Alan Watts
What If You Stopped Talking To Yourself All The Time?

Most of the time there’s a voice talking to us in our heads. It’s such a constant presence that we barely notice it’s there, we just responds to whatever it tells us. We feel anxious if it tells us that the interview we’re heading into will go badly, we feel confident if it tells us the date we’re about to go on will go well, and we feel every bit as embarrassed when it reminds of some long past moment as we did when it was happening the first time.

One of the reasons to meditate is to quiet that voice down, so that we can stop our attention from being drawn into the past or pulled into the future, and by doing so, we can fully experience the present.

Unfortunately, this voice doesn’t want to be silenced. In fact it will use anything it can, even the concept of meditation itself, to give us something other than the present to focus on. And as I mentioned earlier, because we’re so used to hearing this voice, we can believe we’re meditating even whilst we’re just listening to its chatter.

The problem, as Alan Watts points out in the video above, is that meditation doesn’t have a purpose and the voice in our heads struggles with the concept of purposeless things. It’s the same voice that tells us we look silly when we dance or that we’re going to make a mistake when we’re improvising during a performance. Dancing and improvisation don’t have a purpose either. We do them for the sake of doing them. Because they’re fun, because we feel inspired to. Because they make us happy.

Dancing isn’t approached with any particular reverence or carefulness, and neither should meditation be. Meditation can’t be practiced for what it will do for you in the future, only for what it is in the present.

Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment. And therefore, if you meditate for an ulterior motive; that is to say to improve your mind, to improve your character, to be more efficient in life, you’ve got your eye on the future and you are not meditating.

Because the future is a concept. It doesn’t exist. As the proverb says: “Tomorrow never comes.” There is no such thing as tomorrow, there never will be. because time is always now. And that’s one of the things we discover when we stop talking to ourselves and stop thinking, we find there is only a present, only an eternal now.

The Dream Of Life.

I’m not convinced that there’s anyone who can speak more beautifully about life than the late, great Alan Watts could. He had a wonderful ability to make you think about life in a way which was just a step removed form your usual perspective. Thank God he recorded so many of his lectures so we can continue to listen to his words now that he’s gone:

Let’s suppose that you were able, every night, to dream any dream you wanted to dream. And that you could, for example, have the power within one night to dream 75 years of time. Or any length of time you wanted to have.

And you would naturally as you began on this adventure of dreams, you would fulfil all your wishes. you would have every kind of pleasure you could conceive. And after several nights, of 75 years of total pleasure each, you would say “Well! That was pretty great!” But now let’s have a surprise.

Let’s have a dream which isn’t under control. Where something is going to happen to me that I don’t know what its going to be. And you would dig that and come out of that and say “Wow! That was a close shave wasn’t it?”

And then you would get more and more adventurous. And you would make further and further out gambles as to what you would dream. And finally you would dream where you are now. You would dream the dream of living the life that you are actually living today. That would be within the infinite multiplicity of choices you would have, of playing that you weren’t God.

"If you feel like the whole world is against you, it’s your mind that’s against you."
What’s the difference between waiting and enduring?

Just beautiful stuff from the late, great, Alan Watts:

What do you do when somebody says “pay attention”? What is the difference between looking at something and taking a hard look at it? Or between hearing something and listening intently? What’s the difference? What’s the difference between waiting while something goes on and enduring it? Why the difference is this:

When you pay attention instead of just looking, you screw up your face. You frown and stare. When you will, you grit your teeth or clench your fists. When you endure, or control yourself, you pull yourself together. Physically. And therefore you get uptight. You hold your breath. You do all kinds of muscular things to control the functioning of your nervous system.

And none of them have the slightest effect.