Friday, November 4, 2016
Alan Watts heard on KPFK again. Here is text.
This is a kind of text/ transcript of a a program heard on KPFK Nov 4, 2016, 3 am:
[some words are misspelled or edited, but below is sort of written as heard ].
A Lecture by Alan Watts of long ago days when he lived, spoke, taught and shared with us, replayed now.
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[google images are wonderful]
re: Zen Buddhism, part 2
The Dialogue between master & student in relation to far eastern cultures, how to gain liberation from the culture –as we all need to be liberated from our culture partly....
Because education contains acculturation from which we need a cure…like salting meat to preserve it but when cooking need to take salt out – so parents & teachers spoil you to make you able to get along with others.
But in sophisticated circles it is beneficial to good mental health to find a cure for our own culture [cultural biases] because what we do when we are brought up as a child, we learn only 1 thing
And when child has spontaneity killed off to be nice vs. horrid. they are nice but in a phony way vs. being spontaneous and for example. dancing for fun, vs going to dancing school and it becomes stiff, stilted and horrid dancing.
Same with attitude to life – person is forced to believe & follow the rules. but self consciousness means we may question what we have learned & forced to do. we can think about thinking ! – the possibility of reason, to be aware of what one does, vs. having just control of behavior which is considered the glory of being human.
But how do you know WHEN to stop thinking ? how much evidence to collect before taking a step ? how long to think about it ? when do we act and do something before planning, thinking, working out business contract…but when do you slip on something that was unpredictable ?
The more we try to develop fool proof methods we are encumbered by impossible details – the fallacy of too much law/ rules///we cant do anything w/o filling out 300 forms, not make the ‘wrong’ move so then game is not worth playing, it is not living at all, but all being Too Self Conscious. We learn in education, we learn WORDS _ SYMBOLS about reality to go about living as learned – to have ‘knowledge’ ..must be in terms of words or numbers – all symbolic about life.
But once you know that you know, that you are live and going to die, then you have lost control…as if…something has gone wrong. in Hebrew it is not moral good & evil but stated as ‘advantageous and disadvantageous’ -= being able to control the course of events [partly any how ]= try to be god… like sorcerer’s apprentice got fooled.
Whole problem of self-consciousness is that you are always in doubt and anxiety…and nostalgia develops – nice to not have to make any decisions but act only on whim …and if you get into trouble,OK, because you didn’t have to ‘worry’ about it…. as if not making any mistakes were preferable.
Like a moth, who moves into candle, burns…humans can get killed off just as easily.
but we cant give up thinking about ourselves, because we are terrified.
But zen is practice to live SPONTANEOUSLY. Western intellectuals overburdened by thoughts. So they like zen and zen stories. Someone said, “I didn’t understand a word of it but it cheered me up enormously !” From 700 AD to 1000 AD were Golden Age of Zen. All literature is anecdotal of zen masters encountering difficulties.
That was how zen was studied, thru stories told. Now it is studied in closed communities, but in those days it was monk wandering and wandering far away, and just not sitting on their fannies, but walking thru rugged country - visiting many masters to find one - who could / would answer the question- student would be a seeker with a burning desire to find out What it is all about," what reality is", vs. being still a mixed up human being, instead of being simple, genuine, like tiger, cat, or a Buddha.
So monks wandered in search to find a master who could answer Q w/ koan. Masters used to be a man dressed a certain way and with a beard and student would say “ master, please pacify my mind”.... tho Boddhidharma had spent many yrs at monastery before even getting to ask the master any Q –he said: “I have no peace of mind, master, help me “ and master pointed to his heart –and said : " you may have heart mind problem" [the heart is where feelings, and emotions are.]
‘When I look for my mind I can’t find it’ so Boddhidharma said ‘then you have it ‘.
quoan are like jokes, to make you laugh. laughter is not intellectual but emotional reaction. if a joke is explained you are not laughing spontaneously.
Satori happens suddenly, not slowly nor gradual. laughter is fast, spontaneous, an immediate reaction that does Not contain any information, not to tell you something, or impart info or knowledge but to get Rid of something – that you are special – so you can understand the story – the disappearance of the problem. ...student was "Looking for his mind", but he could not find it !
Story: master walking in forest, picked up a tree branch, and asked monk ‘what is it ?” and when he couldn’t answer, master hit him with branch.
Master said: he kept a …[thing]. in a bottle, and asked how to get it out w/o breaking the bottle to get it out ? the monk couldn’t answer. As he got out to leave, the master said “there it is out” [monk was out vs. what was in bottle ].
Master: said "wait till there is no one around and I will tell you” so student asked, "what is secret of Buddhism ?" -- The master went to the garden and pointed to bamboo… and said “what a short one grows here…”
Master: .... would hold up finger to answer ‘what is Buddhism?” – the attendant at temple replied when visitor came, and asked "what is your teaching here ?” ....so he too held up a finger. When Master saw that, he came later and asked "what is fundamental principle of Buddhism?” and in response to no good answer, he cut off attendant’s finger !!! = [that was the answer - spontaneous action, direct knowledge of the world, a lesson used at monastery]
Chinese god Lin Chin [?] who was god of fire – a monk traveling had been w/ another master, and was asked ":who did you study w/ before coming to me ?” and monk answered him -- and master said “good answer, but bet you didn’t understand what that meant” …so monk asked "what is fundamental principle of Buddhism?” and his master said “ who is god of fire?” [it was him] but student did not know....yet ....
These dynamics offer solution to dilemma. or creates a state of blockage to break up.
when you don’t know how to react in a spontaneous way – Then when you say “good morning” in reply to one said to you, that is being Automatic. Just as when asked “do you accept J C as your savior?” -- you don’t know what they mean or how to answer … or “why do you have long toenails?” when toes are inside shoes -- to have no good answer is being nonplussed.
Object of Zen is to never be nonplussed…but to have a spontaneous free answer.
w/o personal attachments or worldly attachments - to be Natural. To be sticky is a worldly attachment, like a squeak on a wheel =it is because we are self-conscious and have lost our original spontaneity.
Then we are NOT FLOWING with the nature of the Tao. Can you get out of dilemma w/o any hesitation ? Not just quickly because that might be a plotting or automatic reply, so that way doesn't work.
Zen & Japanese culture –a master who invented pickled radishes, yellow Daikons [named after him] …explains necessity of spontaneity – because when you have to stop to think how to act, you will be dead. So be like clapping hands w/o hesitation.. but just trying to 'be quick' about it is a block in itself.
When trained in use of sword, bamboo sword was first used to not kill in training, teacher has you work at various janitorial chores and will surprise student by hitting him with bamboo sword === while he tried to defend himself with whatever was available immediately, but not able to do so spontaneously. Tho this is nerve-wracking = worrying about being hit again, or trying to calculate where it coming from next, he would be hit again…
Only when you STOP PLANNING and just do it, w/o being self conscious worry / fear of being hit, then you are doing a ‘real defense’
You can’t defend yourself in 1 pt at a time when your enemy has infinite points of attack.
Woodcutter in forest saw strange animal. For his dinner, he wanted to kill animal for dinner with his axe, but the animal could read thoughts... so man could not kill him – animal kept going to other spots than where man was pre-planning to kill him – and the animal laughed at him – for trying to pre-plan where the animal would be –
A child cannot do anything right, everything he does is wrong, and nothing will do, so he GIVES UP, and only then can he be SPONTANEOUS
But we don’t trust ourselves or others to be saying what they FEEL or be true.
the Soto training school says to GIVE UP, = to be spontaneous in crucial moments
[not alllll the time ] – to have an interchange where fundamental honesty emerges.
A very buggy situation because the more you wonder [if you will be hurt, killed, die, and also the LESS you trust your own life ]
What is the 1 thing you most want to know – to ask god – but then you wonder and think and don’t know what to ask ? Then you ask 1 thing, but then it is not worth wasting Q on that. [And when you find that Q was irrelevant or you already have an answer anyhow. ] so then... 'what is the ONE thing you want to know?'
Ramasaki Roshi was asked for 1 Q and he said he had none, he just wanted to laugh with monk, and that was good, they laughed together.
Emphasize the SPONTANEITY of what ever you don’t know –
Great zen masters have said, Sensai said there is no place for discipline in zen, just eat when hungry, sleep when tired, release your bowels…and then someone comes to study zen and spend hours sitting in meditation, doing difficult chores and spare diet and follow all the petty rules … is it this or is it that ? zen does have discipline, and also emphasize spontaneity == it is both ! not one or other.
i.e. if you have a son, as most cultures expect sons to follow father’s life/work: so sons became monks too… so, many went to theological schools, and have to be ‘taught to think’ like the various methods of meditation…all designed to teach people 'how-to think ' - but then we lose the innate spontaneity of having ‘no real motivation’ to do other disciple/work.
Koan system is to develop a great dharma ? American goes to Japan w/motivation ..you cant get answer to ‘1 hand’ thing, so you have an urgent spirit of inquiry and can’t get it tho master insists you continue… but if go into zen monastery but don’t have that urgent question needing any answer, then you just learn to ‘cultivate a great DOUBT” …
which [means trusting life and your self ]
Christians say’ you have to love god !” and you say “dear god, I love you” repeatedly or be punished and fear of hell if you don’t love god….like demand that "YOU must ‘love your mother’ " on pain of death… instead best to WORK ON THAT "GREAT DOUBT." about which
you can't tell anybody ….
I. e. in music school they try to find methods to teach Creative Musicianship…how to make students love music – it is a job – keep them out of other labor markets, = but how to teach that creative ability and make it alive ! how to make genius, artistic works. but if it worked there would be geniuses that we don’t have – because it cant be done.
in Western terms, if god could explain how he created universe he wouldn’t be god.
in genesis, god creates and then looks to see if they are ‘good’ ? looks at great whales and see if he should create more ? ask where the flowers come from but even the god of spring doesn’t know. Bodhidharma says I DON’T KNOW ….
All cycle knowledge, sitting knowledge – life is a MYSTERY unto itself.
it is like s a sword that cuts but not itself, eye that sees but doesn’t see it self.
basic reality know and doesn’t know itself…if it did know itself thoroughly, it would stop.
if you know the outcome of game it is no fun to play. even master chess players, stop playing when know outcome ! if you knew future perfectly, there would be no fun to continue living, knowing what is going to happen ! know some and not-knowing some.
[or be too vulnerable if not knowing any thing ]
Music cannot be taught, it is learned thru osmosis, tho technique can be taught and practiced, but not the Music or Art itself. What one can learn technique if they love the art/ music, then if interested in self-knowledge and love the results, it is not the technique, tho that is all that can be taught !
We get scared when we think we cant learn the art, only the technique !?
guilt in from childhood toilet training – we have constipation phobia because we are taught we will be sick from retaining feces so have terror that ‘you might not be able to produce’ so we build up tensions that increase constipation – so given caster oil, etc. to avoid that ‘problem’
Same with Zen - "I will study zen but will I get the point ?"
Or " am I good-enough or Christian-enough to be ‘saved’ " ? or "can I get to satori and be good enough" – while teachers say "YOU not getting it is getting it !!!"- " so accept that you don’t have it and can’t ‘get it’ "… and when you try to outsmart them by saying "I will not try to get it" and then"I ‘get it’" but that doesn’t work either ! it is that subtle wanting to ‘get it ‘ still.
A positive or negative method – but what can you do ? you cant ‘get-it’. so what to do ?
like having ‘faith’ …[you can’t force yourself to have it or let it go.] that is the quandary- so many opposite things are said about zen – a strong discipline and also not a discipline at all … both …. all contains paradox !!! [having and ‘letting go’ simultaneously and genuinely ] saying ‘it doesn’t matter’ is not always true or best.
Fundamentally zen makes you do consistently what you do naturally all the time !!! trying to get your thumb when it is always yours anyhow. here is “me” and here is “knowing about me” AS IF they were separate and different, but are all one. we do that and result in confusion and astounding illusions – illusion of separateness !!!
The thumb is not separate of the hand, the illusion by words claims ‘difference’ and separate. so you are not in same world as me and it scary when we are Separated.
as if we are dis-connected… out there vs. both/all here… when it is obvious that it is not separate – tho other people may also think-so.
You are this reality. here. and you are in a very interesting game pretending you are ‘not’….so... go thru all sorts of mazes and games playing this game… mostly running in terror form your own shadow, jumping at your own heart beat and running form the sound of your inner workings/voices.
So you look ‘outside’ into space, externals…for answers. … trying to ‘figure out’ what is us and what is there …. like taking off your skin to see what is inside !!! but what you find is yourself in an unfamiliar aspect or environment - and it is the recognition that you are connected and part of this whole
And then begin all over again, a new surprise of something perhaps ‘different’
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transcribed by mj for sharing words available on the radio
on "somethings happening' pgrm