We have a lesson that we might give a lot of thought to these days. There is a great deal of criticism of television programming, but that is not going to be the burden of my discussion this morning. I have something else that seems to me to be infinitely more important and that is that man is no longer simply a "biped without feathers" as Diogenes likened him. Man is a thinking creature, he should not be brought up by a trainer like a dog, he should not be taught only to obey, he should not be fed because he obeys, he should not have a life of luxury, perhaps, because he happens to obey a rich person.
The actual problem is that the human being has a mind that was given to him to think with. It was an active organ, an organ to do something, it was not simply a receptive faculty to listen, to hear and to see. Most people in various fields of activity never participate in those practices and policies which stretch the mental power and make it do things that we want it to do. In modern world we train the mind by education to give us a profession, or a trade, or a craft, or membership in a union, or whatever it may be. We listen to the instruction, we get the job, we stay with the job – and in all this procedure we have done very little thinking. We have followed policy, we have obeyed rules, we have done what the boss told us to, and we may have taken a few special courses in computerization or something of that nature, but the real creative faculties of the mind have not been used at all. So at the end of one of these harrowing days, in which most of the harrow has now been eliminated, we go home, set down and sit down in front of the television and perhaps spend anywhere from two to six hours watching – what? We are not watching anything that is going to make us really think a good deal; if it is an educational programme, it will be turned off very quickly; we watch sports, we listen to the news which is usually highly influenced politically, we go through a few horror dramas, westerns, a few very poor humour programmes, and then settle down to the great run of family ethics in which we learn nothing, but may choose one or two characters to pull for because they seem to create sympathy and one or two whom we love to hate because we don’t like them. (Laugh) And this constitutes a big intellectual experience (laugh), and by the time we are finished with that, we are so exhausted we fall into bed (laugh). In the daytime, we have all kinds of domestic programmes, programmes which may or may not bear upon any factual situation. We may have a few instructive ones on non-commercial programming. But we listen, we watch, and then just go out and get a cold beer, or something of this nature. Nothing happens upstairs in ourselves, nothing is being developed as a factor in the growth of our own thinking. We are not thinking, actually, and if we are thinking, we aren’t doing anything about it because most of the thoughts are non-factual. So here we go, all through an entire lifetime surrounded by all types of information which we accept only through the eyes and ears and when the time comes we do very little to solve our own problems. A person whose mind is being used every day to find new values, accomplish new works, do new things that have not been done, improve the quality of living, solve the personal problems of his life – these are the things that help to exercise the mind, but to drift along from work to television to bed and then up and again the next day is not doing anything to make people, it is only continuing the humdrum which is only one step above animal existence. This means that in some respect we need creative programs. Now, a creative program is something that we do because, basically, we want to express ourselves. We do not wish merely to do what everyone else does, we want to do something that will satisfy our own inner impulses, but for the most part these impulses are not active enough to give us any positive directive. So it seems that one thing we have to do to get away from this hypnosis of the tube is to realize that we have faculties within ourselves that do not need to be subjected to this continual negative conditioning, that we are certainly capable of thinking rather than merely watching the antics of someone else.
It’s all everywhere today, in music we have the same problem, we go and listen to a good concert and we applaud the performers, but for the most part we do not think of putting ourselves under the discipline of music. Another individual is much interested in the dance, but he can barely stay on his feet on the ballroom floor. We see people that are interested in all kinds of crafts, they collect them, but they don’t create them. Now, something has to happen to change our way of life from admiring the creations of others to the development of creative capacity in ourselves. So if we want to really have a great history, we can study our own inner lives, if we want great theatre, we can be both the audience and the cast, if we want any of the inner understandings which make for philosophy, mysticism and so forth, they are all available inside of ourselves. The only thing we have got to do is bring it out, and we bring it out by dedication, it gaining strength in the inner life just as an athlete gains it by daily discipline; by the proper mental emotional disciplines we can become healthy individuals in terms of our minds, our emotions, our hearts and our jobs. These are the things we've got to work for and if it means that we must do it, we can with one quick twist of the wrist get rid of most of the corruptions of society and face the fact that these are imaginary corruptions. We’ve got plenty of real ones; we don’t have to build them up that way. What we have got to do is find out what corruptions are still lurking in us and correct them, and as soon as we correct the mistakes within ourselves, we begin to see better values in other people, because we see in others usually what we are ourselves focused upon. So, don’t let the great Big Bad Tube get you (laugh), be very careful about it and when uncertain – TURN IT OFF (big laugh), and you will find as you turn it off to do something interesting, beautiful or wonderful, you will never miss it again. You cannot turn it off successfully, however, until there is something you want to be, or something you want to do, right then and there, that is more important than the tube. If you think it out that way, I think it will all work out alright in the end.