“I am the universe.”

Last Words is the posthumously published autobiography by George Carlin (with Tony Hendra). While it is an entertaining read, there is only one part that stuck with me:

I believe I am bigger than the universe, smaller than the universe and equal to it. I’m bigger than the universe because I can picture it, define it in my mind and everything that’s in it and contain all that in my mind in a single thought. A thought that’s not even the only one in there: it’s right between “Shit, my ass itches!” and “Why don’t we fuck the waitress?”

That thought, with all the others, is inside the twenty-three-inch circumference of my cranium. So I’m bigger than the universe. I’m smaller than it because that’s obvious: I’m five foot nine and 150 pounds and the universe is somewhat taller and heavier. I’m equal to it because every atom in me is the same as every atom in me is the same as every atom the universe is made of. I’m part of the protogalaxy five billion light years away and of that cigarette butt in Cleveland. There are no differences, we’re equal. Unlike our fake democracy, the democracy of atoms is real.

Depending on my given mood on a given day, I can reflect on one of these three relationships for a moment or two and find comfort in it. And know that I’m really at one with the universe and will return to it on a more fundamental level some day—my reunion with it—and all the rest is a journey, a game, a comedy, a parade…

Last Words by George Carlin with Tony Hendra pages 285-6.

Compare that with:

I am the universe.

Morihei Ueshiba, quoted in Art of Peace by John Stevens.

It’s hard to think of two individuals with less in common, but somehow they came the same conclusion. What they have in common is that they are both artists. Art at its highest expression seems to make the artist identify with the whole universe.

If I understand O-Sensei’s point, Aikido’s highest expression is when an opponent’s efforts to defeat the master are as futile as trying to defeat the entire universe. Another way to state this is that the Aikido master aligns themself with universal principles so that they are in a state of victory before the combat begins.

Carlin’s point seems to be that he late in life stopped identifying with society in any conventional way but instead identified with the universe. This identification allowed him to do his comedy at the high level he achieved.

This identification can sound arrogant at first glance, but they don’t seem to be making a unique claim. Anyone can achieve this state through effort.

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