Watching Mad Men last night, I think for the third time, I had an It’s Toasted moment. If you recall, the first of the series was about Don Draper coming up with It’s Toasted as a way for Lucky Strikes to bypass the dilemma of not being about to advertise their cigarette as being good for you, since the gov. had made it official that smoking killed you.
It’s Toasted was the Zen moment that breaks out of the Koan, or double-bind. Draper did not know what to say, but he was supposed to know. Double-bind: He didn’t know/he was supposed to know. So he just sat and let others talk for he had nothing. I know nothing.
Then at the last moment, as the executives were leaving the room disgusted with the advertising agency, Draper asked how they made the cigarette, and they said: “it’s toasted.” But all tobacco companies toast the tobacco. Draper wrote on the board: Lucky Strikes. IT’S TOASTED.
They liked it and Draper has saved his reputation.
IT’S TOASTED is a metaphor in my talk for the Way of Transcendence, the Way out of the double-bind of the mind when you are caught between two imperatives that you must obey, you must, but they are contradictory and cancel each other out.
When caught in a dilemma what do you do? First, you sit in Not KNowing. You don’t fault yourself for Not Knowing because that is the truth. You don’t Know. You don’t come up with a phony made-up answer, nor do you deny or repress or avoid. You sit in the Not Knowing. In Zen this is called Shikantaza, just sitting.
Then you look around at what’s given. What’s. lying around. What seems irrelevant. Nothing is irrelevant because you don’t know what’s relevant. That’s the beauty and power of Not Knowing. You are empty, but aware, attentive, not disengaged, but engages like a cat watching a mouse hole.
You are poised potential. In the Not Knowing, something simple, something already given will suddenly grab you. A single Idea is born between the mutually but contradictory frames of reference. AHAH! In Zen that’s Satori.
IT’S TOASTED! This is the lucky strike.