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Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby christopher::: on Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:13 pm

"In the mountains, streams and steep valleys,In deep recesses, there grow
Grasses, trees, and herbs, and trees, both great and small,
The grains, shoots, and plants, the sugar-cane and the grape vine;
All are nourished by the rain, and none fail to be enriched.
The parched ground is soaked, the herbs and trees together flourish.
Issuing from that cloud, water of a single flavor
Moistens grasses, trees and forests - each according to its measure
All of the trees, great, medium and small,
According to their size can grow and develop.
When reached by that single rain, the roots, stalks, branches, and leaves,
Flowers and fruits with luster and color, all are fresh and shining.

According to their substance and marks, and natures either great or small
They alike receive moisture and each one flourishes."



Wow, that's cool jiblet. No, I had not read that before...

In response to Peter, about nonduality- maybe I shouldn't have used that term. There's a deep and a shallow level to the wisdom, that's what I meant, which seems to correspond to this quote from the Lotus Sutra. The deeper meaning and realization of nonduality is something I cannot even speak of... as I doubt I "know" it.

But there's a more mundane level of "nondualistic thinking" that I think we find reflected (and being shared) in modern ecology, Thich Nhat Hanh's ideas of inter-being, insights into interdependence, etc that are absolutely crucial right now (and not that difficult) for human beings to understand.

It's a holistic view of life, the wholeness of yin/yang - seeing how everything that exists is connected, understanding the limitations (and ignorance) of us/them good/evil logic. The Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King, Beatles, Gandhi and other "wise" figures down through the ages have spoken of this.

Its a core message in Watts' writing as well, and I think if enough of us "get it" there could be a transformational shift in how humans behave towards one another and the Natural world. Moreover, if we don't "get it" there's not going to be much left for our grandchildren's children to live with and enjoy...

Thus the importance of this "rain"... and of large numbers of people "waking up" to at least a higher level of understanding. Not complete realization, but at least to the point where we can change how we behave...

"Be the Change You Wish to See in the World," as Gandhi put it.
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby jiblet on Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:46 pm

Very nice that you hadn't read that passage before, Christopher!

The Sanskrit name of The Lotus Sutra is saddharma-pundarika-sutra, ('The True Law Lotus Sutra,' or 'Sutra of the Lotus of True Teaching' etc. etc) - sad-dharma means the good/true Dharma.

Some would say that not every form of Buddhist (or *spiritual*) teaching is good or true. So perhaps it's possible to read that passage in the Lotus Sutra in more than one way - depending on what kind of plant you are!

Regardless, and like I said before - I like Alan Watts!
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby christopher::: on Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:25 pm

~~~~ :Namaste: ~~~
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby polarbear on Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:18 pm

I love Alan Watts, he got me started on the path. Im actually planning to get a tattoo of his portrait next to my portraits of nagarjuna, nietzsche and captain jean-luc picard. Truly an awesome dude.

His book "Does it Matter?" is in my opinion the best economics book/culture study i have ever read.
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby Anders on Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:04 pm

Kojip wrote:
Possum wrote:According to Watts, Buddhism asserts some transcendent thing that others call God but refuses to give it a name or ascribe an identity to it.


That is how I read him too. As if Noble Silence is a wink to Supreme Being. His writings are more along the lines of Advaita Vedanta than Buddhism. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Gassho.


A lot of zen, and east Asian Buddhism in general, is like this. Watts is hardly taking a novel approach in this.

I see watts as an excellent spiritual poet and word smith, though his scholarship on zen and Buddhism is quite outdated. Rather than being a primer to zen Buddhism he is perhaps more appropriate to consider as a voice to loosen up the intellects of those who have already enjoyed a more thorough and correct education in in Buddhism than he did. He offers many creative and vivid perspectives on awakening.
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby Anders on Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:33 pm

Carol wrote:
BTW, they say that Watts was frequently quite drunk when doing his radio talks. Amazing, really! And food for deep consideration about how one can have such profound realization and yet still have so many afflictions in one's life. I ponder that a lot, given the habit energy and afflictions in my own life. Practice is endless!


I don't see it as particularly amazing to be honest. What is the point of wisdom if it doesn't allay your suffering? I wouldn't take watts as an inspiring example tbh. It is a bit too much romanticising the suffering of the spiritual hero. It is a compelling narrative but is it skilful?

Watts case is actually quite easy to explain from a traditional perspective. I think this quote from Nagarjuna explains very simply how there can be discrepancy between insight and liberation :

This is analogous to a burning lantern. Although the lantern is capable of providing illumination, it cannot be useful in a stiff breeze. However, if one places it in a closed room, its usefulness then becomes completely manifest. Wisdom in the context of a scattered mind is just like this. Although one may possess wisdom, without the still room of dhyaana absorption, its usefulness is incomplete. If one gains dhyaana absorption, then genuine wisdom comes forth.


I was taught similar by the late Ajahn Pannavado; words to the effect that samadhi is what enables wisdom to go to the core and enact genuine transformation and liberation. Without it, a practitioner may develop a lot of insight, but nevertheless remain a fundamentally spiritually immature person. Even if their personal understanding suggests otherwise.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby Carol on Sat Apr 20, 2013 8:09 pm

Anders,

I think Watts' wisdom was extremely useful for others, but not so much for him. He applied skillful means in extraordinary measure, IMO, for the benefit of others. His suffering was not extinguished, but he gave selflessly for the benefit of others, I believe. I bow down without romanticism or reservation to that whenever and wherever I see it.

~Carol

P.S. They say great bodhisattvas have no hesitation about going to hell realms to save others. Who are we to say, really?
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby Anders on Sat Apr 20, 2013 8:36 pm

Carol wrote:Anders,

I think Watts' wisdom was extremely useful for others, but not so much for him. He applied skillful means in extraordinary measure, IMO, for the benefit of others. His suffering was not extinguished, but he gave selflessly for the benefit of others, I believe. I bow down without romanticism or reservation to that whenever and wherever I see it.

~Carol

P.S. They say great bodhisattvas have no hesitation about going to hell realms to save others. Who are we to say, really?


Hi Carol,

All true. I guess my counter point was more about general "watts, as an idea of how practice can be like." as for what is actually the case of watts the person, like you said : who can say? Whatever it was may it ultimately be auspicious.
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby Linda Anderson on Sun Apr 21, 2013 1:08 am

Carol wrote:Anders,

I think Watts' wisdom was extremely useful for others, but not so much for him. He applied skillful means in extraordinary measure, IMO, for the benefit of others. His suffering was not extinguished, but he gave selflessly for the benefit of others, I believe. I bow down without romanticism or reservation to that whenever and wherever I see it.

~Carol

P.S. They say great bodhisattvas have no hesitation about going to hell realms to save others. Who are we to say, really?


Thanks Carol, agree. Awakening includes our personal self at whatever phase we are at when the door opens. So best not to open it too soon before it's full potency can be taken on by a mature being, lest it be wasted ... I don't think it's about purity as much as love.

As an infamous teacher once said: "before enlightenment, sake shop; after enlightenment, sake shop". Dis-identification with a conditioned self does not, in itself, create purity, nor should it in my view. As you say, who can say.... and who can say how it serves us as the observers.

What is that koan about the master being in hell... because who else would teach them? We are never alone.

Linda
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby Carol on Sun Apr 21, 2013 2:19 am

Linda Anderson wrote:What is that koan about the master being in hell... because who else would teach them? We are never alone.


Yes. A monk asked his teacher, "Where will you go when you die?" The teacher replied, "Straight to hell." The monk asked, "How can that be for such an enlightened person as yourself?" The teacher replied, "If I don't, then who will teach you?" :lol2: That's a paraphrase from memory. Can't remember where I heard/read it though.
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby christopher::: on Sun Apr 21, 2013 2:25 am

:)

Anders wrote:Rather than being a primer to zen Buddhism he is perhaps more appropriate to consider as a voice to loosen up the intellects of those who have already enjoyed a more thorough and correct education in in Buddhism than he did. He offers many creative and vivid perspectives on awakening.


I think so too, especially when he talked about the human condition and how our cultures weave hypnotic spells that keep people asleep- consumerism, materialism, careerism, nationalism, etc. Watts never offered a complete "cure" but did an excellent job (I think) of describing the symptoms and many underlying causes of our "dis-ease."

Carol wrote:Anders,

I think Watts' wisdom was extremely useful for others, but not so much for him. He applied skillful means in extraordinary measure, IMO, for the benefit of others. His suffering was not extinguished, but he gave selflessly for the benefit of others, I believe. I bow down without romanticism or reservation to that whenever and wherever I see it.

~Carol

P.S. They say great bodhisattvas have no hesitation about going to hell realms to save others. Who are we to say, really?


:Namaste:

Linda Anderson wrote:
Awakening includes our personal self at whatever phase we are at when the door opens. So best not to open it too soon before it's full potency can be taken on by a mature being, lest it be wasted ... I don't think it's about purity as much as love.



The last 50 years seem almost like a global wake up call was issued, and interestingly its been the young (in the sixties and even today) who seem to have had their "doors opened," in larger numbers, especially cause of psychedelics. So I wonder about maturity... how can that get addressed better?

Anders wrote: It is a compelling narrative but is it skilful?

Watts case is actually quite easy to explain from a traditional perspective. I think this quote from Nagarjuna explains very simply how there can be discrepancy between insight and liberation :

This is analogous to a burning lantern. Although the lantern is capable of providing illumination, it cannot be useful in a stiff breeze. However, if one places it in a closed room, its usefulness then becomes completely manifest. Wisdom in the context of a scattered mind is just like this. Although one may possess wisdom, without the still room of dhyaana absorption, its usefulness is incomplete. If one gains dhyaana absorption, then genuine wisdom comes forth.


I was taught similar by the late Ajahn Pannavado; words to the effect that samadhi is what enables wisdom to go to the core and enact genuine transformation and liberation. Without it, a practitioner may develop a lot of insight, but nevertheless remain a fundamentally spiritually immature person. Even if their personal understanding suggests otherwise.


Linda mentioned love, Anders talked of samadhi.

This seems to be THE key issue that keeps jumping up, whether we are talking about "popular" dharma manifestations or traditional situations that go wrong (with teacher misconduct) it seems to me like this is the the most challenging area of deep wisdom and effective practice.

How can we help these (samadhi and compassion) to manifest more deeply in our lives? Cause clearly when they do not one may have an intellectual grasp of "wisdom" yet fall on one's face due to "unwise" actions stemming from clinging and attachment...
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby Linda Anderson on Sun Apr 21, 2013 2:36 am

christopher::: wrote:
.....

Linda Anderson wrote:
Awakening includes our personal self at whatever phase we are at when the door opens. So best not to open it too soon before it's full potency can be taken on by a mature being, lest it be wasted ... I don't think it's about purity as much as love.



.....

The last 50 years seem almost like a global wake up call was issued, and interestingly its been the young (in the sixties and even today) who seem to have had their "doors opened," in larger numbers, especially cause of psychedelics. So I wonder about maturity... how can that get addressed better?

Linda mentioned love, Anders talked of samadhi. How can we help these two forces to manifest more deeply in our lives? Cause clearly when they do not one may have an intellectual grasp of "wisdom" yet fall on one's face due to "unwise" actions stemming from clinging and attachment...


I trust all is well! Sometimes, it helps to know the "rules of the road" but even that is extra for the intrepid.

Linda
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby Linda Anderson on Sun Apr 21, 2013 3:09 am

I don't know that love and samadhi are two different forces....
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby christopher::: on Sun Apr 21, 2013 3:40 am

Yes, I think they are different, though of course interdependent. From a description elsewhere, "Samādhi, or concentration of the mind, is the 3rd division of the eightfold path of the Buddha's threefold training: wisdom (pañña), conduct (sīla), Samādhi (Buddhism) (samādhi)."

One can develop samadhi through meditative practice, i think, yet not have wisdom or engage in compassionate conduct.
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby Linda Anderson on Sun Apr 21, 2013 3:50 am

Carol wrote:
Linda Anderson wrote:What is that koan about the master being in hell... because who else would teach them? We are never alone.


Yes. A monk asked his teacher, "Where will you go when you die?" The teacher replied, "Straight to hell." The monk asked, "How can that be for such an enlightened person as yourself?" The teacher replied, "If I don't, then who will teach you?" :lol2: That's a paraphrase from memory. Can't remember where I heard/read it though.


yes, that is the way that I remember it also. Perhaps, we heard it together :)

Linda
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby Linda Anderson on Sun Apr 21, 2013 3:53 am

christopher::: wrote:Yes, I think they are different, though of course interdependent. From a description elsewhere, "Samādhi, or concentration of the mind, is the 3rd division of the eightfold path of the Buddha's threefold training: wisdom (pañña), conduct (sīla), Samādhi (Buddhism) (samādhi)."

One can develop samadhi through meditative practice, i think, yet not have wisdom or engage in compassionate conduct.


say what, Christopher? ... could you explain that?

Linda
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby christopher::: on Sun Apr 21, 2013 4:06 am

Actually, I don't think I can. :lol2: Anders raised the topic, hopefully he'll stop by again and say more. But if we take this description below as an initial definition of samadhi, it's not the same as love (wise compassion in action) is it?

“The advantages of developing absorption concentration (samadhi) are not only that it provides a stable and receptive state of mind for the practice of insight meditation. The experience of absorption is one of intense pleasure and happiness, brought about by purely mental means, which thereby automatically eclipses any pleasure arising in dependence on material objects. Thus absorption functions as a powerful antidote to sensual desires by divesting them of their former attraction.”

~ Anālayo, Satipaṭṭhāna: The Direct Path to Realization
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby Linda Anderson on Sun Apr 28, 2013 7:14 am

Well, today I found myself at an soto buddhist ordination ceremony for two dear women. I cooked lunch for the set-up crew. In the lull between lunch and the ceremony before the guests came we sat around talking. Many of these people go way back, some don't.

The subject of Alan Watts came up... the drinking, the womanizing. Alan was a local in these parts. Someone told the story of the zen center where people faulted Alan for his misbehavior ... they were there ... two different stories arose concerning Suzuki Roshi's response to this: Suzuki Roshi said: 1 - Alan has brough more people to the way than any other... 2- Alan was a Bodhisattva for the benefit of all beings. (for that matter, so was Trungpa)

Thus I have heard from people who were there. The transpersonal or awakened view is always bigger. who are we to judge.

Linda
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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby christopher::: on Sun Apr 28, 2013 7:59 am

Reminds me of a line from the Grateful Dead song Terrapin Station, "his job is to share light and not to master." Unfortunately, as a species we all really need to learn and then master these "teachings" or there won't be much of a world left for our great grandchildren.

BTW, this is very creative. New video just completed for short segment of an Alan Watts talk, by Omid Pakbin...

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Re: Alan Watts' Mysterious Youtube Popularity

Postby Linda Anderson on Sun Apr 28, 2013 8:10 am

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"?

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