WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT TO FIND GOD?
AND WHAT ALAN WATTS MISSED
It's often not possible for people to find God even after a lifetime of selfless devotion. St. Paul told us it comes only through the grace of God. - It's often said that enlightenment is the hardest thing in the world to find. And Zen Buddhism's instant enlightenment is only possible, after years of dedicated practice, by chance, with the right mind-boggling Koan.
The goals of oneness or finding God are, to our present way of thinking, something which can't be guaranteed and we can't control.
Over the last few centuries, the rational explanations for this have developed. Modern thinking suggests the problem is because trying to find, or wanting God or enlightenment is still an attachment, a selfish ambition. And this automatically binds us to the state of an isolated self, and so separates us from our goal.
In practice, all the usual ways humans get things done, by wanting them and planning how to get them, just don't work on a spiritual level. And this is because they stimulate the same system which we're trying to get out of. It's very hard to get out of the box when we are still stimulating the box.
Alan Watts (1915 - 1973) marks the start in western thinking, that the basic problem is our habitual way of thinking and feeling in terms of subjects and objects: things which 'do' or are 'done to'.
He explains how life literally disintegrates when we see it as selected bits, which we then put together again in terms of words, grammar and concepts.
He answers our questions on 'free will or fate', - as a natural consequence of dividing our lives into things which do, and things which are done to, are we the puppeteer or are we the puppet? Are we a subject or an object?
He explains that a state of oneness is a state where subject and object co-exist, and we have literally lost the sense of how life is intergrated.
Alan Watts (The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, 1962 - Chapter 3: How To Be a Genuine Fake)
"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. ... 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."
So, the way we think and sense is, in itself, the box.
Watts was brilliant, - but he never followed up his idea "If there is any biological foundation for the hoax it lies only in the brain’s capacity for narrowed, attentive consciousness." He identifies the fact that all this only exists because we focus, but he never said it simply as 'focussing', and he never asked if there was anything else we could do with our basic senses, ... and he never considered how animals look and listen without focussing.
He discusses the taoist and zen ideas of 'just sensing', but he sees this as a psychological state which we arrive at when we have fully understood that subject and object are inter-dependent and belong together in everything which happens.
But whichever way i look at it: wanting, ambitions, and since Watts subjects and objects, - they all only exist because of focussing. God and ego, self and the world are based on focussing, they are focal points. We understand life in terms of the relationship between focal points. Our entire abstract thinking system is based on focussing.
And trying to get out of the box by concentrating on something special, is still using the same focussing system which got us into this mess in the first place.
Dec 15th Note: The basic misunderstandings resulting from only thinking about our world separated in focussed bits, has filtered through to our everyday understanding of life, how we do things, and try and organise life on this planet. We really do believe that what happens is the result of all the little bits needing to be coordinated. And it is true, but it's only one way of looking at things.
Please continue with Ignore the Monkey - Tame the Hedgehog