April 2015

"The Wisdom of Insecurity" by Alan Watts — Alan Watts

"...when you really understand that you are what you see and know, you do not run around the country-side thinking, 'I am all this.' There is simply 'all this.'

"...our experience is altogether momentary. From one point of view, each moment is so elusive and so brief that we cannot even think about it before it has gone. From another point of view, this moment is always here, since we know no other moment than the present moment. It is always dying, always becoming past more rapidly than imagination can conceive. Yet at the same time it is always being born, always new, emerging just as rapidly from that complete unknown we call the future. Thinking about it almost makes you breathless."

"...there is no formula for generating the authentic warmth of love. It cannot be copied. You cannot talk yourself into it or rouse it by straining at the emotions or by dedicating yourself solemnly to the service of mankind. Everyone has love, but it can only come out when he is convinced of the impossibility and the frustration of trying to love himself. This conviction will not come through condemnations, through hating oneself, through calling self-love all the bad names in the universe. It comes only in the awareness that one has no self to love."

"We are accustomed to think that, if there is any freedom at all, it resides, not in nature, but in the separate human will and its power of choice.

But what we ordinarily mean by choice is not freedom. Choices are usually decisions motivated by pleasure and pain, and the divided mind acts with the sole purpose of getting 'I' into pleasure and out of pain. But the best pleasures are those for which we do not plan, and the worst part of pain is expecting it and trying to get away from it when it has come. You cannot plan to be happy. You can plan to exist, but in themselves existence and non-existence are neither pleasurable nor painful..."

"In the strictest sense, we cannot actually think about life and reality at all, because this would have to include thinking about thinking, thinking about thinking about thinking, and so *ad infinitum*. One can only attempt a rational, descriptive philosophy of the universe on the assumption that one is totally separate from it. But if you and your thoughts are part of this universe, you cannot stand outside them to describe them. This is why all philosophical and theological systems must ultimately fall apart. To 'know' reality you cannot stand outside and define it; you must enter into it, be it, and feel it.

Speculative philosophy, as we know it in the West, is almost entirely a symptom of the divided mind, of man trying to stand outside himself and his experience in order to verbalize and define it. It is a vicious circle, like everything else which the divided mind attempts."

"The common error of ordinary religious practice is to mistake the symbol for the reality, to look at the finger pointing the way and then to suck it for comfort rather than follow it."

—All Spirit Website



"Life's Moral Paradox" (excerpt) In the Absence of God—Dwelling in the Place of the Sacred by Sam Keen


To experience our lifescape as sacred also creates a moral paradox. How can we both revere and use the world? Whatever is seen as sacred is, at least in principle, inviolate. It ought to be hallowed, venerated as an end rather than a means. But clearly this is not always possible. If I am to survive the winter, my glorious, molten aspen may need to be harvested for firewood, and I may need to kill one of the graceful deer who so delight me during warmer months. Among traditional hunters and gatherers, the game animal upon which they depended for food was believed to have sacrificed itself during a successful hunt. The Bushmen of South Africa performed a ritual dance reenacting the kill and thanking the eland for its life. They believed that through this sacrament their prey returned to earth to sustain the herd.

In premodern times, shedding blood through hunting and warfare was considered a tragic necessity, requiring repentance and purification. The modern worldview tries-to resolve the moral paradox by turning everything in the nonhuman world into an object, to be utilized as we wish. But once we disenchant the rivers, forests, soil, and air, we end up destroying the network of life upon which we depend.

The proper task of religion is to remind us that, in spite of the tragic aspect of life that must feed on other life in order to survive, we should tread reverently on the earth and be compassionate to all sentient beings. We may not be able to speak convincingly about the transcendent God of traditional religion or of a kingdom of heaven beyond history, but we are not left without witnesses to the sacred. The Logos, the Word, the Divine Hologram that informs the cosmos—all things great and small—is still spoken in sparrow song, wind sigh, and leaf fall. An electron is a single letter, an atom a complex word, a molecule a sentence, and a mockingbird an entire epistle in the great ongoing saga. The ocean still whispers the song that originated with the big bang. Listen to the longing in your heart for love and justice, and you may hear the sacred word. To live in a reverential manner is not to surrender to authority, scripture, or institution but to create an autobiography in which we tell the stories of the unique epiphanies that have informed our lives.

No-thing in the world is sacred.
Every-thing is:
wonderful, not miraculous,
awe-full, not lawless,
graceful, not capricious,
sacramental, not supernatural,
abounding in epiphanies,
lacking any final revelation
of a divine purpose or plan.



"Science, Religion and Living for the Future" (excerpt) THE WISDOM OF INSECURITY - Alan Watts


The scientific way of symbolizing the world is more suited to utilitarian purposes than the religious way, but this does not mean that it has any more “truth.” Is it truer to classify rabbits according to their meat or according to their fur? It depends on what you want to do with them. The clash between science and religion has not shown that religion is false and science is true. It has shown that all systems of definition are relative to various purposes, and that none of them actually “grasp” reality. And because religion was being misused as a means for actually grasping and possessing the mystery of life, a certain measure of “debunking” was highly necessary.

But in the process of symbolizing the universe in this way or that for this purpose or that we seem to have lost the actual joy and meaning of life itself. All the various definitions of the universe have had ulterior motives, being concerned with the future rather than the present. Religion wants to assure the future beyond death, and science wants to assure it until death, and to postpone death. But tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live. There is no other reality than present reality, so that, even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly.

But it is just this reality of the present, this moving, vital now which eludes all the definitions and descriptions. Here is the mysterious real world which words and ideas can never pin down. Living always for the future, we are out of touch with this source and center of life, and as a result all the magic of naming and thinking has come to something of a temporary breakdown.

The miracles of technology cause us to live in a hectic, clockwork world that does violence to human biology, enabling us to do nothing but pursue the future faster and faster. Deliberate thought finds itself unable to control the upsurge of the beast in man —a beast more “beastly” than any creature of the wild, maddened and exasperated by the pursuit of illusions.

Specialization in verbiage, classification, and mechanized thinking has put man out of touch with many of the marvelous powers of “instinct” which govern his body. It has, furthermore, made him feel utterly separate from the universe and his own "me.” And thus when all philosophy has dissolved in relativism, and can make fixed sense of the universe no longer, isolated “I” feels miserably insecure and panicky, finding the real world a flat contradiction of its whole being.

Of course there is nothing new in this predicament of discovering that ideas and words cannot plumb the ultimate mystery of life, that Reality or, if you will, God cannot be comprehended by the finite mind. The only novelty is that the predicament is now social rather than individual; it is widely felt, not confined to the few. Almost every spiritual tradition recognizes that a point comes when two things must happen: man must surrender his separate-feeling “I,” and must face the fact that he cannot know, that is, define the ultimate.

These traditions also recognize that beyond this point there lies a “vision of God” which cannot be put into words, and which is certainly something utterly different from perceiving a radiant gentleman on a golden throne, or a literal flash of blinding light. They also indicate that this vision is a restoration of something which we once had, and “lost” because we did not or could not appreciate it. This vision is, then, the unclouded awareness of this undefinable “something” which we call life, present reality, the great stream, the eternal now—an awareness without the sense of separation from it.

The moment I name it, it is no longer God; it is man, tree, green, black, red, soft, hard, long, short, atom, universe. One would readily agree with any theologian who deplores pantheism that these denizens of the world of verbiage and convention, these sundry “things” conceived as fixed and distinct entities, are not God. If you ask me to show you God, I will point to the sun, or a tree, or a worm. But if you say, “You mean, then, that God is the sun, the tree, the worm, and all other things?”—I shall have to say that you have missed the point entirely.


The Opposite of Taoism is Fascism (excerpt) by the Barefoot Doctor's Guide to the Tao

“An Evil Man” by Tooned

Taoism essentially means to follow the path of least resistance while always maintaining respect and consideration for the welfare and freedom of all other beings. Fascism means to control the behavior of others and manipulate them to comply with your particular model of reality, by force if necessary. If you're particularly charismatic or plausible you can gather a following fairly easily because, perversely, many people like to be controlled by someone else. It makes them feel safe and for a while gives the illusion of having no responsibility for their lives. These unfortunates are the anti-warriors.

Fascistic tendencies are to be avoided both in yourself and others as they constrict your energy flow and eventually lead to disease of individuals and entire societies.

Fascists come in many guises, not just in dodgy, erotically suggestive uniforms. Perhaps more alarming are the spiritual fascists, the cultists who believe theirs is the only way. The "enlightened" masters, mistresses and spiritual leaders, with their entourages of henchmen and hit men, who hypnotize their followers into seeing things their way using fear and threats of excommunication; the healers who tell you to follow only their advice or your life won't work; and the husband who tells his wife she'd be nothing without
him; I could go on.

Fascism is following the way of making, i.e., forcing, whereas Taoism means following the way of allowing what arises of itself, otherwise known as love. As an antidote to fascism, visualize the idea of individual freedom arising from your heart and pouring out of you like a fine vapor that proceeds to envelop everyone on the planet, with double doses for those you consider to exhibit the greatest fascistic tendencies.

Obviously what they do with it is up to them. If you were even to visualize them responding in a way you think proper it would amount to metaphysical fascism on your part.