Alan Watts

 

 The book chapter 5

 

Life is an experience we play. Once you have seen this you can return to the world of practical affairs with a new spirit. You have seen that at route the world is a magical illusion and a fabulous game and there is no separate you to get something out of it, as if life were a bank to be robbed, the only real you is the one that comes and goes, manifests and withdraws itself eternally in, and as every conscious being for you is the universe looking at itself from billions of points of view, points that come and go so that the vision is for forever new.

 

JASON I am very much drawn to the idea that we are not individuals and we are individuals we are both not excluded or separate from anything implicitly dependent on all things. I like that life isn’t a bank to be robbed and everything is there and doesn’t need to be acquired or chased. I’m seeing life more so after reading this passage than it is to be experienced and not exploited to be lived in the now and not fantasised about for the future.

 

What we see as death, empty space or nothingness are only the troughs of this endless waving ocean. It’s all part of the illusion that there should seem to be something to be gained in the future and that there is an urgent necessity to go on and on until we get it, yet just though there is no time like the present and no one but the all and everything, there is never anything to be gained. Though the zest of the game is to pretend that there is. Anyone who brags about knowing this doesn’t understand it, for he is only using the theory as a trick to maintain his illusion of separateness, a gimmick in a game or spiritual one-upmanship.

 

Moreover, such bragging is deeply offensive to those who do not understand and who honestly believe themselves to be lonely individual spirits, In a desperate and agonising struggle for life, for all such people there must be deep and patronising compassion. Even a special kind of reverence and respect because after all in their the self is played out, its most far out and daring game, the game of having lost itself completely and of being in danger of some total and irremediable disaster. This is why Hindus do not shake hands on meeting, but put their palms together and bow as a gesture of reverence, honouring the godhead in the stranger.

 

 Do not suppose that this understanding will transform you all at once into a model of virtue, I’ve never yet met a Staint or a sage who didn’t have some human frailties for as long as you manifest yourself in animal or human form you must eat at the expense of other life and accept the limitations of your particular organism, which fire will still burn, and where in danger will still secrete adrenaline.

 

The morality that goes with this understanding is above all the frank recognition that your  dependence on your enemies, underlings, out groups and indeed upon all other forms of life whatsoever.

 

Involved as you may be in the conflicts in competitive games of practical life you will never again be able to indulge in the illusion that the offensive other is all in the wrong, and could and should be wiped out.

 

This will give you the priceless ability of being able to contain conflicts, so they do not get out of hand or being able to compromise and adapt. Of playing yes, but playing it cool for this is what’s called honour amongst thieves. The only dangerous people are those who do not recognise that they are thieves the unfortunates who play the role of the good guys with such blind zeal that they are unconscious of the interdependence to the bad guys, who support their status

 

The real goodness is its particular balance of love and selfishness, reason and passion, spirituality and sensuality, mysticism and materialism.

 

Whether positive pole has a slight edge over the negative. Were it otherwise and the two were equally balanced life would come to a total stalemate and standstill. Thus when the two poles good and bad forget their interdependence and try to  obliterate each other man becomes subhuman, the implicated bowl crusader or cold sadist thug. It’s not for man to be either an angel or a devil, and the would-be angels should realise that if their ambitions succeed they evoke hoards of devils to keep balance.

 

 JASONTo understand that in order to have an identity or a position one has to consider everything that it is not I’m not a crow I am not a tree I am not a windmill. Language defines everything sort of demystifies it the same time. I often look at the moon and then tell myself that it is not called anything. When I do this I notice that the magic returns. I was recently at a retreat where we spent all morning for seven days in silence this gave me the rare opportunity to experience my reality or reality first hand without this hereditary language that isn’t even mine, but has been handed to me for me to make sense of the world, fortunately I can see beyond language and experience life without it.