Podcast 247 – “On Being God and Death”

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Guest speaker: Alan Watts

NOTE: This program is still available at the

Internet Archive.

Alan Watts’ son sent the following message requesting that his father’s talks be removed from the Psychedelic Salon … bye bye Alan!

Mark Watts Said,

Lorenzo if you leave the Alan Watts materials up you will be sued before this month is out.

February 25, 2011 @ 10:15 am · Edit

Lorenzo, my father’s talks are copyright protected. Please don’t post any more of his talks on your podcast and remove the ones you have in the archive.

PROGRAM NOTES:

If you want to listen to this talk you will have to pay his son for the privilege.  … Too bad, I thought information wants to be free. I wonder what Alan would say about this?

… although, if you Google “alan watts mp3 torrent” you can find thousands of Web sites that provide free downloads of Watts material.

Also, you will find many hours of free Alan Watts videos on YouTube. … So maybe it is only the Psychedelic Salon that Mark objects to.

Alan WattsPROGRAM NOTES:

[NOTE: All quotations are by Alan Watts.]
“Western religions are more concerned with behavior, doctrine, and belief than with any transformation of the way in which we are aware of ourselves and our world.”

“And very often it seems to me that reality appears rather much as the world is seen on a bleak Monday morning.”

“Indeed one might say that psychoanalysis is based on Newtonian mechanics and in fact could be called psycho-hydraulics’s.”

“If therefore, the human race is to flourish we must take charge of evolution.”
“As Jung once suggested, life itself is a disease with a very poor prognosis. It lingers on for years and invariably ends with death.”
“When somebody speaks as an authority it means they speak as the author. That’s all it means.”

“All our images of ourselves are nothing more than caricatures. They contain no information for most of us on how we grow our brains, how we work our nerves, how we circulate our blood, how we secrete with our glands, and how we shape our bones. That isn’t contained in the sensation, or the image, we call the ego. So, obviously then, the ego is not myself.”

“And they [fruit flies] in their world think they’re as important and as civilized as we do in our world. So that if I was to wake up as a fruit fly I wouldn’t feel any different as it were when I do when I wake up as a human being. I would be used to it.”

“In fact, it’s a thoroughly good arrangement in this world that we don’t remember what it was before [we incarnated as a human]. Why? Because variety is the spice of life, and if we remembered, remembered, remembered, having done this again and again and again and again, we should get bored.”

“There comes a point when really, if we consider what is to our true liking, we will want to forget everything that has gone before so that we can have the extraordinary experience of seeing the world once again through the eyes of a baby, whatever kind of baby. So that it’s completely new, and we have all the startling wonder that a child has, all the vividness of perception, which we can’t have if we remember everything forever.”

“So death, in a sense, is a tremendous release from monotony. It puts an interval of total forgetting in a rhythmic process of on and off on and off so that you can begin all over again and never be bored.”

“The universe is really a system which keeps on surprising itself.”

“You can’t experience the feeling you call self unless it’s in contrast with a feeling of other. … Other is necessary for you to feel self.”
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Books by Alan Watts

Posted in Alan Watts, Consciousness, Culture, Death, Imagination, Religion.

14 Comments

  1. Alan Watts’ son Mark sounds like a bit of an idiot. If he respected his father, he would want his father’s ideas to live on… not be suppressed.

    If my son did that to my works, I would be weeping beyond the grave.

  2. @oddalot
    Thanks for your 2 cents , we could all use the change 😉
    I DO have many friends i dislike often, and though i LOVE humanity i often cant stand individuals
    you are right of course (or your proff was anyways) and I have often cooked up that conclusion myself about those that will appreciate what im doing are those i’d rather be around anyways …
    It all comes back to finding the tribe, as a tall leprechaun once said now doesnt it ? seems like they would be down with the minimalistic mode
    Thats what I am trying to do, though often the daunting task of the hunt for the others concludes in me swearing , and saying that I’m just gunna go sell crack , take steroids , rap and kidnap women as the easy way out !

  3. @seven

    I have often grappled with this line of thinking as well. We want to be modest people, and yet it seems to pay to be wasteful. The best conclusion I have come to (due in part to the wisdom of a college professor of mine) is that although it may seem that women and friends are impressed by status symbols, it is even more impressive if you can get by without them (the status symbols). In other words, it takes courage and intelligence to live a minimalist lifestyle. The benefit being, the people that actually appreciate this fact will be people you would rather want to spend time with in the first place.
    ( Of course I did see one drawback to this plan – that being there might not be any other people that appreciate said lifestyle – and in that case you would have to weigh having no friends against having friends you don’t like :/)
    That’s my two cents anyway.

  4. on minimalism
    As a young man, average in attraction , I am made very aware of the Darwinian expectations and influence of acquisition of wealth and power as a means to increase attractiveness and social respect… and this isnt just simple media and consumerismic brainwashing , i felt the first hand effects of continuously updating my wardrobe , cell phone etc : women notice ! not to mention having that god awful insatiable aggressive ambition in my career life , women eat that up (and men and society at large respects this)….. so now i feel like i have a foot in both worlds . I would rather not consume the latest distraction at the expense of mama gaia or employ the madman mentality towards maniacally ambitious destructive dreams , but on the other hand without these tempting toxins in my mentality’s blood stream I am aware of the lack of attention received from my female counterparts and society etc, whats a guy to do?
    And I do believe this to be a common struggle for many awakening adolescents caught between paradigms of old and new , I hope we pull through!

  5. More Alan Watts please! His approach is so simple and yet profound, that I think I’ve finally found the ultimate philosopher.

  6. @Byron T

    I totally agree, it would be great if people didn’t have to mine. But I just don’t see how that would, in any realistic scenario, be possible. We are reliant on technology, there is no turning back, and therefore we need the minerals that are provided by mining. Even if a country were to become self sufficient, someone would need to mine the minerals. The real solution, in my opinion, can only come about when scientist (or whoever) figure out ways to sustain technological growth without mining (or any other dangerous jobs). The solutions to the mining problem, therefore, relies in an indirect way on the minerals that the mines produce. I guess what that leads to mine safety needing to be the number one issue.

  7. Thanks for a great podcast, this one will certainly get repeat listens!

    Just a quick reply to oddalot, I think a better solution would be to undercut the need for the miners to be miners in the first place – (and I realise this may come across as naive) education in efficient ways to grow their own food and build their own homes, such that they do not have to risk their lives in order to suckle the state and corporate ‘teats’. People deserve better fates than that. I always wonder what the world of humans would look like if it was shaped by what people liked, rather than what the lowest paid ‘had’ to do, therefore propping up an exploitative and frustratingly resilient model.

    To Rockmaster; I agree with your assessment of ADHD and meds, did you know that marijuana is being considered as another possible aid for this? In fact, I believe the report was featured on Dosenation a few months back. I think also that the ‘system’ is increasingly geared up such that cultural creatives are effectively sanctioned by either their educational background or their financial ability to do ‘interesting’ things with their lives. Untreated ADHD can be so severe that it prevents a person from being able to fill in a benefit form, let alone write a novel or conceptualise and build an installation piece! As Colin Wilson once said, “Not all artists are outsiders, and not all outsiders are artists” or something like that… 😉

  8. What a great podcast. The universe was listening to itself through these ears. It was really fun closing my eyes and trying to see the inside of my head. Total darkness just like Alan Watts described. I too have stopped upgrading to the newest metal or plastic gadget. I am not anti -technology but find myself in the middle of the 8-circuit model of what Robert Anton Wilson describes in podcast 153. Talking about safety in the mines is like talking about safety in a bar fight. There is no OSHA safeguards. Mining is hard work and doesn’t pay much in return. The job is offered because of the demand. Education and empowerment can help create new jobs in developing countries in turn opening other employment for people. Mining is just a way to feed their families. Of course people would rather be engaged in less strenuous activity.

    If we keep buying stuff with money we don’t even have then more energy is demanded from the system which means more sweat and blood in human economics. We vote with our money. Our vote says keep producing this or that material. Miners are not directly forced to work but rather indirectly forced to work because the world’s vote authorizes such work. On that note, why haven’t the rainforests been saved yet?

  9. Hi Lorenzo,

    I loved this podcast, Alan Watts seems to grow on me with each lecture I hear.

    I am wondering about the logic in your response to the mining accidents and deaths. It seems to me that a reduced demand for minerals would only decrease the safety of the mines. After all, if there was less money per mineral available, there would seem to be more of a chance to skimp on safety precautions in order to make more profits. I’m just not seeing how miners would be “forced” to mine if there was an increased demand for minerals. Either way, I think there are many people who could benefit from living a more minimalist lifestyle.

    -oddalot

  10. Hi, Lorenzo,

    I’ve been working as an intern at a mental health clinic for kids, and I’m totally down with what Watts is saying about the religion of therapy.

    I also tend to agree with your distrust of giving pharmaceuticals to kids. But I gotta tell you, my opinion has shifted recently, because I’ve seen what ADHD medication can do for kids who are struggling in school. I think that we often rely on these medications too much, but sometimes they are exactly what a kid needs. Granted, the reason these kids are having such a hard time in school probably has a lot to do with their resistance to being forced through the robot-programming factory, but until we can change that system, ADHD meds *can* be an effective way to help some kids jump through that particular hoop. The alternative is dropping out, and how many drop-outs do you know that end up as cultural creatives?

    I suspect more than zero, now that I think about it. 🙂

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