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The following program was originally released in 1969. Nine intimate questions a series of explorative talks adding contemporary perspective to the vast legacy of world philosophies with Dr. John Theobald. What is the self is the third of nine ultimate questions in subsequent programs Dr. Theobald will explore the natures of love death beauty God and peace. And tonight the ultimate question will project into the future. Dr. Theobald was born in India educated in England and the United States and teaches at San Diego State College as he has for 20 years. He took his B.A. and M.A. at Oxford is MSD master of sacred theology degree at New York's Union Seminary and his Ph.D. at the University of Iowa. Now we present the third of nine intimate questions with Dr. John Theobald. What is the self. Nothing can be said so well as we can think Saturday on this first and last of all
questions. I wonder if in the two previous talks we have succeeded in clearing away some of the preliminary difficulty is that obstruct this simplest inquiry which people have managed to turn into the least understood least accessible question. In the first stork we traced something of the decline of organized religion. And set up seven principles of inquiry which the Fourth Fifth and as well as the seven should be particularly borne in mind now that is the distortions imposed on reality by the naive acceptance of time and space. The trans personal character of love which we had after a God a supreme the personal and the divine universe had idea of selfhood. Then last time doing something less than the poor best that men can with this question we asked What is man and we found that what gives special toughness to the mystery of man is that he is the one thing we know a subject as well as object measure as well as measured.
With the result that all the usual frames of reference physical chemical biological and biological historical must necessarily be immersed in consciousness the supreme signature I.D. card of man. This took us to the verge of the plunge into self with all its bafflement but also beauty about them and did I say worst terror because selfhood probably understood demolishes this little self to which we have become so attached to which we cling but also beauty because there is nothing so real so peaceful as this larger self. The mystery of it is what ensures a window on eternity or to be more precise identity with the eternal. But the grasp on this identity implies not only a kind of metaphysical arrival but the possibility of steadiness and self-possession in a world where passion makes us a weak and dizzy. Unfortunately this business of grasping the self is not easy especially perhaps for Americans for whom the real self has a built in. Now you see it now you don't sort of elusiveness
why. Because I think for us empiricists and has become synonymous with reality and we instinctively experience the greatest difficulty in taking seriously anything else than that all rock of it Sam Johnson kicked when he said to Boswell Thus I refute Bishop Buckley the philosopher who as you know demonstrated quite irrevocably the impossibility of abstracting the rock from consciousness of the rock. It's not so much difficulty taking seriously that we experience it's a sort of half petulant amusement that anyone should wish to twist his thought so far from what is natural and sensible as to question the stubborn independent existence of that all rock yesterday today and for quite a while to come quite independently that is of so tenuous an affair as thought. Now nobody here is going to question the existence of that rock. We may want to establish in what way and owing to what it does exist. So let us once more at the risk of monotony go over the old primary elusive problem
of thought in relation to existence. One way to state the point. If that is impossible for anything to exist except in relationship and however sensible and natural it may seem to be to do so. It's actually nothing but an academic abstraction just strip anything for instance a rock Abbotts relationship. Relationships plural. And then pretend that it exists. Rather like depriving an electron of its movement to magnetism and then pretending that the electron exists. I suppose the most obvious relationship in the case of the rock is spatial and then after that temporal you kick the rock three yards at five minutes to ten. And if there were no such thing as extension that we measure in yards it was duration that we measure in minutes. Well it couldn't be a hard round dated rock which obviously means there couldn't be a rock but there's another relationship just as integral to the rock's existence. Well actually far more also because the relationships of time and space
could not conceivably exist without this one. This relationship is thought roundness and hardness are concepts on the way. The very existence of the rock cannot be materialized without thinking about it or about its absence or about somebody else's description of it or description of its absence. We speak of thought as an abstraction but the word abstraction just means taking away and applies quite as much to the rock when thought is taken away from the rock as it does to a thought. When the rock is taken away from thought. Is this clear. So the easy commonsense assurance that a rock or a chair or a galaxy or space itself exist without the possibility of having been thought about which would include of course thinking about the absence of any particular thinker or group of thinkers to think about these things. This is a delusion as meaningless as their parallel delusion known a subsystem. Which is that a chair ceases to
be there when you're not in the real nor that there's no sky except when thinking individuals men or gods or animals happen to be around to look at it. The delusion name there which confuses the individual thinker with thought as the Olympics says there was a young man who said God must think it exceedingly odd that a tree is a tree and so ceases to be when there's no one about in the quad. Oh existence a little riot to Tucson of this Hamlet says it's this solid pick of our world. There's no point in calling it a delusion. Except I did Pete in order to realize more completely what it's all about and how it happens. There's no point in insisting on its delusionary character because there's nothing more real than the world in the world with which to compare the world. But take away consciousness in the world doesn't sell it anymore it's merely make believe. So when Dr. Johnson kicked a rock and said if you have Bishop Barkley though the doctor was fuckin stupid he just allowed himself to forget that this kick had to be a movement of mind as one of the molecules had to be that he was Mina trying to set up a dream without the dream out of
his cake without his teeth. It's not strange really that often is this clarification is made it still needs to be made again. It would once have been strange but ever since take up Western thought whether sophisticated or unsophisticated has been positive you disease by this dualism. Always there's been the word as an object a physical reality that you knock your foot against and over against it a subject of another presumably less real nature which contemplates that objective world. How such an illogical I am strictly unthinkable figment can have been taken but common sense is a comment on our darkness about the self which is the womb of being. But no matter how often we are reminded we keep right on separating thought from its object without its occurring to us that this artifice in no way differs from having a movement without stability difference without identity matter without energy without co Yes without no one without two rock without hardness or any other such impossibilities.
Well I've been hammering really hard on this old possible logical point. Of whether you are contained in the world as most of us are content to imagine all the world is contained in the real and total you which is the correct way of looking at it. Because this question is no more academic than whether the power is contained in the electric light as the savage supposes or the light in the park as we know it to be. If this is an abstraction it is one of the abstractions that all the movers and shakers of the world. At stake is the real source of light and power by which we are to understand and face our circumstances and be fulfilled. This is just paying for what we call abstractions is not very practical you know. Of the three principal events of a man's life one is to all appearance a total abstraction. There is his visible birth his visible death and his invisible birth into awareness of his true nature which is divine. Until this happens we live from hour to hour in ignorance of what we are.
Who are you. This question doesn't it doesn't mean the facts of your life your curriculum Vitara less still the interpretations placed upon those facts by the highest trained psychiatrist. Just nothing to do with your appearance voice popularity success or failure. Not even with your personal happiness whether you're loved or loved. Although these variations on your theme may hasten or hinder the vital discovery of discovery which I expect could be precipitated by great joy and grief there is happenings Treville beautiful or sharing could give you the Clow clue to walk through to the self beneath them all. And there's really no difficulty in finding that especially if you can get rid of what faster passes for it. The family problem business frustration injured vanity that big cloud of emotion or or the intellectual assignment you have to be hung up on when all these then it is preoccupations obsessions of vanished.
That which experiences all of them and looks at them in stillness this silent residual that is the self. And it isn't as if you have to think your way towards this still center or fight to regain it. It's here it's now and there's nothing more modest because it holds everything in its grasp. As the sky holds the stars and with the same complete calm. It's when we become disconnected with this ground of our being that we begin to have doubts and to concoct all fall back on consoling beliefs in order to still these doubts this but this is the Pearl of Great Price This is the kingdom which having found all other things are added to us even if we're stripped of every possession or other specialist senses the possessions which distract us by causing us to identify ourselves with these fleeting things. So how to find the pearl. The latest bird and why is this my heart and I thought of all the dentist they did hire a kid that teacher named Ramana Maharshi
who died as late as 950 a saint with a wonderful powerful presence. Would I ask an answer to this question about finding the uttermost treasure. How do you know your own existence other two eyes do you see your actual self with those eyes question yourself. How does the question arise who's asking it. Your look is always to any outward turn you look deep inside deeper than what you take to be your mind. Leave your mind alone. Leave God quote unquote alone as your own Bible says Be still and know that I am God. Not an eye out there either bearded or clean shaven eyes are the same as those you know deep in yourself when you don't cover it from sight. I am that I am not the all about urban over again this great thinker would speak to such effect for a learned and simple alike who beat a path from all over the world to his humble ashram there and tell of the NAM alive in South India. Here is one such encounter that I like to read you in part. The visitor says guidance is necessary to show me the
way in the house she says Go within and find the way. You can't buy any from without. Inquirer. I cannot get the ego though I search my house. How can you get it is not apart from you. Leave all this up not getting it. Where are you now. Are you saying I am not in Kwara but in what way am I. Why do you worry about that. Did you write it in your sleep. But whether you are sleeping or waking you are the same person in Kwara sleep and waking up different states having different effects. How does that matter to you. The self is the same all through. You have noticed the reference to sleep so characteristic of these dialogues. It marks a very important junction between eastern and western attitudes to sleep. When we think of sleep. Which is not often considering it something which takes a third of our lives which is not in fact a tauren as we happen to have in song though unless we are subjecting a dream to Freud interpretation of something we view sleep entirely from the standpoint of the waking
conception. From which we think of a prostrate individual whose consciousness is either gone into a bandsaw together or else is being subjected to a series of disordered illusions which have no meaning or interest except as they may be related to the physical states of the dream or else be the deposit quite unexplained deposit by the way of members of the dream as waking state. In short two of these three states of consciousness those are dreaming and a dream asleep. After us totally without status as media real knowledge and even as objects of knowledge by the third state. That is by the one awake only one of these states that is dreaming possesses any interest for our conscious systematic thought as a conscious systematic because fortunately this is not the only sort of thought we have as we shall see presently. Now in the east. Third about ultimate reality has been going on a great deal longer and less interrupted live than in the West in India since the dawn of thought.
This tude towards these three states of consciousness has been quite otherwise. Their value and authority of the waking and dreaming consciousness have been viewed as about equal and that of dreamless sleep as superior to them both. We did just refer to another type of thought with us which is less oblivious of the dreaming and dream a state of this type of thought survives in a weakened condition as instinctive poetic and with a pick. When we wake up and say I had a wonderful night's sleep we instinctively feel the bliss we refer to as though it were a pasta thing and it's only later that we ascribe to this positive impression of bliss the ecstasy of a negative value of a mental gap. When THE POINT sings of sleep it is a blasted thing beloved from pole to pole. We have no quarrel with him only again we assume mistakenly that he's referring to some sort of a blessed blank. So much for our habitual misconceptions. But we have a great many wonderful myths
surrounding the idea of the hero's descent into the shades where he conquers various terrorists or a few so disuse Hercules in is Jesus dented cetera or where he acquires a treasure. Jason that is secret and can we now include the hobbit. But not even the scholars of mythology have considered the possibility of ascribing these fabulous tidings to that blessid blank of dreamless sleep where who knows what treasures are concealed. Dreaming has an ascension been less neglected than dreamless sleep. Thanks especially to Freud and young who have lent consider respectability to their willingness to learn something from dreams. But their theories have never to my knowledge admitted the possibility of dreams as a sphere of illusion separate but equal to the order of illusory nest possessed by waking life. When I would be interested in what significance either Floridians or young peons would attest to thawing dream. It started as a very ordinary flying dream in which the
dreamer used his arms to always away with the grace that is through the air like a fish through water pre-natal memory no doubt Freud might say of some suspension in the room. But this Trina was keenly conscious of his own historic importance as the first human being in history it would achieve non-mechanical flight it was marvelous and it made him very happy to find himself suddenly awake in his own. Home because at first he assumed the power was still his but then very unhappy. When it became clear to him. That he had lost his priceless gift and he pinched himself to prove that he was awake and then took a little tentative leap into the air to put it beyond doubt that his magic good times are over. And this little leap to his surprise landed him down in the parking lot of the supermarket two miles from his home. A development so surprising that he proceeded again to apply to himself every test which you or I might know applied to determine that he was not still dreaming. By all these tests he was wide awake although of course he was undergoing the phenomenon. Also not
uncommon of waking from one dream into another. And the only point of the story as you've already recognized is that this dream within a dream did survive all the severest tests which is supposed to assure us that the waking world is the real one. The implied consequences of this entire effectual anecdote are serious enough for the naive acceptance of things at their face value and specifically for acceptance of the waking ego as the whole of the authentic self and the sole arbiter of other levels of being. We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep. All we really have a right to say. Is that the self is more continuously associated with the consecutive thinking faculty in the waking than in the dreaming state. And that in deep dreamless sleep the self is completed associated from that consecutive faculty. When the question is which of these
States represents our real nature we always decide in favor awaking rather than sleeping. But what decides what decides. It is now when awake that we say we were not aware of our being when asleep. We surely make no such assertion when asleep. And since we exist in both states then assured if false is the conclusion that the real self is not confined exclusively to either and that to allow the waking ego to preempt the self is to bring about the distortion from which very many other distortions arise. If you say but I'm ignorant of any other self and that which eats and craves and pray is the answer must again be that of the Maharshi who is ignorant. Whose is this. Ignorance find that. And in finding it you discover the self which is not assailed by these cravings and praying you reduce to size the entire thinking process which is constructed on the idea of a separate intelligence born unmarried and bringing up a family. And as we said passing away
it is the separateness of this intelligence that is the stubbornest illusion so stubborn ingrained it's hard to think that the addiction to this supremely compelling falsehood must not somehow. Serve a function of the universal economy. I suppose that if we never took this separative delusion seriously it would make no difference to us whether we play the game well or badly or whether we were promoted or fire mad happily or not had children whom we were proud of or who constantly gave us a bad time. But there is a level above all beneath these vicissitudes where we say all is one. Remember how earlier in the stork we announced the rather portentous truism everything is related. This is because everything literally is one the further out and in our telescopes and microscopes reach the more complete play they can check out the stupendous holding togetherness.
I like an America because I'm in the microcosm of the universe and individual. There is one colossal resemblance. It's called Law and it's the center's job to make every event fit this law. And if something happens that does not fit sad just don't frame a new law side by side with the old one no. They revise and expand the formulation of the old one and they're far from from having found out how to make this singleness of meaning fit all the way up and down the scale of being so far from including every manifestation of matter and spirit within one law. And of course so long as the false dualism of spirit and matter persists then it will find it. Prime testament to this sin of us of all things is the universal intelligibility of discourse. That is the closest example. The possibility of what I am now saying communicating. To my listeners with only the speaker's shortcomings all the business ditto to prevent that communication from being completed the way the whole scene is
set to be understood by more than one individual in the same sense is a perfect case for Rule 1 of a 7 the one about taking nothing for granted but we certainly take this congruity for granted. And why for heaven's sake why should we be able to think together at all. Why if not because our minds are not many but one. We suffer under the same disability as the ant which drops from a man's hand to his foot without understanding that hand and foot belong to the same creature. It's easy to point out that there is on broken in partial molecular continuity between two tennis players at opposite ends of the net. Moreover no one would question the singleness of intent to whim or even that a sort of personal affection between them lives at a deeper level than the hostility or that to judge by their cries Anyway any hatred they feel is directed more at themselves from frustration at missing shots than at the opponent. A SO
MUCH would be admitted without much difficulty by all of us. Yet the most persistent prepossession we all have is about final and absolute personal distinctness. And if those two tennis players we're asked to believe that their distinctness was as misleading as the ants notion about the same individuals hand and foot. Or is the notion that the cup of water is distinct after it's been poured into the lake. Whether we treat this news with good humored love of our of a tennis player. Furthermore they might well say if you want to make something of this and a bit sure there's a less distinct than we are and species salmon swallows hooves of elephants you name it. Is this supposed to be bad for us. We always thought the stigmas was supposed to be good. Then we'd have to come up with a yes and no because the truth is that all creation is where then run away from one and heading back toward one.
Only the one can be perfect. One is one and all alone another marshal beside this one is necessarily perfect in origin and in conclusion. But it's learned and you can see why to begin to put it myth apparently. It would lean towards variety but also why at each point the urge would be to return to the original perfection and to proceed as far as possible by its original nature. Also again why since perfection is perfection. Single and simple. Always it could only be through the power of the one that the infinitely various could be achieved. It's rather as though that one were impelled to vary its theme as in music but the variations could only be variations as they vary from the one theme as their distinctness loses contact with that from which they vary why they lose their meaning as distinctness and hence their beauty leaning towards chaos instead.
This is cute said the Vale of soul making and each cell is a separate jewel. But there is only one light by which it is so can shine the light of the one self. So we're longing is the harmony and love is another name for this longing psychoanalysts have been telling us that the bad love is the dislocated disassociated personality with a distrust for himself. One disassociated element of his being distrusting another dissociated element and so he has no skill in associating with one whose difference from himself makes a chasm between them. But when he has found the true self they are not as they call it and nothing and no one is outside their will separateness from this single abiding reality is felt as a wound hurt to another is hurt to to him. Sometimes I wonder why religion should have to be invoked to top of the sense of
this single all inclusive self. Why the hymn the prayers the meditations. Why should it not be felt constantly secularly like the air and color and touch are more nearly in Delhi because we can be bereft of sight and hearing and eye hands amputated with which we grasp the sweaty handle of the wreckage and swung it with oblivious rapture to meet the ball. But from the ground of our being nothing can separate us. If it did not belong in us and we in it if it lived only in Jesus only in Muhammed to only supreme then that prophet or and this only beyond the stars. Then we should need mediators perhaps and propitiate as in sacraments and prayers. If your religion is quote religious unquote its all too apt to be dependent and seasonal which may be convenient but it's not among the things by which we live like bread and breath and laughter. When Jesus claimed the All Highest Self within his own
person they called him a blessed female and his own people screaming handed him over to the reluctant Romans. She. Is in woodturning best fame doubt of any. And every time we put His first things first every time. Like him we say I am in the Father and the Father in me. We blaspheme precisely as he did. There's no greater truth there's no truth more vital to every one of us unless it be God is love which is our subject next time but that turns out in the end to be no different from this. One of the divine self. In fact you could say that all of us objects are the same. They are the self. They all say only God with or without that name exists and the self in us is God's eyes.
Series
9 Ultimate Questions
Episode Number
3
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Chicago: “9 Ultimate Questions; 3,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 21, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-sb3wz585.
MLA: “9 Ultimate Questions; 3.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 21, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-sb3wz585>.
APA: 9 Ultimate Questions; 3. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-sb3wz585