I love Alan Watts.
Browsing through the Taoism section of my book collection this morning, I noticed an early edition of his "Nature, Man, and Woman" that I got way back in my college days but hadn't looked at for a long time.
During today's pre-meditation reading I made it through the Introduction. Just reading this one chapter reminded me what a creative, insightful writer and thinker Watts was.
I don't agree with everything he says, but Watts has a knack for taking familiar subjects and looking at them in a fresh fashion.
Here's some quotations that I resonated with:
Excerpts from the Introduction to "Nature, Man and Woman" by Alan Watts.
In practice, the technical, rational consciousness is as alien to the natural man as was the supernatural soul. For both alike, nature and the natural man is an object, studied always by a technique which makes it external and therefore different from the subjective observer.
For when no knowledge is held to be respectable which is not objective knowledge, what we know will always seem to be not ourselves, not the subject. Thus we have the feeling of knowing things only from the outside, never from within, of being confronted eternally with a world of impenetrable surfaces within surfaces within surfaces.
No wonder, then, that our ideas of what nature is like on the inside are guesses at the mercy of fashion.
The harsh divisions of spirit and nature, mind and body, subject and object, controller and controlled are seen more and more to be awkward conventions of language. These are misleading and clumsy terms for describing a world in which all events seem to be mutually interdependent -- an immense complexity of subtly balanced relationships which, like an endless knot, has no loose end from which it can be untangled and put in supposed order.
In such a world it is impossible to consider man apart from nature, as an exiled spirit which controls this world by having its roots in another. Man is himself a loop in the endless knot, and as he pulls in one direction he finds that he is pulled from another and cannot find the origin of the impulse.
For the mold of his thoughts prevents him. He has an idea of himself, the subject, and of nature, the object. If he cannot find the source of the impulse in either, he is confused. He cannot settle for voluntarism and he cannot settle for determinism. But the confusion lies in the tangle of his thoughts rather than the convolutions of the knot.
Purpose is a pre-eminently human attribute. To say that the world has no purpose is to say that it is not human, or, as the Tao Te Ching puts it:
Heaven and earth are not human-hearted [jen].
But it continues:
The sage is not human-hearted.
For what is not human appears to be inhuman only when man sets himself over against nature, for then the inhumanity of nature seems to deny man, and its purposelessness to deny his purposes. But to say that nature is not human and has no purpose is not to say what it has instead. The human body as a whole is not a hand, but it does not for this reason deny the hand.
It is obviously the purest anthropomorphism to assume that the absence of a human quality in bird, cloud, or star is the presence of a total blank, or to assume that what is not conscious is merely unconscious.
Furthermore, may it not be that when we speak of nature as blind, and of matter-energy as unintelligent, we are simply projecting upon them the blankness which we feel when we try to to know our own consciousness as an object, when we try to see our own eyes or taste our own tongues?
The Taoist idea of naturalness goes far beyond the merely normal, or the realization that all our experiences and actions are movements of the Tao, the way of nature, the endless knot, including the very experience of being an individual, a knowing subject.
When the mutual interdependence of the opposites is not seen, it becomes possible to dream of a state of affairs in which life exists without death, good without evil, pleasure without pain, and light without darkness. The subject, the soul, can be set free from the concrete limitations of the object, the body.
Thus in the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the body, the body is usually considered to be so transformed by the spirit that it is no longer in any real sense a body. It is rather a fantasy-body from which all the really earthy qualities have been taken away -- weightless, sexless, and ageless.
Enjoyment is always gratuitous and can come no other way than of itself, spontaneously. To try to force it is, furthermore, to try to experience the future before it has arrived, to seek the psychological result of attending to the present experience and thus short-circuiting or cutting out the experience itself.
Obviously, however, the person who attempts to get something from his present experience feels divided from it. He is the subject and it is the object. He does not see that he is that experience, and that trying to get something from it is merely self-pursuit.
Ordinarily we think of self-consciousness as the subject's awareness of itself. We would be far less confused if we saw that it is the subject-object's awareness of itself.
For the point is not, in our accustomed egocentric mode of thinking, that it would be good to return to our original integrity with nature. The point is that it is simply impossible to get away from it. Similarly, it is impossible to experience the future and not to experience the present. But trying to realize this is another attempt to experience the future.
you love Alan Watts I love you ;)))
Posted by: Juliano | April 06, 2011 at 01:52 AM
"Alan Watts has a knack for taking familiar subjects and looking at them in a fresh fashion."
Watts was a student of Jiddo Krisnamurti,
also, whom greatly influenced him.
Watts realized his Zen buddies were making
mistakes and must have realized they
were not enlightened, as they were infering.
But, Watts became enlightened. He decided
his mission on earth was to untangle the
Zen web for future generations.
It does not take long to realise what
Watts was saying, was very much different
from the standard rhetorical teachings
that preceded him. Radically different.
But, he could not come out as a debunker.
He had to change peoples minds without
them realising what he was doing.
He did not want to uspet the Zen community
as Jiddo Krishnamurti had upset Theosophy.
Read Watts, The Way of Zen." He was not
upsetting the apple cart. He was overturning
the apple cart.
Watts was not out to teach people how to become enlightened. This is not the purpose of the jnani.
Watts was out to show people what enlightenemnet was not, so they would
not hurt themsleves.
The Gordian Knott was never unraveled.
It was sliced though with a sword.
Posted by: Mike Williams | April 06, 2011 at 08:47 AM
This is what happens when we take our mystic's experience (gleaned on the inside) to the outside, conceptualize it, and sell it into a religion or cult.
Clip below: My Sale, my Little Pet = Mystic Experience and how to destroy it. (about 43 seconds into the clip)
Posted by: Jon Weiss | April 06, 2011 at 11:03 AM
“You know,” declared J. Krishnamurti , “words are dangerous things because they are symbols, and symbols are not real.”
Posted by: Dogribb | April 06, 2011 at 04:56 PM
Yes, I know. Grin.
I hung around Jiddo Krishnamuti
for quite awhile.
Watched lots of people come
to debate him. The most
interesting were always
They were sure they could outlogic
Jiddo. But, it didn't take long
before they left very humbled.
He would always dismantle the Zen
piece by piece. Until they simply
Reason why ? Jiddo was already at
they place they were trying to get to.
They soon realized that.
Posted by: Mike Williams | April 06, 2011 at 06:49 PM
That's the roll of the Master...dismantle the phantom and point to the reality of being and BOOM !!! K
JK was like calculus to me ,ponderous and abstract.How many finished the trip via his approach or any for that matter ?
Posted by: Dogribb | April 07, 2011 at 04:55 PM
Your right. I never finshed the journey
while Jiddo Krishnamurti was alive despite
all my years around him.
But, he was not trying to enlighten people.
He was trying to help people get out of cults. He was the product of the Blavatsky Theosophy under Besant and Leadbeater. he
was hailed as the Lord Maitreya and the
Order of the Star was started to help
He rejected Gurudom and Godhood, then
turned on Theosophy and debunked it.
While he debunked it, along the road he
debunked everything else.
Yet, he was full tilt boogie enlightened.
But, he still rejected Godhood.
He was the most knowledged person
on yoga I have ever met and his experiences
internally were of highest nature and was
taught by high powered masters.
Ironically, like Houdini, he spent his life
debunking the occult.
See his incredible story below. Without any question, he was the most extraordinary
man I ever met. No master, guru or anyone
could match him. His thinking was so advanced, it almost seemed like he was not human.
Posted by: Mike Williams | April 07, 2011 at 05:52 PM
Leadbeater was "Trolling" on the beach more like it.I find it amazing that this pedophiles proclivities in procuring boys led to the dissolution of the movement.
JK was a good transition object for me when I left RSSB.I made sure I was equal to the task of absorbing and admiring him and his teachings as well as dismantling the obvious attachment I was gaining from the inquiry.
Posted by: Dogribb | April 08, 2011 at 04:10 AM
Jiddo was the son of one of
the Theosphy's members. Although
history records Leadbeater as
his finder it was actually
Annie Besant whom picked him.
Annie and Leadbeater adopted Jiddo.
It seems Leadbeater was a pedophile,
but he never bothered Jiddo, or his brother.
RS people find it amazing Jaimal Singh
was a pedophile with little girls.
Salig Ram threw Jaimal out of his
satsangs for this and other reasons.
Next, Misra threw Jaimal out.
Jaimal actually lived with the two
little girls down the street from
Salig Ram's satsang.
Annie Besant was a woman rights activist
and an atheist.
Jiddo was on in a billion. To this day
I can't figure out how Annie picked such
a remarkable human being.
Jiddo was the most honest human being
I have ever met. The stories written
about affairs with his editors wife
are untrue, written by the editors
daughter to make money off books.
He dressed extremely well and did have
2 sports cars. But, I remember them as only
Austin Healy's or Martins, nothing
expensive. He was a simple man.
I used to watch all kinds of Gurus and
masters come to him. In private they
would fall at his feet.
Posted by: Mike Williams | April 08, 2011 at 08:24 AM
Mike..the stew around Jiddu and UG's forceful admonitions against him Cuckholding his best friend,later drinking during his cancer,endless abstractions etc were not as important to me as the message.Im sure many were helped by Osho as well even if you didn't approve of him per say.I dont care about other great souls,because are they not all objective to me?Plus I was done with the Master Game.
Jaimal a pedo eh? Hadn't heard that but why be surprised? I've been waiting for a sex scandel from the present fellow for some time
Posted by: Dogribb | April 08, 2011 at 04:38 PM