January 1, 2016
It comes, then, to this: that to be “viable,” livable, or merely practical, life must be lived as a game — and the “must” here expresses a condition, not a commandment. It must be lived in the spirit of play rather than work, and the conflicts which it involves must be carried on in the realization that no species, or party to a game, can survive without its natural antagonists, its beloved enemies, its indispensable opponents.
For to “love your enemies” is to love them as enemies; it is not necessarily a clever device for winning them over to your own side. The lion lies down with the lamb in paradise, but not on earth — “paradise” being the tacit, off-stage level where, behind the scenes, all conflicting parties recognize their interdependence, and, through this recognition, are able to keep their conflicts within bounds.
This recognition is the absolutely essential chivalry which must set the limits within all warfare, with human and non-human enemies alike, for chivalry is the debonair spirit of the knight who “plays with his life” in the knowledge that even mortal combat is a game.
No one who has been hoaxed into the belief that he is nothing but his ego, or nothing but his individual organism, can be chivalrous, let alone a civilized, sensitive, and intelligent member of the cosmos.
~ Alan Watts, (1966), The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
December 30, 2015
December 15, 2015
Underneath the superficial self, which pays attention to this and that, there is another self, more really us than “I”.
And if you become aware of that unknown self, the more you become aware of it, the more you realize that it is inseparably connected with everything else that there is.
That, you are a function of this total galaxy, bounded by the Milky Way, and that futhermore this galaxy is a function of all other galaxies and that vast thing that you see far, far off with great telescopes.
You look and look, and one day you are going to wake up and say…
“Why, that’s me!”
And in knowing that, you know that you never die. You are the eternal thing that comes and goes that appears — now as John Jones, now as Mary Smith, now as Betty Brown — and so it goes, forever and ever and ever.
November 15, 2015
November 3, 2015
October 31, 2015
God is the most obvious thing in the world. He is absolutely self-evident – the simplest, clearest and closest reality of life and consciousness. We are only unaware of him because we are too complicated, for our vision is darkened by the complexity of pride.
God and union with God are Reality; nothing is more real, more concrete, more actual, and more present. At the same time, Reality is infinitely alive. It, he, cannot be grasped in any finite form, whether physical, mental or emotional.
Therefore, as long as we try to grasp God, we shall never realize him. Life itself, as we experience it moment by moment, proceeding as it does directly from God, is the perfect analogy of this truth, for to grasp life is to kill it, or rather, to miss it, and more than ever is this true of God – the Life of life.
Pluck a flower, and it dies. Take up water from the stream, and it flows no longer. Pull down the blind, but the sunbeam is not trapped in the room. Snatch the wind in a bag, and you have only stagnant air. This is the root of every trouble: man loves life, but the moment he tries to hold on to it he misses it. The fact that things change and move and flow is their very liveliness, and the harder man hangs on to his life, the sooner he dies of worry.
Religion, as it is generally practiced, is simply an attempt to hang on to life and the still more lively mystery which informs it – God. Hence religion as generally practiced is idolatry. God cannot be held in theologies; theism, deism, pantheism – none of them can grasp his truth. Nor can states of mind and feeling contain him; ecstasy, rapture, quiet, Samadhi – these are only the secondary and unessential effects of his presence.
Our various intellectual and emotional idols, our doctrines, holy books, sacraments, religious feelings, creeds and churches, are of use so long as they are understood as approximating and pointing to God. But when we try to possess him within them, they must sooner or later become millstones about our necks.