago physicists stopped asking the question what is matter they began that way they wanted to know what is the fundamental substance of the world and the more they asked that question the more they realized they couldn't answer it because if you're going to say what matter is you've got to describe it in terms of behavior and that is to say in terms of form in terms of pattern you tell what it does you describe the smallest shapes of it that you can see atoms electrons protons Nissan's all sorts of sub-nuclear particles but you never never arrive at the basic stuff because there isn't it what happens is this stuff is a word for the world as it looks when our eyes are out of focus fuzzy stuff the idea of stuff is that it's undifferentiated as some kind of ague hmm and when your eyes are not in sharp focus everything looks fuzzy when you get your eyes into focus you see a form you see a pattern and so all that we can talk about is patterns so the picture of the world in the most sophisticated physics of today is not formed stuff potted clay but patent a self moving self designing pattern they dance and we haven't yet our common sense as individuals hasn't yet caught up with us well now in the course of time in the evolution of Western thought the ceramic image of the world ran into trouble and changed into what I call the fully automatic model or image of the world in other words Western science was based on the idea that there are laws of nature and it got that idea from Judaism and Christianity and Islam that in other words the Potter the maker of the world in the beginning of things laid down the laws and the the law of God which is also the law of nature is called the logos and in Christianity the log-off's is the second person of the Trinity incarnate as Jesus Christ who thereby is the perfect exemplar of the divine law so we have tended to think of all natural phenomenon as responding to laws as if in other words the laws of the world were like the rails on which a streetcar or tram or a train runs and these things exist in a certain way and all events respond to these laws you know that Limerick there was a young man who said down for it certainly seems that I am a creature that moves indeterminate grooves I'm not even a bus I'm a tram here's this idea that there's a kind of a plan and everything responds and obeys that plan well in the 18th century Western intellectuals began to suspect this idea what they suspected is whether there is a lawmaker whether there is an architect of the universe and they found out or they reasoned that you don't have to suppose that there is why because the hypothesis of God does not help us to make any predictions in other words let's put it this way if the business of science is to make predictions about what's going to happen science is essentially prophecy what's going to happen by studying the behavior of the past and describing it carefully we can make predictions about what's going to happen in the future that's really the whole of science and to do this and to make successful predictions you do not need God as a hypothesis because it makes no difference to anything if you say everything is controlled by God everything is governed by God that doesn't make any difference to your prediction of what's going to happen and so what they did was simply drop that hypothesis but they kept the hypothesis of law because if you can predict if you can study the past and describe how things have behaved and you've got some regularities in the behavior of the universe you call that law although it may not be law in the ordinary sense of the word a simply regularity and so they what they did was they got rid of the lawmaker and kept the law and so they conceived the universe in terms of a mechanism something in other words that is functioning according to regular clock like mechanical principles Newton's whole image of the world is based on billions the atoms are billiard balls and they bang each other around and so your behavior you hear every every individual therefore is defined as a very very complex arrangement of billiard balls being banged around by everything else and so behind the fully automatic model of the universe is the notion that reality itself is to use the favorite term of 19th century scientists blind energy in say the metaphysics of ants tackle and th Huxley the world is basically nothing but blind unintelligent force and likewise in parallel to this in the philosophy of Freud the basic psychological energy is libido which is blind lust and it is only a fluke it is only as a result of pure chances that resulting from the exuberance of this energy there are people with values with reason with languages with cultures and with love just a fluke like you know 1000 monkeys typing 1000 typewriters for a million years will eventually tightly Encyclopedia Brittanica and of course the moment they stop typing the Encyclopedia Britannica they will relapse into nonsense and so in order that that shall not happen because you and I are flukes in this cosmos and we like our way of life we like being human if we want to keep it say these people we've got to fight nature because it'll turn us back into nonsense the moment we let it and so we've got to impose our will upon this world as if we were something completely alien to it from outside and so we get a culture based on the idea of the war between man and nature and we talk about the conquest of space the conquest of Everest and the great symbols of our culture are the rocket and the bulldozer the rocket you know compensation for the sexually inadequate male so who is going to conquer space you know we're in space already way out if anybody cared to be sensitive and let what's outside space come to you you can if your eyes are clear enough aided by telescopes aided by radio astronomy aided by all the kind of sensitive instruments we can devise we are as far out in space as we're ever going to get but you know sensitivity isn't the pitch in in especially in the W ASP culture of the United States we define man - in terms of aggression you see because we are not we a little bit frightened as to whether we are really men and so we put on this great show of being a tough guy it's completely unnecessary you know if you have what it takes you don't need to put on that show you don't need to beat nature into submission why be hostile to nature because after all you are a symptom of nature you as a human being you grow out of this physical universe in just exactly the same way that an apple grows off an apple tree so let's say the tree which grows apples is a tree which apples using Apple as a verb and a world in which human beings arrive is a world that people's and so the existence of people is symptomatic of the kind of universe we live in just as spots on somebody's skin and symptomatic of chickenpox but we have been brought up by reason of our two great myths the ceramic and the fully-automatic not to feel that we belong in the world so our popular speech reflects it we say I came into this world you didn't you came out of it we say face facts we talk about encounters with reality as if it was a head-on meeting of completely alien agencies and the average person has the sensation that he is a somewhat that exists inside a bag of skin the center of consciousness which looks out of this thing and what the hell is it going to do to me you see I recognize you you kind of look like me and I've seen myself in a mirror and you look like you might be people so maybe you're intelligent maybe you can love too and may perhaps you're alright some of you are anyway if you got the right color of skin or you have the right religion or whatever it is you're okay but there are all those people over in Asia Africa and they may not really be people when you want to destroy someone you always define them as um people not really human monkeys may be idiots maybe machines maybe but not people but we have this hostility to the external world because of the superstition the myth the absolutely unfounded theory that you yourself exist only inside your skin now I want to propose another idea altogether and other astronomers either say there was a primordial explosion enormous bang millions of years ago billions of years ago which flung all the galaxies into space let's take that just for the sake of argument and say that was the way it happened it's like you took a bottle of ink and you threw it at a wall smash and all that ink spreads and in the middle it's dense isn't it and as it gets out on the edge the little droplets are finer and finer and make more complicated patterns see so in the same way there was a big bang in the beginning of things and it's spread and you and I sitting here in this room has complicated human beings our way way out on the fringe of that band we're the complicated little patterns on the end of it very interesting but so we define ourselves as being only that if you think that you are only inside your skin you define yourself as one very complicated little curlicue way out on the edge of that explosion way out in space and way out in time billions of years ago you were a Big Bang there now you're a complicated human being and when then we cut ourselves off like this and don't feel that we are still the Big Bang but you are depends how you define yourself you are actually if this is the way things started if there was a big bang in the beginning you're not something that is a result of the big bang on the end of the process you are still the process you are the Big Bang the original force of the universe coming on as whoever you are see when I meet you I see not just what you define yourself as mister so-and-so miss song so mrs. so-and-so I see every one of you as the primordial energy of the universe coming on at me in this particular way I know I'm that too but we've learned to define ourselves as separate from it and so what I would call a kind of a basic problem we've got to go through first is to understand that there are no such things as things that is to say separate things or separate events now that is only a way of talking and if you can understand this you're gonna have no further problems I once asked a group of high school children what do you mean by a thing and first of all they gave me all sorts of synonyms they said it's an object which is simply another word for a thing it doesn't tell you anything about what you mean by a thing and finally a very smart girl from Italy who was in the group said a thing is a noun and she was quite right a noun isn't a part of nature it's part of speech there are no nouns in the physical world there are no separate things in the physical world either see the physical world is Wiggly the clouds mountains trees people are all Wiggly and only when human beings get working at things they build buildings and straight lines and try and make out that the world isn't really Wiggly but here are we sitting in this room all built on straight lines but each one of us is as Wiggly as all get-out now then when you want to get control of something that Wiggles it's pretty difficult isn't it you try and pick up a fish in your hands and the fish is Wiggly and it slips out what do you do to get hold of a fish you use a net and so the the net is the basic thing we have for getting hold of the wiggly world and so if you want to get hold of this wiggle you've got to put a net over it and I can number the holes in a net so many so holds up so many holes across and if I can number these holes I can count exactly where each wiggle is in terms of a hole in that net and that's the beginning of calculus the art of measuring the world but in order to do that I've got to break up the wiggle into bits I've got to call this a specific bit and this the next bit of the wiggle and this the next it and this the next bit of the wiggle and so these bits are things or events bits of Wiggles which I mark out in order to talk about the wiggle in order to measure it and therefore in order to control it but in nature in fact in the physical world the wiggle isn't bitted like you don't get a cut-up fryer out of an egg but you have to cut the chicken up in order to eat it you bite it but it doesn't come bitten so the world doesn't come thing it doesn't come event it you and I are all as much continuous with the physical universe as a wave is continuous with the ocean the ocean waves and the universe peoples and as the wave I wave at you and say you the world is waving at me with you and saying hi I'm here but we are consciousness the way we feel and sense our existence being based on a myth that we are made that we are parts that we are things our consciousness has been influenced so that each one of us does not feel that we feel we have been hypnotized literally hypnotized by social convention into feeling and sensing that we exist only inside our skins that we are not the original bang but just something out on the end of it and therefore we are scared stiff my wave is going to disappear and I'm going to die and that be awful we've got a mythology going now which is father mask we'll put it we are nothing but some you it happens between the maternity ward and the crematorium that's it and therefore everybody feels unhappy and miserable no this is what people really believe today you may go to church you may say you believe in this that and the other but you don't even Jehovah's Witnesses who are the most fundamentalist fundamentalists they are polite when they come round and knock at the door but if you really believed in Christianity you would be screaming in the streets but nobody does you'd be taking full-page ads in the paper every day you would have the most terrifying television programs the churches would be going out of their minds if they really believed what they teach but they don't they think they ought to believe what they teach they believe they should believe but they don't believe it because what we really believe is the fully automatic model and that is our basic plausible common sense you are a fluke you are a separate event and you run from the maternity ward to the crematorium and that's it baby that's it now why does anybody think that way there's no reason to because it isn't even scientific it's just a myth and it's invented by people who wanted to feel a certain way they want to play a certain game see the game of God begotten God embarrassing the idea of God as the putter the architect of the universe is good and it makes you feel that life is after all important there is someone who cares it has meaning it has sense and you are valuable in the eyes of the Father but after a while it gets embarrassing and you realize that everything you do is being watched by God he knows your tiniest inmost feelings and thoughts and you say after a while quit bugging me I don't want you harmed so you become an atheist just to get rid of it then then you feel terrible after that because you got rid of God but that means you got rid of yourself you're just nothing but a machine and your idea that you're a machine is just a machine too so if you're a smart kid you commit suicide Camus said there is only really one serious philosophical question which is whether or not to commit suicide I think there are four or five serious philosophical questions the first one is who started it the second is are we going to make it the third is where are we going to put it the fourth is who's going to clean up and the fifth is it serious but but still I should you are not commit suicide this is a good question why go on and you only go on if the game is worth the candle now the universe has been going on for an incredible long time and so really a factory theory of the universe has to be one that's worth betting on that's a very seems to me absolutely elementary common-sense if you make a theory of the universe which isn't worth betting on why bother just commit suicide but if you want to go on playing the game you've got to have an optimal theory for playing the game otherwise there's no point in it but the people who coined the fully automatic theory of the universe you you see and I'm real hard see that's the way of flattering yourself and so it has become academically plausible and fashionable that this is the way the world works in academic circles no other theory of the world and the fully automatic model is respectable because if you're an academic person you've got to be an intellectually tough person you've got to be prickly see there are basically two kinds of philosophy once called prickles the others called goo and prickly people are precise rigorous logical like everything chopped up and clear goo people like it vague there for example in physics prickly people believe that the ultimate constituents of matter of particles goo people believe it's waves and in in philosophy prickly people are logical positivists and goo people are idealists and they're always arguing with each other and what they don't realize is that they neither one can take his position without the other person because you wouldn't know you advocated prickles unless it was somebody else advocating goo you wouldn't know what a prickle was unless you knew what goo was because life is not either prickles or goo it's gooey prickles and pretty cool they go together like back and front male and female and that's the answer to philosophy see I'm a philosopher and I'm not going to argue very much because if you don't argue with me I don't know what I think so if we argue I say thank you because they're going to the courtesy of your taking a different point of view I understand what I mean so I can't get rid of you but however you see this whole idea that the universe is just nothing at all but an intelligent force playing around even enjoying it is a put-down theory of the world people who had a an advantage to make a game to play by putting it down and making out that because they put the world down they were a superior kind of people so that just won't do we've had it because if you seriously go along with this idea of the world you're what is technically called alienated you feel hostile to the world you feel that the world is a trap it is a a mechanism it's electronic and neurological mechanisms into which you somehow got caught and you poor thing have to put up with being in a body that's falling apart and that gets cancer that gets the great Siberian itch and it's just terrible and these mechanics doctors are trying to help you out but they really can't succeed in the end and you're just gonna fall apart and it's a grim business and it's too bad so if you think that that's the way things are you may as well commit suicide right now unless you say well I don't because they're really after all there might be eternal damnation in the back of the thing if I did that or then I identify with my children or something and I think of them going on and without me and nobody to support them but of course if I do go on in this frame of mind and continue to support them I shall merely teach them to be like ion and they all go on dragging it out to support their children and they won't enjoy it and they'll be afraid to commit suicide and so will their children they all learn the same lesson so you see all I'm trying to say is that the basic common sense about the nature of the world that is influencing most people in the United States today the fully automatic model is simply a myth if you want to say that the idea of God the Father with his white beard on the golden throne is a myth in the bad sense of the word myth so is this other one it's just as phony and has just as little to support it as being the true state of affairs why and let's get this clear if there is any such thing at all as intelligence and love and beauty well you found it in other people in other words it exists in us as human beings and as I said if it is there in us it is symptomatic of the scheme of things we are a symptomatic of the scheme of things as the apples are symptomatic of the apple tree or the rose of the rosebush the earth is not a big rock infested with living organisms any more than your skeleton is bones infested with cells the earth is geological yes but this geological entity and grows people and our existence on the earth is a symptom of the solar system and it's balances as much as the solar system in turn is a symptom of our galaxy and our galaxy in its turn is a symptom of the whole company of galaxies goodness only knows what that's in but you see when as a scientist you describe the behavior of an living organism you try to say what a person does it's the only way in which you can describe what a person is described what they do then you find out that in making this description you cannot confine yourself to what happens inside the skin in other words you can't talk about a person walking unless you start describing the floor because when I walk I don't just dangle my legs in empty space I move in relationship to a room and so in order to describe what I'm doing when I'm walking I have to describe the room I have to describe the territory so in describing my talking at the moment I can't describe this just as a thing in itself because I'm talking to you and so what I'm doing at the moment is not completely described unless your being here is described also so if that is necessary if in other words in order to describe my behavior I have to describe your behavior and the behavior of the environment it means that we've really got one system of behavior that what I am involves what you are I don't know who I am unless I know who you are and you don't know who you are unless you know who I am it was a wise rabbi once said if I am I because you are you and you are you because I am I then I am NOT I and you are not you in other words we are not separate we define each other we're all backs and fronts to each other you know you can't for example have two sticks you lean two sticks against each other and they stand up because they support each other take one away and the other falls they interdependent and so in exactly that way we and our environment and all of us and each other are interdependent systems we know who we are in terms of other people we all look together now this is again and again the serious scientific description of how things happen and any good scientist knows therefore that what you call the external world is as much you as your own body your skin doesn't separate you from the world it's a bridge through which the external world flows into you and you flow into it just for example as a whirlpool in water you could say because you have a skin you have a definite shape you have a definite form all right here is what a flow of water and it suddenly it does a whirlpool and then it goes on the Whirlpool is a definite form but no water stays put in it the Whirlpool is something the stream is doing and exactly the same way the whole universe is doing each one of us and I see you today and I recognize you tomorrow just as I would recognize a whirlpool in the stream I'd say oh yes I've seen that well pool before it's just near so-and-so's house on the end of the river and it's always there so in the same way when I meet you tomorrow I recognize you you're the same well pool you were yesterday but you're moving the whole world is moving through you all the cosmic rays all the food you're eating a stream of steaks and milk and eggs and everything is just flowing right through you when you're wiggling the same way the world is wiggling the stream is wiggling you but the problem is you see we haven't been taught to feel that way the myths underlying our culture and underlying our common sense have not taught us to feel identical with the universe but only parts of it only in it only confronting it aliens and we are I think quite urgently in need of coming to feel that we are the eternal universe each one of us otherwise we're going to go out of our heads we're going to commit suicide collectively with courtesy of h-bombs and all right supposing we do well that will be that and there will be life making experiments on other galaxies maybe they'll find a better game out of your mind now continues with the next lecture from the nature of consciousness lecture series [Music] well now I was discussing two of the great myths or models of the universe which lie in the intellectual and psychological background of all of us the myth of the world as a political monarchical state in which we are all here on sufferance as subjects of God in which we are made artifacts who do not exist in our own right God alone in the first myth exists in his own right and you exist as a favour and you ought to be grateful like your parents come on and say to you maybe look at all the things we've done for you all the money we spent to send you to college and you turn out to be a beatnik you're a wretched ungrateful child and you're supposed to say sorry I really am but you're you're definitely in the position of being on probation so that that idea of the royal god the king of kings and the Lord of lords which we inherit from the political structures of the tigris-euphrates cultures and from Egypt the Pharaoh Amenhotep the fourth is probably as Freud suggested the original author of Moses monotheism and the certainly the Jewish law code comes from Hammurabi in Chaldea and these men lived in a culture well the pyramid and the ziggurat the ziggurat is a Chaldean version of the pyramid indicating somehow a hierarchy of power from the bus all the way down and God in this first myth that we've been discussing the ceramic myth is the boss and the idea of God is that the universe is governed from above but you see this parallels and goes hand-in-hand with the idea that you govern your own body that the ego which lies somewhere between the ears and behind the eyes in the brain is the governor of the body and so we can't understand and assist a system of order a system of life in which there isn't a government Oh Lord our governor how excellent is thy name in all the world but supposing on the contrary there could be a system which doesn't have a government that's what we are supposed to have in this society we are supposed to be a democracy and a republic and we are supposed to govern ourselves and yet as I said it's so funny that Americans can be politically Republican I don't mean Republican in the party sense and yet religiously monarchy code it's a real strange contradiction so what is this universe is it a monarchy is it a republic is it a mechanism or an organism because you see if it's a mechanism either it's a a mere mechanism as in the fully automatic model or else it's the mechanism under the control of a driver in mechanic's if it's not that it's an organism and an organism is the thing that governs itself in your body there is no bus you can say you can argue for example that the brain is a gadget evolved by the stomach in order to serve the stomach for the purposes of getting food or you can argue that the stomach is a gadget evolved by the brain to feed it and keep it alive whose game is this is it the brains game or the stomach's game it doesn't make actually their mutual the brain implies the stomach the stomach implies the brain and neither of them is the boss you know that story about all the limbs of the body said the hands said we we do all our work the feet said we do our work the mouth said we do all the chewing and here's this lazy stomach who just gets it all and doesn't do a thing we doesn't do any work so let's go on strike and the hands refused to carry the feet refused to walk the mouth refused to and said now we're on strike against the stomach but after a while all of them found themselves getting weaker and weaker and weaker and weaker because they didn't recognize that the stomach fed them so there is the possibility then that we are not in the kind of system that are these two myths delineate that we are not living in a world where we ourselves in the deeper sense of self are outside reality and somehow in a position that we have to bow down to it and say as a great favour please preserve us in existence nor are we in a system which is merely mechanical and in which we are nothing but flukes trapped in the electrical wiring of a nervous system which is fundamentally rather inefficiently arranged what's the alternative well we can put the alternative in another image altogether and I will call this not the ceramic image not the fully automatic image but the dramatic image consider the world as a drama what's the basis of all drama the basis of all stories of all plots of all happenings it's the game of hide-and-seek you get a baby what's the fundamental first game you play with the baby you put a book in front of your face and you peek at the baby like this the baby starts giggling because the baby is close to the origins of life it comes from the womb really knowing what it's all about but it can't put it into words see what every child psychologist really wants to know is to get a baby at the top psychological jargon and explain how it feels the baby knows you do this and this this this and the baby starts laughing because the baby is a recent incarnation of God and the baby knows therefore that hide and seek is the basic game see before when we were children we were taught one-two-three and ABC but we once sat down on our mother's knees and taught the game of black and white that's the thing that was left out of all our education that life is not a conflict between opposites but a polarity the difference between a conflict and a polarity is simply when you say about opposite things we sometimes use the expression these two things are the poles apart you say for example with someone with whom you totally disagree I am the poles apart from this person but you're very saying that gives the show away poles poles are the opposite ends of one magnet and if you take a magnet it's a North Pole and a South Pole right chop off the south pole move it away the piece you've got left creates a new South Pole you never get rid of the South Pole things maybe the poles apart but they go together and you can't have the one without the other that's the basic idea of polarity but what we are trying to imagine is the encounter of forces that come from absolutely opposed realms they have nothing in common when we say of two personality types that they're the poles apart we are trying to think eccentrically instead of concentrating and so in this way we haven't realized that life and death black and white good and evil being and non-being come from the same center they imply each other so that you wouldn't know the one without the other now I'm not saying that that's bad that's fun you are playing the game that you don't know that self and other go together in just the same way as the two poles of the magnet so that when anybody in our culture says slips into the state of consciousness where they suddenly find this to be true and they come on and say I'm God we say you're insane now it's very difficult you you can very easily slip into the state of consciousness where you feel your God it can happen to anyone just in the same way as you can get the flu or measles or something like that you can slip into this state of consciousness when you get it it depends upon your background and your training as to how you're going to interpret it if you've got the idea of God that comes from popular Christianity God as the governor the political head of the world and you think your God then you say to everybody well you should bow down and worship me but if you're a member of Hindu culture and you suddenly tell all your friends I'm God instead of saying you're insane they say congratulations at last you found out because their idea of God is not the autocratic governor when they'd make images of Shiva say he has ten arms how would you use ten arms it's hard enough to use two you know if you play the organ you've got to use your two feet and your two hands and you play different rhythms with each member it's kind of tricky but actually we are all masters of this because how do you grow each hair without having to think about each nerve how do you beat your heart and digest with your stomach at the same time you don't have to think about it in your very body you are omnipotent in the true sense of omnipotence which is that you are able to be omnipotent you are able to do all these things without having to think about it when I was a child I used to ask my mother of course all sorts of ridiculous questions that every child asked and when she got bored with my question she'd say darling there are some things we're just not meant to know well I said well we ever know she said yes applause when we die and go to heaven every god will make everything plain so I used to imagine on wet afternoons in heaven we'd all sit around the throne of grace and say to God well now why did you do this and how did you do that and he would explain it to us Heavenly Father why are the leaves green and he would say because of the chlorophyll and we'd say oh but in the Hindu universe you would say to God how did you make the mountains and he would say well I just did it because what you're asking me for when you asked me how did I make the mountains you're asking me to describe in words how I made the mountains and there are no words which can do this words cannot tell you how I made the mountains any more then I can drink the ocean with a fork a fork may be useful for sticking into a piece of something and eating it but it won't it is no use for a imbibing the ocean will take millions of years so it would take millions of years in other words you would be bored with my description long before I got through it if I put it to you in words because I didn't create the mountains with words I just did it like you open and close your hand you know how to do this but can you describe in words how you do it but you do it you are conscious aren't you do you know how you manage to be conscious do you know how you beat your heart can you say in words explain correctly how this is done you do it but you can't put it into words because words are to comes it and yet you manage this expertly for as long as you're able to do it this concludes session one of out-of-your-mind essential listening from the Alan Watts audio archives our program continues with Session two [Music]

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