Reader Sharing: Alan Watts on Natural Awareness
“Somehow wanted to really share this with u. All his videos are amazing but this one today really really resonated”
Avyakt7 responds: Thank you! 🙂
Alan Watts is a well-known philosopher. His reasonings and ideas in books and talks about Eastern thought for the Western minds, have been very popular.
He is well-known for his talks on Taoism and Zen Buddhism.
There are good videos about him in YouTube, for those of you interested in his philosophical ideas.
Sense of purpose
There are many self-help books, spiritual books and even traditional educational values which emphasizes the word “purpose.”
Our psychology, our self-worth in our society, our sense of belonging to something… all of that is defined with the word purpose.
If you write something, there is a purpose. If you do something, there is a purpose. If you own something there is a purpose; thus, we ask ourselves… what is the purpose of life?
Thereby, our answer is already arranged so we could answer: “the purpose of life is…”
That is the wrong question to ask.
Purpose is needed when we are not part of the whole. As long as there is an “I,” a motive, a “raison d’être,” there will be a purpose.
“My purpose in life is this and that.” We have automatically caged our own potential based on an idea.
This idea may remain for a long time despite life changes. The ideal becomes more important than living life.
Western mentality and many religions and philosophies believe that “we need to have a purpose in life.” That is “true” but it is not the “truth.”
What is the purpose of the sun? 🙂
We could give many reasons. To give life to this planet, to allow daylight to happen, to maintain a predetermined balance in the solar system or just so I could get a tan at the beach… many purposes, all valid according to time and circumstances. Nevertheless, all of those reasons are just coming from a limited perspective, a one-sided viewpoint. The Sun by itself does not have a purpose. It is simply there as part of a divine balance, movement that we call life.
Human beings on the other hand, will search for a purpose. For some it could be to paint. For others, to be a golf players, for others to be a teacher.. all about “doing” things.
A purpose in the “doing” realm is very restrictive. If “I” ever believe that “I” am what “I” do, then at that moment, “I” am not aware that “doing” has nothing to do with a purpose. The “purpose” has always been in “being.” However, once we find “being,” there is no longer a need for a purpose. 🙂
The paradoxes of life are truly amazing. Our belief in a particular word will limit our thinking and our amplitude, our openness to life.
Any intellectual understanding of life itself is incomplete. It will lack grace and beauty. It will lack life.
We could pretend to understand a fish separated from water. That is intellectual understanding.
But we know that fish and water go together. This is insight.
As we add more elements, we can see that fish, water, sky, day, night, clouds, wind….. all is a togetherness… then we could come closer to what is… as long as we feel it.
I believe in my beliefs
This is a “normal” conversation:
Andy: I believe… that today it will rain.
Ralph: But the weather channel mentioned that it will be a bright, sunny day…
Andy: Yeah, but the weather channel is known for being way off their forecasts…. I don’t believe in them anymore.
Ralph: But their forecasts are made after careful consideration based on past data and observation with the latest equipment. Their chances of giving the ‘true facts,’ are higher than a belief.
Andy: That is your belief! My belief comes from my hungry guts… You will see….
Ralph: But what about if your belief is “wrong”?
Andy: My chances of being “right” are higher than the one the weather channel predicts…
Ralph: I don’t think so… because…
This conversation went on and on… the day became very cloudy. It didn’t rain but neither was shiny…
A belief system is sort of like a fortress of ideas and words surrounded by a changing reality and perception of it.
A day could be cloudy, a day could be bright and shiny, a day could be rainy; a day could be a combination of all.
A belief system does not have room for that change, for that movement which is inevitable.
Without this understanding, all belief systems are always rebuilding itself as their perceived reality cannot be static.
People change, ideas and ideals change. When our destiny does not agree with a previous belief; there is a need for a change.
Belief systems are not only philosophical or religious. A belief is anything that has precedence in our minds than life itself.
Any idea, any wish, any thought which directs our being into a particular delineated direction.
The range of a belief is immense.
This is my belief about the Pope. This is my belief about life. This is my belief on how we ought to behave. This is my belief of what is right. This is my belief of who I should marry. This is my belief of God. This is my belief about me.
My belief is the “truth.” Their belief is “wrong.”
It is important to see in ourselves all the sets of beliefs that we hold on to, in a dearly way. All of those ideas which have the power to direct our lives in a particular direction.
Nevertheless, as life changes; as our “reality” transforms in front of us, we could stick to an outdated belief.
What we believe is powerful, although still a belief. 🙂
Letting go of the self
The word “self” is meaningless for those who have not experienced it.
For the “normal” individual, the self is the body and the distinction represented by this body in relationship with everything else.
A name such as “Paul,” is a distinction when that name represents the label of a body. There is an inner description which creates our psychological view of ourselves based on previous experiences, and the description made by others which is determined by the type of relationship we could be in. For example, the “idea” that Paul’s parents have about Paul, is different from the preconception that someone else at work may have about Paul. Then there is the belief that Paul has about himself.
The result is that all of these interactions create a fragmentation in the personality (when we are not aware of them) different faces and attitudes to “act” upon.
We need to keep in mind that our past experiences create a set of complexes which will be modified according to the role that we need to play with others. This may translate into psychological suffering.
For example, the hierarchical view of ourselves in reference with others will change.
At work, Paul may be a supervisor. At home, Paul may be a husband who cannot use the same supervisory skills with his wife. At church, Paul is just a simple follower not a supervisor.
When we do not have the vision to accommodate according to the place and circumstance, we become “misfits,” problems for others. Nevertheless, to comply and follow with the “hierarchy” of things, brings fragmentation in our self.
It is a “catch 22” type of situation.
That is why it becomes very important to break away from these mind schemas, to be free from them. That requires someone who is not “normal.” 😉
Is it possible to become a “tabula rasa,” that is “blank being” from those diverse “personalities”?
Just like a 3-year-old baby?
When we sit for meditation, a particular mind-set will be there at the beginning. To be aware of this means to let go of that mind-set. To count your breathing up to 10 and then go back to 1 again is a good practice to get acquainted with concentration of the mind and inner awareness. Our breathing is automatic. It does not depend in a particular effort coming from the self; thus, it is helpful to experience that which is beyond the “normal” range of self.
The thought of “counting until 10” needs to go away as well as we progress. Then, we will find ourselves in a state free from thoughts but totally aware.
This is the experience.
It takes time to realize the different subtle thoughts which may appear. Their intensity will vary as well as their duration.
The length of this experience will increase as we let go of the “normal” self.
Some may call that “silence.” It is the “space” between thoughts. However, some may not experience any space between thoughts.
But, there is the experience of thinking and the absence of that. Some call that absence of thinking “emptiness.” The words differ but they are only fingers pointing to the experience.
In that experience there will not be a need to create a “mental image” about us with thoughts about “us,” for the experience of being free from thoughts is peaceful, relaxing, enjoyable even blissful and our awareness will become sharper. That experience takes away the “need” to think.
In this experience is how we start the process of peeling off the “old normal self” and its complexes, dreams, desires and such.
We will see those things appearing in the screen of our minds.
That is the time when observation could be experienced, and the origin of that observation is the “true” self unencumbered by thoughts, emotions and past hang ups.
This description is not a “recipe,” it is merely a limited experience. There may be different ways to peel the “layers of the onion,” the self. 🙂
When we let go of the “normal” self, we find the “real” self. That finding is one path to many other experiences of freedom of the self…from the self. 🙂
Question about the path of the heart and spiritual union
1. Find quoted below some CONCEPT which I have come across. I will be happy if you can kindly go through this and your experiences if any and your CHURNING on the subject will be of immense help to this SOUL.
“The heart is the only point at which the connecting link between the animate and the inanimate is most clearly felt. This is the reason why meditation on the heart is very useful. Further, heart is the field for the action of mind. Mind is always as it is. It is the heart which, as the field of action of the mind, is to be set right. Hence the most appropriate point for meditation can be only that where from the current flows on, either upwards or downwards. It can only be the heart and nothing else”.
Taken from the book “Complete Works of Ram Chandra, Vol. 1 (1st Indian edn., 1989)”, Chapter “Way to Realisation (Role of the Abhyasi)”, pg. 345, by Babuji Maharaj
Of course according to my present very limited understanding, it is “experiencing”, “being”, “witnessing”, “present”, “detached observer” that matters for the SOUL.
If you would like to go through and know more about the author/organisation kindly visit the following link:
With Greetings & Good Wishes,
Thank you for sharing that link. As you rightly pointed out, you came across some “concept.”
Gurus, religions and philosophies will give their “experience,” which are explained in a conceptual way.
However, as we are discovering; those concepts pretend to explain with dualistic words something which cannot be explained, thus; “believers” merely follow blindly a literal interpretation of those explanations and make that interpretation into a dogmatic creed. A religion.
The “heart” is another concept. It is a muscle pumping blood in the human body. If we believe that the physical heart is the center of feelings, it is just a belief. It feels as if feelings come from the heart just as when we believe that thoughts come from the brain. Then we could have more information from another source, mentioning for example; that “we are souls and we are located in the center of the forehead. A role is “recorded in the soul” which are thoughts manifested through the brain,” but the brain is not the origin of those thoughts, etc..etc.. etc. With so many differing concepts, which one is the “true” one? Certainly “one” must be the only truth… 🙂
Then, some will fight to find out who has the “truth,” and will demonstrate this by “scientific” means or by logic as if science and logic were the “reference for truth.” 🙂
The above is what “normal” people experience as a religious faith.
When you recognize by your own experience what are “feelings,” you will not worry about where are they “located.” That does not bring any further experience whatsoever. If we study the heart, the soul; as “concepts” we could care about their “location” but as an experience, it does not matter their “location” at all; for the spiritual experience is not related with that.
Nevertheless, when we talk about feelings to others who may be “uninitiated,” to be “understood” (or misunderstood) we will use the word “heart.”
There are some religious beliefs which separate the heart from the mind. There are others, however; which unite them.
The head is separated from the heart in a conceptual basis, but they work together, they are interdependent with the rest of the human being. That is the reality. The illusion is that we can think of them as “individual” entities all by itself. A change in the heart means a change in the mind. Likewise, if the mind changes; the heart will do so. The chicken or the egg dilemma. Who is first? 🙂
Dear reader, It is good to try and to explore different things. The spiritual experience is what is valuable; just be mindful about getting caught up in conceptual thinking and in taking the explanation, the map, the pointing finger as the “thing” to find.
Some religions will focus on the heart, others in the mind. Explore them. There is always room to learn when there is openness of a “big mind” and a “big heart.”
2. Divine Brother, In today’s Murli Baba said that Baba can’t read our thoughts because we exist in the material realm. But then how is it that when we do manmanabhav , he will respond to our needs and also connect to us when we are in yog ?
“Connection” means union.
Manmanabhav is union,
yog is union.
When there is union, everything is known.
Appreciation : The forgotten virtue in life
When someone feels unhappy because he is not being understood by others, that person lacks appreciation.
When two human beings speak to each other and none of them listens to the other, they lack appreciation.
When we would like for everyone to be the same, to think the same, to feel the same ; in that “ideal” there is lack of appreciation for variety.
Appreciation is not related with a person in particular but is the relationship, the setting, the person, the circumstance, the moment, that special time of being aware, of being thankful for life for having the chance to experience without expectations, without attachments…. For when there is attachment, there cannot be appreciation.
Appreciation then, is to let things be, to allow things to happen, to live in continuous wonder to be in a thankful state without the word “thanks” in our minds.
We can appreciate a spiritual teaching which came to us through a book, a person, a situation, through any other means; but to fully appreciate that teaching, our state of detachment is important, for otherwise; we cannot see; we become engrossed in that teaching, closed minded, so there is no space for anything else, but that literal teaching.
Or we could become totally against it, reject it with our whole being,… on those 2 extremes there is attachment.
We have attachment of an idea, a concept which we call our “teaching.” Rejecting everything else only demonstrates the extent of that attachment.
In that polarity of being engrossed or rejecting there cannot possibly be appreciation.
There is a butterfly flying. I can look at it, perceive its colors, perceive its singular way of flying, perceive the shiny day, the flowers around, the smile in my face; it is in that detachment, in that lack of expectation, when beauty could be felt. That beauty is love.
The moment a thought enters: “I must possess that butterfly,” there is no appreciation anymore. It is like caging the butterfly inside our house so we can see it “forever.” That is the extent of possessiveness that some have over others.
There are some who would rather pin the butterfly in a wooden wall, so they feel that this butterfly is “theirs,” that it cannot run away. The extent of that sickness is demonstrated in their attachment to ideas, concepts, ideologies, traditions, cultural biases, in such a way as to kill the beauty of the butterfly just to hold on to a concept: “the butterfly is with me.”
That sickness is attachment. Pinning the butterfly is not the way to appreciate it.
Many religions and philosophies teach about detachment. “Be detached,” when those words are mentioned to someone who has no experience of appreciation in life; that person will take detachment as another mental sickness: negligence.
Learn to appreciate and detachment will come automatically.
Learn to appreciate others and yourself and your mental sorrow will go away.
Learn to appreciate life, be thankful of it and you will learn to be spiritual.
For in that appreciation there is love… and that dear friends; is all.
Knowing the Self
“The witness of all things,
Without action, clinging or desire.
Meditate on the Self.
One without two,
Give up the illusion
Of the separate self.
Give up the feeling,
Within or without,
That you are this or that.
Because you think you are the body,
For a long time you have been bound.
Know you are pure awareness.
With this knowledge as your sword
Cut through your chains.
And be happy!
Ashtavakra Gita – The self
“Both praise and blame cause concern,
For they bring people hope and fear.
The object of hope and fear is the self –
For, without self, to whom may fortune and disaster occur?
Who distinguishes himself from the world may be given the world,
But who regards himself as the world may accept the world.”
Tao Te Ching – Ch 13- The Self
“The purpose of studying Buddhism is not to study Buddhism but to study ourselves. It is impossible to study ourselves without some teaching. If you want to know what is water, you want science, and scientist wants laboratory, and in various ways they may study what is water. So it is possible to know what kind of element water has, or when wind comes, what kind of form water takes, and what is the nature of water, but it is impossible to know water itself. It is same thing with ourselves. It is impossible to know what is “I.” That is why we have teaching. By teaching we will understand what is ourselves. But teaching is not ourselves. It is some explanation of ourselves. So if you attach to the teaching, or to the teacher, that is big mistake. To study teaching is to know yourselves — through teaching you should know yourselves. So that is why we do not attach ever to the teaching, or to the teacher. The moment you meet a teacher you should leave the teacher, and you should be independent. So that you can be independent you want teacher. So you study yourselves. You have teacher for yourselves, not for the teacher.”
From Zen Mind: Beginner’s mind by Shunryu Suzuki- Ch 12.
“If you could rid of yourself just once,
The secret of secrets
Would open to you.
The face of the unknown,
Hidden beyond the universe
Would appear on the
Mirror of your perception.”