Alan Watts the Zen guy, is my hero, one of a handful of people who have taught me to be myself. He was a great writer, a speaker and a phenomenal non-thinker. It’s not that he doesn’t think, it is just that his view is at polar opposites to the rest of the community regarding his relationship with thought. In reality (this five senses one that we agree that things are named a particular way) he is a great thinker, it’s his understanding of the ‘gaps between thought’ that makes him what i refer to as a ‘non-thinker’. He, like most of the wise, see ‘thought’ for what it is and allow it to do its thing, without being a slave to it; or even if he was temporarily a slave to it, that ‘slaveness’ has a use-by date and I guess he would return to ordered chaos without a fuss. He once said, “there are no straight lines in nature”, or if he didn’t say that exactly, he would have meant to say it, or implied it. Much of what ‘hurts’ the thinking part of us, comes from ‘straightening’ the world around us, if we come to terms with this, everything changes.
Rounding the Straight Bits
One of my favourite memories I regularly recall is from when I was camping. I am not a trekker, a ‘tenty’, a fisherman or seasonal vacationer; however, lying back in a dome shaped tent, the sounds of nature, the ocean rolling nearby,the smell of a wood fire, and my gradual adjustment to the lumps around me, and as I would settle in, there was a leaving behind of all the things that are ‘straightened’ by the society we live in. The roundness of the tent ceiling relaxed me, it loosened the imaginary walls. We sort of hold ourselves together, working in jobs that are encased within the invisible barricade of a repetitious timezone, only to go home and look for ways of disentangling from it, and then jump back onto that timeline once again, prisoners of a matrix (not the movie). All these imaginary structures hold, or we ‘think’ hold us together.
The Ridiculous Shape of Life
One of the great mysteries and idiosyncrasies of the private school system is the desire for a sense of order that is humanly impossible. This insanity is best expressed by the zealots who chastise teenage boys for having their shirts out. It’s one of those ‘ just aint gonna happen’ things; unless people were to sew their shirts to the trousers, or dress them in monkey onesies, it is an unsolvable ‘non-problem’. Any parent who has had to deal with the nonsense detentions their sons were placed on, would understand this lunacy. People try and have a sense of order, the odds of having a roomful of kids eating chips and tomato sauce (US translation = fries and ketchup?) and not end up with the bulk of them wearing the sauce, is unreasonable. The problem is, we are constantly trying to fit life into a shape that is not just possible.
We have become part of a machine run by madmen, caught in someone else’s dream, and we unknowingly have somehow been hypnotised into thinking ‘that’s the option we must take, as if we have an obligation to following a pre-written script’. Much of our suffering comes from feeling like a prisoner of a system that runs in the background, and out of fear of ‘the world will collapse if I don’t abide by normal way of doing things’, we find we are in conflict with what we are stuck in, and what we really want. When what we really want is the space and time to work out ‘how to do things our way’ with a bit of guidance and support from others where need be. I am confident that this is the reason we humans run to drugs, alcohol and other escapism’s; the pressure of being out of sync is so strong, young men binge, hermits create cave apartments in a busy city, and the street-sleepers just give up and fall into a state of hopelessness. People don’t know how to be alone, to comfortably ‘do nothing’ and generally there is an assumption that all space needs to be filled with ‘head noise’, incessant thought. This is the age of ‘entertain me’. Give me solitude any day, and I will enter the world when I am ready, I do not wish to take the world with me wherever I go. I want the gaps between the musical notes and my heart to bleed when they emerge on cue.
When we buy fruit and veges, so many of us go for the ones without glitches, perfectly shaped objects that resemble still-life photographs by master photographers and artists. Cities are full of men in gray suits, dodo birds with numbers in their heads, involved in a world that is ‘about’ things, the movement of ‘invisible stuff’, things that hold the system together but in essence are part of the fantasy, the monolithic monster of dependence that eats lives and packs graveyards with the broken lives of unfulfilled dreamers. Every now and then we are reminded by annual holidays to ‘get out’, to go and get our feet into the earth, sadly it often turns into ‘still frame’ holidays, picture book experiences that when we look at snapshots, we could replace our image with anybody else’s; what is going on is we are often seeking experiences of ‘how things are supposed to be’ and not something that is new, an unborn new; we run from what is ‘here’ to an imaginary better ‘there’.
One Size Fits No One
Our biggest problem with education is we train and squeeze information into children; they are empty, inquisitive, standing at the doorway of eternity looking out into forever. We stack children into an ordered list, the gonna-be-doctors at the top, and way down at the bottom the dreamers, the ones who sometimes don’t see the logic in things, the ones who will draw arms where we expect legs ought to be, or those who refuse to sit still. And when we think about it, why should we make a child sit still if they want to move? It’s like putting wooden shoes on someone to prevent their feet from growing, or tying rocks to a bicycle.
So WTF Are We?
Although philosophers, yogis and dreamers will have numerous responses to the age old “who am I?”, a simple response to one aspect is, we are feeling beings, even if we are ‘visual’, underneath the picture in the mind is feeling. We may ‘feel’ with our eyes, ears, through touch or some say with our ‘heart’. There is confusion in society, an assumption that the intellect is the master; the world we move in is the slave of the senses; bold men, bullies dominate, they have fooled everybody into believing their story of what has value; magazines and marketing media have told us what beauty is, the curves and the size of the body, what colours work together or are a mismatch, what music is acceptable and what foods are good for us, only to be replaced by a new marketing campaign next week. We try and bring order to disorder, to put things to rest because we are uncomfortable with their presence, we as man are attempting to place ropes around the moon, the planets and fit them into our world, to have ‘our relationship’ with them, they did pretty fine with out us for years, now they are in danger because we in our arrogance may pollute them, or some maniac may push a button and annihilate this region of the galaxy.
Disassembling the World As We Know It
I think if we loosen our belts a little (not in a fiscal way as they say in ‘political speak’), if we can stop trying to push the world into shape, things get easier. Things, events will happen, it’s always our attitudes that make the difference. People laughed at the hippies in the sixties, what they wore, but they laid the foundation a couple of generations later for businesses and offices to have ‘casual Friday’ where workers can dress like normal people (normal = not wearing penguin suits, unexpected objects, or white Anglo Saxons not doing Indigenous dress-ups). The gradual acceptance of the wisdom and ways of non-European white culture is a blessing, it allows us as a global community to have a ‘horizontal’ view of each other. The British Empire and other hideous elitist empires had a method of dumbing down anything that didn’t fit into their criteria of measuring the world, these guys wrote the history of the world and embedded it into the subconscious of fertile minds of each generation. They fooled everyone, completely stuffed everyone over.
Taking Back Our Power
Claiming back the ‘world’ is the responsibility of all of us; by just being ourselves and not attempting to overlay what is not us, is the trick, to be natural and embrace our bumps, bruises, to accept the various shapes and see the unity in diversity. And then ‘defects’ are not seen as defects, they are variations and new possibilities. So much is tied up with Self Worth and Self Esteem, and it is based in others ‘story of the world’, it is not ours and we need to claim back our power.