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Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby christopher::: on Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:56 am

Linda Anderson wrote:Well, we don't get to choose. Can we live in that fierce fire? Mastering the teachings seems to be the opposite of living in the present, a false spin on reality at best. I can't subscribe to that idea Christopher much as I might like to. There has never been a perfect world.

I was about to add a ps to my post above, which is: The only question for me that has made any sense on this plane is "how does it serve"?

Linda


Hi Linda,

Now I don't follow! :) How is attention to the present moment the opposite of mastering the teachings? I would think these are combined often in our lives. Skillful actions, concentration, compassion, mindfulness - gently practiced and applied in the only moment we have, the present. How else can the teachings be mastered?

In Buddhism, we speak of touching Nirvana with our own body, In Christianity, you can also touch the Kingdom of God with your body, right here and now. it is much safer than placing our hope in the future. If we cling to the idea of hope in the future, we might not notice the peace and joy that are available in the present moment. The best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

Mindfulness, also called wise attention, helps us see what we’re adding to our experiences, not only during meditation sessions but also elsewhere.
~Sharon Salzberg

The Dhamma is revealing itself in every moment, but only when the mind is quiet can we understand what it is saying, for the Dhamma teaches without words.
~Ajahn Chah
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby Linda Anderson on Sun Apr 28, 2013 5:07 pm

Language and the assumptions behind it, oy vey. I was coming from the pov that mastery, the way you used it, sounded like a device to be a good person for a better world. The teachings are good pointers, but we don't master them... that is like using them to manipulate reality and to me it's artificial and quite undependable in the long run. I don't trust people who have arranged themselves to be nice people... you never know when they will slip up. I am guilty of this at times tho I also can see patterns of shadow. You just have to know how to push the right button. :) I suppose for me, one way to describe the teachings, is one person's attempt to describe their reality, it happens that there are similar descriptions. To take them and use them as a construct, ie mastering them, seems artificial to me... it's when they seep out of my cells that they become real. But I don't call that mastering the teachings. It's all words anyway.

Linda
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:10 pm

I may be a little off topic, and merely too easily going with the flow of the last two posts.

I'd just like to say that there are teachings; and then there is the teaching of methods.

I think it's through the methods doing their work on us -- and we with them -- that there is accomplishment of a re-establishment of our full and unobstructed human nature. The methods are medicine, and physical therapy. The teachings about methods are lessons and refinements on how to take the medicine.

Speaking as a Zen practitioner, I don't say that we master either the original teachings of the Buddha, nor the teaching of the methods, nor the practice of the methods. When we get better from an illness, we feel better, fuller, not constrained by our condition. We don't carry a "mastery" of Buddhist doctrine, or a mastery of technique. It's all more organic than that; we simply take care of ourselves, at last, at our full size, taking in all the others we live with.

I think that, unless you want to be a medical doctor -- a Zen teacher -- you'd better not feel as if you've mastered anything. That would be extra weight; Or even another head atop your own. I think that, from the point of view of a Zen teacher, the mastery is for others, not for yourself, and must *of course* be accomplished, and accumulated, in order to teach and help all comers. I could be wrong in this... .

To go back on-topic... (?): What would Alan Watts say about this?

One of his expressions that I always liked was: "It's as odd as wearing shoes!" I don't know if I can work that in.

Somehow he might find a way of saying about some of this, then, that, "It's as odd as wearing shoes!".

But now I'm surely putting words in his mouth. And words were HIS mastery, not mine. ;-)

All best, All,

--Joe
"The abundance of Nature is not a matter of its 'providing' ". -- William James, c. 1901.

"Least said is soonest disavowed". -- Ambrose Bierce (c. 1900)

"Politeness: noun. The most acceptable hypocrisy." -- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby Bill Keeler on Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:34 pm

Hello, founding member Christopher, from an old (85) friend and lifelong admirer of Alan. In late 1973 I was sitting in a chai shop on a ridge in the Himalayan foothills of northern India, picked up a left-behind Time magazine and learned in the Milestones section of his death. A wrenching loss. I loved than man. I'm a new member. I hope you'll read in the Member's Introduction forum some of my memories of Alan, and also a reference to a small book I published with more of him and information about the spiritual life in the hippie sixties.
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby christopher::: on Thu Dec 31, 2015 7:30 am

Hi Bill, sorry for not responding earlier, welcome to our forum!!! Where did you post that? I don't come by to ZFI much these days, as I have a zillion projects going on, but I'd like to check out what you wrote. :)
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby Linda Anderson on Sat Sep 02, 2017 1:57 am

This is an on the ground account from David Chadwick who knew Alan Watts. David was instrumental in starting SFZC. I think it adds some reality to all the assumptions and judgements about Watts ....... I know David, so do Carol and Gregory. David has created an archive of Shunryu Susuki's work. He's a gem. This was written last year around Alan's 101th Birthday.

Alan Watts at 101
https://www.lionsroar.com/alan-watts-at-100/
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:10 am

Not all that's said in this thread and elsewhere is "assumptions and judgements", Linda.

If we take Watts at his word, what he says in his autobiography is perfectly well descriptive and characteristic of him, and it is reported by someone as close to him as it's possible to get.

In My Own Way, is, once more, its nicely ambiguous title. I can recommend reading/rereading it.

--Joe
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby Linda Anderson on Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:20 am

did you read the article Joe?
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:27 am

Linda Anderson wrote:did you read the article Joe?

How about his autobiography, Linda? That's where a number of things in this thread came from.

--Joe
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby Linda Anderson on Sat Sep 02, 2017 6:32 am

desert_woodworker wrote:
Linda Anderson wrote:did you read the article Joe?

How about his autobiography, Linda? That's where a number of things in this thread came from.

--Joe


a number of things like this....

Watts is often criticized for not meditating. In my opinion, he did have a constant spiritual practice going way back to the womb, and he did do sitting meditation. But he poo-pooed depending on meditation.

He spoke and wrote positively about meditation and often led guided meditations. He just didn’t want his practice to be about jumping through other people’s hoops or being put in their boxes. Watts didn’t like the restrictions of institutions and discipline and didn’t hang around the Zen Center (or any center). But he was an essential element in Zen Center’s formation and, like a pied piper, led so many to be swallowed up by more formal practice.

There’s an old saying in India that one should live two valleys away from their guru. He made it clear that he was no guru, but in considering his legacy, I suggest we stay two valleys away from speculation about his states of mind, and what he did and didn’t do as he breathed in and out.
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby creature on Sat Sep 02, 2017 11:45 am

Buddhism, particularly Zen, would have been just another quirky eastern thing to me were it not for Watts "mysterious YouTube popularity". He had a way to make strange concepts intelligible for a young, frustrated and depressed man, and spark him into a new direction.

I still appreciate his masterful wordplay, and colorfulness to some degree, but can't genuinely recognize him as a standard of character or practice or whatever you want to call it. That likely says more about my view of the path than him. I work in healthcare and my view of people's predisposition towards afflictions like alcoholism and depression is rooted in genetics, so there's not necessarily any judgment of character involved. Still, I firmly believe that the Dharma is a transformative force and know what it has done for me with respect of getting out of those pits. I can't for the life of me reconcile any type of self-destruction with a life invested in health and spiritual growth.

With that said, young disillusioned people don't need a perfectly disciplined, enlightened role model to feel even worse about themselves, but someone welcoming, nonjudgmental and entertaining to offer food for thought in the spiritual poverty of our times. Just a little bite can go a long way. Today, those Watts videos seem to drown in the noise, bunched up with motivational speeches ranging from Tony Robbins to a soundbite of Charlie Chaplin in The Dictator. Watts' voice was even used in a Volvo commercial (some interesting discussion in the comments). That kind of easily digestible feel-good bullshit doesn't do squat for me, but hey, whatever gets people through the day. Maybe we'll see Thich Nhat Thanh in a McDonald's ad one day. Strange times...
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Sep 02, 2017 4:09 pm

Crea.,

Apple has already used the Dalai Lama's image to sell computers in the days of Apple's "Think Different" ad campaign.

By the way, the corporate watchwords or "motto" of IBM used to be (is?), "THINK".

--Joe
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Sep 02, 2017 4:20 pm

Watts didn't interest me during "Internet" days at all, but during days long prior to that.

It was his tape recordings of talks (mostly delivered at Esalen Institute in California) which were broadcast (and rebroadcast... ) on AM and FM radio in the 1970s which interested me. Are these the same traces that are lately served-up on the 'net? I don't know.

I can very heartily recommend several of his books, which were for me, "books just at the right time". Others will recommend others, probably, which were their own "right-on-time-books". These were mine:

    Watts, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (just basic Advaita Hinduism, but a nicely slim little paperback);

    Watts, Behold the Spirit -- On the Necessity of a Mystical Religion (an early book; he'd just quit as a Minister of the Anglican Church, and this book preserves his reasons, his reasoning, and aspirations).
Wonderful and influential reading (Thanks, Uncle Alan!).

--Joe
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