Right here, right now

What is it that opens the gate to joy in our ordinary, day-to-day lives? I’ve been calling it awakeness and awareness: the simple practice of sitting quietly, breathing in and out, dropping our obsessive thoughts and resistance to the freshness of the moment that is exactly here.

It is amazing, our resistance to tapping into the joy that is like the blue sky surrounding this earth.

~ Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara

The multi-stranded rope of religion

Religion is like a rope with interlaced strands of culture, history, tradition, community, theology, mythology and ethics.

Unfortunately, people believe these strands are all one-and-the-same. If they reject one or two strands, they think they’ll be forced to throw away the whole rope.

Or, they’re made to believe if they embrace only a few of the strands, they’ll be identified with the entire rope.

But, this simply isn’t true. All-or-nothing religions and separation theologies aren’t spiritual paths. They’re tyrannies of the mind.

I would prefer someone embrace the community, culture and ethics of a faith tradition without clinging to its theology or mythology, than have them idolize the theology and mythology and skip compassion and ethics.

~ Scott Kinnaird

Effortless equilibrium

Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion.

~ Robert Pirsig

Like a knife trying to cut itself

But in the sixties, everything blew up. Something almost like a mutation broke out among people from fifteen to twenty-five, to the utter consternation of the adult world. From San Francisco to Katmandu, there suddenly appeared multitudes of hippies with hair, beards, and costumes that disquietingly reminded their elders of Jesus Christ, the prophets, and the apostles—who were all at a safe historical distance.

At the peak of our technological affluence, these young people renounced the cherished values of Western civilization—the values of property and status. Richness of experience, they maintained, was far more important than things and money, in pursuit of which their parents were miserably and dutifully trapped in squirrel cages.

Scandalously, hippies did not adopt the ascetic and celibate ways of traditional holy men. They took drugs, held sexual orgies and substituted free-loving communities for the hallowed family circle. Those who hoped that all this was just an adolescent quest for kicks that would soon fade away were increasingly alarmed, for it appeared to be in lively earnest.

The hippies moved on from marijuana and LSD to Hindu chants and yoga, hardly aware that mysticism, in the form of realizing that one’s true self is the Godhead, is something Western society would not tolerate…

~ Alan Watts

An entirely new view

One must remember how fascinating the most ordinary everyday things are to a child, because they see them all as marvelous – because they see them all in a way that is not related to survival and profit.

When we get to thinking of everything in terms of survival and profit value, as we do, then the shapes of scratches on the floor cease to have magic. And most things, in fact, cease to have magic.

So therefore, in the course of nature, once we have ceased to see magic in the world anymore, we’re no longer fulfilling nature’s game of being aware of it. There’s no point in it any longer.

And so we die. And, so something else comes to birth, which gets an entirely new view. And so nature’s self-awareness is a game worth the candle.

~ Alan Watts

Why living off-the-grid is so hard

Medieval society, in the west, comparable to Hindu society, allowed people to check out of the game. It revered and encouraged hermits, monks, nuns of various typed of discipline. This is not encouraged in contemporary society. Insecure societies are the most intolerant to those who are non-joiners. They are so unsure of the validity of their game rules that they say “everyone must play!”

Now that’s a double bind. You can’t say to a person “You must play!” because what you’re saying is you are required to do something which will be acceptable, only if you do it voluntarily. So “everyone must play!” is the rule in the United States and almost all republic governments. That kind of society, watch out for it! It turns in a quick click into fascism because of it’s terror of the outsider.

Now a free and easy society loves outsiders and takes care of them. In our present world, you cannot abandon nationality without the greatest difficulty. People who try to abandon nationality get constantly deported from one place to another. You must belong to this thing! as Thoreau put it, “However far into the forest you may go – men will pursue you and compel you to belong to their desperate company of odd fellows.”

~ Alan Watts