Lessons of Alan Watts

We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.”

We’re not separate from this universe. We’re interwoven in the cosmos, apart of the energetic patterns of spacetime. We’re like waves in an ocean. Always changing, transforming, connected to more than merely ourselves.

The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.

We strain ourselves in our search for ourselves, in our pursuit of an ultimate meaning, believing that we need to be more famous, more successful, more talented, stronger, smarter, better-looking, in love with the perfect spouse, owning a bigger house, and so on.

We cannot enjoy the present moment because we’re consumed with our stories, regrets, future ambitions, dramas. If we do finally achieve all our dreams, we’re left unfulfilled.

Rather than discovering the miracle of life every day, we have ignored life, attaching ourselves to abstract ideas of meaning and success and purpose.

We often sacrifice what is here for what isn’t.

Rather than being truly alive, aware of our joys and sorrows, we lose ourselves in thought. We’re worried about our futures, ambitious for recognition, avoiding what is unpleasant, clinging to more desires.

If we’re always chasing after meaning, we will waste our lives until our lives are over. The point of life is to live life. What matters is the journey itself.

But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.

True wisdom is in knowing what we don’t know. Rather than judging, forming opinions, claiming that only we understand, we need to deeply listen and open ourselves to what is mysterious, uncertain, beyond our current paradigms.

Instead of clinging to notions of Absolute Truth, we can live our questions.

Our models of reality are not reality themselves. Our symbol-systems are only representations of limited knowledge. There is so much in this universe that we don’t know.

Sometimes what we learn is too painful to hear. Sometimes we are too emotionally immature, ignorant, and uneducated to understand fully. Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know.

We’re only human beings — organizing experience into comprehensible models with our nervous systems, filtering what is “essential” to us from what’s “not essential” (socially, biologically, physiologically), taking in a limited number of signals unconsciously, while not being aware of other signals, while we exist on a tiny planet, in an ever-expanding universe.

We don’t need to form definite conclusions. When we humble ourselves, opening to what is unfamiliar, uncertain, and mysterious, we can grow.

One thought on “Lessons of Alan Watts

  1. I really loved this line: “Rather than judging, forming opinions, claiming that only we understand, we need to deeply listen and open ourselves to what is mysterious, uncertain, beyond our current paradigms.”

    When we recognize our identity as being interwoven and interconnected with everything there is, how might this change the way we live?

    Like

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