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Alan Watts – Escaping the Tangle


(by uploader) – Alan Watts quite elegantly speaks of the messes we get ourselves into and how people over the ages have gotten out of these classic mental-mixups.

[Hat tip Fabian ;]


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  1. If ever feeling stressed and confused – Alan Watts can help to clear the fog; helping me to marvel at the ups and downs. Being in the “empty” is so powerful.

  2. ‘the inner tangle and the outer tangle, all beings are entangled within the tangle… how Gotama can we disentangle the tangle?…’

    • by walking away from it…tangle has no power if no one’s in it. Fighting it and struggling in it only gives it power…remember the Chinese handcuff…

  3. Alan Watts became a major milestone in my spiritual awakening during the 1960s, early 1970s. I read many of his books. I once sat and listened to him in Berkeley. I noted his horrible cough which occasionally interrupted his wonderful, cultured voice. His words ring true to this day. He helps find that diagonal path through polarities and dualities. Highly recommended!

  4. Fabian, followed the link from your post a few articles back. Got right involved listening to this amazing orator. Quite a few of the comments on various videos remark on his laughter, another “…Master…not trying to be a Master.” Kudoos

    Zen, how syncronistic! Love It!
    Read and pondered “Zen In The Art Of Archery” by Eugen Herrigel last week. I recommend this rather hard to find, short, but meaningful book to anyone, it was written almost 60 years ago about Herrigel as an European, finding Zen in Japan. And here is this wonderful find of Alan Watts’s understanding of Zen.
    Love and Gratitude

  5. People who are nervous and jittery and don’t know how to react to situations are like that, not because their life is too programmed by whoever or our society, teachers, voices of authority and whatnot, but because their basal point for the sympathetic side (activation through glucocorticoid release. cortisol is the primary stress hormone) of their nervous system has been set to a low threshold, their allostatic load is easily set off balance, so their nervous system will react more quickly and to a higher degree to about any stress in their environment, and usually the parasympathetic side of their nervous system will have a harder time at kicking in and lower the glucocorticoid levels in the body.

    That basal point is set in childhood, either by not receiving enough non-distracted non-stressed attuned attention from their caregivers, what is called proximal abandonment, andor separation anxiety, andor high stresses in their environment, like parents constantly arguing, andor forms of physical or psychological abuse, andor a lack of physical needs, like food, sleep, shelter… About anything that is higher and more constant than a mild transient stress in childhood will set the basal point to a lower degree and the individual will grow-up to be easily stressed.

    Now this is not irreversible to some degree, but people who have had very stressful childhoods will have a much harder time in being less stressful, no matter what therapy or any guru tries to do to them.

    Those who are actually “zen”, were just lucky enough to have none or little of those childhood stresses. And yes there is some genetic predisposition for a lower basal point, but nothing as damaging as childhood stresses. And yes, your life in society in general has an impact depending on what you end up doing in life. The first 3 years are the most important because that’s when most neural pathways and synapses develop, still the latter years until adulthood are also important, as the brain keeps building to a complete form around the age of 25. Although, luckily, neurogenesis has been noted well into the late 6th decade of life in humans, so there is hope in reducing the allostatic imbalance in people who have lived very stressful childhoods, but it is an extremely hard thing to do. People who are unfortunate of being born in a poor family have much greater chances of falling prey to this, although, that is a generalization, but it is also a constant in our society.

  6. Thanks Zen for reminding me of how GREAT Alan Watts was, I listened to his radio show ALL the time in the San Francisco Bay Area…
    Here are some inspiring profound quotes of his:

    “But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.”

    “Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command.”

    “What I am really saying is that you don’t need to do anything, because if you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomenon of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that, and there is nothing wrong with you at all.”

    “If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing thing you don’t like doing, which is stupid.”

    “Paradoxical as it may seem, the purposeful life has no content, no point. It hurries on and on, and misses everything. Not hurrying, the purposeless life misses nothing, for it is only when there is no goal and no rush that the human senses are fully open to receive the world.”

    But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.

    How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself anything less than a god.

    The reason we have poverty is that we have no imagination. There are a great many people accumulating what they think is vast wealth, but it’s only money… they don’t know how to enjoy it, because they have no imagination.

    Alan Wilson Watts was a British philosopher, writer, speaker and interpreter of eastern philosophy and psychology. Alan Watts is best known as an interpreter of Zen Buddhism in particular, and Indian Chinese philosophy in general.

    Alan Watts was profoundly influenced by the East Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Buddhism, and by Taoist thought, which is reflected in Zen poetry and the arts of China and Japan.

    Alan Watts wrote more than 25 books and articles on subjects important to Eastern and Western religion, introducing the then-burgeoning youth culture to The Way of Zen, one of the first bestselling books on Buddhism.


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