Alan Watts ~ Society Is A Hoax , Take Control Of Your Life

Alan Watts ~ Society Is A Hoax , Take Control Of Your Life



now I'm particularly interested in what dr. Weaver said about the attitude of the family to children because we have an absolutely extraordinary attitude in our culture and in various other cultures high civilizations to the new member of human society instead of saying frankly to children how do you do welcome to the human race we are playing a game and we are playing by the following rules we want you to we want to tell you what the rules are so that you know your way around and when you've understood what rules we're playing by when you get older you may be able to invent better ones but instead of that we still retain an attitude to the child that he is on probation he's not really a human being he's a candidate for humanity and therefore to preserve the role of parent or to preserve the role of teacher you have to do what they do in the Arthur Murray school of dancing which is that they string you out they don't tell you all the story about dancing because if they tell you you'll learn in a few weeks and go away and you'll know it but instead they want to keep you on and in just this way we have a whole system of preparation of the child for life which always is preparation and never actually gets there in other words we have a system of schooling which starts with grades and we get this little creature into the thing where they kind of come on kitty kitty kitty and we get it always preparing for something that's going to happen so you go into nursery school as preparation for kindergarten you go to kindergartens preparation for first grade and then you see you go up the grades till you get to high school and then comes a time when maybe if we can get you fascinated enough with the system you go to college and then when you go to college if you're smart you get into graduate school and stay a perpetual student and go back to be a professor and just go round and round system but in the ordinary way they don't encourage quite that they want you after graduate school or after graduation commencement that it's called beginning to get out into the world with a capital W and so you you know you've been trained for this and now you've arrived but when you get out into the world at your first sales meeting they've got the same thing going again because they want you to make that quota and if you do make it they give you a higher quota and come along about 45 years of age maybe you're vice president and you suddenly dawns on you that you've arrived with a certain sense that having been cheated because it isn't it's just the same as things that life feels the same as it always felt and you are conditioned to be in desperate need of the future so the final goal that this culture prepares for us is called retirement when you will be a senior citizen and you will have the wealth and the leisure to do what you've always wanted but you will at the same time have impotence rotten prostate and false teeth and low energy so all the whole thing from beginning to end is a hoax and furthermore some other aspects of the hoax just for kicks you are involved there by and large in a very strange business system which divides your day into work and play work is something that everybody does and you get paid to do it because nobody could care less about doing it in other words it is so abominable and boring that you can get paid for doing it and the object of doing this is to make money and the object of making money is to go home and enjoy the money that you've made when you've got it you see you can buy pleasure and that this is a complete fallacy money never fed by pleasure because all pleasures depend upon not putting down a symbol of power money but upon disciplines in other words now in Sausalito where I live we have pier after pier full of fine boats motor cruisers sailing boats all sorts of things which nobody ever uses because they've been bought on the falling for the add line that if you buy this thing you will have pleasure you will have status you will have something or other but then they suddenly discover that having a boat requires the art of seamanship which is difficult but rewarding therefore nobody has time for it and all they do with the boats is have cocktail parties on them at the weekend and in in myriads of ways you see you go home you were the wealthiest people in the world and you would think that having earned your money and go home you would have an orgy and a great banquet and so on but nobody does they eat a TV dinner which is just a warmed-over airline food and then they spend the evening looking at an electronic reproduction of life which is divided from you by a glass screen you can't touch it you can't smell it it has no color except maybe if you're very wealthy it has color but by and large it doesn't then you look at this thing and you don't you you have a strange feeling you see that the whole procession of grades that was leading to something in the future to that goodie that gorgeous gallopers goodie that was lying at the end of the line it never quite turns up and this is because from the beginning we condition our children through a defective sense of identity and this I think is the most important feature in the whole thing that a child grows into our culture and as I repeat this is not only Western culture it's equally true in Japan but it has an area which I can speak to some first-hand knowledge we condition the child in a way that sets the child a life problem which is insoluble and therefore attended by constant frustration and as a result of this problem being insoluble it is perpetually postponed to the future so that one lives one is educated to live in the future and one is not ever educated to live today now I'm not saying that you know the philosophy of carpe diem let us drink today for tomorrow we die and not make any plans what I am saying is that making plans for the future is our views only to people who are capable of living completely in the present because when you make plans for the future and they mature you are if you can't live in the present you are not able to enjoy the future for which you have planned because you will have a new a kind of syndrome a whereby happiness consists in promises and not in direct and immediate realizations so long as you feel that tomorrow it will come C on a dollar bill but always this promise to pay it's a promissory note and nobody ever can come across because the promise is tomorrow and does is the if we say in common speech tomorrow never comes but everything is based on the idea you see that you will get it tomorrow and you can enjoy yourself today so long as tomorrow looks bright but Confucius once said a man who understands the DAO in the morning can die contentedly in the evening that is to say if you have ever lived one complete moment you can be ready to die you can say well that was it that was the good that I've had it busy but if you never live that complete moment death is always the guy who like comes into a bar at two o'clock in the morning and says time gentlemen please and you say old please one more drink not yet because you haven't really have the feeling that you ever had it that you ever got there now then the main the main factor in this kind of conditioning seems to me to be as I said the way in which we give children a sense of identity and in this respect we do something extraordinarily odd we define a person consider this for a moment this word person Harry Emerson Fosdick once wrote a book called how to be a real person and this in translation means how to be a genuine fake because the word person means a mask the persona the mask worn by actors in greco-roman drama which was a megaphone mask mask so that through which pair SONA the sound goes and so at the beginning of a play script you will see the dramatis personae the persons of the drama that is to say the list of the masks that the actors are going to wear but the word has so fallen from its original use that to be a person has come to mean your real identity your true sincere on his self the person and we say of someone then he's a real person that means he's genuine but we have confused you see the individual organism with the person with that is to say its role and we have defined the role of the person in such a way that it condemns everybody so defined to perpetual frustration now how is the cell when you are a child you your parents your peers your teachers your uncles and aunts are very anxious to define you and what they are going to tell you is that you are a free agent you are responsible that is to say you are an independent first cause you are an origin of actions and thoughts and feelings and we can praise you or blame you for what you do and above all we require of you that you love us you love your parents you love your brothers and sisters as Fred said a child is not allowed to say to let that baby sister go back where it came from because that is not nice all nice children love their brothers and sisters and their parents not of course because we tell you to do so but because you would want to do it yourself is he now here what's going on you are required and commanded to do certain things which will be appreciated only if you do them voluntarily now you see when your identity is defined by society you cannot resist it you don't have the knowledge you don't have the wisdom you don't have the resources to understand that something's being put over on you you cannot but help believe the definition of you as a free agent but you believe yourself to be a free agent as a result of not being free that is to say of being hopelessly unable to resist society's identification of you so in in the whole sense of our personality there is a contradiction and that is why the sense of ego of being oneself is simultaneously a sense of frustration the feeling of eyeness so far as most people are concerned is the feeling of tension between the eyes and behind them trig and borrow a remarkable man did some studies about two kinds of awareness which he called eye tension and Co tension indented is the normal kind of awareness that we have of being a skin encapsulated ego of being separate from the environment and of confronting an external objective world of which we are the independent observer and this myth he said goes hand-in-hand with a physical state which is a state of tension between the eyes then he defined faux tension as another form of awareness but you might call a certain kind of openness in which you realize that the external world is just as much you as anything inside your skin and that you are not something that comes into this world on probation and doesn't really belong this is you see the attitude that we foster in the child but that you are something not that comes into the world that comes out of it in the same way as a flower comes out of a plant or a fruit comes out of a tree that you are an expression you as a human being are a symptom of nature and that you really belong there and that furthermore your actual self what is finally and fundamentally you is not a separate and lonely part of the world but the real you is the world itself everything that there is expressing itself as this particular organism here and now and of course as you look across the room has all these other organisms in there here and now we are all tits on the same cell when they put it so prove it or if you want to do it more poetically raise from the same son now now children very often ask their parents you see as a result of having been given this funny sense of identity mommy who would I have been if my father had been someone else this is a very common child's question because the child gets the message from the parents using the English language the French language the German language or whatever that I am somewhat in my body you gave me my body but Who am I to whom this was given you see you can say to a girl in our culture down you're absolutely gorgeous you're so beautiful and she says how like a man all you think about is bodies I may be beautiful but that's my parents gave me my body but I want to be admired for myself and not for my chassis and this poor girl is a chauffeur she's alienated from her body and she doesn't take any credit doesn't assume any responsibility for being what she is physically and this is of course as much true of men as of women it is a common cultural attitude we say I have a body we don't say our animal body we feel a very sharp distinction in other words between our consciousness which is a kind of focused attention together with all those actions that we are able to perform voluntarily on the one hand and on the other hand everything both within us and outside us that seems nearly to happen to us consider for a moment breathing do you breathe or are you breathed you can feel it either way if you become conscious of breathing you get the sense that you are doing it in the same way as thinking or walking but if you forget about it it goes on and you don't have to do it at all that is why breathing exercises are fundamental in all meditation practices in the Orient because you can understand through breathing and through the experience of breathing that there really is no differentiation between the involuntary experience and the voluntary experience but when you make setup game rules whereby you identify all that you do voluntarily with you and all that happens involuntarily with the other with what happens to you and then you put a gulf between these things not realizing and this is the secret that is never given away that self and other are inseparable just in the same way that the front in the back of a coin are different but identical is all one coin so in exactly the same way the experience of self and the experience of other are mutually necessary you wouldn't know what you meant by self unless you knew other you wouldn't know other unless you knew what you meant by self they are therefore polarities like North and South Pole of the magnet they're inseparable but that secret doesn't get out because a civilized language and thought ignores the fact that all classes all logical classes and words are after all labels on classes are so constructed that they are intellectual boxes and every box which has an inside also must have an outside and we think that insides exist apart from outsides and outside the part from insides we don't realize that although they are opposed they go together and you see that is the secret of the whole thing that is what the child is not let onto and so instead the child is defined as a stranger in the earth and not as a symptom of the earth and as a result of that we have the vast terrifying social problem of alienation our feeling that the world outside human skins is unfeeling fully automatic stupidity which we have to fight and dominate otherwise it will swallow us up and condemn us to the imaginary terrors of everlasting nothingness now I feel in a way with it when we say I wasn't responsible for being born you know in the one of the great problems of psychotherapy today is passing the buck by a kind of superficial Freudian attitude you as a juvenile delinquent are not responsible for what you do because it was your parents who fouled you up and so they write articles in the press that instead of prosecuting the children we ought to prosecute the parents so they hold the parents in the parents say I know we're mixed-up but that was the fault of our parents and it all goes back to a guy called Adam and he blamed it on Eve and she blamed it on the serpent and God said about the serpent I'm not responsible for the suffering he did it on his own you see because the serpent is the left hand of God and what we call God Jehovah Jesus Christ etcetera that's the right hand the Jesus Christ sits on the right hand of the Father nobody ever says who sits on the left because let not your left hand know what your right hand do is they see my temper got the better of me I didn't really mean it my lusts got the better of me I am really not responsible for them they were given to me you see now all this idea that you is we were laboring under a definition of the self which is extremely limited so that we for example of knowledge thinking and walking and we're doing things with our hands and speaking but we don't acknowledge that we are growing our hair and beating our hearts that is defined as happening to us birth is defined as something that happened to us and we feel that was my father's responsibility he had a dirty gleam in his eye and went after my mother and so on and he did it yes all right because there is this point about responsibility and one way of looking at is that we are really not responsible for what happened to our past we are responsible what happened to those beginning like that yes no but you see I feel this is a this is a hoax you see look let's suppose now that we will follow the theory of those astronomers who maintain that the universe is not a steady-state thing but there was an enormous ban billions of years ago and from this bang all the galaxies were thrown out into space now then you look back at this as something which happened in the past and which is as it were the cause of the present but what I would say is that bang is still going on when you take a lovely bottle of black ink and throw it as hard as you can at a white wall and smash it all it goes foosh like this you know and in the center it's dense but on the out fringes it has all kinds of interesting curly cues and that's all you see one splash now in the same way we are at the moment sitting in this room and talking and thinking we are all the little curlicues out on the end of the original cosmic band we are it we're not effects of it because I to think that you are separate from the Big Bang is simply a matter of definition it's a way of talking we separate events from each other in order to measure them that is to say the notion that there are distinct things and distinct events in the physical world is a calculus it is like pretending that a curve is a series of points and so in the same way supposing you have a wiggle now you've got a wiggly line you see and the whole world is Wiggly lines clouds mountains people rivers everything is Wiggly lines now how much of a wiggly line is a wiggle you see what is one wiggle and you can see that this is a very arbitrary matter so we see the the more obvious Wiggles in the world and we define them as people each of you is a wiggle and this wiggle is is you know what about the wing of the channel fighting to get out of the uterus through the birds now they'll be gone yeah how do you do that in the general well that's our simply a repetition of the original explosion participant right in and of course or of course you this this is a natural expression of the entire earth and yes exactly this is the repetition of the original explosion go man you see and it starts with F it starts before birth because the definition of yourself as beginning only when shall we put it where did you begin when at partition at conception or when you were the evil gleam in your father's eye when did you begin let's go back you began on the first dawn of creation whenever that was that because you did it see everybody is pretending they didn't and you can kind of play a game this is what gurus do is is n masters and so on they give you a funny look and you say well I have a problem please teacher I understood of me and I'm caught in this thing called life I got mixed up with all these tubes and nerves and it's uncomfortable and I don't know what to do about it because it's all going to fall apart and so the teacher says like whether it's Sri Ramana Maharshi or whether it's Ed Zen teacher who is mixed up in this thing who are you who asked this question show me find yourself you say well I just just me and he says all come on you definitely see so eventually the person feels very bugged because the the teacher is calling his bluff and you are not the Lord God in the Jehovah sense of Christianity who is the cosmic technocrat who knows all the answers to everything but you are the Lord God in the Hindu sense who is different because the Hindu god that doesn't know how he does everything in the sense that he doesn't translate it into words he can't explain it because there's no point in explaining it you open and close your hand without knowing how you do it and yet you surely do it but you can't put it into words how it happens unless you're a physiologist and then even so it doesn't help you much to open and close your hand better than anybody else see so you do know how to do it but you can't explain it because the thing words are very clumsy way of talking about something which from the standpoint of words and the standpoint of logic is a very very complicated process so the if you ask Shiva how he dances the cosmos he would say I just do it like you say well I just open and close my hand so the new guru who says to you dissin Shiva don't kid me you know that you're not Shiva but they're just as thing called Mary Smith or John Doe etc haha and everybody says oh you can't admit that because you me if I did admit that I would have to be considered responsible and I would be considered crazy and I would feel that I really was one with this whole scheme of things and that's you see the secret that we don't let the children know in all it well not in all but in many cultures initiation into manhood consists precisely in finding that out they finally get around to saying to you after all you know we've been pretending all this time that you were Justice of the boy little go but now we're going to let you in on the real story but not in this culture that's the problem in this culture we do have an initiation into adult life called psychoanalysis and everybody is ruined by education and then it's it can't be helped because they have to know all the conventions and just like you to preserve beef you make it salt and when you're going to cook it you have to serve the salt out of it so in the same way to make a child tolerable companion you have to it's going still you have to be salted with education then when that mixes up all your natural instincts you have to be psychoanalyzed in order to be straightened out and recurred of your education cured of your upbringing but the difficulty is you see that the assumptions of psychoanalysis and of a good deal of psychotherapy in various types and schools do not include the insight that you are basically the works they have in other words that that the simply because historically speaking psychotherapy originated in the 19th century and therefore still carries on the 19th century assumptions about nature of the universe and all those 19th century assumptions about the universe were a put-down they included the myth you see that the universe is actually blind energy it is essentially stupid and man's intelligence and man's values and man's consciousness are a fluke in the world and so this myth is that the world the man in other words is not a symptom of the world like an apple tree is a symptom an apple is a symptom of an apple tree the man is a fluke the kind of a joke a chance and that to be realistic and hard-headed under factual in other words a strong man you must realize that you are caught in this trap and face the facts so then this for the West at any rate this 19th century philosophy of man's place in the world and his identity has become the most plausible common sense in other words people say they are Christians they say they are Jews they say they are theosophist vedantist Buddhists etc etc but they are not because they know in our heart of hearts whatever they choose to believe that the world is as described in the 19th century myth because that's become our common sense the people were Christians there'd be screening in the streets are not screening the streets they'll be taking full-page ads there be sponsoring TV programs about the tremendous urgency of this Christian that and they're not doing anything it's kind a few Jehovah's Witnesses are doing it but they are even they are fairly polite when they come to your front door they show no urgency really so they don't believe it the plausible myth of our age is the myth of the fully automatic model of the universe in which man is a fluke and which he doesn't really belong he is a chance operation and when you're dead you're dead and that's all there is to it and that's so plausible that really almost everyone believes in it without realizing that it is made out of whole cloth it's a nothing but a myth so we're looking at things a way of striking an attitude but this is the powerful powerful idea that governs our children and that gives us our sense of basic identity alienation so that we live always in expectation of the future which of course never happened well it's not from even one