Subject : The 2 page version
extracts from (and bits from me) on
Alan Watts :
The Book on THE TABOO AGAINST KNOWING WHO YOU ARE
RS: The answers are easy - its getting the questions right which is the tricky bit....
AW: Most individuals are aware of themselves as an isolated “ego” which lies somewhere inside the boundary of their skin. We consider that we are a separate entity in - and separated from the rest of the world. The first result of this illusion is that our attitude to the world “outside” us is largely insecure, scared, and often even resentful and hostile.
our Senses - the Interdependance of Opposites
and How we Recognise Only the “ON” Phase (writing in 1966)
... our nervous system and 0/1 computers are much like everything else, for the physical world is basically vibration. Whether we think of this vibration in terms of waves or of particles, or perhaps wavicles, we never find the crest of a wave without a trough or a particle without an interval, or space, between itself and others. In other words, there is no such thing as a half wave, or a particle all by itself without any space around it. There is no on without off, no up without down.
Although sounds of high vibration seem to be continuous, to be pure sound, they are not. Every sound is actually sound/silence, only the ear does not register this consciously when the alternation is too rapid. It appears only in, say, the lowest audible notes of an organ. Light, too, is not pure light, but light/darkness. Light pulsates in waves, with their essential up/down motion,
... the general habit of conscious attention is, in various ways, to ignore intervals.
RS: Consider your own body - made up of atoms and molecules - electrons and ions whirling round in a magnetic gravitational field which is over 99% (?) empty space - yet we see something unquestionably solid. ..... our optic nerve and brain has learned to build things into solids, in order to recognise them for practical purposes (food and danger) at a distance, before we bump into them, (when the electro-magnetism repels).
AW: The difficulty is that most languages are arranged so that actions (verbs) have to be set in motion by things (nouns), and we forget that rules of grammar are not necessarily rules, or patterns, of nature. This, which is nothing more than a convention of grammar, is also responsible for (or, better, “goeswith”) absurd puzzles as to how spirit governs matter, or mind moves body.
RS: The form and structure of our language, is excellant at describing and organising life for practical purposes. I believe language originally developed for this reason.
And yet, we use the same thinking patterns for food collecting AND for intimate relations AND for politics or religion. We organise everything, and try to organise it, around subjects doing things to objects.
Unnoticed, this influences all our self reflections, thus also our self-image; it influences how we try to understand relationship problems and how we think we should relate to others – therefore it even influences all our social structures; our political understanding; and naturally also it shades all our beliefs.
By the way, - our language repeats its grammatical structure at least once every 5 seconds, perhaps ten thousand times a day, we would normally expect such things to be highly hypnotic, with all the side effects of brainwashing.
Alan Watts: On How we have Talked Ourselves into the Farce,
the Hoax, the Fantasy of Having an Ego
... we are so absorbed in conscious attention, so convinced that this narrowed kind of perception is not only the real way of seeing the world, but also the very basic sensation of oneself as a conscious being, that we are fully hypnotized by its disjointed vision of the universe. We really feel that this world is indeed an assemblage of separate things that have somehow come together or, perhaps, fallen apart, and that we are each only one of them.
The truth is that in looking at the world bit by bit we convince ourselves that it consists of separate things; and so give ourselves the problem of how these things are connected and how they cause and effect each other. The problem would never have arisen if we had been aware that it was just our way of looking at the world which had chopped it up into separate bits, things, events, causes, and effects.
It is, then, as if the human race had hypnotized or talked itself into the hoax of egocentricity. There is no one to blame but ourselves. We are not victims of a conspiracy arranged by an external God or some secret society of manipulators. If there is any biological foundation for the hoax it lies only in the brain’s capacity for narrowed, attentive consciousness hand-in-hand with its power of recognition—of knowing about knowing and thinking about thinking with the use of images and languages.
RS. ... Every good workman examines his tools, however most people appear confident that they can think for themselves without bothering to examine how ... and then it is astounding how strongly we BELIEVE in our ideas ... we identify with them (and some rare ideas might even be worth dying for but that is not my point), it is even ideas about music or moral behaviour ... and it seems in the nature of our basic sensory/idea feedback mechanism ... that without some IDEA to believe in, then a person actually feels lost and unreal, scared and helpless
AW As soon as one sees that separate things are fictitious, it becomes obvious that nonexistent things cannot “perform” actions. The difficulty is that most languages are arranged so that actions (verbs) have to be set in motion by things (nouns), and we forget that rules of grammar are not necessarily rules, or patterns, of nature. This, which is nothing more than a convention of grammar, is also responsible for (or, better, “goeswith”) absurd puzzles as to how spirit governs matter, or mind moves body.
... Scientists would be less embarrassed if they used a language, on the model of Amerindian Nootka, consisting of verbs and adverbs, and leaving off nouns and adjectives. If we can speak of a house as housing, a mat as matting, or of a couch as seating, why can’t we think of people as “peopling,” of brains as “braining,” or of an ant as an “anting?”
... We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.”
... It is doubtful whether Western science and technology would have been possible unless we had tried to understand nature in terms of mechanical models. According to Joseph Needham, the Chinese—despite all their sophistication—made little progress in science because it never occurred to them to think of nature as mechanism, as “composed” of separable parts and “obeying” logical laws. Their view of the universe was organic. It was not a game of billiards in which the balls knocked each other around in a cause-and-effect series. What were causes and effects to us were to them “correlatives”—events that arose mutually, like back and front. The “parts” of their universe were not separable, but as fully interwoven as the act of selling with the act of buying. A “made” universe, whether from God or the Automatic Model (monkeys on a typewriter), is made of bits.
Appendix --- a few questions --- RS ---
So, apparently, according to modern scientists, our so called “solid” bodies are really whirling magnetic energy bundles with lots of space and lights flashing and things pulsing – almost see-through and transparent - isnt this something like we always imagined spirits are? (a quite impractical form for eating) (but maybe quite useful to explore as a green energy recource)
I Am a Noun
The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
Laughing at the Cosmic Joke