Alan Watts - Don't Take Life too Seriously

Yorkie and the Cat
31 Jan 201630:42

Summary

TLDRThe transcript explores the concept of the Joker's perspective, viewing both social institutions and natural formations as games. It delves into the Joker's amusement at individuals taking life too seriously, and contrasts 'far out' unconventional people with 'far in' individuals who understand the true nature of existence. The Joker represents the player who ultimately plays a trick on themselves, embodying the idea that we are all responsible for our experiences. The discussion also touches on the relationship between anxiety and laughter, suggesting they are two sides of the same coin, and that the interpretation of life's challenges can shift from fear to amusement, transforming pain into ecstasy.

Takeaways

  • 🃏 The Joker's perspective views both social institutions and natural formations as games, emphasizing the playful aspect of existence without trivializing it.
  • 🎭 Society often takes itself too seriously, and the 'far out' individuals are seen as unconventional, while the 'far in' individuals maintain a connection to the true nature of reality behind the scenes.
  • 🎩 The 'far in' people act as a counterbalance to the anxiety and seriousness of the 'far out' people, keeping them grounded and preventing them from going insane.
  • 🤡 The Joker represents the ultimate 'far in' individual, playing the great trick on himself by seeing through the illusions of the game and embracing the eternal nature of existence.
  • 🌀 The concept of the 'green room' symbolizes the still point in the center of the turning world, where God or the ultimate reality is found, uninvolved in the games of the world.
  • 🚀 Becoming a Buddha or achieving enlightenment is likened to a sudden, cunning departure from the 'town' of worldly attachments, without warning or preparation.
  • 🔄 The double bind of seeking spontaneity is highlighted, where the very act of trying to be spontaneous makes it impossible to achieve true spontaneity.
  • 🤔 The realization that all actions, including breathing and thinking, are spontaneous and present activities, leads to the understanding that living in the present is both impossible and inevitable.
  • 😂 The transformation of anxiety into laughter is discussed, showing that the same emotional response can be interpreted in different ways based on one's perspective.
  • 💀 The concept of death as a jest is introduced, suggesting that the fear of death is a fundamental misunderstanding of the eternal nature of existence.
  • 🌌 The idea that existence is cyclical and eternal is explored, challenging the notion of a final, irreversible end to life and the universe.

Q & A

  • What is the central theme discussed in the transcript?

    -The central theme discussed in the transcript is the concept of viewing life and social institutions as games from the perspective of the 'joker', and how this viewpoint can lead to a deeper understanding of the nature of existence and the transformation of anxiety into laughter.

  • How does the speaker describe the term 'game' in the context of the joker's point of view?

    -The speaker describes the term 'game' not as something trivial, but as an important activity that is done sincerely and for its own sake, without an ulterior motive. The joker sees both natural forms and human social institutions as games.

  • What is the significance of the 'far out' and 'far in' people according to the transcript?

    -The 'far out' people are those who are deeply involved and lost in the seriousness of the societal games they play, whereas the 'far in' people are those who maintain contact with the original intentions and the 'green room' behind the scenes, acting as a prompter in a theater, keeping the societal wheel turning on its axle.

  • How does the speaker relate the concept of anxiety and laughter?

    -The speaker suggests that anxiety and laughter are essentially the same phenomenon viewed from different perspectives. The transformation from anxiety to laughter occurs when one realizes the eternal nature of existence and sees through the game of life.

  • What does the speaker mean by 'the sudden school' and 'satori' in the context of Zen Buddhism?

    -The speaker refers to 'the sudden school' and 'satori' as terms related to Zen Buddhism, which emphasize the idea of sudden enlightenment or awakening. This is the concept of becoming a buddha instantly, without any preparation or warning, as a way to overcome the immense opposition stirred up by the individual's challenge to their karma.

  • How does the speaker discuss the concept of eternity and existence?

    -The speaker discusses the concept of eternity and existence by arguing that existence is eternal and that the ending of existence implies the beginning of something new. He uses the metaphor of the universe running down like a jar of mixed black pepper and salt, suggesting that what happened once (the big bang) can happen again.

  • What is the speaker's perspective on the interpretation of pain?

    -The speaker suggests that the interpretation of pain can shift from viewing it as a destructive force to experiencing it as an extraordinary sensation without negative connotations. This shift can transform pain into a form of ecstasy, changing the experience from one of terror to one of fascination.

  • How does the speaker use the example of the zebra with black and yellow stripes to illustrate his point?

    -The speaker uses the example of the zebra to illustrate that the same phenomenon can be viewed from different perspectives. Whether the zebra is seen as a yellow horse with black stripes or a black horse with yellow stripes, both viewpoints are valid and demonstrate the subjectivity of perception.

  • What is the significance of the skull in the transcript's discussion on death and jest?

    -The skull is used to challenge the conventional view of death as a grim end. The speaker cites a poem by Chesterton where the skull is seen as a symbol of everlasting laughter, suggesting that death can be viewed as a jest, a playful aspect of the cyclical nature of existence.

  • How does the speaker connect the idea of the 'green room' to the concept of God and the still point of the turning world?

    -The speaker connects the 'green room' to the concept of God and the still point by describing it as the central, unchanging point in the dynamic world. It is where God is 'at home', not involved in the games of the world, and it represents the underlying stability and peace behind the constant change and activity of life.

  • What is the importance of the 'prompter' in the analogy of the universe and societal games?

    -The 'prompter' in the analogy is important as they represent the individuals who keep the actors (people) in touch with the 'green room' (the still point or God). They serve as a reminder of the original intentions and the true nature of the 'game', helping to maintain balance and connection in the midst of societal activities.

Outlines

00:00

🃏 The Joker's Perspective on Life and Games

This paragraph introduces the concept of viewing life and its institutions from the Joker's perspective, where everything is seen as a game. It emphasizes the importance of not trivializing the concept of 'games', as they can be significant and sincere, akin to playing a musical instrument. The Joker's viewpoint allows for the observation of natural forms and human institutions as games played for their own sake, without ulterior motives. This perspective suggests that taking life too seriously can be amusing, as it highlights the absurdity of human importance in the grand scheme of things.

05:01

🎭 The Stage and the Green Room: A Metaphor for Existence

The paragraph delves into the metaphor of theater, where actors on stage represent humans fully immersed in the 'game' of life, while the prompter in the green room symbolizes a connection to the original intentions and the true nature of existence. It contrasts 'far out' individuals, who are unconventional, with 'far in' individuals, who maintain a connection to the essence of life behind the scenes. The 'green room' is likened to the state of God or the ultimate truth, where one is not involved in the games of the world. The paragraph suggests that certain people, like a priesthood or those 'in the know', act as prompts, keeping society connected to its foundational truths.

10:02

🤔 The Paradox of Sudden Enlightenment

This section discusses the paradox of seeking spontaneous spiritual awakening, which by its nature cannot be sought or planned. It describes the 'sly man' who achieves enlightenment without any prior announcement, highlighting the concept of 'sudden' schools of thought like Zen Buddhism and the idea of satori, or sudden awakening. The text explores the double bind of wanting to be spontaneous while also planning for spontaneity, leading to a state of paralysis where the only resolution is to laugh at the absurdity of the situation.

15:05

😂 The Transformation of Anxiety into Laughter

The paragraph examines the relationship between anxiety and laughter, suggesting they are two sides of the same coin. It uses the example of tears, which can represent both grief and joy, to illustrate how life's vibrations can be interpreted differently. The Joker's role is to transform the anxiety-induced trembling into laughter, embracing the absurdity of existence and finding humor in the human condition.

20:06

💀 The Skull as a Symbol of Mortality and Laughter

This paragraph discusses the use of skulls as reminders of mortality, typically seen as grim, but also as a symbol of laughter and eternity. It references Chesterton's poem to illustrate how death can be viewed as a jest. The text explores the idea of life as a series of oscillations and vibrations, which can be interpreted as either fearful or joyful experiences. It suggests that the ultimate realization that existence is eternal can transform the perception of death and anxiety into laughter and acceptance.

25:10

🌌 The Eternal Nature of Existence and the Cosmos

The paragraph contemplates the concept of the universe running down towards a stable state, like mixing black pepper and salt, and the idea that what happened once can happen again. It argues against the notion of existence happening only once, asserting that nothingness and somethingness are intertwined. The text suggests that the eternal nature of existence implies continuous cycles of creation and destruction, transforming the fear of death into a realization of the everlasting nature of being.

30:10

🎶 The Perception of Pain and the Experience of Ecstasy

This section explores the interpretation of pain, suggesting that its perception can shift from viewing it as destructive to experiencing it as ecstasy when freed from negative associations. It discusses the transformation of the victim's mindset during torture, where pain eventually becomes a cooperative experience. The paragraph emphasizes the power of changing one's approach to experiences, using the example of John Cage's silent music to illustrate how shifting expectations can lead to new, unprejudiced perceptions of reality.

Mindmap

Keywords

💡Joker

In the context of the video, the Joker represents a perspective that views both social institutions and natural formations as games. This viewpoint suggests that these 'games' are not trivial but are played for their own sake, without ulterior motives. The Joker sees the intensity of seriousness in people as amusing, as they are deeply involved in the 'game' of life, often losing sight of the bigger picture. This concept is central to the video's exploration of how different people interpret and engage with the world around them.

💡Games

The term 'games' in the video is used metaphorically to describe various aspects of life, including social structures and natural phenomena. It implies that these aspects are not to be taken as trivial or unimportant, but rather as complex and meaningful activities that are engaged with for their own sake, rather than for some external reward or outcome. The concept challenges the听众 to view life and its many facets as opportunities for play and enjoyment, rather than solely as serious, burdensome obligations.

💡Seriousness

In the video, 'seriousness' refers to the intense, often rigid, approach that individuals take towards life and its various 'games'. It is contrasted with the playful perspective of the Joker, who sees the overly serious attitude as both unnecessary and amusing. The video suggests that an overly serious approach can lead to a loss of perspective and a failure to appreciate the true nature of life's experiences.

💡Anxiety

Anxiety in the video is portrayed as a common human experience that arises from the fear and uncertainty associated with life's 'games'. However, the speaker suggests that anxiety and laughter are two sides of the same coin, and that the perception of life's challenges can be shifted from one of fear to one of amusement. This shift in perspective can lead to a more relaxed and enjoyable approach to life.

💡Laughter

Laughter is presented in the video as a powerful counterpoint to anxiety. It represents the release of tension and the ability to see the humor in life's situations. The speaker argues that laughter is not just a response to comedy but can also be a way of interpreting and coping with anxiety-inducing situations. It is a means of transforming fear and tension into lightness and joy.

💡Sudden Awakening

The concept of 'Sudden Awakening' refers to the unexpected and instantaneous realization or understanding that one can achieve in the pursuit of spiritual growth or enlightenment. In the video, this idea is linked to the 'sly man' and the Zen Buddhist concept of 'satori', which is a sudden enlightenment that comes without warning or preparation. The speaker emphasizes the importance of not actively seeking this state, as the very act of seeking can prevent it from occurring spontaneously.

💡Karma

Karma, as discussed in the video, refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect, where an individual's actions and behaviors in their current life can affect their future lives. The speaker mentions how individuals, such as monks, fakirs, and yogis, undertake disciplines to release themselves from the cycle of karma. The Joker's perspective on karma is one of detachment and playfulness, suggesting that a light-hearted approach can help overcome the limitations and attachments associated with karma.

💡Prompter

In the context of the video, a 'prompter' is used as a metaphor for a person who maintains a connection to the original intentions and the 'green room' behind the scenes of life's 'games'. This person serves as a reminder of the true nature of existence and helps to keep others grounded in the present moment. The prompter represents a source of wisdom and guidance that helps individuals navigate through the complexities of life without losing sight of what is truly important.

💡Green Room

The 'Green Room' in the video is a metaphorical concept representing a place of stillness and the true essence of existence, away from the stage of life's 'games'. It is where one can find a sense of peace and detachment from the roles and expectations of society. The speaker likens the 'Green Room' to the state of God or the ultimate truth, suggesting that it is the source from which all life's activities emanate and to which they return.

💡Double Bind

A 'Double Bind' is a psychological term referring to a situation in which an individual is trapped between two conflicting demands or expectations, making it impossible to satisfy one without violating the other. In the video, the speaker uses the concept to describe the paradoxical nature of seeking spontaneous spiritual awakening. The individual is caught in a bind when they try to be spontaneous on command, which inherently contradicts the very nature of spontaneity.

💡Ecstasy

In the video, 'Ecstasy' is used to describe a state of intense absorption or a profound experience that transcends the usual boundaries of consciousness. It is contrasted with the perception of pain as a negative, destructive force. The speaker suggests that pain, when viewed without the interpretation of threat or harm, can lead to a state of ecstasy, where one fully embraces the sensations without resistance or fear.

💡Existence

The concept of 'Existence' in the video is discussed in the context of the eternal nature of being. The speaker challenges the fear of non-existence and the desire for survival by suggesting that existence is an ongoing, eternal phenomenon. This perspective encourages the listener to see beyond the limitations of the physical world and the fear of death, embracing the idea that the essence of existence continues beyond the end of physical life.

Highlights

The Joker's perspective sees social institutions and natural formations as games, not trivial but played with sincerity.

Games have importance and can be played well when taken as such, without ulterior motives.

The intensity of seriousness in individuals is seen as humorous by the Joker, leading to laughter.

The concept of 'far out' and 'far in' people, where 'far out' are unconventional and 'far in' are those who understand the game's true nature.

The 'far in' people act as a prompter in a theater, keeping the actors connected to the original intent behind the scenes.

The Joker is the ultimate player, playing the great trick on himself, embodying the masks of God.

The idea of the 'sly man' who becomes a Buddha instantaneously without preparation or warning.

The double bind of trying to be spontaneous on purpose, which leads to a state of total paralysis.

The realization that you can't help but be spontaneous, as all actions are present activities.

The oscillation of life, interpreted as either anxiety or laughter, depending on perspective.

The transformation of anxiety into laughter upon realizing the eternal nature of existence.

The philosophical discussion on whether the zebra is a yellow horse with black stripes or a black horse with yellow stripes.

The idea that existence happening only once is a contradiction, as it essentially means it doesn't happen at all.

The interpretation of pain changing from a negative experience to one of ecstasy when meaning is removed.

The importance of approach and mindset in interpreting experiences, such as listening to sounds with an open mind.

The concept of the 'green room' as the central point, the still point of the turning world, akin to God's perspective.

The role of the 'far in' people as a priesthood, maintaining the axle of society and existence.

The notion that survival is an ideal only as long as the fear of death (the 'bug bear') is present.

Transcripts

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we'll begin by

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refreshing memories

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as to what went before

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[Music]

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in discussing the theme of the joker

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i have been talking about

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a point of view

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the joker's point of view

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from which

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not only our social institutions

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but also all the formations of the

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natural world

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are seen as games

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be careful of the word game

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it doesn't mean as trivialities

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because when we say it's just a game

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this often means it is just trivial

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there can be

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important games

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as when we play

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the piano or musical instruments

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we are not necessarily doing something

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frivolous

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but we are playing

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and there is something in the nature of

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all play

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that is not serious

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but at the same time may be sincere

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and i tried to

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give you the picture

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of the multiplicity of natural forms on

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the one hand

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and of human social institutions

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and all the things that we do and

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consider important and busy ourselves

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with as human beings i tried to give you

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the point of view from which these can

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be seen as games

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as things being done as it were simply

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for themselves

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and not for some

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ulterior motive

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[Music]

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and therefore

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these games are in a way best played

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when they are played as games

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although it's really all right for

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people to take them seriously except

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that

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they are a little bit deprived

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they're missing something

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and so when the joker sees a person

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taking his life seriously and regarding

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himself as extremely important

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there is something a little bit funny

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about it and he is inclined to get the

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giggles

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and

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[Music]

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it's it's all he knows that the very

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intensity

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of seriousness

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with which the individuals concerned are

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taking these games

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will be a kind of foil

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for the subsequent

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uh

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bursting into laughter

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when he sees that it wasn't serious

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after all

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you see that uh you might say

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there are these classes of people there

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are the very far out people and the very

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far in people

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now ordinarily we say someone's very far

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out when they are oddballs

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when they are exceedingly unconventional

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but i want you to turn the picture

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around and look as a conventional person

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look at a square as a person who's very

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far out

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that is to say he is so involved

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in the seriousness of the game he is

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playing that he is lost

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he doesn't know where he started from

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and he thinks he's there

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but he's completely lost

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because he is actually uh

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under the cover of his assurance

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of his status of his position in society

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he's really a very anxious person

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i said a lot yesterday about the way in

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which our society shows anxiety because

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it cannot permit

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the existence of people who don't belong

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and it cannot really permit

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the criticism of laughter

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it cannot permit the presence of the

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old-fashioned court jester

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because these people are so far out

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they are so involved and one from a

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certain standpoint you see from the

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joker standpoint

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he doesn't condemn such people he rather

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congratulates them on their heroism

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for getting so lost and involved

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but to keep the far out people

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from going quite insane

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there have to be far in people

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and the far in people are those

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who who

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keep contact with the original

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goings on behind the scenes

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they are like the prompter in the

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theater where there are the actors out

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on the stage relying on their memories

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etc and they are supposed to get

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completely involved in the play

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but there's a concealed prompter with

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the script in front of him

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and he is the connection of the actor on

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the stage with the green room behind the

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stage

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and you see in in this dramatic analogy

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of the universe

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the

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green room

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is the central point the still point of

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the turning world

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the green room is how

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god is

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when he's back home

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not involved in all these games

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and takes off the mask

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see uh on the hindu theory that

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everybody is a mask of god

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like uh

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wonderful line in one of chesterton's

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poems

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and now a great thing in the street

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seems any human nod where move in

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strange democracy the million masks of

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god

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the million masks of the joker

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because the joker is the player

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the trick player who plays ultimately

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the great trick on himself

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so really

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there can be no resentment about this

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nobody to blame nobody to turn around

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during the end and say you you bastard

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you did this to me

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because it's always you who are

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ultimately responsible

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so

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this

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prompter you see keeps the actor on the

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stage in touch with the green room and

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so there are certain people in the world

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who

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might be a kind of a priesthood

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sometimes although priesthoods are apt

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to become corrupt and

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square

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but a kind of people in the know

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there always has to be somebody around

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in the know

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so that uh

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as it were the wheel

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of society and of existence the wheel of

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the squirrel cage the wheel of the rat

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race

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can have an axle firmly

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and at the center then there have to be

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the far in people

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so this is the domain of jokers

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now

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having developed that side of the joker

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the person who sees

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uh through the social institutions as

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games i went on in the second session

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to discuss another aspect of the joker

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as the sly man

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in comparison with the monk the fakia

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and the yogi

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who undertake all those three

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undertake in certain different ways

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disciplines

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which

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have the intent of releasing them from

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their karma

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the individual in other words challenges

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his involvement his attachments his

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limitations his finitude and endeavors

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to overcome it

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but in each of these three cases the

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individual involved stirs up an immense

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opposition

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[Music]

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because he serves notice upon the devil

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or shall we say upon his karmic

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creditors that he is about to leave town

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and so all the creditors come rushing to

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the door

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all his past sins catch up with him

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and the devil lays his temptations in

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the way all the more thoroughly

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so that the sly man is the one who when

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he is going to leave town does so

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instantaneously without any prior

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announcement

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and so in this way there is

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shall we say

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a cunning

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manner

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of becoming a buddha

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and that is to become one instantly

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without any preparation or warning

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whatsoever

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this is why zen is called the sudden

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school

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and why satori is a sudden awakening

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because it has to be done

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without the slightest warning

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now

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but then i pointed out that the moment

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you

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have any idea about doing this

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you've already ceased to be sudden

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that is to say the moment you

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seek for

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some spiritual attainment

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which is becoming a buddha becoming

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awakened becoming released

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[Music]

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getting in there you've already served

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notice upon your creditors

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so that somehow or other you find that

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you have to do it without intending to

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do it

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and that is a double bind

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[Music]

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where which you impose upon yourself

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when you say

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i must find a way

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of doing this spontaneously

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that's the old old basic double bind

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you must be spontaneous

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you are commanded or you command

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yourself to do something which is

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acceptable only if it happens

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spontaneously

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then you think about that and say well

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well well

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what a fix that is

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here am i

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saying

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i must be surprised and i'm going to lay

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plans to surprise myself

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[Laughter]

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so uh by going through this

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you discover naturally that that can't

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be done

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you can't surprise yourself on purpose

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yet that's what you have to do

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so what about it you you come to a state

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of total paralysis

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you're stuck

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the one thing that is terribly important

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to be done

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can't be done

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it has to happen it really does if

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you're earnest about this you want to

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get out of the trap

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but you can't do anything about it

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either actively

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or passively

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[Music]

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but then as you begin to

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see what you are doing all the time

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you notice a very odd fact

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which is

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[Music]

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that you can't help being spontaneous

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if i say to you good morning

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and you say good morning

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what is that

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did you

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plan this answer

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did you make preparations to grow your

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hair

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do you make uh

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decisions about having blue eyes

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you see about breathing

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is this all planned about beating your

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heart

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and what about your thinking even if

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it's very blocked thinking

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even if you feel from a certain point of

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view that you're all mixed up

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what is going on anyway

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you see you can't stop it

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it's like trying to we were discussing

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uh

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the good jeff thing yesterday the

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self-remembering exercise

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the attempt to live completely in the

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present

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well that's not only a good jeff idea

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that's a very ancient yoga

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and buddhist

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discipline

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to be completely here and now

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but of course as you pursue this you

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discover you can't do it

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because you couldn't even uh

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you know know when to go shopping unless

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you made plans and started thinking

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about the future

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because you couldn't move

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but then you discover you see

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that in the long run there's nothing to

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think about except the here and now

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there really isn't anything else

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because even when you make plans for the

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future and you remember the past you're

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doing it all in the present your memory

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is a present activity there's no way of

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not being self-remembering and present

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having presence of mind

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so when you discover that

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there's nothing left to you but to have

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a good laugh

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[Music]

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well now

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i want to develop

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to a greater extent something i only

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touched on yesterday afternoon

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when we were discussing anxiety and

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laughter

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and the relationship between the two

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[Music]

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i uh suggested that anxiety and laughter

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are really the same phenomenon

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but seen from different points of view

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as we all know we can have shadows of

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horror and shadows of delight tears of

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grief and tears of joy

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and as it's the same shadows and the

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same tears in either case but they have

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a completely different meaning

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now life set life is a matter of

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oscillation

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life is vibration

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it's i

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the whole time and all the way through

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question is how are you going to

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interpret that

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is it tremble tremble tremble

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or is it laugh laugh laugh

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that's the that's the great thing

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and sometimes it's one

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and sometimes it's the other

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so that the the whole thing of the joker

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is the book the he comes into being as

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it were at the point

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when the anxiety interpretation of the

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trembling becomes the laughing

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interpretation

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[Music]

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we were talking about

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monks

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who had skulls

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on in their cells to remind them of

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mortality

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and we think a grim thing

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the skull is a grim thing

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but

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chesterton had the poem

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about the

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skull

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chattering finch and waterfly are not

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merrier than i

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hear among the flowers i lie

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laughing everlastingly

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no i may not tell the best

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surely friends i might have guessed

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death was but the good king's jest it

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was hid so carefully

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so you can see the skull

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not as a grim thing but as a laughing

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thing

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it's all that's left of a human being

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and all the

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the surface is peeled off and nothing

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but this beautiful bone remains

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it laughs

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now why

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what is it about

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death

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being a jest

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we discussed

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the problem of the zebra

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you remember

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whether a zebra is a yellow horse with

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black stripes or a black horse with

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yellow stripes

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and of course

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you can see it either way

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and you can argue till all is blue about

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which side is right

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[Music]

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and let's suppose that a black horse is

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a horse of ill omen

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even though striped with yellow

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and a yellow horse a horse of joy and

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good omen even though striped with black

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this is our eternal problem

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we are in the state of egocentric

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consciousness firmly convinced

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that death

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is a threat

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we are so convinced of this even though

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individuals may say well i'm not really

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afraid of death what i'm afraid of is

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dying in an unpleasant way

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nevertheless

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since

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almost all

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uh

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moralists and people concerned with

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ethics

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seem to agree whatever their differences

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of opinion that survival is a good thing

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in some sense if not survival in this

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body

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the even the most uh i mean the people

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who would rather be dead than red

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firmly believe

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that that is true because they believe

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there is a hereafter

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where they can go and where they can be

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rewarded for the courageous stand

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against evil which they have taken

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you see so that's still some kind of

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insistence on the

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the value of survival

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and

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we all cling to this

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idea of survival

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with tremendous passion

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but

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we have been fooled

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because

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survival is an important ideal only so

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long as you have

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bothering you the bug bear

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of death

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that

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the world might stop all together and

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that your death so far as you are

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concerned is curtains forever

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and that is really the bogey

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you see that's all very well

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to rationalize and say no it's not death

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i'm afraid of it's the pains of death

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but if you think about it deeply there

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are several stages in thinking about it

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deeply the first stage is the real

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horrors

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of endless night

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of the futility

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of the whole conception that one's own

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life

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or indeed the whole life of the cosmos

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might be nothing but

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a flash

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and beyond that nothing

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nothing nothing in all directions

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when for example we think of

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the physicist's idea that the universe

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is running down

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that all

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energy

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uh is seeking a stable state

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supposing for example to give an

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illustration of what they mean

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i have a jar of black pepper and a jar

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of salt

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and i pour them together

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into another jar

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and i can see the white salt and the

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black pepper fairly well delineated then

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i start shaking the jar

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and slowly slowly slowly the black and

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the white disappear into a gray

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that can never be sorted out again into

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black and white

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in this sort of way as things go on

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the universe they say it tends to attain

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a stable state

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to run down run down run down until

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that's the end

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and nobody knows how it could possibly

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start all over again

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but i always say and i feel it in a sort

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of funny intuitive way that what

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happened once can happen again

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if this world started at some time

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supposing there was a colossal explosion

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which set all these galaxies flying out

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then what existed before that explosion

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must surely have been something like the

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stable state to which we shall run down

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in the end

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and if it went bang once there's

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absolutely no reason why it shouldn't go

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bang again

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uh i suppose

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there are temperaments in logic

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i have a temperament whereby

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i just cannot it mean it seems to me

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absolutely basic that what happened once

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can happen again

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but there are other

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people who so cherish the unique

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that they can conceive the idea of

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something like existence happening only

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once

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but you see something that happens only

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once

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doesn't happen at all

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what happens if you

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a given sound consists of only one

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vibration

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what is the up crest of a wave apart

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from the down crest can you conceive

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that

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that's the same koan as what is the

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sound of one hand

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[Music]

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you see

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it always takes two

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[Music]

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you can't have

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a purely left-sided person

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imagine

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so uh

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in in this way just as you can't have

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just one vibration i mean it's like

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you're saying the greatest strength of

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mind is to eat one peanut

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[Laughter]

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and and so it can hardly be done

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so there isn't just one vibration

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and uh

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a dip but no da

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sort of thing uh

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you you have to have it do more

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so in in just the same way when you

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magnify this principle there isn't just

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one cosmos or one big explosion that

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starts and stops

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[Music]

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all stopping implies starting

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someone just wrote to me we haven't

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parted because we never met

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[Laughter]

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so

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the whole point of saying this is the

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realization

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that existence is eternal

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[Music]

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the going out of existence implies the

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coming in

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and some thomas had some points here

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when he said

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there could never have been a time when

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there was not being

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because if there had been a time when

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there was nothing

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there was nothing in nothing to produce

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something

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but he didn't quite have the point

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because what he didn't see

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was that nothing is productive

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in the sense that you can't have nothing

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without something

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they go together

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and all this thing is an argument

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again about whether the zebra

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is yellow striped black or black stripe

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yellow

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and what we see is

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that

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the black and the yellow the darkness

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and the light

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are simply two phases of the same

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and that realization

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is exactly what transforms anxiety into

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laughter

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suddenly to see

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that

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you just after all this anxiety

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that you don't have anything to worry

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about

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now that doesn't mean

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that there will not in our future

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lie

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uh some extremely painful experiences or

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experiences that we would ordinarily

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interpret as horribly painful

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[Music]

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we may all die of ghastly diseases

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or of radiation burns

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or of our unimaginable things

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but look here

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i very briefly touched on pain yesterday

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and the way

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pain is interpreted

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uh if

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if you interpret pain

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as

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something that is destroying you

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and is going in the direction of total

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death

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then it's very serious indeed

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and it's perfectly terrifying

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but i've been investigating experiences

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of people who've undergone torture

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uh

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i don't know if anybody in this room has

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it's always possible

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but uh and then if so you can correct me

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but uh the the worst part of torture is

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the beginning

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when of course you're full of all your

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illusions

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and all your

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um

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fears about black and white and the

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terror that black may win

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but it said that as torture proceeds

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it slowly changes uh the state of mind

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of the victim

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to a kind of drunken

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masochistic

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giving in

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to the torture

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so that it becomes

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something that he cooperates with

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and that if the

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the torturer notices this he knows he's

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through and has to kill him

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so uh

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[Music]

play27:45

in other words

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there is a point

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at which pain

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becomes an experience

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without having a negative interpretation

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put upon it

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becomes in other words converted into

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ecstasy

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[Music]

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it simply becomes you see a way of

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[Music]

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going through extraordinarily far out

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sensations

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which have no meaning

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if they have meaning the meaning of

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threat the meaning of

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uh death looming at the end

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and you know this is the tearing apart

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and the destruction of you

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then you see

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uh it is absolutely horrendous

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but if it has no meaning at all

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just transpose yourself into another

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dimension to illustrate it

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because what the dimension i'm talking

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about is very tough one

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but let's go back to a simpler one let's

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take psalms

play28:58

now

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if you lie down and uh listen

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to all the goings on in this area and

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you will hear planes moving in cars and

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fog horns and all kinds of crazy sounds

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you see people

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this way and that so on and you can

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listen to that and find it very

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interesting

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very beautiful

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but if someone were to

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do what john cage does

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and puts you in a concert hall with the

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expectation of hearing music

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and by having a purely silent playing of

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the piano

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compel you instead to listen to all the

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sounds going on around you

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you would be shocked and feel that some

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kind of

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avant-garde hoax had been perpetrated

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you see it depends on the set

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on the way you approach

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the experience

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now you can listen to sounds that are

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ordinarily considered unpleasant

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in a totally unprejudiced way

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you can listen to

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discordant

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musical noises

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uh and find them extremely interesting

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if you listen carefully enough

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[Music]

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[Music]

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you

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Related Tags
PhilosophyJokerPerspectiveSocialConstructsNaturalFormsExistentialismAnxietyLaughterSuddenEnlightenmentKarmicReleaseZenBuddhismLifeVibration