Let's talk about my students.
Remember, there is no such thing as a student, or a teacher, in this Life.
There is only Mind.
Learning from Itself.
The notion that there are students and teachers running around, each with separate minds that hide in the corner and learn what they can, and do what they can, with the limited intelligence that each has, is a horseshit human theory, another horseshit human theory, that would keep us from ever knowing who and what we really are.
The fact is we all have One Mind.
In fact, there isn't a "we" at all.
There is only I.
And when you see (see) (hear) (taste) (touch) (smell) the Indescribably awesome Beauty of that I arising in your thought, perhaps as you read various parts of this, you will know that none of the so-called "human" theories pertaining to Life and Existence on this planet have any truth to them whatsoever.
But you have to be open-minded.
You have to be willing, to feel.
Like a child.
That makes us all students.
At this plane of existence.
And, we have to be so full of the love of Truth and Love that we "go out into all the world and preach."
Which we all do anyway.
Every time we try to sell something.
Share an idea.
A little warmth.
If you take that Bible too literally it is a real killer.
You have to get the spiritual import, that was behind the specific images used in the day it was written down.
If you take the images for the import you misinterpret effect for cause, and get everything backwards.
The Bible is promoting a spiritual sense of things, for example, spurred on by a moral sense of things.
The moral is secondary to the spiritual.
But the moral is easier to see, or "feel" than the "spiritual."
So the moral, which, like the spiritual, goes directly against the material, helps you get started. On your spiritual trek.
The moral is not an end in itself, therefore.
It is a means to helping us understand the spiritual.
Which is the end in itself.
Because the spiritual is Us.
The Self-Identity that we all seek.
No matter what we are doing, or trying to do, in Life.
The only thing that is working in our thought (and consequently in our experience) is Truth and Love.
This most often takes the visible or conscious form of being the desire for Truth and Love.
In whatever form of "human" experience we happen to be engaged in.
As we work our way "out" of "human" existence.
Or, more accurately, "out" of the human "sense" of existence.
And into the divine.
But wherever you see the desire for Truth and Love, however it is manifested in so-called "human" experience, you see God at work.
In our thought.
Leading us out of the mortal.
Into the Immortal.
Which is our real and true identity.
Philosophers have long been puzzled over the apparent discrepancy between "values" and "facts."
The world of values.
And the world of facts.
What is simply marvelous to see is that, in the end, there is no difference whatsoever.
Goodness is God at work in our lives.
Bringing us to "see" Reality.
Goodness is all the Power.
Evil, when stood on its head and rightly seen for what it is--the material, human, personal sense of existence--is completely powerless and helpless in the face of Good, God.
And a coward before it.
And shrinks and escapes into its own native Nothingness as soon as it is self-recognized for what it is.
Sartre wrote an intriguing book called Being and Nothingness, which is one of the best Philosophical books ever written: it is all about the "human" (existential) predicament, consciousness, when seen exclusively from the "human" point of view, of living isolated in the universe.
Or the "Other."
As Sartre puts it.
There is just my consciousness (Subject), and then everything it confronts (as Object), and there is a sort of unbridgeable "gap" between the two. They are totally different ontological types of entities.
Consciousness vs. "objects" of consciousness.
So that there is no hope whatsoever of breaking out of the "existential predicament."
The predicament of "human" existence of being totally alone, totally isolated, doomed to a world of eternally fluctuating values, because nothing really matters anymore because everything is mortal, and everything is accidental.
Tough shit, Sartre.
Sartre, by the way, renounced his Existentialism of Being and Nothingness, which was born during the Second World War, in full face of the living Nazis, and later became a Communist.
About as close to "spirituality" as he could get.
Pretty thin gruel.
Well, he got tired of that too.
Remember, there is no "human" "he" "Sartre" to get "tired" of anything.
There is only the process of waking up from the terrible, terrible nightmare of believing that there is truth, or love, or reality in matter.
Matter is what separates us.
As Aristotle so accurately pointed out so long ago with his "Principle of Individuation."
Our identity, our Mind, our individuality are all found in another place.
And, as we each work our way out of the belief in the reality, and truth beauty and goodness of matter, as we each "work out our own salvation," the love of Love, and the love of Life, and the love of Truth will all be perfected in us.
Each step of the way.
Because it takes a lot of love (and trust humility and courage) to dare to leave the old for the new.
Which is exactly what you have to do.
Each step of the way.
"Put off the old man and put on the new," as Paul, who is wrong about a lot of things, puts it.
And that's another thing I want to impress upon you.
That Bible, if you look at it halfway honestly, is really a collection of letters and documents and reports, by guys who were trying honestly to put down things that they knew as well as they could.
They were trying.
Just like we are.
They had more or less inspiration exactly in proportion to how willing they were to put away their "human" sense of self, which is always a mist, and let the inspiration flow.
If you take these documents, with the possible exception of the Book of Revelation, any more literally than that, you are bound to get yourself snagged up in your search for truth on some point of literal orthodoxy that should have been taken as an image, a metaphor, a hint, at the right direction.
Never down at your feet.
Where you have been.
Take the English Language, for example.
We are stuck with it. For now.
Until we rise to a point of comprehension where we don't need these ridiculously primitive instruments called "words."
And pure mental comprehension will be possible between us because there will be nothing there for us to hide.
Well, it's Friday.
Today is a special day down at the Green Lantern.
The Bar where we did most of our drinking on Friday afternoons after school.
Clem, Delaney, Soper, and I.
And hosts and hosts of students.
Year after year.
It was wise to park your truck (I had a 4-wheel drive Toyota Land Cruiser at the time) around in back.
So that the good faculty of the Academic Community wouldn't see that you were in there drinking with your students.
It implied that you were too close to them.
It actually implied that they were too far away from them.
Which was much more difficult for them to face.
Love is not difficult to face.
That you don't have love is an absolute indictment.
Not a conviction.
Joe Maier was our department logical positivist, and a little thin in the love department.
We got him out to the Green a couple of times a year.
When he would break down and have a beer with us.
We all loved Joe.
But he was from The East, New England, and, as he put it, it takes about 7 years before you begin speaking to your neighbor.
Our cluster of outlaws and renegades formed the heart of the sausage-making club amid the faculty and administration.
We would all gather over at Dick Stuart's house early one Saturday morning, and take this bulk sausage, maybe 250 lbs. of it, and make it into French, Italian, and German sausage.
That we all would take home to our families.
Till we ran out.
And came back to do it again.
Clem, Soper, and Stuart all made home brew.
There was a gentle competition for who made the best.
But there was no real competition.
Dick Stuart made the best.
Soper and Clem made the most.
I've known Soper to start drinking his within two weeks of capping.
Stuart had a perfect little brewery down in his basement.
He was fastidious.
He saved his Highlander Beer bottles for the brew.
A rare collector's item.
Dick taught economics.
He used to boast that he could tell and prove the difference between and 92 and a 93 score on any test that he gave.
He was not a big fan of my idea (actually Paul Goodman's idea) that you should abolish the grading system altogether, and let prospective employers (or graduate schools, or medical schools, or whatever) do the testing and setting of criteria for admission themselves.
That would free the classroom for just one purpose: Learning.
The only reason any student would ever be in a class would be because it was good.
It would be to his advantage only because of what he learned.
And the evil, ugly institution of "grading" would no longer intrude on the singular purpose of one man (or woman) sharing what he knows with another.
I felt that "grades" set up every evil that currently presided over the classroom.
It set up the worst kind of competition between student and teacher. Where the student was graded, really, on his ability to con the teacher on the basis of how much he seemed to know.
Always forcing a central element of falsity and deception into their relationship.
It forced a focus on appearance, rather than substance.
It trained students that this is how they would be judged in the real world.
It forced students, inescapably, and very much against their will, into ruthless, cutthroat competition with each other.
Teaching them how to hate.
How to be greedy.
How to enjoy sadism: taking pleasure in another's pain.
It taught them fear, taking all the love of learning and growing out of the wonder and magic of getting a new idea that changes your life.
But, worst of all, it taught self-deception.
Because the grading system taught you to rank and compare yourself with others, on the basis of an externally imposed standard of measurement, that directly or indirectly judges you as a person.
Consequently, it inevitably leads you away from the ultimate dictum and justification of any educational system: Know Thyself.
Instead of discovering who and what you really are, the grading system forces you to internalize other people's ideas for the nature and quality of what life should be.
When you buy this, and judge yourself either as a success or a failure from within the system, you get hopelessly confused.
Whenever you allow somebody else to force you to internalize a system, any system, and identify yourself with that system, you are lost.
You are caught in a hypnotic dream of self-deception.
And that's the heart and goal of grading systems: to get you to identify yourself with an artificial system of measurement, by which you allow yourself to be judged.
It doesn't matter.
The idea is to get yourself used to the idea of being classified as something, say, a "student."
And then let yourself get "graded" accordingly.
It gets you loosened up and "prepared" for the horrors of what is going to happen to you later in life.
Out in the "real" world.
All so Dick Stuart can tell the difference between a 92 and 93 on any of his "tests."
Dick and I liked each other a lot though.
We had a running joke about how I had gotten a little blasted on some of his brew and had bent the handle of his bottle capper.
He was always impressed that I could have done that.
What I never told him was that I was capping his head when I did it.
Dick later presided over the committee that reviewed all my tenure appeals and efforts to keep my job, which decided 6-1 that I should not be kept on.
I have never been able to figure out who the "1" was.
I have a feeling they stuck it in so that I wouldn't know who was firing the blank.
Let me tell you about one of my former students.
They are my reason for being here now.
What I saw in their eyes.
In return for just a hint, a possibility, a breath of Truth.
In 1974 I moved to a farm, about ten miles out of town, up in the foothills of the Blue Mountains.
Kathee and I had rented a place (where the pictures had been taken) out in the valley before that time.
Now we had bought a place.
In the woods.
A stream going right through the backyard.
That flooded once in a while.
To make it interesting.
A 10,000 sq. ft. garden.
Dogs and cats. Everywhere.
Once we had a cow (steer).
And some geese.
Which I planted.
Cherry. Apple. Apricot. Nut.
As well as the original apple trees, that went back to when the place was homesteaded.
It nestled in the bottom of a little draw, and was the main house for a farm that surrounded the entire area.
When Paul Farrens bought the farm, he sold the house to us.
It was protected.
You could see Elk most of the winter grazing on the ridge.
Right behind it, with our house being the only access, there was a beautiful little canyon that went back into the mountains, called Nightingale Canyon.
I went bear hunting back there.
And got my Christmas Tree back there every year.
It was the most perfect place in the Walla Walla Valley. For us.
And it only cost $27,000.
At the time.
By the most extraordinary "luck."
Once it started to burn to the ground.
But the neighbors caught it.
And the insurance money helped us to completely refinish the inside.
There was a little bunkhouse out in back, that I kept the dogs and cats in.
And whatever else strayed in.
A skunk. Once.
The stream was called Blue Creek, and was known for never drying up.
And had trout that were not planted.
Distinctive markings to that particular creek.
At least that's what John Drumheller, my pal in the Sporting Goods business, told me.
John knew pretty much about everything in that area.
He and I had a real and close kinship.
He had gone to Whitman too.
For a year.
Before the War.
The Big One.
John loved guns and hunting.
He sold me my very favorite rifle--a twenty-two magnum, lever action, with a four power scope.
Just like the Old West 30-30's.
Whenever I would get depressed I would go in to see old Drumheller and listen to one of his stories.
I'll bet that John Drumheller single-handedly kept 40% of the town of Walla Walla Washington from getting depressed every day with the stories he told.
Like the one about Old Man Wickersham.
Wickersham Bridge is named after him now.
But when he had a cabin up in the Woods they instituted the first deer hunting season.
And the Warden caught him with some deer hanging in his yard.
And when they came to trial, it was the first prosecution under the new ordinance.
Old Man Wickersham explained.
He told about how he'd caught the deer eating his strawberries, and how he had to pack all his strawberry plants up that mountain, on his back, because there weren't any road.
And how he'd swore, right then and there, that he was gonna git those deer, and all ther kin.
Which was what he was trying to do.
When he got caught.
But the fellow I want to tell you the story about is a guy named Bob Burdett.
Burdett was in my very first seminar, taught at Whitman.
I was doing the Continental Rationalists (Descartes, Leibnitz, and Spinoza) and the British Empiricists (Locke, Berkeley, and Hume).
Burdett was in the class.
I took one look at him and said, Son-of-a-bitch. Did I have to draw one of these the first time out?
Burdett was a guy known far and wide, for his use of narcotics.
I don't mean nickel and dime penny ante college kid experimentation fool around dope.
I mean Dope.
He had the shakes. All the time.
He stuttered. Couldn't look you in the eye. And, when he did, you wished he hadn't.
The awesome pain he was carrying around became evident.
When his eyes met yours.
Unless he was loaded.
Then he was OK.
He would say.
With his eyes.
Well, Burdett, by my standards, was one of the best people I ever met at Whitman.
His eye, while shaky and bleeding with the most god-awful combinations of narcotics, was steady and true and faithful when it came to genuine and true values that make people up.
While my "friends" were scattering like rats while my little ship was sinking (in the name of "principles," like the necessity of the rule of unjust men and laws, for the sake of the stability of the system) Burdett was oblivious to any change in him, me, or our relationship.
What was going on, in the hypnotic storm surrounding me and my efforts to keep my job was irrelevant to what he had seen in me, and what he knew to be true about our relationship.
He was steady and calm, singularly steady and calm, while everybody else I knew, who knew me, was operating at an extremity of psychic tension, fear, guilt, and dismay.
It was my policy to eat lunch at the Student Union Building, right in the middle of the students moving in and out of the building to get their mail and meet their friends.
That way I was "available" for "consultation" on any important issue of the day.
And I could keep my eye close to the heartbeat of what was going on in their minds.
When I first instituted this little procedure I had to leave the "faculty" lunch room to do it.
That made it clear to the faculty who were eating in the lunchroom that I would a hell of a lot rather eat in the middle of the intense noise and confusion of our my (our) students milling around and throwing french fries at each other than I would with them.
That I would find more peace in which to digest my lunch in the midst of their roar than I would at the silence of their table.
So I left.
As gracefully as I could.
And sort of pretended to be in a hurry, or have some "business" to transact with students out in the main eating room, which sort of "required" my presence out there.
And, as apologetically as I could, I began eating "out there," with my students!
And, one by one, peculiarly enough, the aging, creaky, isolated, lonely men who normally occupied the "faculty lunch room" came out to join me in the feast of being with our students during this particularly happy time of the day.
Well, even though, over the years, these old creaks did come out to subject themselves to student thought and question, and eyes, some things did happen to me out there that did not fail to enlist their attention.
One of which was Burdett.
Even though Burdett had long since graduated, and he was long since off dope, he would still come into the SUB (Student Union Building) and seek me out to have a smoke and a cup of coffee.
He would just sit there, with me, while I was trying to scarf down a cheeseburger and fries before my 1:00 o'clock class, which was then the biggest class taught at Whitman.
He would just sit there.
Still stammering. Stuttering.
Still wearing his black leather jacket with a white undershirt inside.
Badly pockmarked face.
Looking, for all the world, like he had just arrived in town with a boatload of heroin.
For the Revolution.
I love you.
These three little words form the fabric and essence of human life.
That is all there is.
And we do everything we possibly can to hide from it.
What happens in a teaching situation is the unique opportunity to constantly express what these words mean without fear of recrimination.
(Until you open the door, and let the class out, and word gets out that you are doing something "unprofessional.")
The teacher's real purpose, his real chore, is breaking the (hypnotic) bonds that (would) keep us from expressing these words in the countless, infinitely countless ways that they may be spoken among us.
This being so, a teacher's "job," his real job, extends far beyond the classroom, to everyone he meets.
It is directly in proportion to how much you love, not how much you make, that you will be freed from the fetters that shackle us all from seeing the "glory" that Jesus called "Heaven."
I could give a shit about the world.
I hate to be so god damn blunt; and so vulgar; but I have to use this kind of language to get my point across.
I simply do.
It is the only way that I can break through the hypnotism.
I am sorry.
But if you hear the vulgarity instead of the love behind it, you are not ready for the message.
You are still concerned with the "dirt" on the platters; instead of the dead and rotting corpses inside the sepulchers.
As your idea of purity.
Instead of love.
Until there is nothing left to you but love.
I used to say to my students that that was what Jesus was talking about, or reflecting, when he was hanging on the Cross: when you get 100% in the love "space" (which was the language I used for them at the time) you can't be hurt.
No matter what they try to do to you.
This was what the early Christian martyrs saw too.
Back in the early days of the Church.
Back when they had Healings.
Before the "Church" got a hold of it.
And obliterated the spirituality with the lust for power.
And sensual pleasure.
There is a peculiar paradox about love, genuine love, that isn't peculiar at all when you rise above a third-dimensional understanding of this.
It seems to be that when you offer genuine love, you are always putting yourself on the line.
You are always risking something.
Making yourself vulnerable.
And, often as not, you seem to get your banana cut off.
What you feel is Love impelling you upward.
And if the old gets left behind, then you are ready to "rise above" it.
Do you think that Jesus really would have wanted to keep his old body? His old personal sense of who and what he was, that forms all of the limitations that we all find so frustrating in our lives; that forms the conditions of every pain, fear, disappointment, and problem we ever face?
It is much better, always better, to take the chance on love, wherever it leads you, and let the fucking devil have his just desserts--whatever you leave behind.
By this I do not mean "sensual" love.
Sensual love, so far as I can determine, is good for mainly one thing--getting self-absorbed adolescents to pull their heads out of their own self-preoccupations and pay attention to the needs and cares of somebody else.
And it takes all the power of human sexuality to do that!
After which we spend the rest of our lives trying to rise above sexual love to a higher "sense" of what is going on.
Having made all the "mistakes" that we made on the basis of sexual love.
Which continually force us to look elsewhere, and upward, for the answers.
So that they weren't "mistakes" at all, in retrospect.
There is nothing that is a mistake in God's Kingdom, if you think about it.
A mistake isn't possible.
Not with the Old Man controlling everything from a moonbeam to a heartbeat.
So, no "mistakes" are possible.
No "sin" is possible.
No "sickness" is possible.
No "death" is possible.
Nothing "bad," or "evil," or even "ugly" is possible.
Not even "dreams" are possible.
No "marble games," after all.
No hypnotic nightmares.
Nothing evil, ugly, bad; not one molecule or atom out of place.
Everything is perfect.
All we have to do....I say All we have to do, is recognize that this is true.
And, that is exactly what we are doing.
Each step of the way.
As we follow, or allow ourselves to be led, wherever and however our hearts (or the "truth within us that will set us free," as Jesus put it) see as the way to go.
With our highest understanding of what love courage trust and humility mean to us today.
Don't sit around waiting for a better moment.
The fields are ripe now.
Act on it.
Wherever you see your heart moving you.
Follow, always follow, your highest sense of Good.
That is God (The Christ) within you.
Acting on human consciousness to set you free!
It may be the "still, small voice" that Elijah heard in the fire.
Or it may be the whale swallowing up all your (human) hopes and ambitions and dreams.
Or it may be a voice in a garden that tells you to lead your country in a War with the English.
I don't care how insane, or ridiculous, or preposterous it may appear to the humans that live around you, who would keep you in the shackles that serve their own ends: follow Love!
Follow your heart!
Let it lead you where it (not you) would have you go.
This is genuine "humility."
Bending human will before the recognized goodness of a higher claim, a higher direction, than what you would have mapped out for yourself; than what you did map out for yourself.
And following it.
The struggle is always internal.
It is alone.