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Alan Watts (1915-1973)
The Complete Alan Watts Bibliography Lecture on Zen Beat Zen, Square Zen, and Zen The Nature of Consciousness The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are From Time to Eternity The World As Emptiness The Philosophies of Asia Taoism Self and Other - a lecture The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness Psychedelics and Religious Experience The Value of Psychotic Experience The New Alchemy A Psychedelic Experience - Fact or Fantasy? The Houseboat Summit: February, 1967, Sausalito, Calif. Featuring Timothy Leary, Gary Snyder, Alan Watts and Allen Ginsberg Psychotherapy East and West http://www.erowid.org/culture/characters/watts_alan/watts_a lan.shtml The Soul-Searchers The Cross of Cards

Lecture on Zen by Alan Watts http://www.deoxy.org/w_lectur.htm
Once upon a time, there was a Zen student who quoted an old Buddhist poem to his teacher, which says: The voices of torrents are from one great tongue, the lions of the hills are the pure body of Buddha. 'Isn't that right?' he said to the teacher. 'It is,' said the teacher, 'but it's a pity to say so.' It would be, of course, much better, if this occasion

were celebrated with no talk at all, and if I addressed you in the manner of the ancient teachers of Zen, I should hit the microphone with my fan and leave. But I somehow have the feeling that since you have contributed to the support of the Zen Center, in expectation of learning something, a few words should be said, even though I warn you, that by explaining these things to you, I shall subject you to a very serious hoax. Because if I allow you to leave here this evening, under the impression that you understand something about Zen, you will have missed the point entirely. Because Zen is a way of life, a state of being, that is not possible to embrace in any concept whatsoever, so that any concepts, any ideas, any words that I shall put across to you this evening will have as their object, showing you the limitations of words and of thinking. Now then, if one must try to say something about what Zen is, and I want to do this by way of introduction, I must make it emphatic that Zen, in its essence, is not a doctrine. There's nothing you're supposed to believe in. It's not a philosophy in our sense, that is to say a set of ideas, an intellectual net in which one tries to catch the fish of reality. Actually, the fish of reality is more like water--it always slips through the net. And in water you know when you get into it there's nothing to hang on to. All this universe is like water; it is fluid, it is transient, it is changing. And when you're thrown into the water after being accustomed to living on the dry land, you're not used to the idea of swimming. You try to stand on the water, you try to catch hold of it, and as a result you drown. The only way to survive in the water, and this refers particularly to the waters of modern philosophical confusion, where God is dead, metaphysical propositions are meaningless, and there's really nothing to hang on to, because we're all just falling apart. And the only thing to do under those circumstances is to learn how to swim. And to swim, you relax, you let go, you give yourself to the water, and you have to know how to breathe in the right way. And then you find that the water holds you up; indeed, in a certain way you become the water. And so in the same way, one might say if one attempted to--again I say misleadingly--to put Zen into any sort of concept, it simply comes down

to this: That in this universe, there is one great energy, and we have no name for it. People have tried various names for it, like God, like *Brahmin, like Tao, but in the West, the word God has got so many funny associations attached to it that most of us are bored with it. When people say 'God, the father almighty,' most people feel funny inside. So we like to hear new words, we like to hear about Tao, about Brahmin, about Shinto, and ____-__, and such strange names from the far East because they don't carry the same associations of mawkish sanctimony and funny meanings from the past. And actually, some of these words that the Buddhists use for the basic energy of the world really don't mean anything at all. The word _tathata_, which is translated from the Sanskrit as 'suchness' or 'thusness' or something like that, really means something more like 'dadada,' based on the word _tat_, which in Sanskrit means 'that,' and so in Sanskrit it is said _tat lum asi_, 'that thou art,' or in modern America, 'you're it.' But 'da, da'--that's the first sound a baby makes when it comes into the world, because the baby looks around and says 'da, da, da, da' and fathers flatter themselves and think it's saying 'DaDa,' which means 'Daddy,' but according to Buddhist philosophy, all this universe is one 'dadada.' That means 'ten thousand functions, ten thousand things, one suchness,' and we're all one suchness. And that means that suchess comes and goes like anything else because this whole world is an on-and-off system. As the Chinese say, it's the _yang_ and the _yin_, and therefore it consists of 'now you see it, now you don't, here you are, here you aren't, here you are,' because that the nature of energy, to be like waves, and waves have crests and troughs, only we, being under a kind of sleepiness or illusion, imagine that the trough is going to overcome the wave or the crest, the _yin_, or the dark principle, is going to overcome the _yang_, or the light principle, and that 'off' is going to finally triumph over 'on.' And we, shall I say, bug ourselves by indulging in that illusion. 'Hey, supposing darkness did win out, wouldn't that be terrible!' And so we're constantly trembling and thinking that it may, because after all, isn't it odd that anything exists? It's most

we think 'well. because if he didn't feel something. When fiends meet. they are not gods. But if you hit a living Buddha. As a Zen poem says. they recognize one another instantly. that produces something around. But the point is that they are not afraid to be human. and therefore it is arranged that you stop being you after a while and then come back as someone else altogether. as the French say. So you are relieved of fundamental terror. you become full energy and delight. that you are really a train of this one energy. That doesn't mean tht you're always going to be a great hero. he may say 'ouch. 'when two Zen masters meet each other on the street. though. They are enlightened men and women. that you won't jump when you hear a bang. that fundamentally deep. and there is nothing else but that that is you. they are not devas. difficulties and struggles that naturally go with human existence. and so when you find that out. it requires energy. and realize that the more it changes the more it's the same thing. it requires effort. deep. since the 'is' side of things is so much effort' you always give up after a while and you sink back into death. and you can't be anything else.you're That. he wouldn't be a human being. the not being anything around. 'Energy is eternal delight. Therefore.' and he may feel pain. As Blake said. and it's the rest. Buddhas are human. you will be able to be human.' And you suddenly see through the whole sham thing. they are not afraid to let themselves participate in the pains. You realize you're That--we won't put a name on it-.' or 'space' without 'solid. You break your fist or your stick.' So a person who is a real cool Zen .peculiar. but that for you to be always you would be an insufferable bore. that you won't worry occasionally. nothing happens. just in the same way that you can't have 'solid' without 'space. they need no introduction. and it would have been so much easier for there to have been nothing at all. But death is just the other face of energy. If you go up to a stone Buddha and you hit him hard on the head. not a stone Buddha--you know in Zen there is a difference made between a living Buddha and a stone Buddha. The only difference is--and it's almost an undetectable difference--it takes one to know one. since being. It means.' When you wake up to this. that you won't lose your temper. deep down within you.

the sounds of traffic. it doesn't mean 'void' in the sense that it's void in the ordinary sense of emptiness. The announcer doens't come on first thing in the morning and say 'Ladies and gentlemen. a plane of energy. that is to say. the explosions of guns. I understand Zen. he wouldn't understand the first thing about it. I have this attainment.up' being an almost exact translation of the Japanese _bono_ and the Sanskrit _klesa_. On the speaker you hear human voices. I have satori.' though that sounds a little bit--you know what I mean-it sounds pious.' because if he said that. You will be afraid on the surface. the mirror isn't quite the right illustration. to be able to drift like a cloud and flow like water. It grasps nothing. seeing that all life is a magnificent illusion. Fear will pass over your mind like a black cloud will be reflected in the mirror. if I may put it metaphorically. things that sound pious are said to stink of Zen. and the water has no mind to retain their image. and in Zen. but to have no hang-ups. Like a black cloud flows through space without leaving any track. You will be afraid of putting your hand in the fire. I have that attainment. Like the stars don't leave trails behind them. but it never says so. ordinarily translated 'worldly attachment. *Jon-Jo said 'the perfect man employs his mind as a mirror. all . you hear every kind of musical instrument. You will be afraid of getting sick.understands that. Fundamentally. does not go around 'Oh. So it is Zen that. It means void in that is the most real thing there is. and yet all that tremendous variety of sounds are the vibrations of one diaphragm. etc. in a radio and all the various sounds which it produces. It's rather the same situation that you get between the speaker. And so that fundamental--it is called 'the void' in Buddhism.' In other words this is to be--to put it very strictly into our modern idiom--this is to live without hang-ups. honking of horns. the word 'hang. I have the other attainment. It receives but does not keep. space would be better. 'The wild geese do not intend to cast their reflection. and that there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of.' And another poem says of wild geese flying over a lake. But of course. But you will not be afraid of fear. it refuses nothing. but nobody can conceive it.

because you ARE that. you are never able. because. I'm not trying to cling to it' in the form of a concept. 'I'm not holding on to it. and 'you know.' you don't need to make anything of it. not as kind of knowledge you possess. That would be. and make it something to possess. that.the sounds that you will hear subsequentally during the day will be the vibration of this diaphragm. nothing to be formulated. Why. that sounds pretty easy. are you still looking? Do you know that? I mean. 'You cannot attain it by thinking. Why? Why did God make the universe? Who made God? Why are the trees green?' and so on and so forth. to make an object of your own mind.' You know. 'Oh. and father says finally. I've mastered the contents of these books and remembered it. you cannot see into its meaning by doing . You know it best when you say 'I don't know it. not something you've learned in school like you've got a degree. and if you try to find it. Why. in Zen language. There is another Zen poem which says. Now you say. And if you're 'it. because there's absolutely no necessity to do so.' Because that means. just as you can't look directly into your own eyes or bite your own teeth. why that's a great lack of confidence.' Or you could say. But the test is. and they're on the wrong track. like a father says to his child who keeps asking 'Why? Why. You mean to say all we have to do is relax? We don't have to go around chasing anything anymore? We abandon religion. and the other. don't take them for real. Why. or as we would say.' It isn't quite like that. you cannot grasp it by not thinking. but equally. and just live it up anyhow? Just go on. gilding the lily. to examine. we abandon this. the thing is this: All those people who try to realize Zen by doing nothing about it are still trying desperately to find it. That shows that you don't really know your 'it'. there's nothing to be remembered. you see. There's nothing to look for. shut up and eat your bun.' And the radio never mentions its own construction. you cannot catch hold of the meaning of Zen by doing something about it. you see? And in exactly the same way. really.' In this knowledge. putting legs on a snake or a beard on a eunuch. 'Well. we abandon meditations.

there is really one absolutely necessary prerequisite. when I use the word 'think. People are rather curious about the things the do like that. here. Because in both ways. subvocal conversation. if I hit you hard enough. so delightfully. And no means are necessary to be completely here. the constant chit-chat of symbols and images and talk and words inside your skull. life and death. the nonverbal world. you see. if you're in a state of what is called no-thought. all you'll have to talk about is your own conversation. you'll find that you've nothing to think about except thinking. you are trying to move away from the immediate now. but you don't call it 'hurt. they really wanted . There is a certain experience. In other words. Now. if you do that all the time. Now. you will never hear what anybody else has to say. are all conceptual. talk a lot. because both are. but these words 'physical. pleasure and pain. if you talk all the time. And to understand what all that is about. it's difficult to understand language like that. But you see. in their different ways. But you know. I am not saying this in the spirit of being an anti-intellectual. not a concept either. and therefore. write a lot of books. to somewhere else. So when you are awake to that world. 'ouch' doesn't hurt. 'the unspeakable world. That means. Neither active means on the one hand. And the moment you stop thinking. and they're not there. But you see. it's (bangs stick).nothing about it. and just as you have to stop talking to hear what I have to say. and am a sort of half-baked scholar. what I call suchness. because I think a lot. they banged you about. They don't exist at all in that world which is (bangs stick). nor passive means on the other. only through being completely here.' 'nonverbal. The same is true for people who think all the time. Some people would call it the physical world. attempts to move from where you are now.' talking to yourself. you come into immediate contact with what Korzybski called. you suddenly find that all the so-called differences between self and other.' are all conceptual.' It's like when you were small children. and the point is that we come to an understanding of this. and you cried. and they said 'Don't cry' because they wanted to make you hurt and not cry at the same time.' that is to say. you have to stop thinking to find out what life is about. and this is to stop thinking.

When somebody got sick. But as Aristotle pointed out long ago--and this is one of the good things about Aristotle.' I know the Jungians won't like that. In fact. don't wobble. they think of all sorts of things. It's all right. and you learned that getting sick was something awful. and everybody around you started weeping and making a fuss. and then you learned from that that dying was terrible. but what's it all about? Especially when people are busy because they think they're GOING somewhere. but dream all sorts of dreams. Standing Zen. and lying. busy. eat. Walking. to practice Za-zen. When they're hungry. standing. But whatever you do. It's very good to throw up if you've eaten soemthing that isn't good for you. So the reason why there is in the practice of Zen. of course. walking Zen. When you walk.you to cry. or like you sing or play music. You sleep deeply and breathe from your heels. You learned it from a concept. busy. and lying Zen. He said 'the goal of action is contemplation. 'they don't do anything of the kind. sitting Zen. very good thing in the Western world. the same way if you threw up one day. busy. but there comes a time when you just dream yourself out. We have been running around far too much. what we did before this lecture began. busy. they don't just sleep. therefore.' and they said. they speak of hte three dignities of man. sleep. Za-zen. Because then when you saw people die. In Buddhism. Now. Incidentally. then you're really not going anywhere. or sitting Zen. there are three other kinds of Zen besides Za-zen. if you really wobble well. and no more dreams. you're just doing pure . There's quite a good deal of point to action if you know you're not going anywhere. When the old master *Hiakajo was asked 'What is Zen?' he said 'When hungry. If you act like you dance.' he said. and our action has achieved a lot of good things. just walk. 'Well isn't that what everybody does? Aren't you just like ordinary people?' 'Oh no. sitting. busy. And they say when you sit. when tired. everybody else got anxious.' In other words. When they're tired. that they're going to get something and attain something. but your mother said 'Eugh!' and made you repress it and feel that throwing up wasn't a good thing to do. they don't just eat. is a very. just sit. we've been active. you can wobble.

because he doesn't act frantically with the thought that he's going to get somewhere. that's brown. Most Westerners start to fidget. Then you are on a squirrel cage. but they're walking just to walk. But the point is that one cannot act creatively. they're going along all right. they find it very boring to sit for a long time. without being named. because if you sit in the Buddhist way. one thinks of a spearhead-shaped thing outlined in black and filled in with flat green. The most ordinary sights and sounds and smells. No leaf looks like that. you wouldn't notice the passage of time. And so this practice of sitting may seem very difficult at first. you start seeing them. The walking itself is the meditation. great hurry to get to a destination. They have a different kind of walk from everybody else in Japan. or rat-race of birth and death. because you think you're going to go somewhere. but because the walking itself is great. where we walk not because we are in a great. that's somebody's foot. it's very fascinating. and as a matter of fact. No leaves--leaves are not green.' When you don't name things anymore.' immediately. Zen monks have a peculiar swing when they walk. Because say when a person says 'I see a leaf. All these things. Of having a mind that is capable from time to time of stopping thinking. but the reason they find it boring is that they're still thinking. He acts like he can go into walking meditation at that point. That's . the texture of shadows on the floor in front of you. Most Japanese shuffle along. And when you watch Zen monks walk. There's something about it that isn't hesitant. hopelessly condemned to what the Buddhists call _samsara_. they race and hurry like we do. And it is only a person who has discovered that he is already there who is capable of action.action. You're already there. that's red. but if you act with a thought in mind that as a result of action you are eventually going to arrive at someplace where everything will be alright. they're not sort of vagueing around. and you have the feeling they walk rather the same way as a cat. And that's walking meditation. or if they wear Western clothes. it makes your legs ache. far from being boring. except on the basis of stillness. If you weren't thinking. you see. the world when looked at without chatter becomes amazingly interesting. the round. and saying 'that's a shadow.

' they found in the very simplest of things in everyday life. drawing water. That's my point in talking about 'mu' or 'yes. if you force sound into five tones. or listening to a sound that has no meaning.Well. you take the word 'yes'--yes. and if you can only hear five tones in music. And it was because.' But there's another saying . carrying wood.' because if you can only see five colors. the caligraphy. which means literally 'chano-yu' in Japanese. what you have to realize in the further continuence of Za-zen. yes. yes. yes. especially in tea ceremony. you're blind and deaf. When Suzuki Daisetz was asked what was it like to have satori. In the words of the poet *Hokoji. the five tones make a man deaf. Then as you get on and you just--the sound only--there comes a point when the sound is taken away. everyday experience. except about two inches off the ground.' of meditation or Za-zen lies behind the extraordinary capacity of Zen people to develop such great arts as the gardens. meaning 'hot water of tea.' And you know how it is sometimes when you say a word and make the word meaningless. and of the Japanese Sumi tradition. you'll be walking on air. And you get this going for a long time. let me say first in a preliminary way.' or counting your breath. yes. that as you-. and you're wide open. and it becomes magical. the tea ceremony. The world of color is infinite. the easiest way to stop thinking is first of all to think about something that doesn't have any meaning. 'marvelous power and supernatural activity. yes. and you will think 'wowee. you force color into five colors. which means 'no. magic. and you become fascinated in the sound. you're deaf. And it is only by stopping fixing conceptions on the world of color and the world of sound that you really begin to hear it and see it.' Mu.why Lao-Tzu said 'the five colors make a man blind. there will be a kind of preliminary so-called satori. you're blind. because that stops you thinking. yes. and the grand painting of the Sum Dynasty. That's why they use the word 'mu' in Zen training. as is the world of sound. So this. it's like ordinary. should I be so bold as to use the word 'discipline. yes. Now at that point. he said 'well. Now. and the word ceases to mean anything. It becomes funny. You see. that's it!' You'll be so happy.

the harder you clutch. even though the floor is supporting them. whether you get it through Za-zen. but the trouble is that people come out of that an brag about it. the faster it squirts through your fingers.that the student who has obtained satori goes to hell as straight as an arrow. If you hold on to it. they'll suddenly turn into a gelatinous mass and trickle away in all directions. they're uptight. It was good for them. because you don't NEED to get hold of anything. that gives you that experience. When you let go. because they don't really believe that the floor will hold them up.' it's gone out of the window. because anybody who has a spiritual experience. the basic premise of education was that suffering builds character. and how long they sat. They're sickening. therefore suffering is good for you.' Equally intolerable are the people who study Zen and come out and brag to their friends about how much their legs hurt. it was building their character. Then there are other people who when you tell them to relax. you know. But you see. Of flesh and . finally. and that nonstriving. say 'I've seen it. There's nothing to get hold of. or a sadistic spirit: suffering builds character. They're afraid that if they don't do this. It's been stinking for a long time. Because the discipline side of this thing is not meant to be something awful. and therefore all senior boys were at liberty to bang about the junior ones with a perfectly clear conscience. a life becomes messy. or through LSD. It's not done in a masochistic spirit. and therefore they're holding themselves together. or anything. Because you can see that. say 'now I've got it. No satori around here. When I went to school in England. You had it from the beginning. the human organism is a subtle combination of hardness and softness. and what an awful thing it was. because they were doing them a favor. they go like a limp rag. you find that they are at full attention. the word 'discipline' has begun to stink. and as a result of this attitude. it's like catching a handful of water. because without that quiet. But we need a kind of entirely new attitude towards this. When you ask most people to lie flat on the floor and relax. Let me give two opposite illustrations. you have to be awfully careful not to turn into loose yogurt. because there's nothing to hold onto. because the minute you grab the living thing. by various methods of meditation.

with this attitude of not seeking.bones. But it requires that there be in our daily use of freedom. our painters are beginning once again to return to glory. But the side in which you can come back into the world. various duties are assigned. or wanting to just defy the normal arrangements of life. and you don't have to seek it. Now I think we're recovering from that today. And the side of Zen which has to do with neither doing nor not doing. The novices have the light duties. then watch out. the understanding of-. because by reason of that order being kept all of the time. but knowing that you are It anyway. You blow your mind and it stays blown. to marvelous articulateness and vivid color.Well. And everything is kept in order. that is what would be called in Buddhism a . that's Zen-flesh. but it'll come back some other way. the toilet. When you know that. and the more senior you get. The understanding of Zen. we'll call it mystical experiences. one of the most dangerous things in the world. because there may still be in you some seeds of hostility. forever and ever and ever. the understanding of awakening. and knowing you're It. and you've seen through the whole mirage. the Roshi very often is the one who cleans out the _benjo_. At any rate. the heavy duties. some seeds of pride. There is a kind of beautiful. almost princely aestheticism. There's been nothing like it since the stained glass at Chartre(sp). because that'll be a change. and not fall apart--that requires bones. And for a person who cannot contain it. So that is why. For example. And it'll be so nice when you die. some seeds of wanting to put down other people. I'm talking about the freedom which comes when you know that you're It. they started anythinggoes sculpture. if you go off in that way. in the order of a Zen monastary. And one of the most difficult things--this belongs to of course a generation we all know about that was running about some time ago--where they caught on to Zen. and they started anything-goes painting. Now. they started anything-goes way of life. the vast free energy which is contained in the system doesn't run amok. That's a good sign. it's like putting a million volts through your electric shaver. and I'm not just talking about political freedom.

They're It. He's seeing all the awful things I am. bodhisattva doesn't go off into nirvana. He is one who goes off into the transcendental world and is never seen again.' He isn't doing anything of the kind. you see. the _bodhisattva_. and they say 'oh no.' he looks at you in this queer way. saying 'my god. he has a funny look in his eyes. but comes back and lives ordinary everyday life to help other beings to see through it. He comes back because he sees the two worlds are the same. straight at you. He sees them. deep down. Shiva. all my cowardice.buddha--'private buddha'. all my shortcomings. I don't understand. He's looking at. there is no fundamental difference between the transcendental world and this everyday world. and saying it quite sincerely.K. if I may use Hindu terminology. he's reading my most secret thoughts. And that's why. that's their vocation. he doesn't go off into a kind of catatonic _samadhi_. won't you come off it?' So then.' And it's fantastic to look at people and see that they really. He sees all other beings as buddhas. The _bodhisattva_. the Zen master. he doesn't come back because he feels he has some sort of solemn duty to help mankind and all that kind of pious cant. or whatever. 'but now a great thing in the street. seems any human nod. And he's made a mistake from the standpoint of Buddhism. Chesterton's. That's their specialty. just . who doesn't go off into a nirvana and stay there forever and ever. I'm really mixed up. he's looking at Shiva. And they look at you. when you get up against a great guru. When you say 'I have a problem. I'm just ordinary little me. he doesn't go off into permanant withdrawn ecstasy. who is--I'm assuming quite a knowledge of Buddhism in this assembly--but the _bodhisattva_ as distinct from the pratyeka-buddha.' You look at them in a funny way. to use a phrase of G. he isn't even interested in such things.pratyeka. They're faces of the divine. and you think 'oh dear me. you see. where move in strange democracies the million masks of god. too. are enlightened. in you. and saying it's not. and here you see the buddha nature looking out of their eyes. but I'm not divine. guru. There are people who can do that. That's all right. because from the standpoint of Buddhism.

Hard facts of everyday life. not in terms of the temporal. because they're all concepts. It's just little you. But the thing is. and there sits the ordinary old man. See? There's a sudden vision. the light. every mystic in the world has 'seen the light. the light. it is what we mean. In one blink of your eyes. it's terribly important to see beyond ecstasy. there are many of them. Ecstasy here is the soft and lovable flesh. . you've missed seeing. Not in terms of the eternal. as seeing light. Imagine you're seeing it. Satori! Breaking! Wowee! And the doors of the mind are blown apart. as so often happens. that's what you would do.' That brilliant. and incidentally. the world as seen in an ordinary. huggable and kissable. and saying 'if you were NICE people. everyday state of consciousness. So. and a certain kind of discipline. Now imagine this. we shouldn't forget to mention the soft facts. Why? Because here is the light. it's rather like this: Let's suppose. that buddhist idea of enlightenment is not comprehended in the idea of the transcendental. you know? Lightning flashes. There's a Zen poem which says A sudden crash of thunder. well. To find out that that is really no different from the world of supreme ecstasy.' For heaven's sake. The mind doors burst open. that unless you do have that basic framework of a certain kind of order. So then. what we call hard facts. and that's very good. it is locked up in everything. It's too strong a current for the wire. and a short thing is the short body of buddha.as a long thing is the long body of buddha. the force of liberation will blow the world to pieces. Not in terms with the infinite. blazing energy. brighter than a thousand suns. and there sits the ordinary old man. But if you really understand that Zen. don't be nice people. I am not talking about the ordering of ordinary everyday life in a reasonable and methodical way as being schoolteacherish. neither is it comprehended in the idea of the ordinary. The light. But then the hard fact. let me say again. not in terms with the finite. But beyond ecstasy are bones. sparks shower. you think of ecstasy as insight.

And it says. indigo. so piercing that it seems to annihilate the ears. too. going. and the sound starts waving. there comes sound. that all kinds of little subfigures are contained in what you originally thought were the main figures.' Vivid. 'well.. down. there's black. But then along with the colors. And again.Like you see aureoles around buddhas. more light. blazing out of the black. green. Thank you very much. you've been watching a kind of thing radiating out. that's just the beginning!' Making squares and turns. as the _yang_ comes from the _yin_. down. Like you see the beatific vision at the end of Dante's 'Paradiso. Now all this time. vivid light. like obsidian. so bright that it is like the clear light of the void in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. (Scribbled down by Alan Seaver. not flat black. we're going to do little curlicues. it's going to come right at you now. and you think you're going to go out of your mind. a rim of orange. and the textures start varying themselves. like a great star. going. There is a sound so tremendous with the white light that you can't hear it. but transparent black.' it says. and this thing's going. it says. going. and the sound starts going all different. Let's add a third dimension.' and the rays start dancing like this. and beyond the violet. and they say. it's so bright. And meanwhile. And along with this light. this isn't all I can do. And on the edges. down. violet. Going. you've been looking at this this as I've been describing it so far in a flat dimension. going. the sound goes down the scale in harmonic intervals. Black. when suddenly it turns into. until it gets to a deep thundering base which is so vibrant that it turns into something solid. blue. like lacquer. yellow. 'But. and you begin to get the similar spectrum of textures. 'you know. sitting around here.) . there becomes a rim of red. us. You see this great mandela appearing this great sun. It's beyond light. And you watch it receeding from you. as it comes out. well. And beyond that. amazing complexities if sound all over the place. we're not going to just do like this. Why.. and then suddenly you see in all the little details that become so intense. down.

not using the word 'myth' to mean simply something untrue.The Nature of Consciousness by Alan Watts http://www. and of what makes sense altogether. uniformly all of them grow farther and farther apart. Now. influence our everyday common sense. and as you blow the balloon up. because it's too fundamental to give it a title. 'well. but to use the word 'myth' in a more powerful sense. But you're using an analogy--the universe is not actually a black balloon with white dots on it. Ideas of the world which are built into the very nature of the language we use. you say. the word 'current' is borrowed from rivers. A myth is an image in terms of which we try to make sense of the world. and so you explain it in terms of water. and you want to explain to people what you mean by an expanding universe and curved space. you say. our fundamental notions about what life is about. Now. that we have to do is to get our perspectives with some background about the basic ideas that.htm I find it a little difficult to say what the subject matter of this seminar is going to be. which influence us more strongly than most people realize.deoxy. and there are white dots on the black balloon.org/w_nature. and of our ideas of logic. for example. And there are historical origins for this. and so you explain electricity in terms of water. a myth in a way is a metaphore. . you talk about an electric current. but there are some ways in which the behavior of water is like the behavior of electricty. it's as if you have a black balloon. and those dots represent galaxies. And these basic ideas I call myth. well. Or if you're an astronomer. electricity is not water. it behaves actually in a different way. It's borrowed from hydrolics. as Westerners living today in the United States. Now. Now. the first thing. though. I'm going to talk about what there is. If you want to explain electricity to someone who doesn't know anything about electricity.

and we at present are living under the influence of two very powerful images. you ask any given lump of clay what it wants to become. the lord God creates . It is made. And I'm going to go further than that. substance. And also the son of God. we use these sort of images to try and make sense of the world. and who fashions the universe in accordance with that plan. Now clay by itself has no intelligence. And the image of the world in the book of Genesis is that the world is an artifact. Clay does not of itself become a pot. Because if you were a really good potter. and the second the fully automatic model. who has in mind a plan. Don't forget Jesus is the son of a carpenter. basically. although a good potter may think otherwise. And so in the book of Genesis. stuff. it's just stuff. and makes it become whatever he wants. from which Judaism. and you help it to do that. And then you become a genious. carpenter. Well that's what I'm going to talk about. So basic to this image of the world is the notion. The ceramic model of the universe is based on the book of Genesis. So the image of God and of the world is based on the idea of God as a technician. that the world consists of stuff. you see.So in the same way. you don't impose your will on the clay. Primoridial matter. in the present state of scientific knowledge. but how we can get our sensations and our feelings in accordance with the most sensible image of the world that we can manage to conceive. architect. But the ordinary idea I'm talking about is that simply clay is unintelligent. potter. as a potter takes clay and forms pots out of it. and one of the major problems today are to find an adequate. now--the two images which we have been working under for 2000 years and maybe more are what I would call two models of the universe. not only what image of the world to have. and Christianity derive their basic picture of the world. and the first is called the ceramic model. and the potter imposes his will on it. Islam. All right. As parts are made of clay. which are. satisfying image of the world. or as a carpenter takes wood and makes tables and chairs out of it. inadequate.

A Chinese child would not ask its mother 'How was I made?' A Chinese child might ask its mother 'How did I grow?' which is an entirely different procedure form making. of the world as something made. therefore. By itself it is formless. in . and then he breathes into it. very powerful idea. and where. it is not shared by the Chinese. or as a potter works on clay. And so there is for that reason a fundamental difference between the made and the maker. But we have thought. It blossoms. but for example. or you work from the outside in. he makes a clay figurine. the original simple form. the maker of the universe was conceived also at the same time in the image of the king of the universe. And so. this ceramic model of the universe. It expands. who thus from thy throne behold all dwellers upon Earth. just as tables and houses are constructions. historically. lords of lords. you put it together. In other words. it works in exactly the opposite direction. you see. the only ruler of princes. I find it odd.Adam out of the dust of the Earth. And this image. And because the clay become informed.' I'm quoting the Book of Common Prayer. and it's quite different from the making process. as a sculpture works on stone.constructions. It burgeons. as being made. 'King of kings. And so in this way. and it becomes alive. and it is perfectly natural in our culture for a child to ask its mother 'How was I made?' or 'Who made me?' And this is a very. you arrange parts. very humble terms in relation to whatever it is that works all this thing. and the idea of being--trees. it has no intelligence. say of a living cell in the womb. or by the Hindus. It works from the inside to the outside. You see. progressively complicates itself. originated in cultures where the form of government was monarchial. In other words. and therefore it requires an external intelligence and an external energy to bring it to life and to bring some sense to it. we inherit a conception of ourselves as being artifacts. And it happens all of itself at once. when you make something. But when you watch something growing. all those people who are oriented to the universe in that way feel related to basic reality as a subject to a king. for example-. and that's the growing process. And so they are on very.

the real boss sits with his back to the wall and his henchmen on either side of him. And a great Catholic cathederal is called a basilica. and he has reason to fear that you might because he's ruling you all. what does it look like? Catholic church. or Harry. that people who are citizens of a republic have a monarchial theory of the universe. Poeple kneel. When you come into his presence. A Protestant church is a little different. because the Catholic religion is changing. or Ike. people prostrate themselves. And everybody sits in these boxes. That you can talk about the president of the United States as LBJ. And the alter is the throne and the priest is the chief vizier of the court.' which means 'king. there's a box for . Because we are carrying over from very ancient near-Eastern cultures. But the Catholic church has the alter with it's back to the wall at the east end of the church. and he is making abeyance to the throne. And the man who rules you all is the biggest crook in the bunch. Because he's the one who succeeded in crime. and kneeling down. the notion that the lord of the universe must be respected in a certain way. The other people are pushed aside because they--the criminals. The furniture of a Protestant church is based on a judicial courthouse. there's a box for the jury.the United States. you don't stand up and face him. but you can't talk about the lord of the universe in such familiar terms. The pulpit. and the ritual of the church is based on the court rituals of Byzantium. and his guards on either side of him. So naturally. from the Greek 'basilikos. and you know what the reason for that is: that nobody is more frightened of anybody else than a tyrant. but there is the throne of God. he wears exactly the same dress as a Protestant minister. and he has you face downwards on the ground because you can't use weapons that way.' So a basilica is the house of a king. people bow. the alter. because you might attack. with the alter where it used to be--it's changing now. the people we lock up in jail--are simply the people who didn't make it. And all the people are facing it. Basically the same. the judge in an American court wears a black robe. He sits with his back to the wall. And so when you design a church.

because if you're going to say what matter is. protons. Because there isn't any. They wanted to know. never arrive at the basic stuff. Stuff--the idea of stuff is that it is undifferentiated. There's a certain sense to that. When you get your eyes into focus. that is to say in terms of form. you see a pattern. So you say. to the very nature of life. you have to refer to the judge as 'your honor. Little crystals. 'Fine. what is the fundamental substance of the world? And the more they asked that question.the judge. Fuzzy. One is the king.type Protestant church. all sorts of sub-nuclear particles. it has limitations. say. at a piece of stone. Your honor. you describe the smallest shapes of it which you can see.' It stops the people engaged in litigation from losing their tempers and getting rude. the idea of a difference between matter and spirit. So both these kinds of churches which have an autocratic view of the nature of the universe decorate themselves. are architecturally constructed in accordance with politcal images of the universe. But you never. But when you . You tell what it does. and instead of just this block of stuff. there's a box for that. what is this piece of stone made of?' You take your microscope and you look at it. mesons. This idea doesn't work anymore. you see ever so many tinier shapes. and you find that they're made of molocules. But when you want to apply that image to the universe itself. in terms of pattern. long ago. and those are the pews in an ordinary colonial. Do you see what happens? You look. What happens is this: 'Stuff' is a word for the world as it looks when our eyes are out of focus. and the other is the judge. everything looks fuzzy. so far so good. Now what are these crystals made of?' And you take a more powerful instrument. 'Well. there's a box for this. you've got to describe it in terms of behavior. and then you take a still more powerful instrument to find out what the molocules are made of. For one thing. and you begin to describe atoms. and you want to say. When in court. like some kind of goo. There's sense in this. And when your eyes are not in sharp focus. electrons. the more they realized the couldn't answer it. you see a form. physicists stopped asking the question 'What is matter?' They began that way. Long.

A dance. because you don't really have to suppose that there is any. the potter. That in other words. We never. passive.. So all that we can talk about is patterns. So the picture of the world in the most sophisticated physics of today is not formed stuff--potted clay--but pattern. and these things exist in a certain way. Western science was based on the idea that there are laws of nature.want to change the level of magnification. unintelligent junk which an outside agency has to inform and make into intelligent shapes. you go through thinking there's some kind of stuff there. you get fuzzy again before you get clear. It describes anything that can be described.?. and the law of God. the loggos is the second person of the trinity. In other words. and go in closer and closer and closer. And changed into what I call the fully automatic image of the world. and got that idea from Judaism and Christianity and Islam. the maker of the world in the beginning of things laid down the laws.' And in Christianity. as if. So we have tended to think of all natural phenomena as responding to laws. you see a shape. And so for this reason. you don't really have to suppose that the world is some kind of helpless. self-designing pattern. It's enough to talk about the world in terms of patterns. who thereby is the perfect exemplar of the divine law. and you don't really have to suppose that there is some stuff that constitutes the essence of the pattern in the same way that clay constitutes the essence of pots. The ceramic image of the world ran into trouble. For it certainly seems that I am A creature that moves In determinate . Well now. And our common sense as individuals hasn't yet caught up with this. in the evolution of Western thought. There was a young man who said 'Damn. But when you get clear. and all events respond to these laws. A self-moving. is called the 'loggos. which is also the law of nature. never can talk about the 'stuff' of which these patterns are supposed to be made. So everytime you get fuzzy. in the course of time. incarnate as Jesus Christ. in other words. the laws of the world were like the rails on which a streetcar or a tram or a train runs. You know that limerick.

Well. Nor does it-. and everything responds and obeys that plan. Why? Because the hypothesis of God does not help us to make any predictions. and T. that is functioning according to regular. the world is basically nothing but energy--blind. And so the conceived the universe in terms of a mechanism. and to make successful predictions. in the 18th century. we can make predictions about what's going to happen in the future. in other words. I'm a tram. whether there is an architect of the universe.grooves. very complex arrangement of billiard balls being banged around by everything else. clocklike mechanical principles. let's put it this way: if the business of science is to make predictions about what's going to happen. And so behind the fully automatic model of the universe is the notion that reality itself is. blind energy. Western intellectuals began to suspect this idea. Because if you can predict. and they found out. if you can study the past and describe how things have behaved. everything is governed by God. or they reasoned. you do not need God as a hypothesis. Newton's whole image of the world is based on billiards.In other words. Something. is defined as a very. Huxley. science is essentially prophecy. And so your behavior. every individual around. it's simply regularity. And so what they did was drop that hypothesis.' that doesn't make any difference to your prediction of what's going to happen. That's really the whole of science. that you don't have to suppose that there is. And so what they did was got rid of the lawmaker and kept the law. and you've got some regularities in the behavior of the universe. to use the favorite term of 19th century scientists. And to do this. But they kept the hypothesis of law. Although it may not be law in the ordinary sense of the word. The atoms are billiard balls. . If you say 'Everything is controlled by God.' So here's this idea that there's kind of a plan. Because it makes no difference to anything. I'm not even a bus. And what they suspected was whether there is a lawmaker. you call that law. In say the metaphysics of Ernst Hegel.H. What's going to happen? By examining the behavior of the past and describing it carefully. and they bang each other around.

unintelligent force. And likewise and parallel to this, in the philosophy of Freud, the basic psychological energy is libido, which is blind lust. And it is only a fluke, it is only as a result of pure chances that resulting from the exuberance of this energy there are people. With values, with reason, with languages, with cultures, and with love. Just a fluke. Like, you know, 1000 monkeys typing on 1000 typewriters for a million years will eventually type the Encyclopedia Britannica. And of course the moment they stop typing the Encyclopedia Britannica, they will relapse into nonsense. And so in order that that shall not happen, for you and I are flukes in this cosmos, and we like our way of life-we like being human--if we want to keep it, say these people, we've got to fight nature, because it will turn us back into nonsense the moment we let it. So we've got to impose our will upon this world as if we were something completely alien to it. From outside. And so we get a culture based on the idea of the war between man and nature. And we talk about the conquest of space. The conquest of Everest. And the great symbols of our culture are the rocket and the bulldozer. The rocket--you know, compensation for the sexually inadequate male. So we're going to conquer space. You know we're in space already, way out. If anybody cared to be sensitive and let outside space come to you, you can, if your eyes are clear enough. Aided by telescopes, aided by radio astronomy, aided by all the kinds of sensitive instruments we can devise. We're as far out in space as we're ever going to get. But, y'know, sensitivity isn't the pitch. Especially in the WASP culture of the United States. We define manliness in terms of agression, you see, because we're a little bit frightened as to whether or not we're really men. And so we put on this great show of being a tough guy. It's completely unneccesary. If you have what it takes, you don't need to put on that show. And you don't need to beat nature into submission. Why be hostile to nature? Because after all, you ARE a symptom of nature. You, as a human being, you grow out of this physical universe in exactly the same way an apple grows off an apple tree. So let's say the tree which grows apples is a tree which

apples, using 'apple' as a verb. And a world in which human beings arrive is a world that peoples. And so the existence of people is symptomatic of the kind of universe we live in. Just as spots on somebody's skin is symptomatic of chicken pox. Just as hair on a head is symptomatic of what's going on in the organism. But we have been brought up by reason of our two great myths--the ceramic and the automatic--not to feel that we belong in the world. So our popular speech reflects it. You say 'I came into this world.' You didn't. You came out of it. You say 'Face facts.' We talk about 'encounters' with reality, as if it was a head-on meeting of completely alien agencies. And the average person has the sensation that he is a someone that exists inside a bag of skin. The center of consciousness that looks out at this thing, and what the hell's it going to do to me? You see? 'I recognize you, you kind of look like me, and I've seen myself in a mirror, and you look like you might be people.' So maybe you're intelligent and maybe you can love, too. Perhaps you're all right, some of you are, anyway. You've got the right color of skin, or you have the right religion, or whatever it is, you're OK. But there are all those people over in Asia, and Africa, and they may not really be people. When you want to destroy someone, you always define them as 'unpeople.' Not really human. Monkeys, maybe. Idiots, maybe. Machines, maybe, but not people. So we have this hostility to the external world because of the superstition, the myth, the absolutely unfounded theory that you, yourself, exist only inside your skin. Now I want to propose another idea altogether. There are two great theories in astronomy going on right now about the origination of the universe. One is called the explosion theory, and the other is called the steady state theory. The steady state people say there never was a time when the world began, it's always expanding, yes, but as a result of free hydrogen in space, the free hydrogen coagulates and makes new galaxies. But the other people say there was a primoridial explosion, an enormous bang billions of years ago which flung all the galazies into space. Well let's take that just for the sake of argument and say that was the way it happened.

It's like you took a bottle of ink and you threw it at a wall. Smash! And all that ink spread. And in the middle, it's dense, isn't it? And as it gets out on the edge, the little droplets get finer and finer and make more complicated patterns, see? So in the same way, there was a big bang at the beginning of things and it spread. And you and I, sitting here in this room, as complicated human beings, are way, way out on the fringe of that bang. We are the complicated little patterns on the end of it. Very interesting. But so we define ourselves as being only that. If you think that you are only inside your skin, you define yourself as one very complicated little curlique, way out on the edge of that explosion. Way out in space, and way out in time. Billions of years ago, you were a big bang, but now you're a complicated human being. And then we cut ourselves off, and don't feel that we're still the big bang. But you are. Depends how you define yourself. You are actually--if this is the way things started, if there was a big bang in the beginning-- you're not something that's a result of the big bang. You're not something that is a sort of puppet on the end of the process. You are still the process. You are the big bang, the original force of the universe, coming on as whoever you are. When I meet you, I see not just what you define yourself as--Mr so-and- so, Ms so-and-so, Mrs so-and-so--I see every one of you as the primordial energy of the universe coming on at me in this particular way. I know I'm that, too. But we've learned to define ourselves as separate from it. And so what I would call a basic problem we've got to go through first, is to understand that there are no such things as things. That is to say separate things, or separate events. That that is only a way of talking. If you can understand this, you're going to have no further problems. I once asked a group of high school children 'What do you mean by a thing?' First of all, they gave me all sorts of synonyms. They said 'It's an object,' which is simply another word for a thing; it doesn't tell you anything about what you mean by a thing. Finally, a very smart girl from Italy, who was in the group, said a thing is a noun. And she was quite right. A noun isn't a part of nature, it's a part of speech. There are no nouns in the physical world. There are no separate things in

And only when human beings get to working on things--they build buildings in straight lines. the art of measuring the world. Now then. But you have to cut the chicken up in order to eat it. and this the next bit of the wiggle. it's pretty difficult. and this the next bit of the wiggle. mountains. that we are things. And if I can number these holes. trees. But here we are. And so the net is the basic thing we have for getting hold of the wiggly world.the physical world. In order to measure and therfore in order to control it. in fact. in the physical world. A net is something regular. people. either. The ocean waves. you've got to put a net over it. and the fish is wiggly and it slips out. sitting in this room all built out of straight lines. We have been hypnotized. What do you do to get hold of the fish? You use a net. So many holes up. literally hypnotized by social convention into feeling and sensing that we . But it doesn't come bitten. Which I mark out in order to talk about the wiggle. And that's the beginning of calculus. But in nature. And as I wave and say to you 'Yoo-hoo!' the world is waving with me at you and saying 'Hi! I'm here!' But we are consciousness of the way we feel and sense our existence. Bit of wiggles. but each one of us is as wiggly as all get-out. the wiggle isn't bitted. that we are parts. in terms of a hole in that net. so many holes across. our consciousness has been influenced. I've got to call this a specific bit. are all wiggly. You bite it. and this the next bit. and the universe peoples. I can count exactly where each wiggle is. and try to make out that the world isn't really wiggly. And I can number the holes in a net. So the world doesn't come thinged. The physical world is wiggly. But in order to do that. You and I are all as much continuous with the physical universe as a wave is continuous with the ocean. Being based on a myth that we are made. isn't it? You try and pick up a fish in your hands. so that each one of us does not feel that. it doesn't come evented. I've got to break up the wiggle into bits. Clouds. when you want to get control of something that wiggles. Like you don't get a cutup fryer out of an egg. So if you want to get hold of this wiggle. And so these bits are things or events.

The churches would be going out of their minds if they really believed what they teach. They believe they should believe. baby. put it. and you realize that everything you do is being watched by God. and you are valuable in the eyes of the father. that. who are the most fundamental of fundamentalists. because it isn't even scientific. as the architect of the universe. just something out on the end of it. He knows your tiniest innermost feelings and thoughts. is good. but you don't. My wave is going to disappear. We've got a mythology going now which is. but that means you got rid of yourself. There is someone who cares.?. And therefore we are scared stiff. And it's invented by people who want to feel a certain way. The game of god got embarrassing. You may go to church. It has meaning. just to get rid of him. It's just a myth.' So you become an athiest. This is what people really believe today. And you run from the maternity ward to the crematorium. You would be the most terrifying television programs. you may say you believe in this. But after a while. and that's it. That we are not the original bang. important. it has sense. You're . The idea if God as the potter. as Father Maskell. They think they ought to believe what they teach.exist only inside our skins. You would be taking full. and the other. they are polite when they come around and knock on the door. They want to play a certain game. But if you REALLY believed in Christianity. And therefore everybody feels unhappy and miserable. Then you feel terrible after that. And that is our basic.page ads in the paper every day. It makes you feel that life is. And that's it. but they don't really believe it. 'Quit bugging me! I don't want you around. Now why does anybody think that way? There's no reason to. Even Jehovah's Witnesses. But they don't. after all. But nobody does. You are a separate event. because what we REALLY believe is the fully automatic model. plausible common sense. we are something that happens between the maternity ward and the crematorium. and I'm going to die! And that would be awful. it gets embarrassing. and you say after a while. because you got rid of God. That's it. you would be screaming in the streets. You are a fluke.

it has become academically plausible and fashionable that this is the way the world works. Because if you're an academic person. should you or not commit suicide? This is a good question.you've got a big daddy up there. I think there are four or five serious philosophical questions. 'Is it serious?' But still. the other's called goo. And so really. Why go on? And you only go on if the game is worth the gamble. and you want comfort. Now the universe has been going on for an incredible long time. a satisfactory theory of the universe has to be one that's worth betting on. The first one is 'Who started it?' The second is 'Are we going to make it?' The third is 'Where are we going to put it?' The fourth is 'Who's going to clean up?' And the fifth. elementary common sense. Otherwise there's no point in it. you've got to have an optimal theory for playing the game. . That's very. But the people who coined the fully automatic theory of the universe were playing a very funny game. One's called prickles. too. you've got to be an intellectually tough person. And prickly people are precise. I'm real hard. And your idea that you're a machine is just a machine. Life is tough. which is whether or not to commit suicide. it seems to me. That was a very convenient theory when the European and American worlds were colonizing the natives everywhere else. you commit suicide. for what they wanted to say was this: all you people who believe in religion--old ladies and wishful thinkers-. and life is just a bunch of junk. If you make a theory of the universe which isn't worth betting on. and we're tough. There are basically two kinds of philosophy. In academic circles. I'm a big strong guy because I face facts. you've got to be prickly. So if you're a smart kid.' That's a way of flattering yourself.nothing but a machine. no other theory of the world than the fully automatic model is respectable. and I'm going to impose my will on it and turn it into something else. Camus said there is only one serious philosophical question. but life is rough. And so. as success goes to the most hardheaded people. But if you want to go on playing the game. They said 'We're the end product of evolution. why bother? Just commit suicide.

prickly people are logical positivists. Unless you say.' because owing to the courtesy of your taking a different point of view. and I'm not going to argue very much. and it's just too bad. you're what is technically called alienated. So if you think that's the way things are. a game to play by putting it down. and is just terrible.rigorous. But however. but they really can't succeed in the end. Or I identify with my children. and making out that because they put the world down they were a superior kind of people. So that just won't do. you might as well commit suicide right now. And that's the answer to philosophy. male and female. And they're always arguing with each other. They go together like back and front. because if you don't argue with me. poor thing. I understand what I mean. People who had an advantage to make. it is electronic and neurological mechanisms into which you somehow got caught. this whole idea that the universe is nothing at all but unintelligent force playing around and not even enjoying it is a putdown theory of the world. You feel that the world is a trap. and I think of them going on without me and nobody to . Because you wouldn't know you advocated prickles unless there was someone advocating goo. I'm a philosopher. I say 'Thank you. 'Well. So if we argue. Because there might really be after all eternal damnation. And in philosophy. I don't know what I think. And these mechanics--doctors--are trying to help you out. prickly people believe that the ultimate constituents of matter are particles. have to put up with being put into a body that's falling apart. And you. you see. We've had it. It is a mechanism. You see. Goo people like it vague. For example. and it's a grim business. So I can't get rid of you. I'm damned. and you're just going to fall apart. that gets the great Siberian itch. but what they don't realize is neither one can take his position without the other person. and goo people are idealists. in physics. They like everything chopped up and clear. Because if you seriously go along with this idea of the world. You feel hostile to the world. Because life isn't either prickles or goo. that gets cancer. it's either gooey prickles or prickly goo. logical. Goo people believe it's waves. You wouldn't know what a prickle was unless you knew what a goo was.

Why? Let's get this clear. I can't describe it as just a thing . all I'm trying to say is that the basic common sense about the nature of the world that is influencing most people in the United States today is simply a myth. as much as the solar system in turn is a symptom of our galaxy.support them. describe what they do. Goodness only knows what that's in. In other words. you describe the behavior of a living organism. So in order to describe what I'm doing when I'm walking. I don't just dangle my legs in empty space. I have to describe the territory. if it is there. yes. The Earth is geological. but this geological entity grows people. I move in relationship to a room. They'll all learn the same lessons. and our galaxy in its turn is a symptom of a whole company of other galaxies. because when I walk. And as I said. If you want to say that the idea of God the father with his white beard on the golden throne is a myth. in us. as a scientist. and they won't enjoy it. They'll be afraid to commit suicide. in a bad sense of the word 'myth. when. The Earth is not a big rock infested with living organisms any more than your skeleton is bones infested with cells. In other words. It is just as phony and has just as little to support it as being the true state of affairs. I have to describe the room. Because if I do go on in this frame of mind and continue to support them. well you've found it in other people. it is symptomatic of the scheme of things. you try to say what a person does. and its balances. you cannot confine yourself to what happens inside the skin. I shall teach them to be like I am. dragging it out to support their children. So in describing my talking at the moment. Then you find out that in making this description. it exists in us as human beings.' so is this other one. But you see. and they'll go on.' So you see. If there is any such thing at all as intelligence and love and beauty. and our existence on the Earth is a symptom of this other system. and so will their children. it's the only way in which you can describe what a person is. you cannot talk about a person walking unless you start describing the floor. We are as symptomatic of the scheme of things as the apples are symptomatic of the apple tree or the rose of the rose bush.

you see.in itself. all right. it's just near so-and-so's house on the edge of the river. I recognize you. Maybe they'll find a better game. the stream is wiggling you.' So in the same way when I meet you tomorrow. you're the same whirlpool you were yesterday. And. and I see each one of you today and I recognize you tomorrow. it's a bridge through which the external world flows into you. But you're moving. well that will be that. and you flow into it. but no water stays put in it. Your skin doesn't separate you from the world. only confronting it--aliens. only in it. but only parts of it. all the food you're eating. The whole world is moving through you. I've seen that whirlpool before. you could say because you have a skin you have a definite shape you have a definite form. for example. as a whirlpool in water. the world is wiggling. just as I would recognize a whirlpool in a stream. the stream of steaks and milk and eggs and everything is just flowing right through you. in other words. collectively. all the cosmic rays. The whirlpool is a definite form. And we are. courtesy of H-bombs. the whole universe is doing each one of us. The myths underlying our culture and underlying our common sense have not taught us to feel identical with the universe. I think. I'd say 'Oh yes. All right? Here is a flow of water. it means that we've really got one system of behavior. we haven't been taught to feel that way. When you're wiggling the same way. Just. in order to describe MY behavior. then there will be life making experiments on other galaxies. I have to describe YOUR behavior and the behavior of the environment. Otherwise we're going to go out of our heads. . supposing we do. And so what I'm doing at the moment is not completely described unless your being here is described also. each one of us. So if that is necessary. and it goes on. But the problem is. and suddenly it does a whirlpool. The whirlpool is something the stream is doing. and it's always there. and exactly the same way. because I'm talking to you. quite urgently in need of coming to feel that we ARE the eternal universe. We're going to commit suicide.

ungrateful child. talk language. and we're going to explain the rules of it to you. 'Look at all the things we've done for you. you should say to a child. God alone. the king of kings and the lord of lords which we inherit from the political structures of the Tigres-Euphrates cultures. And so all of us. we are playing a very complicated game. Either the god is somebody who says to us 'coochy. You're a wretched. part 2 of 3 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------. who do not exist in our own right. in the first session this afternoon. This arises out of our whole attitude towards children. which lie in the intellictual and psychological background of all of us. Now my dear.' Instead of that. The myth of the world as a political. But in the meantime. you may be able to invent better ones. this is the thing we're doing.ALAN WATTS: THE NATURE OF CONSCIOUSNESS.' y'know? and don't treat the thing as a human being at all--as a kind of doll.' or 'blah-blah-blah. monarchial state in which we are all here on sufferance as subject to God. So that idea of the royal god.' And you're supposed to say. And when you have learned these rules and understand what they are. Like your parents come on and say to you. and you exist as a favor.------------------------------------------------------------------------------. 'Sorry. and as soon as it can communicate in any way. Instead.coochy-coochie. I was discussing two of the great myths or models of the universe. whereby we don't really acknowledge that they're human. and you turn out to be a beatnik. exists in his own right. and you ought to be grateful. Or else as a nusiance. and from Egypt. in the first myth. all the money we spent to send you to college.' But you're definitely in the position of being on probation. In which we are MADE artifacts. or 'coochy-coochy-coochie.' And that's the feeling we carry over.Well now. we either treat a child with a kind of with a kind of 'blah-blahblah' attitude. The Pharoah. Amenhotep IV is probably. when a child comes into the world. having been treated that way. I really am. as Freud . 'How do you do? Welcome to the human race. carry over into adult life the sense of being on probation here.

this parallels--goes hand in hand with the idea that you govern your own body. and certainly the Jewish law code comes from Hammarabi in Chaldea. in this first myth that we've been discussing. And so we can't understand a system of order. And God. You know that story about all the limbs of the body. as in the fully automatic model. in which there isn't a governer. it's so funny that Americans can be politically republican--I don't mean republican in the party sense--and yet religiously monarchial. A mechanic. You could argue. and neither of them is the boss. and an organism is a thing that governs itself. So what is this universe? Is it a monarchy? Is it a republic? Is it a mechanism? Or an organism? Becuase you see. the original author of Moses' monotheism. In your body there is no boss. in order to serve the stomach for the purposes of getting food. there could be a system which doesn't have a governor. a system of life. As I said. and the idea of God is that the universe is governed from above. is the governer of the body. or the stomach's game? They're mutual. it's an organism. the ceramic myth is the boss. But do you see. how excellent is thy name in all the world. If it's not that. Or you can argue that the stomach is a gadget evolved by the brain to feed it and keep it alive. 'O Lord. for example.' But supposing. The brain implies the stomach and the stomach implies the brain. which lies somewhere between the ears and behind the eyes in the brain. And we are supposed to govern ourselves. Whose game is this? Is it the brain's game. if it's a mechanism. that the brain is a gadget evolved by the stomach. It's a real strange contradiction. That's what we are supposed to have in this society. We are supposed to be a democracy and a republic. indicating somehow a hierarchy of power. from the boss on down. And these men lived in a culture where the pyramid and the ziggurat--the ziggurat is the Chaldean version of the pyramid. either it's a mere mechanism. or else it's a mechanism under the control of a driver.suggested. That the ego. on the contrary. The . our governor.

C. but it can't put it into words. and said 'Now we're on strike against the stomach. we were taught '1. That's the thing that was left out of all our educations. what every child psychologist really wants to know is to get a baby to talk psychological jargon. and which we are nothing but flukes. and the baby starts laughing. what's the fundamental first game you play with a baby? You put a book in front of your face. are outside reality. not the fully automatic image. Consider the world as a drama. therefore. He didn't do any work. 3. the feet refused to walk. but the dramatic image. B. all of them found themselves getting weaker and weaker and weaker. But the baby knows. the . it comes from the womb really knowing what it's all about. What's the basis of all drama? The basis of all stories. and somehow in a position that we have to bow down to it and say 'As a great favor. of all plots. and explain how it feels. that hide and seek is the basic game.' Nor are we in a system which is merely mechanical.' and 'A. in the deepest sense of self. this.' And the hands refused to carry. because they didn't realize that the stomach fed them.' the feet said 'We do our work. the teeth refused to chew. and here's this lazy stomach who just gets it all and doesn't do a thing. 2. we could put the alternative in another image altogether. Because the baby is close to the origins of life. of all happenings--is the game of hide and seek. See. And the baby knows. because the baby is a recent incarnation of God.' the mouth said 'We do all the chewing. you do this. What's the alternative? Well. this and this. That we are not living in a world where we ourselves. and I'll call this not the ceramic image. The baby starts giggling. See. please preserve us in existence. So there is the possibility then that we are not in the kind of system that these two myths delineate. so let's go on strike. and you peek at the baby. when we were children. You get a baby.' but we weren't set down on our mothers' knees and taught the game of black and white.hand said 'We do all our work.' But after a while. trapped in the electrical wiring of a nervous system which is fundamentally rather inefficiently arranged.

black and white. in just the same way as the two poles of a . move it away. for example. in the same way as we forget that these two go together. Now I'm not saying that that's bad. 'I am the poles apart from this person. if that's what happened.' But your very saying that gives the show away. good and evil. we haven't realized that life and death. 'These two things are the poles apart. come from the same center. Poles. So the point about a magnet is. The difference bewteen a conflict and a polarity is simply--when you think about opposite things. They imply each other. north and south.game that I was trying to explain with these wave diagrams. That life is not a conflict between opposites. And so in this way. so that you wouldn't know the one without the other. And if you take a magnet. Therefore you think that black possibly might win. but they go together. you see. that have nothing in common. That there could be the possibility of a universe of pure tragedy. We are imagining a diagram of the universe in which the idea of polarity is the opposite ends of the diameter. You're playing the game that you don't know that black and white imply each other. At the same time.' You say. Poles are the opposite ends of one magnet. Wouldn't that be awful? Only you wouldn't know it was awful. is that self and other go together. being and non-being. and there isn't the one without the other. of endless. endless darkness. The point that we all forget is that the black and the white go together. instead of concentrically. say you have a magnetized bar. things may be the poles apart. chop off the south pole. that's fun. but a polarity. but what we're trying to imagine is the encounter of forces that come from absolutely opposed realms. there's a north pole and a south pole. we sometimes use the expression. you see? That's the basic idea of polarity. We are trying to think eccentrically. that the sound might never be heard again. we forget. about someone with whom you totally disagree. The other thing we forget. You never get rid of the south pole. that the light might go out. The piece you've got left creates a new south pole. When we say of two personality types that they're the poles apart. You can't have the one without the other. Okay.

And you don't exist without all that. I am this individual. it can happen to anyone. that we don't want to admit. unique instance. so that where you get these polarities. it's very difficult--you can very easily slip into the state of consciousness where you feel you're God. and you suddenly tell all your friends 'I'm God. Since you can't have the one without the other. so that when anybody in our culture slips into the state of consciousness where they suddenly find this to be true. esoterically. but it's tacit.' What is other is everything else. I am this particular. or measles.magnet. all of you really inwardly know--although you won't admit it because your culture has trained you in a contrary direction--all of you really inwardly know that you as an individual self are inseparable from everything else that exists. all of the galaxies. self implies other. and they come on and say 'I'm God. But the whole game. But in the same way as black implies white.' Becuase their idea of god is not the autocratic governor. or something like that. that shows there's a kind of inner conspiracy bewteen all pairs of opposites. And we recognize that. which is not in the open. there are all sorts of things that we understand among each other tacitly. he has ten arms. And when you get it. 'You should bow down and worship me.' we say 'You're insane. It's like you say 'Well. way out into infinite space. the political head of the world.' But if you're a member of Hindu culture. or exoterically.' they say 'Congratulations! At last. they're one. you get this sort of difference. God as the governor. all of the stars. So. then you say to everybody. that what we call explicitly. that you are a special case in the universe. But implicitely. way. you found out. that's other. When they make images of Shiva.' instead of saying 'You're insane. tacitly. How would you . You say 'I. it depends upon your background and your training as to how you're going to interpret it. you can slip into this state of consciousness.' Now. is to coneal that from ourselves. and you think you're God. All of you.' or whatever it may be. they're different. Just in the same way as you can get the flu. If you've got the idea of god that comes from popular Christianity. I am me. but we do recognize tacity there's a kind of secret between us boys and girls. especially of Western culture. myself.

'Well why did you do this. 'Heavenly father. I just did it. Like you open and close your hand. she said 'Darling. but can you describe in words how you do it? Even a very good physiologist can't describe it in words. In your very body. When I was a child.use ten arms? It's hard enough to use two. You know. Words cannot tell you how I made the mountains any more than I can drink the ocean with a fork. because how do you grow each hair without having to think about it? Each nerve? How do you beat your heart and digest with your stomach at the same time? You don't have to think about it. God will make everything plain. long before I got through it. But actually we're all masters at this. which of course every child asks.' and we'd say 'Oh.' I said 'Will we ever know?' She said 'Yes. You know how you do this.' So I used to imagine on wet afternoons in heaven.' But in he Hindu universe. But you do it. which is that you are able to be omnipotent. you are omnipotent in the true sense of omnipotence. if you play the organ. Because when you're asking me how did I make the mountains. A fork may be useful for sticking into a piece of something and eating it. 'How did you make the mountains?' and he would say 'Well. and why did you do that?' and he would explain it to us. there are just some things which we are not meant to know. Don't you know how you manage to be conscious? Do you know how . if I put it to you in words. I just did it. but it's of no use for imbibing the ocean. you're asking me to describe in words how I made the mountains. and when she got bored with my questions. it would take millions of years. you would say to God. You're conscious. of course. In other words. It would take millions of years. and you play different rhythms with each member. I used to ask my mother all sorts of ridiculous questions. and you would be bored with my description. It's kind of tricky. we'd all sit around the throne of grace and say to God. you've got to use your two feet and your two hands. why are the leaves green?' and he would say 'Because of the chlorophyll. aren't you. and there are no words which can do this. you are able to do all these things without having to think about it. because I didn't create the mountains with words. when we die and go to heaven.

and they knew. and it doesn't come back and echo. if you shout. because that gives resonance to the sound. we admit it. 'Do you REALLY love her?' Well. it has a sounding box. Well that's a real hangup. The game runs like this: the only thing you really know is what you can put into words. and somebody says to me. somebody says 'Too bad we didn't bring a camera. yet you manage this expertly for as long as you're able to do it. and can convince everybody I've written the most ecstatic love letter ever written. But the whole game that our culture is playing is that nothing really happens unless it's in the newspaper. the fun with echos. And so our children begin to feel that they don't exist authentically unless they get their names in the papers. But this is the whole problem for us.' But you see. and you don't know you're happy. Let's suppose I love some girl. like a violin or a cello. Then we'll believe you. If you're happy. Several thousand years ago. are we going to tell you you DON'T love her? Surely not. And in the same way. Too bad there wasn't a tape recorder. It's true. Tell us all how much you love her. And when we play a musical instrument. So when we're at a party.' But supposing you're not very articulate. and that gives a certain resonance to it. Then you'll be photographed. you really do love her. they knew. and can put this into words. it didn't happen. and you'll appear in court. we are playing a game. we all like singing in the bathtub. and the fastest way to get your name in the paper is to commit a crime. they say 'All right. 'Write poetry. ok.you beat your heart? Can you say in words. And you're THERE. So you're not there unless you're recorded. how am I going to prove this? They'll say. and it's a great party. . the cortex of the human brain enables us when we're happy to know that we're happy. human beings devolved the system of selfconsciousness. but you can't put it into words. explain correctly how this is done? You do it. there's nobody home.' So if I'm an artist. You don't have to be Heloise and Abyla to be in love. and everybody will notice you. It really happened if it was recorded. rapturously. because words are too clumsy. In other words. because there's more resonance there.

There was a young man who said 'though It seems that I know that I know. a certain kind of reflexive . being able to feel about feeling. and then we worry. What I would like to see Is the I that sees me When I know that I know that I know. You don't make any plans.' And this is the human problem: we know that we know. calculation and so on. is the price you pay for knowing that you know. Did you ever see a badly formed cloud? Were the stars ever misarranged? When you watch the foam breaking on the seashore. I don't worry. Once you start thinking about things. you just live like you feel like it. and had to purposely arrange and discipline and push our lives around in accordance with foresight and words and systems of symbols. Did you really take all the details into consideration? Was every fact properly reviewed? And by jove. so you get anxiety. also. And yet we think in what we do. a cat. I just do what comes naturally. When we lost this thing that the cats and the flowers have. and had to think about it. we make mistakes. And this. accountancy. For being able to think about thinking. when it walks--did you ever see a cat making an aesthetic mistake. do you see that this is simultaneously an advantage and a terrible disadvantage? What has happened here is that by having a certain kind of consciousness. I don't have to make any plans. the more you realize you really couldn't take everything into consideration. the more you think about it. And so. So there came this point in human evolution when we lost our innocence. anything. did it ever make a bad pattern? Never. becauase all the variables in every decision are incalculable. though. everybody envies them. And so you're in this funny position. Now then. Suppose that you could live absolutely spontaneously. there came a point in our evolution where we didn't guide life by distrusting our instincts. because look. And we're worried about that.' The way the animals live. And you say 'What a gas that is. you worry as to if you thought enough.

So. God is not something in Hindu mythology with a white beard that sits on a throne. It represents power. 'Satchitananda. all you've parted with is the paper. deep down. not as a stranger in the world. you've got to eat. but FEEL yourself. and they get a whole cartload of goodies and they drive it through. That's to be really mixed up. it doesn't have the same value. what exists. In other words. People go to the supermarket.' Which means 'sat. reality itself is gorgeous. if you look out in the sky. such as numbers.consciousness--being aware of being aware. but they've got a cartload of goodies. 'chit. say in Hindu mythology. on probation. God in Indian mythology is the self. is a firework display like you see on the fourth of July. Because the paper in our system becomes more valuable than the wealth. please.' that which is consciousness. They don't think about that. What you are basically. not as something that has arrived here by fluke. . as it were. far. then the clerk fixes up the counter and this long tape comes out.' and everybody feels depressed. Not conceive. far in.' that which is. Wowee! And all those stars. because they give away $30 worth of paper. deep. you think oh well. such as words. that has royal perogatives. but you can begin to feel your own existence as absolutely fundamental. one representing the other. which is a great occasion for celebration. two lives together at once. that's just necessary. is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself. the money representing the wealth. The symbols representing the reality. the universe is a celebration. and he'll say '$30. not as someone here on sufferance. But you've got the real wealth in the cart. it is the fullness of total joy. whereas the wealth. they say that the world is the drama of God. death implies life--you can conceive yourself. it is a fireworks show to celebrate that existence is. life implies death--or shall I say. self implies other. Wowee. they think they've just lost $30. So then. You put. that which is 'ananda' is bliss. and you understand that black implies white. and if you don't realize that the symbol is really secondary. Being able to represent what goes on fundamentally in terms of a system of symbols. potentiality. If you awaken from this illusion.

that was pretty great. And after several nights of 75 years of total pleasure each. Everybody assumes their seats in the theater. according to this idea. is to play that he's not.' See? And that keeps things moving. You would dream the dream of the life that you are actually living today. 'But. Let's have a dream which isn't under control. When you come into the theater. You say to the other fellow 'Have a ball. Throwing yourself out. whatever it is. So in this idea. fulfill all your wishes.' And you would dig that. And you're all that. Not God in a politically kingly sense. Of playing that you weren't God. And it's perfectly OK to pretend you're not. everybody is fundamentally the ultimate reality. there's no point in just sustaining bliss. where something is going to happen to me that I don't know what it's going to be. You would have every kind of pleasure you could conceive. and down there is the audience. as you began on this adventure of dreams.And then they say. a tragedy. But the actors have a conspiracy against . not clinging to oneself. gone to see a comedy. the deep-down basic whatever there is. but God in the sense of being the self. to be perfectly convinced. naturally. however. And you would. you would say 'Well. Because the whole nature of the godhead. That would be within the infinite multiplicity of the choices you would have. a thriller. and a stage. and that you could for example have the power to dream in one night 75 years worth of time.' Let's suppose you were able.' because he gives himself away. and you would make further and further gambles as to what you would dream. only you're pretending you're not. because this is the whole notion of drama. you're always getting rid of the ball. That's the nature of life. and finally you would dream where you are now. to dream any dream you wanted to dream. The nature of love is self-abandonment. But now let's have a surprise. Or any length of time you wanted to have. and come out of it and say 'That was a close shave. The first thing that he says to himself is 'Man. then. and they all know as they come in and pay their admissions. for instance as in basketball. there is an arch. every night. now wasn't it?' Then you would get more and more adventurous. get lost. that what is going to happen on the stage is not for real.

I had a father who got hot pants over a girl. or crying. of a mechanical world. So anyway. They want to get everybody sitting on the edge of their chairs. and she was my mother. the parson. I got born.this.I'm not trying to sell you on this idea in the sense of converting you to it. In other words. then. where the actors take off their masks. How to be a real person. Absolutely captivated by the drama.' The 'person' of the village. offscene. Like you sitting in this room. The 'person' around town. I'm just putting it forward as a possibility of life to think about. And so in the course of forgetting that this world is a drama. How to be a genuine fake. because they're going to try and persuade the audience that what is happening on the stage IS for real. or of an autocratic god. this means that you're not victims of a scheme of things. because you want to play the game that it's happened to you. I want you to think of its possibilities. because it has a megaphone-type mouth which throws the sound out in an open-air theater. The life you're living is what YOU have put yourself into. this is a drama. And if a skillful human actor can take in an audience and make people cry. So then. Why he can take himself in completely. He can play so much for real that he thinks he really is. they want you terrified. the word for the mask has come to mean who you are genuinely. The proper person. and I blame him for it and say . and as a result of that. Only you don't admit it. So the 'per'--through--'sona'--what the sound comes through--that's the mask. the word for the role. So the 'dramatis persona' at the beginning of a play is the list of masks that the actors will wear. I got mixed up in this world. I want you to play with it. The person. You've acted it so damn well that you KNOW that this is the real world. and because he was just a horny old man. I'm not trying to prove it. think what the cosmic actor can do. or laughing. and what I want you to is-. Well. But you're playing it. Because behind the stage is the green room. you think you're really here. you've persuaded yourself that way. Incidentally. the audience and the actor as one. the word 'parson' is derived from the word 'person. As well. Do you know that the word 'person' means 'mask'? The 'persona' which is the mask worn by actors in GrecoRoman drama.

That really and truly we're all in a state of total bliss and delight. And that really. serious risk. and I got born with syphilis. let me be perfectly frank with you. you've got to look after me. you're going to wake up. and it's all of us. That was me. And when you're ready to wake up. but in the end it always wakes up and comes back to itself. But I did it. Or you played on the supposition that it's a frightful. you can slam yourself on the head with a hammer because it's so nice when you stop. There's no point in going on living unless we make the assumption that the situation of life is optimal. Isn't that an optimal game rule for life? Because if you play life on the supposition that you're a helpless little puppet that got involved. it gets involved in the farthest-out adventures. and if you're not ready you're going to stay pretending that you're just a 'poor little me. it's a drag. you're just a result. even if I got myself into an awful mess. you can call it God. And I deliberately got involved in this thing. and so on. And when you wake up. It gets lost. You know. and the great Siberian itch. And it makes you realize how great things are when you forget that's the way it is. And it's playing the game of hide and seek with itself. and that I WAS the ugly gleam in my father's eye when he approached my mother. and that we really ought to do something about it. you can call it anything you like. It's playing all the parts of all being whatsoever everywhere and anywhere. Look at it that way instead. And that's just like black and white: you don't know black unless you know white. you play non-bliss in order to be able to experience bliss. nevertheless this was a game. are that there the central self. you don't know white unless you know black. It was a kind of cosmic masochism. which was a very far out play.' And since you're all . I was desire.'Well that's your fault. it'll be great. here's the drama.' and he says 'I don't see why I should look after you. This is simply fundamental. And you can go as far out in non-bliss as you want to go. So then. but we're going to pretend we aren't just for kicks. In other words. My metaphysics. and tuberculosis in a Nazi concentration camp.' But let's suppose we admit that I really wanted to get born.

You are a fallen human being. go right down to it.' You come to the guru and say 'Sir. Go back in and find out who you are.' I say `Ha-ha. Shiva. It's simply the way one experiences keeping the game of disguise going on. I know who you are. I want to become enlightened.'' So eventually--there are all sorts of tricks of course that gurus play. you're looking out. I want spiritual wisdom. In other words. and you're unaware of what's behind your eyes.' And what is the function of a guru? He's the man that looks you in the eye and says 'Oh come off it. Or the sense of anxiety. why you ask. what a funny way God has come on today. And he would say 'Who is asking the question?' And he'd look at you and say. I have a problem. That somehow the very fact that you exist is an affront.' And the reason they do that is simply that you won't wake up until you feel you've paid a price for it. when you're in the way of waking up. that great Hindu sage of modern times? People used to come to him and say 'Master.' The guru looks at you adn says 'Who are you?' You know Sri-Ramana-Maharshi. the sense of guilt that one has. But I assume that you are maybe not serious. I'm unhappy. as the Hindus say 'the teacher. and I want to get one up on the universe.' And if you've looked at a photograph of that man--I have a gorgeous photograph of him. the lilting laugh that says 'Oh come off it. I recognize you. and finding out who you are. and the humor in them. Or else you're pleasing yourselves with some kind of flirtation with waking up which you're not serious about. So then. I remember as a child when . And I look at those eyes.' 'the awakener. Do you see that? Supposing you say 'I feel guilty. I look by it every time I go out the front door. They say 'Well.' Christianity makes you feel guilty for existing.here and engaged in this sort of enquiry and listening to this sort of lecture. you meet a character called a guru. we're going to put you through the mill. where the question comes from. 'You're looking at me. but sincere. I assume you're all in the process of waking up. that you are ready to wake up. who was I in my last incarnation?' As if that mattered. When you come to my door and say `I'm so-andso.

when you are going to be initiated. And what are you going to do about that? 'This I have done for thee. But that sense of guilt is the veil across the sanctuary.In last night's session. I put myself through this test and that test. is you. don't you come in. So I invent for myself an eleborate sytem of delaying my waking up. And since you're playing hide & seek. you have crucified Christ. pt 3 of 3 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------. Because you eat steak. The basis of all games. and the player. THEN I at last admit to myself who I really am. They gave us each a colored postcard with Jesus crucified on it. since that is the essential game that is going on. The game of games. and when I convince myself it's sufficiently arduous. or the self. I am that I am. Mythra.' And so you go through the mill. I was discussing an alternative myth to the Ceramic and Fully Automatic models of the universe. hide and seek. And the knowledge that your essential self is the foundation of . Why? Because you're saying to yourself 'I won't wake up until I deserve it. THEN we'll let you in. and that behind this big act is the player. the _atman_. which is the name of god. when all is said and done. Only you are playing hide and seek. you are deliberately. there's somebody saying 'Ah-ah-ah. YOU had nailed that man to the cross. It's the same mystery. and it said underneath 'This I have done for thee. 'Don't you DARE come in!' In all mysteries. I won't wake up until I've made it difficult for me to wake up. What doest thou for me?' You felt awful. what doest thou for me?' You feel awful that you exist at all. The idea that life as we experience it is a big act.ALAN WATTS: THE NATURE OF CONSCIOUSNESS. You've got to fulfill this requirement and that requirement. as it's called in Hindu philosophy. I'll call the Dramatic Myth. or what you really are. and draw aside the veil and realize that after all.we went to the serves of the church on Good Friday. although you can't admit this--or won't admit it--you are deliberately forgetting who you really are.' ------------------------------------------------------------------------------.

And so what I want to discuss this morning is how this happens. way in the back of your mind. it doesn't include the activity of the glands. Because for example. And then over against that. the 'ground of being' as Tillich calls it. But then ask yourself how do you decide? When you decide to open your hand. I must go a little bit further into the whole nature of this problem. it doesn't include digestion. the so-called involuntary circulation of your blood is one continuous process with the stars shining. a very strange thing happens. Because your physical organism is . We have a certain number of actions that we define as voluntary. it goes on. you feel that you decide whether to open it or to close it. If you find out it's YOU who circulates your blood. the problem is this. you don't control your breath. in a way. In other words. You can feel that you breath deliberately. is something you have that the Germans call a _hintengedanka_[?] A _hintengedanka_ is a thought way.the universe. there is all those things that are involuntary. when you move your hand. We identify in our exerience a differentiation between what we do and what happens to us. it doesn't include how you shape your bones. Is it voluntary or involuntary? So. in order to bring this to the front. circulate your blood. it doesn't include the heartbeats. But when you don't think about it. Something that you know deep down but can't admit. in order to know that is the case. then. and we feel in control of those. You find out that your body knows that you are one with the universe. we come to have a very arbitrary definition of self. you will at the same moment find out that you are shining the sun. do you? You just decide. and how do you do that? And if you don't know how to do it. Although before doing so. way. You see. But the dividing line between these two is very inarbitrary. do you first decide to decide? You don't. Do you or do you not do these things? Now if you get with yourself and you find out you are all of yourself. And that then doesn't include breathing most of the time. That much of my activity which I feel I do. you have to be kidded out of your game. So. is it voluntary or involuntary? Let's consider breathing.

And you had to think and do as a deliberate process waking up all the circuits that you need for active life during hte day. I could recall what dress she was wearing. In the same way. because I didn't attend.one continous process with everything else that's going on. How could you use so many arms at once? How could a centipede control a hundred legs at once? Because it doesn't think about it. Omnipotence is not knowing how everything is done. So then. I look at a girl here and somebody asks me later 'What was she wearing?' I may not know. which puzzles people enormously of course. You don't have to translate it into language. You see? And perhaps if I could under hypnosis be asked this question. But as I tried to explain. Why. you don't have any attention focused on how you shine the sun. it's just doing it. you'd never get done! Because you have to do all those things at once. Your body is continuous with the total energy system of the cosmos. That's why the Buddhists and Hindus represent their gods as manyarmed. and it's all you. you are conscious of as much as you can notice. But I was aware. Supposing that when you got up in the morning. Just as the waves are continuous with the ocean. because it sounds sort of dead. and you see an enormous number of things which you do not notice. although I've seen. For example. where I would get my conscious attention out of the way by being in the hypnotic state. so in the same way. Because what consciousness is is a rather specialized form of awareness. So then. Give it a plus rather than a minus. Superconsciously would be better. Only you're playing the game that you're only this bit of it. you had to switch your brain on. just in the same way as you don't know--you don't focus your attention--on how you make your thyroid gland function. there are in physical reality no such thing as separate events. let me connect this with the problem of birth and death. Remember also when I tried to work towards a definition of omnipotence. When you look around the room. you are unconsciously performing all the various activities of your organism. . So then. Only unconsciously isn't a good word.

I am the sun. it doesn't make any difference. we all know very well that after other people die. only you can only experience it one at a time. But one of the interesting things in the world is--this is a yoga. this organism is a continuous energy with everything else that's going on. What will it be like to go to sleep and never wake up? And if you think long enough about that. only you don't have to remember the past in the same way you don't have to think about how you work your thyroid gland. and that you're doing all this and you never had any education in how to do it? Never learned. the only thing that can happen is the same experience. in order to understand what the self is. Doesn't it really astonish you that you are this fantastically complex thing. or the same sort of experience as when you were born. Only . but you're this miracle? The point of it is. something will happen to you. you have to remember that it doesn't need to remember anything. other people are born. among other things. So then. you're not going to have to put up with everlasting non-existance. you can't have an experience of nothing. Children think about it. when you die. and wheresoever all being exist throughout all galaxies. And they're all you. You know that very well. It's one of the great wonders of life. And when they come into being. You just do it. like you breath. that's you coming into being. it will pose the next question to you. or whatever else it is in your organism. from a strictly physical. Everybody is I. nature abhorres a vacuum. scientific standpoint. What was it like to wake up after having never gone to sleep? That was when you were born.just as you don't need to know how you work your thyroid gland. A lot of people are afraid that when they die. You see. you all know you're you. and sort of undergo that. You will find out. they're going to be locked up in a dark room forever. In other words. And if I am my foot. this is a realization--try and imagine what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up. You don't have to know how to shine the sun. Think about that.Because. You are all of them. because that's not an experience. So after you're dead.

All these things functioning together.life is pattern. which are a discord at one level. that I've had a private revelation or that I have sensory vibrations going on a plane which . And so I will never invoke spooky knowledge. If they weren't doing that. And I don't mean this in a kind of Pollyanna Christian Science sense. But if you identify yourself with your troubleshooter. or which really is physical existence--because in my philosophy there is no difference between the physical and the spiritual. I'm something IN this body. So what is discord at one level of your being is harmony at another level. but it's prissy. And you begin to realize that. because otherwise it couldn't exist. it isn't 'stuff' on the one hand and 'form' on the other. And you suddenly realize that everything you are and do is at that level as magnificent and as free of any blemish as the patterns in waves. It is a dance of energy. That's a joke. Is there anything in the way? And conscious attention is a designed function of the brain to scan the environment. I don't know what it is or why it is about Christian Science. we realize first thing how harmonious it all is. That is. The radar on a ship is a troubleshooter.' The ego. We've got the idea that 'No. came from New England. And the moment we cease to identify with the ego and become aware that we are the whole organism. But the reality underneath physical existence. that the discords of your life and the discords of people's lives. The way a cat moves. Even those creatures that are fighting each other in the blood stream and eating each other up. Can't be anything else. and you begin to be aware too. It's all process. like a radar does. It's like the radar on a ship. The ego is nothing other than the focus of conscious attention. Because your organism is a miracle of harmony. then naturally you define yourself as being in a perpetual state of anxiety.we've got this little partial view. The markings in marble. These are absolutely out-of-date catagories. and note for any troublemaking changes. It's just pattern-. And that this world is really OK. It's got kind of a funny feeling to it. at a higher level of the universe are healthy and harmonious. you wouldn't be healthy.

you realize that that vision of the paper cup is the brilliant light of the cosmos. That's the great discovery. It's your eardrum that evokes noise out of the air. we're really unimportant after all. Everything is standing right out in the open. you laugh yourself silly. it's like a hand beating on a skinless drum. by nature of having a soft skin. And when you find that out. So far so good. the sun would not be light. So you do discover when you realize this. the source of all light is in the eye. Ten thousand suns couldn't be brighter. call into being this whole universe of light and color and hardness and heaviness and everything. 'Uuuuugh. which is a minor galaxy. In other words. the most extraordinary thing that I never cease to be flabbergasted at whenever it happens to me. in the same way you. and that we live on a little planet in a solar system on the edge of the galaxy. or what smell is. But the truth is funnier than that. it's just a question of how you look at it. So if a sun shines on a world with no eyes. But in the mythology that we sold ourselves on at the end of the 19th century. it makes no noise. No light. hiding underneath all these forms as you look around you. or what touch is. when you really start to see things. only somehow veiled. God isn't there and doesn't . So if I hit as hard as I can on a drum which has no skin.' There's no difference at all. Nothing could be brighter. If there were no eyes in this world. and you look at an old paper cup. wherein God is a brilliant light. by being this organism. Only they're hidden in the sense that all the points of the infinite light are so tiny when you see them in the cup they don't blow your eyes out. YOU evoke light out of the universe. Some people will use a symbolism of the relationship of God to the universe. It is that you are looking right at the brilliant light now that the experience you are having that you call ordinary everyday consciousness-pretending you're not it--that experience is exactly the same thing as 'it. Wood is only hard in relation to a soft skin. when people discovered how big the universe was. You. and you go into the nature of what it is to see what vision is. everybody thought. See. evoke hardness out of wood.you don't have.

and you thought attention was Me. So the moment you start practicing yoga. If you can give up desire. And we've got to pay attention.' But he didn't say that as the last word. they're going to come back after a while and say 'Yes.' And we put ourselves down. who has the ingenuity. Come to. If you do anything to make it different. he said that as the opening step of a dialogue. But actually.' Because you can't give up desire. you realize what the hoax is. it's hypnotized. the ego. This little organism. when you learn to pay attention. it gets stuck. is what the whole show is growing there. Now this is the Buddhist trick: the buddha said 'We suffer because we desire. wake up! Well. And you got stuck with the idea of attention. Why would you try to do that? It's . There's jazz going on. tiny thing. you are getting in your own way. you won't suffer. 'Well at last you're beginning to understand the point. That's why in Aldous Huxley's book 'Island. Because if you say that to someone. and if the conscious state you're in this moment is the same thing as what we might call the Divine State. So if you start attending to attention. When you put a chicken's beak on a chalk line.' the Roger had trained the myna birds on the island to say 'Attention! Here and now. attention. to evoke the whole universe out of what otherwise would be mere quanta.love us. it's this funny little microbe. by nature of this magnificent organic structure. this ingenious little organism is not merely some stranger in this. But you see. and nature doesn't give a damn. crawling on this little planet that's way out somewhere. on this little planet. but now I'm desiring not to desire. or praying or meditating. and so realizing it's own presence. So in the same way.' And so the buddha will answer. and as children you know how all the teachers were in class: 'Pay attention!!' And all the kids stare at the teacher. here's the problem: if this is the state of affairs which is so. and you're it. Does it through you. boys!' See? Realize who you are. or indulging in some sort of spiritual cultivation. That's putting your nose on the chalk line. it shows that you don't understand that it's so.

Why do you want to do that? Just because it's another way of beating the game. and when you know it you'd like others to see it. relax. the phonier and phonier the whole thing gets. so experience polarizes itself as self and other. The first way. be unselfish. But if you try to get one up on the universe. that means you don't understand you ARE it. But if a person really tries to do it--and this is the way Christianity is rigged--you should be very sorry for your sins.' Well that's a double-bind. exactly the same thing happens. is that a guru or teacher who wants to get this across to somebody because he knows it himself. if you are in a contest with the universe. he's going to stir up that contest until it becomes ridiculous. So what he does is. And though everybody knows they're not. too. Or trying to be humble.Now of course. It's like trying not to think of a green elephant while taking medicine. And they know the more assiduously they practice it. isn't it? The moment you hypothesize that you are different from the universe. And so he sets you such tasks as saying-. You think there's a real difference between 'self' and 'other. they go around trying to be penetant. but it's all one. you want to get one up on it. Let go. which is the usual way. So in the same way you say 'You ought to be unselfish' or to give up you ego. or get the mastery of it.' what you call yourself. in order to be a true person.' You must love me. So there are two ways of playing the game.already desire. If you try to make the south pole defeat the north pole. The Zen master .' But 'self. But just as a magnet polarizes itself at north and south. You can't be sincere purposely. but it's all one magnet. In other words. They're really one. and you're in competition with it. So the lord steps down out of heaven and says 'The first and great commandment is `Thou shalt love the lord thy god. and what you call 'other' are mutually necessary to each other like back and front. but they think they ought to be. you must give up yourself. So in Zen Buddhism. you show you don't know what's going on. You can't love on purpose. he gets you into being ridiculous harder and more assiduously than usual.

challenges you to be spontaneous.' When Bodidharma. Shout the word 'moo. So almost all spiritual disciplines. 'Show me the real you. you just had to yell. Look out the window and .' he said. That's just a fake shout. But the only way you'll know it isn't there is if you look for it hard enough. Until one day they get so desperate they give up trying and they manage to get that shout through. That's no good.' And Bodhidharma said 'Bring out your mind here before me and I'll pacify it. and you're an ego and you're in difficulty. There isn't a separate you.' So Bodhidharma said 'There. a disciple came to him and said 'I have no peace of mind. when they weren't trying to be genuine. you won't be able to find it. Because there was nothing else to do. come through in this shout. Nothing happens. Doing resolutely and consistently what you're doing already.' See? Becuase when you look for your own mind. you can't talk him out of that. If you think you have a problem. 'when I look for it. that is to say. And so everybody says 'All right. look within. etc. know yourself. So if a person believes that the Earth is flat. but it is one way. the legendary founder of Zen. Please pacify my mind. and then you'll realize it isn't there at all. Everything. your own particularized center of being which is separate from everything else. prayers. the answer the Zen master makes to you is 'Show me your ego. I want to hear your whole being in it. are ways of persisting in folly. came to China. I haven't said the only way.' Because the harder you look.' And you yell your lungs out and he says 'Pfft. And so in this way--it's called the technique of reductio ad absurdum.' And he says 'I want to hear YOU in that shout. meditations.' And these guys scream themselves hoarse. right from the heart of the universe. etc. He knows it's flat. That's one way. I want to see this thing that has a problem.' 'Well. to find out that it isn't there. you won't be able to find it. it's pacified. But the only way to find that out is to persist in the state of delusion as hard as possible. Now I want to hear absolutely the whole of your being. You're mind is what there is. find out who you are.' One way they do this getting you to shout. I can't find it.

' And in order to find the edge. It's being with yourself as you are without altering anything. And how to explain that? Because there's nothing to explain. but if I were you. sir. Because is is that jolt that suddenly brings you here. is eternity. It is the way it is now. That's the only way that will teach him. because you're already there. there's no road to here. In other words. it's obvious. a little village. I wouldn't start from . you've convinced the guy that the world is round. and that it ought to be changed. That although we have somehow conned ourselves into the notion that this moment is ordinary.see.-which is the thing that one sees in the experience of satori or awakening. It's just the way it is. and eventually when we get back to where we started from. There is another possibility. It's not just letting go. It's not like that. So you don't need to do anything at all. Because people can't be talked out of illusions. and that we may not feel very well. But the difficulty about explaining that is that you mustn't try and not do anything. I don't know where it is. however. as when you lie down on the floor and imagine that you're heavy so you get into a state of muscular relaxation. Let's say we take as the basic supposition. what's required is a sort of act of super relaxation. See? And if you understand that. So that's why Zen teachers use shock treatment. we're sort of vaguely frustrated and worried and so on. The tourist asked some yokel the way to Upper Tuttenham. So the only way to convince him it isn't is to say 'Well let's go and find the edge. See. it's not ordinary relaxation. or whatever you want to call it--that this now moment in which I'm talking and you're listening. But this is more difficult to describe. So we've got to go consistently in a straight line due west along the same line of latitude. And the yokel scratched his head and he said 'Well. because that's doing something. If you ask me 'How am I going to get here?' It will be like the famous story of the American tourist in England. you'll never find it that way. it looks flat. you've got to be very careful not to walk in circles. it will automatically wake you up. to sometimes hit them or shout at them or create a sudden surprise. This is it.

you're already there. This experience happened to them. and you know you're doing that. how do I obtain the knowledge of liberation?' all I can say is it's the wrong question. So be careful of that. But the point is. It's your privilege to pretend that you don't. too. it's up to you. literal kind of bible sense. that I suddenly discover that I am the lord and that I am above good and evil and so on. when you ask 'How to I obtain the knowledge of God. then you ought to know that everybody else is. You're still. You watch other people moving. People who get the Holy Man syndrome.' So you see. it shows you don't want to. But of course. Jung calls it inflation. in that way. and some people misinterpret it. And that's what you want to do. To say that you actually have power over other people. a funny thing happens. . everybody else is. that's your life game. Why do you want to obtain it? Because the very fact that you're wanting to obtain it is the only thing that prevents you from getting there. and therefore I start giving myself airs and graces. If you're not awake. You will realize that what you describe as things under your own will feel exactly the same as things going on outside you. too. You already have it. And if you don't understand what's going on.here. the self pretending it's not the self. just like you're breathing or circulating your blood. That's your game. you will. as it were. but they don't know how to interpret it. They put them away. And when you want to wake up. So you see. You're still playing the hide part of the game. You see? A lot of people feel that and they go crazy. If you discover that you are that. and to feel that you are god in the Jehovah sense. so that you can alter what you're doing. That's only they got their wires crossed. You'll discover as this happens that the distinction between voluntary and involuntary behavior disappears. that's what makes you think your an ego. just like that. So when you understand this. you're liable to get crazy at this point. They think they're Jesus Christ and that everybody ought to fall down and worship them. And that you're omnipotent in a very crude.

It is there from a tactile standpoint. but from the moment it went BANG! in the beginning. This world is the sort of environment which grows organisms. The environment grows the organism. You've got to correct that. It seems. What you see out here is a neurological experience. that you are behind your eyes. what kind of situation is this? It's inside me. is isn't light. So the relationship between the environment and the organism is transactional. The organism turns the sun into light. It was that way from the beginning. Most people think when they open their eyes and look around. The organisms may in time have arrived in the scene or out of the scene later than the beginning of the scene. It isn't that organisms by chance came into the world. but you can't get inside it. And the answer to it simply is they're all one process. . and in turn the organism creates the environment.For example. organisms like us are sitting here. and I'm inside it. rather than interaction between the individual and the world. but it requires there be an environment containing a sun for there to be an organism at all. There cannot be an act of buying unless there is simultaneously an act of selling. and I'm inside it. and vice versa. if that's the way it started. Now if that hits you. and you feel sensuously that that's so. Just like. You turn around and there's something else in front of you. doesn't it. that what they're seeing is outside. when you look out there and see all these people and things sitting around. that's how it feels inside your head. let's see in other ways how you might realize this. and it's inside me. This is the what you could call transaction. for example. It's what you're experiencing. and that behind the eyes there is a blank you can't see at all. you can feel it with your fingers. where the optical nerves are at the back of the head. with the thought that your skull is also in the external world. It isn't dark. But what is that behind your eyes? Well actually. We're involved in it. But behind the eyes there seems to be something that has no color. It's in there.' But that's the way it is. you may feel therefore that the external world is all inside my skull. The color of this room is back here in the nervous system. in buying and selling. So you suddenly begin to feel 'Wow.

It's a long run. Those rocks are just as much you as your fingernails. we take the propogation of an electric current. somehow. We've got all sorts of ideas built into us which seem unquestioned. before that switch closes.' Our common sense has been rigged. and here we have a switch. 'Face the facts. And our speech reflects them. It never starts unless the point of arrival is there. simply because this is what we are used to. But the finishing point has to be closed before it will even start from the beginning. waiting. Now. Takes a bit of time. you see? So that we feel strangers and aliens in this world. to jump the gap as soon as the switch is closed. 'Face the facts. its commonest phrases. there is implicit human intelligence. it'll take an interval for that current to get going in its circuit if it's going all the way around the Earth. say 'Is that the way I have to assume life is? I know everybody does. but does that make it true?' It doesn't necessarily. and this is terribly plausible. But it's already implied. That's the only reason. Now. but the oak is already implied in the acorn.' As if they were outside you. It takes time for an acorn to turn into an oak. rocks and stuff. What are you going to stand on? What I think an awakening really involves is a reexamination of our common sense. somewhere. A positive pole. the current doesn't exactly behave like water in a pipe. In a similar way.' It all goes together. So don't differentiate yourself and stand off and say 'I am a living organism in a world made of a lot of dead junk. that billions of years is just the same things as the trip of that current around the wire. a negative pole. There isn't current here. And so in any lump of rock floating about in space. Sometime. The current doesn't even start until the switch is closed. As if life were something they simply encountered as a foreigner.Look here. obvious. They all go together. It . I can have an electric current running through a wire that goes all the way around the Earth. even though in the development of any physical system there may by billions of years between the creation of the most primitive form of energy and then the arrival of intelligent life. And here we have a power source. You need rocks. But when you really start questioning this.

We got used to it. Square Zen. But then somebody sailed around the world. people got terrified. And then when the astronomers suggested that there weren't any crystal spheres. we travel around in jet planes and everything. the idea that time gets older as light moves away from a source. With love instead of with hate for our environment. And then maybe if that happens. you could see the crystal spheres there because you could look right through them. and everybody knew that. We have no problem feeling that the Earth is globular. Nowadays. It was obviously made of crystal. Why. people who lived in the antiguities would fall off. They thought. it will be a matter of commons sense to many people that they're one with the universe. It'll be so simple. when they found out the Earth was spherical. in other words. and Zen by Alan . None whatever. in a few years. That began to bother people when Einstein started talking about that. and something had to keep them up there. So then as you question this basic assumption that underlies our culture. Well. because then they thought the stars would fall down. we shall be in a position to handle our technology with more sense. it doesn't bother anybody. people used to believe that planets were supported in the sky by being imbedded in crystal spheres. But now we're all used to it. Beat Zen. and we all got used to it. It becomes absolutely obvious to you that you are continuous with the universe. people looking at the world now on Mars. For example. they would be seeing the state of the world a little earlier than we are now experiencing it. too.ain't necessarily so. So in the same way Einstein's relativity theories--the curvature of the propogation of light. and that was scary. you find you get a new kind of common sense. and relativity and things like that are a matter of common sense today.

com/beat_zen." said the Chung-yung. the wise and the foolish are the inseparable polarities of existence. That from which one can depart is not the Tao. human and otherwise-a universal vision of life as the Tao or way of nature in which the good and evil. and the Confucian admiration of "reasonableness" and compromise may appear to be a weak-kneed lack of commitment to principle. I do not say this as a prelude to harping upon the ncommunicable subtleties of alien cultures. "Tao." For the urge to make or prove oneself right has always jiggled the Chinese sense of the ludicrous. who." To Confucius it seemed much better to be humanhearted then righteous. Actually they reflect a marvelous understanding and respect for what we call the balance of nature. As Chang-tzu said. and the Chinese who created Zen were the same kind of people as Lao-tzu.bluesforpeace. it was obvious that one could not be right without also being wrong. because the two were as inseparable as back and front. For though the word "Zen" is Japanese and though Japan is now its home. said." To Western ears such words may sound cynical. and to the great Taoists. do not understand the principles of the universe.htm It is as difficult for Anglo-Saxons as for the Japanese to absorb anything quite so Chinese as Zen. Laotzu and Chang-tzu. Zen Buddhism is the creation of T'ang dynasty China. and right without its correlative wrong. centures before." Therefore wisdom did not consist in trying to wrest the good from the evil but learning to . "Those who justify themselves do not convince. "Those who would have good government without its correlative misrule. The point is simply that people who feel a profound need to justify themselves have difficulty in understanding the viewpoints of those who do not. since as both Confucians and Taoistshowever different these philosophies in other ways-they have invariably appreciated the man who can "come off it.Watts Orignial version as published the spring 1958 issue of the Chicago Review http://www. the creature and the destructive. "is that from which one cannot depart.

was. Just be ordinary and nothing special. the itchy . For rather different reasons. I think. The ignorant will laugh at me. the words of Suzuki. overcoming the "self observing the self" by bringing it to an intensity in which it exploded. the war with Japan. pass water. perfectly correct in saying that the attraction of Zen to the samurai class was its power to get rid of an extremely awkward self-consciousness induced in the education of the young. Ruth Benedict. the samurai. The appeal of Zen arts to the "modern" spirit in the West. and when you're tired go and lie down. move your bowels. the Japanese version of Zen fought fire with fire. Japanese people tend to be as uneasy in themselves as Westerners. Yet it was always obvious to the Chinese that a man who mistrusts himself cannot even trust his mistrust. in that very uneven work hrysanthemum and Sword. Although the attraction of Zen lay in the possibility of liberation from self-consciousness. Yet the spirit of these words is just as remote from a kind of Western Zen which would employ this philosophy to justify a very self-defensive Bohemianism. and must therefore be hopelessly confused. Part-and-parcel of this lfconsciousness is the Japanese compulsion to compete with oneself-a compulsion which turns every craft and skill into a marathon of self-discipline. having a sense of social shame quite as acute as our more metaphysical sense of sin. but the wise will understand. At the roots of Chinese life there is a trust in the good-and-evil of one's own nature which is pecularly foreign to those brought up with the chronic uneasy conscience of the Hebrew-Christian cultures. This was especially true of the class most attracted to Zen."ride" them as a cork adapts itself to the crests and troughs of the waves. Eat your food. There is no single reason for the extraordinary growth of Western interest in Zen during the last twenty years. How remote from the regimen of the Japanese Zen monastery are the words of the great T'ang master Linchi: In Buddhism there is no place for using effort.

To the Westerner in search of the reintegration of man and nature there is an appeal far beyond the merely sentimental in the naturalism of Zen-in the landscapes of Ma-yuan and Sesshu. the conscious and the unconscious. This disquiet arises from the suspicion that our attempt to master the world from the outside is a vicious circle in which we shall be condemned to the perpetual insomnia of controlling controls and supervising supervision ad infinitum. which conveys the mystical in terms of the natural. with its imperialistic mechanization of a natural world from which man himself feels strangely alien. but their followers seem for the most part to be displaced Christians-people in search of a more plausible philosophy than Christian supernaturalism to carry on the essentially Christian search for the miraculous. with its politically orderd cosmology." and the attraction of a nonconceptual. he is humorously . have their students in the West. the metalinguistics of B. the affinities between Zen and such purely Western trends as the philosophy of Wittgenstein. Whorf. For this reason the Chinese humanism and naturalism of Zen intrigue us much more strongly than Indian Buddhism or Vedanta. too.fascination of "Zen-stories. experiential philosophy in the climate of scientific relativism-all these are involved. Always in the "antinaturalness" of both Christianity. according perfectly with the science-fiction ideal of "man beyond mankind. These. indeed. One might mention. L. never even imagined a break between them. in an art which is simultaneously spiritual and secular. xistentialism. too. Here is a view of the world imparting a profoundly refreshing sense of wholeness to a culture in which the spiritual and the material. and certain movements in the philosophy of science and in psychotherapy. General Semantics. have been cataclysmically split." But the Buddha or awakened man of Chinese Zen is "ordinary and nothing special". a yogi with absolute mastery of his own nature. and technology. and which. like the architect-God in whose image this version of man is conceived. For both reflect a psychology in which man is identified with a conscious intelligence and will standing apart from nature to control it. The ideal man of Indian Buddhism is clearly a superman.

and this is something utterly different from rebellion against convention. for the first time. no part of which can actually be separated from the rest or valued above or below the rest." either a revolt from the culture and social order or a new form of stuffiness and respectability. But the Westerner who is attracted by Zen and who would understand it deeply must have one indispensable qualification: he must understand his own culture so thoroughly that he is no longer swayed by its premises unconsciously. on the other. in brief. in Zen the satori experience of awakening to our "original inseparability" with the universe seems. Furthermore. and yet much more at home in the world. He must really have come to terms with the Lord God Jehovah and with his HebrewChristian conscience so that he can take it or leave it without fear or rebellion. except by definition.human like the Zen tramps portrayed by Mu-chi and Liang-k'ai. or adopting foreign conventions." for he realized that things are terms. however elusive. He must be free of the itch to justify himself. He . on the one hand. For in Taoism and Zen the world is seen as an inseparably interrelated field or continuum. not a solemn and sexless ascetic. the confusion of the concrete universe of nature with the conceptual things. Thus one who actually perceives or feels this to be so no longer feels that he is an ego. They are just like us. We like this because here. One has even met people to whom it has happened. and they are no longer mysterious occultist in the Himalayas nor skinny yogis in cloistered zshrams. above all. It was in this sense that Huineng. his Zen will be either "beat" or "square. floating much more easily upon the ocean of transience and insecurity. and values of linguistic and cultural symbolism. always just round the corner. the Sixth Patriarch. and. not superhuman but fully human. Conventional thought is. They exist in the abstract world of thought. meant that "fundamentally not one thing exists. events. is a conception of the holy man and sage who is not impossibly remote. For Zen is above all the Liberation of the mind from conventional thought. but not in the concrete world of nature. not entities. Lacking this.

It is a younger generation's nonparticipation in "the American Way of Life. rather unevenly. It is all very well for the philosopher. But.sees that his ego is his persona or social role. in Kerouac. and too strident to have the flavor of Zen. and life to a very forceful social criticism and "digging of the universe" such as one may find in the poetry of Ginsberg and Snyder. too subjective. (Why. It ranges from a use of Zen for justifying sheer caprice in art. literature. it is always a share too self-conscious. He plays it cool. the alliance of church lobbies and organized crime to maintain the laws against gambling. as I know it. The "beat" mentality as I am thinking of it is something much more extensive and vague that the hipster life of New York and San Francisco. The voices of the wild ducks Are . but when the poet (Ginsberg) sayslive in the physical world moment to moment I must write down every recurring thought." a revolt which does not seek to change the existing order but simply turns away from it to find the significance of life in subjective experience rather then objective achievement. the mutual necessity of capitalism and communism to each other's existence. which would rather hand you the thing itself without comment. or of. The sea darkens. and. for example.stop every beating second this is too indirect and didactic for Zen. unaware of the correlativity of right and wrong. Beat Zen is a complex phenomenon. of the inner identity of puritanism and lechery. say. He does not precipitately adopt a new role or play the role of having no role at all. a somewhat arbitrary selection of experiences with which he has been taught to identify himself. It contrasts with the "square" and other-directed mentality of beguilement by social convention. do we say "I think" but not "I am beating my heart"?) Having seen this. he continues to play his social role without being taken by it.

and its specific tests of satori. who will before long be bringing it back home. The extremes of beat Zen need alarm no one since. It is infinitely more imaginative.faintly white. The experience of awakening which truly constitutes Zen is too timeless and universal to be injured. For square Zen is the Zen of established tradition in Japan with its clearly defined hierarchy. as Blake said. for there is a hostility in these words which clangs with selfdefense." nor to underline with violence the fact that anything goes. "I don't know. sensitive. "authoritative" spiritual experiences have always had a way of wearing thin. Furthermore. There will even be certificates to hang on the wall. Now the underlying protestant lawlessness of beat Zen disturbs square Zennists very seriously. when Kerouac gives his philosophical final statement. it has no need to say "To hell with it. And it doesn't make any difference"-the cat is out of the bag. I don't care." As for square Zen. I have known followers of both extremes to come up with perfectly clear satori experiences. its rigid discipline. I see no real quarrel in either extreme. and interesting. for since there is no real "way" to satori the way you are following makes very little difference. "the fool who persists in his folly will become wise. But the quarrel between the extremes is of great . for a satori which will receive the stamp (inka) of approved and established authority. There was never a spiritual movement without its excesses and distortions. But there is an obvious difference between square Zen and the common-or-garden squareness of the Rotary Club or the Presbyterian Church. it is the kind of Zen adopted by Westerners studying in Japan. But it is still square because it is a quest for the right spiritual experience. and thus of generating the demand for something genuine and unique which needs no stamp. More particularly. But just because Zen truly surpasses convention and its values.

for both have been long concerned with the fallibility and unconscious ambivalence of the will. for he was certainly no advocate of the life of undisciplined whimsy despite all that he said about the importance of the uncalculated life and the folly of seeking satori. However.philosophical interest. but is still closer to Hakuin then to Bankei. The square Western Zennists are often quite naive when it comes to an understanding of Christain theology or of all that has been discovered in modern psychiatry. Bankei should not exactly be idenfitied with beat Zen as I have described it. since the mother cat carries her kittens. The catappropriately enough-follows the effortless way. and grasping can be exhausted by the discipline of directing its utmost intensity to a single. no artificial striving to attain satori or to be anything but what one is. But what makes the way of effort and willpower suspect to many Westerners is not so much an inherent laziness as a thorough familiarity with the wisdom of our own culture. In seventeenth-century Japan these two attitudes were approximately typified by the great masters Bankei and Hakuin. since the baby monkey has to hang on to its mother's hair. being a contemporary form of the ancient dispute between salvation by works and salvation by faith. and it so happens that the followers of the latter "won out" and determined the present-day character of Rinzai Zen. There is also Soto Zen which differs somewhat in technique. But for square Zen there can be no true satori without years of meditationpractice under the stern supervision of a qualified master. The monkey follows the hard way. no discipline. ever-elusive objective. or between what the Hindus called the ways of the monkey and the cat. It is the concomitant of a "nongrasping" attitude of the senses to experience. Thus for beat Zen there must be no effort. (Rinzai Zen is the form most widely known in the West.) Satori can lie along both roads. and to anyone who knows anything about either Christianity or . Both have proposed problems as to the vicious circle of seeking self-surrender or of "free-associating on purpose" or of accepting one's conflicts to escape from them.

" But Zen is "fuss" when it is mixed up with Bohemian affectations. The other wants a more plausible authoratative salvation than the Church or the psychiatrists seem to be able to provide. On the contrary. He had no answer except to go on trying blindly. which means approximately "nothing special" or "no fuss. But the true character of Zen remains almost incomprehensible to those who have not surpassed the immaturity of needing to be justified. whether before the Lord God or before a paternalistic society. They saw nature in its total interrelatedness. Foreign relations can be immensely attractive and highly overrated by those who know little of their own. They didn't do it to defend themselves or to find an excuse for getting away with murder. for five years. without the least need to justify anything. and especially by those who have not worked through and grown out of their own.psychotherapy these are very real problems. The one wants a philosophy to justify him in doing what he pleases. moment by moment. They didn't brag about it and set themselves apart as rather special. The old Chinese Zen masters were steeped in Taoism. But when Herrigel's Japanese archery master was asked. This is why the displaced or unconscious Christian can so easily use either beat or square Zen to justify himself. Furthermore the atmosphere of Japanese Zen is free from all one's unpleasant childhood associations with God the Father and Jesus Christ-though I know many young Japanese who feel the same way about their early training in Buddhism. and saw that every creature and every experience is in accord with the Tao of nature just as it is. "How can I give up purpose on purpose?" he replied that no one had ever asked him that before. This enabled them to accept themselves as they were. The interest of Chinese Zen and of people like Bankei is that they deal with these problems in a most direct and stimulating way. And I . their Zen was wu-shih. and "fuss" when it is imagined that the only proper way to find it is to run off to a monastery in Japan or to do special excercises in the lotus posture five hours a day. and being to suggest some answers.

Fuss is all right. too.htm#books Bibliography: The Spirit of Zen (1936) The Legacy of Asia and Western Man (1937) The Meaning of Happiness (1940) The Theologica Mystica of St. some short. there is no earthly reason why you shouldn't.Its Story and Meaning (1950) The Supreme Identity (1950) The Wisdom of Insecurity (1951) Myth and Ritual in Christianity (1953) The Way of Zen (1957) . Or if you want to spend your time hopping frieght cars and digging Charlie Parker. The Complete Alan Watts Bibliography http://www. some long. If you really want to spend some years in a Japanese monastery. The flowering branches grow naturally.will admit that the very hullabaloo about Zen. I would like to say something for all Zen fussers.alanwatts. it's a free country. even in such an article as this. beat or square. If you are hung on Zen.net/watts. Dionysius (1944) (translation) Behold the Spirit (1948) Easter . there's no need to try to pretend that you are not. is also fuss-but a little less so. In the landscape of Spring there is neither better nor worse. Having said that.

An Autobiography 1915-1965 (1972) Cloudhidden. Whereabouts Unknown . Unbleached Silk: The Mystery of Life (1978) Om: Creative Meditations (1979) Play to Live (1982) Way of Liberation: Essays and Lectures on the Transformation of the Self (1983) Out of the Trap (1985) Diamond Web (1986) Talking Zen (1994) Become Who You Are (1995) Buddhism: The Religion of No-Religion (1995) The Philosophies of Asia (1995) The Tao of Philosophy (1995) Myth and Religion (1996) Taoism: Way Beyond Seeking (1997) Zen and the Beat Way (1997) Culture of Counterculture (1998) Sources of Recordings: Recordings of Alan Watts can be ordered from several sources.The Art of Godmanship (1964) The Book .A Mountain Journal (1973) Tao: The Watercourse Way (unfinished at the time of his death in 1973 . Two outlets that specialize in them are: Alan Watts Electronic University P. Box 2309 San Anselmo. CA USA 94979 1-415-459-4576 1-415-4597670 (fax) 1-800-96-WATTS (toll free) e-mail: watts@alanwatts.Essays on Man's Relation to Materiality (1970) Erotic Spirituality .com . and Woman (1958) "This Is It" and Other Essays on Zen and Spiritual Experience (1960) Psychotherapy East and West (1961) The Joyous Cosmology . Man.Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness (1962) The Two Hands of God .Nature.O.published in 1975) The Early Writings of Alan Watts (1987) The Modern Mystic: A New Collection of Early Writings (1990) In addition.com World Wide Web: http://www.alanwatts. They include: The Essence of Alan Watts (1974) Essential Alan Watts (1976) Uncarved Block.The Vision of Konarak (1971) The Art of Contemplation (1972) In My Own Way . a number of books have been published since his death that contain transcripts of recorded lectures and/or articles not included in the above.On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (1966) Nonsense (1967) Does It Matter? .The Myths of Polarity (1963) Beyond Theology .

com World Wide Web: http://www.html http://www.Suite 204 Westport.org World Wide Web: http://www.M.com World Wide Web: http://www. Box 422 New York.com/mindb .wellmedia.org/pacifica http://www.com Pacifica Radio Archive 3729 Cahuenga Boulevard West North Hollywood.O. Inc.wellmed ia.wellmedi a.com/collection/spirit/wattmed. NY USA 100120008 1-212-941-0999 (general office) 1-212-941-1443 (fax) 1-800-292-9001 (toll free number for consumer orders) 1-800-999-1319 (toll free number for wholesale orders) e-mail: mysticfire@echonyc.igc. 49 Richmondville Avenue .com World Wide Web: http://www.org World Wide Web: http://www. (Mastering Enlightenments Arts) P.com World Wide Web: http://www. CA USA 91604 1-818-5061077 1-800-735-0230 (toll free) e-mail: ppspacific@pacifica.com http://www.E. CA USA 94950 1-800-75-WATTS (toll free number for placing orders) e-mail: webmaster@wattstapes.com http://www.org/ pacifica/radio_archives Special Interest Book and Video P.videocollection.html http://www. NY 10012 1-212-674-4912 1-212-425-1790 (fax) 1-800-538-5856 (toll free) e-mail: mail@wellmedia.tantra.O.mysticfire.org Mystic Fire P.hartleyvideos.A.com Wellspring Media 65 Bleecker Street. CT USA 06880 1-203-226-9500 1203-227-6938 (fax) 1-800-937-1819 (toll free) e-mail: CustomerService@HartleyVideos.com/collection/spirit/zen.igc.O. CA USA 95473 1-707-823-3063 1-707829-9542 (fax) 1-800-9-TANTRA (toll free) e-mail: esensuals@tantra.wattstapes.vide ocollection. Box 1818 Sebastopol.com Additional recordings may also be gotten from: Hartley Film Foundation. Box 303 Olema. 5th Floor New York.

however it appears to be unavailable at this time. The Art of Meditation (two record set) (1969) In 1995.S. and on Thursdays (actually Fridays) from around Midnight to 1:00 a. cities: City Station Phone Alamosa KRZA (719) 589-9057 Athens (GA) WUOG (706) 542-7100 Austin KAZI (512) 836-9544 Boston WZBC (617) 552-3511 Boulder KGNU (303) 449-4885 Crested Butte KBUT (303) 349-5225 Detroit WDTR (313) 596-3507 Duluth KUMD (218) 726-7181 Honolulu KIFO (808) 955-8821 Johnson City (TN) WETS (615) 929-6440 Los Angeles / Santa Barbara KPFK (818) 985-2711 New York City WFMU (201) 678-8264 Olympia KAOS (206) 866-6000 Pittsburgh WDUQ (412) 396-6030 Plainfield (VT) WGDR (802) 454-7762 Plattsburgh (NY) WCFE (518) 563-9770 San Francisco Bay Area KKUP (408) 2536000 San Luis Obispo KCBX (805) 544-5229 Scranton WVSR (717) 941-7648 St. point your Web browser to KPFK-FM and click on "Listen Live".html#essen In addition. "Om: The Sound of Hinduism" was re-released on compact disc by Infinite Zero/American Recordings.c om/mindbody/mindbody15..on Sundays from 8:30 to 9:00 a. which broadcasts in the Los Angeles area and airs Alan Watts tapes twice a week . . To listen. which airs Monday-Thursday from Midnight to 5:30 a.ody/mindbody6. Radio Broadcasts: Radio broadcasts featuring recordings of Alan Watts can be heard in the following U.also broadcasts simultaneously on the World Wide Web via RealAudio.m. and Why Not Now: Dhyana.html#zen http://www. On Thursday nights the tapes are played during the "Something's Happening" show.m.m.videocollection. Pacific Time . Louis KDHX (314) 664-3955 Tampa WMNF (813) 238-8001 Telluride KOTO (303) 728-3334 Trenton WTSR (609) 771-2554 Tucson KXCI (602) 623-1000 Watts on the Web: Radio station KPFK-FM. Alan Watts made at least two record albums: Om: The Sound of Hinduism (1967).

Eastern Time. Editor.org/schaffer/lsd/jccontnt.druglibrary.To subscribe to the Something's Happening Program Guide.psychedelic-library..") are at: http://www." (in which Watts added several pages to the Prologue of the original 1962 edition) is at: http://www. The Consciousness-Expanding Drug. The entire text (but not the photographs) of the 1970 revised edition of "The Joyous Cosmology.org/relmenu. Radio station WMNF-FM.org/schaffer/lsd/relmenu.wmnf. go to the Something's Happening Website and follow the instructions to sign up.druglibrary.org/schaffer/lsd/wattsbio.druglibrary.druglibrary. To listen.. point your Web browser to: http://www.psychedelic-library.htm And an excerpt from "In My Own Way.htm and http://www." David Solomon..htm In addition." is at: http://www. 1964) is at: http://www.. two articles by Watts: Psychedelics and the Religious Experience (from the book "Does It Matter?. and The New Alchemy (from the book "This Is It.org/schaffer/lsd/watts2.htm and http://www.m.. area and airs Alan Watts tapes on Wednesdays starting at 11:00 a.htm Another article by Watts: A Psychedelic Experience .org DRCNet's Drug Policy Library contains a number of Watts' works on the drug issue.Fact or Fantasy? (from "LSD. which broadcasts in the Tampa.htm .. Florida. also broadcasts simultaneously on the World Wide Web...org/watts2.. which is sent out every weekend with program information for the coming week.").

and http://www.com/~regent/oracle.org/wattsbio.htm An excerpt from a dialogue featuring Alan Watts. originally published in the San Francisco Oracle in 1967. Timothy Leary.yahoo.com/group/AlanWatts There's also an Alan Watts Group at MSN: http://www.net/list   . The URLs are: http://groups.com/TheContinuanceofAlanWatt sPhilosophy The Alan Watts Mailing List archives are at: http://www.psychedelic-library. Gary Snyder.html There are two Alan Watts Groups at Yahoo.msnusers.sirius.alanwatts.com/group/alan_watts_abides http://groups.com. and Allen Ginsberg. is at: http://www.yahoo.

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