Well then, this is the Theories of Mind Seminar, Philosophy 480, a highest level offering by the Philosophy Department.
Currently numbering one man.
The question in this course is who that "self" is. You, me, everybody's self.
I have offered this course at Whitman College, my alma mater, and the school at which I have spent the last seven years of my professional career. Typically, we have spent the first six weeks on Freud, using Rickman's A General Introduction from the Works of Freud, which I think is the best all-around single introduction to his basic writings.
This year I thought you might enjoy going through the New Testament, and seeing what it says. From the point of view of a guy who has been studying Christian Science for the past two and a half years.
What you will be getting here will not be a Course in the New Testament. But merely a view of the meaning of The New Testament from a guy who has spent his entire academic career exploring the meaning of "self" as deeply as he can.
I make no pretensions to being a Bible Scholar.
I am merely a Philosopher.
The kind you should "beware" of lest he "spoil" you.
I was in Wolf Point getting a haircut, yesterday.
Wolf Point, Montana, which is 20 miles from Frazer, for those of you who just joined us.
In the adventures of Love loving Itself. Here. Now. Today.
Bill Couch's Barber Shop.
I was in there talking with Couch and his friend Don Fox.
Bill is a terrible barber, by the way. At least he's not as good as my wife. But she left me.
So now I look like a Cowboy.
The motherfucker scalped me!
We were in there talking about the Indians, since Wolf Point, like Frazer, lies in the middle of this huge Indian Reservation--the Fort Peck Reservation--located in the Northeast part of the State of Montana.
Don's kids are half Indian.
And our little discussion got so engaged that that Son-of-a-Bitch Couch scalped me!
You know, the kind of haircut where they trim (with a razor!) around your ears!
So now, when I put my Cowboy Hat on I can really really really look like one of the Boys.
It was one of those deals where you had pictures of different hair styles in front of you on the wall, and you sort of point to the one you want.
I'm going to get married again.
But old Bill was a good guy.
And so was Don.
You could see their hearts were in the right place. And we did have a good talk.
We all agreed that the only thing to do is to bust up the Indian Reservation, and maybe these meatball redskins would quit thinking they are somebody different. And special!
That destroys people.
That is the sole reason why alcoholism is the chief cause of death among these poor bastards.
Now you take an old friend of mine like Jim Welch, who is an expert poet, and probably the best Indian writer around today. He says that what saved him was getting taken out of these dump little Indian towns and growing up in Minneapolis. During High School.
That God damn motherfucking son-of-a-bitch scalped me!
I still can't believe it.
Well, he and Don are both leaving Wolf Point soon, anyway.
The town's too narrow-minded for them.
Don wants to raise his kids in California.
Where they can get a breath of Life.
Hard things to find in the rough pioneer mentality of Montanans.
The original ones.
Before the new rush of escapees from the Big Time discovered the place.
Which is starting to happen now.
Across the street from Bill's barber Shop, for example, is a Stockman's Bar.
Now there is a Stockman's Bar in every little town in the State of Montana. That's what qualifies it to be a town.
But this Stockman's Bar is now a Stockman's "220" Bar.
With a fresh new false front. Suspiciously reminiscent of Walt Disney's Frontier Town in Disneyland.
It looks like a tourist maybe ought to think it should look.
If he wasn't too bright.
And wanted air conditioning.
Son-of-a-bitch it gets hot around here. In the summer.
And cold in the winter. I mean---literally--40º below.
With no wind.
There was a drift of snow next to my house in Frazer that was bigger than the house.
The wind does blow.
I love it.
Eat it up.
Because to me, it is pure God, talking right to me, all the time.
No matter what.
The line of communication is never broken.
It can't be.
That's the nature of things.
Even though everything that seems to be "happening" in what we call "the world" argues that there is no God, or if there is, He or She has a lot of explaining to do.
Like these Indians who like to litter.
Their lives most especially.
My next-door neighbor, Oliver, whom I like very much, came over the other day to borrow my garden hose.
He wanted to wash the maggots off his latest deer, before he cut it up.
He asked me if I would eat it.
I said no.
Unless it was an emergency.
And since he had gotten five more deer the day before, it clearly was not an emergency.
This whole town is a litter basket.
It is reflected in the people here.
Who regularly die in their early forties.
Last winter, a guy down the street stole a car and went around town smashing it up.
He totaled my other neighbor's Microbus.
While it was sitting in his driveway.
He just smacked into the back axle and snapped it.
And then went on.
They caught him outside of Glasgow, which is thirty miles the other side of Frazer, going West.
Last year, I found out later, he did the same thing.
And got a little fine.
Which I'm sure he was able to pay, from all the Government checks that roll in here to keep the people quiet.
Last year he hit Cliff Quam's El Camino. Parked beside his house.
And totaled it.
Cliff had to pay the whole thing.
No uninsured motorist in Cliff’s policy.
Cliff is one of my favorite people on earth. He and his wife Katherin.
They are good old time Christians.
They are just about the last White People left in this town.
All the others have been driven out.
By the "skins."
As they like to call themselves.
There are still three remaining halfway active Churches in town--the Lutheran, Catholic, and Mormon.
All these good old Missionary types still on the job.
Saving the Redskins from themselves.
Instead of saving the Churches from themselves. Which is what they should be doing.
God damn feeble minded nits.
And their twisted, destructive, doctrine.
Two weeks ago the Lutherans had a reunion.
A twenty-five year reunion. Of their Church building.
They poured in from all over the State.
From as far away as Minnesota.
Over a hundred people showed up.
All who had been, at one time or another from this town.
All who had left.
Cliff is my favorite guy because he stays.
He still hangs around, and does some generalized Missionary Work.
He keeps care of the Indians.
He maintains the town pump.
For the Water.
And replaces the windows, and other parts of the building, when vandals try to tear it down.
The Government, in its imperial Wisdom, gave them a 5 horse pump, which is too big. So it continuously drains the well, if it isn't constantly monitored. Which Cliff does.
He also keeps the books.
For the sewer and water.
Which is pretty much it, for why they call this place a town.
There is a sign, that says "Frazer," as you pass by it on Highway 2.
And I mean by it.
There is a five mile stretch of road that is absolutely straight, right in front of it, that goes right by it.
Like the train track that parallels the road.
By far the more interesting sign, that would grab the motorist's attention (and I mean grab, because in that country, by the time you get to that point, on the road, you are looking for anything that will keep you awake) is the one right next to it that says "Little Porcupine Creek."
The reason that that would be more interesting is because it might promise water, which would be a highlight along the road.
Actually, the Missouri River is right close by. I was sleeping down there yesterday too.
On the river bank.
Under a Cottonwood tree.
Deepening my sense of the timelessness of the real Creation.
The Spiritual One.
That is Us.
People think, they have been taught, by these phony, self-preoccupied, self-indulgent miscarriages that we call "Churches" that Jesus Christ was the Son of God!
Well he was.
But so are we!
And that was what he was trying to tell us in the teaching.
Which was the teaching, we call, we should call, Christianity.
The last thing on earth he would have wanted was for us to have been sitting around worshipping him, a guy, just like us.
In our human form.
Or what we call our so-called "human" form.
It wasn't he personally, as he kept trying to say to his disciples over and over again, that was the Christ!
It was something within.
Within him; within you; within me; within each and every one of us that is the Christ.
It is not Jesus Christ specifically, as a person.
Well, needless to say, if this little point of doctrine is true, somebody, somewhere, is a little bit off the track.
Well, anyway, the Indians are the biggest litterbugs in the world.
I mean, not just garbage, and car bodies, but houses, strewn all over everywhere.
Last year some guy was moving a house from one side of town to the other.
He parked it halfway.
For one whole year.
Right in the middle of the street!
Right in the middle of the street!
That you have to drive around.
If you want to go down the street.
For one whole year!
Well, that's an example of why the Whites left.
That and the countless criminal activities that go on.
That don't ever get prosecuted.
I have no friends here.
Except Cliff. And his wife.
And a couple of teachers that come here to try to do a little do-gooding, and straighten the Indians out. Futilely.
Oliver, and his buddies, I really do like.
And I am saying all of this to them.
Oliver is a good man.
He is a lot better man than almost any of the ones that I have known in Captivity.
Yet Oliver is the kind of guy who will shoot twenty Jackrabbits, and line them all up, in the Winter, when they are White, on his roof. Frozen. Solid.
Which is a better status symbol than a two-seater outhouse.
And Oliver will wonder why he's doing it.
Why he's engaged in mindless destructive cruelty.
Which makes you wonder about guys like, say, William Westmoreland.
The Eagle Scout.
We had a guy in my home towns Missoula, Montana, named David Overcast.
Overcast was a really nice guy from our class, the Class of '61, who flew 150 missions over North Vietnam.
In a Phantom Jet.
Made by McDonnell Douglas.
In St. Louis.
Where I went to Graduate School.
At Washington University.
Right in the heart of the War.
You know, it makes me wonder, a bit, about this business of passing judgments.
Without having put on their moccasins.
Speaking of which, I was also in the Wolf Point Saddlery, yesterday, picking on them about getting ready the little pouch I am going to put the stones from the Sea of Galilee in, for a Christmas present.
For my mother-in-law.
To be exact.
Since my wife left me last year, bailed straight out of this insanity I'm engaged in, like any normal, commonsensical person would.
But I still think of her as my mother-in-law.
She is wonderful.
I adore her.
I worship the comprehension of life that she has.
For an old lady.
With twelve kids.
But then, they adopted one.
Took him in for a number of years, till he got on his feet.
They live in Kirkland, Washington.
And I hope to give them some presents I picked up in the Middle East when I was over there last Spring checking up on some spiritual facts.
That was when my wife bailed out.
When she saw that I was willing to take the last of our money and put it into this thing.
Then she knew that there was something higher than family.
And she bailed out.
Still strapping on her parachute as she leaped out the door.
Waving and blowing me kisses as she disappeared into the air.
I would like you to get the textbooks for this course, Science and Health, by Mary Baker Eddy, the textbook of Christian Science. And two supplementary texts, that I think will aid your appreciation of the implications and consequences of her great discovery. The Christian Science Way of Life, by DeWitt John, and A Century of Christian Science Healing, put out by the Christian Science Board of Directors.
This is what I have been leading you to.
Now down to important matters.
Like what I did this weekend.
You love hearing all these stories about me, don't you.
Listening to me shoot off my mouth about the wonderfulness of my own physical presence and personal being on the face of this planet.
That's what it's all about.
Well, listen, carefully, behind all the bullshit about myself--my-self--and see what you hear.
If you aren’t rocks, and weeds, and dry flat hard places, out of the way.
That's a literary allusion: to the sower's parable.
Matthew, Chapter 13.
I used to teach convicts, at the Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Washington, where I used to live.
I also taught the guards.
And deputy sheriffs.
All of whom were taking my Ethics Course, as part of their degree requirements at a Community College.
In Walla Walla.
I loved these guys.
And they loved me.
They all wished me much success and luck in coming out here to Montana to write these books.
They were in fact, the last students I taught before I came out here.
I remember, in particular, one guard, who looked like he had just come out of the Hole, just long enough to take this course.
He was the toughest man in the class.
And the most respected.
So far as I could tell.
His name was Bob Greenough.
He would just come in, in the evening, and sit right in front of me, staring and shaking his head, in response to my assertions.
These people had been equipped, better than any other group of people in the world, to handle bullshit, lies, and con jobs.
They were tough, cynical, and, by most normal standards, mean.
They all smoked cigarettes.
Especially the women.
I saw some of the loveliest beauty I have ever laid eyes on in that class.
I saw people who were willing to put aside everything that the world said: that the job was futile, that they were ugly bullies, and that the criminals were deserving of everything they got.
I saw them willing to put all of this aside, and accept one of the most status-less occupations in the world, for the little bit of good that they saw, and knew that they could do there.
And they saw that I saw that.
And there was a mutual reflection.
Of the discovery and the knowledge of that Love.
On their part.
And my part.
They even offered to hide me after I told them that I would probably be murdered for letting the Truth out of the bag.
We had a little game, we played while I would be lecturing them about Nietzsche, or Sartre, or Freud, or John Stuart Mill.
It was that I, or what I was saying, was like a radio, or the tube, where all they had to do was mentally turn me off, with their minds, even though they kept their eyes perfectly trained on me, in perfect, rapt, attention.
It was a little like Church.
And my part of the game was to see whether I knew whether they had turned me off or not.
While I talked.
And to get, and sustain, and keep their attention.
Which, of course, was not at all hard to do, even though all these people (students) had either just put in very long hard days on the job, or, were just about to put in a long hard day on the job.
On the night shift.
The reason it was not hard to do, for me to keep their attention and interest, was because I was speaking the vital Truth of Life.
So to speak.
Which, naturally enough, would engage anyone's attention, especially if they were about to go off to a tough, mean, dirty job that had almost no rewards, except the occasional look on somebody's face when they had made a breakthrough.
To the thought of a prisoner.
That he wasn't a criminal and a prisoner and a convict after all.
That he was a person.
With all the (divine) rights and responsibilities and opportunities for happiness that everyone is entitled to.
There was one older guy, who sat directly right in front of me, who, when I saw this, and knew that I knew that this is what he and all the other prison guards were really up to, broke into a tear.
For a moment.
Before he caught himself.
Well, anyway, this one guy, Bob Greenough, had a habit of calling me "Doctor."
In the most cynical put-down sneer, or near snarl.
At least it so appeared to me.
His face, when it broke into an involuntary smile, which became increasingly frequent as the weeks wore on, had to create new wrinkles for itself to accommodate these strange muscular contractions.
Bob came up to me my last day there, just before we broke up as a class, and said, "I don't usually say things like this, but it's been an honor knowing you."
That was the high point of my academic teaching career.
Let's talk about sin.
Sin is the other side of the coin that Jesus is the personal God.
Sin is the notion that "Preachers" have to get across to you, i.e., have to penetrate your shield to get you to accept.
You have got to be a sinful little creature.
(Or else they'll have no work to do.)
Which parallels their work of trying to explain how Jesus Saves you from Sin.
Which takes a lot of time.
And donations to the kitty at Church.
When they pass around the hat; and make you feel like warmed-over afterbirth if you don't chip in.
The biggest single problem that Preachers have in Church is sleeping.
Not paying attention.
Going sound asleep.
On the part of their Congregations.
But, because of their genuine humility, and genuine love of God, and genuine willingness to search for what is good in life, and because they (seem) to have no other place to go, they stay.
"Ministers" cultivate this sense of yearning, to do and be what is right and good, by turning it into its ugliest possible opposite.
They say you have an obligation to come to Church, because you are a dreadful sinner, by your very depraved nature, and the only way you can find Forgiveness is through the Repentance in your heart, for the ugliness of your crime.
Meanwhile, this poor bastard is coming to Church, in the first place, not out of a sense of sin, but from a sense of his love for God, and his desire to do and be, within his limited felt capabilities, what is right and good.
So, the "Pastor" turns it all to shit.
Takes the few humble pearls the guy is casting out as an offering, an expression, of his love for God, and Man, and turns them into turds right before his very eyes.
Of course, the preachers don't know (consciously) what they are doing, and are as victimized by the whole system as anybody else.
Which means that the root of the error is doctrinal.
It has to be.
We are all victimized by nothing less than lies.
That is all.
That is all that Jesus ever said about the substantive nature of the devil, or evil. Without the ‘d.’
That he was the father of lies.
Because that is the nature of a lie.
As soon as it is seen--as soon as it is self-seen--it begins to self-destruct.
In all kinds of hideous, grotesque ways.
Which is what the Book of Revelation is about.
The self-destruction of evil.
As the Goodness of God is seen, or begun to be seen, in a person's consciousness.
That is what the Battle Hymn of the Republic is about.
It is not about Nationalism.
The success of one nation obliterating another through the use of physical force.
That doesn't quite fit the exact harmony of the doctrine.
The harmony of The Doctrine, the Real Doctrine, that Jesus came here to Preach about, is that there is One God--that you should love with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul and all your strength; and that you should love your neighbor as yourself.
Total, absolute love.
Is The Doctrine.
Simple. Isn't it.
Even a child could understand it.
I was taking a walk last night, up to my little graveyard that overlooks the city, downtown metropolitan Frazer.
I passed underneath the Power Lines, the ones whose poles converge in the distance, it is so flat.
The moon was so bright, as usual, that I had to wear my cowboy hat to keep the bright light out of my eyes.
The air is awfully clear right here.
There was a touch of aurora borealis going on in the North.
Right under the North Star, which my walks always aim toward, or away from, or in relation to. Somehow.
You can find it with the Big Dipper: two of its stars sort of point toward it.
I once said that the Moon was a good metaphor for understanding Man.
But, that if you didn't understand that the Moon's light is reflected light, that the origin of its seeming incandescence is the sun, you were bound to get all screwed up in your understanding of it.
You would be bound to think, among other things, that the Phases of the Moon were real features of the Moon itself.
Because you would lack the theory, the understanding that the Phases of the Moon are just the moon's shadow being cast upon itself, making it seem to be, say, a waxing gibbous, or a waning crescent.
And then you would be stuck, trying to invent theories to explain why and how the moon really is this crescent shaped object that is growing more and more into a round shaped object, etc.
That would be hard to do.
That is hard to do.
But, that is exactly what the scientific community is trying to do with what is called the "human" conception of Man.
Based on the scientific conception of the Universe, the Earth, and Man's place in it.
Or from it.
Or out of it.
As the scientists, particularly the doctors and psychologists, would have you "understand" it.
I was walking along toward the little graveyard of all these theories and speculations about Nature and Man's place in it, when I looked up at the Power Lines, and realized what a totally primitive manner of transmitting power that is.
I realized too, that since Man really is spiritual, and that since the gains that he makes really do come from his moral and spiritual advancement, not his so-called technological progress, what is really needed to solve the so-called material problems of our day is spiritual and moral growth.
As the so-called problems become more intense, and he realizes more and more that the problems and the solutions to them are both really spiritual, he will turn to a better understanding of himself and his relation to God for the answers.
Any problem, as I have said repeatedly in this course of study, is just, it is only: all there is to it is God beckoning His Children to a Higher Understanding of Him.
That is all there is to any so-called "problem" that we are ever dealt in what we now call "human" life.
Solutions take form on what we call the human or material scene, or the plane of thought that we call third-dimensional consciousness, in terms of technological breakthroughs, or perhaps physical healings of illness; but the only thing that is really going on underneath all the human to-ing and fro-ing is just the relation of Man--you and me in our individual ways--and God.
I know that this is impossible to believe.
I know that this is totally revolutionary and upsetting to Common Sense, if true.
But it is the Gospel Truth.
It is what Jesus was talking about in the New Testament.
"When ye have a problem, seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven and all these things shall be added unto you."
The argument, that comes from third-dimensional sense, material sense, or human consciousness will always take the form that the problem is real, that it has a material form, that evil is present and active in the world, acting with power and against God.
All of this in the face of the fact that we are supposed to acknowledge as the Second Commandment of the Mosaic Decalogue not to have graven images, i.e., other powers in the Universe in addition to or besides God.
There is One and only One Power.
It is Intelligence.
We call it "God."
When we acknowledge "other powers," then the effects of breaking that Law, will manifest themselves in our experience.
And we will see pain, and suffering, and sin, and death.
Until we let the belief that there are other powers go.
Because it is false.
It is a lie.
Against God and Man.
And the lie (not the man) will be punished for as long as it is held.
That is law.