Masthead Image

School Talk 35 - Interpretation

(Audience participation in parenthesis)
(For those who like to analyze, intellectualize, debate and philosophy)
(Considering book of Job)

Today we will talk about interpretation. I find that people listen to things; and because it sounds just a little different sometimes than anything they've heard, they feel it's necessary to interpret. Likewise, when you read certain stories that are considered to be riddles or parables, there is a consideration that it should be interpreted.

So the minute we start interpreting, why all of our previous viewpoints (our old frame of reference) does the interpreting. That's what does the interpreting. So when you get through interpreting Ideas, you're back where you were before you heard the story or idea because the conditioned frame of the reference (of the things you've supposedly known all of your life) interprets it.

Many people come in contact with material from higher consciousness or esoteric teaching materials of many different kinds. They read it in stories. They read it in articles here and there. Perhaps they attend a talk or they talk with some individual; and when they get through, they don't have any of it-it's all been interpreted out of existence. Now it's back to the old general frame of reference.

So we tell people quite frequently to read something, listen to something, or read a story;--let the material work on you instead of you going to work on the material-but they just can't leave it.

Recently we mentioned in one of our talks about a little book called "The Precious Present." I've had occasion to talk to several people who have found the book, read it, and interpreted. When they got through, they had interpreted this story and felt that they had made some great discovery. It was totally worthless to them because they had interpreted this little book. So each and every one of them interpreted; but we have gone through to try to explain again and again that you don't try to interpret or find a meaning with some value in it-just read it and let it work on you.

Now when you do this, you find that, shortly after, the material begins to work on you instead of you working on the material; and there are many kinds of changes come into your existence. One of the biggest pieces of esoteric literature is called the scripture; the bible, the Koran or whatever books you may be coming in contact with. These are all teaching books--if they haven't been translated and interpreted out of existence by the time you get the book. Many of them have had a lot of that little effort done on it; but there's still some real esoteric material showing in it; and everybody feels the thing they are to do is (because they have heard it in churches and they've heard preachers do it) start interpreting. Consequently, they might as well have read the funny papers. In fact, sometimes the funny papers have some good esoteric material in them. Most people don't think they should interpret the funny papers, so maybe that helps a lot. Just read the funny papers, and you might get more out of it.

When the person starts interpreting, first off, we put the idea back into the general idea of everything we've known; and one of those ideas is the idea of "self-improvement". So the written material or the spoken material may imply that somebody "could do" certain things or that certain things came about, so immediately the person thinks that they should begin this program of "self-improvement".

Now that's what happened to the people who read the little book of the "Precious Present." The man told about the greatest gift he had ever received was the precious present. Of course, everybody began to think in terms of a present like a Christmas gift; but he was talking about something else entirely--how precious it was to have the present moment. But they all interpreted it as that it was some kind of great gift, and that some way or other you should practice real hard to improve yourself to be a recipient of this great present-where the man was merely describing something. So if a person would read a story of teaching material and let it work on him he'd find that higher consciousness begins to be a realized fact in a while.

There is one story that you may never have run into, but I kind of like it pretty well, so we try to talk about it once a week. It's called the story of Mushkill Gusha. Mushkill Gusha is listed in the story as the remover of all difficulties. The story is very disjointed. It really doesn't make sense from the usual every day literature ideas. It doesn't even make sense. usual things are happening in it. It's very disconnected. Somebody's in it for a minute and then they're gone and you don't hear any more about them and so forth. But the story is very representative of all stories and teaching of higher consciousness-very representative.

Now it's very easy, when reading a story, to get caught in an idea of "self-improvement". That you're going to do a certain thing-that it will improve you. That's not the point at all-never is. I'm not going to say what the point is because the point is something that that story works on the person who reads it, hears it, or is exposed to it in any means-it works on that person.

Now if you read the story of, we'll say, Job in the Bible and it's a story that God and the devil had a bet. Job was the pawn in the bet. It's a most irrational story anybody could conceive of-that God and the devil make a bet. Nobody gets a prize, really, but they're just betting on old Job to see what he's going to do. One said he'd do so and so if you did so and so to him, and the other one said, Ok, lay it on him-let's try it out.

So if you accepted the story as the usual interpretation, you'd have to say old Job was the greatest victim of all times. But that's not what the story's about. It has no relationship to that; and if you do read the story, just let it work on you. Some very unusual things come about in a short length of while. Nobody "can lay it on you" or say to you, "Well, if you do so and so and so and so, then you will achieve higher consciousness--it never works that way. But there's always the interpreter [within] which is [one set of] the not "I's" that says believe and do as told by your authorities-that's the main character in it. They get into it and interpret everything.

You've already had an authority laid on you ever since you were two-years old, and maybe before, but at least ever since then, you've had authorities of some kind. And they told you all sorts of things and their major interest (if you will look back over it) wasn't to get you to have higher consciousness, it was to get you to be good so you wouldn't embarrass them-that really was the first part of it. Later on, why it becomes that you would be their follower or that you will accept what they say as being true.

Now all of that was not concerned with higher consciousness in any respect whatsoever. So to be in higher consciousness is to be in an entirely different realm. It has nothing to do with improving yourself. Reading or listening to the story is a transforming element-it is not for making you better or good or any of this sort of stuff. It has no concern with how good you are. It says nature pours down rain on the guy that kills and robs and thieves; and it also rains on the very sweet, wonderful, goody folks down the street. By the same token, if there is a lightening storm, the lightning is just liable to knock the good guy's aerial down as it is the crook's aerial down. It has nothing to do with that. It's not that we're suggesting anybody be a crook. The point is, that it [higher consciousness] has nothing to do with what happens to you.

So what really happens is how passive you might be towards esoteric material. How passive you can be to be purely receptive. In other words, we are not suggesting using the idea of initiating--which we are doing when we interpret. We want to be receptive. That you can receive freely. You don't have to say, "Well, that sounds good, it sounds bad, it sounds right, it sounds wrong"-"Boy I sure am sorry for old Job", or any of these things.

It is just well, here is a story, and it is theoretically, at least, been written by people of higher consciousness. It comes from a different realm than from the daily newspaper's news or reporting what happened up and down the street. That it is something that we can investigate and come out with something that may be worthwhile. Now the investigation is purely exposing ourselves without trying to figure out "what it means" nor "why it was written" or "is this historical'.

Now one of the greatest pieces of-I could practically call it sacrilege that I know of is that people read the bible and take it as a history book. They sure had some good court reporters that followed around in some very private places if it is history. Somebody went to bed with a bunch of other folks every night. Or they went in everywhere where they had no business of being and quoted word for word. They sat there with their little machine and put the court reporting down. I hardly buy that, but that the stories are of total value-there's no adjective I could think of that could relate what value those stories have if they are recognized for what they are. They're teaching stories; and a teaching story is not to give you something to figure out like a riddle. It is an instrument that has an affect on the human mechanism; preferably the whole human mental apparatus is totally affected by it-if we passively receive it.

By passive, I mean I'm not going to sit down and interpret it and put this meaning on it, or that meaning or see it as a riddle of some sort. It is not a riddle, but it does appear that it is written in symbols or some such a thing to the average person. They truthfully are not even symbols. They are the mechanism of a teaching story.

A teaching story has one purpose only and that is to have an internal affect on you--and the affect is not all at once. If you read the same story over and over and over; and each time you could read it without succumbing to the temptation to interpret, you would find that the story had tremendous affect on you over a period of a few months. Suppose that somebody took up reading the book of Job. That's a little short story, and that you read it once a week. It only takes a few minutes. Over a period of time, you would find it's a great transforming element; and you wouldn't remember a thing in the world about Job. That really doesn't matter. It's how the material is put together; and that it is, you might say, an instrument, just as much as this watch is an instrument or that this recording machine is an instrument. It is a scientific instrument designed to do one thing-bring about a transformation in the person. Now if we interpret a story, it will not perform it's function any more than if we tried to use-let's say that we tried to reverse these two [the watch and the tape recorder], they won't work.

If we use that story for trying to influence people to be good or to try to prove patience-you know you've heard all your life, probably, that somebody has the patience of Job. Job probably didn't have any more patience than the rest of us-what difference was his having it?-he did demonstrate a little bit of freedom to experience what is, but that's not an interpretation of the story, I merely threw that in.

When we start interpreting, we are attempting to demonstrate how brilliant we are. Now in other words, it's an ego trip, if you please, and all the ego is out of the not I's; and we're not trying to demonstrate how wonderful I am.

I gave a book of teaching stories to a young man about four or five years ago-a big thick book of them. About three weeks later he came to tell me that he could now interpret every one of those stories. I told him to get thee hence. I don't want to hear about those stories. I'm not interested in your interpretation; and you wasted my gift to you. If you're going to read it that way, you better give it to somebody else-just pass it on; and don't tell them your interpretation. They are liable to try to interpret also. It wouldn't do any good whatsoever.

So if we could offer a little suggestion, we suggest that you find some teaching material-some stories. There are a lot of them around. You can read them in the Bible. You can read them in the book of Eastern Philosophy. You can read them in Sufi material. You can read them in all sorts of fairy tales if you want to; and I'll get you a book of Grimm's fairy tales, all right? But don't try to interpret it or consider that it is something that will give you a moral teaching.

Now the "general interpretation" of all these things is that there's a moral in it. It tells you how to be a good kid and how wonderful good people are rewarded and how bad people are punished. That's the usual thing of how people will take a fable. A fable has been interpreted as a story that tells you how wonderful good people have been rewarded and how terrible people have been put upon. But then you'll read another one and the bad guy got all the rewards, so you get confused there in a while; and it has nothing to do with being a fable--it has no morals to it that honesty is the best policy or any of these little cliches that run around-which usually passes for what people do with interpretation. They turn it into a moral-totally unrecognizing that they are having the opportunity to have a very great and unusual instrument work on them-on their inner state.

So let's see if we can find some of these this week; and read them once or twice--it doesn't make any difference-two, three, times. But see if you can read without interpreting.

Now I think I could point out possibly that the first thing that you will notice is after reading the first sentence, the "interpreter" will come running up to say "Here's what it really means." Ignore the bastard, will you? Ignore it. Don't pay any attention to him. That's not what it means at all.

As you all know, I go around the countryside when people request and give talks here and there, and it is very interesting to listen to the questions that arise. I've talked a little bit and somebody says; "Now what you've said was." They go into some morals or something that I've come up with to try to get them to be a good kid, and I say that's not what I said-I never even dreamed that in any of the worst nightmares I've ever had.

And then we start over again and tell the story or the point that was under discussion-start all over and ask them please not to interpret.

Now frequently a person says it's impossible to read anything and not interpret. I've heard that not once, not ten times but hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times, but it is possible. It is also possible to ignore the interpretation.

We don't have to put any value whatsoever on it, we can merely hear it. If the not "I" are rattling here that says, "believe and do as you're told by your authorities" and authority said that--you can drop it. Just let it rattle and totally ignore it and say, "Well, that's what you say," "I'll say I don't know." "I read it and I'll probably read it again and again; and if I do, eventually it may work on me, but I'm not going to work on it because I don't know how."

Now the first thing is that we want to recognize that I don't know how to interpret esoteric material. That's why I don't. I was taught in the ordinary schools like you and everybody else; and once I got into a different kind of school, there was no interpretation ever went on; and I know people who spend great time trying to figure out the meaning of-what's the group that has the Koans.


They take Zen Koans; and you know, they work on that for years trying to find an interpretation of the Koans which is not the purpose of a Koan -- none whatsoever. A Koan is a little teaching "blurb" and anybody that tries to interpret it shows he doesn't even recognize where he was, what he was doing or what was going on there at all.

I've talked about long enough, now let's hear a word from somebody else. You got three minutes. We're going to put an urgency on it.

("Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.")

Peace. Vi, got anything to say?

(I could ask one thing about interpretation.)


(Using like words and the way you describe the value to us, that would not be interpretation.)

That was not an interpretation, that was only telling you some of the uses of it.

(That might be a guideline of us not interpreting.)

That would be one thing-stay away from interpretation and the best is not even do that because I did that under duress.

(We shouldn't follow that example.)

No, don't follow that unless you're under duress somewhere, ok? I was under duress to do that thing. I always tell them over and over-read it. If you read it a hundred times, read it, but you see everybody was trying to interpret, and it's totally impossible-that little book happens to be one of the first lines to prove that you cannot interpret because there's not a thing in there you could interpret. You can come up with all sorts of ideas if you want to, but don't try to interpret it because that's not what it said.

(I have a question. You have time?)


(Is it possible to talk about a teaching story?)

Oh yeah.

(Is it possible to talk with someone about it?)

Yeah, tell them about it. You can tell them the story, but don't interpret it and don't let them interpret it for you, ok? So tell a story. It's like the one we mentioned a little while ago. If you ever find a copy of it somewhere about Mushkill Gusha.

(You'll have to spell that.)

Well, I can't, why should I? I think the Musha family prints maps in San Jose, California. That's the best I know about them. Ok, but the point is, that you could read the story over and over and there's no way you're going to interpret it. But you might find that there's a lot of great things for you.

We'll try to have a talk next Monday afternoon at approximately 1:30. We'll all be here at 1:30. We'll get started pretty soon. Thank you very much.