Mixed Media Video

The Moment | Alan Watts and the Eternal Now

Video Transcript

for the original full text, see 1.1.12. – Limits of Language – Pt. 2 | April 16, 2019 | Essential Lectures, Alan Watts Organization, https://alanwatts.org/

So, when we say to ourselves, “You must go on,” the reason is, you see, that we are not living in the eternal now, where reality is. We are always thinking that the satisfaction of life will be coming later. Don’t kid yourself. Only suckers put hope in the future. There really isn’t much of a future. You are going to die. 

So therefore, this hope for the future is a hoax, it’s a perfect hoax. Because you are not fully alive now, you think maybe someday you will be…Look, supposing I ask you, “What did you do yesterday?” Mostly we say, “Well, let me see now; I got up at 7:30 and I brushed my teeth, and I read the newspaper over a cup of coffee, and then I looked at the clock and dressed, and got in the car and drove downtown. I did this and that in the office and so on.” You go on and on and suddenly you discover that what you have described has absolutely nothing to do with what happened.

You have described a fleshless list of abstractions whereas, if you were actually aware of what went on, you could never describe it. Because nature is multidimensional, language is linear, language is scrawny. And therefore, if you identify the world as it is with the way the world is described, it is as if you were trying to eat dollar bills and expect a nutritious diet. Or eat numbers. A lot of people eat numbers. People play the stock market and they are doing nothing but eating numbers. They are always unhappy, absolutely miserable, because they never get anything. So therefore, they always hope more is coming because they believe that if they eat enough dollar bills eventually something satisfactory will happen. So eating the abstractions all the time…we want more and more and more time.

Confucius very wisely said, “A man who understands the Tao in the morning may die with content in the evening.” Because when you understand, you do not put your hope in time, time will not solve a thing. And the Christian word for “sinning” (in Greek is amatanene), which means “to miss the point.” And the point is eternal life which is here and now.

But until there is silence of the mind, it is almost impossible to understand – eternal life, that is to say, eternal now.

But then when you are fully aware and not thinking, you will notice some amazing absences: there is no past. Can you hear anything past incidentally? Can you hear anything future? They are just not there to the plain sense of ones ears.

Alan Watts

Well, I remember in the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus said a lot of things about this. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin, and yet Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.” And if God so clothed the grass or the field which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you faithless ones?” Wow.

So do not worry about tomorrow saying, ‘What shall we eat? What shall we drink? Or how shall we clothe ourselves?’ All the rabble seek after these things. “Sufficient to the day is the worry of it.” Nobody ever preaches a sermon on that text, never. I have heard lots of sermons but never one on that, because people say, “Look, that’s all very well because Jesus was the boss’s son, and he knew that he was really in charge of the universe and had nothing to worry about. But we have to be practical.”

Oh? What do you suppose the Gospel was? The good news – you know it never got out. You, too, are the boss’s son: that was the gospel.

Lots of people in India know that perfectly well…when you get to be a certain age, and after you have studied long enough with a certain guru, then and only then may you realize this. You have put in the time and they finally let you in. Here you have to wait, until you are dead.

The only place to begin is now, because here is where we are. So why put it off? A lot of people say, “Well, I am not ready.” What do you mean you are not ready? What do you have to do to be ready? Well, “I am not good enough, I am perhaps not old enough, not mature enough for such knowledge. I am still frightened of pain. I am still dependent on material things. I have to eat a lot, drink a lot, and I think I had better get all that under control first.”

Oh? You want to be able to congratulate yourself for having gone through the discipline which is rewarded with realization. That is trying to quench fire with fire. Wouldn’t it be great to have no fear, no attachments, no hang-ups, to be as free as the air? Wouldn’t it be crazy to have that courage? But if you look into yourself honestly you will find that inside you are actually a quaking mess of sensitivity, running away from the quaking mess, escaping. You never can.

There is nothing you can actually do to transform your own nature into unattached selflessness because you have a selfish reason for wanting to do it. What does it mean that you cannot do anything about it? It is singing loud and clear: The reason you cannot do anything about it is that you do not exist. “You” as you conceive yourself to be, that is your ego, your image of yourself is not there, it does not exist. It is an abstraction.

When you understand that, you are liberated.

There is the happening, the suchness, yes, sure – you bet, but it is not pushing you around because there is no you to be pushed around. This illusion of the persecuted ego who is pushed around by fate has altogether disappeared. And so in likewise the illusion of the ego who pushes fate around has also disappeared.

There is a happening. By dying to yourself, by having become completely incompetent and found that you do not exist, you are reborn, you become everything.

In the words of Sir Edwin Arnold, “Forgoing self, the universe grows I.”


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