Alan Watts: Don’t think too much of a full transcript
“The person who always thinks has nothing to think about but his thoughts.
So, he loses touch with reality, and lives in a world of illusions. By thought, I mean specifically, chatter in the skull. Permanent and obligatory repetition of words, counting and counting. I’m not saying it’s bad to think.
Like everything else, it works moderately. A good servant but a bad monster. And all so-called civilized people have become increasingly insane and self-destructive because they have lost touch with reality through excessive thinking. This means that we confuse symbols, words, numbers, symbols and concepts with the real world.
Most of us have more money than we can afford. And a great occasion is somehow wasted for us unless photographed. And reading about it in the newspaper the next day is strangely more interesting to us than the actual incident. This is a disaster, because by confusing the real world of nature with mere signs, such as bank balances and contracts, we are destroying nature. We are so engrossed in our minds that we lose our senses and fail to realize that the stench in the air, the taste of chlorine water, the human landscape looks like a pile of rubbish and most of our food is like plastic. Time to sleep.
What is reality? Obviously, no one can say, because it’s not a word. It’s not material, it’s just an idea. It is not spiritual. That’s a simple idea. That is the reality [gong]. You see. We all know what reality is, but we cannot describe it. Just as we all know how to beat our heart and shape our bones, we can’t tell you how to do it. There is an art of meditation to come in contact with reality, called yoga in India, chan in China and zen in Japan. It is the art of temporarily silencing the mind. To stop the chatter in the skull. Of course, you cannot force your mind to remain silent. It would be like trying to smooth the waves in the water on a flat iron. The water is clear and calm when you are alone.
So, will you try an experiment with me? Just close your eyes and let your ears hear all the sounds around you. Don’t try to name or identify the words, just listen to the song the way you would. Like you hear a flute or a guitar. What does it mean without asking.
And when I speak, just listen to the sound of my voice. Don’t worry about what that means. Your brain will take care of it on its own. Now let your eardrums respond as they please to all the vibrations in the air. Do not let yourself or your ears be disturbed by inappropriate or unspecified words. For example, if the record is scratched, OK. You don’t mind sitting on the fire of a cracked log.
[phone rings] Let them ring. It’s just a noise. And keep your tongue relaxed to float easily in the lower jaw. Also frown. Allow space in your eyes to feel easy and open. And let the vibrations of the wind play with your ears.
You must understand that in meditation we are only concerned with what we have, with reality, and nothing else. Memories of the past. The future, an expectation. In reality there is no past or future. Now there is only infinity. So don’t look for or expect results from what you’re doing. It will not be true meditation. There are no stars.
Right now, you’re not going anywhere, just stay here. Live in the world of words. Let’s play it. This is the end. In the world of pure words, do you really hear anyone listening? Do you hear any difference between these words on the one hand and your own on the other? Naturally, we use techniques and techniques to help the thinking mind become silent, and one of them is gong.
It’s a word that is pleasurable and compelling at once, it absorbs attention but see what happens when it fades. [gong noise] One sound becomes many. Single tones are easily and slowly converted to all other words. And thus the universe is created, from a force underlying all events.
So if you don’t have a gang, you can use your own voice by chanting what is called mantra by Hindus and Buddhists. That is, a syllable of a syllable is sung for its word instead of its meaning. Chief among these is ohm, or auhm, which is called Pranab or the sound of God. Because it involves the entire range of the voice from the back of the throat to the lips. Take the tone from the gang, and hum it with me.
Now, you can hear all the words as ohms. There is a spectrum of sound at some point in the total range of sound from the back of the throat to the lips because all the colors are basically a white light. However, do not ask what the word is or what it means. Just listen to it and dig it in I’m with you again. Hmmm again. [gong] Om.
Let me explain again what we are doing. We are going backwards with names, numbers, beliefs and ideas, to go back to the naked experience of reality. And in that level of awareness, we find no difference between the listener’s words, the known and the known, the subject and the object. Between the past, present and future. Everything is just talk. What’s really happening. [gongs]
And you may wonder, how can I continue the word for so long. It depends on the control of breathing, which is fundamental to the art of meditation, and I will show you how to do it and why. In the beginning, let your lungs breathe as you let the vibrations in the air play with your ears. Don’t try to do any breathing exercises yet, don’t say anything forcefully.
Now, is this breathing a voluntary or unintentional act? Or? Just feel it without taking sides without words. And again, hear my voice as the sound of the waves blowing in the trees. Yes. Yes. Most of us have shortness of breath. We don’t really empty our lungs.
But you don’t have to force yourself to take a deep breath. Imagine having a large ball of lead inside your neck. And let it fall slowly through your body to the floor. Breathing out and exhaling, just as you settle down and sink comfortably into bed, exhale. And, when the ball reaches the floor, throw it in the center of the earth.
Then, let the breath come back, come back as a reflection without pulling it. And then imagine another ball of lead on the neck. And again. It’s long and easy, let’s read out. And one more time. You know how you see what’s happening. You are generating a lot of energy without trying or forcing. Two things seem to be happening at once, at first the outflow of breath is just following, everything is happening by itself. Second, it is under perfect control.
So, from this practice, you will learn to feel, to realize that what happens to you and what you do is one of the same process. There is no real separation between one thing you are told and another completely different thing called the universe. When you stop talking and naming, they are pretty much the same. So again, let your breathing out easily.
Everywhere. Let it come back on its own, and then out again. Let’s make a sound in the next outflow of ch. [gong] Om. And again, these would mean that you have to spend for these processes [gong] Ohm
[afterword] Then there is a highly effective mantra used by an important community of Islamic mystics known as the Sufis. Like all these different mantras, they will last for fifteen to twenty minutes or more, so what I’m giving you is just a sample. You can easily do this one with me it goes like this. Allah, Allah, Al-Lah … “
Alan Watts: How to stop thinking too much