Nobody needs to go anywhere else.
We are all, if we only knew it, already there.
If, I only knew who in fact I am, I should cease to behave as what I think I am;
and if I stopped behaving as what I think I am, I should know who I am.
What in fact I am, if only the Manichee I think I am would allow me to know it, is the
reconciliation of yes and no lived out in total acceptance and the blessed experience
In religion all words are dirty words. Anyone who gets eloquent about Buddha, or God,
or Christ, ought to have his mouth washed out with carbolic soap.
Because his aspiration to perpetuate only the "yes" in every pair of opposites
can never, in the nature of things, be realized, the insulated Manichee I think I am condemns
himself to endlessly repeated frustration, endlessly repeated conflicts with other aspiring
and frustrated Manichees.
Conflicts and frustrations---the theme of all history and almost all biography. "I
show you sorrow," said the Buddha realistically. But he also showed the ending of
sorrow---self-knowledge, total acceptance, the blessed experience of Not-Two.
Knowing who in fact we are results in Good Being, and Good Being results in the most
appropriate kind of good doing. But good doing does not of itself result in Good Being.
We can be virtuous without knowing who in fact we are. The beings who are merely good
are not Good Beings; they are just pillars of society.
Most pillars are their own Samsons. They hold up, but sooner or later they pull down.
There has never been a society in which most good doing was the product of Good Being
and therefore constantly appropriate. This does not mean that there will never be such
a society or that we in Pala are fools for trying to call it into existence.
The Yogin and the Stoic---two righteous egos who achieve their very considerable results
by pretending, systematically, to be somebody else. But it is not by pretending to be
somebody else, even somebody supremely good and wise, that we can pass from insulated
Manichee-hood to Good Being.
Good Being is knowing who in fact we are; and in order to know who in fact we are, we
must first know, moment by moment, who we think we are and what that bad habit of thought
compels us to feel and do. A moment of clear and complete knowledge of what we think we
are, but in fact are not, puts a stop, for the moment, to the Manichean charade. If we
renew, until they become a continuity, these moments of the knowledge of what we are not,
we may find ourselves, all of a sudden, knowing who in fact we are.
Concentration, abstract thinking, spiritual exercises---systematic exclusions in the
realm of thought. Asceticism and hedonism---systematic exclusions in the realms of sensation,
feeling and action. But Good Being is in the knowledge of who in fact is in relation to
all experiences. So be aware---aware in every context, at all times and whatever,
creditable or discreditable, pleasant or unpleasant, you may be doing or suffering. This
is the only genuine yoga, the only spiritual exercise worth practicing.
The more a man knows about individual objects, the more he knows about God. Translating
Spinoza's language into ours, we can say: The more a man knows about himself in relation
to every kind of experience, the greater his chance of suddenly, one fine morning, realizing
who in fact he is---or rather Who (capital W) in Fact (capital F) "he" (between
quotation marks) Is (capital I).
St. John was right. In a blessedly speechless universe, the Word was not only with
God; it was God. As a something to be believed in. God is a projected symbol, a
reified name. God = "God."
Faith is something very different from belief. Belief is the systematic taking of unanalyzed
words much too seriously. Paul's words, Mohammed's words, Marx's words, Hitler's words---people
take them too seriously, and what happens? What happens is the senseless ambivalence of
history---sadism versus duty, or (incomparably worse) sadism as duty; devotion
counterbalanced by organized paranoia; sisters of charity selflessly tending the victims
of their own church's inquisitors and crusaders. Faith, on the contrary, can never be
taken too seriously. For Faith is the empirically justified confidence in our capacity
to know who in fact we are, to forget the belief-intoxicated Manichee in Good Being. Give
us this day our daily Faith, but deliver us, dear God, from Belief.
Me as I think I am and me as I am in fact---sorrow, in other words, and the ending of
sorrow. One third, more or less, of all the sorrow that the person I think I am must endure
is unavoidable. it is the sorrow inherent in the human condition, the price we pay for
being sentient and self-conscious organisms, aspirants to liberation, but subject to the
laws of nature and under orders to keep on marching, through irreversible time, through
a world entirely indifferent to our well-being, toward decrepitude and the certainty of
death. The remaining two-thirds of sorrow is homemade and, so far as the universe is concerned,
"Patriotism is not enough." But neither is anything else. Science is not enough,
religion is not enough, art is not enough, politics and economics are not enough, nor
is love, nor is duty, nor is action however disinterested, nor, however sublime, is contemplation.
Nothing short of everything will really do.
We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is learn the
art of being irrational in a reasonable way. In Pala, after three generations of Reform,
there are no sheeplike flocks and no ecclesiastical Good Shepherds to shear and castrate;
there are no bovine or swinish herds and no licensed drovers, royal or military, capitalistic
or revolutionary, to brand, confine and butcher. There are only voluntary associations
of men and women on the road to full humanity.
Tunes or pebbles, processes or substantial things? "Tunes," answers Buddhism
and modern science. "Pebbles," say the classical philosophers of the West. Buddhism
and modern science think of the world in terms of music. The image that comes to mind
when one reads the philosophers of the West is a Byzantine mosaic, rigid, symmetrical,
made up of millions of little squares of some stony material and firmly cemented to the
walls of a windowless basilica.
The dancer's grace and, forty years on, her arthritis---both are functions of the skeleton.
It is thanks to an inflexible framework of bones that the girl is able to do her pirouettes,
thanks to the same bones, grown a little rusty, that the grandmother is condemned to a
wheelchair. Analogously, the firm support of a culture is the prime-condition of all individual
originality and creativeness; it is also their principal enemy. The thing in whose absence
we cannot possibly grow into a complete human being is, all too often, the thing that
prevents us from growing.
A century of research on the moksha-medicine has clearly shown that quite ordinary
people are perfectly capable of having visionary or even fully liberating experiences.
In this respect the men and women who make and enjoy high culture are no better off than
the low brows. High experience is perfectly compatible with low symbolic expression.
The expressive symbols created by Palanese artists are no better than the expressive
symbols created by artists elsewhere. Being the products of happiness and a sense of fulfillment,
they are probably less moving, perhaps less satisfying aesthetically, than the tragic
or compensatory symbols created by victims of frustration and ignorance, of tyranny, war
and guilt-fostering, crime-inciting superstitions. Palanese superiority does not lie in
symbolic expression but in art which, though higher and far more valuable than all the
rest, can yet be practiced by everyone--the art of adequately experiencing, the art of
being more intimately acquainted with all the worlds that, as human beings, we find ourselves
inhabiting. Palanese culture is not be judged as (for lack of any better criterion) we
judge other cultures. It is not to be judged by the accomplishments of a few gifted manipulators
of artistic or philosophic symbols. No, it is to be judged by what all the members of
the community, the ordinary as well as the extraordinary, can and do experience in every
contingency and at each successive intersection of time and eternity.