this struggle to, as we call it "wake up,” were nothing
but a wearisome, burdensome affair and were not entertaining,
then no one would do it, not even me. On the way here tonight,
one or two lines of MacBeth hit me about, "It's the attempt
that confounds us and not the deed itself." This caught
my attention in such a way that I went back and dug up MacBeth
and got through about half of it. I decided that,
up to the point that I took it, it is a splendid story.
If you have never looked at things this way, consider that
everyone is struggling to awaken in his or her own way.
This is true especially of writers, artists, poets, psychologists,
historians--anyone who is sincerely involved in "trying
to figure man out”--is struggling to awaken, whether they
know the term or not.
going to quote Shakespeare tonight, though I don't mean
to overdo it. As you know there are still debates
and argument over whether a man named Shakespeare even wrote
all of these stories and plays. There are people who
claim that he couldn't have because of the lack of education
and sophistication. The man is not important.
As I always point out, whatever I may have taken from Buddhism,
Buddha is not important. It doesn’t matter whether
such a person existed, but that is not the way ordinary
minds ordinarily think. Whether it was a man with
that name, or someone else, rather than worry about who,
consider it was the cellular activity in one man's brain
in the late sixteenth century that wrote this.
telling you I only got halfway through, so I picked out
seven lines that struck me. Remember, MacBeth is a
cellular message of awakening--it carries a message directly
as old as that from Buddha's writings, the old testament,
right up to the 1600's and what is happening today--a message
from the cellular activity of one man's brain telling a
story. A story, by my analyzation, is those brain
cells expressing their struggle to do whatever it is they
are attempting to do. The cells that constitute our
mind expressing their desire to change comes out in us as
"the desire to awaken,” to change our state of mind.
know that Shakespeare's dramas tell a rousing good tale.
And people are then tempted to extract some psychological
meaning from them. I say the psychological story of
MacBeth is the ordinary cellular activity of other ordinary
brains. But, as readers would often like to explain
it, it is a psychological drama, not just the murder of
the king and the struggle for power. It is the ramifications
of the feelings of guilt and doubt; the fear that seizing
power causes in the person who has seized the power.
I’m saying it is way beyond that. I say it is the
cellular activity in one man speaking, delivering a cellular
message, an expression of cells wanting to awaken.
So in MacBeth, as per yours truly, something else is going
we have MacBeth, a general (and I'm just going to give a
general outline, not go into detail with the story).
He and his friend, another general, are on the way back
from a war. Three witches come upon them, or vice
versa, and address MacBeth as the "Thane of Caldor,” a title
he doesn’t hold. It's sort of like the Duke of Earl.
It's a title he doesn't possess, and then they call him
"Future King of Scotland,” He points out to
them when they say, "Hail, MacBeth" that they got the name
right. "I am not a Duke or the 'Thane of Caldor'
and I am certainly not the king." He then realizes
it is a prognostication and tries to question the witches,
but they disappear. Later some riders catch up with
him and it turns out that King Duncan has already heard
of MacBeth's heroics on the battlefield and has given him
the title, "Thane of Caldor.” Of course, he and his
friend are somewhat taken aback that what those three strange
women, witches, predicted has already come true before they
even get home.
first line that hit me, after loving Shakespeare and admiring
his obvious love and facility of language, is the one that
I decided to rewrite. It starts off after he's saying
it's amazing that what those three old women forecast—something
he never imagined--has happened. It starts, "Oftimes
to win is to harm the instruments of darkness." I
changed it just a little bit but the intent is still there.
I propose that his friend, in response, says, "Oftimes to
lead us to harm, the forces of opposition tell us things
true. Some small, some partial, winning us over with
shallow trifles so as to later betray us into deeper consequences.”
That is the first line.
MacBeth sends word by messenger, home to his wife, and by
the time he gets home she is already speaking as though
it is fait accompli that he is going to kill the king.
He told her that the three old apparitions appeared to me
and called me by a title that I did not possess, they called
me King. She takes it as a done deal. She just
starts treating it as he has decided to kill the king and
he doesn't put up a lot of opposition. But as it happens,
throughout the rest of the day, he hem-haws a bit about
doing the deed, afterwards expressing great regret.
His wife already treats him like the King is coming over
and spending the night and just how are we going to kill
him. He hems and haws a little bit about, "I can't
do it that way." She replies, "Well, just what kind
of a man are you?" Now I'm not going to change anything--MacBeth
says, "Well, I dare do that which becomes a man and he who
does more is none."
goes out and he is still fretting over it. She has
already figured out how we'll get the guards drunk and all
that. She has figured out that he will take their
daggers and leave bloody daggers in the guards’ hands, and
it will appear that they in their drunken stupor killed
the king. So then she leaves and MacBeth sees this
new apparition of a knife floating in front of him.
And part of the line here is the part I'm going to use.
He says, "Is this weapon real or is it a dagger of the mind?
Is it a false creation preceding from an overheating brain?"
The actual line is "oppressed brain" but I couldn't resist
they do the deed. Morning comes and one of the Noblemen
comes in to wake up the King and discovers the King is dead.
He hollers to MacBeth and Lady MacBeth, who fein surprise,
and cries out, "Wake up and shake off your downy sleep,
death’s counterfeit. Come and look at the real thing."
two sons run for their lives when they realize the king
is dead and there is some question as to why the guards
would kill the king. The boys realized that someone
might think they were behind this and without any further
word, they galloped off. So the finger of suspicion
is there. But then due to the way of the hierarchy,
MacBeth becomes King. I think it is the same day,
he also recalls the three witches foresaw his rise to power,
and that his friend who was with him at the time, has heirs
who would become the power of Scotland and not MacBeth's.
And so MacBeth sees now that everything has come to be and
his friend has got to go.
decides this friend has got to be murdered and he calls
in two murderers. They don’t say how, but after what
MacBeth says to them it seems fairly obvious that they had
been condemned as murderers and probably awaiting execution.
So he calls them and without any great details, he lays
all the blame on Banquo. "He's the one responsible
for their predicament. It is all his fault and all
their troubles are due to him." And then he gives
them a question like, "So what do you think about that?
What are you going to do about that? Are you going
to stand for that?" And to show that they were real
men they should also be mad at Banquo. They may be
murderers but they are not stupid. They can tell the
king wants them to agree. So one of them says, "Are
we not men, my liege?" And being king I guess he can
afford sarcasm, he says, "Well, in the general catalog you
go for men." That is my other one, and I won’t point
out the others ones. That would be my fifth line.
they do him in. MacBeth decides he wants to know where
things stand now. So he digs up the witches.
He goes to the cave and just before he gets there, they
are really upping the stakes. They are mixing up a
whole cauldron of charms and mischief to work on him.
They seem to know what's going on already, but they are
going to do worse. They are throwing in a whole bunch
of hearts of attorneys and the humility of priests or something.
They are all around the cauldron singing and muttering and
what all. Suddenly, MacBeth pops into the cave
and says, "What is it you do?" One says, "It is the
deed without a name." That is my sixth line.
he is back in the castle and whining again. Just MacBeth
and the Lady MacBeth, and he is whining and bemoaning the
king and his friend Banquo, wishing they were alive.
He's wishing he hadn't done it. Now they're both dead,
my god how he regrets it. Then she says--and it terminates
in a line that is fairly well known--"What's done is done."
But the words right before that, the line right before that
is my final one for tonight. She says, "That without
remedy should be that without regard."
that you know the story, here are my seven lines:
"Oftimes to lead us to our harm, the forces of opposition
will tell us things true. Some small, some partial,
winning us over with shallow trifles so as to later betray
us in deeper consequences." The second line was, "I
dare do that which becomes a man. He who does more
is none." Third line, "Is this weapon real or is this
a dagger of the mind. A false creation preceding from
an overheated brain?" Four: "Wake up.
Shake off your downy sleep, which is the counterfeit of
death, and come look upon the real thing." Five:
"Are we not men my liege?" "Aye, in the general catalogue
you pass for same." Six: "What is it you do?"
"It is a deed with no name." And seven: "That
without remedy should be that without regard."
course, now that I’ve read these lines, I should just stop
for the night and you do your own. But I have a point
to make, the same point that I have been trying to make,
that I cannot put into words, over the last several weeks.
It is about what we call "the struggle to awaken,” to change
permanently. Of course the ultimate goal, as I keep
encouraging you, should be to have an ongoing and ever shifting
definition of what this is to you. But it definitely
fits this description: It is, to me, the attempt to
permanently change what goes on in my brain, in the area
that produces consciousness, that produces thought.
I see all seven lines that I picked out as representing
see these seven lines as telling the story in another way.
Consider the first line that I picked out and remember the
story is these witches that forecast great changes in MacBeth's
life. They forecast huge changes, going from being
a warrior to being first a Nobleman and finally a King.
In fact, at first MacBeth tells Banquo that, "I like fortune
telling as much as the next man, but they should have told
me something that at least was believable. It was
unbelievable enough that they first tell me, ‘Thane of Caldor,’
but then to say, 'Hail MacBeth, King of Scotland'.
They went too far. If they want to pass themselves
off as fortune tellers, they should learn to deal with something
a little more believable." And his friend says, "When
they seek to lead us to harm, the forces of opposition will
first tell us things true."
called him by name. They knew who he was. See,
they will first tell us things true, things small, truths
that are partial, just enough. Does that sound like,
"Man believes he's awake and he's not." They give
you some trick of, "Can you hold ‘I’ for two minutes?
See, we told you. Read on." And you think, "Hey,
they know what they are doing." Man believes he's
conscious and awake when he gets out of his downy position
and he's not.
to lead us to our harm, the forces of opposition will tell
us things true. Some small, some partial, winning
us over with shallow trifles so as to later betray us in
Banquo says, "the forces of opposition." This is when
it changes from “the forces of darkness.” Although
I don’t assume that you people think that I believe in the
idea of evil forces, you can look at them as being the opposing
forces of life. Opposing forces don't have to be active.
Consider that your mind inherently operates in a certain
way. The mind has a repertoire of repetitive thoughts,
over and over. You have a certain physical temperament
that makes you feel ways that directly affect what you think
about. Whether this has an aggressive edge to it,
or whether your thinking just seems dull one morning, there
are opposing forces. You don't have to look at them
as some sort of nefarious forces. We are simply fighting
our own nature; we are fighting the nature of life, fighting
the status quo. I repeat to you that I don’t see the
status quo as being static. There is such a thing
as an alive status quo, an active status quo. At any
rate, he says to MacBeth, "Oftimes to lead us to our harm,
the forces of opposition will lead us to things true.
Some small, some partial, winning us over with shallow trifles
as to later betray us in deeper consequences."
don't mean to overdo this, but I see that I have fallen,
well, I'll speak for me--it came on like an addiction.
It was like; if the Great Work existed out in life, it gave
me the first snort, the first vial of cocaine free, as dealers
are wont to do. After that they have got you, and
can betray you into deeper consequences. Again, this
is very theatrically put, but I love it because I do not
see it as some dangerous consequences. We mystics
start out attempting to do something that sounds to us very
reasonable. Remember, it's no one's fault, we are
not being tricked, unless you are being tricked by your
own cellular activity. But we start out attempting
to do something--again remember, we are in a small crowd.
There are not many people who can hear the description that
man believes he's conscious when he's actually dazed and
half asleep, but through certain efforts he can be alert,
he can change his state of consciousness. Out of six
billion people on this planet there are damn few that can
hear this message. They are not led to their harm
through it. They do not take these as shallow trifles,
they don’t hear it as the truth of any kind. There
are only a few of us--MacBeth and Banquo--two guys out in
the wild of Scotland, who hear it.
any rate, I don't know if I can go any further without lying.
As soon as I decided to go back and look at the book itself,
I looked at that line and I was hooked. That is when
I decided to use it. First there is a forecast made
of a great change. If we are going to go back and
forth from symbolism or metaphor, however you consider it,
a simple warrior, man of no title and position, is given
the forecast that he will be King; there will be an extreme
change. It is the opening volley, I say, not just
the opening of MacBeth but the opening volley of someone
attempting to awaken. They read the opening drama,
the opening lines of the struggle to awaken. Except
in MacBeth there is someone to point out that when we are
led to our harm, down a nowhere path, led in a way we don’t
understand, that at first we are told things we can almost
understand. That is, that the forces of opposition
first tell us things true, some things small, some things
partial, but enough that we are won over by shallow trifles
so as to later be betrayed and led deeper into consequences.
you can look at Lady MacBeth and just so I can ramble on,
I must tell you that I don’t see any great significance
to the characters themselves. I could stop and spend
three or four hours here, but by then we would all be sick
of them. She represents something and I will leave
it to you to consider. She encourages him in the deed to
make the forecast come true. Right now it is just
a dream of a warrior MacBeth being King MacBeth, of going
from being an ordinary sleeping person to being an awakened
person, to being a Buddha mind. He goes, "I'm all
right now, I've got a title." She says, "You don't
fool me. When you sent me that note, before you got
here, as soon as you heard about it from those three witches
that you would get the title, you said you couldn't believe
it. You don’t fool me. If you didn’t have something
in mind you wouldn't have mentioned it. You had in
mind making it a reality." And he never does say no.
And of course, as some of you henpecked men would say, "She
was so overbearing." He offered some resistance, but
then all of us offer some resistance. "Well, I can't
do this." Like when someone said to "constantly hold
your attention" and you say, "I can't do this." It’s
like we all have a Lady MacBeth saying, "What kind of a
man are you?"
dare do that which becomes a man. He who does more
my second line. We are dealing with 16th century middle
English. I didn't want to change all of these, but
I can make it sound like me talking. He says, "I dare
do that which becomes a man to do. He who does more
is none." It's like, "I'll do whatever is possible
and whoever attempts more than that is not even human.
They're an idiot." "I dare do that which becomes a
man to do. He who does more, (but it really means
he who attempts more), is none." That is to say, he
doesn't qualify as being a full man, an intelligent, reasonable
man or he wouldn't attempt to do that which does not become
a man to do. Of course, in the play MacBeth is saying
it is unbecoming for a man whom the king has raised up and
given a title, to betray the liege. That is the way
it is taken psychologically. But to say, "I dare to
do that which becomes a man to do," you could also say,
"Well, it doesn't become a man to get up on the castle turret
and fly. That is not becoming of a man. He is
a reasonable creature and he knows that he cannot fly.
So I dare to do that which becomes a man to do. He
who does more is no man. He doesn't qualify as a man."
is my analyzation of moving right along with the struggle
to awaken. That one, I went ahead and put into chronological
order and I started to shift the time and put it down towards
the end of the seven lines I was using. It could have
come, but that is where it came, and you could even have
put it near the end. It fits almost anywhere in the struggle
to awaken as I am interpreting this. But then by the
third line, she has convinced him that we will kill the
king. "We'll take the daggers out, get the guards
drunk. I'll take care of that. You get the daggers,
kill the old king, put the daggers back in their hands and
they won’t know what to say."
know how this goes, no matter what you are attempting.
MacBeth has proven to be the type that worries; he frets
about doing these dastardly deeds, but not enough
to stop him. Likewise, does not every one of you continue,
even up until today, to fret, "Should I keep doing This?
Am I getting anywhere with This? Is This just a dream?
Have I not been going to all these meetings all these years?
Is this just one night's dream? Am I back in 1982,
in the middle of one night's dream and I'll wake up in a
minute and find out I've been listening to him and fooling
around with this for the last twenty years? Could
it be just one midsummer night's illusion?"
if any of you think that is not possible, you still don’t
get it. Yes, it's possible you could be dreaming….
here for part 2