Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's it all about?, let's ask Alan Watts!

(the OOOhhhh-MMMM sound is playing)

Listen; listen downward, down into that sound. What is it? A current of air? Vibrating vocal cords? your own eardrums? something running in your head? It’s all of these, but go still deeper, this sound is you vibrating. And who are you? Don’t give me your name address and occupation; you know that’s just a mask, a front, a big act. Who puts it on? Who puts it on?..your body? …..What an act that is, and who puts that on?, your father and mother?, did they put you on? Come off it, you know very well who you are but you won’t admit it. Deep in there in the middle middle of your heart you know it. You’ve always been around and always will be. And the you in you is the same as the you in me. You are not some sort of tourist just visiting in this world for a short time. You belong here. Like the apple on the tree is the energy of the tree, you, yes you are the energy of the world. You don’t know who you are do you. You can’t really get at yourself just as the fingertip can’t touch itself and the teeth can’t bite themselves. And that’s because you, the far in you, is what we call Brahman, the self of the universe. The which for which there is no whicher. The heart and foundation of all that’s going on. You think you’re going to die some day, yes, that’s because every now and then you have to go off so that you can know you are on. You can’t have an up without a down or a back without a front, or a light day without a dark night. The whole thing is pulse.

So what are you doing Brahman? You’re playing on and off with yourself, hide and seek with yourself. You’re just passing eternal time with adventure. You forget who you are really. Every now and then you make like you are a John Doe or a Mary Smith or a butterfly or a worm or a star. And that you’re lost in the middle of a big, big outside world that isn’t you that you don’t understand and that don’t control. Of course, there has to be something else, something other to bring out the feeling that you are you. And so you can feel really you, that outside world has to feel really strange…different. You old trickster, deep down in you know the whole bit. Therefore what you want is a surprise. So you have to let things get out of control, you have to feel lost and lonely to know you as you. You play the thing out by inventing lusts and loves, fears and terrors, gnawing anxieties and screaming memes all so you can imagine it’s not really me, its IT that runs the show. But our secret is, as we say, tatframasse, YOU are it. YOU are running the show. By not letting your right hand know what your left is doing. By making like there is a whopping great split between what you do and what happens to you. And this is what we call Maya; the great illusion, and Lela; the play, the big act. And you don’t just play your game with such simple elements as on and off, black and white or life and death. To seem as real as real can be, this world that you are playing has to be so complicated that you can’t figger it out. So, between black and white there is a whole range of colors. Between thunder and silence a whole scale of tones. And between something and nothing; between a smashing fist on the face and trying to touch air there are all the textures of feeling; burning, throbbing, pushing, hugging, fondling, tickling, kissing, brushing and light wind on the skin. Your world is all these elements, of light and sound, of taste, smell and touch, woven together in many dimensions in the fabulous loom of your brain. Your brain, the most complicated thing in the world, which you yourself grew without even thinking about it. You have always been around, for you; I; the self, is simply what there is and all there is. All of us are raised from one center, tits on one sow, sounds on one flute, for ever and ever. But it doesn’t get monotonous, boring because we keep forgetting it. We keep the ons on by putting offs between them.

How big is it? How long is on and how long off? Don’t take these figures literally for their purpose is to just to give an idea of vastness. We say that man, human life, is a dance that lasts for four million three hundred and twenty thousand years. And of course there are all sorts of other dances going on at the same time with their own rhythms; star dances, rock dances, fish dances, insect dances, plant dances and strange animal scenes like crocodile dances, elephant dances. The human dance runs for four million three hundred twenty thousand years. A span of time we call a Calpa. Before it begins and after it ends there is always another calpa, or off period of rest. During which the self is simply the self and doesn’t pretend to be this me or that you. We call this rest period the Prolia; peace, uninvolvement….pure bliss. When four million three hundred twenty thousand years draw to a close the Lela dance begins again, though it always feels like the first time; every day is today. And then through many centuries, through many pulses of waking and sleeping, life and death, you stretch your world out through a span of time that varies in mood like the rainbow, running from purple to red, from royal delight to destruction and fire, for as there is no purple without red there is no pleasure without pain. There are thus four great divisions of the Calpa; we call each one a “yuga” and name them after the four throws of the Hindu game of dice; kreta; the perfect throw of four, treata; the slightly imperfect throw of three, dropara; the throw of two and cali; the worst throw of one. And so the first period, the kreta-yuga runs for one million seven hundred and twenty-eight thousand years during which the whole world is as perfect as a fresh flower and as unblemished as that of a young girl. The second period, the treat-yuga is a little shorter, it runs for one million two hundred and ninety six thousand years during which a small element of evil and decay comes into life. And the tips of the petals are very slightly brown. The third period is the drapara-yuga, running for eight hundred and sixty-four thousand years, the sylyble “dra” in drapara means two. Double or dual. So that in this age the powers of good and evil are equally balanced. The fourth period is kali-yuga running for only four hundred and thirty two thousand years in which the power of evil and destruction takes over. At the end your eternal self takes the form of Shiva, the lord of renewal through death. Blue bodied and ten armed with a necklass of skulls, but with one hand in the gesture of “fear not” as a reminder that all this is in illusion and play. And then Shiva dances the tandara dance, the dance of fire in which the material world is destroyed and the self returns to the state of prolia…of peace, uninvolvement and pure bliss. All this goes on for ever, through calpa after calpa after calpa and not only in this visible world that we call the universe, for this universe we know is just a speck of dust in another universe, and all the specks of dust in this universe that we know contain minute universes without measure. Boundless inward in the atom, boundless outward in the whole. However vast, how ever incomprehensible, however terrifying this entire display may seem to be, all of it is at root your own innermost self. The self you cannot touch or see or pin down or control because it’s too close, too near, right in the middle of everything……because it’s you.

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