Alan Watts – Your environment

“The startling truth is that our best efforts for civil rights, international peace, population control, conservation of natural resources, and assistance to the starving of the earth—urgent as they are—will destroy rather than help if made in the [current] spirit. For, as things stand, we have nothing to give. If our own riches and our own way of life are not enjoyed here, they will not be enjoyed anywhere else. Certainly they will supply the immediate jolt of energy and hope that methedrine, and similar drugs, give in extreme fatigue. But peace can be made only by those who are peaceful, and love can be shown only by those who love. No work of love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.”

“Inability to accept the mystic experience is more than an intellectual handicap. Lack of awareness of the basic unity of organism and environment is a serious and dangerous hallucination. For in a civilization equipped with immense technological power, the sense of alienation between man and nature leads to the use of technology in a hostile spirit—-to the “conquest” of nature instead of intelligent co-operation with nature.”

I invite you to really consider the simple thought (or illusion): that there’s you, and there’s this environment around you, and you’ve got this skin which sort of separates you from the grass and the leaves and the wind in the trees.

Or does it?

Would you know the feel of the wind if it wasn’t for the sensory capacity of your skin? As opposed to being this barrier that separates the inside from the outside, think of  your body as a bridge, connecting you with the environment around you. Connecting two parts of the whole! Think about how ‘vision’ exists because you have eyes and ‘sound’ exists because you have ears. Your body brings to life the whole world around you in all its complexity. Indeed all your sensual experiences wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for your body. In short: your external environment exists because of an ingenious organic structure with which to interpret it. And so in this way, you and the environment go around together.

So explicitly, you are (obviously) different from a tree or a building or even another person. But implicitly, you are the same. You rely on each other to exist.


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