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Man as an organism is to the world outside like a whirlpool is to a river:


man and world are a single natural process, but we are behaving as if we
were invaders and plunderers in a foreign territory. For when the individual
is defined and felt as the separate personality or ego, he remains unaware
that his actual body is a dancing pattern of energy that simply does not
happen by itself. It happens only in concert with myriads of other patterns
called animals, plants, insects, bacteria, minerals, liquids, and gases.
The definition of a person and the normal feeling of I do not effectively
include these relationships. You say, I came into this world. You didnt;
you came out of it, as a branch from a tree. (pg. 20)

The special branch of science which studies the relation of living beings
to their environments ecology shows beyond doubt that the individual
organism and its environment are a continuous stream, or field, of energy.
To draw a new moral from the bees and the flowers: the two organisms
are very different, for one is rooted in the ground and broadcasts perfume,
while the other moves freely in the air and buzzes. But because they
cannot exist without each other, it makes real sense to say that they are
in fact two aspects of a single organism. Our heads are very different in
appearance from our feet, but we recognize them as belonging to one
individual because they are obviously connected by skin and bones. But
less obvious connections are no less real

Civilized human beings are alarmingly ignorant of the fact that they
are continuous with their natural surroundings. It is as necessary to have
air, water, plants, insects, birds, fish, and mammals as it is to have brains,
hearts, lungs, and stomachs. The former are our external organs in the
same way that the latter are our internal organs. () The sun, the earth,
and the forests are just as much features of your own body as your brain.
Erosion of the soil is as much a personal disease as leprosy, and many
growing communities are as disastrous as cancer. That we do not feel
this to be obvious is the result of centuries of habituation to the idea that
oneself is only the envelope of skin and its contents, the inside but not the
outside. The extreme folly of this notion becomes clear as soon as you try
to imagine an inside with no outside, or an outside with no inside. (pg.
36-37)

Civilization, as we have worked it out, is a system of screens which


conceal the connections between events. () Bacon, as found packaged
in the supermarket, gives no intimation of pig, and steaks appear as if
they were entities like apples, having no relation to the slicing of dead
cattle. To remove such screens is held to be as offensive and vulgar as to
relieve ones bowels in the gutter of a public street. (pg. 40)
ALAN WATTS.
Does It Matter? Essays on Mans Relation to Materiality.
New World Library, California, 2007.

II

We need to become vividly aware of our ecology, of our interdependence


and virtual identity with all other forms of life which the divisive and
emboxing methods of our current way of thought prevent us from
experiencing. The so-called physical world and the so-called human body
are a single process, differentiated only as the heart from the lungs or the
head from the feet. In stodgy academic circles I refer to this kind of
understanding as "ecological awareness." Elsewhere it would be called
"cosmic consciousness" or "mystical experience." However, our
intellectual and scientific "establishment" is, in general, still spellbound by
the myth that human intelligence and feeling are a fluke of chance in an
entirely mechanical and stupid universe--as if figs would grow on thistles
or grapes on thorns. But wouldn't it be more reasonable to see the entire
scheme of things as continuous with our own consciousness and the
marvelous neural organization which, shall we say, sponsors it?

Metaphysical as such considerations may be, it seems to me that their


issues are earthy and practical. For our radically misnamed "materialistic"
civilization must above all cultivate the love of the material, of earth, air,
and water, of mountains and forests, of excellent food and imaginative
housing and clothing, and of cherishing and artfully erotic contacts
between human bodies."

--Alan Watts (1971)