Alan Watts: the Meaning of Life is Simple.

Via on Nov 19, 2011

Social Conformity: why Governments & Corporations fear Outliers.

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”

~ Alan Watts 

Dirty Hippies. Useless Hipsters. Broke Artists. No good.

“Insecure societies are the most intolerant.”

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Without the music:

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Via Reddit: “I highly recommend Alan Watt’s “The Book” for those interested in an introductory course in Zen. Here’s the .pdf for anyone interested.”

Bonus.

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More bonus.

Relephant:

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About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | facebook.com/elephantjournal | twitter.com/elephantjournal | facebook.com/waylonhlewis | twitter.com/waylonlewis | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom

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8 Responses to “Alan Watts: the Meaning of Life is Simple.”

  1. Mark Ledbetter says:

    I think everyone knows the old canard: “If you’re not a liberal when you’re young you have no heart; if you’re not a conservative when you’re old, you have no brain.”

    Here’s another good one: “Liberals should define the problems, conservatives should solve them.” (Admittedly, this only works for domestic policy, not foreign.)

    Course it’ll never happen. In our atmosphere of cultural warfare, it is virtually impossible for either liberals or conservatives to see anything at all positive in the other side. Alliance? Unthinkable! Not with that guy!

    What we need is a TeaParty/Occupy Alliance to tackle bombs and bailouts head on. Like I said, it’ll never happen. I’M NOT LINING UP WITH THOSE GUYS!

  2. Mark Ledbetter says:

    G’ mornin’ (morning where I am) ladies and gents. Well, time for another of my bi-weekly insertions of negativity into Ele commentary.

    Alan Watts always had some great insights. Like his understanding presented here of the futility of mainstream success.

    But he’s also a bit out of date here. There was a time when it was excusable to blame crass consumerism on western culture. But it’s getting clearer all the time that most people of all cultures really want crass consumerism if only they can get it.

    All people everywhere are equally in need of a Buddhist/Yogic type understanding. At the same time, there is really no place where very many people prefer to pursue that rather than material gain. We’re all pretty much the same. Human nature rules all cultures. Buddha understood it.

    • oz_ says:

      I disagree Mark, that "most people of all cultures really want crass consumerism if only they can get it" – in fact, I think the fact that the takeup of crass consumerism has been a slow process rather than immediate indicates that it's been necessary to condition those people over time, and the vehicle by which that is accomplished is exactly: western culture, accelerated via the process of globalization coupled with western political and economic neo-colonialist policies. I think that under the weight of the pressures that western, industrialized civilization can now bring to bear, peoples' natural *resistance* to 'crass consumerism' (in fact, evolutionarily, it is undeniable that cooperation and community are powerful forces that are undermined by crass consumerism) can be eroded. That doesn't mean that those people 'really wanted' it this way.

      In fact, the story of Ladakh exactly refutes this notion you have advanced and very much supports the idea that 'western civilization' is exactly the problem:
      http://www.transitioncentreville-clifton.org/?p=1

      The fact that "no place where very many people prefer to pursue [a Buddhist/Yogic type understanding] rather than material gain" cannot stand against the evidence of thousands of years of human history, which anthropologists have discovered were based NOT on material gain but on gift economies (more: http://tinyurl.com/3goysjg). I think that there are numerous places where people prefer to pursue such an understanding – but are strongly pressured not to do so because of the systems of social control that we have allowed to evolve which serve as traps. The fact that such systems have evolved (often with lots of help from elites who benefit from them) does not mean that people 'prefer' them!

      I think that, lacking a sufficient understanding of human history, we mistake cultural nature for human nature. This is an extremely common mistake I see made all the time, and this is an example of that, IMO.

  3. Mark Ledbetter says:

    The NewAge Comedian in number three had a great metaphor.

    “It’s all just a roller coaster ride. No big deal. Nothing to get too worked up about.”

    He wants to make it a better ride. Fair enough. I do, too, even if it’s only an illusion.

    His solution, though, requires massive governmental control, ie Big Brother. Guns and jails. “Let’s stop making war (so far so good) and use all that savings to clothe, house, and feed every single person on the planet.”

    How ya gonna do that in the real world composed of real people without massive authoritarianism? And of course he is overlooking that, worldwide, the last two decades have seen the greatest rise out of poverty in human history. Can’t fault him much. Virtual all liberals ignore that, or rather are blind to it.

    • oz_ says:

      On one hand, I think you're right, Mark – acting as though the governments of the world are somehow magic wands or good fairies ignores the very real dangers of government empowerment (e.g. http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/).

      On the other hand, this notion that "the last two decades have seen the greatest rise out of poverty in human history" is absolutely unsupported and to even come close demands that we judge 'poverty' far too narrowly – in monetary terms only. GDP is a horrible proxy for any sort of assessment of human well being. And in fact even if you do agree that GDP is an appropriate measure, and you look at the last 2 decades, you quickly find that all of the gains in GDP have gone primarily to the already-wealthy. Even here in America, this is true, as this data unequivocally proves:
      http://www.tax.com/taxcom/taxblog.nsf/Permalink/U

      It's even more true if you look at places like Nigeria – where oil revenues caused GDP to skyrocket since the mid-90s – and yet poverty has grown just as fast. So looking at GDP numbers indicates rise out of poverty while the fact is that poverty has dramatically increased as those GDP gains go into just a few very deep pockets. Consider: GDP in '92 was $33B, in 2007 $166B. Percentage of those living under the poverty line in '92 was 34% – by 2007 it had doubled to 70%!

      Virtually all conservatives ignore that, or rather are blind to it.

      So we've established here that liberals are blind in one eye, and conservatives are blind in another.

      Of course, for the vast majority of Americans, unaware that there can be any political positions outside of left and right, this is too frightening a scenario to contemplate. It is, nonetheless, true.

  4. Love Alan Watts. What he says AND the sound of his voice.

  5. karlsaliter says:

    Always fun to get a dose of Bill Hicks. Ala is the balls, and I'm glad to have that pdf: haven't read The Book in quite awhile.

  6. oz_ says:

    Scratching my head regarding the reddit comment: Zen? The Book is explicitly a discussion of the Vedanta philosophy, not Buddhism, Zen or otherwise. For that, Watts wrote 'The Way of Zen'…

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