I am often asked whether there is life after death. Certainly there is. There is also death after life, and life before death, and death before life. It goes on forever. There is just no stopping it.
You will live forever, and die forever. In fact, you already have. As for Heaven and Hell, they are right here on Earth, and it is up to each of you in which you choose to reside. To put it simply, Heaven is living in your dreams and Hell is living in your fears.
In the traditional image where Hell is down and Heaven is up, one escapes from hell by digging a hole in the ceiling. Though in an age of downers and uppers down and up no longer make sense, it is still possible to think of in and out. Think of Hell as in and Heaven as out. To get out of Hell, expand your soul until it is pushing on all the walls from the inside all the way around. If you just maintain a steady pressure, your soul will gradually filter out into limitless Heaven beyond.
One problem with the notion of Heaven and Hell, however, is that, although they are exact opposites, an astonishing number of people seem to be confused about which is which. For example, all over the United States on this very evening, commencement speakers are standing before audiences not greatly unlike yourself, describing Hell as if they were describing Heaven.
Their speakers are saying things such as, "Graduating Seniors, you have reached the golden threshold of maturity; it is time now to go out into the world and take up the challenge of life, time to face your hallowed responsiblity."
And if that isn't one hell of a note, it is certainly one note of Hell.
When I hear the word maturity spoken with such solemn awe, I don't know whether to laugh or to get sick. There circulates a common myth that once one becomes an adult, one suddenly and magically gets it altogether and if I may use the vernacular, discovers where it's at.
ha ha. The sad funny truth is adults are nothing but tall children who have forgotten how to play.
When people tell you to "grow up" they mean approximately the same thing as when they say "shut up." By "shut up" they mean stop talking. By "grow up" they mean stop growing.
Because as long as you keep growing, you keep changing- and a person who is changing is unpredictable, impossible to pigeon hole, and difficult to control. The growing person is not an easy target for those guys in slick suits who want you to turn over your soul over to Christ, your heart to America, your butt to Seattle first National Bank and your armpits to extra crispy Right Guard.
No, the growing person is not an ideal consumer, which means in more realistic terms, he or she is not an easy slave. Worse yet, if he or she continues to grow, grows far enough or long enough, he or she may get too close to the universal mysteries, the nature of which the Navy and the Dutch reform Church do not encourage us to ponder. The growing person is an uncomfortable reminder of the greater human potential that each of us might realize if we had the guts.
So society wants you to grow up. To reach a safe, predictable plateau and root there. To muzzle your throb, to lower the volume on the singing in your blood. Capers all cut, sky finally larked, surprises known, SETTLE DOWN- settle, like the sand in the bottom of an hour glass, like a coffin six months into the ground. ACT YOUR AGE, which means act their age, and that has from the moment they stopped growing, always been old.
Growing up is a trap.
As for responsibility, I am forced to ask, "Responsibility to what?" To our fellow man? Two weeks ago, the newspapers reported that a federal court had ruled that when a person's brain stops functioning, that person is legally dead, even though his or her heart may continue to beat. That means that 80% of the population of Earth is legally dead. Must we be responsible to corpes?
No, you have no responsibility except to be yourself to the fullest limit of yourself, and to find out who you are. Or perhaps, I should say to remember who you are. Because deep down, in the secret velvet of your heart, far beyond your name and address, each of you knows who you really are. And that being, who is the true you,cannot help but behave graciously to all other beings- because it is all other beings.
Yet, we are consistently reminded of our own..."responsibility." Responsibility means obey orders, without question, don't rock the boat, and for God's sake, get a job. (Get a job. Sha na na na)
Thats the scary the one. Get a job. It is said as if it were a holy and ancient and inviolable law of nature. But the fact is although cultural man has been on Earth some 2 million years, the very concept of jobs is only about 500 years old. A drop in the bucket, to coin a phrase. And with the advent of electronic cybernetic automated technology, jobs are on the way out again. Jobs were just a flash in the pan, a passing fancy. There is no realistic relationship between jobs and work-work being defined as simply one of the more serious aspects of play- any more than there is a realistic relationship between jobs and eating. It is curious how many people believe if it weren't for jobs they couldn't eat. As if it weren't for Boeing, their jaws wouldn't chew, if it weren't for the Navy their bowels wouldn't move and if it weren't for the Weyerhauser that great destroyer of plants- plants wouldn't grow. Technocratic assumptions about the identity of man, society, and nature have warped our experience at its source and obscured the basic natural sense of things. Rabbits don't have jobs. When was the last time you heard of a rabbit starving to death?
Ah, but we must be responsible, and if we are, we are rewarded with the White man's logical equivalent of looting: a steady job, secure income, easy credit, free access to all the local emporiums and a home of your own to pile the merchandise in! And so what if there is no magic in your life, no wonder, no amazement, no playfulness, no peace of mind, no sense of unity with the Universe, no giggling joy, no burning passion, no deep understanding, no overwhelming love? At least your ego has the satisfaction of knowing you are a responsible citizen.
Responsibility is a trap.
As a matter of fact, the entire system into which you were born and which now, upon completion of high (high?) school you must perhaps face more directly, is a system designed to trap you- and manipulate you as a co-operating slave, a system designed to steep you in Hell.
Hell is living in your fears, and it is through fear, both subtle and overt, that the system traps you. Fear of failure, fear of social rejection, fear of poverty, fear of punishment, fear of death.
For example, we are taught to fear something called Communism, and millions of Americans go to bed every night wondering if Mao Tse Tung is under their bed. Conversely, on the other side of the world millions of Russians and Chinese go to bed wondering if Henry Kissenger is under their bed. Our totalitarian government uses the hoax of the threat of Communism to control and enslave us, just as the totalitarian Communist governments use the hoax of the threat of capitalism to control and enslave their people. It's an extremely old and obviously effective trick.
You see, the powers behind Communism and the powers behind Capitalism are virtually the same people. We might also include the powers behind the Vatican and the powers behind Islam. Their main function is to mystify the popular mind by creating illusions of omnipotence and omniscience with which to command docility from their subjects, although it does not require much thorough investigation to discover that few of the peoples of this world are happy, healthy, or fulfilled. But never mind. There are ways out of the trap, ways, as I earlier suggested out of Hell.
The only advice I have for you tonight is not to actively resist or fight the System, because active protest and resistence merely entangle you in the System. Instead, ignore it, walk away from it, turn your backs on it, laugh at it. Don't be outraged, be outrageous! Never be stupid enough to respect authority unless that authority first proves itself respectable. And, unfortunately, there is no officially sanctioned authority today, from the President of the United States down to the cop on the beat, that has earned the right to your respect. So, be your own authority, lead yourselves. Remember the ways and means of the Ancient Yogi masters, Pied Pipers, cloud walkers and medicine men. Get in harmony with nature. Listent to the loony rhythms of your blood. Look for beauty and poetry in everything in life. Let there be no moon that does not know you, no spring that does not lick you with its tounges. Refuse to play it safe, for it is from the wavering edge of ridk that the sweetest honey of freedom drips. Live dangerously, live lovingly. Believe in magic. Nourish your imagination. Use your head, even if it means going out of your mind. Learn, like the lemon and the tomato learned, the laws of the sun. Become aware, like the jungle became aware, of your own perfume. Remember that life is much too serious to take seriously- to never forget how to play. In times of doubt and chaos, it has been the duty of superior persons- artists, poets, scientists, clowns, and philosophers (certainly not statesmen or military heros) to create order in the psychic vibrations of their fellow man. Due in times such as ours, times that are too carefully ordered, too strictly organized, too expertly managed, thoroughly programmed and craftily planned, times in which too few control too many, it is the duty of all feeling, thinking, humanitarian people to toss their favorite monkey wrenches into the machinery. On second thought, you do have some responsibility to your fellow man. To relieve the repression of the human spirit, it is your sacred duty ot screw things up royally. Looking at you tonight, I am sure you will do just fine. Let me wrap this up with a few short questions I am often asked. A difficult question. 1. Will we be eaten by bugs and worms? We ought to be. We have eaten, and we ought to be eaten. This is justice and their is no stopping it. If you have your body burned, starving the Earth to glorify a memory you are asking for trouble. 2. Does your soul fly out of your body the moment that you die? No, this is a foolish superstition. Your soul is constantly flying out of your body in just the same way that energy is constantly flying out of the sun. At the monent your body dies, the soul stops flying out. 3. Is Jesus coming back? Yes, all the time. And so are you. All souls echo forever throughout the universe. I hope you have a wonderful trip.
Does anyone have any details about this? If you know anything about it, please leave a comment. Even if it isn't Tom Robbins, it's still interesting.