As noted in my previous post, I'm enjoying the audio recordings of Alan Watts that Sam Harris has put on his Waking Up app.
Here's some notes I made of Watts' talk on Sense of Nonsense, which focused on the meaning of life. Or, the lack thereof.
Watts started off by talking about significance, which we feel our life should have.
"Significant" music is such not because it means something other than itself, but is satisfying as it is.
Likewise, when our inner turmoil is quietened, small ordinary things are significant of themselves. A skilled photographer can capture images of leaves, pebbles, ripples on a lake, and lead us to see the images as significant.
The significance of the world is what is going on now.
This is characteristic of music and dance. Dance is not to be going anywhere. Dance doesn't point outside of itself. Neither does good food. The delight of eating is different from what the food does for us.
"Fun" isn't leading to something else.
Hinduism has the notion of creation as God's play. Christianity has angels singing Hallelujah, which Watts says is "Whoopee!" Delight in nonsense. In the Bible, Job surrenders to the unreasonableness of God.
The very question is the answer. Everything in the world is as weird as a hippopotamus. Jazz is a love of nonsense.
So the true meaning of life is no meaning. Non-sense. But this is significant nonsense. The world is full of fascinating complexity.
I also listened to Alan Watts talk about the Coincidence of Opposites.
A most elementary lesson is that any sensual experience is a vibration: off-on. Life is a system of now you see it, now you don't.
The crest and trough of life are inseparable. Different things can be inseparable. The two sides of a coin. Black and white. Sadness and happiness.
The price we pay for concentrated attention, which can be highly useful, is that we lose sight of the figure/background relationship.
Our physical world is a system of inseparable differences. The organism/environment is a unified field, a transactional relationship.
A mystic is a person who is aware of their inseparability from their environment.
Is existence serious? Must I survive? How serious is life? Western culture assumes seriousness. In church, laughter is discouraged.
However, a basic metaphysical axiom is that existence is playful. There's no destination. Music is playful. You play the piano.
An end of the composition isn't the purpose of music. If it was, a symphony would just consist of the last few bars of music.
With travel, you try to get somewhere. But life isn't a journey. It's supposed to be a musical thing, played all the way along.
Prediction has survival value. But it creates anxiety. All falls apart in the end. Existence is spontaneous. It happens of itself. We've got to let go and let it happen. Don't try.