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Étiquette : Alan Watts

Why Your Life Is Not A Journey


« The existence, the physical universe is basically playful. There is no necessity for whatsoever. It isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t have a destination that it ought to arrive at. But it is best understood by analogy with music. Because music, as an art form, is essentially playful. We say you play the piano, you don’t work the piano. Why? Music differs from, say, travel. When you travel you’re trying to get somewhere. In music, though, one doesn’t make the end of the composition. The point of the composition. If so, the best conductors would be those who played fastest. And there would be composers who only wrote finales. People would go to a concert just to hear one crackling chord because that’s the end. Same way with dancing. You don’t aim at a particular spot in the room because that’s where you will arrive. The whole point of dancing is the dance.

But we don’t see that as something brought by our education into our everyday conduct. We have a system of schooling  which gives a completely different impression. It’s all graded and what we do is to put the child into the corridor of this grade system with a kind of, « Come on, kitty, kitty, » and you go to kindergarten and that’s a great thing because when you finish that you get into first grade… and then come on first grade leads to second grade and so on and then you get out of grade school you got high school and it’s revving up, the thing is coming, then you’re going to go to college. And then graduate school, and when you’re through with graduate school you go out to join the world. Then you go into some racket where you’re selling insurance, and they’ve got that quota to make, and you’re gonna make that. And all the time that « thing » is coming. It’s coming, it’s coming. That great « thing ». The success you’re working for. Then you wake up one day about 40 years old and you say « My god, I’ve arrived. I’m there. » And you don’t feel very different from what you’ve always felt.

Look at the people who live to retire, to put those savings away. And then when they’re 65 they don’t have any energy left. They’re more or less impotent and they go and rotten in some senior citizens community. Because we simply cheated ourselves the whole way down the line. We thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end. And the thing was to get to that end. Success or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead. But we missed the point the whole way along.  It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing, or to dance while the music was being played. »

Alan Watts


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Insight #17

Leronor Fini, self-portrait, self-awareness, self, autoportrait, identity
Leonor FINI – Autoportrait, 1968 – Huile sur toile, 84 x 61 cm


“Soyez vous-même.  Tous les autres sont déjà pris.”

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

― Oscar Wilde


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« Do You Do It, or Does It Do You? »

Alan Watts by Nat Farbman/Time Life Pictures
Alan Watts by Nat Farbman/Time Life Pictures

How would you really enjoy spending your life?

An inspiring speech from the late Alan Watts (1915-1973), a British-born philosopher considered as the foremost interpreter of Eastern disciplines for the contemporary West.

He dropped some seriously wise words on doing what you love during your life and not settling for anything just because there’s a paycheck attached.

For more information about or lectures by Alan Watts: Website and YouTube channel.


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