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Within a single lifetime our physical environment has been changed almost beyond recognition. Yet there's been little corresponding change in how we as individuals relate to the world and experience reality. New tools and techniques of the human potentiality and presenting to us an exhilarating and dangerous frontier renewing in our minds the old question what are the limits of human ability the boundaries of the human experience. What does it mean to be a human being. Seminar big surgery a series of discussions focusing attention on the front tiers of human development presented by K x K x FM in San Francisco in cooperation with the excellent Institute of Big Sur California a Center which studies those trends in religion philosophy and the behavioral sciences which emphasize the potentialities of human existence. This week we present the final in a series of discussions from an excellent seminar led by Dr. Rollo May on the unconscious this week Dr. Mae considers the question what does it mean to know by self our
reconciliation in consciousness. Here now is Dr. Rollo May as he met in session with his seminar at the Aslan Institute. Now you will notice that I have. Always had a. And this is in our talk keeping consciousness and unconsciousness and that trying to intellectualize that there's a great danger in the talk of consciousness in our society. We think we mean talk. We think you mean it like an explanation. Doing away with the unconscious which is unfortunate case. The idea that psychoanalysis has the purpose of making the unconscious conscious now I think I think even when Freud David it's no longer true. I want you to keep your unconscious if you can use that phrase. I want you to keep it I want to live with you notice when we talk
about creativity the first and I was talking about the richness of the encumbrance again kind of just breaking through but not translating the experience into intellectualized term. I think one of the real mistakes of psychoanalysis nowadays instead of the depths of experience people try to intellectually. So if I had nothing below the surface if I knew everything if I could formulate everything then I would be a well-adjusted man. I might be well adjusted all right but I would be a terrible blow or empty that. And despairing. I'm interesting to myself or anybody else. And when I talk about meth you see meth is exactly the way you can teach the dimensions. Let's not try to interpret one dimension in terms of another. But let's try to keep the total spectrum of consciousness
and let's try to live with it phenomenology. If you recall yesterday morning is not the science of explaining human experience is the science of understanding human experience. This is me join the stand with me valuing it and keeping all the different dimensions. Oh yeah yeah. Newman I feel I left some of you some up and I'm very glad I did it because I want to vary and make very clear to you that you cannot keep the full dimensions of consciousness. If you run away from either pole you can't get to four dimensions if you are by no way conscious rational thought and you cannot keep to four dimensions if you run into prematurely if I may say into a being
and forget trying to cover up the kind that you cannot love if you try to run away from your anger and you cannot have being if you try to cover up now. And so yesterday I was putting it through yesterday in a kind of oh like the Marines training to cop cars and I wanted to get home to you the dialectical polarity in consciousness which I hope you never knew. I think our creativity comes out of being able to live within and to affirm the polarities in the dialectical relationship. I was thinking night and morning. And between our sessions. Think a good deal of what we're talking about and how I can bring to you what I think would be meaningful. I was thinking that night about a point that came from a Chinese poet.
I have three centuries ago. And the point of the poem is. We poets struggle with being to force it to yield being. We knock on the door of silence for an answer in music. Now this to me is a beautiful picture of the human experience that we struggle with known being the force or to your being there time to break through and to come in the form become a participation in something that could be on the inside of a dilemma we were an. But in experiencing being. We find a new dimension to our lives but we do not then escape what the poet said. We have a new being but also the new being is a process to living again in the struggle of nonbeing with being to make it
being. We knock on the door. And from time to time we get an answering you are sick but we do not then take away GNS and live in the life of music the rest of our lives. That's a denial of growth growth and human existence consists of taking joy in the music but living still in the human existential situation. Knocking on the door of science. Now I want to get across to you that human growth and consists of living within the polarities and also consciousness and once you give up on Earth each of this consciousness this is what's really the tragedy. The simple solution to life premature salvation premature Satori premature technology didn't take away the existential situation. I could use a lot of fancy terms for what I'm talking
about to struggle of being against non being. We live in being but we never can give up the struggle with God being. Struggle in essence against existence. We find essences but we never can give up the fact that we live existential need to struggle. Beauty without bitterness that we will find beauty only to the extent we can have the courage to be with unipolarity with Dana. Human life consists and consciousness consists of the joy the grief and the creativity and meaning of living within. This paradox in the framing this paradox. Now if we can do that then we can move on to reconciliation but reconciliation sure that will be a neurotic to facts. It will be a short circuit experience. You are precious things in life that essential to human
growth and meaning. And so I want to talk to you destroying the first half hour about the myth of reconciliation and the meaning of reconciliation. Then I will have a discussion and then I want to take that I just 15 minutes this morning to. Talk about meditation and the things that we can. Personally do to make grow all these dimensions of consciousness within us. This myth knowing dies. The drama of knowingness out the ground of reconciliation is an old story in an old dog the part of which you are very familiar with but helped introduce you to some new aspects of it and this is the drama of Oedipus. Because that edifice the story of Oedipus that the Greeks knew was a story that came out of quite a feat
in the olden days named Larry married to a wife named your cast and God bless them with the sun you know which otherwise when the son was born the prediction the Oracle was that the son would kill his father. I'm talking there yes. Put the sign. On the side of the mountain there he is to be and by the world. Now this son was found by a shepherd and the shepherd with the milk of human kindness picked up and took the little baby back to Corinth where he had that feeds it. I've been to Greece down the road from Athens. Perhaps 30. And then beyond that about twenty or thirty miles is a city of quiet assured the shepherd took the boy to clients in the little infant was raised by the king and queen the car of course. That in a drunken bout. When the Oedipus
as he was called grew up in current with this friend somebody remarked to him that there had been a prediction that he was going to kill his father. Now he loved the king of client and the queen well into them if you really believe the Oedipus complex eat other people he would have killed and he killed a very interesting and I'm about to tell you that this drama has now whatever delicious sex. Except this happen could always happen. Any place he didn't run to kill his father. So he acts out in shuffle card. And writing is rocking across the Isthmus and he and many others are at a crossroads he met a chariot in which there was an old man and the show it was driven by an obstreperous chauffeur. Who demanded that he had to first get off the road edifices of a willful man that you were
asking yesterday and this is partly the drama the glory of having some proud the drum of the glory of not being afraid to get mad. You get into a lot of trouble but it also life gets away from that. The reconciliation if you stick with it. So there was a fight between Oedipus and the chauffeur and the man got out to help the chauffeur and in the fire deal man is killed. Now Oedipus then walked down to the thieves and there were a plague. And they they remember the Sphinx. They're getting everybody up until somebody could give the answer. What walks on four legs in the morning and two legs at noon in tree lakes at night and as you know the answer is man Oedipus guessed the answer to the riddle and so he then married the queen Joe caster and they don't happen ever after now or ever after for 20
years and then that's where we start. And passed in the Greeks on the loud and Sophocles and everybody else who wrote the dramas on except the dad like the Pilgrim Fathers and as we know that now we've got a problem. And if this were to die on the ground it is about. And the drama of whether a man can be what he is where he was born and what he has done is to drown it. Whether it's a drone of a man facing reality of himself. Then when a drama or plans. The Oedipus is noted in the dryer as a very good Kang he's the mightiest head among the stars. He has reigned wisely and well in thieves for a number of years and been happily married to Queen Jo caster.
There then comes a. Clegg and feeds as the curtain rises in this drama. Where it has been brought from the Oracle with the plague will be lifted only when they discover who the murderer King and I was at home twenty years before. So Oedipus cause the old blind see eye to receive and do any of you know much about disfigured to receive. It Have you read it. Well we see an entity he may be but I was one of you know much about him if he's an old blind see act as a symbol. Of. It. Yeah but that is the law going to Pacific symbolism. Well something I learned on a short time ago and I was reading TS Eliot's The Waste Land Resources mentioned in that remember the TV
series such and such and such a fantastically good thing out to receive it was like a scene at the head dress. They speak of in a Sea Org with the paps had his Bras Rouge is for a blind prophet who represented both the female and the male role and it is a very fascinating in that like opinion that the reconciliation must occur by means somebody who can reconcile the pallette is the right female male as another vehicle or at least that we knew and had. No issues are so honest. The role of the cycleway. I wish all analysts were as wise to research and also said as little prior to reach us is always trying to.
It's making Oedipus discovered himself to resist refuses to talk. Here's a give the answer and I'm not in favor of Santa's treatment which generates three distinct consecutively but knew that if the truth is going to come out that it has got to find himself. And his brightness blind yes. It also might have a symbol. And it's a symbol of prophets all through the ages. What it means is that if you can close your eyes to art of the who are outside of everything going on all the prime. In the real world you close your eyes and if you are blind then you are more after getting inward sight. I love to tell you about a blind patient that 110 died from whom I don't have to mend it and but you could do it through world. When your eyes were closed. And in any case in this during the
drama of this this tragic drama of a man trying to face the truth about himself. Is the drama of the passionate relation to know that I'm sure was step by step to reach us as a central character. Not saying much but he's the one all Oedipus bounces up against in a middle age edifice and just bounces up against and thereby has to sooner or later discover the truth. It's a paraffin and gripping unfolding of a man's knowledge of himself and in the course of it. Oedipus goes through rage. Resistance projection. Many of the characteristics that we know so well in psychoanalysis a human being struggling desperately against seeing the truth about himself. Oedipus cause all to receive this. And. When
Oedipus asked him who is a guy who is guilty of slaying to Laos. To refuse answers how terrible it is to know. Where no good comes from knowing. I've used matters I was fully aware but let them slip me an Oedipus makes two demands and threats. And discontinuous let me go home so she lowered most easily. You are unknowing my saying any sort I will not say the best I display my story. This is not quite an analytical role. I mean it goes. Dramatically it wrecks. Because it fries at edifice to take the initiative it reaches as a grantor talent he says they. Know then Oedipus. Struggles with this true. And when it comes out in the first place a projection of Oedipus
get angry at your easiest and accuses to reshift to planning to destroy the city. That's why I had to resist when that speak in the CEA replies I will not bring reamer Soprano myself and upon you. Why do you search these matters. And then in a burst of anger projection. Oedipus accuses to receive. Ganging up with Korea on the car in order to put out you know accused of having kill a ASSIM self. When Oedipus is friendly toward the truth by the goaded prophet that he himself is murder of his father he turned to go into recess and he chooses to resist again up with Korea. Got to take over for the state. And these are all forms of resistance. Projection and early struggles that a person goes through. Oedipus going to resurface and do the whole thing you see was simply saying it's a terrible
thing and interested they don't want to be a party to telling you. I. Know the resistance is that a person is going through. I cannot bear to admit it is so I will not see it. I will say it's somebody out and then the projection occurs if it is true it's somebody else not not and this is what I want of a school through all the time. You know having to face the most well known better things about our selves. How do you cast the right Anderson picture and here we have a lovely drama you can make sure to start with instead it is written by a man and left to the streets. Freud would say it's to assuage the fairer sex. I don't know if this was the first
actually I think it does say something about how men are hung up with the fact that there's one thing in the world that never can do and that's have a baby and the one thing they never can get over is that a woman had to bring them to birth. This has far reaching implications but I suggest you women when you demand start making this woman the villain like in that Adam and he you just remind yourself that that's the only compensation they've got and any job and there is and it's a completely modern life. This really amuses me greatly as I read the drama. She said Don't pay any attention to what this was to us as. A listener and she said nothing and human life turns on the soothsayers are. And then he began to Oedipus as you know there's something here that's terribly important as a
portent just a mystery that surrounds my birth. And the mother becomes concerned. The wife and mother whom he's married and she may begin to sense just know she hasn't known it before. And then she tries very desperately to dissuade him. She says But why should men be fearful or whom fortune is mischievous at the word faith instead like you see in the Greek Period the Renaissance and so on. If you could get anybody to believe it was fate or fortune and they didn't have to be responsible for it. Now there's the older more out of it. Oedipus isn't going to buy it. He's responsible even though it was fortune or fate. But in any case why should she says why should bend fear for it was over fortune Aroon fortune his mistress and before a night of nothing is sure to best take life easily. But even that that's from the Greeks of his century B.C. and that take life
easily and as a man may appear. We do it in good times everything is prosperous and thieves. We have two cars in the garage. I am sure you forget about Vietnam if you can and you assume rather than I want to assume but you forgot about it and things are getting better every day in every way and so we get about these problems of oneself and then jihad for that maternal wedding you know there's been in the the prediction that this is the mother that predict the turn wedding have no fear for many men ere now have dreamed as much but he who Bryson extremists that's nothing. No story has been yet another winter Oedipus dream before it. Everybody has to look at that.
Having read the books in the book of the month I should add having read my bit Mead in red book. Everyone mad at me and out of me and them if I may. Completely unconscious. I think I should know that it will be coming out in two or three days it's September issue of Redbook. I have an article in time if you would never read read myself and come across that only by action. I think you'd like that. So we do have some things we've been talking about here waiting and a huge red red book that hasn't you know that everybody has a difficult dream and why should you and I need to live by in between and then proclaim to the face the truth whatever it may
be. He said I must know. And the like. Then and then she cries don't get the complete woman because the last check in the plaque in the school yard has great confidence here that that's going to do the trick. Back with most of us men it does to the woman start to cry and in our every case she says she cried Don't take it. I am sick and that's enough. Oh my it is never a no. Here is saying that one should not take dreams for and there are symbols. Seriously saying what is said in our culture best to be addressed best to live life. OK whatever that mean. And it was interesting that we read in most of
my psychology textbooks and was in there in the dream so maybe a little bit interesting significant symbolism there for the birds in the evolution. Now that's what you have to tell yourself if you can't face the reality of the dimensions of it. Conscious of the principle of adjustment to press me and the radical upheaval that cause it. Pursuing truths about oneself. The acceptance of oneself without the passion that reality with relation to truth. Now let me put in a footnote about why I think the feminine principle comes in there is a principle that stands for refusing to face the truth. It's not fair to women it's women that replace your head in the two are women. I think we're going
to certainly know better. What are you trying to say there that the biological There is a tide that we are always struggling again. And it was difficult to transcend and the same principle here Orestes that we show yesterday that the brown eyed girl with a man and his with his mother and with a woman too as far as it goes and the tie that would keep you embedded in life the kind of people you know tied to previous levels of consciousness is the tie that symbolized by the umbilical cord symbolized by the fact of having come from women and would tend to stay home. Now we all know how two of the of adolescents who need to fight it to get free with it doing it to do. And all through life. The problem is the freedom and the
reconciliation. Higher level of differentiation of ourselves with our biological shells with feet tied to their. Idol rock. Put this best when he says that growth is a series of birth experiences. Him and every new view of truth is a cutting off of the guy with the umbilical cord. Every new fuel to the ship breaking out of the womb and being born into greater individuation. I remember it it occurred to me that the fight against the mother had to break out of the womb and I assume that the mother wanted to hold me you know she probably does not relevant to the struggle probably read today and my plight about it that I have a hard time bringing myself the struggle. Of imbedded into my rage because
again the mother who is the holder of the room and also they're going to put hostility at each step and grow hostility toward the mother put rejecting you into the world in the first place.
Seminar: Big Sur
What does it mean, to know thyself?, part one
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the first of two parts, presents the fourth portion of a discussion led by Dr. Rollo May.
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Discussion and lecture series from Esalen Institute at Big Sur, Calif., headed by Michael H. Murphy devoted to exploring the psychological nature of man.
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Producer: Esalen Institute
Speaker: May, Rollo
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-30-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Duration: 00:29:27
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Chicago: “Seminar: Big Sur; What does it mean, to know thyself?, part one,” 1967-07-13, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 8, 2023,
MLA: “Seminar: Big Sur; What does it mean, to know thyself?, part one.” 1967-07-13. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 8, 2023. <>.
APA: Seminar: Big Sur; What does it mean, to know thyself?, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from