out of your mind

ideas to toy with

It is an old saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Nothing is easier than to give up the affairs of the world because one is incompetent in the affairs of the world. There is no wisdom in scorning riches simply because one is unable to obtain them, nor in despising the pleasures of the senses because one has not the means of fulfulling them. If the desire for these things exists, and if that desire is thwarted by circumstance, to add self-deception to frustration is to exchange a lesser hell for a greater. No hell is worse than in which one lives without knowing it.

For the desire which is scorned for no other reason than it cannot be satisfied is the greatest of man’s enemies. One may pretend that it does not exist, that one has surrendered it, but one must sincerely answer the question, “If I could satisfy that desire, would I?” If that is not answered, to make a show of giving up the world, to take up the ascetic life not of desire but of necessity and to pride onself upon it, that is to hide one’s face from the enemy and so become doubly vulnerable. Thus the first step on the path is to know what you want, not what you ought to want.

—Alan Watts, Become What You Are


The first stage is about being prepared, preparing to practice which means starting to become aware of the distinction between being present and not being present. But then the capacity for presence starts to take on a life of its own and that’s what we call the second state of insight. And then at certain point we start clinging to presence and thinking if we’re going to find awakening on that side of the coin.

What happens then is that we’re presented with not being able to be present so easily anymore. And this is what we called the third stage of insight, or the dark night. We start to see that everything is arising and passing of its own accord including presence, including the ability to be aware of a particular object. That the subject itself is arising and passing.

At that point, there’s an opportunity to let go and surrender. And once that has happened there’s a kind of groundless surrendering, an open surrendering, and a deep equanimity that starts to emerge wherein we’re okay with the fact that both subject and object are arising and passing of their own accord. There’s nothing we can do to try to put ourselves anywhere in particular to try to make experience be a particular way. That’s the fourth stage of insight, which we sometimes call equanimity. From that place is where the unconditioned, the unborn, impersonal dimension can shine forth. Sudden awakening can happen because we’re not trying to manipulate experience, and so it reveals itself by itself.



"…Our age is one of frustration, anxiety, agitation, and addiction to "dope." Somehow we must grab what we can while we can, and drown out the realization that the whole thing is futile and meaningless. This "dope" we call our high standard of living, a violent and complex stimulation of the senses, which makes them progressively less sensitive and thus in need of yet more violent stimulation. We crave distraction - a panorama of sights, sounds, thrills, and titillations into which as much as possible must be crowded in the shortest possible time.

To keep up this “standard” most of us are willing to put up with lives that consist largely in doing jobs that are a bore, earning the means to seek relief from the tedium by intervals of hectic and expensive pleasure. These intervals are supposed to be the real living, the real purpose served by the necessary evil of work. Or we imagine that the justification of such work is the rearing of a family to go on doing the same kind of thing, in order to rear another family…and so ad infinitum.”

Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity

Ego Function

It seems: the ego is a kind of crude psychological survival mechanism that allows you to take things personally. When you take existence personally you’re more likely to guard and protect the well-being of the organism, even if that task is painful. The nice part about human beings is that we have the capacity to transcend our conditioning.