Alan Watts on the Riddle of Separateness

There really isn’t my world or your world; there’s simply the process taking place in which we are both expressions.

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You Are Everything, which is to say, One Thing

I woke up this morning with an insight.  I was half-awake, thinking about how knowledge cannot be destroyed, how it can only be temporarily obscured and will resurface in some other time or place.  And I realized that everything I have done in my life points to the same Self trying to express its truth through symbols.  All my professional and spiritual activities amount to different modes of expressing One Thing: the space of consciousness (conscious awareness) in me / everything and its universal transcendent energy.  Various practices and fields can be destroyed in oneself and in the world but they will reemerge because one cannot destroy their source.

This is why / how I have always perceived the goddess as an avatar of this—consciousness takes many forms in many symbolic patterns (as anything phenomenal that can be perceived), including deities, spirits, and human beings with all their layers and facets.  If we strip away the image of the body and that of the mind, we’re left with an image of the psyche (holy guardian angel / higher self).  If we strip away even the image of the psyche, we’re left with a space of awareness that can be mapped, expressed symbolically, in any myriad of ways.

Following from this, I also saw how everything I’ve done in my life (including what I’ve taught others) has not been relegated to the mind, but has been done in search of inspiration, which I now see as another form of revelation / expression of that One Thing.  

All practices, perceptions, and beliefs, from the most quotidian to the most esoteric, are encompassed by conscious awareness and therefore point to the singularity of the One Thing.  Since there is never a discrete moment when we “get it done,” since we are always engaged in the process of becoming (in the process of apprehending our consciousness, our being, in greater and clearer detail), nothing is wasted, nothing is lost, and it is impossible to squander one’s time on earth.  

As long as there will be human experience, human beings will attempt to make sense of it on some level, which inherently reveals and expresses the eternal presence of that One Thing.  We don’t have to struggle to attain the knowledge and conversation of this conscious awareness because IT IS US.  There is no way we can lose it; we are synonymous with it on all levels at all times (even the mind is a servant of consciousness, just as Satan is said to be the servant of God or pain the servant of wisdom).  We might refer to people who are overtly trying to apprehend their consciousness as “awake” while others are “asleep,” but this is just a convenient way of describing a difference in intensity.  Whether the paths to self-realization are long or short, slow or fast, they all head in the same direction.

Then what remains to be done once we understand this?  Nothing has to be done.  Once we realize we are in the process of becoming aware of our essential awareness, we are free to take life as it comes.  Nothing is foreign to us.  Nothing is lost or gained.  There are only different expressions, ideas, symbols, forms that arise and pass away.  We don’t get excessively involved with any particular form because we understand that these are transitory expressions of something eternal and that “we” are transitory expressions as well.  Ultimately, there is no “we.”  There is just “I AM.”

The One Thing perpetually arranges and rearranges itself in different forms and we need to respond to those forms—my roof is leaking, so I have to fix it / I have a job interview, so I have to iron my shirt.  But we do so with a sense of inner serenity, not identifying very closely with any particular form, because we apprehend the movement of the whole.  

This is the inner meaning of Hexagram 54, Kuei Mei, in the I-Ching:

[T]he superior man/ Understands the transitory/ In the light of the eternity of the end. . . .  If we permit ourselves to drift along, we come together and are parted again as the day may determine.  If, on the other hand, a man fixes his mind on an end that endures, he will succeed in avoiding the reefs that confront the closer relationships of people.”  

Here, “the end” represents the universal transcendent One Thing, the ultimate reality.  If we understand that all forms arising from it are transitory, we “succeed in avoiding the reefs” of the mind that would otherwise torment us. 

Beyond the Veil

Here is a magical secret: when the Veil of the Mysteries is parted, there is nothing but the self.  This means that when we reach a point in our development where we can see beyond the surfaces of things—when we can see things as they truly are—we find we have created the entire world.  The world is formed for each person in that person’s image.

And so the old expression, “You create your own reality,” returns on a new level.  It’s not just the Law of Attraction or a kind of subjective idealism.  The world, being energy, being a verb (that our language and thinking frames as a noun), moves according to our attention and intention.

A skeptic might object: “Step out in front of a moving bus and see if you created that bus or not.”  But the world of the senses moves and mutates just as easily as thought: you thought that was a city bus, but it was a flower truck.  You thought that was a flower truck, but it’s actually a man on a bicycle.  You thought that was a man on a bicycle, but it was just the wind.  We cannot look to our senses to prove that a reality exists apart from our minds.

Descartes might suggest, “I think, therefore I am.”  I can’t prove anything other than that I’m having a thought.  To this, the adept responds, sure.  What is a thought?  A thought is a momentary reflection of the self that arises and passes away.  No thought can be held for long.  And who or what is the self that has this thought?  We go looking for this self and find a maze of endless images, which are just more thoughts.

In the end, we see past the illusory “world,” past the illusory masks that we used to think of as “myself,” past all thought.  And we find that the true self is nothing but an empty space of awareness that accepts all perceptions equally and lets them go like smoke on the wind.

“For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.” — The Charge of the Goddess, Doreen Valiente