Problems in Watts

  • Derien
  • Derien's Avatar Topic Author
  • Guest
14 Nov 2021 19:06 #364071 by Derien
Problems in Watts was created by Derien
The obvious objection to an argument against "wiping out" such natural enemies of man as cancer or mosquitoes is our sympathy for the individuals who get caught. It is all very well to reason, in the abstract, that the human population has to be pruned, but when disease puts its finger on me I run for the doctor. What would be the success of a call for "volunteers for pruning"? In Western civilization we do not abandon sickly babies, shoot the insane, let the hungry starve, or leave diseased people to die on the streets. (At least, not in our better moments). For the most sacred ideal of our culture is the right of every individual to justice, health, and wealth, or "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." To suggest that the personal ego is a hallucination seems to be an attack on this most sacred value, without which civilized people would fall back to the level of coolies or ants to become an organized mass where the particular person is expendable. During World War II a friend of mine used to fly Chinese laborers over the Hump to work on the South end of the Burma Road. The long flight was, of course, ideal for gambling, but since there was not enough cash between them to make the game interesting, the stakes were that the final loser should jump off the plane. No parachute. Our natural reaction is that such people aren't fully human. Like the families and servants of ancient kings who were buried alive with their deceased lord, they seem, as Thomas Mann suggested, to be faces with no backs to their heads—mere masks, mere roles of no further use or meaning; bees without a queen. Whatever villainies the British may have committed in India, their Christian consciences balked at the practice of sati, which required a widow to commit suicide at her husband's funeral. Truly civilized people are—we feel—not faces on the sky but fully enclosed heads containing souls, each one of infinite value in the sight of God.

At one extreme, then, we have the sacred individual—the unique personal ego, separate from both nature and God—defined as such by a society which, almost in the same breath, commands him to be free and commands him to conform. At the other extreme is the coolie, the cog in the industrial-collectivist machine, or the mere "hand" (as the factory worker is often called). If one believes that the personal ego is a natural endowment of all men, as distinct from a social convention, then the lot of the coolie is bleak indeed—for one sees him as a repressed and frustrated person, though his own society may never have defined him as such.

Please Log in to join the conversation.

  • Derien
  • Derien's Avatar Topic Author
  • Guest
14 Nov 2021 20:49 - 14 Nov 2021 20:55 #364074 by Derien
Replied by Derien on topic Problems in Watts
This quote is from Chapter 3 of The Book on the Taboo of Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts. I believe it is pages 58-59 in the pdf version I read. We had a discussion about this section in the discord chat, and I will try to summarize what was said, but I welcome anyone adding their perspectives.

- Watts lived in an era with different social norms but this doesn't mean we should not be able to critique these ideas from our modern perspective.

- Jedi believe in the inherent worth and sanctity of all people regardless of ethnicity and national origin.

- There are also some parts of the text that people found very helpful and important.

- Many people do not engage in critical reading practices when completing the IP, and therefore a section that does not reflect Jedi values may be problematic.

Suggestions:
1) Put a disclaimer in the lesson to clarify the temple's position on racism.
2) Select only certain parts of the book for the lesson, and link to the rest if people want to read it.
3) Find a more recent author who deals with the same material from a modern perspective.
4) Include a lesson on critical reading early in the IP.
Last edit: 14 Nov 2021 20:55 by Derien.

Please Log in to join the conversation.

More
15 Nov 2021 05:49 #364081 by Gisteron
Replied by Gisteron on topic Problems in Watts
So Watts is criticizing the way he thinks people think of themselves and their relation to the wider world in the west, mistaking - in his opinion - their instinctive sense of separation from each other and said world and sense of self-importance for an inherent part of their being and for something crucial and necessary to provide for the prosperity they enjoy...

Now far be it from me to defend Watts on much of anything, but specifically what about his criticism of western short-sightedness and narrow-mindedness, or proneness for self-centering and cultural biases is it that is being objected to?

Better to leave questions unanswered than answers unquestioned
The following user(s) said Thank You: Carlos.Martinez3, Kobos, Diana W

Please Log in to join the conversation.

More
15 Nov 2021 06:25 #364082 by Vincent Causse
Replied by Vincent Causse on topic Problems in Watts
With Watts i think that there are things quit hard to swallow for most people, there are harsh realities and he does not care for the way of our so called modern cultures. We think to be the judge of what is civilised and what isnt and we think that our ways are certainly better. I still like to say that the British did let millions die of starvation in Ireland as they took out most of all the food that was left in the Island! Our society beside it s appearance to care for humans life forget about what matters, like the survival of the species and acting like a cancer ( i do not call humans a cancer but we are acting like it) is totally against survival! Cancers kill their host. The so called savages, living like ants in the forest hunting and foraging were no more civilised than us. There is no definition for being civilised ! Animals are certainly very civilised they have them self languages, manners of sort and they follow the laws of nature or the Force. Now it is true that by the laws of nature , again, we re too many, by the law of modern man all seems to be fine but who s right ? us a little very young species homo sapiens sapiens who lived as a species for only few 200 000 years and managed to ruin the planet in matter of few hundreds. Personally i love Watts, the thing with Ego is not to think as us as the top species who has the right to live while everything else dies but to put aside our ego and realise that something has to give so that balance could be restored. After all the Force is all about balance. I believe that we will have to accept what ever that will happen! But we must keep in mind that The force is everything , religions have been giving us the idea that god and nature are a separated thing but it isnt, The Force is all we see and all there is, humans do not count more than ants they re not superior so they do not have the right of life before even the smallest animal. We could make thing better but it will involve drastic changes and really let go at ou overwhelming ego, accept that our ways are simply not in accord with the laws of nature.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kobos, Diana W

Please Log in to join the conversation.

More
15 Nov 2021 13:31 #364084 by Wescli Wardest
Replied by Wescli Wardest on topic Problems in Watts
A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts. So, he loses touch with reality and lives in a world of illusions.
By thoughts I mean, specifically, chatter in the skull—perpetual and compulsive repetition of words, of reckoning, and of calculating.
I’m not saying that thinking is bad; like everything else, it’s useful in moderation, a good servant but a bad master.
And all so-called civilized peoples have increasingly become crazy and self-destructive because through excessive thinking they have lost touch with reality. That’s to say we confuse signs, words, numbers, symbols, and ideas with the real world
.” —Alan Watts

There are harsh realities that have to be faced and accepted for life to prosper. One being that suffering is a natural part of existence. Another being that we are not all equal. Some may be good at sports. Some may be good at math. Some may be good at compassion and some may be good at enduring and on and on. But we are not equal. We all have worth. We all have opportunity. None of us knows what is best for others. None of us knows what is best a culture, society or any other kind of group because each of us are individuals.

We, the human race, cannot be over populated. We can reach appoint where a single planet can no longer support the numbers of people on it. But all that means is that we will then be required to expand our occupied territories. IE, find other planets or celestial bodies to live on. Necessity has been a great motivator all throughout history. And given the opportunity, when need arises, I have faith that we will explore alternative resources.

Nature assaults us with natural disasters and diseases because that is what nature does. We learn how to overcome such obstacles because that is what we do. And learning how to tackle such issues gives us the tools and keys on how to expand beyond where we are now. As we expand as a species to go forth into the universe we will have to have had theses hard experiences to learn from so that we are successful in future endeavors.

Not being able to accept that life has hardships, that there are winners and losers, we will not be prepared for future events. Watts sees this and relays it to his audience in several different ways. But it is not what many want to hear so it is rejected as flawed or incorrect and we try to find ways to rationalize our own theories and substitute those as more favorable.

Monastic Order of Knights
The following user(s) said Thank You: Carlos.Martinez3, OB1Shinobi, Kobos, Diana W

Please Log in to join the conversation.

More
15 Nov 2021 14:31 #364085 by Vincent Causse
Replied by Vincent Causse on topic Problems in Watts
Wescli Wardest said :We, the human race, cannot be over populated. We can reach appoint where a single planet can no longer support the numbers of people on it. But all that means is that we will then be required to expand our occupied territories. IE, find other planets or celestial bodies to live on. Necessity has been a great motivator all throughout history. And given the opportunity, when need arises, I have faith that we will explore alternative resources.

Well this is what is the human ego, we re fed with ideas that we can destroy it all and still survive, it is not realistic, we depends and we in tight connection with the universe. It is a form of blindness to think that way, all living creatures of earth could easily live with out us but we cannot with out them. Star wars or what ever other movies that have imagined a planet entirely habited by a form of human like form , as one planet city is totally impossible. The science behind it can not back it up beside our imagination. Alan Watt has talked so much about ego it is because of such a form of thinking. The force is about balance, so one supreme species doesnt fit in that equilibrium. Why would human have the right to be superior ? The hard lesson that we will learn is to come, we cannot ignore the Force and continu on living the way we do. The Force is all there is, all we can see , the force is all living beings and it does not care for humans more than it cares of other creatures. To believe that we can control it is really being blinded by the dark side, a thing of our own creation. Alan Watts wasnt introduced to the IP for no special reasons. Uncontrolled EGO give humans the belief to be able to control the force and to be the superior species. We re instead only few grain of sand on the face of the earth and we havent done anything lately to be remembered for in a good way.

Please Log in to join the conversation.

More
15 Nov 2021 16:54 #364090 by Wescli Wardest
Replied by Wescli Wardest on topic Problems in Watts

I never said “destroy it all.”

When a population reaches the point where the environment can no longer support it either we go to war to find new lands or we go explore to settle new lands. Expansion is how a species has the best chance of long term survival. Once we feel the strain of our population taxing the planet to strain we will be forced to move on.
The planet will then recover quickly without such a large burden on it.

Nature has changed multiple times throughout the history of the planet. Even long before we had any influence on it. And Nature has survived it all. It is only our arrogance that makes us believe we can control something as vast and powerful as nature. All we can do is adapt. And that is one of our species greatest strengths. Adaptation.

I never said that humans were superior. In fact, I can most often be found to compare us to a virus. And just as a virus moves from one host to another, so shall we. It is in our very nature to move forward and explore. And like I said before, our advantage, the ability to adapt, has given us an edge over almost every other species. These two things will make it possible for us to go to other places and thrive.

Unlike many others animals in nature we have found ways to survive when the other animals would be wiped out or have their population seriously reduced. This is a benefit for us. Imagine if we didn’t’ have that ability. Do you think you would still be here?

Your last sentence is very presumptuous. I feel like you may be projection your own shortcomings in other people. I know that you do not know me nor the majority of other people in the world. So I forgive you.

When I suggest that an expansion in to the universe is our most likely solution it was completely rejected. Ruin the planet… as if anything we have done cannot be overcome by nature if given the chance. You recognize that people have been on the earth for over two-hundred-thousand years. And it is primarily in the last couple hundred that the most “damage” has been done. That is one one-thousandth the time we have been here. I bet if you give people some time you will be pleasantly surprised. Like I said before, it takes time to change things. People usually learn quickest when they feel pain. The pain of something unpleasant tends to drive change.

There is a cartoon I find amusing and I would like to share it with you.



Nature will continue with or without us. It's not the planet we're ruining. It's the environment that is good for us we are changing. Nature will be fine rather we are here or not. So we will need to adapt. And I still hold firm in the belief that expansion to other celestial bodies will be how our species continues. Look at things outside our planet... the sun will not last forever. If we do not go to other planets than eventually we will be wiped out by the one thing that sustains us on this planet... the Sun.

Monastic Order of Knights
Attachments:
The following user(s) said Thank You: OB1Shinobi, Kobos, Diana W

Please Log in to join the conversation.

More
16 Nov 2021 01:45 #364109 by Vincent Causse
Replied by Vincent Causse on topic Problems in Watts
I do agree on some things and i dont an others, Humans have not over run the planet for millions of years but it seems that only our species homo sapiens sapiens has done so, it s a race to extinction. Lets see it that way, most other human species survived so far longer than ours, even Neanderthal has survived few 100 000 years more than us as a species, that with our wiping out their environment, i think this is something that we should learn from. The "take and move on" is typical from our society that is "buy, use, throw a way and buy new". Sure the planet will go one but we are not exactly making a show of intelligence to be honest ! Again the intelligence matter is a difficult subject as being the more vocal human are the only one judging. But i stand by my point that populating a territory until it just cant take any more ... is just foolish, the idea that we could just leave earth is even worse. Living what ever the way we want now, is far to be wise, thinking that it s okay the planet will sort it s self out is an other selfish way of thinking. The here and now does not work in consumption, as we are a so called intelligent species it s our duty to make sure that our only home will be viable for the futur generation of humans and the others species! One must look far n the futur not just in the morrow. Even thinking to make sure earth will be as pristine as possible for futur human species as it happened in the past ! Evolution never sleep, it does not stop so why would we be the last ? But right now the facts are that for the sake of our own survival we re taking down other living beings with us. To live mindful we must live with what we have, not already thinking about moving on when we re done with the place and we can not think saying : it s okay one day we ll die and it will all be fine, our children would be very impressed to hear such a thought !
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kobos

Please Log in to join the conversation.

More
16 Nov 2021 11:24 #364114 by Wescli Wardest
Replied by Wescli Wardest on topic Problems in Watts

I agree that the “everything is disposable” attitude society as a whole seems to have taken on is not good for long term sustainability.

It has been proven throughout history that nature will sort itself out. May not be an ecosystem that will support human life; but, some of the eras of the past were not suitable for humans either. It’s just part of the life cycle of the planet itself. Time changes everything.

Populating a territory until the numbers are no longer sustainable is a foolish practice. But unlike other species, rather than slowly dying out because of it we have developed, and continue to develop, skills and tools that will allow us to move on to other areas.

to make sure earth will be as pristine as possible for futur human species as it happened in the past” is an incorrect assumption. The earth was not always suitable for human life. And to deny the planet its ability to change as it sees fit is selfish on our part. Nature will do as she pleases. It is for us to adapt and/or move on if we want to survive as a species.

And speaking of taking down other animals. We, as a species, have taken down far, far fewer numbers and species of animals and life than nature herself has. There have been over seven discovered mass extinction events in the planets history that we have discovered so far. When nature decides it’s time for a change there is nothing we can do to stop it. And it is sheer human arrogance to think we can or even should.

People constantly go on about balance and nature but they seem to understand neither very well. Not specifically referring to you Vincent, but people view these topics through very small, narrow skewed windows and only seem to acknowledge the things that support their preconceived notions. It is a much vaster and ever changing subject with no point of equilibrium. Nature in itself is balance. And balance is the constant struggle between opposing forces. Not a state of equilibrium, always in motion and waging the ongoing struggle.

And that is also one of the points that Watts eludes to that people seem to have real issue with.

I can see there are things we will disagree on. That’s cool with me. ;)

But let’s return the thread to the original topic. I feel we high-jacked it. :P


Monastic Order of Knights
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kobos, Vincent Causse, BajiThunder4317

Please Log in to join the conversation.

More
16 Nov 2021 17:22 - 16 Nov 2021 19:02 #364120 by OB1Shinobi
Replied by OB1Shinobi on topic Problems in Watts
I can never get far with Watts before I read something that I take exception to.

....And all so-called civilized peoples have increasingly become crazy and self-destructive because through excessive thinking they have lost touch with reality. That’s to say we confuse signs, words, numbers, symbols, and ideas with the real world.” —Alan Watts


While I agree that we are pretty crazy and self destructive, I cant help but to ask "as opposed to whom?" Desert roaming goat herders who expanded their lands by conquest and cut the throats of bulls and lambs over a piece of stone in dedication to their God - who took slaves and killed each other with rocks over accusations of infidelity? (No offense meant to modern Jews, Christians, or Muslims).
Jungle dwelling peoples who, to nourish Quetzalcóatl would cut the still beating hearts out of men and women their warriors captured while raiding the weaker societies along their borders and who thought that rocks and gems bestowed magical powers upon them? (No offense intended toward the descendants of indigenous people or those who practice some form of Shamanism)
The oh-so-wisened Brahmins who believed that enlightenment was the result of emaciation and who reign/ed over a caste system wherein a whole 4th of their people were believed to deserve whatever wretched treatment was forced upon them (exploitation, virtual enslavement, violence, murder, sexual assault) by the belief that Dharma deliberately and righteously birthed them into human existence as an "Untouchable"? (No offense intended to modern Hindus)

Im not denying that modern people hold and live by some pretty inane beliefs, im just rejecting the insinuation here that ancient people didnt. There are a great many things we can fault ourselves for, I dont think that being more looney OVERALL than our ancestors is one of them.





We, the human race, cannot be over populated. We can reach appoint where a single planet can no longer support the numbers of people on it. But all that means is that we will then be required to expand our occupied territories. IE, find other planets or celestial bodies to live on. Necessity has been a great motivator all throughout history. And given the opportunity, when need arises, I have faith that we will explore alternative resources.


Friend, respectfully: I agree with most of what youve said (i often do) but this single part, to my way of reading it, seemed to imply that its ok to practice knife throwing, archery and melee weapons practice on the walls, build a fire pit directly on the the living room floor, leave the rotting leftovers of our meals laying around and use all the corners in the all rooms as toilets - but dont worry, just because the house will eventually become unlivable to us doesnt mean it wont be livable to something and besides, necessity is a great motivator and once we're homeless the need for a new home will automatically give us the ingenuity to acquire one (even if its in space). One which I assume we would also abuse until it becomes unlivable (but only for us!). Maybe this is true (though on a global scale I doubt the impoverished masses will be a part of this great colonization) but still, wouldnt it be better to just start cleaning up the house (planet) we've already got?

People are complicated.
Last edit: 16 Nov 2021 19:02 by OB1Shinobi.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Gisteron, Kobos

Please Log in to join the conversation.

Moderators: RexZero