Friday, June 21, 2013

"IT", Revisited



"IT" is at the core of every belief since the beginning of man. It is called by countless names but it can not be named. It is outside of the tiny illusion of reality created by the illusory "self" we think we are. It is the Infinite Creative Energy behind All things material and not-material. Christians call it the "Holy Spirit" or God. Neither name nor any others given by different religions or beliefs Is What IT Is. It is "that which can not be named" so I prefer to use the Zen name, "IT". I have experienced "IT" several times in my life. One very powerful and life-changing experience of "IT" is briefly explained in an earlier post below. I included Part II because the two Lessons occurred together, can not be separated, and this life-changing Lesson is the Ultimate Lesson, the Ultimate Goal, the Ultimate Wisdom that one can attain in All martial arts systems - the final Lesson before One can become a True Warrior.

The incredible explanation of "IT" by the great 20th Century scholar of Theology, Divinity, and Eastern Philosophy, Alan Watts, came to me as an Agreement, an Acknowledgement of Right Doing, from a sharing of Wisdom about "IT" with a bright young man in town while I was having pizza at my favorite place, Valentino's Pizza, in San Marcos, Texas. I got home later, was uploading some files to the Cloud, and the book by Alan Watts below popped up. I started reading the Introduction and the Table of Contents appeared. My eyes immediately fixated on the title of Chapter 6, "IT". That is called an "Agreement", a sign from my, Our, True Nature or Self, ie; "IT", that my Teaching or sharing was and Is correct. If you pay Attention, you will eventually realize that every question you have is being answered in the most unlikely ways no matter where you are or when or whether in company or "alone". I tell people all of the time that they are Not in Control of Anything and that Everything Is exactly the Way IT is supposed to Be - Perfect! It is when you Think something is wrong and your Ego tries to "fix "IT", someone or some thing gets hurt or worse - like War. With this in mind, I offer this scholarly work below in hopes that you will come to an understanding of what "IT" is All about and learn to Let Go. Enjoy!


Letting Go Part I: IT

http://gatheringwisdom.blogspot.com/2011/06/letting-go-part-i-it.html


Letting Go Part II: Enter the Dragon

http://gatheringwisdom.blogspot.com/2011/07/letting-go-part-ii-enter-dragon.html


Namaste'





IT 
 ~ by Alan Watts 

From Chapter 6 of his book: "On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are"



To go anywhere in philosophy, other than back and forth, round and

round, one must have a keen sense of correlative vision. This is a

technical term for a thorough understanding of the Game of Black-and-

White, whereby one sees that all explicit opposites are implicit allies—

correlative in the sense that they "gowith" each other and cannot exist

apart. This, rather than any miasmic absorption of differences into a

continuum of ultimate goo, is the metaphysical unity underlying the

world. For this unity is not mere one-ness as opposed to multiplicity,

since these two terms are themselves polar. The unity, or inseparability,

of one and many is therefore referred to in Vedanta philosophy as "nonduality"

(advaita) to distinguish it from simple uniformity. True, the

term has its own opposite, "duality," for insofar as every term

designates a class, an intellectual pigeonhole, every class has an outside

polarizing its inside. For this reason, language can no more transcend

duality than paintings or photographs upon a flat surface can go beyond

two dimensions. Yet by the convention of perspective, certain twodimensional

lines that slant towards a "vanishing-point" are taken to

represent the third dimension of depth. In a similar way, the dualistic

term "non-duality" is taken to represent the "dimension" in which

explicit differences have implicit unity.





It is not at first easy to maintain correlative vision. The Upanishads

describe it as the path of the razor's edge, a balancing act on the sharpest

and thinnest of lines. For to ordinary vision there is nothing visible

"between" classes and opposites. Life is a series of urgent choices

demanding firm commitment to this or to that. Matter is as much like

something as something can be, and space is as much like nothing as

nothing can be. Any common dimension between them seems

inconceivable, unless it is our own consciousness or mind, and this

doubtless belongs on the side of matter—everlastingly threatened by

nothingness. Yet with a slight shift of viewpoint, nothing is more

obvious than the interdependence of opposites. But who can believe it?

Is it possible that myself, my existence, so contains being and

nothing that death is merely the "off" interval in an on/off pulsation

which must be eternal—because every alternative to this pulsation (e.g.,

its absence) would in due course imply its presence? Is it conceivable,

then, that I am basically an eternal existence momentarily and perhaps

needlessly terrified by one half of itself because it has identified all of

itself with the other half? If the choice must be either white or black,

must I so commit myself to the white side that I cannot be a good sport

and actually play the Game of Black-and-White, with the implicit

knowledge that neither can win? Or is all this so much bandying with

the formal relations between words and terms without any relation to

my physical situation?





To answer the last question affirmatively, I should have to believe

that the logic of thought is quite arbitrary—that it is a purely and strictly

human invention without any basis in the physical universe. While it is

true, as I have already shown, that we do project logical patterns (nets,

grids, and other types of calculus) upon the wiggly physical world—

which can be confusing if we do not realize what we are doing—

nevertheless, these patterns do not come from outside the world. They

have something to do with the design of the human nervous system,

which is definitely in and of the world. Furthermore, I have shown that

correlative thinking about the relation of organism to environment is far

more compatible with the physical sciences than our archaic and

prevalent notions of the self as something confronting an alien and

separate world. To sever the connections between human logic and the

physical universe, I would have to revert to the myth of the ego as an

isolated, independent observer for whom the rest of the world is

absolutely external and "other." Neither neurology nor biology nor

sociology can subscribe to this.





If, on the other hand, self and other, subject and object, organism and

environment are the poles of a single process, THAT is my true

existence. As the Upanishads say, "That is the Self. That is the real.

That art thou!" But I cannot think or say anything about THAT, or, as I

shall now call it, IT, unless I resort to the convention of using dualistic

language as the lines of perspective are used to show depth on a flat

surface. What lies beyond opposites must be discussed, if at all, in terms

of opposites, and this means using the language of analogy, metaphor,

and myth.





The difficulty is not only that language is dualistic, insofar as words

are labels for mutually exclusive classes. The problem is that IT is so

much more myself than I thought I was, so central and so basic to my

existence, that I cannot make it an object. There is no way to stand

outside IT, and, in fact, no need to do so. For so long as I am trying to

grasp IT, I am implying that IT is not really myself. If it were possible, I

am losing the sense of it by attempting to find it. This is why those who

really know that they are IT invariably say they do not understand it, for

IT understands understanding—not the other way about. One cannot,

and need not, go deeper than deep!





But the fact that IT eludes every description must not, as happens so

often, be mistaken for the description of IT as the airiest of abstractions,

as a literal transparent continuum or undifferentiated cosmic jello. The

most concrete image of God the Father, with his white beard and golden

robe, is better than that. Yet Western students of Eastern philosophies

and religions persistently accuse Hindus and Buddhists of believing in a

featureless and gelatinous God, just because the latter insist that every

conception or objective image of IT is void. But the term "void" applies

to all such conceptions, not to IT.





Yet in speaking and thinking of IT, there is no alternative to the use

of conceptions and images, and no harm in it so long as we realize what

we are doing. Idolatry is not the use of images, but confusing them with

what they represent, and in this respect mental images and lofty

abstractions can be more insidious than bronze idols.





You were probably brought up in a culture where the presiding

image of IT has for centuries been God the Father, whose pronoun is

He, because IT seems too impersonal and She would, of course, be

inferior. Is this image still workable, as a functional myth to provide

some consensus about life and its meaning for all the diverse peoples

and cultures of this planet? Frankly, the image of God the Father has

become ridiculous—that is, unless you read Saint Thomas Aquinas or

Martin Buber or Paul Tillich, and realize that you can be a devout Jew

or Christian without having to believe, literally, in the Cosmic Male

Parent. Even then, it is difficult not to feel the force of the image,

because images sway our emotions more deeply than conceptions. As a

devout Christian you would be saying day after day the prayer, "Our

Father who art in heaven," and eventually it gets you: you are relating

emotionally to IT as to an idealized father—male, loving but stern, and

a personal being quite other than yourself. Obviously, you must be other

than God so long as you conceive yourself as the separate ego, but when

we realize that this form of identity is no more than a social institution,

and one which has ceased to be a workable life-game, the sharp division

between oneself and the ultimate reality is no longer relevant.

Furthermore, the younger members of our society have for some time

been in growing rebellion against paternal authority and the paternal

state. For one reason, the home in an industrial society is chiefly a

dormitory, and the father does not work there, with the result that wife

and children have no part in his vocation. He is just a character who

brings in money, and after working hours he is supposed to forget about

his job and have fun. Novels, magazines, television, and popular

cartoons therefore portray "Dad" as an incompetent clown. And the

image has some truth in it because Dad has fallen for the hoax that work

is simply something you do to make money, and with money you can

get anything you want.





It is no wonder that an increasing proportion of college students want

no part in Dad's world, and will do anything to avoid the rat-race of the

salesman, commuter, clerk, and corporate executive. Professional men,

too—architects, doctors, lawyers, ministers, and professors—have

offices away from home, and thus, because the demands of their

families boil down more and more to money, are ever more tempted to

regard even professional vocations as ways of making money. All this is

further aggravated by the fact that parents no longer educate their own

children. Thus the child does not grow up with understanding of or

enthusiasm for his father's work. Instead, he is sent to an understaffed

school run mostly by women which, under the circumstances, can do no

more than hand out mass-produced education which prepares the child

for everything and nothing. It has no relation whatever to his father's

vocation.





Along with this devaluation of the father, we are becoming

accustomed to a conception of the universe so mysterious and so

impressive that even the best father-image will no longer do for an

explanation of what makes it run. But the problem then is that it is

impossible for us to conceive an image higher than the human image.

Few of us have ever met an angel, and probably would not recognize it

if we saw one, and our images of an impersonal or suprapersonal God

are hopelessly subhuman—jello, featureless light, homogenized space,

or a whopping jolt of electricity. However, our image of man is

changing as it becomes clearer and clearer that the human being is not

simply and only his physical organism. My body is also my total

environment, and this must be measured by light-years in the billions.

Hitherto the poets and philosophers of science have used the vast

expanse and duration of the universe as a pretext for reflections on the

unimportance of man, forgetting that man with "that enchanted loom,

the brain" is precisely what transforms this immense electrical pulsation

into light and color, shape and sound, large and small, hard and heavy,

long and short. In knowing the world we humanize it, and if, as we

discover it, we are astonished at its dimensions and its complexity, we

should be just as astonished that we have the brains to perceive it.

Hitherto we have been taught, however, that we are not really

responsible for our brains. We do not know (in terms of words or

figures) how they are constructed, and thus it seems that the brain and

the organism as a whole are an ingenious vehicle which has been

"given" to us, or an uncanny maze in which we are temporarily trapped.

In other words, we accepted a definition of ourselves which confined

the self to the source and to the limitations of conscious attention. This

definition is miserably insufficient, for in fact we know how to grow

brains and eyes, ears and fingers, hearts and bones, in just the same way

that we know how to walk and breathe, talk and think—only we can't

put it into words. Words are too slow and too clumsy for describing

such things, and conscious attention is too narrow for keeping track of

all their details.





Thus it will often happen that when you tell a girl how beautiful she

is, she will say, "Now isn't that just like a man! All you men think about

is bodies. OK, so I'm beautiful, but I got my body from my parents and

it was just luck. I prefer to be admired for myself, not my chassis." Poor

little chauffeur! All she is saying is that she has lost touch with her own

astonishing wisdom and ingenuity, and wants to be admired for some

trivial tricks that she can perform with her conscious attention. And we

are all in the same situation, having dissociated ourselves from our

bodies and from the whole network of forces in which bodies can come

to birth and live.





Yet we can still awaken the sense that all this, too, is the self—a self,

however, which is far beyond the image of the ego, or of the human

body as limited by the skin. We then behold the Self wherever we look,

and its image is the universe in its light and in its darkness, in its bodies

and in its spaces. This is the new image of man, but it is still an image.

For there remains—to use dualistic words—"behind," "under,"

"encompassing," and "central" to it all the unthinkable IT, polarizing

itself in the visible contrasts of waves and troughs, solids and spaces.

But the odd thing is that this IT, however inconceivable, is no vapid

abstraction: it is very simply and truly yourself.






In the words of a Chinese Zen master, "Nothing is left to you at this

moment but to have a good laugh!" As James Broughton put it:


This is It

and I am It

and You are It

and so is That

and He is It

and She is It

and It is It

and That is That.(4)






True humor is, indeed, laughter at one's Self—at the Divine Comedy,

the fabulous deception, whereby one comes. to imagine that a creature

in existence is not also of existence, that what man is is not also what

everything is. All the time we "know it in our bones" but conscious

attention, distracted by details and differences, cannot see the whole for

the parts.





The major trick in this deception is, of course, death. Consider death

as the permanent end of consciousness, the point at which you and your

knowledge of the universe simply cease, and where you become as if

you had never existed at all. Consider it also on a much vaster scale—

the death of the universe at the time when all energy runs out, when,

according to some cosmologists, the explosion which flung the galaxies

into space fades out like a skyrocket. It will be as if it had never

happened, which is, of course, the way things were before it did happen.

Likewise, when you are dead, you will be as you were before you were

conceived. So—there has been a flash, a flash of consciousness or a

flash of galaxies. It happened. Even if there is no one left to remember.

But if, when it has happened and vanished, things are at all as they

were before it began (including the possibility that there were no

things), it can happen again. Why not? On the other hand, I might

suppose that after it has happened things aren't the same as they were

before. Energy was present before the explosion, but after the explosion

died out, no energy was left. For ever and ever energy was latent. Then

it blew up, and that was that. It is, perhaps, possible to imagine that

what had always existed got tired of itself, blew up, and stopped. But

this is a greater strain on my imagination than the idea that these flashes

are periodic and rhythmic. They may go on and on, or round and round:

it doesn't make much difference. Furthermore, if latent energy had

always existed before the explosion, I find it difficult to think of a

single, particular time coming when it had to stop. Can anything be half

eternal? That is, can a process which had no beginning come to an end?

I presume, then, that with my own death I shall forget who I was, just

as my conscious attention is unable to recall, if it ever knew, how to

form the cells of the brain and the pattern of the veins. Conscious

memory plays little part in our biological existence. Thus as my

sensation of "I-ness," of being alive, once came into being without

conscious memory or intent, so it will arise again and again, as the

"central" Self—the IT—appears as the self/other situation in its myriads

of pulsating forms—always the same and always new, a here in the

midst of a there, a now in the midst of then, and a one in the midst of

many. And if I forget how many times I have been here, and in how

many shapes, this forgetting is the necessary interval of darkness

between every pulsation of light. I return in every baby born.

Actually, we know this already. After people die, babies are born—

and, unless they are automata, every one of them is, just as we ourselves

were, the "I" experience coming again into being. The conditions of

heredity and environment change, but each of those babies incarnates

the same experience of being central to a world that is "other." Each

infant dawns into life as I did, without any memory of a past. Thus

when I am gone there can be no experience, no living through, of the

state of being a perpetual "has-been." Nature "abhors the vacuum" and

the I-feeling appears again as it did before, and it matters not whether

the interval be ten seconds or billions of years. In unconsciousness all

times are the same brief instant.


This is so obvious, but our block against seeing it is the ingrained

and compelling myth that the "I" comes into this world, or is thrown out

from it, in such a way as to have no essential connection with it. Thus

we do not trust the universe to repeat what it has already done—to "I"

itself again and again. We see it as an eternal arena in which the

individual is no more than a temporary stranger—a visitor who hardly

belongs—for the thin ray of consciousness does not shine upon its own

source. In looking out upon the world, we forget that the world is

looking at itself—through our eyes and IT's.






Now you know—even if it takes you some time to do a double-take

and get the full impact. It may not be easy to recover from the many

generations through which the fathers have knocked down the children,

like dominoes, saying "Don't you dare think that thought! You're just a

little upstart, just a creature, and you had better learn your place." On

the contrary, you're IT. But perhaps the fathers were unwittingly trying

to tell the children that IT plays IT cool. You don't come on (that is, on

stage) like IT because you really are IT, and the point of the stage is to

show on, not to show off. To come on like IT—to play at being God—is

to play the Self as a role, which is just what it isn't. When IT plays, it

plays at being everything else.




Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment