Monday, August 11, 2008

Alan Watts: The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

This book explores an unrecognized but mighty taboo - our tacit (silent) conspiracy to ignore who, or what, we really are. Briefly, the thesis is that the prevalent sensation of oneself as a separate ego enclosed in a bag of skin is a hallucination which accords neither with Western Science nor with the experimental philosophy-religions of the East.

This hallucination underlies the misuse of technology for the violent subjugation of man's natural environment and, consequently, its eventual destruction. We are therefore in urgent need of a sense of our own existence which is in accord with the physical facts and which overcomes our feeling of alienation from the universe.

"I find that the sensation of myself as an ego inside a bag of skin is really a hallucination. What we really are is, first of all, the whole of our body. And although our bodies are bounded with skin, and we can differentiate between outside and inside, they cannot exist except in a certain kind of natural environment. Obviously a body requires air, and the air must be within a certain temperature range. The body also requires certain kinds of nutrition. So in order to occur the body must be on a mild and nutritive planet with just enough oxygen in the atmosphere spinning regularly around in a harmonious and rhythmical way near a certain kind of warm star.
That arrangement is just as essential to the existence of my body as my heart, my lungs, and my brain. So to describe myself in a scientific way, I must also describe my surroundings, which is a clumsy way getting around to the realization that you are the entire universe. However we do not normally feel that way because we have constructed in thought an abstract idea of our self."

6 comments:

Joe said...

I'm on my second reading of "The Book" at the moment, and I'm getting so much more out of it this time around. It's really an amazing read and a superb workout for your mind.

Christopher L Knowles said...

How is it that a certain RBN blabbermouth happens to note only have an identical name but looks identical to the Great One there? (and has the identical cigarette, too!) I think someone is yanking our chains, kid.

The difference is that one gives you hope and empowerment and one wants you to hide under the bed and tremble.

dedroidify said...

I have to agree they're quite the opposits, even though 'Alan Watt' (without the S thankfully) claims to be 'cutting through the matrix' while scaremongering.

I remember someone online being outraged at the similarity of name hehe.

polycogs said...

How in the world did I miss this??? This is BRILLIANT. Thank you very much for posting. My favorite line: It is as if the eyes were trying to look at themselves directly.

I've noticed there's a video of him on video.google.com (61mintutes long). I haven't been through all of it yet but it starts off well.

dedroidify said...

check out the alan watts label on this blog, everything the man did is fascinating to learn from :)

GH said...

Alan watts books are life changing
alan watts books