Alan Watts

The Book

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    Anindya Khas quoted4 years ago
    Thus I am not even saying that you ought to break out of your shell. Sometime, somehow, you (the real you, the Self) will do it anyhow, but it is not impossible that the play of the Self will be to remain unawakened in most of its human disguises, and so bring the drama of life on earth to its close in a vast explosion.
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    All this is further aggravated by the fact that parents no longer educate their own children. Thus the child does not grow up with understanding of or enthusiasm for his father’s work. Instead, he is sent to an understaffed school run mostly by women which, under the circumstances, can do no more than hand out mass-produced education which prepares the child for everything and nothing. It has no relation whatever to his father’s vocation.
    Along with this devaluation of the father, we are becoming accustomed to a conception of the universe so mysterious and so impressive that even the best father-image will no longer do for an explanation of what makes it run. But the problem then is that it is impossible for us to conceive an image higher than the human image.
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    Even then, it is difficult not to feel the force of the image, because images sway our emotions more deeply than conceptions.
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    Idolatry is not the use of images, but confusing them with what they represent, and in this respect mental images and lofty abstractions can be more insidious than bronze idols.
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    But the fact that IT eludes every description must not, as happens so often, be mistaken for the description of IT as the airiest of abstractions, as a literal transparent continuum or undifferentiated cosmic jello. The most concrete image of God the Father, with his white beard and golden robe, is better than that. Yet Western students of Eastern philosophies and religions persistently accuse Hindus and Buddhists of believing in a featureless and gelatinous God, just because the latter insist that every conception or objective image of IT is void. But the term “void” applies to all such conceptions, not to IT.
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    True, the term has its own opposite, “duality,” for insofar as every term designates a class, an intellectual pigeonhole, every class has an outside polarizing its inside. For this reason, language can no more transcend duality than paintings or photographs upon a flat surface can go beyond two dimensions. Yet by the convention of perspective, certain two-dimensional lines that slant towards a “vanishing-point” are taken to represent the third dimension of depth. In a similar way, the dualistic term “non-duality” is taken to represent the “dimension” in which explicit differences have implicit unity.
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    Yet just as there is no time but the present, and no one except the all-and-everything, there is never anything to be gained—though the zest of the game is to pretend that there is.
    Anyone who brags about knowing this doesn’t understand it, for he is only using the theory as a trick to maintain his illusion of separateness, a gimmick in a game of spiritual one-upmanship. Moreover, such bragging is deeply offensive to those who do not understand, and who honestly believe themselves to be lonely, individual spirits in a desperate and agonizing struggle for life. For all such there must be deep and unpatronizing compassion, even a special kind of reverence and respect, because, after all, in them the Self is playing its most far-out and daring game—the game of having lost Itself completely and of being in danger of some total and irremediable disaster.
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    Getting rid of one’s 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.
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    would be sentimental and impossible to go back. Children are in touch with paradise to the extent that they have not fully learned the ego-trick, and the same is true of cultures which, by our standards, are more “primitive” and—by analogy—childlike. If, then, after understanding, at least in theory, that the ego-trick is a hoax and that, beneath everything, “I” and “universe” are one, you ask, “So what? What is the next step, the practical application?”—I will answer that the absolutely vital thing is to consolidate your understanding, to become capable of enjoyment, of living in the present, and of the discipline which this involves. Without this you have nothing to give—to the cause of peace or of racial integration, to starving Hindus and Chinese, or even to your closest friends. Without this, all social concern will be muddlesome meddling, and all work for the future will be planned disaster.
    But the way is not back. 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.”
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    The startling truth is that our best efforts for civil rights, international peace, population control, conservation of natural resources, and assistance to the starving of the earth—urgent as they are—will destroy rather than help if made in the present spirit. For, as things stand, we have nothing to give. If our own riches and our own way of life are not enjoyed here, they will not be enjoyed anywhere else. Certainly they will supply the immediate jolt of energy and hope that methedrine, and similar drugs, give in extreme fatigue. But peace can be made only by those who are peaceful, and love can be shown only by those who love.
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    He does not really know what he wants, and therefore everyone suspects that there are limitless strings attached to his gifts. For if you know what you want, and will be content with it, you can be trusted. But if you do not know, your desires are limitless and no one can tell how to deal with you. Nothing satisfies an individual incapable of enjoyment.
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    Parts are fictions of language, of the calculus of looking at the world through a net which seems to chop it up into bits. 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.
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    The explanation is simple: most of our products are being made by people who do not enjoy making them, whether as owners or workers. Their aim in the enterprise is not the product but money, and therefore every trick is used to cut the cost of production and hoodwink the buyer, by coloring and packaging chicanery, into the belief that the product is well and truly made. The only exceptions are those products which simply must be excellent for reasons of safety or high cost of purchase—aircraft, computers, space-rockets, scientific instruments, and so forth.
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    However, there is a third possibility. The individual may be understood neither as an isolated person nor as an expendable, humanoid working-machine. He may be seen, instead, as one particular focal point at which the whole universe expresses itself—as an incarnation of the Self, of the Godhead, or whatever one may choose to call IT. This view retains and, indeed, amplifies our apprehension that the individual is in some way sacred. At the same time it dissolves the paradox of the personal ego, which is to have attained the “precious state” of being a unique person at the price of perpetual anxiety for one’s survival. 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!
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    He cannot wander at leisure in the streets and parks of his own capital, or sit on a lonely beach listening to the waves and watching the gulls. Through enslaving others he himself becomes the most miserable of slaves.
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    Faith—in life, in other people, and in oneself—is the attitude of allowing the spontaneous to be spontaneous, in its own way and in its own time. This is, of course, risky because life and other people do not always respond to faith as we might wish. Faith is always a gamble because life itself is a gambling game with what must appear, in the hiding aspect of the game, to be colossal stakes. But to take the gamble out of the game, to try to make winning a dead certainty, is to achieve a certainty which is indeed dead. The alternative to a community based on mutual trust is a totalitarian police-state, a community in which spontaneity is virtually forbidden.
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way, like the problem of cause and effect.
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    My problem as a writer, using words, is to dispel the illusions of language while employing one of the languages that generates them.
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    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.
    Said Sadikhovhas quoted3 years ago
    In death we doff the persona, as actors take off their masks and costumes in the green room behind the scenes. And just as their friends come behind the stage to congratulate them on the performance, so one’s own friends should gather at the death-bed to help one out of one’s mortal role, to applaud the show, and, even more, to celebrate with champagne or sacraments (according to taste) the great awakening of death.
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