Excerpt from The Way of Zen by Alan Watts

From The Way of Zen by Alan Watts ~

“All one’s intentional acts, desires, ideals, stratagems, are in vain.  In the whole universe, within and without, there is nothing whereon to lay any hold, and no one to lay any hold on anything.  This has been discovered through clear awareness of everything that seems to offer a solution – or to constitute a reliable reality – through the initiative wisdom called Prajna, which sees into the relational character of everything. 

With the eye of Prajna, the human situation is seen for what it is: a quenching of thirst with saltwater.  A pursuit of goals which simply require the pursuit of other goals.  A clutching of objects which the swift course of time renders as insubstantial as mist. 

The very one who pursues, who sees and knows and desires the inner subject, has his existence only in relation to the ephemeral objects of his pursuit.  He sees that his grasp upon the world is his stranglehold about his own neck, the hold which is depriving him of the very life he so longs to attain.  And there is no way out, no way of letting go which he can take by effort, by a decision of the will. 

But who is it that wants to get out?  There comes a moment when this consciousness of the inescapable trap, in which we are at once the trapper and the trapped, reaches a breaking point.  One might almost say that it matures or ripens, and suddenly there is a ‘turning about’ in the deepest seed of consciousness.  In this moment all sense of restraint drops away, and the cocoon which the silkworm spun around himself opens to let him go forth, winged as a moth. 

It is now possible to live spontaneously without trying to be spontaneous.”

~ Alan Watts (The Way of Zen)

 

 

 

 

Stephen Levine’s Definition of Death

“It is the ultimate in natural conservation in which the container is discarded but the contents are recycled.”   – Stephen Levine

Path of Least Resistance

Water takes the path of least resistance.  A tree, a leaf, a human, all possess a central artery to supply fluid to channels, veins.

We are cells, tissues, bone, blood – but mostly water.  This world is our body and our body the world.  The sky and sea are our minds.  Clouds and waves, our thoughts.

A glimmer of clarity, a fresh clean insight, a burning brightness leaves me feeling as if I looked at the sun.  And by “me”, I mean “you”, I mean all of us.  I mean the place of stillness, the one we keep inside, a source of renewable energy waiting to be accessed, directed.

The world will simply go on being itself in all its change and sameness, and we must eventually go on, away from human reflection, through the gate that only opens from the inside, moving out of the field of linear time into the river of eternity, along the path of least resistance. 

Spiritual beings, living in physical bodies, in a material world.

Chogyam Trungpa’s Saddle Analogy

I just love this passage from Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery by Chogyam Trungpa.  To arrive at this place he describes, within one’s self, must be to arrive at a place of deep, deep peace.      

“In the saddle, as long as you have good posture and a good seat, you can overcome any startling or unexpected moves your horse makes.  So the idea of the saddle is taking a good seat in your life.  

You belong here.  You are one of the warriors in this world.  So even if unexpected things happen, good or bad, right or wrong, you don’t exaggerate them.  You come back to your seat in the saddle and maintain your posture in the situation.  

The warrior is never amazed by anything.  If someone comes up to you and says ‘I’m going to kill you right now’, you are not amazed.  If someone says they are going to give you a million dollars, you think ‘so what’.  

Assuming your seat in the saddle at this level is achieving inscrutability, in the positive sense.  It is also taking your seat on the earth.

Once you take your seat on the earth, you don’t need witnesses to validate you.”

– Chogyam Trungpa

 

 

Making Use of Heat

Then you come to that place of burning through the atmospheric fabric of consciousness.  You learn how to make use of the intensity of heat, and you use it to burn through thoughts and emotions, fears and desires, to purify and transform. 

Because you are not your thoughts, emotions.  You are not the sum of your fears and desires, however enslaved to them you perceive yourself to be.  You are a thread in the fabric of consciousness.  You are part of the awareness that witnesses all things in this field of time, this dimension of duality.

So you can stop trying to hold on to your identity as it is defined by others.  You can start to let go of how others might see you, how they might judge you.  And you can start to release your own judgments, assumptions, and misconceptions about others.

You might arrive at a place of thunderstruck stillness in yourself, a calm quiet place that has always been there, somewhere, like the surface of a pool of still water, or maybe the eye of a storm.  All the great importance of your external environment is diminished in this place of being at rest within yourself, this sensation of coming home to your own heart, this peaceful pause in the wake of the ten-thousand things.

It’s a place where no one owes you anything, and you don’t owe them.  A place free of demand or expectation.  A place of clarity, blindingly brilliant, where you can see a little more clearly what it is to be human.  Because each time you make an individual self-discovery, you discover something about humanity in the process.

There is a revelatory quality in your experience of self-discovery that is unique to you, but you are also simultaneously connected to all those who have made the same discovery, all around the world, down through the ages.  You are connected to those who have not been born yet, and those who are here now, shedding their own brands of light.   

 

Siddhartha Considers Emotion

“He pondered this feeling which completely filled him as he slowly made his way.  He pondered deeply, sinking down into the depths of this feeling, as through deep water, until he reached the point where the causes lie.  For to know the causes – so it seemed to him – that is what thinking is.  And only in this way do feelings become knowledge instead of being wasted.  In this way they become meaningful and begin to radiate what is within them.”

-Herman Hesse, Siddhartha

 

Towards The Fire

When things unravel with such fury, we conclude that something should be held responsible.

We look for a place to lay our blame, though the source of our pain often has the power to be a catalyst for growth, a facilitator of movement in stagnant waters.

If we can un-stick ourselves from the quicksand of resentment, if we can rise up out of our blaming the way mist rises from a lake, it becomes probable that we will find our way out of every yesterday and all tomorrows, arriving like a loosed arrow in the heart of this very hour, the mark of this very breath.

It’s okay if we haven’t learned this yet, we just keep trying. Eventually, when the nameless urge tugs at our navel, we will follow it more easily, breaking out of our old habits, though it takes everything (even the undivided attention of our bone marrow) to not step over the edge and sink like a stone.

We turn, instead, summon our courage, and go toward the very source of the tremors, run towards the fire, moving deeper and deeper inward – the way all those long winters have taught us.