–por Alan Watts (Dec 21st, 2017)
We are in very serious danger of destroying the biosphere. That is to say the whole envelope of living creatures which covers this Planet through pollution, overpopulation, nuclear fallout, poisoning of our food and very lack of food. And here are all these brilliant people, trying to discuss what to do. And it came over to us that we really didn’t know what we ought to say. You can scream and create a state of panic but that won’t do any good. When it came down to it, we didn’t know what to say because we didn’t know what to do. Something that we might do for example to increase the food supply with high yield crops may be ecological mistakes; so the consensus of everybody at that meeting, was that insome way or other the human race has to learn how to leave the world alone, and let what it is called the homeostasis, that is the self-balancing process of nature, take care of the mess.
Our problem is that we don’t really know how to stop. We’ve got something started and we see it’s going in the wrong direction; I think the difficulty is, to borrow and old Chinese saying: “When the wrong man uses the right means, the right means work in the wrong way”. In other words, there is something wrong with the way we think. And while that is there, everything we do will be a mess. Now, what is it that’s wrong?
As far I can see, the basic mistake is that we’ve invented this wonderful system of language and calculation, and that is at once too simple to deal with the complexity of the world, and also we are liable to confuse that system of symbols with the world itself, just as we confuse money with wealth. A lot of people are in business to make money instead of wealth. When they make the money they don’t know what to do with it. And so in the same way, we confuse happiness with status, and we confuse ourselves as living organisms which are one with this whole Universe, for something we call our personality.
What is that personality? Our personality is what we call our image, our image of ourselves. Our thought about ourselves, our idea about ourselves, this is the person. In other words, what people meet and understand and what I understand as Alan Watts, is a big act which is not really me, because in the image of Alan Watts there are not all my unconscious processes, both psychological and physical. The construction of my brain is not contained in the concept Alan Watts, and the concept Alan Watts does not contain the inseparable relationships which I have with all the rest of the Universe, and therefore that concept is a fraud.
When it’s mistaken for the real me there is a confusion because the concept of Alan Watts can’t do anything, because it’s only a concept. You can’t make it lift a weight. Just as the number 3 is a concept and you can’t make just plain “three” do anything. Also you can’t wrap up parcels with the equator, it’s a useful imaginary line but it can’t do anything. (…)
From the moment we were little children, when the teachers in class screamed at us ” pay attention!”, we go tight in various ways. Either to see or hear more clearly, to concentrate, or to will something which is supposed to be difficult to do. And that constitutes a habitual tension over the whole body, that’s there almost all the time. That feeling of unnecessary tension, is as it were the material sensation upon which we fasten this concept of “I”. We hang it on that feeling. The concept is not us, the feeling of tension is completely phony. It has nothing to do with success in seeing or hearing or acting. So we get the marriage of an illusion with a falsehood, and that we call ourselves. No wonder why we feel cut off from everything, alienated, frightened from life and death.
What has to happen is that we have to come back to a sane view of our own life, which is the way we really are. An organism functioning in terms of the whole environment, with the whole environment, instead of this funny little separate personality. (…)
Before we think of doing anything in this critical situation, we realize the completely illusory nature of the Beings that we think we are, and get back again to the Being we really are. Which includes all this…outside world no longer left outside.
— Alan Watts. From the video “Alan Watts breaks down what’s wrong with the world- Part I” (1970).