Alan Watts, the way of waking up

I heard a little bit of a lecture or talk that Alan Watts gave and looked for a transcript of part of it.  I found it a couple of places.  The below link will take you to one of them.  Good stuff.




I had not given the subject of enlightenment much thought before.  Even though I’ve been studying eastern philosophies for a little while now, the thought of enlightenment really hasn’t piqued my interest.  As far as Buddhist philosophy goes, I’ve mainly been focused on being aware of the present moment and not judging situations as good or bad.  These two things have helped me very much in dealing with life.

But somewhere in the last couple weeks, enlightenment caught my attention.  So, I started doing some reading and thinking about this idea.  From what I can tell, the more common meaning of the word is what most people would think of.  It’s supposed to be a state of awareness that most people are not enjoying.  It can be said that it’s a greater awareness of God, or your oneness with God or with all things.  A state in which you are free of the ego and live out of your essence or spirit.  You are living out of your “God-self”.  That kind of thing.  And there is no shortage of material you can find on the internet and in books talking about the steps you need to take that will lead you to enlightenment.  So it’s a spiritual state of being or experience that can be attained by hard work and focus.  There aren’t many humans who have attained this state, using this definition of the idea.

I will say this before I continue.  I could be wrong.  I’ve learned not to be dogmatic about anything.  I could always be wrong.  Or just not completely right.  Or have all the facts.  You get the idea.  That’s part of why I call this blog, shifting beliefs.  Relative truth is what a person views as true, right now.  As time passes and experiences happen, that relative truth usually adjusts a little as well.

Ok, so with that being said, I tend to think that enlightenment is not as spiritual and evasive as many think that it is.  I think it’s a more natural thing that we can walk in on a regular basis.  I found a great article on the subject on this site:  This part of it really resonates with me:
The great cosmic joke is that you are what you are seeking. All the religious and spiritual seeking on this planet and you end up back where you started. If that’s not a fantastic joke worth a good belly laugh I don’t know what is. We all look for happiness, peace and fulfillment in the things of the world, yet all along these things are our very nature – our very own center of being. Meditation masters and mystics throughout history have seen the joke of it as Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh explains:
I laugh when I think how I once sought paradise as a realm outside of the world of birth. It is right in the world of birth and death that the miraculous truth is revealed. But this is not the laughter of someone who suddenly acquires a great fortune; neither is it the laughter of one who has won a victory. It is, rather, the laughter of one who; after having painfully searched for something for a long time, finds it one morning in the pocket of his coat.

Wow.  Isn’t that great?  I remember reading something else by Thich Nhat Hahn that basically said, being mindful of the present moment is enlightenment.  If you are washing the dishes, and are as aware as you know how to be of the experience you are having of washing the dishes, you are enlightened.  Along this same line of thought, he also said, “The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.”

There is a Zen proverb that is fairly well known that I like.  It says; Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.  After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.  🙂  For me, it kind of takes a lot of the spooky-ness out of enlightenment.  Also, these days I kind of lean towards the fact that we are not two parts (or three parts, depending on how you break it up), soul and mind/body.  I think what you see is what you get.  I think we are our body, our mind, and the combination of our experiences and our interpretation of those experiences.  So instead of somehow putting my mind and body through some strenuous series of exercises so that my spirit/soul can rule in an attempt to live from my “higher self”, it’s just about being aware.  When I walk through my neighborhood and I’m aware of the ground under my feet, the wind on my face, my body breathing in and out on its own, am I not enlightened?  This is an excerpt from and Alan Watts talk that he gave:
When you really look into yourself – There is nothing you can do. We here mutually realize there is nothing we can do to be anything else other than what we are or feel what we feel in this moment, and to be this quaking mess.  However this isn’t as much as a blind alley as you think, it tells you something. Water puts out fingers and some stop because they hit blind alleys and the water doesn’t pursue that course, it never uses effort, only weight, it takes the line of least resistance. There is no way of transforming yourself to become this fearless divine being apart from the quaking mess.
The “you” that thinks itself capable of changing the quaking mess, does not exist, the “I” separate from this, cannot control it, because it is not there. As soon as you understand that, things will be vastly improved.
You can’t do anything to change yourself, to become better, happier, more serene. You don’t need to. You are all as extraordinary as trees, the shape of fire, and the arrangement of the stars.
You needn’t feel guilty – you do anyway – but don’t worry about it.
You don’t know what you’re supposed to do, so you just watch.  Just watch it all.

A friend of mine, when he gets overwhelmed with life and all this stuff, likes to remind himself to just be.  Just be.  I think in that moment of just being, when you are aware of your just being, is another moment of enlightenment.

So, yeah.  That’s where I am right now with this enlightenment thing.

I hope you all are doing well.  🙂