Poetic Exploration of the Heart

Who Am I? – Allan Watts

Who Am I? - Allan Watts

It has become fashionable, and it is nothing more than a fashion, to believe that the universe is dumb, stupid. That intelligence, values, love and fine feelings reside only within the bag of the human epidermis, and that outside that, the thing is simply a kind of a chaotic, stupid interaction of blind forces, and our intelligence is an unfortunate accident. By some weird freak of evolution we came to be these feeling and rational beings, more or less rational, and this is a ghastly mistake because here we are in a universe that has nothing in common with us, that doesn’t share our feelings, has no real interest in us: we’re just a sort of cosmic fluke. And therefore, the only hope for mankind is to beat this irrational universe into submission, and conquer it and master it.

Now all this is perfectly idiotic. If you would think that the idea of the universe as being the creation of a benevolent old gentleman, although he’s not so benevolent – he takes a sort of “this hurts me more than it’s going to hurt you” sort of attitude to things, you can have that on one hand, and if that becomes uncomfortable you can exchange it for its opposite: the idea that the ultimate reality doesn’t have any intelligence at all. At least that gets rid of the old bogey in the sky – in exchange for a picture of the world that is completely stupid.

Now these ideas don’t make any sense, because you cannot get an intelligent organism such as a human being out of an unintelligent universe. The saying in the New Testament that figs do not grow on thistles nor grapes on thorns applies equally to the world. You do not find an intelligent organism living in an unintelligent environment.

Look, here is a tree in the garden, and every summer it produces apples, and we call it an apple tree because the tree apples, that’s what it does. Alright, now here is a solar system inside a galaxy and one of the peculiarities of this solar system is that at least on the planet Earth the thing peoples. In just the same way that an apple tree apples.

Now maybe, two million years ago somebody came from another galaxy in a flying saucer and had a look at this solar system, and they looked it over and shrugged their shoulders and said, “just a bunch of rocks,” and they went away. Later on, maybe two million years later they came around and they looked at it again, and they said, “Excuse me, we thought it was a bunch of rocks, but it’s peopling, and it’s alive after all. It’s done something intelligent.”

Because, you see, we grow out of this world in exactly the same way that the apples grow on the apple tree. If evolution means anything it means that, and this is discovered by the scientist when he tries to describe .. exactly what you do. He finds out that you, your behavior, is not something that can be separated from the behavior of the world around you. He realized then that you are something that the whole world is doing. Just as when the sea has waves on it. Alright, the sea, the ocean is waving, and so each one of us is a waving of the whole cosmos, the entire works, ALL THERE IS! And with each one of us it’s waving and saying, “Yoo hoo – Here I am!” Only it does it differently each time, because variety is the spice of life.

Alan Watts – from the lecture “Who Am I?”

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Alienated Me
Alienated Me

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