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Alan Watts: How Your Beliefs Create Reality ( Alan Watts Meditation ) with English subtitles   Complain

it's so curious that the emphasis of the

Western tradition in religion is

primarily upon right belief do you

believe in the right dogmas and the

right doctrines and only secondarily

upon right action because what you

believe is in Christianity at any rate

far more important than what you do

because one is saved through faith not

by works and early in its history the

Christian Church rejected the movement

in the church which had been known as

canastas ISM from the Greek gnosis which

means knowledge and in a way there were

some sound reasons for doing so because

the ganache sticks were what I would

call anti materialists they divided

human beings into three classes that

were called respectively pneumatic

psychic and high like the last one being

H y li si from the Greek highly they

would call it now

la le meaning would

so the people were spiritual

psychological and wooden and that is to

say the wooden people were those most

absorbed in materiality and most closely

identified with their bodies an Orthodox

Christianity rejected this sort of

distinction because of the perfectly

correct idea that material existence is

not inconsistent with spirituality this

is something which most Christians have

forgotten but they do believe as the

central principle of Christianity and

what's called the Incarnation that in

the Jesus of Nazareth or mighty God did

in fact become material become human and

by this process initiated a

transformation of the cosmos in the

words of Saint Athanasius God became man

that man might become God and you don't

hear that from the pulpit very often

the Christian Church therefore

emphasized mistis or faith as against

gnosis or knowledge because they said

you can never know God God could never

become an object of knowledge and in

this funny roundabout way the Christian

theologians were saying exactly the same

thing as the Hindus only the Hindus who

do call this knowledge of God through

faith

they call it kin Jana which is the same

as the Greek word gnosis but just to

give you a little sidelight on how words

get mixed up in their meanings we now

have a class of person called an

agnostic and an agnostic it generally

means a person who doesn't commit

himself to any beliefs about the

ultimate nature of things he just says

he doesn't know but the original word

agnosia in greek meant a special kind of

knowledge it was called the dark

knowledge of God the knowledge of God in

the Cloud of Unknowing to use the title

of a mystical treatise written by an

anonymous 14th century English monk this

monk derived his ideas from a very

mysterious figure who wrote under the

name of dionysius the areopagite

Dionysus was a

fifth or sixth century Syrian monk who

had learned his mysticism from porphyry

who got it from plutinos who was a

neo-platonist and who probably got a

great deal of stimulation from the

intellectual world of Alexandria and

Alexandria in the early years of the

Christian era was a tremendous exchange

place between east and west

Buddhist monks visited Alexandria it was

one of the great centers of trade

between Rome and India and as you may

know all Rome's gold eventually went to

India for the purchase of pepper and as

a result of this the Roman economy

collapsed they bought too much luxury

from India India in exchange got Roman

architecture and you'll see a lot of

Roman architecture in Indian temples but

Alexandria was the great Center for the

Gnostics and for Christian theology and

some of the greatest theologians Clement

Origen Athanasius Saint Cyril all worked

out of Alexandria are now going back to

this strange mount Dionysus

it was he who first put around the idea

in Christian circles that there was such

a thing of the knowledge as the

knowledge of God by faith by agnosia

really by unknowing and he in a book

which he wrote very short book called

the theologian Mystica he wrote a

treatise on the higher knowledge of God

which might be quoted directly from the

Upanishads in certain parts of it

the last section of it reads like the

Mandal cure punishment because it's a

series of negations it says what God is

not and he goes very far because he says

that God is not one this is our idea of

unity falls far short of what God is so

does our idea of Trinity so does our

idea of spirit our idea of mind of

justice of love all these things are not

really God and he says in another place

if anybody having seen God understood

what he had seen what he would have seen

would not have been God but some

creature of God less than got some sort

of angel or something like that it's

perfectly amazing to consider the

influence that this man had for writing

under the name of dionysius the

areopagite he became identified you see

with sin Paul's first convert in Athens

and legend has it that he was the first

bishop of Athens and was martyred in

Gaul now where he's known as some Denis

but San Thomas Aquinas looked upon the

writings of dionysius the areopagite as

having the highest authority and you

could if all the text of Dionysus his

work had been lost

you could restore most of it from

quotations and some Thomas he wrote

really two very important books one was

the one I said that the theologian

Mystica the other was called the divine

names and these two books presented the

two phases of his theology the book

called the divine names was a discussion

on the nature of God in terms of what

God is like by analogy and this kind of

knowledge of God he called katha fatik

from the Greek Femi to speak or say

katar meaning to say according to that

is to say to speak by analogy where he

used though entirely negative language

about God this sort of discourse was

called a prophetic and the word appo

meaning away from to talk away from just

as a sculptor when he makes an image

reveals the image by removing stone and

so Dan Isis explained that one attains

the knowledge of God by discarding

concepts which is exactly what the

Hindus mean when they say of God one can

only say neti neti not this not this not

any conception is a sin Hindu a

philosophy the highest state of

consciousness in Samadhi is called near

of Aqaba Samadhi which means literally

non-conceptual vikalpa means a concept

near is a negation so in the non

conceptual knowledge

now people have greatly misunderstood

this they have imagined that unknowing

the state of the highest contemplation

was the acquisition of a blank mind from

which you first discarded thought you

went on to discard perception he went on

to discard any kind of sensory content

in awareness until you were so far as

anyone could say aware of nothing and

they supposed that this kind of

catatonic state was mystical

consciousness this is often believed in

India if you go to the Vedanta Society

and asked what do you mean by nearly

Kalpa Samadhi they will tell you that

the one in that state has no

consciousness whatsoever of the sensory

world that he is completely absorbed as

you sometimes see Hindu holy men sitting

in a state where they are blind and deaf

to everything going on around the

founder of Chinese then known as way

none described people like that as no

better than pieces of rock and lumps of

wood said is a very serious mistake

indeed to confuse Juniata the sanskrit

word for the great void which is both

the ultimate reality and the

consciousness thereof it is a great

mistake to confuse it with nothingness

it is rather to be thought of as space

or like space because space

is not empty it contains the whole

universe and so in the same way the

state of mind of a person who is truly

enlightened is not empty it contains

everything

but like space it is not stained by what

it contains and it's often said in Zen

imagery you can't hammer a nail into

space you can't spit on the sky and

silent if you try the spit will just

return and hit your own face so they go

on to say the consciousness in all of us

your basic mind is like space it is

completely pure but of course by purity

they don't mean unsexual which is of

course what purity generally means in

the Western world blessed are the pure

in heart for they shall see God

a person who's pure in heart is

generally understood as one who never

has any naughty thoughts you know what

Nadi means means vain

negative empty a naughty person

therefore as one who doesn't amount to

anything was just nothing that's the

real meaning but this misunderstanding

of the nature of contemplation existed

not only in India from which it was

transmitted to China but also in the

West you read many treatises on Western

mysticism and the still the feeling that

getting into a deep deep trance

sometimes called rapture

again the word rapture has undergone

some transformations we talk about

rapture as people being beside

themselves with pleasure

but to be wrapped means to be taken away

from the body so also ecstasy we now

interpret as meaning in a state of high

pleasure but it means to be outside

yourself to stand outside yourself your

soul has left you it is with God as

Arabs say of all crazy people be kind to

them they're not here their soul is with

God but actually if it can be true as

Buddhists say that Nirvana and sansara

are one and if it can be true as

Christians say that the spirit can be

made flesh the word can be made flesh

then obviously the highest form of man

is not sitting in a trance like a lump

on a log with a perfectly blank mind

because if that were the highest state

of consciousness it would be an

exclusive state of mind a state of mind

that shuts out life and in that sense it

could not qualify for being what the

Hindus call non-dualistic they always

speak of the highest reality as being

not one because one excludes many not

nothing because nothing excludes

something not being because being

excludes none being and vice-versa so

they use this word non dual to mean that

which doesn't exclude anything which as

it were has no outside as we say space

has no outside you can only have

outsides inside space you can't have any

outsides outside space there is no

outside space even though space may be

curved and finite

[Music]

so if you want to think incidentally of

that curved space go and take a look at

a photograph in the life a book on

mathematics well there's a picture of a

Klein bottle which is a three

dimensional mobius strip a mobius strip

you know is a piece of paper that is

twisted once and then joined and it has

only one side and only one edge

now our Klein bottle is a

three-dimensional mobius strip and it

only has one inside it has no outside

you can say it has an inside and no

outside or it has an outside of no

inside it's a fabulous little little

trick but there's something like that

would be the nature of space as that

which does indeed trail and transcend

the opposite not quite now we'd have to

do one extra move on a serpent to make

it into a client bottle you'd have to

tuck its head through the inn's through

the side of its skin and make the

aperture through the mouth continuous

with the inside of the serpent towards

the tail you see that's more or less my

wine bottle heads so

what I'm getting to I'm giving you

something out of the general history of

religions to show that what has been

meant by the mystical state the state of

Samadhi or awakening in certain

traditions is not this state of trance

but a state of consciousness in which

you can perfectly well carry on your

daily affairs and of course what is

meant by a bodhisattva as the ideal type

of the Buddhist person is that he is not

wrapped that he is actively engaged in

the life of the world because he has

gone beyond the illusion that near vana

is to be found away from everyday life

so what is then the point of meditation

why meditate why do you have to crawl

off into a hole or go to a Zen monastery

or retire and be quiet when this is only

a withdrawal is there anything to be

said for it

our meditation is in there in that sense

as a practice as a discipline is a very

curious problem because from one point

of view it's a help and from another

point of view a hindrance and I think we

have to understand first of all that

meditation exercises are medicinal

rather than dietary the same could be

said of LSD the medicine not a diet

something that is described in Zen as

when you want to open a door or summon

someone to open the door for you you

pick up a brick and you're knock on the

door but you don't carry the brick into

the house when you need a raft for

crossing a stream you cross the stream

on the raft but you leave the Raph on

the bank at the other side you don't go

carrying it around but a lot of people

when they get into meditation or they

get into religion or into any kind of

exploration of this sort turn the door

into a revolving door and keep on going

round and round and round and never get

through they say what a gasp it is to be

in this revolving door so maybe a good

definition of a parasite is the person

who goes through a revolving door on

someone else's push so there are all

sorts of people in the religious racket

who are going through revolving doors

and they're very bitter about people who

walk right through and leave the door

behind because they say well you paid

enough respect you must really

understand religious one-upmanship it's

a tremendously important thing and don't

be caught out by this because what

happens is there's a little game going

on which I'm going

and it's played in Zen which is it works

like this if you go to a teacher and ask

for a spiritual instruction or even if

you come to a seminar like this you are

by doing that confusing yourself because

you are looking for what you're asking

for outside as if someone else could

give it to you as if you didn't have it

so the teacher knows that as long as you

do that you haven't understood but he

doesn't just tell you to go away we may

sometimes to say go away I'm too busy

and in any in any case I can't tell you

anything

well people won't take that for an

answer they won't take no for an answer

[Music]

and furthermore if he just said go away

they would just find some other teacher

who would exploit them and maybe keep

them as followers for years and acquire

a great deal of money by so doing what

he does is another thing he tries to

give them the put-down

as if to say you have a great long

distance to go yet

[Music]

your attainment is not at all perfect

and where they're always talking about

other sects and other schools and saying

well they haven't really got the point

you see so that you keep losing faith in

yourself and feeling my goodness I

haven't yet attained this thing and that

keeps you working but all the time

you're being talked out it's like

someone who's a pickpocket and he's

stolen your own watch and is selling it

to you but just so long as you can be

talked out of yourself you deserve to be

[Laughter]

now you become very aware of this if you

ever do momentarily slip into some sort

of a mystical experience you become

aware of this tremendous gamesmanship

going on and you see it is sort of

continuous with all sorts of cosmic

games that are going on of creatures

eating other creatures up and the

creatures that get eaten

of course transform themselves into the

creatures that eat them and then in turn

eat other creatures and that you see the

whole hide-and-seek game going on and

then you realize very clearly that the

state of development that you are in now

is no better and no worse than anybody

else has stayed because it's like space

again which planet is an on which star

is in the best position well it's all

equal they're all in the middle anyone

can be considered as the center one any

point on a sphere is the center of the

surface of the sphere so you know in the

same way everybody in all his behavior

whatever he's doing whether we call him

from a certain point of view sick or

whether we call him healthy

whether we call him good or bad neurotic

normal psychotic saying all the

manifestations are just like the leaves

on the trees and in each being in a

unique way

his as Christians would say manifesting

the will of God

[Music]

so they're really it from that point of

views there is nothing to do to attain

buddhahood nothing at all but you see

that's very difficult to understand

because a lot of people when they hear

that there's nothing to do try to do

nothing and you can't because you are

karma and karma means action you can't

do nothing but the thing you're looking

for I think you're looking for is what

you're doing is what's called you only

of course as we all know we've got

ourselves into the idea that oneself is

so difficult to see because it's like as

I've often said trying to bite your own

teeth or look into your own eyes and you

can't find it it's always behind it's

like your head is from the optical point

of view a blank space neither law

enlightened or dark it's right in the

middle of everything and so one of the

great tricks of gurus is to set people

looking for their heads there's a famous

story of a king in India in ancient

times called yeah Janna Dutta and one

morning he woke up and reached out for

his mirror brought it over no head

he was looking the wrong side of the

mirror you know he was kind of

bleary-eyed and had a hangover

so he summoned servants and said he gots

I've lost my head find it and they said

but your majesty it's there on your

shoulders he said it is not I can't see

it in the mirror nobody can show me my

head so they were rushing all over the

place looking for the head now the trick

to that is of course that you are

perfectly well aware of your head only

not in a form in which you expect to be

aware of it you expect to be aware of

your own head in the same way as you're

aware of other people's heads but that

wouldn't be true of you because you've

got an inside view on your head you have

an outside view on about the people's

heads because of course yeah you're

taking an inside point-of-view but the

way in which you are aware of your head

is in terms of what you are seeing and

hearing because all sites and all sounds

are what the nerves inside your head are

doing that's how to be aware of one's

head you are aware therefore of yourself

the mysterious self that you have in

terms of experience because there isn't

really any difference

[Music]

but that always escapes people to see so

perpetually so long as you don't

understand that you can be talked into

going onto all kinds of weird excursions

and just so long as you believe it

you're a sucker you're hooked and it

takes a tremendous inner confidence and

nerve finally to say I see through your

game and the cars guru is a very clever

at putting you down but they're just

trying to see how strong you are testing

you out see if they could good with you

so long as they can you see they're

gonna go on doing it because they've got

to get you to the point where they can't

do it to you anymore

then they'll graduate and so one of Rin

sized students after he saw through it

said well it wasn't much in rin sized

Buddhism after all course there wasn't

he said boldly and straight out my

teaching is just like using an empty

fist to deceive a child you know when

you play games with a child and pretend

you've got something here the child goes

into all kinds of tizzy to get you to

open your hand and show what it is and

then there's nothing fooled

see you so you can befool as long as

you've been before when you can't be

fooled you don't ask the question

anymore because it's all become cleaner

it's all become clear that there is no

puzzle about this universe what makes

you think the rapunzel's about this

universe very simple reason you're

trying to explain it and when you

explain things what you would what do

you mean by explanation

there are several meanings of

explanation there's really one basic but

first of all to be able to translate

what is happening in terms of words or

numbers in other words to describe but a

real explanation is not just the

description it's a description which

enables us to control what we are

describing but didn't we see in the last

session that to control the world is not

really what we want to do so that if all

explanations have as their function

enabling us to control things then maybe

an explanation isn't what we wanted and

furthermore you can very simply see that

what makes things complicated is

explaining when somebody explains to you

how a flower works and he's a great

botanist and analyzes all the innards of

the flower and shows the channels the

fibers the processes of reproduction and

so on that go on in it everybody stands

fascinated

see how complicated that is how clever

God must have been to create that flower

to have all that complexity going it

isn't complicated at all it's only

complicated when you start thinking

about because the vehicle of words is a

very clumsy one and when you try to talk

about the processes of nature

what is complicated is not the processes

of nature but trying to put them into

words that's as complicated as trying to

drink up the ocean with a fork takes

forever so this intense complexity that

we see in everything he is created by

our attempt to analyze it all and so

what we do is you see when we analyze we

use our eyes and ears as scalpels and we

deceptively and we have to put a label

on every piece we chop off and so we

scalpel eyes and we get it right down to

atoms getting finer and finer and we

suddenly thought well we've got to the

end of it because the word atom means

what is not cuttable I promise with any

fun we could cut the atom and lo and

behold big fleas had little fleas upon

their backs to bite them and it goes on

forever there is no end to the my new

penis which you can unveil through

physical investigation for the simple

reason that the investigation itself is

what is chopping things into pieces and

the sharper you can sharpen your knife

the finer you can cut it and the knife

of the intellect is very sharp indeed

and the sophisticated instruments that

we can now make that was probably no

limit to it

[Music]

but in a way all that is vain knowledge

in a way because you see it what it does

is it gives you the illusion but you've

solved your problems when you have

control certain things and you have

solved certain problems practical

problems you say fine more of that

please let's go on solving problems and

then you do you create a world of people

as we are today far more comfortable

than people who lived in the 19th

century just remember the troubles of

going to a dentist when you were

children or some of you when you were

children of medicine of badly heated

homes of all sorts of things that we

don't put up with anymore but the

problem is we keep running into this

thing that all constant stimulations of

consciousness become unconscious and

when we take it as a matter of course to

have certain comforts then we switch the

level on which we worry when you solve a

whole set of problems people find new

ones to worry about and after a while

you will begin to get that haven't we

been here before feelings aren't we just

going round on a cycle and doing the

same old thing over and over and over

again because we don't realize that

we're chasing our own tails

[Music]

by an eternally recurrent process of not

knowing who you are

that is the hide-and-seek that is the

nature of what the hindus call the

manvantara and the pralaya

the period of the man mantra in which

the worlds are manifested and the period

of the pralaya in which the worlds are

withdrawn from manifestation in and out

in and out

evermore came out by the same door as in

I went the thing is to get to the point

where you can see that you are doing

that in every moment of your existence

with every tiny little atom of your body

you now at this minute you see are the

whole the whole system are leaning an RV

in other words you often think perhaps

maybe a long long time ahead I shall

reach the point where I wake up from

manifestation and overcome the world

illusion and discover that I am the

supreme reality behind all this

diversification my friends there is no

diversification in other words what you

call diversification is your game in the

same way as you chop the thing and then

you say it is made of pieces did you

forget that you cut it so when you see

the world is complicated and that there

are life problems and that you might one

day succeed the hundreds and hundreds of

people are running like mad after

something that they caught the little

success and they have no idea what it is

so in exactly the same way the Gullu is

keeping you running and running after

spiritual attainment you don't know what

you want the where Krishnamurti is so

clever because he says if you ask me for

enlightenment how can you ask me for

indictment if you don't know what it is

how do you know you wanted is it any

concept you have of it will be simply a

way of trying to perpetuate the

situation you're already in if you think

you know what you're going out for all

you're doing is you're seeking the past

what you already know what you've

already experienced therefore that's not

it is it because you say you're looking

for something quite new

but what do you mean new what's your

conception of something new well I

figure I can only think about it and

down to something old something I once

had so he doesn't say anything he

doesn't indicate anything positively

everybody says why are you so negative

why don't you give us something to hang

on to

well these simple answer is it would be

spurious you don't need anything to hang

on to your it you don't need a religion

but then you say well well what is all

this religious stuff about them why

don't we just forget it try

[Music]

by all means let's go away don't go to

gurus don't go to church don't enter

philosophical discussions forget it

[Music]

but then you'll realize that by having

consented to forget it you're still

seeking what a trap what can you do you

see if you stay here and listen to me or

to anyone else who comes around here

you're fooling yourself but if you go

away you're fooling yourself too because

you still think that's going to improve

your situation and therefore when you

discover that it doesn't you'll think

well maybe it was a mistake to go away

and you come back to the guru and he

looks at you and says you are very

undisciplined very very inferior student

and you you need to apply yourself well

as I explained I expect what he's doing

but it comes down in a way to a sort of

contest with a guru you see well will

you call his bluff you're afraid to

because you might discover that if you

do call his bluff he's no better than

you are that's what you're supposed to

find out but without being cynical about

it these are divine as you are

but you've got to call the bluff there's

going to be a showdown and it's it's a

double bind the whole situation is a

double bind because doesn't do any good

to stay here and it doesn't do any good

to go away either to do something about

it or to do nothing about it now then

there's something else when you

understand that and when you realize

that there's nothing to realize and it's

all here then what are you gonna do well

of course this is the sense of Zen poem

supernatural activity and marvelous

power drawing water carrying fuel do

whatever one does as a human being but

there's an element of philistinism in

that it's like when a child is pestering

father or mother with all sorts of

questions they finally get down to the

deepest metaphysical problems they say

oh shut up and eat you don't and I

wouldn't say that you see because life

as one looks at it you see is in fact a

celebration of itself when you look out

at night at the Stars and you really

want a good god what is all that about

well it's a firework display and it's

celebrating High Holy Day as whoopee now

the whole world is whooping it's a kind

of exuberance and therefore the proper

function of religion is digging this

it's not seeking it's not seeking

anything but is in a way Thanksgiving

that's why of course the Christmas were

right and calling the mass the the

Eucharist the Thanksgiving only they had

such a complicated way of thinking about

it that nobody can understand it so

they're in in religion or religious

exercises whether they are meditative or

whether they are ritualistic ah Whoopie

they are not something you do in order

to attain anything they are like art

forms like dancing

they are expressive of attainment of the

attained less attainment so here's

another hang-up for you when you go

through mr. Suzuki who runs the Zen

Center he's a good disciple of Doge M

who brought them seven school of Zen to

Japan in the 13th century

Dogen said you can't sit and meditate

unless you're already a Buddha in which

case why meditate well meditation is

just the way a Buddhist sits and he

called this sitting justice said not to

attain enlightenment the minute you do

that you see you're not meditating

so you only become a good meditator if

you're not looking for anything and

therefore you realize what a great thing

it is to be able to sit and what a great

thing it is not to dissect the world

with your analytical intellect to be

able to look out at the water or the

trees or at the floor and the light on

it in front of you without calling it

light or floor or trees or thinking that

it has parts or thinking that it's

complicated it isn't so when you can sit

without thinking not with an empty mind

Manju I'm going back to that point not

with an empty mind but just a non

analytic mind a non probing mind where

you're not creating problems all the

time by trying to control it by trying

to control your mind by trying to

control your experience what you see in

here you then just simply discover that

there is no way of controlling what

you're experiencing because what you're

experiencing is you and to try and

really fundamentally control that this

is going around the circle so if I would

say to you now what you have to learn is

to let it happen that's wrong - there's

no one to let it happen if I say to you

accept your experience be calm and open

to things that again perpetuates the

illusion that you're something different

from so we go round and round

but if there are some people who want to

get together and like we would get

together to play poker or to have a walk

go fishing or sail a boat if there are

some people who want to get together to

meditate and have rituals to chant great

it's an art form and you can only use it

and make it a good art form if you're

not using it to get something and this

is what really is the bane of temples

all over the world you're going to

buddhist temples where they

theoretically don't believe in any God

but there are the people praying and

they are all doing it in order that we

get a male child next time around or

that the horse recovered from a disease

or that mama gets cured of the dropsy

and all these petitions are going on and

on and on people always coming to the

temple to ask for something

lowbrow people for lowbrow things

eyebrow people for highbrow things

they're all the vendors sit outside and

sell souvenirs and magic and charms and

all the people go in and do this and all

these serious priests sitting there

really having to keep up face and say

yes when we can't provide these services

on the other hand if you go in to one of

these temples along with all the

faithful followers and have a ball and

buy a by a B buy a candle by others fire

that by seven cents go in and dig this

great thing going on salute the Buddha's

or the Christmas still waters or the

crucifixes or what you will but to take

it seriously

and this is one of the great important

transformations of today in our

consciousness is that a great many

people are finding out that religion is

not supposed to be taken seriously this

is a shocking thing to many people or

those used to be an old saying that a

religion is dead when the priests laugh

across the altars that's true in one

sense when the priests know that they've

got a racket going and they don't

believe one word of it and they're

laughing across the altar because of all

these suckers are out doing it then it's

true the religion is dead but when the

priests laugh at the audience because

they're having such fun because this

whole scene is so beautiful well it's

the difference between some stuffy old

Buddhist priest humming a Sutra and

Allen Ginsberg chanting a Sutra that's a

thing to hear again

another gone for interminably mood it's

a ball they are sick of it but they get

paid for it

this is magical but when I'm Ginsburg

chocolate soup everybody gets in a

circle me gives me little bells and they

get going it's just like a it's like a a

jam session where everybody is

absolutely delighted well that's the way

to do it and if you can't do it that way

forget it

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