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January 26, 2022


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Jap Ji sais it too

His Will, thou follow, INGRAINED in you

Different p/person

It Would be strange if a 7 chakra being on Alpha Centauri Planet
xould have the 10 commandments


Next apply to GSD
if He is


"Those like me who agree with how Watts viewed reality -- as a self-organizing whole without any top-down commander like God -- tended to view his personal life as irrelevant to his philosophizing, which leaned in his later years toward Chinese/Taoist perspectives."

If Alan Watt's behavior was irrelevant, would you send your daughter to a college where her professors were chronic alcoholics with track records of seducing their female students?

Where did Alan Watts generally present his philosophy lectures? College campuses.

I guess if a teacher's personal life is irrelevant, then we should approve of higher education hiring chronic alcoholics and allow them free reign in "dating" coeds who are enthralled with their message that morality is for moralists.

Or, to broaden this a bit -- tell me which profession outside of teaching do you deem OK to be a chronic alcoholic. What are the professions where alcoholic drinking wouldn't compromise that person's vocation?

If you find yourself naming one, are you perhaps guilty of a sanctimonious, holier-than-thou attitude? Not at all. You're just being consistent with your own values. You know that you don't approve of Alan Watt's behavior.

Then there's the next question: Did Alan Watt's philosophy contribute to his objectionable behavior?

Given that Watt's philosophy is that we are all laws to ourselves, that morality is for the unenlightened, then what else can the answer be then yes?

If Watt's hadn't been a committed hedonist, I'd give his philosophy high marks. But the fact that his philosophy led him to abuse himself and others is proof enough to me that his message was just jejune theater.

TENDZIN, you don't know Watts and you don't know me. Yet you pretend you do. That's fakery. I don't judge Watts. I accept that he was a human being with strengths and weaknesses, just as we all are. You, me, everybody. You're free to take a holier-than-thou attitude toward people you feel superior to. Me, I'm with Watts.

Let's accept the truth: we're all physical beings living in a physical world, trying to live life as best we can. Watts wasn't controlled by his philosophy. His philosophy emerged from him, just as your philosophy emerges from you. If you'd bother to learn what Watts believed and taught, you'd know this. I've been sharing his ideas on this blog, but obviously you haven't understood what I've shared.

Watts was a philosopher who acted as a coach for people who wanted to understand how Eastern philosophy -- Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism -- could form a basis for living. Coaches aren't always skilled at the area they're expert in. A head football coach may not have been a top football player, or even played the game. (Watch the Ted Lasso series for an example involving soccer.)

So we can separate what Watts taught from Watts' personal life, just as we can do the same with any teacher. The situation is different when a guru, say, like Gurinder Singh Dhillon of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, is supposed to be divine, God in Human Form, a perfect master.

Then personal failings are relevant, because they are at odds with the guru's supposed perfection. Watts never claimed to be perfect, or being anyone other than a normal human being. Can you understand this? I hope so.

Hi Brian Ji

"You may be the chief minister, and the country may look like it's in order. But look at yourself closely. You are tired and haggard. You have damaged your body and mind because you are anxious about keeping the country in order. In order to maintain your reputation, you have damaged your heart by suppressing your natural inclinations."

Let's update this...
" Allen, you may be clever, popular and interesting, but look at yourself closely. You are tired and haggard. You have damaged your body and mind because you are anxious about hiding your next college girl affair from her parents and your current wife, and finding your next bottle of vodka. In order to maintain your reputation, you have damaged your heart by suppressing your natural inclinations towards spirituality in favor of becoming a slave to your senses. "

Brian Ji
I don't believe Alan Watts ' sex addiction, drug addiction, or narcissism had anything to do with his philosophy.

These were addictions, and like all addictions, terrible masters, terrible chains.

His philosophical teachings were for liberating ourselves from any and all forms of mental imprisonment.

Nothing whatsoever to do with his personal behavior and possibly his expression of hope for the chance for humanity to be free of all such impositions. Not just the ones society or family place on us, but including the ones we impose on ourselves, as he also suffered from.

@ Brian Hines

I've never met Alan Watts, and I suppose you never did either. But both of us are judging him by his writings, and what others who did know him said about his behavior.

You've said you don't see a problem with Watts's alcoholism and serial philandering, and that in any case, it has nothing to do with Watts's enlightening message.

My response is that if Watt's behavior truly doesn't matter to his message and his vocation as a philosopher, would you be OK with a male professor who did precisely what Watts did: drink to excess and sleep with college-age groupies?

If the answer to that question is no, then I think that says something about whether Watt's moral code (or lack thereof) compromises his philosophical message.

I also think the connection between Watt's message and his behavior is clearly obvious. That is, Watt's preached that traditional morality was spiritually retrograde. Is it at all remarkable then that Watts cheated on all his wives, drank like a fish, smoked like a chimney, and generally carried on like an end-stage rock star?

By the way, I read a quote yesterday from one of Watt's daughters, who ask her Dad why he drank so much. Watts is said to have replied, "because I don't like myself when I'm sober."

And so, while I fully realize that taste is a personal matter and that some people say they find value in Watts writings, I don't feel there's any objective evidence that Watt's philosophy was of any real value. He was as he said a spiritual entertainer. If he was anything more than that, I think we'd see evidence of the positive value of Watt's philosophy in his own life. We do not. We see just the opposite -- a man living by a colorful philosophy that was little more than justified narcissism, and being ruined by it.

As for comparisons to Gurinder Singh, both he and Watts claimed (to borrow a quote from Watts about Da Free John) "to know what IT is all about." That is, they both claim to be authorities on life and God (or the Tao, whatever).

For some reason, you have a heated antipathy toward Gurinder Singh (who, still, never been proven to have led anything less than a sober and respectable life, never taking liberties with his female followers) but a passionate reverence for Alan Watts (in every way the moral opposite of a sant mat guru). OK great, it makes for an interesting discussion.

Maybe we should talk about virtues instead of morals. We can probably agree that Watts was a composite of virtues--some excellent, some poor--and take the good with the bad.

From the little I know about him now, "should" wasn't in his vocabulary, and I imagine the same happens at "Enlightenment," "Submission 24/7," "Drop Merging in the Ocean," "Moksha," or whatever we want to call it. In such a state what could beg improvement? Nothing. The sense of "should" probably vanishes entirely. Watts rejected RIGHTEOUSNESS and fired perfectly in that respect..but only on one cylinder. No wonder his engine fell apart eventually.

My morals at this point are higher and finer than Watts', but they haven't turned me into a Buddha, nor am I anywhere near as accomplished. He had unexpected perspective. The words, "You don’t look out there for God, something in the sky, you look in you," could be mistaken for RS theology, but actually they belong to Watts.

swami umami observeth: "Morality is the bread of virtue grown fuzzy with the mold of righteousness."
That being said, we can only work with the materials at hand. Maybe morality can become virtue, if it minds its own business. Virtue is supposed to be its own reward, but no one ever said that about morality.

Hate the game, not the player.

@ Tendzin

After every revolution the loyalties are transmitted to the new elite and the uniforms changed .. from mandarin attire to green uniforms.

After the boom of interests in the seventies, it started to decline. One after the other spiritual book shops, macrobiotic restaurants, closed their doors. Indian classic music concerts became fewer and fewer and as much as one could show of in those days with all these things, so much so is the opposite.

Those who were in the lime light then are now to be found in the opposite camp that is trendy these days.

If for one reason or another the tables do turn again,many of the propganists of atheism will again be seen as ardent followers of gurus.

"I've never met Alan Watts, and I suppose you never did either. But both of us are judging him by his writings, and what others who did know him said about his behavior.

You've said you don't see a problem with Watts's alcoholism and serial philandering, and that in any case, it has nothing to do with Watts's enlightening message.

My response is that if Watt's behavior truly doesn't matter to his message and his vocation as a philosopher, would you be OK with a male professor who did precisely what Watts did: drink to excess and sleep with college-age groupies? ..."

(Posted by: TENDZIN | January 27, 2022 at 07:59 AM)


Thanks for having introduced these personal details about Alan Watts to these pages. They added a meaningful and deeprer --- if somewhat contentious --- layer to the discussion on Alan Watts, and made for a very interesting sidebar. And I say this sincerely and without any trace of sarcasm.

However, as far as the above, that I've quoted from your comment:

(a) In asking, above, whether Alan Watts's personal failings might be "relevant", I'm afraid you're playing with words. Maybe not intentionally, but you're conflating two senses of that word, two different usages, and in the process confusing the issue. The question we were discussing is whether Alan Watts's personal failings are relevant to his work, and to our appreciation of such. Not to their relevance to people's decision to sending their daughters to study with him or someone like him.

(b) Even going by that separate kind of relevance, your concern over putting into teaching positions someone who's married thrice instead of just the once, and has also had extra-marital flings with young girls, smacks of extreme hypocrisy, considering that you are someone who's admitted, in past comments, to have voted for sending to the far more responsible and critical position of the President of the USA someone who, quite apart from his utter ignorance and intelligence and general unsuitability for that high position, is given to gloating over "grabbing pussies" and who demonstrably is given to switching wives and indulging in extra-marital flings (and, what is more, and unlike Alan Watts, lying about it and doing his damnedest best to somehow cover it up). Double standards much?


a) The question of the relevancy of Alan Watt's background touches on a number of things that were brought up on this forum. First, whether it's a philosophy that works to better people's lives. My argument is that Watt's philosophy can't be said to have bettered his own life, and therefore his claims about the effectiveness of following the Tao to live in harmony with the universe strike me as empty verbiage.

In connection with that point, Alan Watt's background surely matters to the question of whether his philosophy has actual value, or whether it was merely flummery from a spiritual entertainer with a gift for gab. And in connection with that, the owner of this blog responded to me and another poster that our pointing out the flaws in Watt's background was nothing more than "a sanctimonious, holier-than-thou" attitude.

In response to this charge of being a sanctimonious, holier-than-thou crank for pointing out that Watt's was a chronic alcoholic who preyed on females who attended his college lectures, I asked what I considered a fair and pertinent question: how would you feel if your daughter attended a college where one of her professors was a chronic alcoholic who hit on his female students? I never got an answer to that question, but for some reason was accused by said blog owner of attacking him and Alan Watts. I don't understand his response, and that's OK, but I have to say I'm puzzled that someone who has used his blog for years to question the morality and ethics of a guru (and I entirely support this), would label the exposure of Alan Watts's flaws as the addled views of a sanctimonious, holier-than-thou scold. Especially when another poster here is allowed to regularly accuse Mr. Singh of murdering his wife, an allegation that as far as I know has no roots in any evidence.

b) Contrary to what you claim, I never voted for President Donald Trump, nor did I ever excuse him or anyone who was guilty of sexual assault. I consider myself a civil libertarian, which in part means that I support our election system. In respect to that, I fully supported Trump as fairly elected President of the U.S., and is no more or less extent than I support the current president as fairly elected president. If you'll recall, the bombshell of testosterone and touching was made clear to the voting public before the election, and the country voted for Trump anyway. Democracy in action, American civics in action, and yes, I support that. In this way, I feel I was quite different from the TDS crowd of the last 4 years and their conspiracy theories, obstruction, and general ignorance and/or disregard of American civics.

I consider myself a fair critic (as do we all here, but as we don't agree on what's fair and what ain't that's no problem, it's all grist for the mill and a learning experience). And in respect to trying to be fair, I've tried to hold Gurinder, Charan, Trump, and Watts to consistent standards of appraisal.

Let's take Gurinder. I feel I've been one of his harshest critics ON THE EVIDENCE WE ACTUALLY HAVE ABOUT HIM. Not speculation or rushed conclusions. the actual evidence and court findings, which are the only final yardstick of this guru's legal dealings. And so I took what the news said about Gurinder very seriously, and was disturbed by the stories about his personal loan from the filmmaker and the Ranbaxy thing. I also take the "stolen land" disputes seriously. But given that no court has found Gurinder or RSSB guilty, I don't feel it's responsible to allege that he must be guilty anyway, even though I admit to having doubts and still have my own suspicions that unwritten deals may have been made. If others want to repeat every rumor they hear about Gurinder as the fact that's their business.

People fucking lie. That's true of both the accused and the accusers, and wow, even women, and yes, even of those accusers of the dreaded donald, so let the courts decide before claiming rumor is fact.

Bringing this all back to the case for or against Alan Watts, Watt's actions are not the stuff of rumors but were backed up by numerous sources, his own family, and all his biographers. And so, we know HOW Alan Watts lived, and we also know WHAT his philosophy was. And we know that a major part of Alan Watt's philosophy was that conventional morality was antithetical to "real" spiritual awakening. My conclusion is that the Alan Watts Project did not live up to the bill.

Hey, Tendzin. That was a balanced, fair response to a perhaps unnecessarily rough post on my part.

As far as the first part, I was kind of in agreement with your broad argument, initially, as you may have noticed from my comments. Had Watts set out to actually show people how to lead their lives --- as I'd imagined he did --- then your argument would indeed hold, at least to a degree. Since he didn't, and since --- as Spence assures me, in the other thread, and, not having read Watts myself, I go by what he says, absent inputs to the contrary from others --- he only taught all of this Daoist/Zen-ic philosophy as an academic discipline, I don't think it's relevant. But sure, you're entitled to a contrary opinion, even if I don't agree, why not.

As far as Trump, I was going by the generally overtly political and overtly partisan tone of many of your comments here, and specifically your clearly saying to Manjit not long back that you support Trump (and your spelling out your reasons for doing that). And you do end up explaining the context of that very same comment here, before I even mentioned it at all. Not, of course, that it is any of my business whom you vote for, outside of this specific case of double standards that I thought I saw in here, wrongly as it turns out; but if you tell me that you didn't vote for him then I'll take you at your word, why not, and what's more offer my apologies for having rushed to an unwarranted conclusion about you. Cheers.

Alan Watts is a person who lives by his own beliefs and morals as we see, even if some are out there a bit. Respect.

As with Gurinder Singh Dhillion its totally the opposite what you see is not what you bloody well get.
As for morals lets try not to laugh...

The amount of evidence regards Gurinder Singh Dhillions criminal adventures would be enough for even Cagney n Lacey to have a field day.
Straight to the Slammer

Just because he's got away with it here and there and everywhere means nothing as when you have authority figures pathing your way out of punishable offences, crime will often pay, and as in Gurinders case it has lavishly

As with the Courts in India, lets try not to kid ourselves we all understand how the system works and why India is still a Country full of many a corruption stories.

Nothing to see hear as they say.

Its a open and shut case in Gurinders case

The Truth is always a hard pill to swallow

But better to remedy the problem than trun a blind eye to live in denial and happily ever after

If I had a daughter in college who had the opportunity to attend lectures by Watts, I would warn her that he was a drug, sex and alcohol addict, like so many other college professors, but also a brilliant, insightful mind, a humorous and compassionate speaker, a pop culture phenom bringing Zen lite to the world. I would encourage her to attend and fully enjoy the experience, as a once in a lifetime opportunity. But of course pop culture and deeper realities are separate things. Still, there is truth there. She might even experiment with some of those notions, but do so with an open mind. If Watts failed at life he did so reaching for the stars. Let us all be so fortunate enough to say this about ourselves.

"If I put this in the language of oriental philosophy and religion it would be something like this, the Buddha said that wisdom must come only from the abandonment of selfish craving or desire. One who abandons that desire attains nirvana, which is supreme peace, liberation. Nirvana means in Sanskrit blow out. That is exhale the breath. The opposite, desire, is to breath in. Now if you breath in and hold it, you lose your breath. But if you breath out it comes back to you. So the principle here is, if you want life don't cling to it. Let go.

"But the problem is if I desire not to desire is that not already desire? How can I desire not to desire? How can I surrender myself when myself is precisely an urge to hold on? To cling. To cling to life to continue to survive.

" I can see rationally that by clinging to myself I may strangle myself. I may be like a person who has a bad habit. Who is committing suicide.

" And... he knows that. But. Can't give it up. Because. The means of death are so sweet. "

This was Alan, being as candid as possible about his own addictions, behind the veil of example, though not so veiled.

He never found that answer, though he promoted an answer. He was unable to reach that liberation he loved so dearly, as we all do, because his loves and addictions emails him. He was, knowingly, s he said, committing suicide.

The answer may be different for different people.

But as Brian Ji teaches, and I remind him here, if an answer isn't working, however attractive, leave it. Find a better answer.

For most of us, that answer comes from the strength and assistance of a good friend.

Oops type. Should read "because his loves and addictions enslaved him."

Spence ji, what you quote is the opposite of candid, if he'd meant that as reference to his drinking etc. There's no reason why he couldn't have called his spade a bloody shovel had he wanted to. That would have been candid. This is merely dissembling --- if at all that quote was about his addictions, which after all is only your interpretation.

And Spence ji, absolutely no offense intended, but why go around putting our words in Brian ji's mouth? 😉


As far as my take on the "If I had a daughter" series, my take would be, if I were knowledgeable enough about the subject in that scenario (not necessarily expert level, even such knowledge as I have IRL on this subject would suffice), I'd teach her what I know myself, if she were interested; and if she wanted to research this further I'd direct her to the original sources. Not because I'd be afraid of Watts corrupting my hypothetical daughter's morals, and if for some reason she wanted specifically to study with Watts I wouldn't discourage her --- but since, as you've told me in the other thread, Watts, though brilliant, did no more than teach these philosophies as an academic subject, and less than perfectly and less than wholly authoritatively, I'd suggest going to the original source.

On the other hand, your garden variety father-of-hypothetical-daughter, living in the US some 50 or 70 or more years ago, is very unlikely to know even what little I know about Hinduism and Buddhism, and probably would be in no position to teach her anything himself; and nor would original sources be very easily available to the typical American girl of that time. So that, if she were drawn to studying Hinduism and Buddhism and Daoism and Zen, then Alan Watts may well have been her best bet, to begin with at any rate; and I too would probably do no differently, in practice, than what you suggest. 👍

Brian Ji left RSSB because it wasn't working for him. That is a major theme here. He has written time and again that if something doesn't make sense or work for you, you should not feel obliged to continue regardless of what others in that organization may say or, with all good intentions, pressure you to do.

I don't think I've mistated Brian Ji here at all.

As for Watts using the metaphor of his own situation, well, you may read his biographers to see that this was his situation : Addiction which he himself stated, he could not get out from under.

Addiction, in some ways, is an escape, a form of denial. In denial we are turning away from unpleasant truths about ourselves. So when someone who is addicted to something makes a metaphor of their own problem as the basic problem facing people, that may be about as candid as he can get. It is a noble effort to deal alone with something personally overwhelming.

He wasn't actually avoiding his problem. He struggled with it, and then, knowing his own fate, resigned to it.

The solution to addiction, and so many things, is not to go it alone, but to have a good friend slightly more functional help. To invite them in, to believe in oneself enough at least to do that much.

Why I would strongly recommend attending Alan Watts lectures is simply that to be in the presence of genius of any kind is a gift.

When you mention that you would teach your daughter what you know. Let me explain why I would not.

You might think that I would be proselytizing my son, for example, of the need for a living teacher, etc. I do not. Because I'm his dad I'm always around to answer any questions he might have. His journey is sacred. But we are all at different places, and the truths essential for each of us are different.

I shared this a few months ago. In deep meditation, having traversed beyond the regions, I was brought, daily, to the life of someone I had never met before and knew nothing about. In a flash. Just another person, a woman, a man, walking down the street, working on an engineering problem, in conflict as to how to deal with a boyfriend, husband, child.

When I saw them, instantly I was flooded with their internal situation.

Why would these strangers have any relevance to me? Why was I brought to them? How did I instantly understand their situation?

All I could feel was love for them. Love for them in their situation, in their moment, in their struggle.

That is the higher truth that all the years of meditation brought to me. If there is a God, this is his face.

I think I must check out Alan Watts myself. All this discussion about him, that I'm participating in, but it's all second-hand, as far as I'm concerned. He seems like an interesting author, I really must read him myself.

I'm not sure I followed your second post fully, or understood its relevance to what you were trying to address there, but no matter, not to beat this to death. That was ...deep, that post of yours. You inner experiences, Spence, they're ...very remarkable! Cool.

Alan Watts on the problem of evil:

..."And at the end of the kali-yuga, the great destroyer of the worlds, God manifested as the destructive principle Shiva, does a dance called the tandava, and he appears, blue-bodied with ten arms, with lightning and fire appearing from every pore in his skin, and does a dance in which the universe is finally destroyed. The moment of cosmic death is the waking up of Brahma, the creator, for as Shiva turns round and walks off the stage, seen from behind, he is Brahma, the creator, the beginning of it all again. And Vishnu is the preserver, that is to say,the going on of it all, the whole state of the godhead being manifested as many, many faces. So, you see, this is a philosophy of the role of evil in life which is rational and merciful.

If we think God is playing with the world, has created it for his pleasure, and has created all these other beings and they go through the most horrible torments—terminal cancer, children being burned with napalm, concentration camps, the Inquisition, the horrors that human beings go through how is that possibly justifiable? We try by saying, 'Well, some God must have created it; if a God didn't create it, there's nobody in charge and there's no rationality to the whole thing. It's just a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing. It's a ridiculous system and the only out is suicide.'

But suppose it's the kind of thing I've described to you, supposing it isn't that God is pleasing himself with all these victims, showing off his justice by either rewarding them or punishing them, supposing it's quite different from that. Suppose that God is the one playing all the parts, that God is the child being burned to death with napalm. There is no victim except the victor. All the different roles which are being experienced, all the different feelings which are being felt, are being felt by the one who originally desires, decides, wills, to go into that very situation."

Tendzin comment: Watts is offering a creative hypothesis to the problem of evil. But does the argument from We Are All One really make sense? I mean, the child being burned to death by napalm literally willed himself into that experience?

I don't pretend to have the answer. Like Professor Bart Ehrman, I find the problem of evil to be a formidable obstacle to a blithe view that God is in his heaven and all is right with the world.

However, I do feel it's true that there's a stark difference between philosophies that encourage service to others and philosophies that view self-service as an expression of wisdom.

"I shared this a few months ago..."


I remember that, and today you gave it more essence. Thanks! I understand where you're coming from a little better.

"Tendzin comment: Watts is offering a creative hypothesis to the problem of evil."

No he isn't, that's standard Hindu mythology. To think of this as a creative hypothesis being put forward by Watts is akin to referring to Pope Francis speaking of the Trinity by saying "Francis is offering a very imaginative hypothesis about and around the hows and whys of existence."

This may sound like semantics, but it isn't. This is what had thrown me off, initially, as far as this whole Alan Watts business, people speaking as if Watts was out preaching his own idiosyncratic philosophy. Watts is simply channeling standard Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Zen. He isn't some creative imaginative guy out spinning his own fairy tales; he's merely channeling fairy tales from different traditions that appealed him; and which only sound exotic because these fairly tales were so different than the standard Christian fairy tales people of his time, and place, were generally used to hearing.


"I don't pretend to have the answer. Like Professor Bart Ehrman, I find the problem of evil to be ... "

There's no answer, because the question itself is misplaced. There is no "problem of evil" at all. That's a construct of religion-addled superstitious thinking that is unable to separate out mythology and fairy tales from reality.

You wrote
"There's no answer, because the question itself is misplaced. There is no "problem of evil" at all. That's a construct of religion-addled superstitious thinking that is unable to separate out mythology and fairy tales from reality."

I tend to agree but you may be a little harsh in your depiction.

The idea of a benevolent god representing pure goodness who is all powerful doesn't appear to make sense on the surface when evil appears in so many forms. Almost every imperfection appears to cause
harm somewhere.

And the opposite is also a paradox. How can good things happen to bad people?

The Atheist likes to explain this away saying everything is random. But every scientist knows that all things have a cause, and "random" is really a mathematical explanation for things we cannot see or measure or fully understand yet. With every better view, all events have their cause.

If we know cause and effect run this physical reality, even if we were dumped into the middle of a series of events and reactions we have no control over, still, we can do what we can to avoid causing harm to others, and attempt to build an atmosphere of peace and helpfulness within which to live our journey.

That peace and strength comes from our own inner psychology, within. So that is where practice, prayer and meditation have their place.

It doesn't matter if you pray to a mythic God. You are always submitting to something within yourself. The symbol you give, which may emerge from your own subconscious, is sacred, and the gateway to inner peace and strength.

No one is alone. And no one can make progress alone.

You have to ask the right questions to get the right answers.


I quoted Watts from this book:


Let me continue the quote from the napalm paragraph:

"Curiously enough, there is something parallel to this in Christianity. There's a passage in St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians in which he says a very curious thing: 'Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not think identity with God a thing to be clung to, but humbled himself and made himself of no reputation, and was found in fashion as a man and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.' Here you have exactly the same idea, the idea of God becoming human, suffering all that human beings can suffer, even death. And St. Paul is saying, 'Let this mind be in you,' that is to say, let the same kind of consciousness be in you that was in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ knew he was God.

Wake up and find out eventually who you really are. In our culture, of course, they'll say you're crazy or you're blasphemous, and they'll either put you in jail or in the nut house (which is the same thing). But if you wake up in India and tell your friends and relations, 'My goodness, I've just discovered that I'm God,' they'll laugh and say, 'Oh, congratulations, at last you found out'." ~Alan Watts... 71"

So yes AR, I feel Watts is creatively spinning philosophical ideas about the problem of evil. I don't believe he literally believed in Shiva, etc. Watt's was offering ideas about a possible way that suffering and evil can be explained.

The problem of suffering and evil isn't necessarily tied to theism, though it certainly is a major problem with genuine theistic belief. Theodicy was the chief irresolvable issue for Prof Bart Ehrman, leading him to abandon Christianity.

I would say that the problem of suffering and evil isn't solved by atheism. If we rule out the possibility of a loving God, we're still left with the problem of our existence in a world that apparently lacks any purpose, meaning, or destiny of survival.

Watts seems to have written his book to address the issue of apparently senseless suffering of the innocent. Yes, he uses archetypes from other religions to make a kind of case, but I think it's a matter of opinion whether he's on track or not.

The value of books on philosophy is the degree they help us make progress.

But the hurdles of lust, anger, greed, attachment and pride are very difficult challenges indeed.

Each of these obstacles has their place. Unfortunately, they require our leadership, our higher executive brain functioning, before any action can result from these inner drives.

And generally we let them lead, indiscriminately, to harmful action. All our executive functioning does is follow with excuses and justifications for why it didn't take the lead.

When people realize how powerful these forces are, that they are our own internal reactions and entirely our responsibility, and we see how weak and inattentive our own leadership of these resources has been, it is natural to turn to philosophy, and spiritual practice.

Philosophy promises to provide some rational-sounding explanations and justifications. It gives us some basis to understand why we are what and who we are, and so does Psychology, as a branch of philosophy.

Meditation and other spiritual practices offer to help us transcend these forces and awaken higher and stronger forces.

From our perspective at the bottom of the journey, those higher forces seem non - existent.

Through devotion and practice we become aware of them. In time their presence, which past cultures have labeled God, God's word, Kalma, Christ in me, nectar, etc, is experienced as peace and joy. We bring to this Presence our issues, and they are all transformed into acceptance, peace and greater insight. We gain the strength to go through anything. Our actions are more purposeful, less reactive, less justified with excuses.

There are philosophies around these inner practices as well. But they are culture bound. They hardly matter and should never be the source of disagreement. Because the practice, however flawed our execution, is connecting and expanding what is already within each of us. Our devotion to that, our careful attention to that will yeild our own development, our growing experience of that. We are, in each day's practice, writing our own inner journal, inner lab findings, as we discover our own philosophy through experience. Empty your bookshelves of others' notions! Fill your empty bookshelf with your inner journal, one page at a time.

And don't be afraid to get advice and help along the way... But all that is only of utility to your own practice.

If we understand that all philosophies and religions end in inner devotion, inner focus, inner practice, and we are all built with the same inner equipment, there should never be an argument about philosophy or religion, since these are only means to the end of practice. Different ski coaches, different swim coaches, different high impact aerobics coaches are each going to have different styles based on their own experience. But anything that gets you practicing is right, and in time only your own experience, once you have reliable exposure to it, will become your best guide.

What no book or philosophy can teach.

Tendzin, Spence:

The "problem of evil" --- I don't know quite how we ended up here, but since we have, let's talk about it, I guess --- I was saying, "the problem of evil", in the sense of what might qualify as evil, and how and why evil happens, and how one may cope with evil, and how one may act preemptively to prevent/minimize evil going forward, and all of that both at the personal level and at larger including global levels, and incorporating human suffering as well as that of other sentient beings, including an examination of what kinds of beings actually do suffer, all of that is indeed valid, and even important, subject for study, absolutely.

However, the problem of evil, in the theodical sense, is utterly nonsensical, as I see it, because it is as transparent a case of begging the question as there ever has been, since the issue is a "problem" only in as much as one struggles to force-fit real-life observations, as far as suffering, on to belief systems incorporating all kinds of unevidenced things, including but not limited to God/gods.

As such, I don't see the "problem of evil" as anything other than empty wanking off.

On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with wanking off, is there? That's one pastime that comes in for a great deal of opprobrium --- as evidenced from our very language structure! --- and yet when you do it you harm no one at all, and generally speaking everyone's better off for it. So that, I'd say that jerking off on and around theodicy is no worse than so many other things we do in academia. Except, let's be very clear that this is jerking off, and nothing more. Let's not harbor any illusion that in reading or writing about theodicy we're doing anything different than trying to compare how Smaug might measure up to Drogon. By all means write tomes on it, and even award PhDs on it, if you can find people willing to fund that kind of thing; but let’s do that honestly. Let's not imagine we're doing anything useful, or even dealing with the real world at all, when we go worrying ourselves and others about matters theodical.


As for people abandoning theistic beliefs specifically on account of not being able to force-fit evil in some particular theistic framework, someone who's turned to atheism because they can't reconcile the problem of evil has clearly not thought things through, and is stuck at the juvenile stage of rejecting their father's existence because they think that father's been unkind or unfair to them. And in any case, I mean, WTF, if you're looking to accept or reject a belief system, then if you don't have a problem swallowing wholesale a complex convoluted belief system that is founded on a whole host of random unevidenced objects of faith, then what is one additional piece of nonsense that doesn't fit it? (Although I guess someone going ronin, moving away from some established theistic belief system and staying theistic but unchurched, or for that matter sitting squarely in the middle of the agnostic fence, that kind of sort of makes sense. I don't know, it could be that's where Bart Ehrman's at, in which case fair enough.)

But all of this hoo-haa over theodicy, whether the unending RCC jerkoffs around that "problem", or the whole Karma deal, all of that is nothing more than people desperately seeking a solution to a problem that is nothing more than hot air, something that's entirely non-existent, something that isn't a "problem" at all. To write tomes on it is nonsensical when RCC types do it, and it's nonsensical when ochre-robed folks in more tropical climes do it, or their modern-day Western counterparts.


"... I would say that the problem of suffering and evil isn't solved by atheism. If we rule out the possibility of a loving God, we're still left with the problem of our existence in a world that apparently lacks any purpose, meaning, or destiny of survival..."

(Posted by: TENDZIN | January 29, 2022 at 07:12 PM)

……………..So where's the problem? What's the "problem of our existence in a world that apparently lacks any purpose, meaning, or destiny of survival"? In light of what I've said just now? (Said it all somewhat stream-of-consciousness fashion, I realize that, in speed-typing all of that out, but not entirely incoherently I hope!)

That part, where you’d quoted Watts in an earlier comment of yours: “It's just a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing. It's a ridiculous system and the only out is suicide.” I hope you realize that that is textbook argumentum ad consequentiam? It’s silly nonsense when RCC types say it, in their idiom; and it is silly nonsense when it is expressed in Vedic/Daoist/Zen-ic idiom.

The “problem of evil”, in the theodical sense, is a nonsensical puff of hot air. I mean, why not “the problem of good”, then, in the sense vein? The only “problem” is one of trying to somehow pretend that the nonsensical assumptions that one is taking for granted make any kind of sense, when in fact they don’t. And the solution to the “problem” is, quite simply, to throw those assumptions out into the trashcan where they belong.

(To repeat what I’d said earlier, the problem of evil, in the everyday and practical sense of trying to figure out why individual and/or global tendencies of what might be called evil arise, and how best to deal with them, and how to preempt them and make sure they don’t arise at all or their occurrence is minimized, those are all valid questions, naturally; but that isn’t what theodicy is about, and nor does theodical jerking off add anything to that very practical and very real concern.)


"If we understand that all philosophies and religions end in inner devotion, inner focus, inner practice, and we are all built with the same inner equipment, there should never be an argument about philosophy or religion, since these are only means to the end of practice."

(Posted by: Spence Tepper | January 30, 2022 at 09:18 AM)

……………..What utter nonsense. To say which is not to disrespect your inner experiences, at all. It is, first off, to take them with the pinch of salt that they cry out for, while remaining open to the possibilities they represent. But secondly, and more importantly, and regardless of whether those inner experiences correspond to anything deeper than misfiring neural ends, the actual question is, Why on earth must we give a free pass to nonsensical gibberings by so-called mystics? I mean, you have something to say, say it clearly, why don’t you? (Generic “you”, obviously! No personalization intended, at all.)

That bilge about Shiva and whatnot, that Tendzin quoted Alan Watts as having said, that is every bit as nonsensical as any of the crazed mutterings of RCC types. (I’m not saying all mystical statements by all RCC mystics are similarly idiotic; and nor am I saying that Vedic and Upanishad-ic statements are all nonsensical, to the contrary some of them are heart-stoppingly beautiful and pregnant with possibility, and I have the greatest appreciation and respect for the deep wisdom contained within Vedanta; but those that are plainly nonsensical, cannot and should not be explained away as somehow instrumental in facilitating mystical realization, or as some deep mysterious metaphorical allusion that makes sense in some profound way that we cannot understand.)

Heh, interesting to read through the recent Alan Watts blogs and comments....

Reality is infinitely complex and multi-faceted, by which I mean to say there are innumerable and often conflicting "truths" or perspectives contained even within the most simple event.

I think there is a degree of reality, "truth" or valid insight in both of the apparently dichotomised opinions of Alan Watts being expressed here.

That being said, I do find the posts of Spence - who on occasion I find writes some very lovely & insightful comments - to be coming from a "space" lacking in coherency, clarity or authenticity on this issue. I, perhaps like Brian, find some of his comments about Watts to be judgemental, sanctimonious, disingenuous and profoundly confused.

I don't actually know much about Watts beyond the superficial, never read any of his books or listened to more than a few minutes of audio, though his name and legend is of course ubiquitous. Every thing I have read or heard has been pretty cool and I liked it. Not enough for me to think I'm learning anything new so that I purchased his books or started listening to it more, but it was good stuff, especially given how he was one of the pioneers in popularising this stuff. You have to respect and admire such original trailblazers.......even if they do have human failings and shortcomings, as we all do.

However I do think there is a very profound insight to be gained in looking at Watts' behaviour and seeing how that accords to his claims from a lived & pragmatic pov, because surely the only value of all these religions, philosophies and views is to the degree they inculcate within us a life of happiness, love, compassion, joy, gratitude, peace, contentment etc.

But....how we each as individuals judge or evaluate those qualities in our own life is very unique and subjective, whereas Spence appears to be judging Watts from a religious-minded perspective which reduces it's subject to a one-dimensional cliched caricature. Words like "failed" or "addict", or suggesting Watts had not gone beyond "mind" imply some sort of objective framework or gradation of what "spirituality" is. And I think this gets to the crux of what I consider to be the grand confusion at the heart of many of Spence's posts which results in this kind of judgmentalism which is grounded in unexamined, incoherent and dissonant beliefs.

Spence, if you may forgive me, I have noticed that you have slipped rather too comfortably from our discussions here a few years ago, a few months before Gurinder's financial and death threat scandals broke, where I stated how completely anti "Sant Mat" Gurinder's obscene hoarding of wealth was, and that there was no way to reconcile that with the myth of the Satguru, and you defended him on this or that technicality, this or that flowery arrangement of words to justify the kind of extreme and ruthless greed such wealth entails, in context of His All-Sant-Matty-Holyness. I found that incongruous, and reflective of the ingenious means of the mind to weave narratives of dishonesty to hide the truth from it's very own self :). In defence of the authenticity of your own "spiritual experiences", I recall you told stories involving the transcendent forms of both Charan and Gurinder as objective indicators of the truth and authenticity of your experiences, the RS path and their elevated spiritual status as "Masters".

Yet just a few months later, you were here criticising Gurinder, like the best of them! Whilst that is great, and takes courage from somebody who has probably spent decades as an advocate for RSSB and it's gurus (I know of at least one person you actively reached out to and tried to assist with getting initiated :)..........one thing that you never really addressed was what this meant in relation to your claims about your "inner experiences"? Indeed, it appears you have simply skipped over the relevance and significance of this? I like to think I pay enough attention to regular posters that I get at least a basic understanding of where they come from......and I have to say I think there is something disingenuous about your criticisms of, well, basically every single "mystic" teacher or philosopher who isn't one of the chosen ones in RSSB dogma. I think it's easy to criticise Watts, to fabricate entirely subjective judgements such as "failed", or intimations about realms of experience beyond "mind" etc.......but there would be more authenticity, more truth in relation to your own life if you addressed such dedicated criticism to the path and guru you follow/ed instead of towards people it is clear you have no real interest or knowledge of. There really is plenty to be critical of, isn't there? I posted here the other day that the guru you advocated for years had printed in official RSSB literature his abhorrent, judgemental and factually erroneous views about homosexuality, and how in context of his made-up position as an infallible Godman that this was ghastly and dangerous. I notice on that subject you remained completely silent. Well, it's an improvement on defending it, like you did Gurinder's obscene hoarding of wealth I suppose ;)

Like Brian said, Watts didn't claim to be an infallible Godman, like the RS gurus do ad infinitum via their satsangs, books and 3rd person pronouncements. It is hypocritical and actually beyond absurd to hold mere mortals like Watts to the standards of infallible Godmen.....especially when the very same Godmen you've been advocating for share and PRINT reprehensibly homophobic views and involved in billion dollar frauds, land & death threat scandals etc!

Anyway, each to their own ;)

As for myself, part of me can admire the reckless lifestyle of Watts; if I had to chose between living a life of prudish, religious subservience where I repress or deny myself of all pleasures, or health-ravaged alcoholism.....I'd probably pick the alcoholism (and I know from close family and friends how sad it can be, and health-destroying). Damn, just seeing some of the tragic questioners on the RSSB Q&A youtube videos makes me want to have a drink......;)

I disagree with Spence - I don't think there is failures and successes, I don't think any of us need to strive for "liberation" or getting "beyond mind".....I actually think all that is nonsense, nowadays. We all just have our own unique world-views, desires, intellects etc, some of us are satisfied with one thing, another cannot stand it, one person finds meaning in a particular way of living, and another would find that exact lifestyle empty, depressing and meaningless. We have different desires, different capacities, different drives, different intellects, different standards etc etc. That is all. No need to mystify it beyond that, which is what religion and so-called "spirituality" does.

And, it is in that sense that whilst I have tremendous respect for Alan Watts that I never found anything of great interest or insight for me personally in his talks, nothing new, nothing pointing to the spectacular levels of being and consciousness that I already knew existed.

Shortly after my own initial "non-dual" or "no-self" realisations or insights, I once went to a Tony Parsons event with the poster known here as "Osho". Hearing him speak, I immediately recognised the "non-dual" state he was referring to and that he was trying to get his "students" to understand (I recall hearing a conversation outside with one young guy proudly telling selling some people how "he got it" and was "enlightened" :). But my problem was, I was unsatisfied with that state, the "neo-advaitic" shift or realisation of no-self, if you will. I understood it experientially, intimately and dramatically, but I personally was not satisfied with such a state. Parsons evidently not only was, but also sought to earn a living and reputation from it :) For me, Parsons position was summed up by his claim to "go to the pub and have a few" after his "satsang", and how this was what enlightenment was. On a completely speculative and unverified level, I got the impression he did indeed like his drink. And why not.....I remember after my initial experience of this state, I went to my aunts house for several months where I meditated for 12 hours a day (and indeed sleep and dream practices in the night) to try to stabilise or deepen the state. After 2 or so months of this intensive meditation it finally ended with a variety of altered states of consciousness which culminated in a single, simple thought........."I need a beer" (it signified to me a return to normality, but still, this was the thought).

I'm also quite the fan of judicious use of psycho-active substances in general; the power of tools such as psilocybin, ayahuasca, 5-MEO-DMT etc as genuine tools for accelerated "spiritual growth" I think are inarguable. But even just for fun, for expanding the mind, enjoying life in different ways, or experiencing different dimensions entirely, LSD, alcohol, cannabis, ketamine, salvia and MDMA are all pretty cool in their own ways, and all things I have taken large doses of on at least 1 or 2 occasions.

But, unskillful use and addiction to any of these substances in my opinion leads one away from a life of happiness, joy, love, compassion, clarity, gratitude etc. In my experience, the use of these substances which leads to mental & physical health complications and/or a breakdown in relationships with families, friends or with one's job is an addiction and in it's own way a sign of a deeply unhappy and un-content mind.

Even worse, for my own personal standards, is when one's addictions cause one to behave with less than love and compassion towards others. Whether it's Watts' alcoholism or Gurinder's greed, these are their personal demons if you will, but they have fallen from the perch of righteousness when their actions towards others are not reflective of the love and inherent joyousness their teachings claim is their very being.

These are my personal standards, not some objective or divinely ordained law. I have a very, very high tolerance for mischief and merry-making.....as long as it is grounded in compassion. For example, I am a fan of Osho Rajneesh, or at least like his teachings and appreciated his mode of living (I remember as a RSSB follower what a fraud I thought he was!). I actually think there was something cheeky and cute with his love of rolls royces and rolex watches, or at least his excessive show of love for them. I didn't even judge his drug addiction too harshly.....yeah, "enlightenment" is complicated. Watching Wild Wild Country when it first came out a few years ago, my respect and admiration for Osho actually increased, there was nothing in that documentary that made me think Osho was anything less than "enlightened"...........until that moment when Sheena flees the commune and Osho publicly called her a "bitch". It was clear Osho was speaking from a space of anger and spite (and fear and betrayal etc), and was clinging to it. And so it is with so-called "enlightenment"......I found that clip sad and disappointing, why Osho was not able to demonstrate compassion, joy, understanding etc in that moment, but instead was clearly overtaken by hatred, fear and spite. And so it is with "enlightenment", imo, it is not some objective final resting place but a point on a spectrum of human potential we are constantly shifting up and down on, and which I would suggest very, very few are permanently in a state of absolute and unshifting identification with loving, compassionate, selfless, wise behaviour. That said, I do believe it is possible, and in such a state destroying one's own health through addiction to depressants like alchohol, or treating family members with less than love is not really a possibility imo. It is for each of us to ascertain what kind of life or state of consciousness we are satisfied with, and what kind we have, and no amount of pretence or pretending online can change that.

The funeral of Thich Nhat Hanh took place a few days ago. Here's some beautiful quotes from this great soul:

"You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment. In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer."

"Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy and serenity"

"Many people are alive but don't touch the miracle of being alive."

"True self is non-self, the awareness that the self is made only of non-self elements. There's no separation between self and other, and everything is interconnected. Once you are aware of that you are no longer caught in the idea that you are a separate entity."

"Let us fill our hearts with our own compassion - towards ourselves and towards all living beings."

"Fearlessness is not only possible, it is the ultimate joy. When you touch nonfear, you are free."

"If you can feel that Mother Earth is in you, and you are Mother Earth, then you are not any longer afraid to die because the earth is not dying. Like a wave appears and disappears and appears again."

"The situation the Earth is in today has been created by unmindful production and unmindful consumption. We consume to forget our worries and our anxieties. Tranquilising ourselves with over-consumption is not the way."

"You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment."

"Enlightenment is always there. Small enlightenment will bring great enlightenment. If you breathe in and are aware that you are alive - that you can touch the miracle of being alive - then that is a kind of enlightenment."

"Fear, separation, hate and anger come from the wrong view that you and the Earth are two separate entities, the Earth is only the environment. You are in the centre and you want to do something for the Earth in order for you to survive. That is a dualistic way of seeing."

"In Buddhism, we talk of meditation as an act of awakening, to be awake to the fact that the earth is in danger and living species are in danger."

"Everything we touch in our daily lives, including our body, is a miracle. By putting the kingdom of god in the right place, it shows us it is possible to live happily right here, right now."

"Changing is not just changing the things outside of us. First of all we need the right view that transcends all notions including of being and non-being, creator and creature, mind and spirit. That kind of insight is crucial for transformation and healing."

"Doubt in my tradition is something that is very helpful. Because of doubt, you can thirst more and you will get a higher kind of proof."

"Our own life has to be our message."

"Meditation is to get insight, to get understanding and compassion, and when you have them, you are compelled to act."

"We must look deeply into the nature of our volition to see whether it is pushing us in the direction of liberation from suffering and toward peace and compassion, or in the direction of affliction and misery. What is it that we really want deep in our heart? Is it money, fame, power? Or is it finding inner peace, being able to live life fully and enjoy the present moment?"

"When your mind is liberated, your heart floods with compassion."

"The teachings on love given by the Buddha are clear, scientific, and applicable... Love, compassion, joy, and equanimity are the very nature of an enlightened person. They are the four aspects of true love within ourselves and within everyone and everything."

"The energy of compassion is very strong. We suffer. That is real. But we have learned not to get angry and not to allow ourselves to be carried by anger. We realize right away that that is fear. That is corruption."

"Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy and serenity."

"Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand-new hours to live. What a precious gift! We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others."

"Our appointment with life is in the present moment. If we do not have peace and joy right now, when will we have peace and joy?"

"The necessary condition for the existence of peace and joy is the awareness that peace and joy are available."

And, perhaps my favourite:

"It is possible to live twenty-four hours a day in a state of love. Every movement, every glance, every thought, and every word can be infused with love."

Hi Manjit:
You wrote:
"And, perhaps my favourite:

"It is possible to live twenty-four hours a day in a state of love. Every movement, every glance, every thought, and every word can be infused with love."

That is a wonderful objective. If we are honest with ourselves, part of Truth, we must acknowledge barriers to achieving this.

Hence, the journey.

It's easy to just claim that, like the poet's artistry. But to actually achieve it may be a lifetime's work. It is a worthy profession, in my humble opinion.

Most of that work is going to be on ourselves. Within ourselves. Hence the personal journey.

We do have a place to go. The journey of a thousand miles is there. And it begins with our first step forward.

I think this may also help answer your remarks / questions about my posts. I'm a work in progress, a human being, and changes of view happen all the time.

What is within is more in evidence today than ever before.

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