I’ve had my interest in Alan Watts aroused by rereading. In my Own Way, his autobiography written just a few years before he died (much to his surprise I’m sure). But his long and great book ends with the words “I’ll be silent now.” I looked in my library and I must have ten of his books. Watts has been my gateless gate my whole life as his books go back to the 60s when the aroused mind was first started kicking to find a way out of the cultural womb in which I was interned. When the mind first awakened, it’s like coming to the realization that you have been buried alive. This “aroused mind” is prior to thinking and its conceptual world, for this conscious world is the tomb in which the “aroused mind” finds itself, deprived of senses and thought. Like Helen Keller, the “awakened mind” is emptiness aware of itself.
And so the path of Alan Watts, an “aroused mind” determined to find the gate that would release it from the tomb, he laid out his exploration in his books and talks. And in the end, the gate opened into silence.
Looking back on Alan Watts, I see his whole life as a metaphor. Je Suis Watts! I metaphor in its spiritual expression is a mediator that creates a new unity between incompatible opposites that are mutually dependent. Whenever we have a Single Idea that transcends a dilemma, we know the joy and freedom of creativity. Human life is creative life, and creativity is transcendence of incompatible forms that exhaust themselves trying to being One form, but can’t give up their separate thingness.
This is the fallacy of materialism. Two separate things cannot become One thing, cannot transcends its twoness to become One (and here’s the key point) that includes the preceding opposite forms. THAT is Thou. YOU are that One the includes all preceding forms. But in the grid of materialism locks us in place, in the immanent and we can’t transcend our tomb. Like Helen Keller, we are pounding on the inside, knowing there is an outside, but unable to be conscious of it, unable to experience the transcendent Self that is both inside and outside simultaneously. So we are forced to opt for one or the other, and because these to opposite forces, eros and agape, centripetal and centrifugal, ascending and descending at the play of the Cosmos itself, we split our selves into two conflicting camps, realism and idealism, in all its various manifestations. But the most personal split is between our own body and mind.
We are all Alan Watts in that we are looking for the key in our own life that will free us from being buried alive in this coffin.
It pays to wait until the inspiration hits, like having to go to the toilet. I wasn’t going to give a talk this morning, and then when I finished the Watts Book, it all came together in a single unthought idea, which is more like a impulse of something that wants to be born, a thump on the inside of one’s being. What shall I be?
We have to let it out, for if we don’t we cease to be alive. This kick on the inside of Being is the foot of the Cosmos itself taking form in our own bodies.