The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
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At the root of human conflict is our fundamental misunderstanding of who we are. The illusion that we are isolated beings, unconnected to the rest of the universe, has led us to view the “outside” world with hostility, and has fueled our misuse of technology and our violent and hostile subjugation of the natural world. In The Book, philosopher Alan Watts provides us with a much-needed answer to the problem of personal identity, distilling and adapting the ancient Hindu philosophy of Vedanta to help us understand that the self is in fact the root and ground of the universe. In this mind-opening and revelatory work, Watts has crafted a primer on what it means to be human—and a manual of initiation into the central mystery of existence.
nightmare. But the constant awareness of death shows the world to be as flowing and diaphanous as the filmy patterns of blue smoke in the air—that there really is nothing to clutch and no one to clutch it. This is depressing only so long as there remains a notion that there might be some way of fixing it, of putting it off just once more, or hoping that one has, or is, some kind of ego-soul that will survive bodily dissolution. (I am not saying that there is no personal continuity beyond
fight. Hidden behind their explicit differences is the implicit unity of what Vedanta calls the Self, the One-without-a-second, the what there is and the all that there is which conceals itself in the form of you. If, then, there is this basic unity between self and other, individual and universe, how have our minds become so narrow that we don't know it? (1) "To watch the sun sink behind a flower-clad hill, to wander on and on in a huge forest without thought of return, to stand upon the
century Rousseau went so far as to suggest that Society and the State had originally been formed by a contract between individuals. Society was an association, like the Rotary Club, which individuals had at some time joined and thereby abandoned their original independence. But from the standpoint of modern sociology we feel that man is necessarily a social thing, if only for the reason that no individual can come into being without a father and a mother—and this is already society. Until quite
moment to say that I am not trying to smuggle in the "total situation" as a new disguise for the old "things" which were supposed to explain behavior or action. The total situation or field is always open-ended, for Little fields have big fields Upon their backs to bite 'em, And big fields have bigger fields And so ad infinitum . We can never, never describe all the features of the total situation, not only because every situation is infinitely complex, but also because the total situation
scientist is the first to realize the obsolescence of old models of the world. Open a good, standard textbook on quantum theory: ... the world cannot be analyzed correctly into distinct parts; instead, it, must be regarded as an indivisible unit in which separate parts appear as valid approximations only in the classical [i.e., Newtonian] limit.... Thus, at the quantum level of accuracy, an object does not have any "intrinsic" properties (for instance, wave or particle) belonging to itself