alan watts Archives – Revolutionary Misfit

Posted: November 13, 2018 at 9:43 am


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I just had my mind blown.

How?

By reading a book by the 60s era Zen philosopher, Alan Watts. The book is entitled The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, published in 1966.

I only recently learned of Watts via Maria Popovas blog, Brain Pickings. In fact, ever since I discovered it, Ive learned a great deal from her blog

I highly recommend it!

Why did Watts book blow my mind?

Ill use an example from the book to illustrate

If I asked you what was pictured to the right, you would likely say a circle, correct?

But could it not just as well be a hole in a wall?

Could it not be both?

At the same time?

Because, you see according to Watts, what something is, including you and me, is not defined simply by whats on the inside, but also by what is on the outside.

That is, the surface of my skin is also the edge of the space around it.

Western thought, influenced largely by Christianity, would lead us to believe that we are separate from everything else, including each other.

I am me and you are you and there is a concrete and delineable separation between uscalled space, which is also a separate thing.

In fact, religion would go even further and say that God has separated us into a group he likes and another he doesnt.

Watts would say that to fully describe a human, one must not only look to the actions of the man himself, but also to the environment in which those actions take placeand that environment is the entire universe.

That is, you cannot separate the inside from the outside, because both exist interdependent on the otherthey are one and the same thing.

There is no inside without an outside and vice versa.

Pretty heady stuff, no?

But then I start asking myself, OK Mr. Watts, that might be so, but so what?

What relevance does it have for my present existence, since the entire set up has been devised along the lines of separateness, as delusional and illusional as that might be

Its the world we have to live in.

Well, Watts philosophy kinda dovetails with the whole mindset that I espouse here in The Revolutionary Misfit blog.

That the impetus for impact should stem from our sameness, not our separateness.

That is, not to justthrow money at problems because we have compassion for those poor starving others.

When we help others, we are actually helping ourselves. Because, as Watts alludes, were all really the same thingwe all make up the universe, which makes upus.

Neither can exist without the other.

When I read about all the division that reins in our world and spawns such venomous hatred that shows up in many of the FaceBook posts circulating through my news feed

its both enlightening and hope inspiring to read the words of Alan Watts.

I want to be inspired with a good reason or motive for practicing impact mindfulnessfor being mindful about anyone elses problems other than my own.

At times, I will admit, I think, hey whats the use, or whats the point of it all?

The point is that what might be happening on the other side of the globe to a small child in a tiny African village does affect me

because that happening is part of the universal flow of which I am a component.

Its not a separate event that I can just ignore on my way to more western culture-driven ego inflation.

Were all doing this activity called life together and I believe impact should be about helping ourselves collectively enjoy that mutually experienced process.

image credit: goldberrybombadil via Compfight cc

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November 13th, 2018 at 9:43 am

Posted in Alan Watts