Zen Effects: The Life of Alan Watts (Skylight Lives). Read more Alan Watts - Here and Now: Contributions to Psychology, Philosophy, and Religion. students and scholars, called The Alan Watts Mountain Center, is now under construction north of ON THE TABOO AGAINST KNOWING ALAN WATTS. $ FRQWHPSRUDU\ tvnovellas.info Ellwood, R. (). Alan Wilson Watts (January 6, – November 16, ) was a British philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known as an interpreter and.
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On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are. ALAN WATTS. Alan Watts, who died in , held both a master's degree in theology and a doctorate of divinity. The Library of Congress cataloged the first Vintage Books edition as follows: Watts, Alan, – The way of Zen = [Zendō] / Alan W. Watts — 1st ed. p. cm. sight and imagination on their part that they have been willing to interest themselves in so “contrary” an ap- proach to metaphysical knowledge. ALAN W. WATTS.
This is not an inspired prophecy based on supernatural authority but a reasonably certain guess. The first is a certain physical territory, largely on the North American continent, including all such geographical and biological features as lakes, mountains and rivers, skies and clouds, plants, animals, and people. The second is a sovereign political state, existing in competition with many other sovereign states jostling one another around the surface of this planet. The first sense is concrete and material; the second, abstract and conceptual. If the United States continues for very much longer to exist in this second sense, it will cease to exist in the first. For good measure, add the possibilities of civil and racial war, self-strangulation of the great cities and breakdown of all major transportation and communication networks.
Nothing satisfies an individual incapable of enjoyment. To try to control fear or depression or boredom by calling them names is to resort to superstition of trust in curses and invocations. It is not an acquisitive process of learning more and more facts or greater and greater skills, but rather an unlearning of wrong habits and opinions.
If this world is a vicious trap, so is its accuser, and the pot is calling the kettle black. We confuse money with actual wealth. The present is always changing the past. The past trails behind the present like the wake of a ship and eventually disappears. It does not come from anywhere; it is not going anywhere.
It is not permanent, but it is not impermanent. Nirvana is a radical transformation of how it feels to be alive — Alan Watts The greater part of our lives, and if we are unduly absorbed in improving them we may forget altogether to live them. Differentiation is not separation.
Lack of awareness of the basic unity of organism and environment is a serious and dangerous hallucination. To be silent is not to lose your tongue. On the contrary, it is only through silence that one can discover something new to talk about. One who talked incessantly, without stopping to look and listen, would repeat himself ad nauseam. Thinking itself, open to the discovery of anything new, for its only novelties are simply arrangements of old words and ideas. Yet just as there is no time but the present, and no one except the all-and-everything.
To idolize scriptures is like eating paper currency.
There will always be suffering. But we must not suffer over the suffering. Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. Things are as they are. Looking out into it the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.
You and I are all as much continuous with the physical universe as a wave is continuous with the ocean. We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain. No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.
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. This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now.
When you get free from certain fixed concepts of the way the world is, you find it is far more subtle, and far more miraculous, than you thought it was. Only words and conventions can isolate us from the entirely undefinable something which is everything. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.
To be free from convention is not to spurn it but not to be deceived by it. The more we struggle for life as pleasure , the more we are actually killing what we love.
Everyone has love, but it can only come out when he is convinced of the impossibility and the frustration of trying to love himself. Parts exist only for purposes of figuring and describing, and as we figure the world out we become confused if we do not remember this all the time.
A few years before, Watts had discussed the theme in his own book, Nature, Man and Woman, in which he discusses the possibility of the practice being known to early Christians and of it being kept secretly by the Church. In his mature work, he presents himself as "Zennist" in spirit as he wrote in his last book, Tao: The Watercourse Way. Child rearing, the arts, cuisine, education, law and freedom, architecture, sexuality, and the uses and abuses of technology were all of great interest to him.
Though known for his discourses on Zen, he was also influenced by ancient Hindu scriptures, especially Vedanta. He spoke extensively about the nature of the divine reality which Man misses: how the contradiction of opposites is the method of life and the means of cosmic and human evolution, how our fundamental Ignorance is rooted in the exclusive nature of mind and ego, how to come in touch with the Field of Consciousness and Light, and other cosmic principles.
These are discussed in great detail in dozens of hours of audio that are in part captured in the 'Out of Your Mind' series. Watts sought to resolve his feelings of alienation from the institutions of marriage and the values of American society, as revealed in his classic comments on love relationships in "Divine Madness" and on perception of the organism-environment in "The Philosophy of Nature". In looking at social issues he was quite concerned with the necessity for international peace, for tolerance and understanding among disparate cultures.
Watts also came to feel acutely conscious of a growing ecological predicament. Writing, for example, in the early s: "Can any melting or burning imaginable get rid of these ever-rising mountains of ruin—especially when the things we make and build are beginning to look more and more like rubbish even before they are thrown away? Friends of Watts had been concerned about him for some time over what they considered his alcoholism. He was reported to have been under treatment for a heart condition.
His ashes were split, with half buried near his library at Druid Heights and half at the Green Gulch Monastery. He advocated social rather than personal ethics. In his writings, Watts was increasingly concerned with ethics applied to relations between humanity and the natural environment and between governments and citizens.
He wrote out of an appreciation of a racially and culturally diverse social landscape. He often said that he wished to act as a bridge between the ancient and the modern, between East and West, and between culture and nature. Watts led some tours for Westerners to the Buddhist temples of Japan. He also studied some movements from the traditional Chinese martial art taijiquan , with an Asian colleague, Al Chung-liang Huang.
Worldview[ edit ] In several of his later publications, especially Beyond Theology and The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Watts put forward a worldview , drawing on Hinduism , Chinese philosophy , pantheism or panentheism , and modern science, in which he maintains that the whole universe consists of a cosmic Self playing hide-and-seek Lila ; hiding from itself Maya by becoming all the living and non-living things in the universe and forgetting what it really is — the upshot being that we are all IT in disguise.
In this worldview, Watts asserts that our conception of ourselves as an " ego in a bag of skin," or "skin-encapsulated ego" is a myth ; the entities we call the separate "things" are merely aspects or features of the whole.
Watts' books frequently include discussions reflecting his keen interest in patterns that occur in nature and which are repeated in various ways and at a wide range of scales — including the patterns to be discerned in the history of civilizations. His friendship with poet Gary Snyder nurtured his sympathies with the budding environmental movement , to which Watts gave philosophical support.
He also encountered Robert Anton Wilson , who credited Watts with being one of his "Light[s] along the Way" in the opening appreciation of Cosmic Trigger. Werner Erhard attended workshops given by Alan Watts and said of him, "He pointed me toward what I now call the distinction between Self and Mind.
After my encounter with Alan, the context in which I was working shifted. Likewise, there is no way of standing outside the situation and looking at it as an impartial, coldly calculating, objective observer, I'm involved in the situation and therefore concerned; and because I am concerned, be dammed if I'll let things come out as they would if I were just betting on them.
There is, however, another possibility for the year ad This will require putting our minds on physical facts and being relatively unconcerned with the United States of America as an abstract political entity. By overlooking the nation, we can turn full attention to the territory, to the actual earth, with its waters and forests, flowers and crops, animals and human beings and so create, with less cost and suffering than we are bearing in 1.
The chances may be slim. Not long ago Congress voted, with much patriotic rhetoric, for the imposition of severe penalties upon anyone presuming to burn the flag of the United States.
Yet the very Congressmen who passed this law are responsible, by acts of commission or omission, for burning, polluting, and plundering the territory that the flag is supposed to represent.
Therein, they exemplified the peculiar and perhaps fatal fallacy of civilization: the confusion of symbol with reality. Civilization, comprising all the achievements of art and science, technology and industry, is the result of man's invention and manipulation of symbols of words, letters, numbers, formulas and concepts, and of such social institutions as universally accepted clocks and rulers, scales and timetables, schedules and laws. By these means, we measure, predict, and control the behavior of the human and natural worlds and with such startling apparent success that the trick goes to our heads.
All too easily, we confuse the world as we symbolize it with the world as it is. As semanticist Alfred Korzybski used to say, it is an urgent necessity to distinguish between the map and the territory and, I've might have added, between the flag and the country. No inches. One day there was a flourishing consumer economy, with everyone on the up-and-up; and the next, unemployment, poverty, and bread lines, What happened?
The physical resources of the country the brain, brawn, and raw materials were in no way depleted, but there was a sudden absence of money, a so-called financial slump. Complex reasons for this kind of disaster can be elaborated at length by experts on banking and high finance who cannot see the forest for the trees, But it was just as if someone had come to work on building a house and, on the morning of the Depression, the boss had said, "Sorry, baby, but we can't build today.
We got wood, We got metal. We even got tape measures. We been using too many inches and there's just no more to go around. What wasn't understood then, and still isn't really understood today, is that the reality of money is of the same type as the reality of centimeters, grams, hours, or lines of longitude.
Money is a way of measuring wealth but is not wealth in itself. A chest of gold coins or a fat wallet of bills is of no use whatsoever to a wrecked sailor alone on a raft He needs real wealth, in the form of a fishing rod, a compass, an outboard motor with gas, and a female companion. But this ingrained and archaic confusion of money with wealth is now the main reason we are not going ahead full tilt with the development of our technological genius for the production of more than adequate food, clothing, housing, and utilities for every person on earth.
It can be done, for electronics, computers, automation techniques, and other mechanical methods of mass production have, potentially, lifted us into an age of abundance in which the political and economic ideologies of the past, whether left, middle, or right, are simply obsolete.