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Why the following program was originally released in 1969. Nine ultimate questions a series of explorative talks at a contemporary perspective to the vast legacy of world philosophies with Dr. John Theobald. And here now is Dr. Theobald to introduce the seventh of nine ultimate questions at best when you're sitting in front of this Mike. You're going to wonder the why of that. When you brought upon yourself a question like this you wonder all the more. You ended the noble ineptitude and candor of an Einstein who when invited to present his latest thoughts to a gathering of fellow scientists was struck dumb and apologising for having thought that nothing would be of that tension sat down. Why then did we bring God up here.
It may have been in part you know a sort of semantic exasperate. You are you're riding along in the car. Man you're in business and you make the mistake of flipping on the radio to ex CMO that Christian beacon of the West. And someone with a frenetic man and enormous eloquence of the sort perhaps intended by Paul Bell aid when he said proudly I can say Todd Wheeler could take eloquence and twist its neck. Is pounding it into you that you are and I quote an apostate if you don't love God unquote and apostate die a word is one he says who deliberately refuses to love and believe. But how silly can you would rather you think because you're an apostate if you can you believe that a picture or two or a woman is beautiful because you are an unbeliever if you do not. And so I would laugh rather mirthlessly and easily at this foolishness and so pretty soon as his reverence was raving on about the awfulness of this apostasy and thus by now he had moved on to warn me that a communist had placed a time bomb under my car seat.
Another uneasiness would come over me. What is this word god mean not just what he the evangelists mean by it. Because all too soon it will be clear that he meant nothing except an awesome name for a mess of narrow fears and selfish hopes and bigoted resentments. No the new uneasiness was about what I mean by the word God. About what you my listeners mean by. Remember it isn't only the fundamentalists that use the name of the Lord their God in the head. But I can see that their god is dead people. Whether existentialist or otherwise I'm much better than the adventurous when it comes to the frightening the simple semantics of this little Woodleigh did God deals Alah. How many when they say God is dead. Want to update the cliche the interest of the so-called theology of hope with met smoke none. Penenberg and all the other Germans when they say instead God is in the future a great big mistake in not yet. How many of all these and visionaries know what they want to
mean by god did you see the cartoon where the guy says the way out of it if God's dead he must be unhappy. Now I wonder if God doesn't begin with all the six in clays and theological schools of thought Madiba and all the geisha leave off for thing is said and it is that the mind is the slayer of the real and that no ounce of the mind can give to this question it ever says factory. Look again at the pronouns we use about God we usually say he rather than she or it. But you see how no preparation is right though there is one this better than that you sit and we'll get back to that presently. But again with this he it who is is. Is clearly immeasurable is it not. What would we measure it by our favorite yardsticks of time and space in which case what we want to say is something like this. Time and space exist because existence is and since we can't quite grasp existence we put it in
convenient packages of before and after the third of the NIRA outside inside. But instead we say something more like this. Birth is the third planet from the sun with an amateur of seven thousand nine hundred twenty six miles. And a crust which began to form about three billion years ago. This we know. Therefore existence exists. Unfortunately in the process of these naive mental procedures. Which used to bypass quite a few other facts just as firmly established which belong to the same space time domain we're not talking now about the strictly philosophical domain which is to say the epistemological although as we've repeatedly tried to show in these talks until we ask what is thought we haven't yet arrived at the question which is previous to all thinking. But we're not we're not thinking now of this. When I was speaking to this question again at the moment for the time being we're sticking to a crosser domain trying in fact to keep our feet on the ground as we in person say.
It is after all Einstein himself who tells us that there is no space without time or time without space that we don't need Einstein to tell us of the impossibility of isolating one from the other. And what is the nature of the stuff which lies between distances you call it matter of a what is it. You say it's energy but what's their electricity. What's that magnetism. What's that. Oh that's energy. You see we're playing with words. More of our neutrons and electrons have very peculiar habits. When I tell you that they can move from point A to point B with no evidence of having covered the distance between. Then again as we've already had Heisenberg show us if we try to measure the size and movement the results are altered according to the instrument with which we measure does all this help to establish the independent existence of space. Or would you rather turn from being empirical about space to being a purple about time. But again in a previous talk we've seen that the present moment is a purely hypothetical point of division
without any length between a nonexistent past and a non-existent future. So it would appear that space and time of both nonexistent things trying to establish themselves in terms of each other by virtue of something which is not either one. Something which is not time is not space. Or you might say space time is nothing but a conceptual framework which accompanies it that in order that those events may have the necessary extension in order to occur. Now all this is closely enough connected with our subject with awareness of whatever it is you want to call God. But it's connected through out the ultimate reality is not. Rather than to what it is. And I only bring up such spatial temporal matters in order to confront the inconvenient fact. That the Western world especially we Americans assume the wild metaphysical position of taking the sky for granted but it's the first principle of these talks to take nothing for granted. If you happen to be sitting at this moment in a
position where you can look out the window consider the sky the earth is look at it. You go on and on. Upwards and you never stop. Now granted this may be only what they call a pseudo infinity but at least I was kind it is none finite. There's an awful lot of space to be sought like a pill. It's better to be a bit stupid and to ask where the old drunkard in June to pick up what is the stuff that the Becoming fact doesn't all children about the sky and a lot of other things. Take the seed all year round most of us in California still have that fried some and so mental What are Aqua lines. Any of our 15 year olds can tell us how the sea was born. They can deal with the salt and maybe the rest of the constituents of the water. I'll know again what's that H2O. But no amount of hydrogen oxygen in any proportions can suffice to make an ocean that contains also that strangeness and beauty and which happens when you set your eyes on it. Neither we nor our children know they're better at this than we are can deal with the sea
the sky the sea the gentle wind or the gentle wind up move silently invisibly the faint turbulence of molecules set in motion by the relative position of atmospheric pressures as the globe circles on its pillar is that all of this. Remember the way it moved the way that I would just waken from his summer dreams the blue Mediterranean waited a long cold by the coil of his crystalline streams. Poetry what about religion. I guess I don't care about what they call it but the sky or the sea. When. All that is secular holy the rabbis you little glancing wing was for everything that lives is holy. Look at it and then try to say so what. But religion. Religion is either a cowardly surrender of will and mind to the most alluring drug that has ever been concocted is either jaded mementos of when somebody said I will
believe in God the Father Almighty or ROSE It is what you are aware of right now in the quietness where everything falls away except what is. Which kind of religion is which of these two. The answer is that all the digits of both cards whether they've taken the path of least resistance and pandered to man's timidity or whether on the other hand religion has been content to be still and know that I am God literally eyes as we said in the talk on what is the self. Either way it's largely a question of what's meant by belief. Don't you think religion considered as something blind and obsequious a dignified grovel a total assent associated with the facial expression of the tone of voice from which is drained away all the life on Earth and truth with which as men and women we eat and drink and play and think and laugh and love. The solemn and slightly indelicate business of which our friends are too human intelligent to embarrass us
all agenda comes a read in these vestments. Whether it's heard at sundown with a cry. There is no God but Mohammed as his prophet. Always had in preemptive craves a little closer to home all such religions apparatus of surrender. You see whatever lot our God is a jealous God whether Jewish or Muslim. I went into one of the Christian denominations that God depends for his acceptance on belief and belief in one or both of two senses. First fear of the consequences of not believing and second hostility to those who believe otherwise. Now the question because of the West. I may take comfort from the fact. That this sort of believe characterizes a very large part of the religions of the world. To admit that it does is only another way of saying that religion is human to human and that man is as yet an intensely egoistic creature. This means that he is exceedingly possessive of not only of his material perquisites but in all of his believes so that as regards
most of the latter it would indeed be hard to say how much he believes in a thing because it's true and how much he thinks it's true because that is his belief because it belongs to him and to his family his career upbringing public face. Fortunately there's another kind of believe which ranks as knowledge is cognitive as they say. But first we must recognize the consequences of knowledge being of more than one kind. A person who is tone deaf experience is a source of knowledge a piece of music that is to say the series of sounds of which the music is composed of all perfectly ordered all to him. They pass into his consciousness he hears what anybody else hears except for the one aspect or dimension of the notes by virtue of which they achieve their reason for being. He has knowledge concrete knowledge quite understood by such nebulous considerations as the ecstasy of purposeful sound. Compare now music as it is experienced by the term
deaf to the attitude of one who observing the flight of a bird is skeptical that this phenomenon has any connection with the idea of love being present in the creative power of the universe. When certain people such as Sen. Francis present today or the later which Hudson watch birds. They experience a knowledge of love just as direct and compelling as the knowledge that the bird is being projected through space by its wings. Actually it will be quite as difficult. To convey to one blind from birth. The visual experience of the bird's flight as it would be to convey to one for whom the bird's flight is nothing but a concrete manifestation of physically. Analyzable aerodynamics the idea symbolized in the sublime verse already quoted in these talks. Are not to stand for a farthing and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your father. But the sort of knowledge behind this idea is only less obvious than the other sort. Because its deeper and closer to what philosophers
call the realm of essence. That doesn't mean that the deeper knowledge is necessarily difficult of abstruse it too I repeat is entirely obvious the book itself depends on this knowledge. Whatever it is all life depends on it. And when this knowledge wavers life itself dwindles begins to go out. This is what Blake meant when he said if the sun and moon should doubt that immediately go out. The same love that sustains the bird keeps the sun and moon shining. Obviously it is of course its allure. Which is love. Another lie which permits love love for the joy in the sun no. The law is itself love. It is difficult to think about this. Now you may give some attention to the point of a five minute say before breakfast tomorrow morning but the recognition of this fact is what true religion is all about. I take that back. It's roughly half of what religion is about. After a person has come to stand in the same relation to what time has caused the good
as his own hands do to that person there follows a simple inference that person then stands towards other men in the same relation as one of his hands does to the other. So to shake hands with someone is to shake hands with oneself to harm another is self mutilation. And I did not without as a parent of surges. Nevertheless it is the idea without which the fabric of the greater the Jinns either comes apart. Or is held together only by a fake. The truth which religion pursues sooner or later invariably assumes this double prerogative. This is its truth it's when it's life that's all. The questions we want to ask. We all step eventually from these two fundamental complementary how it is expressed in the Christian scriptures by the simplification of the Ten Commandments into the two injunctions not God and my neighbor as myself. And it's because these two ideas are basic and mutually supporting that religion in this true sense will
always be essential to the welfare of human beings. Oh now I stand alone with what is most myself since that is most my fellow man. But what is it that is most myself and what is it that we love when we love God. We're going on about what God is not. How about what God is. Where will build up and when. Look here right now. I look within. Mr. Abraham Maslov the psychologist writes of what he names the peak experience the high point of awareness and the ordinary individual which may resemble the intuition of the mystic. I had first assumed that the experiencing of these moments is a rather rare out exceptional thing. But himself as a centrist one who does not operate by intuition so much as by process of experiment that if occasion and slowly he discovered. That it wasn't the peak experience that was the exceptional thing it was. Never
having had this experience that was rare. And this I myself had already discovered from my students. When I asked to match from their own lives the great moments of Wordsworth. The moments don't have to occur in the Swiss Alps. It may just be when waiting for a bus or stepping outside alone at a party or. Treading water off the beach away. But you remember the simpler and past passage in the play to words that have been walking in the Alps. Broken Road with fellow travellers in this gloomy pass and with them did we journey of several hours at a slow step. The immeasurable height of words decaying never to be decayed the stationary blasts of waterfalls and in a narrow rented have returned winds through rotting winds bewildered and from on the talents shooting from the clear blue sky the rocks that mattered close upon our ears black drizzling crags that speck by the wayside as if a voice were in them. The sick seitan giddy prospect of the raving stream the unfettered
clouds in regions of the heavens to mountain Peace The doctor listened to liked well the like workings of one mind the features of the same face blossoms upon one tree characters of the great apocalypse the types and symbols of eternity of the first and last and midst and without end. Do you notice anything strange about that. I don't mean just sublime I mean peculiar. Why the scene is alive it's alive. It's like the the huge and mighty peak that strode after him and that other great passage in words as Patti Wood where as a boy with trembling oars he turned and made for the shore of the lake. It doesn't live as a living man. It doesn't live as that God who is a a grey bearded American 60 foot tall. It lives as God really is. It has a face the face is that of the huge and mighty peak or of the Arayans belt and the player leaves on the face of the dark that time you stood on the poop of the spray splashed your mouth.
Or the face of the Sanctus and the B Minor Mass of Bach or the face of the brave mother who said My sons asleep and I'm asleep too. Whatever the face we've all seen it though keeping it in sight nonstop takes a whole lot more practice than the present speaker lays claim to. It's the same as was described in the last talk as a gestalt. I trust it pays to be a little repetitious here. It's a face it's a harmony a grace even if it's difficulty in pain. Perhaps especially then remember it holds together. It is one it is many but the marvelous thing is what again we take for granted. It's one the supreme fact that the manifold is one begins to explain why we're able to get with it. The fact that all of animated nature is but organic hops diversity frayed and the tremble into thought as all of them sweeps plastic and vast one into the actual breathes at once the soul of each and God of all. We say that this begins to explain why
God is the denial of all denials. But this being is the only thing that exists and it is one. But it doesn't really begin to explain the person is the deep calling of the deep the sense that in Him we live and move and have our being. And now may we forget about the mass Lovi and peak experience as something merely recollected something hoarded up from the past. Now we can say what was is and will abide in the moment outside time. But this is what eternity is as Eckhart the great Christian heretic or the greatest of the Christians always understood was always shouting about. There is a part in the so I'm touched by time he says in this part is God evident flowing in all the joy and glory of the actual self. For we've already guessed that God pronoun is not thou but I he is the self the heart of hearts immeasurable unspeakable really not the little selfish entity that craves and regrets and possesses and says I will and
hates while thinking that it loves and wounds and dies. No the absolute self whose awareness becomes our awareness in the moment when we are come wholly in a still that holds all being in its grasp without which there could be no being. That is before was who savants falls again now. By which we are led from the unreal to the real from Darkness to Light from death to immortality. The mystics whose chief glory is that the sense they make is not very common sense to begin to make common sense to you know when the god of fooling around with stars that bearded beings in the sky is see him as the self are the sky which comes into consciousness in the heart of man. Strange padlocks we looked at it before that man so insignificant under the stars and most insignificant when he is most proud.
Should yet be the measure of all things. If the galaxy goes out it's been well said nothing's been lost from the planet Jupiter they're all only in the heart of man. Is there anything to be gained or lost. Seeking nothing we gain all for going the separate self. The universe becomes I. I'm reasonable detestable devotion to those who haven't yet grasped it in all its stunning simplicity. For according to the saying so absurd and yet true. A Muslim said it this time but for the I would not have created the heavens blasphemous ludicrous and true. But for us the source of all would have had no window on itself and creation would have been utterly pointless. Hence On the one hand. Life may be seen as the principle of individuation with the law for the lie and the law for the ox immortal every separate soul to be himself and look from his own peculiar window of their love soul making as Keith says. And it
profits this so nothing if it gain the whole world in Mars and Venus and lose itself because that self is the unknown god whom as Paul says he ignorantly worship him declare unto you. But there's something else. This soul is lost by gaining it. The bliss of every having eventually passes away. Only the so the givers itself outlives the night of Brahman the silence lasting as long as our noise the silence that intervenes between creation and creation. This self-surrender the soul is the truth behind the divine and con incarnation idea. The bill is not the idea at all times and climbs. The best and highest idea to which human toll has reached that is to say in the drop of selfhood is simply content to be lost in the ocean of such chatter now and being consciousness bliss then or all that total bliss. It will certainly inherit but the older scriptures scriptures speak of how God's day passes that he may rest
in tonight his manifestation into known manifestation modes of being to which they apply the symbolism of equal time on and off there so to speak. Very precise durations 311 trillion 40 billion of calendar years each where I believe give or take a few. Obviously the time is unreal there's no point in taking these durations literally millions aware of affirming that the source of all is just as able to lapse into nescience as it is to move upon the face of the waters. And then and then only that portion of it that cares can survive the night of Brahman. I mean those have what it takes to be eternal you might say who will have enough to give their bliss for the sake of all that struggles and suffers until every single creature inherit the kingdom. Only the crucified so to speak really break through or get the abstract statement. Only love is eternal. Only the God of Love does not die. And it's only in that love that we live. What place is this leave
for worship. I'm not quite sure that it leaves any of it. If worship causes me to turn away from the most intense awareness I may have of what's going on at this moment. It's questionable whether anything is gained by worship. Religious services seem to rest on the assumption that they are in some way holier than the rest of life. It's the exception rather than the rule for commitments. Implicit or explicit in hymns and prayers to be carried out during the week to consort even approximately with the values implicit in business activities all political activities not speaker social and sectarian discriminations at home or involvements invest a lot of fellow human beings abroad. But aside from these gross in Congo it is the departmental ization of religion exposes a subtler discontinuity that stifles the real love of God and leads to such shallow absurd it is as that expressed in the phrase death of God.
My meeting list and death of light all thought of the sky more so because God is all it is. A new nation ship with God can no more be turned off and on than breath all touch. Prayer is mostly a peeling away from understanding what it is to wishing to change what it is. Prayers have to be watching cricket we used to call the God help me stroke you don't know where the ball is so you lash out blind it whilst petitioning some unknown agency to alter the laws of motion in order that the bat may connect with a ball. But Titian riprap may have a temporal a reviving effect perhaps on the one who offers it. We all sometimes play but heartless as it may sound prayer is all too liable to be a drug isn't it. And whether subjected to the warmth of prior tray or the cold or the loss of a petition or passed still requires a whole array of anthropomorphic presuppositions which because they cannot really mean anything to us do give rise to this in a disquiet which we
seek to drown in those noisy and self-conscious funerals of the Deity. How could the Supreme Reality cease to be if God is not something that we experience as continually and naturally and inevitably as a life more than we've been mistaking him for something else. Our business is to see God love him work for him and get lost in him. Pardon all these wrong him as we've seen it's not really him. It's but it isn't all this while hanging on to his non coattails meditation strew is on a higher level than prayer but the meditation is nothing but getting to practice for not needing it. If God is forgotten as that in which we live and move the self from whom all breath and vision and meaning arise. Why then I suppose we better kneel and say some words of the soldier uttered by a worried man murmuring to himself when he feels that his reason is giving way would suggest that you know who I am and what's going on.
But this desperate remedy is not called for. Even if we are capable of forgetting the out of which we are a part sins whatever that is. It certainly is not capable of getting us its own eyes. So if we must pray we might pray for the thought of secularization of religion. Not in the sense of making sacred things secular pepping up the church life with rock n roll etc.. But making the secular say Quit dancing with what we've been praying to it having found God we have found all things can the creation still remain behind. I wish there were a little more time for silence not to pray to God as if he were a being he is not a he is not a being. But to draw close to this self at the heart of all things. You've heard the seventh of nine ultimate questions. What is God with Dr. John Theobald a member of the English department faculty at San Diego State College.
Originally released in 1069 the program you have just heard is from the program library of National Public Radio.
9 Ultimate Questions
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