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Archive for the ‘Alan Watts’ Category

Dont Chase The Future. Youll Never Catch Up With It. – Thrive Global

Posted: October 15, 2019 at 11:51 pm

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No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.

British philosopher Alan Watts said that. And he wasnt lying.

Theres a grain of truth in that statement, and we all know it. Most of us seem to carry this notion that life is about planning and preparing for tomorrow. I, too, have been guilty of thinking the same way:

When I turned 18, I began writing down my hopeful bucket list. Long story short, it was a list of all the goals I wanted to achieve before I turned 20. I made a solemn vow to myself that I would achieve every single goal on that list, no matter what.

I crossed off many goals during this process, but there was one problem: I was constantly planning for the future, micromanaging every single hour of my days, never resting from the climb towards my goals.

I was constantly thinking about what I wanted to achieve ten months, five months, two years down the line.

I was not living for the moment. I was a sucker living for the future.

Whenever I conquered one goal, I would instantly be on the hunt for the next goal. I never gave myself time to appreciate the moment. I was constantly thinking about the other goals I wanted to achieve down the line.

And, perhaps, thats our problem right there.

We take all of our moments for granted. Our eyes are so focused on whats to come, that we forget to look around at whats already here.

We go out in search for those firefly sparks of good moments, and whenever we do catch one spark, we never hold on to it. We just drop it and run out in chase for other sparks:

To let go of the future, you need to first let go of the climb. Because the truth is that the climb will never end.

Life can sometimes feel as though it is a ladder. In life, were always climbing upwards, rung by rung, obstacle by obstacle, until we reach a higher level. When your eleven years old you need to climb your way up to secondary school. Then when you graduate secondary school you need to climb your way up to University. And then, of course, when youre done and dusted with University there is still a great climb that lies above you:

You need to tussle and compete with other candidates for the most desirable jobs.

Theres always a climb, but when will it ever end?

The only finish line is death. When you arrive at that last checkpoint, youll feel cheated if all the time you had was spent focusing on the future, and ignoring the present.

There is no use planning for a future, which when you get to it and it becomes the present, you wont be there. Youll be living in some other future which hasnt yet arrived Alan Watts

Although we might be quite comfortable and happy in our present circumstances, if there is not a guarantee, not a promise of a good time coming tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, we are at once unhappy, even in the midst of pleasure and affluence. And so we develop a kind of chronic anxiety about time . . . We want to be sure more and more that our future is assured. And for this reason the future becomes of more importance to most human beings than the present Alan Watts

We want to be sure that our future is assured. We want to be promised security. That is why we constantly worry about the future so much and plan our lives way ahead of schedule.

The unknown is the scariest monster under our beds, and we want to be prepared for it.

You dont know whether or not youll lose your job tomorrow. Whether or not youll be able to pay your rent and bills. Whether or not youll be able to come home safely. In life, there are many blank canvases, and with that terrible uncertainty comes anxiety.

The antidote to his worry is to let the future be.

By all means, we should plan for the future, but we need to also remember to come back and settle in the present.

There needs to be an equilibrium, a balance, a counterpoint. I dont believe that we should out rightly disregard the future. Its good to have a solid life plan, a blueprint which you can follow, so that you know roughly where you are and where you are headed.

But, I also believe that we should not spend all of our time and mental energy worrying about the trivialities of tomorrow. That will only deprive us of todays joys.

For unless one is able to live fully in the present, the future is a hoax. There is no point whatsoever in making plans for the future which you will never be able to enjoy Alan Watts

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Dont Chase The Future. Youll Never Catch Up With It. - Thrive Global

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October 15th, 2019 at 11:51 pm

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10 Games To Play If You Love Untitled Goose Game | Game Rant – GameRant

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The Untitled Goose Game has become incredibly popular. It seemed to come out of nowhere in September and quickly climbed the charts of the Nintendo Switch game sales. It has garnered memes, fan art, and essays about how its simplicity is so enjoyed by the gaming community. Fans have loved it for its main protagonist, the goose, and its chaotic ways. The best word for what the goose is "impish" as you do not hurt anyone, but you will annoy them to the ends of the earth. What fun!

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of games similar to the Untitled Goose Game. However, its popularity will likely get us similar titles in the future. Until then, try some of the games on this list that we have found.

Related: Pokmon: The 10 Best Normal Type Pokmon, Ranked

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This first-person game has you playing as a pesky cat and your goal is to knock down as many things onto the floor as possible. There are various game modes, some with a timer and others that are free play mode. There are also a lot of unlockables such as different kinds of cats, cat photos, and power-ups.

Of all the titles on this list, Catlateral Damage has the most in common with the Untitled Goose Game. You are an animal just making a mess like a natural. It is simple, funny, and it's fun.

Katamari Damacy is very strange and pretty addicting. You play these alien creatures that make planets by just collecting everything they can into a sticky ball. You usually have a time limit and sometimes a set of rules of what kinds of items you must collect. The art style is similar to the Untitled Goose Game in terms of the people and towns.

Also you are really doing a chaotic deed without really hurting anyone. That's right, you can pick up animals and people but it does not hurt them. They mostly just wiggle and scream in confusion and terror.

Related: 5 Reasons To Play The Sims on PC (& 5 To Play On Console)

In this open-world indie game, you play a bird that is looking for twigs to build a nest. A weird factor is that you are living in a city facing total political turmoil.

As a bird, you do not really do anything about the totalitarian regime but you can explore the world and overhear the humans talk about what is going on in the world. It is pretty refreshing to have the world do its own thing with you playing just as a witness. Don't worry about the politics, just collect twigs and relax while being your little bird self.

In this cute game, you steal people's trash and throw it into a hole. In fact, you play as the hole! Well, you actually play a raccoon who is controlling the hole. The story is that raccoons have taken over the area by creating remote-controlled trash-stealing holes.

Collecting various items can create combos, which is a ton of fun. You get to explore character homes and devour everything. A lot of fans say it is like a reverse Katamari Damacy. A common complaint though is that the game is too short for its price.

Related: The 10 Best Game Sequels For Xbox One (According To Metacritic)

This is the only other game created by House House, the same company that gave us the Untitled Goose Game. And this title that came out in 2016 is very weird, but fun. You get to play as two noodle-like bodies with heads at both ends (sort of like Cat-Dog) and both ends fight over a ball. You can do two and four-player modes.

Besides playing, it is also fun to actually watch. It is to entities in one body fighting over a ball. There is also a secret unlockable mode that lets you play as wiener dogs.

If you want a long adventure game with similar elements to the Untitled Goose Game, then look no further than Okami. It certainly is far more than a simple be a jerk to humans and do little tasks, but you do play a wolf and can annoy people. For example, you can bite people, animals, drag them around, bark, dig, and really mess with people using your god powers. That's right, you are also a god.

Of course there is a huge story involved, which is the biggest difference Okami has. Also, you are kind of supposed to be a good person. Still, the game does allow you to be a jerk if you want to be.

In this game, you play a slice of bread that wants to become toast. Your goal is to get to the toaster. The physics and movement of the bread is the funniest and fun aspect of the game. Why? Because it is so hard. It is such a difficult game with a high learning curve.

If you are not sure about playing it, at least watch a video of someone playing this game, because it is a total trip. In terms of simplicity and humor, this game is a lot like the Untitled Goose Game.

Related: The 10 Most Immersive Open World Games

Everything may seem like a strange title, but is actually about everything. You can be anything from a simple dog to a bush to a planet to a micro-organism. Every object in the universe is a playable character.

It looks pretty uncanny and silly at first with how everything moves. However, the game really takes an existential turn with its soundtrack and its narrator. You get to collect inspiring philosophy speeches of Alan Watts while taking on the perspective of everything in the universe.

Tokyo Jungle lets you play as a lot of animals, except the humans are all gone. You start off as Pomeranian in Tokyo who has to hunt on its own. However, you can start a family and then play an entire pack of Pomeranian. However, you can also be hunted. There are lions, wolves, and even dinosaurs lurking about.

You get to unlock more and more animals and discover slowly about what happened to all the humans by finding hints and documents as you play. See how long you can survive!

Tags:Touch My Katamari,Untitled Goose Game

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Voices for Mental Health: Stephen James Smith, on being kind to yourself –

Posted: October 9, 2019 at 9:46 am

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We invited a chorus of artists, writers, musicians, broadcasters, sports stars, and more to contribute to Now Were Talking, a mental health campaign, run in partnership with Lyons Tea and Pieta House.

As the late great writer Toni Morrison said, "Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined." So how do you define 'Mental Health'? Is it a spectrum so broad that there can be a multitude of interpretations and reactions to it? Is it just a buzz phrase we see everywhere now? That a magazine can build an issue around?! (I jest).

While this era is known for its individualism, I also believe mental health is an individual thing. So for me, I'll define it as kindness. You can and obviously should be kind to yourself. I know this can be easier said than done, sometimes. Also, the beauty in being kind to ourselves is, we'll learn to help others. Kindness requires empathy, patience and forgiveness. I'm learning to forgive myself all the time (not that I do awful things all the time!). I know now I've learnt the most in my aloneness: in a sense, facing into my darkness has allowed me to be more empathetic towards others.

However I must admit, I fail at this all the time! I need to relearn, re-remember - it can be one step forward, two steps back. So maybe you shouldn't listen to my faux-sage counsel... While I'm a great guru for others, sometimes practising what you preach can be the hardest. I've been tested a few times along the way: 2007 and 2015 were particularly hard years for me. I had to relearn how to be kind to myself again; there is a vulnerability in even having to admit to yourself in the first place, to know you are being untrue to yourself, that fucked me up a bit.

Firstly what I needed to do was to take more control over my life, So I gave up alcohol and meat, and I started to do some simple yoga/meditation each day. After a month, I'd lost weight, was in less debt and felt much healthier. I then set myself a goal to run the Dublin marathon in 2016, which I did just about (so now I'll boast about it! I should also have learnt to temper my ego a bit more as you can see). I've learnt if I don't have a goal, I lack focus and I'll go inwards. Now, however, one of the struggles I find is getting balance right - sometimes I might have too much on and I can be overwhelmed. If something doesn't make you feel alive, it's too small for you - the irony being that the smallest things are often the most worthwhile.

I've learnt how to be OK with feelings of disappointment, hurt and anger, to hold it and to know it'll pass. I say this safe in the knowledge I'll fail with these feelings again, then I'll remind myself about needing to forgive myself. Knowing feelings pass is so apparent, yet it certainly can be a comforting realisation. The transience of life is humbling.

Yet all this learning requires patience - not a virtue I'm blessed with in truth. But I'm far more self-reflexive and happier with who I am now than I was three years ago. There are probably a lot of musicians/creatives reading this issue, and something I see amongst my peers is an inadequate feeling artists can have. We can be pitted against each other in our own minds and we strive for 'success', but as the saying goes "comparison is the thief of joy." Nobody truly knows what anyone has gone through to create what they have. I wish we could all be less quick to judge. Don't define others by an action without knowing the context, then hopefully that kindness can be extended to you. We have all made mistakes, and will again. Don't be the crab in the bucket, focus on amplifying art you like instead of bitching about what you don't. It can be easy to get lost in paranoia, but you're only hurting yourself.

Then there are the cliches; it's OK not to be OK, don't be afraid to ask for help, talk to someone, find solace in friendship, etc... And you know what? Most cliches are fuckin' true! Bowie said that, so I'm not going to argue with him!

Go and create, it's cathartic. For me personally, it helps me to find meaning in this 'crazy' world of ours. If you don't feel like being creative, volunteer your time with a cause you believe in. I've been volunteering with First Fortnight for almost 10 years now. This gives me a sense of meaning and helps me to feel part of a caring community. Ask courageous questions of yourself, wait, listen to your heart's answer - and know these truths are how you connect to the deepest you. In finding your deepest self a healing can begin.

Lastly, I am convinced that reading David Whyte's book Consolations and listening to Alan Watts saved my life in 2015, so they might be worth checking out. Also, all of what I've said above can be summed up far more eloquently in Mary Oliver's poem 'Wild Geese' - go and read it immediately!

Now We're Talking 2019A partnership between Lyons Tea, Pieta House & Hot Press.Lets break the stigma and take the dialogue about mental health issues onto a new level#NowWe''re-talking

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October 9th, 2019 at 9:46 am

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Alan Watts Do You Do It Or Does It Do You

Posted: September 15, 2019 at 6:30 pm

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In this compelling lecture by Alan Watts, we take a cosmic perspective on reality to make sense of our existence.

Soundtracks by PBO & Lockjaw

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September 15th, 2019 at 6:30 pm

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Alan Watts Quotes Celebrating Life, Love and Dreams

Posted: June 26, 2019 at 9:44 am

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Alan Watts Quotes on Everyday power Blog! No this is the not the entire 3 hour lectureall of which I lovethese are just the quotes! Enjoy!

These Alan Watts quotes were taken from his writing, lectures and notes.

Watts was a world-renowned author, speaker, and philosopher, wellknown for interpreting the beliefs of the East with the way we live in the West.

Alan wrote over 25 books and is best known for his bestselling classic, The Way to Zen.

These Alan Watts quotes represent some of his most important philosophies regarding living a successful, happy life. We recommend analyzing these quotes and absorbing their wisdom.

We recommend viewing some of his speeches and reading his books.

Simply type in Alan Watts Youtube in Google or Alan Watts books. He bridged the east and the west by informing people about some of the Easts best philosophies regarding living and has helped thousands of people improve the quality of their life.

When you read Alan Watts quotes, watch his videos or read his books you will be inspired by his views on essential truths about life.

For me, its so powerful how his work with so many ancient texts is still so relevant to todays modern life. Whether youre a teacher, lawyer, secretary or entrepreneur; we can benefit from the wise and powerful words of Alan Watts!

1.) Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone. Alan Watts

Sometimes we just have to let time do its thing. Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to leave it alone and not put any energy into it.

2.) Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth. Alan Watts

Fire cannot burn fire. Water cannot get itself wet. The thing cannot define the thing. It will always be extremely difficult for us to define ourselves, since we are always changing, learning, experiencing and growing.

3.) What I am really saying is that you dont need to do anything, because if you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomenon of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that, and there is nothing wrong with you at all. Alan Watts

All the systems of nature work perfectly. Nothing rushed, nothing judgedbut yet, it all works perfectly. Every single time. You are nature and you work perfectly!

4.) We seldom realize, for example, that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society. Alan Watts

Many of our thoughts, habits and behaviors arepassed down from our family, society and culture. Before we take ownership of certain traits and thoughts, lets be mindful of what is really ours.

5.) But Ill tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, youll come to understand that youre connected with everything. Alan Watts

When we turn off the TV, cell phone and other distractions; we can see, feel and hear all the natural life around us. We are a part of that life. Its what we were born into.

6.) If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, youll spend your life completely wasting your time. Youll be doing things you dont like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you dont like doing, which is stupid. Alan Watts

Dont be afraid to hop off the hamster wheel. If you love what you do and you earn a living with it you are living the dream! If you hate your job and are just in it for the money, it might be time to reevaluate how you spend 40-60 hours of your life a week.

7.) To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you dont grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float. Alan Watts

Having faith doesnt mean having control. Having faith means letting go and still believing it will all work out!

8.) Philosophy is mans expression of curiosity about everything and his attempt to make sense of the world primarily through his intellect. Alan Watts

Without a guiding belief of how things work, it becomes difficult to put meaning to things. The meaning we put to things is much more important than the thing itself.

9.) This is the real secret of life to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play. Alan Watts

When we engage deeply in our work, it is no longer work. When we have a singular focus on the present everything is alive, everything is fun.

10.) The menu is not the meal. Alan Watts

Weve all been to restaurants that have an outstanding menu and below average food. Talk is cheap. Dont let your life fall into that trap!

11.) The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. Alan Watts

Stop trying to figure change out and just go with it! See where it takes you.

12.) You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing. Alan Watts

I love this one. We are all a part of something much bigger than ourselves. Lets live accordingly!

13.) The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless. Alan Watts

Life is constant change. Life is full of ups and downs. Life is always moving. Anything else is dead.

14.) Try to imagine what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up now try to imagine what it was like to wake up having never gone to sleep. Alan Watts

I really love this one, too! What would life be like if we were asleep, unconscious and a money chasing zombie the whole time? Now, what would life be like, to live consciously, awakeand stay that way!

15.) Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations. Alan Watts

Stop trying to label and judge. Peace is when we are able to accept (and find the beauty in) things the way they are.

16.) A scholar tries to learn something everyday; a student of Buddhism tries to unlearn something daily. Alan Watts

The way of Buddha is to let go.

17.) Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way. Alan Watts

The better the question, the better the answer.

18.) When we attempt to exercise power or control over someone else, we cannot avoid giving that person the very same power or control over us. Alan Watts

When we give someone all that time and energy, we also give them our power.

19.) But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be. Alan Watts

Faith = the art of letting go.

20.) No work or love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now. Alan Watts

Everything we want to do right, needs to come from a place of good intentions and close attention to the present.

21.) So then, the relationship of self to other is the complete realization that loving yourself is impossible without loving everything defined as other than yourself.Alan Watts

We can only love ourselves for who we are, when we love ourselves for who we are not.

22.) Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command. Alan Watts

23.) Love is not something that is a sort of rare commodity, everybody has it. Alan Watts

24.) Everyone has love, but it can only come out when he is convinced of the impossibility and the frustration of trying to love himself. Alan Watts

25.) Everything that happens, everything that I have ever done, everything that anybody else have ever done is part of a harmonious design, that there is no error at all. Alan Watts

26.) You can only be on the in in relation to something that is out. Alan Watts

27.) The positive cannot exist without the negative. Alan Watts

28.) We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain. Alan Watts

29.) We notice only what we think noteworthy, and therefore our visions highly selective. Alan Watts

30.) Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun. Alan W. Watts

31.) You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself. Alan W. Watts

32.) Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth. Alan Watts

33.)To be free from convention is not to spurn it but not to be deceived by it. Alan Watts

34.)I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is. Alan Watts

35.)The problem is to overcome the ingrained disbelief in the power of winning nature by love, in the gentle (ju) way (do) of turning with the skid, of controlling ourselves by cooperating with ourselves. Alan Watts

36.)The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves. Alan W. Watts

37.) Every intelligent individual wants to know what makes him tick, and yet is at once fascinated and frustrated by the fact that oneself is the most difficult of all things to know. Alan W. Watts

38.) What you are basically, deep, deep down, far, far in, is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself. Alan Watts

39.)Much of the secret of life consists in knowing how to laugh, and also how to breathe.-Alan W. Watts

40.) Words can be communicative only between those who share similar experiences. Alan W. Watts

41.)If you cannot trust yourself, you cannot even trust your mistrust of yourself so that without this underlying trust in the whole system of nature you are simply paralyzed. Alan W. Watts

42.) How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself anything less than a god. Alan W. Watts

43.) Technology is destructive only in the hands of people who do not realize that they are one and the same process as the universe. Alan W. Watts

44.) In the more intimate sphere of personal life, the problem is the pain of trying to avoid suffering and the fear of trying not to be afraid. Alan W. Watts

45.) Our pleasures are not material pleasures, but symbols of pleasure attractively packaged but inferior in content. Alan W. Watts

46.) People who exude love are apt to give things away. They are in every way like rivers; they stream. And so when they collect possessions and things they like, they are apt to give them to other people. Because, have you ever noticed that when you start giving things away, you keep getting more? Alan W. Watts

47.) Your soul is not in your body; your body is in your soul. Alan W. Watts

48.) Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment. Alan Watts

49.) We do not come into this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean waves, the universe peoples. Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe. Alan W. Watts

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June 26th, 2019 at 9:44 am

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Works by Alan Watts – Wikipedia

Posted: May 20, 2019 at 7:51 am

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Alan Watts was an orator and philosopher of the 20th century. He spent time reflecting on Personal Identity and Higher Consciousness. According to the critic Erik Davis, his "writings and recorded talks still shimmer with a profound and galvanising lucidity."[1]These works are not accessible in the same way as his many books.

The following lectures can all be obtained at[1].

Watts proposes a thought experiment of imagining that one has total control over the content of each night's dreams. He uses this thought experiment to make a case for the self as the ultimate reality.[2]

Watts argues that there is less difference than generally supposed between what one would want to do if money were no object, and what one should do under actual circumstances. He proposes that the question "What do I desire?" should be given greater emphasis, even under actual circumstances.[3]

Watts makes a case for quieting the mind by leaving it alone. He argues that we are "addicted to thoughts" and want to avoid ourselves, and that this quest for self-avoidance leads to a "vicious circle" of worry.[4]








Note: ISBNs for titles originally published prior to 1974 are for reprint editions.

Works by Alan Watts - Wikipedia

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May 20th, 2019 at 7:51 am

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The 25 Best Alan Watts Quotes of All Time – Goalcast

Posted: March 19, 2019 at 2:41 am

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A prolific author and speaker, Alan Wilson Watts is credited with the interpretation and introduction of Eastern philosophyto theWesternaudience.

As his mothers students were children of missionaries to Asia, Watts began to be fascinated by Asian art, literature, and philosophy; so in time, he learned Chinese and started to explore the fundamental beliefs and practices of religions and philosophies of India and East Asia.

After a rigorous research in Zen Buddhism, Watts published one of the first books on the topic The Way of Zen introducing the burgeoning youth culture to it. Due to all the wisdom it embodies, Watts even suggested that Buddhism could be presented and taught as a form of psychotherapy, and not only as a religion.

Alan Watts is the author of more than 25 books on various topics such as philosophy, Eastern and Western religion, natural history, semantics, cybernetics and the anthropology of sexuality.

Watts was a man who tried and explored all that he could on mystical insight. Here are 25 Alan Watts quotes to help you become more aware of yourself and your surroundings.

Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.

We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.

Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the Gods made for fun.

This is the real secret of life to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.

Just as true humor is laughter at oneself, true humanity is knowledge of oneself.

Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.

You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.

Every intelligent individual wants to know what makes him tick, and yet is at once fascinated and frustrated by the fact that oneself is the most difficult of all things to know.

A scholar tries to learn something everyday; a student of Buddhism tries to unlearn something daily.

No one is more dangerously insane than one who is sane all the time: he is like a steel bridge without flexibility, and the order of his life is rigid and brittle.

Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way.

When we attempt to exercise power or control over someone else, we cannot avoid giving that person the very same power or control over us.

One is a great deal less anxious if one feels perfectly free to be anxious, and the same may be said of guilt.

The world is filled with love-play, from animal lust to sublime compassion.

What we have to discover is that there is no safety, that seeking is painful, and that when we imagine that we have found it, we dont like it.

Words can be communicative only between those who share similar experiences.

If you cannot trust yourself, you cannot even trust your mistrust of yourself so that without this underlying trust in the whole system of nature you are simply paralyzed.

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.

Technology is destructive only in the hands of people who do not realize that they are one and the same process as the universe.

Hospitals should be arranged in such a way as to make being sick an interesting experience. One learns a great deal sometimes from being sick.

Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them.

Our pleasures are not material pleasures, but symbols of pleasure attractively packaged but inferior in content.

It is hard indeed to notice anything for which the languages available to us have no description.

Its better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way.

Society is our extended mind and body.

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March 19th, 2019 at 2:41 am

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Alan Watts quotes that will change your perspective on life …

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To this day, Alan Watts's impactful and wise words circulate through the culture. We find them in the many books he left behind, countless lectures and pop-culture references galore. Renowned scholar and teacher, Joseph Campbell once said of him:

"The pomposities of prodigious learning could be undone by him with a turn of phrase. One stood before him, disarmed and laughed at what had just been oneself."

While it is no easy feat to distill the many whimsical phrases and knowledge Watts left behind, these quotes attempt to paint a broad picture of the Eastern scholar and philosopher-entertainer.

Here are some of the best Alan Watts quotes.

What is Zen? Better to ask what isn't Zen. Watts was one of a kind when it came to articulating what cannot be said. The ineffable comes down to an Earthly speakable form when Watts wanted to probe into the peculiarities of paradox.

"Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes."

"I prefer not to translate the word Tao at all because to us Tao is a sort of nonsense syllable, indicating the mystery that we can never understand the unity that underlies the opposites."

"A proper exposition of Zen should tease us out of thought, and leave the mind like an open window instead of a panel of stained glass."

Having obtained both a master's degree in theology and becoming an Episcopal priest, Watts had a thoroughly rounded Christian education on the concept of God. With his boundless knowledge of Eastern traditions, mysticism and ancient history Watts had a refreshingly comparative and unique take on the word and concept.

"So in this idea, then, everybody is fundamentally the ultimate reality. Not God in a politically kingly sense, but God in the sense of being the self, the deep-down basic whatever there is. And you're all that, only you're pretending you're not. And it's perfectly O.K. to pretend you're not, to be perfectly convinced, because this is the whole notion of drama."

"How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself anything less than a god."

Watts wasn't afraid to tackle one of the great philosophical questions that has faced all of humankind since time immemorial. He answers it with irreverent wit and a life-affirming answer that'll swing the worst of nihilists among us.

"The physical universe is basically playful. There's no necessity for it whatsoever. It isn't going anywhere; that is to say, it doesn't have a destination that it ought to arrive at. But it is best understood by analogy to music, because music as an art form is essentially playful."

"What happens if you know that there is nothing you can do to be better? It's kind of a relief isn't it? You say 'Well, now what do I do?' When you are freed from being out to improve yourself, your own nature will begin to take over."

Love ranks up there with the other mysteries of life. There are many degrees of love that we float and flounder through each day. Whether it's the whirlwind romantic kind, the love of god, country or self Alan Watts sets the record straight.

"Everyone has love, but it can only come out when he is convinced of the impossibility and the frustration of trying to love himself. This conviction will not come through condemnations, through hating oneself, through calling self love bad names in the universe. It comes only in the awareness that one has no self to love."

"The greater part of human activity is designed to make permanent those experiences and joys which are only lovable because they are changing."

"And so when the essential idea of love is lost there comes talk of fidelity. Actually, the only possible basis for two beings, male and female, to relate to each other is to grant each other total freedom."

Humans are an interesting and humorous species. Watts loved to riff and pick apart the hypocrisy and idiocy endemic to culture and mankind's perception of itself. Whether it was ripping apart the nonsensical education system or ersatz self-help meditation Watts was an expert in the takedown of such mendacity.

"When you tell a girl how beautiful she is, she will say, 'Now isn't that just like a man! All you men think about is bodies. O.K., so I'm beautiful, but I got my body from my parents and it was just luck. I prefer to be admired for myself, not my chassis.' Poor little chauffeur! All she is saying is that she has lost touch with her own astonishing wisdom and ingenuity, and wants to be admired for some trivial tricks that she can perform with her conscious attention. And we are all in the same situation, having dissociated ourselves from our bodies and from the whole network of forces in which bodies can come to birth and live."

"This is not a materialistic civilization at all. It is a civilization devoted to the hatred and destruction of material, its conversion into junk and poison gas. And therefore, one of the most sacred missions to be imposed upon those who would be liberated from this culture is that they shall love material, that they shall love color, that they shall dress beautifully, that they shall cook well, that they shall live in lovely houses, and that they shall preserve the face of nature."

"The word 'person' comes from the latin word 'persona' which referred to the masks worn by actors in which sound would come through. The 'person' is the mask the role you're playing. And all of your friends and relations and teachers are busy telling you who you are and what your role in life is."

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What's likely to happen when you cut out common sources of fiber from your diet? Constipation. A 2015 study involving children on the keto diet showed that regular constipation was extremely common among participants, affecting about 65 percent of them.

"Many of the richest sources of fiber, like beans, fruit, and whole grains are restricted on the ketogenic diet," registered dietician Edwina Clark told Everyday Health. "As a result, ketogenic eaters miss out on the benefits of fiber-rich diet such as regular laxation and microbiome support. The microbiome has been implicated in everything from immune function to mental health."

Still, the keto diet doesn't need to lead to fiber deficiency: avocados, flaxseed, almonds, pecans and chia seeds can all provide fiber while still keeping you in ketosis when consumed in the right amounts.

Vitamin deficiency

Any diet that prohibits you from eating many types of fruits, vegetables and other foods is bound to leave you vulnerable to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and it's for this reason many doctors only advise going on the keto diet over the short term.

"Keto is not a great long-term diet, as it is not a balanced diet," says Nancy Rahnama, M.D., M.S., an internal medicine and bariatric specialist in Los Angeles. "A diet that is devoid of fruit and vegetables will result in long-term micronutrient deficiencies that can have other consequences. The keto diet can be used for short-term fat loss, as long as it is under medical supervision."

On the keto diet, your body begins to shed fat, water and glycogen, and as this happens you lose key electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium and magnesium. When you're running low on these electrolytes, you might experience headaches or extreme fatigue. These losses are most pronounced during the first few weeks after you enter ketosis, so if you're going to start the keto diet it's best to plan ahead to make sure you get healthy amounts of these electrolytes and other vitamins and minerals either through supplements or a thoughtfully-designed meal plan.

Muscle loss

Some research suggests that the keto diet can lead to the loss of lean body mass, which includes muscle protein.

"Muscle loss on the ketogenic diet is an ongoing area of research," Clark told Everyday Health. "Small studies suggest that people on the ketogenic diet lose muscle even when they continue resistance training. This may be related to the fact that protein alone is less effective for muscle building than protein and carbohydrates together after exercise."

The website sci-fit, which compiled a survey of the research on the keto diet, found:

"We generally see greater lean body mass (LBM) loss in ketogenic diet groups. Note that lean body mass contains water, glycogen, and muscle protein, by definition. It is hard to say with certainty that LBM loss implies greater "dry" muscle protein loss. "Wet" LBM can come and go quickly because it consists of water and glycogen."

In terms of gaining muscle, it seems protein alone doesn't do as well as it does when paired with complex carbs. These carbs don't become part of the muscle fiber, but they do help speed up the process, in part by helping cells regain glycogen a key source of fuel during exercise.

The 'keto flu'

One of the most immediate side effects of the keto diet is the "keto flu," a suite of symptoms that many experience in the first couple weeks after entering ketosis. Similar to the flu, these symptoms can include fatigue, brain fog, dizziness, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain.

"The keto flu is definitely real," registered dietician Scott Keatley told Everyday Health. "Your body functions really well on carbohydrates that's what it was designed for. When it switches to fat burning, it becomes less efficient at making energy."

The keto flu and the accompanying sugar cravings often leads people to give up the diet and begin scarfing down carbs, but those who stick it out usually report that the symptoms clear up after a few days or a couple weeks.

Kidney damage

Some people inflict damage on their kidneys when they switch to the kidney diet because they eat too much meat and don't drink enough water. This can lead to an increase in uric acid, which is known to cause kidney stones.

"If you're going to do keto, there's a better and a worse way to do it," registered dietician Kim Yawitz told Everyday Health. "Loading your plate with meats, and especially processed meats, may increase your risk for kidney stones and gout... High intake of animal proteins makes your urine more acidic and increases calcium and uric acid levels. This combination makes you more susceptible to kidney stones, while high uric acid can increase your risk for gout."

Of course, a responsible keto diet plan need not result in damage to the kidneys. In addition to monitoring meat consumption, a 2007 study on kidney stone development within young participants on the keto diet found that taking oral potassium citrate tablets seemed to be effective at preventing kidney stones.

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During the 1950s and 1960s, British philosopher and writer Alan Watts began popularizing Eastern philosophy in the West, offering a wholly different perspective on inner wholeness in the age of anxiety and what it really means to live a life of purpose. We owe much of todays mainstream adoption of practices like yoga and meditation to Wattss influence. His 1966 masterwork The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (public library) builds upon his indispensable earlier work as Watts argues with equal parts conviction and compassion that the prevalent sensation of oneself as a separate ego enclosed in a bag of skin is a hallucination which accords neither with Western science nor with the experimental philosophy-religions of the East. He explores the cause and cure of that illusion in a way that flows from profound unease as we confront our cultural conditioning into a deep sense of lightness as we surrender to the comforting mystery and interconnectedness of the universe.

Envisioned as a packet of essential advice a parent might hand down to his child on the brink of adulthood as initiation into the central mystery of life, this existential manual is rooted in what Watts calls a cross-fertilization of Western science with an Eastern intuition.

Though strictly nonreligious, the book explores many of the core inquiries which religions have historically tried to address the problems of life and love, death and sorrow, the universe and our place in it, what it means to have an I at the center of our experience, and what the meaning of existence might be. In fact, Watts begins by pulling into question how well-equipped traditional religions might be to answer those questions:

The standard-brand religions, whether Jewish, Christian, Mohammedan, Hindu, or Buddhist, are as now practiced like exhausted mines: very hard to dig. With some exceptions not too easily found, their ideas about man and the world, their imagery, their rites, and their notions of the good life dont seem to fit in with the universe as we now know it, or with a human world that is changing so rapidly that much of what one learns in school is already obsolete on graduation day.

Watts considers the singular anxiety of the age, perhaps even more resonant today, half a century and a manic increase of pace later:

There is a growing apprehension that existence is a rat-race in a trap: living organisms, including people, are merely tubes which put things in at one end and let them out at the other, which both keeps them doing it and in the long run wears them out.

He weighs how philosophy might alleviate this central concern by contributing a beautiful addition to the definitions of what philosophy is and recognizing the essential role of wonder in the human experience:

Most philosophical problems are to be solved by getting rid of them, by coming to the point where you see that such questions as Why this universe? are a kind of intellectual neurosis, a misuse of words in that the question sounds sensible but is actually as meaningless as asking Where is this universe? when the only things that are anywhere must be somewhere inside the universe. The task of philosophy is to cure people of such nonsense. . . . Nevertheless, wonder is not a disease. Wonder, and its expression in poetry and the arts, are among the most important things which seem to distinguish men from other animals, and intelligent and sensitive people from morons.

At the heart of the human condition, Watts argues, is a core illusion that fuels our deep-seated sense of loneliness the more we subscribe to the myth of the sole ego, one reflected in the most basic language we use to make sense of the world:

We suffer from a hallucination, from a false and distorted sensation of our own existence as living organisms. Most of us have the sensation that I myself is a separate center of feeling and action, living inside and bounded by the physical body a center which confronts an external world of people and things, making contact through the senses with a universe both alien and strange. Everyday figures of speech reflect this illusion. I came into this world. You must face reality. The conquest of nature.

This feeling of being lonely and very temporary visitors in the universe is in flat contradiction to everything known about man (and all other living organisms) in the sciences. We do not come into this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean waves, the universe peoples. Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe. This fact is rarely, if ever, experienced by most individuals. Even those who know it to be true in theory do not sense or feel it, but continue to be aware of themselves as isolated egos inside bags of skin.

(A curious aside for music aficionados and fans of the show Weeds: Watts uses the phrase little boxes made of ticky-tacky to describe the homogenizing and perilous effect of the American quest for dominance over nature , space, mountains, deserts, bacteria, and insects instead of learning to cooperate with them in a harmonious order. The following year, Malvina Reynolds used the phrase in the lyrics to her song Little Boxes, which satirizes suburbia and the development of the middle class. The song became a hit for Pete Seeger in 1963 and was used by Showtime as the opening credits score for the first three seasons of Jenji Kohans Weeds.)

Religions, Watts points out, work to reinforce rather than liberate us from this sense of separateness, for at their heart lies a basic intolerance for uncertainty the very state embracing which is fundamental to our happiness, as modern psychology has indicated, and crucial to the creative process, as Keats has eloquently articulated. Watts writes:

Religions are divisive and quarrelsome. They are a form of one-upmanship because they depend upon separating the saved from the damned, the true believers from the heretics, the in-group from the out-group. . . . All belief is fervent hope, and thus a cover-up for doubt and uncertainty.

In a sentiment that Alan Lightman would come to echo more than half a century later in his remarkable meditation on science and what faith really means, Watts adds:

Irrevocable commitment to any religion is not only intellectual suicide; it is positive unfaith because it closes the mind to any new vision of the world. Faith is, above all, open-ness an act of trust in the unknown.


No considerate God would destroy the human mind by making it so rigid and unadaptable as to depend upon one book, the Bible, for all the answers. For the use of words, and thus of a book, is to point beyond themselves to a world of life and experience that is not mere words or even ideas. Just as money is not real, consumable wealth, books are not life. To idolize scriptures is like eating paper currency.

Instead, Watts proposes that we need a new domain, not of ideas alone, but of experience and feeling, something that serves as a point of departure, not a perpetual point of reference and offers not a new Bible but a new way of understanding human experience, a new feeling of what it is to be an I.' In recognizing and fully inhabiting that feeling, he argues, lies the greatest taboo of human culture:

Our normal sensation of self is a hoax, or, at best, a temporary role that we are playing, or have been conned into playing with our own tacit consent, just as every hypnotized person is basically willing to be hypnotized. The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego.

And yet, he argues, the sense of I and the illusion of its separateness from the rest of the universe is so pervasive and so deeply rooted in the infrastructure of our language, our institutions, and our cultural conventions that we find ourselves unable to experience selfhood except as something superficial in the scheme of the universe. The antidote lies in recognizing not merely that we belong to and with the rest of universe, but that there is no rest in the first place we are the universe.

Still, Watts cautions that this is not to be confused with the idea of unselfishness promoted by many religions and ideologies, which is the effort to identify with others and their needs while still under the strong illusion of being no more than a skin-contained ego:

Such unselfishness is apt to be a highly refined egotism, comparable to the in-group which plays the game of were-more-tolerant-than-you.

Echoing C.S. Lewiss advice to children on duty and love, Watts writes:

Genuine love comes from knowledge, not from a sense of duty or guilt.


Our whole knowledge of the world is, in one sense, self-knowledge. For knowing is a translation of external events into bodily processes, and especially into states of the nervous system and the brain: we know the world in terms of the body, and in accordance with its structure.

One thing that reinforces our isolated sensation of self, Watts argues, is our biological wiring to err on always either side of the figure-ground illusion, only ever able to see one half of the whole and remaining blind to the rest. He illustrates this with a beautiful analogy:

All your five senses are differing forms of one basic sensesomething like touch. Seeing is highly sensitive touching. The eyes touch, or feel, light waves and so enable us to touch things out of reach of our hands. Similarly, the ears touch sound waves in the air, and the nose tiny particles of dust and gas. But the complex patterns and chains of neurons which constitute these senses are composed of neuron units which are capable of changing between just two states: on or off. To the central brain the individual neuron signals either yes or no thats all. But, as we know from computers which employ binary arithmetic in which the only figures are 0 and 1, these simple elements can be formed into the most complex and marvelous patterns.

In this respect our nervous system and 0/1 computers are much like everything else, for the physical world is basically vibration. Whether we think of this vibration in terms of waves or of particles, or perhaps wavicles, we never find the crest of a wave without a trough or a particle without an interval, or space, between itself and others. In other words, there is no such thing as a half wave, or a particle all by itself without any space around it. There is no on without off, no up without down.


While eyes and ears actually register and respond to both the up-beat and the down-beat of these vibrations, the mind, that is to say our conscious attention, notices only the up-beat. The dark, silent, or off interval is ignored. It is almost a general principle that consciousness ignores intervals, and yet cannot notice any pulse of energy without them. If you put your hand on an attractive girls knee and just leave it there, she may cease to notice it. But if you keep patting her knee, she will know you are very much there and interested. But she notices and, you hope, values the on more than the off. Nevertheless, the very things that we believe to exist are always on/offs. Ons alone and offs alone do not exist.

Indeed, he argues that the general conditioning of consciousness is to ignore intervals. (Weve seen the everyday manifestation of this in Alexandra Horowitzs fascinating exploration of what we dont see.) We register the sound but not the silence that surrounds it. We think of space as nothingness in which certain somethings objects, planetary bodies, our own bodies hang. And yet:

Solids and spaces go together as inseparably as insides and outsides. Space is the relationship between bodies, and without it there can be neither energy nor motion.

What further fuels this half-sighted reliance on intervals is the way our attention which has been aptly called an intentional, unapologetic discriminator works by dividing the world up into processable parts, then stringing those together into a pixelated collage of separates which we then accept as a realistic representation of the whole that was there in the first place:

Attention is narrowed perception. It is a way of looking at life bit by bit, using memory to string the bits together as when examining a dark room with a flashlight having a very narrow beam. Perception thus narrowed has the advantage of being sharp and bright, but it has to focus on one area of the world after another, and one feature after another. And where there are no features, only space or uniform surfaces, it somehow gets bored and searches about for more features. Attention is therefore something like a scanning mechanism in radar or television. . . . But a scanning process that observes the world bit by bit soon persuades its user that the world is a great collection of bits, and these he calls separate things or events. We often say that you can only think of one thing at a time. The truth is that in looking at the world bit by bit we convince ourselves that it consists of separate things, and so give ourselves the problem of how these things are connected and how they cause and effect each other. The problem would never have arisen if we had been aware that it was just our way of looking at the world which had chopped it up into separate bits, things, events, causes, and effects.

Nature and nurture conspire in the architecture of this illusion of separateness, which Watts argues begins in childhood as our parents, our teachers, and our entire culture help us to be genuine fakes, which is precisely what is meant by being a real person.' He offers a fascinating etymology of the concept into which we anchor the separate ego:

The person, from the Latin persona, was originally the megaphone-mouthed mask used by actors in the open-air theaters of ancient Greece and Rome, the mask through (per) which the sound (sonus) came.

Indeed, this bisection is perhaps most powerful and painful not in our sense of separateness from the universe but in our sense of being divided within ourselves a feeling particularly pronounced among creative people, a kind of diamagnetic relationship between person and persona. While the oft-cited metaphor of the rider and the elephant might explain the dual processing of the brain, it is also a dangerous dichotomy that only perpetuates our sense of being separate from and within ourselves. Watts writes:

The self-conscious feedback mechanism of the cortex allows us the hallucination that we are two souls in one body a rational soul and an animal soul, a rider and a horse, a good guy with better instincts and finer feelings and a rascal with rapacious lusts and unruly passions. Hence the marvelously involved hypocrisies of guilt and penitence, and the frightful cruelties of punishment, warfare, and even self-torment in the name of taking the side of the good soul against the evil. The more it sides with itself, the more the good soul reveals its inseparable shadow, and the more it disowns its shadow, the more it becomes it.

Thus for thousands of years human history has been a magnificently futile conflict, a wonderfully staged panorama of triumphs and tragedies based on the resolute taboo against admitting that black goes with white.

Returning to our inability to grasp intervals as the basic fabric of world and integrate foreground with background, content with context, Watts considers how the very language with which we name things and events our notation system for what our attention notices reflects this basic bias towards separateness:

Today, scientists are more and more aware that what things are, and what they are doing, depends on where and when they are doing it. If, then, the definition of a thing or event must include definition of its environment, we realize that any given thing goes with a given environment so intimately and inseparably that it is more difficult to draw a clear boundary between the thing and its surroundings.


Individual is the Latin form of the Greek atom that which cannot be cut or divided any further into separate parts. We cannot chop off a persons head or remove his heart without killing him. But we can kill him just as effectively by separating him from his proper environment. This implies that the only true atom is the universe that total system of interdependent thing-events which can be separated from each other only in name. For the human individual is not built as a car is built. He does not come into being by assembling parts, by screwing a head onto a neck, by wiring a brain to a set of lungs, or by welding veins to a heart. Head, neck, heart, lungs, brain, veins, muscles, and glands are separate names but not separate events, and these events grow into being simultaneously and interdependently. In precisely the same way, the individual is separate from his universal environment only in name. When this is not recognized, you have been fooled by your name. Confusing names with nature, you come to believe that having a separate name makes you a separate being. This is rather literally to be spellbound.

So how are we to wake up from the trance and dissolve the paradox of the ego? It all comes down to the fundamental anxiety of existence, our inability to embrace uncertainty and reconcile death. Watts writes:

The hallucination of separateness prevents one from seeing that to cherish the ego is to cherish misery. We do not realize that our so-called love and concern for the individual is simply the other face of our own fear of death or rejection. In his exaggerated valuation of separate identity, the personal ego is sawing off the branch on which he is sitting, and then getting more and more anxious about the coming crash!

And so we return to the core of Watts philosophy, the basis of his earlier work, extending an urgent invitation to begin living with presence a message all the timelier in our age of worshipping productivity, which is by definition aimed at some future reward and thus takes us out of the present moment. Watts writes:

Unless one is able to live fully in the present, the future is a hoax. There is no point whatever in making plans for a future which you will never be able to enjoy. When your plans mature, you will still be living for some other future beyond. You will never, never be able to sit back with full contentment and say, Now, Ive arrived!

Traditionally, humanity has handled this paradox in two ways, either by withdrawing into the depths of consciousness, as monks and hermits do in their attempt to honor the impermanence of the world, or servitude for the sake of some future reward, as many religions encourage. Both of these, Watts argues, are self-defeating strategies:

Just because it is a hoax from the beginning, the personal ego can make only a phony response to life. For the world is an ever-elusive and ever-disappointing mirage only from the standpoint of someone standing aside from it as if it were quite other than himself and then trying to grasp it. Without birth and death, and without the perpetual transmutation of all the forms of life, the world would be static, rhythm-less, undancing, mummified.

But a third response is possible. Not withdrawal, not stewardship on the hypothesis of a future reward, but the fullest collaboration with the world as a harmonious system of contained conflicts based on the realization that the only real I is the whole endless process. This realization is already in us in the sense that our bodies know it, our bones and nerves and sense-organs. We do not know it only in the sense that the thin ray of conscious attention has been taught to ignore it, and taught so thoroughly that we are very genuine fakes indeed.

The failure to recognize this harmonious interplay, Watts argues, has triggered a lamentable amount of conflict between nations, individuals, humanity and nature, and with the individual. Again and again, he returns to the notion of figure and ground, of a cohesive whole that masquerades as separate parts under the lens of our conditioned eye for separateness:

Our practical projects have run into confusion again and again through failure to see that individual people, nations, animals, insects, and plants do not exist in or by themselves. This is not to say only that things exist in relation to one another, but that what we call things are no more than glimpses of a unified process. Certainly, this process has distinct features which catch our attention, but we must remember that distinction is not separation. Sharp and clear as the crest of the wave may be, it necessarily goes with the smooth and less featured curve of the trough. In the Gestalt theory of perception this is known as the figure/ground relationship.

Noting our difficulty in noticing both the presence and the action of the background, Watts illustrates this with an example, which Riccardo Manzotti reiterated almost verbatim half a century later. Watts writes:

A still more cogent example of existence as relationship is the production of a rainbow. For a rainbow appears only when there is a certain triangular relationship between three components: the sun, moisture in the atmosphere, and an observer. If all three are present, and if the angular relationship between them is correct, then, and then only, will there be the phenomenon rainbow. Diaphanous as it may be, a rainbow is no subjective hallucination. It can be verified by any number of observers, though each will see it in a slightly different position.

Like the rainbow, all phenomena are interactions of elements of the whole, and the relationship between them always implies and reinforces that wholeness:

The universe implies the organism, and each single organism implies the universe only the single glance of our spotlight, narrowed attention, which has been taught to confuse its glimpses with separate things, must somehow be opened to the full vision

In recognizing this lies the cure for the illusion of the separate ego but this recognition cant be willed into existence, since the will itself is part of the ego:

Just as science overcame its purely atomistic and mechanical view of the world through more science, the ego-trick must be overcome through intensified self-consciousness. For there is no way of getting rid of the feeling of separateness by a so-called act of will, by trying to forget yourself, or by getting absorbed in some other interest. This is why moralistic preaching is such a failure: it breeds only cunning hypocrites people sermonized into shame, guilt, or fear, who thereupon force themselves to behave as if they actually loved others, so that their virtues are often more destructive, and arouse more resentment, than their vices.

In considering how an organism might realize this sense of implying the universe and how we might shake the ego-illusion in favor of a deeper sense of belonging, Watts expresses a certain skepticism for practices like yoga and meditation when driven by striving rather than total acceptance a skepticism all the more poignant amidst our age of ubiquitous yoga studios and meditation retreats, brimming with competitive yogis and meditators:

An experience of this kind cannot be forced or made to happen by any act of your fictitious will, except insofar as repeated efforts to be one-up on the universe may eventually reveal their futility. Dont try to get rid of the ego-sensation. Take it, so long as it lasts, as a feature or play of the total process like a cloud or wave, or like feeling warm or cold, or anything else that happens of itself. Getting rid of ones ego is the last resort of invincible egoism! It simply confirms and strengthens the reality of the feeling. But when this feeling of separateness is approached and accepted like any other sensation, it evaporates like the mirage that it is.

This is why I am not overly enthusiastic about the various spiritual exercises in meditation or yoga which some consider essential for release from the ego. For when practiced in order to get some kind of spiritual illumination or awakening, they strengthen the fallacy that the ego can toss itself away by a tug at its own bootstraps.

In asserting that the ego is exactly what it pretends it isnt not the epicenter of who we are but a false construct conditioned since childhood by social convention Watts echoes Albert Camus on our self-imposed prisons and reminds us:

There is no fate unless there is someone or something to be fated. There is no trap without someone to be caught. There is, indeed, no compulsion unless there is also freedom of choice, for the sensation of behaving involuntarily is known only by contrast with that of behaving voluntarily. Thus when the line between myself and what happens to me is dissolved and there is no stronghold left for an ego even as a passive witness, I find myself not in a world but as a world which is neither compulsive nor capricious. What happens is neither automatic nor arbitrary: it just happens, and all happenings are mutually interdependent in a way that seems unbelievably harmonious. Every this goes with every that. Without others there is no self, and without somewhere else there is no here, so that in this sense self is other and here is there.

(Perhaps this is what Gertrude Stein really meant when she wrote there is no there there.)

And therein lies the essence of what Watts is proposing not a negation of who we are, but an embracing of our wholeness by awakening from the zombie-like trance of separateness; not in resignation, but in active surrender to what Diane Ackerman so memorably termed the plain everythingness of everything, in cahoots with the everythingness of everything else, that immutable recognition of the sum that masquerades as parts:

In immediate contrast to the old feeling, there is indeed a certain passivity to the sensation, as if you were a leaf blown along by the wind, until you realize that you are both the leaf and the wind. The world outside your skin is just as much you as the world inside: they move together inseparably, and at first you feel a little out of control because the world outside is so much vaster than the world inside. Yet you soon discover that you are able to go ahead with ordinary activitiesto work and make decisions as ever, though somehow this is less of a drag. Your body is no longer a corpse which the ego has to animate and lug around. There is a feeling of the ground holding you up, and of hills lifting you when you climb them. Air breathes itself in and out of your lungs, and instead of looking and listening, light and sound come to you on their own. Eyes see and ears hear as wind blows and water flows. All space becomes your mind. Time carries you along like a river, but never flows out of the present: the more it goes, the more it stays, and you no longer have to fight or kill it.


Once you have seen this you can return to the world of practical affairs with a new spirit. You have seen that the universe is at root a magical illusion and a fabulous game, and that there is no separate you to get something out of it, as if life were a bank to be robbed. The only real you is the one that comes and goes, manifests and withdraws itself eternally in and as every conscious being. For you is the universe looking at itself from billions of points of view, points that come and go so that the vision is forever new.

You do not ask what is the value, or what is the use, of this feeling. Of what use is the universe? What is the practical application of a million galaxies?

Watts ends with a wonderful verse by the infinitely inspiring James Broughton:

This is Itand I am Itand You are Itand so is Thatand He is Itand She is Itand It is Itand That is That

No words can describe just how profoundly perspective-shifting The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are is in its entirety, and with what exquisite stickiness it stays with you for a lifetime.

Go here to read the rest:
The Ego and the Universe: Alan Watts on Becoming Who You ...

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January 30th, 2019 at 10:45 pm

Posted in Alan Watts

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