Alan Watts Essays

Alan Watts Essays-52
This is not a kind of sentimental pantheism or nature mysticism.Still less is it a simple philistinism as if to say, “Stop asking silly questions and get on with your work.” The difficulty of talking about Zen is that every attempt to explain it makes it more obscure.

This is not a kind of sentimental pantheism or nature mysticism.Still less is it a simple philistinism as if to say, “Stop asking silly questions and get on with your work.” The difficulty of talking about Zen is that every attempt to explain it makes it more obscure.

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And there are other respects in which this is the secret not only of art but of life itself.

Haiku represents the ultimate refinement of a long tradition in Far Eastern literature which derived its inspiration from Zen Buddhism.

Though this is perhaps a poor haiku for the very reason that it begins to philosophize even though it philosophizes against philosophizing. Being too much against philosophizing is just as much an arid intellectualism as being too much for it.

Bash This state of mind is technically called mushin, literally the state of no-mind.

I can recollect a glimpse of sunlit pigeons against a dark thundercloud.

Alan Watts Essays The Big Sleep Raymond Chandler Essay

The sound of cowbells in a mountain silence on a hot afternoon. The smell of burning leaves in the haze of an autumn day.And I describe such moments I begin almost to speak in haiku. That’s why our eyes see best when they brush across things and do not stare in a fixed gaze. The reason is that whatever is momentous, living and moving is momentary.Now this is part of the secret of Zen; that life reveals itself most plainly when you do not clutch at it either with your feelings or with your questing intellect. Minute by minute our experience moves along without return and we are in accord with it to the degree that we move with it as the mind follows music or as a leaf goes with the stream.Once again, the art is one of knowing when to stop.As another Zen master said, “If you want to see into it, see into it directly, but when you begin to think about it it is altogether missed.”Zen answers profound questions with simple everyday facts: “It is windy again this morning.” But watch out!This is when we are simply aware of what is without distorting it by the complexities of self-consciousness as when, in efforts to get the very most out of life, we not only feel that we feel, but feel that we feel that we feel.The state of mushin is thus an extremely clear kind of unselfconsciousness where the poet is not divided from his subject, the knower from the known.To look for some sort of deep symbolism in these replies is to miss the point completely, for they are the plainest and most complete answers to the great problems of philosophy and religion.For it is the chief intuition of Zen that the answer to the problem of life, or we might say to the problem of God, is so utterly obvious that one hardly needs even to look for it.When one of the great Zen masters was asked, “What is the ultimate principle of Buddhism?” he answers, “A sesame bun.” To the same sort of question another replied, “It is windy again this morning.” Another handled the questioner a piece of cake.


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