Sunday, June 19, 2016

Alan Watts, opposites reconciled

This is typed up from being broadcast on KPFK Sunday June 19, 2016, for further elucidation of those who like to be Reminded of older teachings and realizations. Enjoy and
share, as when this is on-air broadcast for all us, public, the intention is to Share and Teach.

             “Reconciliation of opposites” 

"always interesting to see how often psychologists talk about problem of reconciling opposites….anyone who knows anything at all of elementary principles knows that ideas of both Freud & Jung, patriarchs of depth psych, according to their ideas there is COMPENSATORY relationships to what is conscious and unconscious in our mental life, light above and dark above and vice versa.

many people who wrote most scurrilous books had exemplary lives but those who wrote pious books lived scandalous lives…  what is expressed in dreams is opposite side of life to what is lived consciously

to make person whole – whole related to holy word – problem is to get together 2 apparently-opposed sides…and is recognition that seem at 1 level opposed are at another level mutually necessary.

this is difficult to admit.  we don’t like to uncover the basic harmony that mostly looks like they are in Opposition to each other…like life and death….how we conceal the fact that they keep alive by death daily…we are constantly transforming dead animals & plants into shape of our bodies….and they hide slaughterhouses and conceal death in some-many ways, like the mortician conceals death.... it’s his job.

death is constantly denied and hidden, we don’t see how life & death go together. we fail to recognize the INSEPARABILITY of opposites, so we run into problems and so we don’t understand….    how our enemies are needed to us, and what we avoid are what we also need and use ….      

if we succeed in getting rid of our opposites, we too will collapse…so Jesus  said, “love your enemies”, not  "be nice to them or be friends"…   this shows the truth lies in the MIDDLE,  as in Confucianism – doctrine of the mean – where moderation is best…

so Buddhism is called the ‘middle way’…which means this is a doctrine of moderation.

in Buddha’s own time, 600 yrs before Jesus, the main forms of Indian spirituality was a search for liberation by extreme modification…… 

Buddha was the son of a tribal king and his father had at his birth insulted the soothsayers and was told he would be great monarch or else a Buddha…      and the father didn’t want his son to be mixed up in religion -- so he wanted son to follow in father’s way:  of kings, in the palace, and to not think of the problems in life…

but story goes, that the Buddha caught glimpses of death, poverty, diseases, etc. and  he asked why such things come into being  ???…so he escaped palace, cut his  hair, put on rags and became mendicant-beggar for 7 yrs - 

and then he followed the teachings that wisdom & peace come only from extreme mortification of flesh…but 7 yrs did not bring any peace at all.

after some time he felt he discovered secret – the MIDDLE WAY – 

simply that at 1 extreme was mortification and desire, and other was hedonism, trying to get all pleasures possible....

so he took Middle Way between those 2.   But this is part of point.  The Middle way comes to not just compromise of 2 extremes but a Profound Understanding of Universe that underlies all :   

the  logically thought life is all oppositions & conflicts…life as an encounter…of spiritual and matter.... of mind and body... of 2 different …[aspects]

as if these came from distances apart and were logically opposed - which creates conflict.

but there cant be a battle w/o a battlefield…. 

so underlying all [wars, battles, life events and thoughts ] 
there is something also in COMMON….

fighting over what they want to get is also in common – the same kinds of creatures fight each other – a compliment of agreement …agreeing to have a battle.

the real meaning of middle way – is to go below down the ‘conflict’ and see further, deeper…the mystery in Buddhist philosophy…also called ‘dialectic’ – has a dble sense ..related to dialogue, conversation, what is between teacher & pupils...

 teacher eliciting understanding of students by asking right Q …but other side is that they are Opposed Positions – thesis & synthesis – the middle way is a dialectic – in between.

Eastern teachers don’t seek students, as they ‘don’t have anything to teach’ based on insight that at deepest level,- that prior to conflict, life is Not a Problem.  [is connected, a whole, together. ]   

When the Inquirer seeks a teacher because they think there is a problem, “I suffer, how do I stop suffering ?”     but  the steps of dialectic student is brought to the middle way where conflict expressed -and  suffering is reduced to moderation to diminish that suffering… ‘I want to not suffer’ 

and teacher counters with ‘you suffer because you DESIRE’….. 

so people think that’s all Buddha said, but it was more.

just stop desiring is not the main point but only 1st step in dialogue. 

Next step is how am I to stop desiring ?’     so teacher says “do you really want to ?”  and the student realizes if it is true, as Buddha seems to say, to cease desiring, that too is a Desire too…to escape, the student must say ‘yes & no” both !!!   "I don’t want to end desiring to stop desiring"….   

so next step:   “suffering is desiring MORE THAN YOU ARE GOING TO GET ! OR CAN GET” == that is what is anguish.

student ponders that and asks ‘what if I fail in not desiring more ? wont that lead to anguish too?"   so teacher says ‘don’t desire to succeed More than you can/will succeed”…
this dialogue shows student has been trying to control his desire ! 

in each step of Q & A, the Buddha is master of dialogue and taking student to higher level… while the lower level is desire of hard facts and of desire -- and at higher level, student sees that his own feelings/desires are part of the facts and not outside themselves.

to ACCEPT THINGS AS THEY ARE includes accepting our desires and our own feelings, even those unpleasant feelings [of failure, jealousy, wanting and yearning and imaginings, competitive urges ]
until student accepts and regards all of their feelings… not be limited to what they THINK or identify themselves with just those desires..... but finding what else there is inside and outside.

desires are both the same and so where is the ‘desirer’ ??? there is no difference between in and out     [as they ALL GO TOGETHER, are connected, related, whole, being the one-who-is-being-observed-is-same-as-observer…]

it is ‘a knowing’ [more fully and of more wholeness].   In Indian logic there are 4 propositions: 

yes & no, 
neither yes nor no…. 

= classifications of fundamental statements of what can be happening …. i.e.  so world exists, doesn’t exit or both or neither exists…. as philosophy separates these to explore the  Q….. ‘there is no such thing as ‘being’ as it is only an abstraction…’   nor is one neither being agnostic, skeptic, believer, but more too. 

every human being thinks in these categories even in lowest levels of thinking…some are premises a person clings to hard…what is  our own premise we cling to so desperately ?   

and then we too refuse, oppose. or object -  and see that any affirmation has no meaning without the same in denial, as the ‘no’ to the ‘yes’  always exists …
[in language, thought, and life itself ]
so then we have NOTHING LEFT TO HANG ON TO… this realization  brings a person into liberation, 

because it is CLINGING TO LIFE that is root of anxiety that distorts their view & causes suffering

when not clinging to life, the person is released and talked out of their own self-strangulation. "   ###

NOTE: different font parts in "[ ]" are inclusions to Watts' words for clarification only.

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