The Totally Benign Reality

Regional Reference Persons Meeting, June 11, 1980

Harvey Jackins

To free human minds to be themselves seems to me the most satisfying activity one can do. We now know how to lift the weight off the pinned victim, or in the words of the song to "free the spirit from the cell." So, I challenge or invite each of you to liberate humanity from its only real serious handicap, its vulnerability to irrationality, its susceptibility to the imposition of the distress pattern. It is now possible to free humanity from the existing distress, to stop the systematic imposition of additional distress and to finally achieve such liberation of our awareness as will prevent any distress from being re-imposed except temporarily by accidents.

In the future, any accidental distresses will be removed the next hour by the immediate converging of fellow humans to achieve the discharge necessary for prompt re-emergence. I challenge each of you individually to do this, enjoying and glorying in the parallel activity of the others who will be doing it, using the resource of mutual aid and mutual discussion, but not depending on it, not making it the precondition for your own full initiative.

At leaders' meetings at workshop breakfasts I have posed the question: "If a peculiar virus suddenly attacked the world which was fatal only to people in RC, but you happened to be immune, and so, in a period of a day, all other RCers were dead, and you alone escaped to tell the story, would you start RC over again world wide, and if you would, how would you go about it?" Pulled outside their usual ruts to think, almost everyone concludes they would do this, and they come up with a great variety of the most brilliant and sensible plans for getting started. I suppose at least half the people said, "I would immediately put a guard on the present stock of RC literature and use it to the fullest." A large majority of people at these meetings proposed good, sensible, brilliant plans.

If they can plan this way now to start the international community over again, why aren't they doing it while we are all still alive? This is one question we have to answer here.


We have sampled reality a number of places by the insights that we have gotten and expanded, starting out with, the realization that crying didn't hurt people and possibly helped. Step by step, we've gotten a better picture of reality through holes we have poked in the pseudo-reality that has been spread over reality and has hidden reality from us. I speak of the great grey globby gucky blanket of pseudo-reality that obscures the nature of reality. The building block of pseudo-reality is the false pictures that we get when a pattern plays, when a past distress experience gets between us and the present.

This operates much of the time for many people. Chronic patterns continually unreel a distorted picture of events that happened a long time ago. The distress occludes reality. Lack of information binds the distress patterns together. Misinformation adds to them. We are just beginning to understand how thoroughly the oppressive society uses misinformation to oppress people. The oppressive society imposes tremendous amounts of misinformation upon people in order to socialize them to fit its own workings. If working people were not told that they are stupid, that they can't initiate or plan things, that they are lucky to have a job, that they are worthless, and should be grateful for the chance to contribute their surplus labor value to their employers; if they were not made to believe that in large numbers, the economic system could not work. No intelligent people with confidence in themselves would carry out the routine production labor under today's conditions, so the society has found it necessary to systematically misinform. The schools have been thoroughly enlisted to assist in this distortion. Our educational change people have done a valiant job of revealing the enormous depravity of the educational process which does everything except educate; which conditions, stultifies, discourages and numbs and de-humanizes under the pretext of furnishing information.

Well, this great sheet of gobby, gooey guck which we have accepted as reality has been pierced in a few places. Outside of RC and before RC people have continually questioned it. "It doesn't seem to me that mom and dad should have to fight so much," thinks the little child. "I wonder why people can't get along." "I am willing to work, why can't I have a job?" Questions like this come up repeatedly. In RC, we have poked little holes in this grey nasty crud that crawls over every floor and up every wall and across every ceiling where human beings live and we have gotten little bright glimpses of what's back of it. When we poked tentatively and the stuff yielded we were encouraged to poke a little more.

When we thought about each individual taking more responsibility and it worked well, we poked harder until, finally, dosing our eyes and with great daring, we stabbed all the way through and said, "Each person is completely in charge of the whole universe," and sunlight streamed through the gap. It turned out to be true, even though it seemed wildly improbable at the time we first said it.

When we tried validation and self-validation and self-appreciation a little and it had positive effects, we tried it a little bit more and finally we tried COMPLETE APPRECIATION OF ONESELF WITHOUT ANY RESERVATIONS, and brilliant and beautiful color showed through the great globby guck. The reality was there.

It turned out that all people can learn well if they are allowed to remain curious and are helped to feel good about themselves. The grey guck had said, "Praise them if they do what they are supposed to," but we asked, "How about praising them all the time? How about letting them decide what they want to team?" We tried poke after poke. Finally the biggest poke took place in Palo Alto with the pre-school there when a couple of adults systematically, day after day, tried to listen to the children decide what they wanted. Within two years the children had planned and run the school and given directions to the adults and bright beautiful colors streamed through the gaps in the grey blanket that enshrouded us.

I think it is time to go all the way on the question of reality, to conclude that all reality is good.

(Even, in a certain context, the great grey globby blanket is understandable, is good. I'll put it this way: it is good that we have this challenge.)

Out descendants will look back to our time with two kinds of wonder. (They will come and ask us about it, if we solve the immortality question fast enough.) First, they will wonder that we could endure the difficulty of our lives. They will be amazed at our heroism, that we managed to function so well under the tremendous burden of our distress, that we managed to get re-emergence going against this waterfall of restimulated distress that rained upon us all our lives.

The other wonder will be kind of an envious one. They will look back wistfully and think, "Oh, to have been greatgrandma, who lived in that period when the sun finally came up, when humanity finally found itself!" They will think of us as the most fortunate of beings in that sense, that we got to be there when things changed. They will enjoy all the goodness, but they will, I'm sure, think that they miss a certain vividness from the contrast. They will think back to us with honor and respect, but also with envy.

This is out opportunity. We get to be here during the big change. We get to take part in it. Our descendants will tell their grandchildren with great pride, "Your ancestors did something." Pride in family is not a negative thing. It's been misused, but it is not a negative thing.

Reality is good. The fact that the distress happened, that the great grey blanket covered us for these two or three million years or whatever time we have been human, apparently was inevitable. Our best thinking so far is that the past was inevitable. It is the same as saying that it happened. We've understood that. So it will turn out to have had some purpose, some usefulness in spite of the destruction of life that it seems we could mourn forever if we look at it now, while it is taking place.

[Mourning the death of people is partly a viewpoint question too. I offer another viewpoint.]

[This comes up when you start to deal with fears. When we scorn fears we repeatedly come up against the fear of death: and we have many practical examples of people who have faced death many times, who no longer fear it. They may still feel some patterns pull at them, inviting them to death, but we only need to help each other a little bit - to get rid of those recordings of long-ago times when death seemed like away out from distress.]

[From a better point of view, what's so, terrible about death? I felt I was plunging into it just two or three yeas ago, as you know. I made earnest efforts to try to shore up my theoretical legacy so it wouldn't be all dissipated by pattern disturbing it after I was gone. Yet I wasn't very afraid of death. I was afraid of patterns taking over my work, of my work being made somewhat meaningless, and of humanity, as a whole not making it because I hadn't accomplished enough, because I hadn't hung my hook high enough on the wall. That was my fear at the time.]

[We've learned that people who have faced death, who have never heard anything about counseling, nevertheless manage to discharge the fear of death. They never learn to like it (liking death is always a patterned thing), but they don't fear or respect it. They could look it in the eye with fairly relaxed confidence.]


If I were to die suddenly, would that be a terrible tragedy? From the old, patterned viewpoint, one could always choose to mourn forever. The reality of the situation is that IT'S SUPERLATIVELY WONDERFUL THAT I HAVE HAD A CHANCE TO BE ALIVE.

I am a complex of matter, energy, space and time. I am a chunk of the Universe. Now, there are a very large number of different chunks of the universe, untold trillions of trillions of umptillions. I and you and all other living creatures (including that carpenter ant that is running across the floor in front of us), among the countless more numerous other, chunks of the Universe, won in a great lottery. We won the great prize: we got the chance to be alive. The odds are enormously against any particular chunk of the Universe ever getting to be alive, enormously against it.

The chances are just incalculably large against any particular chunk of the Universe ever getting a chance to be alive, but we did. We won that big lottery. Nothing that ever could happen after that could really dim that tremendous good fortune. Think of the wealth that came our way. We are fortunate beyond belief. If we had been alive for only one instant and that instant spent in agony, it would be far better than never to have been alive at all.

There have been other lotteries. Certainly one could be content to rest on that first good fortune, but there have been other lotteries in which the prizes were incredibly rich.

Among all the living things that won the prizes that admitted them to that first great plateau of being alive, only a relatively small number ever won the second sweepstakes, won the chance to think, got the chance to be intelligent. Who won those prizes? Good morning, Grand Prize Winners! We won the chance to think. That can never be taken away from us. We have thought. If a meteor in this next instant squashes me into a bloody, downward-trend mess, piled here on the asphalt tile, what tragedy is that? I have been alive. I have thought. This is the real viewpoint.


There are, even more advanced prizes. Among those of us living things who got a chance to be human, to be intelligent, vast numbers have been so hungry and mistreated from the very beginning, so much in pain from poor environments, that they have never had the slack to be aware, to enjoy this higher function which buds off from our intelligence. Most humans to date have never had the chance of noticing what is really going on, of thinking about thinking while thinking. They never got a chance to do that.

We did. Everyone of us in this room, for sure, has had at least one moment of being aware of the nature of the Universe. Perhaps we looked into the heart of a flower and began to shake, but we got that glimpse before the fear closed in on us again. Perhaps we had a brilliant thought and went skipping for joy for a few minutes at realizing we had thoughts. All of us here actually have increasingly frequent moments and increasingly larger stretches of awareness. What could possibly justify any discouragement when viewed against this tremendous series of good fortunes?


There is another kind of opportunity which has occurred infrequently. A few people, among all the people who have ever lived, got a chance to play a meaningful role in relation to their existence and to the existence of other humans. Perhaps, like Horatius, they stood at the bridge and held off the Etruscans. A little corporal from Corsica managed to move armies all over Europe like chess pieces. A Newton managed to be a religious "nut" and a great scientist at the same time. All these endeavors were great achievements and the people who did them have intuitively been esteemed by all humans. We know whom we honor when we choose to esteem a Buddha, a Mohammed, a Christ, a Newton, a Moses. We say, "That one made a difference." (Sometimes we ask, "How did he or she do it?" out of the depths of our acquired discouragement.)

Well, we've already won to that position. Each person in this room has around her or around him a group of people who feel, correctly, that her or his existence and activities have been meaningful to them in a deep, human way. Another big prize already won.

Another viewpoint, another choice. If you had a choice of how you were going to be meaningful, would you choose to determine the laws of planetary motion, or choose to lead humanity out of its distress? Would you choose to lead armies across Europe or choose to help people regain a glimpse of their inherent greatness and of the possibilities still before them and put the tools in their hands to achieve those possibilities?

I don't think there is much question which you would choose. I don't think there is much question which Napoleon or Newton would choose. If they had our chance, and if they could see past whatever patterns they were saddled with (and they both had a lot of them), I don't think there is any question that they would opt for our opportunity as being far more glorious, far more significant, far more meaningful than what they had a chance to do.


We are already there. We have successfully won the grand prizes in five successive lotteries, at least. Nothing can take that away from us. We have it.

Can we lose sight of it? Yes, we can still allow the great grey, globby curtain to be pulled down over our eyes. I have allowed it, and recently. Yet more and more of the time, including right now, I remember and remind you. Can you remember and remind each other and other people? I think so.

The nature of reality is beautiful. We know by now "with complete confidence" (I'll use that phrase instead of "scientifically-proven" because that is so cluttered with patterns that one can't tell what it means) - we know now with complete confidence that human beings are good, that they do no evil, destructive deeds except in the grip of distress patterns which were put on them from outside. We know by now, from glimpses and from logic, that human beings are powerful, that each human being has full power to remake the whole "sorry scheme of things entire," because other humans will come to that one's support the minute that one makes the correct, powerful move. We know by now that human beings are intelligent, that the brightest intelligences that we have seen operate were only samplings of the intelligence that each one of us and each other human possesses, were only holes poked in the grey blanket covering individuals.

We know by now that humans are cooperative, that the competition and the conflict are all imposed patterns. We know this is true of us.

We see that all other forms of life that have any safe opportunity to become acquainted with us lean toward us and seek us out in some intuitive way, sensing that we are the inherently benign, wiser and better-equipped older brothers and sisters.

[Some of you may have been at the workshop near Poughkeepsie when a woman told us how she had remembered in her session that morning that, when she was a little girl, she used to go out in the woods and hold out her hands and wait and birds would come and perch on her hand. She had forgotten this for all those years, but it came back to her in her session, and in her free time that afternoon she went out in the woods. She reported that she had held out her hand and tried to think about the birds in the old way. She said, "I must have still been making some of the wrong signals, because he didn't dare perch, but he came up within a foot of my hand and you could tell that he wanted to perch."]

We have many indications of this. Any animal that we are not playing a destructive pattern at seeks us out and regards us benignly (within the limits of the predator or self-defense heritage, or the stinging and biting in the case of insects).

Is this Universe safe? It operates on certain laws that have been operating for a long time. Does this Universe suit us? Are we strangers in a strange land trying frantically to survive in a hostile alien environment? Nonsense. Three billion years at least have gone by since the first appearance of life, and that first blob of protoplasm, divided now into the thirty trillion blobs of protoplasm that comprise our cellular structure, has been continuously alive or we wouldn't be alive now at all.

We've had at least three billion years of the finest tuning and sanding and polishing and adjusting and honing for us to fit this exact Universe exquisitely. The processes of the Universe, whether they are mainly natural selection or random selection, have been operating on us, evolving us to be exactly the benign, loving, comfortable, delighted, excited caretakers of this Universe. The Universe has been prepared and we have been prepared in it to be the gardeners of this Eden, to be the shepherds of this great flock of life.

This has to be the reality, even though when caught in distress we may be able only to see the ugly pseudo-reality. Behind the grey, globby guck is bright reality.

The pseudo-reality, which has covered everything so thickly, only exists because of patterns. Only the distress patterns of human beings maintain it. It does evolve a super-structure. Destructive wars, racism, oppression of all sorts, pollution, mis-use of the environment are carried on by this grey globby super-structure, but it is nourished only by patterns, it arises only out of human distress patterns.

Is it still dangerous once we understand this? Yes, most human beings die from patterns. They never get a chance to die naturally even at the present rate of natural mortality, if there is such a thing, and there may well be. The patterns knock them off flat. It's dangerous, it's destructive, but its only source is the distress which we have the tools to do away with.

It must be dealt with. Attempts which have intuitively been made before to deal with it by pretense or by retiring to the mountaintop to meditate and think good thoughts so all will be well didn't work so well. The approach of proclaiming that all is truth, and error doesn't exist, was reaching for the reality behind the grey guck; but reaching for it by pretense hasn't worked.

Short term, we must look at the structure of the grey gobby pseudo-reality and treat it as a threat that has to be dealt with skillfully. There is no question of ignoring it. Long-range, do we need to respect it? No. Mao said, "You must respect the enemy tactically even if the enemy is a paper tiger. Short term, the enemy is dangerous. Don't be foolish. Strategically, the enemy deserves nothing but your contempt. Long-range, the enemy has no future."

We must look underneath the crust of pseudo-reality: deep reality is everlasting and pure and shining and nourishing and beneficent and benign. The temporarily dangerous crust covering it, composed of patterns and oppression and misinformation, is shallow.

Could pseudo-reality knock us all the way back to the level of bacteria? Yes, it is possible for patterns to set off enough missiles that the planet will be sterilized and only bacteria, or about that level of life, will survive.

Is this very discouraging? I don't think so. At the very least we will have had this glorious million years of existence as humans. The earth has already been refilled several times with beautiful forms of life. The bacteria will start mutating, will agglutinate into little dusters of cells that will learn to cooperate with each other and the upward trend will begin again. The upward trend will not be defeated even if we goof. The conveyor belt under our feet is sure. This is what I think religions have tried to say when they have said, "The Kingdom of God is sure."

If life gets set back to the bacteria level and we've lost this opportunity to become functionally fully human, the upward trend will continue and brighter intelligences will one day arise again. Learning from the traces of our mistakes, they undoubtedly won't make those mistakes the next time.

Of course, it would be nice not to have to do all that over again. Let's grasp our present splendid opportunity to eliminate distress entirely and become fully ourselves.

Harvey Jackins
(Present Time, No. 40, pp. 3-6)

Last modified: 2014-10-18 21:18:55+00