The Middle Way

Buddhism is a nontheistic religion that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as the Buddha, meaning “the awakened one”. According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha lived … Continue reading


Buddhism is a nontheistic religion that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as the Buddha, meaning “the awakened one”. According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha lived and taught in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.[1] He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end their suffering through the elimination of craving and ignorance by way of understanding and the seeing of dependent origination, with the ultimate goal of attainment of the sublime state of nirvana.[2]

Two major branches of Buddhism are generally recognized: Theravada (“The School of the Elders”) and Mahayana (“The Great Vehicle”). Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar etc.). Mahayana is found throughout East Asia (China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan etc.) and includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, and Tiantai (Tendai). In some classifications, Vajrayana—practiced mainly in Tibet and Mongolia, and adjacent parts of China and Russia—is recognized as a third branch, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana.

While Buddhism is practiced primarily in Asia, both major branches are now found throughout the world. Estimates of Buddhists worldwide vary significantly depending on the way Buddhist adherence is defined. Estimates range from 350 million to 1.6 billion, with 350–550 million the most widely accepted figure. Buddhism is also recognized as one of the fastest growing religions in the world.[3][4][5][6]
Buddhist schools vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures, and especially their respective practices.[7] The foundations of Buddhist tradition and practice are the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings), and the Sangha (the community). Taking “refuge in the triple gem” has traditionally been a declaration and commitment to being on the Buddhist path, and in general distinguishes a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist.[8] Other practices may include following ethical precepts; support of the monastic community; renouncing conventional living and becoming a monastic; the development of mindfulness and practice of meditation; cultivation of higher wisdom and discernment; study of scriptures; devotional practices; ceremonies; and in the Mahayana tradition, invocation of buddhas and bodhisattvas.


The Four Noble Truths (Sanskrit: catv?ri ?ryasaty?ni; Pali: catt?ri ariyasacc?ni) are “the truths of the Noble Ones,” which express the basic orientation of Buddhism: this worldly existence is fundamentally unsatisfactory, but there is a path to liberation from repeated worldly existence. The truths are as follows:

  1. The Truth of Dukkha is that all conditional phenomena and experiences are not ultimately satisfying;
  2. The Truth of the Origin of Dukkha is that craving for and clinging to what is pleasurable and aversion to what is not pleasurable result in becoming, rebirth, dissatisfaction, and redeath;
  3. The Truth of the Cessation of Dukkha is that putting an end to this craving and clinging also means that rebirth, dissatisfaction, and redeath can no longer arise;
  4. The Truth of the Path Of Liberation from Dukkha is that by following the Noble Eightfold Path—namely, behaving decently, cultivating discipline, and practicing mindfulness and meditation—an end can be put to craving, to clinging, to becoming, to rebirth, to dissatisfaction, and to redeath.

The four truths provide a useful conceptual framework for making sense of Buddhist thought, which has to be personally understood or “experienced.” Many Buddhist teachers present them as the essence of Buddhist teachings, though this importance developed over time, substituting older notions of what constitutes prajna, or “liberating insight.”[1][2]

In the sutras the four truths have both a symbolic and a propositional function. They represent the awakening and liberation of the Buddha, but also the possibility of liberation for all sentient beings, describing how release from craving is to be reached.

The first noble truth is the truth of dukkha.[note 17] It gives an overview of what is regarded to be dukkha, starting with samsara, the ongoing process of death and rebirth:[citation needed]

  1. Birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, illness is dukkha, death is dukkha;
  2. Sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair are dukkha;
  3. Association with the unbeloved is dukkha; separation from the loved is dukkha;
  4. Not getting what is wanted is dukkha.
  5. In conclusion, the five clinging-aggregates are dukkha.

The Dukkhata Sutta, Samyutta Nikaya 45.165,[web 13][web 14] describes three kinds of dukkhataa, suffering in the most general sense:[web 13][note 18]

  1. Dukkha-dukkhataa, “the actual feeling of physical or mental pain or anguish”,[web 13] “response to unpleasant physical or mental experiences”;[web 14]
  2. Sa?kh?ra-dukkhataa, “the suffering produced by all ‘conditioned phenomena’”;[note 19][note 20] “craving for things to be how we want them to be.”[web 14] It is a basic unsatisfactoriness pervading all forms of existence, due to ignorance of the fact that all forms of life are changing, impermanent and without any inner core or substance. It is a lack of satisfaction, a sense that things never measure up to our expectations or standards.
  3. Vipari??ma-dukkhataa, “the suffering associated with pleasant bodily and mental feelings: “because they are the cause for the arising of pain when they change”,[web 13]“when we’re enjoying a pleasant experience, we crave for it to continue […] inevitably, the universal law of impermanence leaves that craving unsatisfied.”[web 14]

Majjhima Nikaya 149:3 gives a concise description of dukkha:

When one abides inflamed by lust, fettered, infatuated, contemplating gratification, […] [o]ne’s bodily and mental troubles increase, one’s bodily and mental torments increase, one’s bodily and mental fevers increase, and one experiences bodily and mental suffering.[23]

From a Buddhist perspective, labelling Buddhism as “a bleak, pessimistic and world-denying philosophy,” as some commentators have done, “may reflect a deep-seated refusal to accept the reality of dukkha itself.”[24]


The Noble Eightfold Path (Pali: ariyo a??ha?giko maggo, Sanskrit: ?ry?????gam?rga)[1] is one of the principal teachings of?r?vakay?na. It is used to develop insight into the true nature of phenomena (or reality) and to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion. The Noble Eightfold Path is the fourth of the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths; the first element of the Noble Eightfold Path is, in turn, an understanding of the Four Noble Truths. It is also known as the Middle Path or Middle Way. Its goal is Arhatship.[2] The Noble Eightfold Path is contrasted with the Bodhisattva path of Mahayana which culminates in Buddhahood.[3]

All eight elements of the Path begin with the word “right,” which translates the word samyañc (in Sanskrit) or samm? (in P?li). These denote completion, togetherness, and coherence, and can also suggest the senses of “perfect” or “ideal.”[4] ‘Samma’ is also translated as “wholesome,” “wise” and “skillful.”

In Buddhist symbolism, the Noble Eightfold Path is often represented by means of the dharma wheel (dharmachakra), whose eight spokes represent the eight elements of the path.

The Noble Eightfold Path is sometimes divided into three basic divisions, as follows:[11][12]

Division Eightfold Path factors Acquired factors
Wisdom (Sanskrit: prajñ?, P?li: paññ?) 1. Right view 9. Superior right knowledge
2. Right intention 10. Superior right liberation
Ethical conduct (Sanskrit: ??la, P?li: s?la) 3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
Concentration (Sanskrit and P?li: sam?dhi) 6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration

This presentation is called the “Three Higher Trainings” in Mah?y?na Buddhism: higher moral discipline, higher concentration and higher wisdom. “Higher” here refers to the fact that these trainings that lead to liberation and enlightenment are engaged in with the motivation of renunciation or bodhicitta.


The Way of Zen

The Way of Zen begins as a succinct guide through the histories of Buddhism and Taoism leading up to the development of Zen Buddhism, which drew deeply from both traditions. It then goes on to paint a broad but insightful picture of Zen as it was and is practiced, both as a religion and as an element of diverse East Asian arts and disciplines. Watts’s narrative clears away the mystery while enhancing the mystique of Zen.

Since the first publication of this book in 1957, Zen Buddhism has become firmly established in the West. As Zen has taken root in Western soil, it has incorporated much of the attitude and approach set forth by Watts in The Way of Zen, which remains one of the most important introductory books in Western Zen

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Por el año 605 a.C., el Pueblo de Israel sufrió una dispersión o, como se le conoce Bíblicamente, una “diáspora”. El rey Nabuconodosor conquistó a Jerusalén y llevó a los israelitas cautivos a Babilonia, comenzando de Babilónica” (cf. 2 Reyes 24, 12; y 2 Reyes 25, 1).

Pero no todos los israelitas fueron llevado cautivos, un “resto” quedó en Israel: 2 Reyes 25, 12; 2 Reyes 25, 22; Jeremías 40, 11; Ezequiel 33, 27. También un número de Israelitas no fueron cautivos a Babilonia sino que fueron a Egipto: 2 Reyes 25, 26; Jeremías 42, 14; Jeremías 43, 7.

El rey Ciro de Persia conquistó a Babilonia (2 Crónicas 36, 20; 2 Crónicas 36, 23) y dio la libertad a los israelitas de regresar a Israel, terminando así su esclavitud. Algunos regresaron a Palestina (Esdras 1, 5; 7, 28; y Nehemías 2, 11) pero otros se fueron en vez a Egipto, estableciéndose, en su mayoría, en la ciudad de Alejandría (fundada por Alejandro Magno en el 322 a.C, contaba con la biblioteca mas importante del mundo en esa época). En esta gran ciudad convivían griegos, judíos y egipcios. Así que los judíos estaban disgregados aun después del fin del cautiverio, unos en Palestina y otros en la diáspora, sobre todo en Alejandría. En el tiempo de Jesús habían mas judíos en Alejandría que en la misma Palestina (1 Macabeos 1, 1)
Mientras la primera semejanza de un canon hebreo se empieza a formar, la lengua hebrea comienza a morir y desapareció completamente para el año 135 a.C. Por esta razón Jesús y sus contemporáneos en Palestina hablaban arameo, un dialecto del hebreo.

Como en la mayor parte del mundo civilizado, la lengua principal de Alejandría en el siglo III a.C. era el griego. Había por eso gran necesidad de una traducción griega de las Sagradas Escrituras. La historia relata que Demetrio de Faleron, el bibliotecario de Plotomeo II (285-246 a.C.), quería unas copias de la Ley Judía para la Biblioteca de Alejandría. La traducción se realizó a inicios del siglo tercero a.C. y se llamó la Traducción de los Setenta (por el número de traductores que trabajaron en la obra). Comenzando con el Torá, tradujeron todas las Sagradas Escrituras, es decir todo lo que es hoy conocido por los cristianos como el Antiguo Testamento. Introdujeron también una nueva organización e incluyeron Libros Sagrados que, por ser mas recientes, no estaban en los antiguos cánones pero eran generalmente reconocidos como sagrados por los judíos. Se trata de siete libros, escritos en griego, que son llamados hoy deuterocanónicos. Vemos entonces que no hay un “silencio bíblico” (una ausencia de Revelación) en los siglos precedentes al nacimiento de Jesús. 
La Traducción de los Setenta contiene los textos originales de algunos de los deuterocanónicos (Sabiduría y 2 Macabeos) y la base canónica de otros, ya sea en parte (Ester, Daniel y Sirac) o completamente (Tobit, Judit, Baruc y 1 Macabeos).

La Traducción de de los Setenta es la que se usaba en tiempo de Jesucristo y los Apóstoles
La versión alejandrina, con los siete libros deuterocanónicos, se propagó mucho y era la generalmente usada por los judíos en la era Apostólica. Por esta razón no es sorprendente que esta fuera la traducción utilizada por Cristo y los escritores del Nuevo Testamento. 300 de las 350 referencias al Antiguo Testamento que se hacen en el Nuevo Testamento son tomadas de la versión alejandrina. Por es no hay duda de que la Iglesia apostólica del primer siglo aceptó los libros deuterocanónicos como parte de su canon (libros reconocidos como Palabra de Dios). Por ejemplo, Orígenes, (Padre de la Iglesia, 254), afirmó que los cristianos usaban estos libros aunque algunos líderes judíos no los aceptaban oficialmente.
Al final del primer siglo de la era cristiana, una escuela judía, quizás de rabinos, hicieron un canon hebreo en la ciudad de Jamnia, en Palestina. Cerraron el canon con los profetas Esdras (458 a. C.), Nehemías (445 a. C.), y Malaquías (433 a. C.). Este canon comprendía de 22 a 24 libros. No rechazaron los libros deuterocanónicos definitivamente, pero no los incluyeron entre los canónicos. El canon reconocido por los judíos no se fijó hasta mas de cien años después. Aun entonces, los libros “deuterocanónicos” siguieron siendo leídos y respetados por los judíos. Mientras tanto los cristianos siguieron reconociendo la versión alejandrina. Es así que surgieron los dos cánones del Antíguo Testamento.

Los dos cánones del Antiguo Testamento
El canon de Alejandría (la traducción de los Setenta al griego, hecha antes de Cristo y aceptada por todos los cristianos y muchos judíos, que contiene los libros deuterocanónicos).
El canon de Palestina (Jamnia, traducción hebrea hecha después de Cristo).
Los historiadores ponen como fecha en que se fijaron los cánones de las traducciones de Alejandría y de Palestina para el siglo segundo de nuestra era. El Obispo Melito de Sardis registró la primera lista conocida del canon alejandrino en el año 170 A.D. Contenía 45/46 libros (el libro de Lamentaciones se consideraba como parte de Jeremías). El canon Palestino contenía solo 39 libros pues no tenía los libros 7 libros Deuterocanónicos.

La Vulgata de San Jerónimo
La primera traducción de la Biblia al latín fue hecha por San Jerónimo y se llamó Vulgata (año 383 AD). El latín era entonces el idioma común en el mundo Mediterráneo. San Jerónimo en un principio tradujo del texto hebreo del canon de Palestina. Su estilo era mas elegante y en algunas frases distinto a la Traducción de los Setenta. Además le faltaban los libros deuterocanónicos por no estar en el texto hebreo. Esto produjo una polémica entre los cristianos. En defensa de su traducción, San Jerónimo escribió una carta: Ad Pachmmachium de optimo genere interpretandi, la cual es el primer tratado acerca de la traductología. Por eso se le considera el padre de esta disciplina. Ahí explica, entre otras cosas el motivo por el cual considera inexacta a la septuagésima. Finalmente se aceptó su versión, pero con la inclusión de los libros deuterocanónicos. Por eso la Vulgata tiene todos los 46 libros.

La Iglesia establece el canon
La controversia sobre que libros son canónicos fue larga, extendiéndose hasta el siglo IV y aun mas tarde. Las polémicas con los herejes, particularmente los seguidores de Marción, que rechazaban libros generalmente reconocidos por los Padres, hizo que la Iglesia definiera con autoridad la lista de los libros sagrados (el canon).
Los concilios de la Iglesia, el Concilio de Hipona, en el año 393 y el Concilio de Cartago, en el año 397 y 419, ambos en el norte de África, confirmaron el canon Alejandrino (con 46 libros para el Antiguo Testamento) y también fijaron el canon del Nuevo Testamento con 27 libros. La carta del papa S. Inocencio I en el 405, también oficialmente lista estos libros. Finalmente, el Concilio de Florencia (1442) definitivamente estableció la lista oficial de 46 libros del A.T. y los 27 del N.T.

El canon del Nuevo Testamento se definió en el siglo IV tras un largo y difícil proceso de discernimiento
El mismo nombre de “Nuevo Testamento” no se usó hasta el siglo II. Uno de los criterios para aceptar o no los libros fue que tuviese como autor a un apóstol; su uso, especialmente en la liturgia en las Iglesias Apostólicas y la conformidad con la fe de la Iglesia. Fue bajo estos criterios que algunos evangelios atribuidos a los Apóstoles (ej. Ev de Tomás, Ev. de Pedro) fueron rechazados. El evangelio de San Juan y el Apocalipsis se consideraron por largo tiempo como dudosos por el atractivo que tenían con grupos sectarios y milenaristas.
Todos los católicos aceptaron el canon de la Biblia fijado por los concilios mencionados y, como este canon no fue causa de seria controversia hasta el siglo XVI, no se necesitó definir el canon de la Biblia como una verdad infalible.

A la Biblia Protestante le faltan libros
En el 1534, Martín Lutero tradujo la Biblia al alemán y agrupó los siete libros deuterocanónicos bajo el título de “apócrifos”, señalando: “estos son libros que no se tienen por iguales a las Sagradas Escrituras y sin embargo son útiles y buenos para leer.” Es así como los protestantes llegaron a considera a los deuterocanónicos como libros no aceptados en el canon, o sea como libros apócrifos.

Siempre los cristianos habían reconocido esos libros como parte de la Biblia. Los concilios del siglo IV y posteriores habían confirmado la creencia cristiana. La opinión de Lutero era mas bien la de los judíos que seguían la traducción de Jamnia. Es por eso que los protestantes, carecen de los libros deuterocanónicos de la Biblia:

  • Tobías
  • Judit
  • Ester (protocanónico con partes deuterocanónicas)
  • Daniel (protocanónico con partes deuterocanónicas)
  • I Macabeos
  • II Macabeos
  • Sabiduría
  • Eclesiástico (también llamado “Sirac”)
  • Baruc


Lutero no solo eliminó libros del Antiguo Testamento sino que hizo cambios en el Nuevo Testamento
“Él [Martín Lutero] había declarado que la persona no se justifica por la fe obrando en el amor, sino sólo por la fe. Llegó incluso a añadir la palabra “solamente” después de la palabra “justificado” en su traducción alemana de Romanos 3, 28, y llamó a la Carta de Santiago “epístola falsificada” porque Santiago dice explícitamente: “Veis que por las obras se justifica el hombre y no sólo por la fe”. (Scott y Kimberly HAHN, Roma dulce hogar, ed. Rialp, Madrid, 2000, página 57; Scott Hahn fue ministro protestante, presbiteriano antes de su conversión)
Se tomó la libertad de separar los libros del Nuevo Testamento de la siguiente manera:
  • Libros sobre la obra de Dios para la salvación: Juan, Romanos, Gálatas, Efesios, I Pedro y I Juan.
  • Otros libros canónicos: Mateo, Marcos, Lucas, Hechos, el resto de las cartas de Pablo, II Pedro y II de Juan.
  • Los libros no canónicos: Hebreos, Santiago, Judas, Apocalipsis y libros del Antiguo Testamento.
Los protestantes tienen los mismos libros que los católicos en el Nuevo Testamento porque no aceptaron los cambios de Lutero para esta parte del canon.
Los protestantes y evangélicos se encuentran en una posición contradictoria
Reconocen el canon establecido por los concilios del siglo IV para el Nuevo Testamento (los 27 libros que ellos tienen) pero no reconocen esa misma autoridad para el canon del AT.
Es interesante notar que la Biblia Gutenberg, la primera Biblia impresa, es la Biblia latina (Vulgata), por lo tanto, contenía los 46 libros del canon alejandrino.

Posición de la Iglesia Anglicana (episcopalianos)
Según los 39 Artículos de Religión (1563) de la Iglesia de Inglaterra, los libros deuterocanónicos pueden ser leídos para “ejemplo de vida e instrucción de costumbres”, pero no deben ser usados para “establecer ninguna doctrina” (Artículo VI). Consecuentemente, la Biblia, versión del Rey Jaime (1611) imprimió estos libros entre el N.T. y el A.T. Pero Juan Lightfoot (1643) criticó este orden alegando que los “malditos apócrifos” pudiesen ser así vistos como un puente entre el A.T. y el N.T. La Confesión de Westminster (1647) decidió que estos libros, “al no ser de inspiración divina, no son parte del canon de las Escrituras y, por lo tanto, no son de ninguna autoridad de la Iglesia de Dios ni deben ser en ninguna forma aprobados o utilizados mas que otros escritos humanos”.


Published on May 24, 2013

In this one-on-one edition of the show, Justin Brierley speaks to New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman about his recent book “Did Jesus Exist?” which argues for the historical fact of Jesus of Nazareth.

Ehrman, whose books are more usually at odds with evangelicals, was this time attacked by atheist proponents of “mythicism” – the view that Jesus never existed.

He responds to the criticisms, including mythicists Bob Price and Richard Carrier and answers questions sent in by Unbelievable? listeners.

Ehrman’s reply to Carrier’s critique of his book:
http://ehrmanblog.org/fuller-reply-to…


Uploaded on Nov 21, 2011

Dr. Bart D. Ehrman brings his insights to Stanford University in a revealing lecture, “Misquoting Jesus: Scribes Who Altered scripture and Readers Who May Never Know,” a textual criticism of Biblical manuscript tampering.

September 22, 2011, The Getty Center

Illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages are significant for the literary texts they preserve. But they are also important, historically and culturally, for their illustrations of the life of Christ. These artistic representations tell tales of their own, and the visual stories are not always found in the corresponding texts. A careful examination of these images shows clearly and convincingly that medieval artists were not only familiar with the stories of the canonical Gospels, but also with many noncanonical apocryphal tales of Jesus. The apocryphal stories, in some instances, were understood to be “Gospel truth” on par with accounts found in Scripture. Bart D. Ehrman, the James A. Gray Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, explores both canonical and apocryphal narratives of Jesus’s life.


Published on Mar 28, 2013

Dr. Richard Carrier flew in from California to lecture the UNCG Atheists, Agnostics, and Skeptics on the historicity of Christ. The historicity of Christ has appeared in the public consciousness over the last few years because of such individuals such as Robert Price and Dr. Carrier. This topic deals with the analysis of historical data to determine if Jesus existed as an actual person.

A library of articles by Dr. Carrier:
http://www.infidels.org/library/moder…

Wiki for Dr. Carrier
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_…


Did Christianity begin with a mythical Christ? Was the original Jesus a man or a mythical savior god? Solving the Jesus Puzzle through the Christian and ancient-world record, from the Pauline epistles to the Gospels to the second century Christian apologists, from Philo to Josephus to Jewish and Hellenistic philosophy.

Christian faith evolved from a Jesus myth to an historical Jesus.


Published on Sep 13, 2013


Uploaded on Nov 9, 2010


What Future for the “History of Israel”?

The Rev Richard Coggins
Senior Lecturer in Old Testament Studies
at King’s College London
The Ethel M Wood Lecture
5 May 1994

http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/israel_coggins.pdf

… Much of the underlying assumption of the ‘History of Israel’ exercise has centred around the assumption, sometimes spelt out, often unwritten, that increased knowledge of archaeology and of sociology would confirm the historical outline conveyed in the biblical text. Well, sometimes it does; but in a very large number of cases it simply serves to show that the biblical account is impossible historically. Attempts, very popular in the 1960s, to make Abraham a kind of Honorary Hurrian, whose marital and legal habits conformed to the texts discovered at Nuzi, are now generally abandoned. The very existence of a presettlement period of nomadic existence for Israel is now widely doubted. If we turn to detail it is the same story; how could the walls of Jericho have fallen if there was no settled city at any credible time for a supposed siege? And so on: I will not bore you with details, but the traditional story and the reconstruction from modern scholarly methods simply do not match. Some will of course say: So much the worse for modern methods, but I cannot suppose that that kind of conclusion was what this lecture foundation had in mind.

We have rather to recognise that the search for ancient Israel may have a long way to go before anything approaching a coherent history, or the confidently structured kind which has characterised the genre, can legitimately be written. At least down to the Babylonian period there are too many imponderables for any kind of confident reconstruction. More attention has begun to be paid to the Judaism of the Second Temple, or Second Commonwealth; and fascinating and important though such study is, it is notoriously difficult for lack of evidence to put together anything like a coherent and structured history. Finally the question arises as to the value of the material from Genesis to 2 Kings which has been the main subject of our attention this evening. Here there will surely be sharp differences of opinion. For some to deny them the status of accurate history will deny them all value. For others much will depend on the power to be granted in religious terms to the concept of story. If a text tells a story of a people’s belief in God and the way it has been manifested over the ages how much will hang on historical reliability, how much can be accepted through the power of the story and its correspondence with human experience, so that listeners can say ‘Yes, that could be my story too’?


Where the Genesis stories really came from: Not surprisingly, it seems the Genesis stories really came from the same place that the Jewish people said they really came from– the much, much more ancient civilization of Sumer (in the region later known as Babylon). The Jews believed themselves to be descended from Abraham, who after a series of wanderings eventually moved to the future home of Israel.  His homeland, or where he originally moved from was Ur (Genesis 11:31) and Ur was one of the many city states which made up the country of Sumer, called by many scholars the world’s first advanced civilization.

A model of the ziggurat of Ur

The Sumerians invented, among other things, the stairstep pyramid temples called ziggurats, the wheel, and, perhaps most importantly for our purposes, writing.  One of the things they liked to write about, naturally, was the activities of their gods and goddesses. The first written tales of creation were recorded by the Sumerians and who did they say created the world? A goddess.  Nammu, the mother of all things, Goddess of the Primordial Sea, created the heavens and earth from her own body long before Yahweh had ever been heard of.  Thousands of years before, in fact, as this civilization dates to about 3,500 BC.  For comparison, Father Abraham is said to have lived about 1,800 BC in the Biblical narrative, around the time that Sumer was taken over by Babylon.  Scholars debate the authenticity of this tale, though.  Some say that, rather than a legendary patriarch, Abraham was a literary fiction created by Jewish priests while the nation of Judah (southern Israel) was in exile in Babylon in the 5th and 6th centures BC.
Whether the Jewish people were descended from a Sumerian man, as Genesis asserts, or whether they simply stole Babylon’s ancient tales (which included Sumer’s) while they were exiled in that country much later, there is a clear connection between Israel and Sumer.  This no doubt explains the reason why all the major stories of “Jewish” history prior to the beginning of Abraham’s story in Genesis 11 are nearly identical to tales written first in Sumer.  There is, however, one very important difference between the Jewish (later to become Christian) version of these stories and those of the the far more ancient Sumerian culture:  In the Biblical creation narrative the gender of the Creator of Heaven and Earth has been switched from female to male and the Goddess erased from the tale.  Unless, that is, you know where to look.

Enki

Nammu and Enki, mother of the world and father of humankind: According to the Sumerians, Nammu, the Primordial Sea Goddess, was the first to exist and hence, the creator of all things.  She began by giving birth to An, the Sky God, and Ki, the Earth Goddess. She also was mother to Enki, the God of Water and Wisdom.  Enki was a bit of a trickster and troublemaker, but also the one who helped Nammu make human beings. Just as in the Biblical narrative, we were fashioned out of clay, at Enki’s suggestion (as shown  in this translation by S.N. Kramer, who also translated the other verses below):
“Mix the heart of the clay that is over the abyss,
The good and princely fashioners will thicken the clay,
You, [Nammu] do you bring the limbs into existence;
Ninmah [earth-mother or birth goddess] will work above you,
The goddesses [of birth] .  . . will stand by you at your fashioning;
O my mother, decree its [the newborn’s] fate,
Ninmah will bind upon it the image (?) of the gods,
It is man . . . . “
Notice that, just like in the later Bible, humans are made in the image of the Gods. The Sumerians also first wrote about Eden, which they called Dilmun, describing it like this:
“In Dilmun the raven uttered no cries,
The kite uttered not the cry of the kite,
The lion killed not,
The wolf snatched not the lamb,
Unknown was the kid-killing dog…”
The story in which Eve (which means “mother of the living”) is taken from Adam’s rib is probably a garbled rewrite of Ninti, a Sumerian Goddess whose name is a pun, meaning both “lady life” and “rib,” and who assists Enki and Nammu in bringing forth humans.
Later, when Enlil, the king of the gods, decides to wipe the troublesome humans off the face of the earth with a great flood, Enki saves us all by convincing one man (called in different accounts Atrahasis, Utnapishtim, or Ziusudra) to build an ark.
Also here is the equivalent of the Biblical tale of the invention of multiple languages.  Just as in the Tower of Babel story of Genesis, the people once spoke the same language, but when their languages were altered in the Sumerian version, Enki did it:
“In those days, the lands of Suberi (and) Hamazi,
Harmony-tongued Sumer, the great land of the decrees of princeship,
Uri, the land having all that is appropriate,
The land Martu, resting in security,
The whole universe, the people in unison
To Enlil in one tongue [spoke].
(Then) Enki, the lord of abundance (whose) commands are trustworthy,
The lord of wisdom, who understands the land,
The leader of the gods,
Endowed with wisdom, the lord of Eridu
Changed the speech in their mouths, [brought] contention into it,
Into the speech of man that (until then) had been one.”

The disappearance of Nammu:  Yahweh of the Israelites was not the first Sky God to usurp Nammu’s position. Around the same century that Abraham allegedly skipped town (whether before, during, or after depends on which scholar’s estimate of his century is correct), the city-state of Babylon took over Ur and the rest of the country of Sumer.  Under the much more patriarchal influence of the Babylonian Empire the Creator Goddess lost her position to the Sky God Marduk.

Marduk

The Babylonians said Marduk created the heavens and earth by murdering  Tiamat (Nammu’s Babylonian name) and forming the universe from her body. Tiamat did not go out quietly.  The tale of how Tiamat, primordial Sea Goddess and source of all things created demonic monsters to fight against the hero god Marduk and of how Marduk defeated her, claiming kingship of the gods and creating heaven and earth from her body is told in the Enuma Elish.
Eventually, when the priests of Judah rewrote the tale, the Goddess would disappear altogether from the narrative .  Well, almost disappear.  She is traceable still by linguistics, for when God hovers over “the deep” in the opening scene of Genesis (Chapter 1, Verse 2), the word  translated here is tehom, meaning the deeps, the abyss, and linguistically the Semitic form of Tiamat, the name of the Babylonian Goddess.  In time, Nammu would be forgotten, but now, thanks to archaeologists, we can remember the Goddess who came before Heaven and Earth, before the sky gods ascended the throne of history, before even the Bible, before ever the priest put pen to scroll to write the words  “In the Beginning….”


According to the Hebrew Bible, Solomon’s Temple, also known as the First Temple, was the Holy Temple (Hebrew: בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ‎: Bet HaMikdash) in ancient Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount (also known as Mount Zion), before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE. There is no direct archaeological evidence for the existence of Solomon’s Temple,[1] and no mention of it in the surviving contemporary extra-biblical literature.[2]

The Hebrew Bible states that the temple was constructed under Solomon, king of the Israelites. This would date its construction to the 10th century BCE, although it is possible that an earlier Jebusite sanctuary had stood on the site. During the kingdom of Judah, the temple was dedicated to Yahweh, the god of Israel, and is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant. Rabbinic sources state that the First Temple stood for 410 years and, based on the 2nd-century work Seder Olam Rabbah, place construction in 832 BCE and destruction in 422 BCE (3338 AM), 165 years later than secular estimates.

Because of the religious sensitivities involved, and the politically volatile situation in Jerusalem, only limited archaeological surveys of the Temple Mount have been conducted. No excavations have been allowed on the Temple Mount during modern times. An Ivory pomegranate mentions priests in the house of YHWH, and an inscription recording the Temple’s restoration under Jehoash have appeared on the antiquities market, but the authenticity of both has been challenged and they remain the subject of controversy. No conclusive archeological evidence for the existence of Solomon’s Temple has been found


April 13, 2001|TERESA WATANABE | TIMES RELIGION WRITER
For centuries, the biblical account of the Exodus has been revered as the founding story of the Jewish people, sacred scripture for three world religions and a universal symbol of freedom that has inspired liberation movements around the globe.

But did the Exodus ever actually occur?

On Passover last Sunday, Rabbi David Wolpe raised that provocative question before 2,200 faithful at Sinai Temple in Westwood. He minced no words.

“The truth is that virtually every modern archeologist who has investigated the story of the Exodus, with very few exceptions, agrees that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way it happened, if it happened at all,” Wolpe told his congregants.

Wolpe’s startling sermon may have seemed blasphemy to some. In fact, however, the rabbi was merely telling his flock what scholars have known for more than a decade. Slowly and often outside wide public purview, archeologists are radically reshaping modern understanding of the Bible. It was time for his people to know about it, Wolpe decided.

After a century of excavations trying to prove the ancient accounts true, archeologists say there is no conclusive evidence that the Israelites were ever in Egypt, were ever enslaved, ever wandered in the Sinai wilderness for 40 years or ever conquered the land of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership. To the contrary, the prevailing view is that most of Joshua’s fabled military campaigns never occurred–archeologists have uncovered ash layers and other signs of destruction at the relevant time at only one of the many battlegrounds mentioned in the Bible.

Today, the prevailing theory is that Israel probably emerged peacefully out of Canaan–modern-day Lebanon, southern Syria, Jordan and the West Bank of Israel–whose people are portrayed in the Bible as wicked idolators. Under this theory, the Canaanites who took on a new identity as Israelites were perhaps joined or led by a small group of Semites from Egypt–explaining a possible source of the Exodus story, scholars say. As they expanded their settlement, they may have begun to clash with neighbors, perhaps providing the historical nuggets for the conflicts recorded in Joshua and Judges.

“Scholars have known these things for a long time, but we’ve broken the news very gently,” said William Dever, a professor of Near Eastern archeology and anthropology at the University of Arizona and one of America’s preeminent archeologists.


Khirbet Qeiyafa (Elah Fortress) is the site of an ancient city overlooking the Elah Valley.[1] The ruins of the fortress were uncovered in 2007,[2] near the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh, 20 miles (32 km) from Jerusalem.[3] It covers nearly 6 acres (2.4 ha) and is encircled by a 700-meter-long (2,300 ft) city wall constructed of stones weighing up to eight tons each.[4] A number of archaeologists have claimed that it might be the biblical city of Sha’arayim or Neta’im[5] and that it might contain the ruins of King David‘s palace.[6][7] Others are sceptical, and suggest it might represent either a Judahite or Canaanite fortress.[8]

The meaning of the Arabic name of the site, Khirbet Qeiyafa, is uncertain. Scholars suggest it may mean “the place with a wide view.”[9] The modern Hebrew name, Elah Fortress, derives from the location of the site on the northern bank of Nahal Elah, one of six brooks that flow from the Judean mountains to the coastal plain.

The Elah Fortress lies just inside a north-south ridge of hills separating Philistia and Gath to the west from Judea to the east. The ridge also includes the site currently identified as Tel Azekah.[10] Past this ridge is a series of connecting valleys between two parallel groups of hills. Tel Sokho lies on the southern ridge with Tel Adullam behind it. The Elah Fortress is situated on the northern ridge, overlooking several valleys with a clear view of the Judean Mountains. Behind it to the northeast is Tel Yarmut. From the topography, archaeologists believe this was the location of the cities of Adullam, Sokho, Azekah and Yarmut cited in Joshua 15:35.[10] These valleys formed the border between Philistia and Judea.

The site of Khirbet Qeiyafa was surveyed in the 1860s by Victor Guérin who reported the presence of a village on the hilltop. In 1875, British surveyors noted only stone heaps. In 1932, Dimitri Baramki, reported the site to hold a 35 square metres (380 sq ft) watchtower associated with Khirbet Quleidiya (Horvat Qolad), 200 metres (660 ft) east.[9] The site was mostly neglected in the 20th century and not mentioned by leading scholars.[2] Yehuda Dagan conducted more intense surveys in the 1990s and documented the visible remains.[9] The site raised curiosity in 2005 when Saar Ganor discovered impressive Iron Age structures under the remnants.[2]

Excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa began in 2007, directed by Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, and continued in 2008.[11] Nearly 600 square metres (6,500 sq ft) of an Iron Age IIA city were unearthed. Based on pottery styles and two burned olive pits tested for carbon-14 at Oxford University, Garfinkel and Ganor have dated the site to 1050–970 BC,[2] although Israel Finkelstein contends evidence points to habitation between 1050 and 915 BC.[12]
The initial excavation by Ganor and Garfinklel took place from August 12 to 26, 2007 on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Archaeology. In their preliminary report at the annual ASOR conference on November 15, they presented a theory that the site was the Biblical Azekah, which until then had been exclusively associated with Tell Zakariya.[13] In 2008, after the discovery of a second gate, they identified the site as the biblical Sha’arayim (“two gates” in Hebrew).[2]

Releasing the preliminary dig reports for the 2010 and 2011 digging seasons at Khirbet Qeiyafa, the Israel Antiquities Authority stated: “The excavations at Khirbat Qeiyafa clearly reveal an urban society that existed in Judah already in the late eleventh century BCE. It can no longer be argued that the Kingdom of Judah developed only in the late eighth century BCE or at some other later date.”[14]
Discoveries at Khirbet Qeiyafa are significant to the debate about the veracity of the biblical account of the United Monarchy at the beginning of Iron Age II. As no archaeological finds were found that could corroborate claims of the existence of a magnificent biblical kingdom, various scholars have advanced the opinion that the kingdom was no more than a small tribal entity. Garfinkel, who said in 2010 that the debate could not “be answered by the Qeiyafa excavations”, is of the opinion that “what is clear, however, is that the kingdom of Judah existed already as a centrally organized state in the tenth century B.C.E[15][16][17] In addition to Garfinkel’s theory there are two other hypotheses: one, supported by Nadav Na’aman and Ido Koch holds the ruins to be Canaanite, based on strong similarities with the nearby Canaanite excavations at Beit Shemesh. The third hypothesis, advanced by Israel Finkelstein and Alexander Fantalkin, maintains that the site shows affiliations with a North Israelite entity.[8]

In 2010, Gershon Galil of the University of Haifa identified Khirbet Qeiyafa as the “Neta’im” of 1 Chronicles 4:23, due to its proximity to Khirbet Ğudrayathe (biblical Gederah). The inhabitants of both cities were said to be “potters” and “in the King’s service”, a description that is consistent with the archeological discoveries at that site.[18]
Yehuda Dagan of the Israel Antiquities Authority also disagrees with the identification as Sha’arayim. Dagan believes the ancient Philistine retreat route after their defeat in the battle at the Valley of Elah (1 Samuel 17:52), more likely identifies Sha’arayim with the remains of Khirbet esh-Shari’a. Dagan proposes that Khirbet Qeiyafa be identified with biblical Adithaim (Joshua 15:36).[9]
The fortifications at Khirbet Qeiyafa predate those of contemporary Lachish, Beersheba, Arad, and Timnah. All these sites have yielded pottery dated to early Iron Age II. The parallel valley to the north, mentioned in Samuel I, runs from the Philistine city of Ekron to Tel Beit Shemesh. The city gate of the Elah Fortress faces west with a path down to the road leading to the sea, and was thus named “Gath Gate” or “Sea Gate.” The 23-dunam (5.7-acre) site is surrounded by a casement wall and fortifications.[16] The top layer of the fortress shows that the fortifications were renewed in the Hellenistic period.[10]
Garfinkel suggests that it was a Judean city with 500–600 inhabitants during the reign of David and Solomon.[19][20][16] Based on pottery finds at Qeiyafa and Gath, archaeologists believe the sites belonged to two distinct ethnic groups. “The finds have not yet established who the residents were,” says Aren Maeir, a Bar Ilan University archaeologist digging at Gath. “It will become more clear if, for example, evidence of the local diet is found. Excavations have shown that Philistines ate dogs and pigs, while Israelites did not. The nature of the ceramic shards found at the site suggest residents might have been neither Israelites nor Philistines but members of a third, forgotten people.”[21] Evidence that the city was not Philistine comes from the private houses that abut the city wall, an arrangement that was not used in Philistine cities.[22] There is also evidence of equipment for baking flat bread and hundreds of bones from goats, cattle, sheep, and fish. Significantly, no pig bones have been uncovered, suggesting that the city was not Philistine.[22][23] Nadav Na’aman of Tel Aviv University nevertheless associates it with Philistine Gath, citing the necessity for further excavations as well as evidence from Bet Shemesh whose inhabitants also avoided eating pork, yet were associated with Ekron.[24] Na’aman proposed identification with the Philistine city of Gob.[24]
Yigal Levin has proposed that the ma’gal (מעגל) or “circular camp” of the Israelites which is mentioned in the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17:20) was described this way because it fitted the circular shape of the nearby Khirbet Qeiyafa.[25] Levin argues that the story of David and Goliath is set decades before Khirbet Qeiyafa was built and so the reference to Israel’s encampment at the ma’gal probably does “not represent any particular historical event at all”. But when the story was composed centuries later, the round structure of Khirbet Qeiyafa “would still have been visible and known to the author of 1 Samuel 17“, who “guessed its function, and worked it into his story”.[25]

 

On July 18, 2013, the Israel Antiquities Authority issued the press release “King David’s Palace was Uncovered in the Judean Shephelah” on behalf of Khirbet Qeiyafa archaeologists Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor.[7] The report discusses two large buildings dated to the tenth century B.C.E. by the Qeiyafa team. One of the buildings is a large palatial structure, the other is a pillared store room with hundreds of stamped storage vessels. The suggestion that the larger structure can be associated with one of King David’s palaces led to significant media coverage as well as claims of sensationalism.[39] Professor Aren Maeir, an archaeologist at Bar Ilan University, pointed out that there are still doubts about the existence of King David’s monarchy and among others Israel Finkelstein suggested that it could have been built by other people such as Philistines and Canaanites.[40][41]

(AP)—A team of Israeli archaeologists believes it has discovered the ruins of a palace belonging to the biblical King David, but other Israeli experts dispute the claim.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-07-king-david-palace-israeli-team.html#jCp

Archaeologists from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Israel’s Antiquities Authority said their find, a large fortified complex west of Jerusalem at a site called Khirbet Qeiyafa , is the first palace of the biblical king ever to be discovered.

“Khirbet Qeiyafa is the best example exposed to date of a fortified city from the time of King David,” said Yossi Garfinkel, a Hebrew University archaeologist, suggesting that David himself would have used the site. Garfinkel led the seven-year dig with Saar Ganor of Israel’s Antiquities Authority.

Garfinkel said his team found cultic objects typically used by Judeans, the subjects of King David, and saw no trace of pig remains. Pork is forbidden under Jewish dietary laws. Clues like these, he said, were “unequivocal evidence” that David and his descendants had ruled at the site.

Critics said the site could have belonged to other kingdoms of the area. The consensus among most scholars is that no definitive physical proof of the existence of King David has been found.

Biblical archaeology itself is contentious. Israelis often use archaeological findings to back up their historic claims to sites that are also claimed by the Palestinians, like the Old City of Jerusalem. Despite extensive archaeological evidence, for example, Palestinians deny that the biblical Jewish Temples dominated the hilltop where the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam’s third-holiest site, stands today.

In general, researchers are divided over whether biblical stories can be validated by physical remains.

The current excavators are not the first to claim they found a King David palace. In 2005, Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar said she found the remains of King David’s palace in Jerusalem dating to the 10th century B.C., when King David would have ruled. Her claim also attracted skepticism, including from Garfinkel himself.

Using carbon dating, the archaeologists traced the site’s construction to that same period. Garfinkel said the team also found a storeroom almost 15 meters (50 feet) long, suggesting it was a royal site used to collect taxes from the rest of the kingdom.

Garfinkel believes King David lived permanently in Jerusalem in a yet-undiscovered site, only visiting Khirbet Qeiyafa or other palaces for short periods. He said the site’s placement on a hill indicates that the ruler sought a secure site on high ground during a violent era of frequent conflicts between city-states.

“The time of David was the first time that a large portion of this area was united by one monarch,” Garfinkel said. “It was not a peaceful era.”

Archaeologist Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University agreed that Khirbet Qeiyafa is an “elaborate” and “well-fortified” 10th century B.C. site, but said it could have been built by Philistines, Canaanites or other peoples in the area.

He said there was no way to verify who built the site without finding a monument detailing the accomplishments of the king who built it. Last week, for instance, archaeologists in Israel found pieces of a sphinx bearing the name of the Egyptian pharaoh who reigned when the statue was carved.

Garfinkel insisted that critics like Finkelstein are relying on outdated theories.

“I think other people have a collapsed theory and we have fresh data,” he said.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-07-king-david-palace-israeli-team.html#jCp


Three decades of dialogue, discussion, and debate within the interrelated disciplines of Syro-Palestinian archaeology, ancient Israelite history, and Hebrew Bible over the question of the relevance of the biblical account for reconstructing early Israels history have created the need for a balanced articulation of the issues and their prospective resolutions. This book brings together for the first time and under one cover, a currently emerging centrist paradigm as articulated by two leading figures in the fields of early Israelite archaeology and history. Although Finkelstein and Mazar advocate distinct views of early Israels history, they nevertheless share the position that the material cultural data, the biblical traditions, and the ancient Near Eastern written sources are all significantly relevant to the historical quest for Iron Age Israel. The results of their research are featured in accessible, parallel syntheses of the historical reconstruction of early Israel that facilitate comparison and contrast of their respective interpretations. The historical essays presented here are based on invited lectures delivered in October of 2005 at the Sixth Biennial Colloquium of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in Detroit, Michigan.

This review is from: The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archaeology and the History of Early Israel (Archaeology and Biblical Studies) (Paperback)

This is an excellent introduction to the latest research in Biblical Archaeology, presenting a middle ground between the Minimalist and Maximalist debate which has sought to polarise the issue over the last 15 years. Both Finkelstein and Mazar are leading exponents in the field of Post-processual Archaeology, but neither are afraid of examining where the Biblical record is confirmed or challenged by the findings of modern archaeology. For a balanced view, with good editorial summaries, this book looks at the various periods and brings the reader up-to-date with the findings of the latest ecavations.

1.0 out of 5 stars Finkelstein before he reccanted, May 18, 2011
By 
This review is from: The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archaeology and the History of Early Israel (Archaeology and Biblical Studies) (Paperback)

It is important for non-archaeologists to be aware that in November of 2010, Israel Finkelstein publicly admitted that his “minimalist” or “low” chronology–the basis for this work–does not accord with the archaeological data we now have. This is true in the light of the excavations of Khirbet Qayafah, all of which is 10th or 11th century BCE, and is a united monarchy border outpost, and the Jerusalem excavations of Eilat Mazar, 10th and 9th century, substantiating the united monarchy again. He publicly stated that the views propounded in this book are INCORRECT.
Any non-professional reader must be aware of this in evaluating this now-outdated publication.

Comments

Jason says:
Would you care to back that claim up, “that Finkelstein publicly admitted…his views are incorrect,” with legitimate references? By legitimate I mean don’t cite links to religious websites with an agenda to flog by using spurious logic, fallacious arguments and highly edited quotes to suit their needs.

I would suspect you yourself are squarely in the camp with a bias to prove the Bible as history with your definitive statement, “…substant

Por el año 605 a.C., el Pueblo de Israel sufrió una dispersión o, como se le conoce Bíblicamente, una “diáspora”. El rey Nabuconodosor conquistó a Jerusalén y llevó a los israelitas cautivos a Babilonia, comenzando de Babilónica” (cf. 2 Reyes 24, 12; y 2 Reyes 25, 1).

Pero no todos los israelitas fueron llevado cautivos, un “resto” quedó en Israel: 2 Reyes 25, 12; 2 Reyes 25, 22; Jeremías 40, 11; Ezequiel 33, 27. También un número de Israelitas no fueron cautivos a Babilonia sino que fueron a Egipto: 2 Reyes 25, 26; Jeremías 42, 14; Jeremías 43, 7.

El rey Ciro de Persia conquistó a Babilonia (2 Crónicas 36, 20; 2 Crónicas 36, 23) y dio la libertad a los israelitas de regresar a Israel, terminando así su esclavitud. Algunos regresaron a Palestina (Esdras 1, 5; 7, 28; y Nehemías 2, 11) pero otros se fueron en vez a Egipto, estableciéndose, en su mayoría, en la ciudad de Alejandría (fundada por Alejandro Magno en el 322 a.C, contaba con la biblioteca mas importante del mundo en esa época). En esta gran ciudad convivían griegos, judíos y egipcios. Así que los judíos estaban disgregados aun después del fin del cautiverio, unos en Palestina y otros en la diáspora, sobre todo en Alejandría. En el tiempo de Jesús habían mas judíos en Alejandría que en la misma Palestina (1 Macabeos 1, 1)
Mientras la primera semejanza de un canon hebreo se empieza a formar, la lengua hebrea comienza a morir y desapareció completamente para el año 135 a.C. Por esta razón Jesús y sus contemporáneos en Palestina hablaban arameo, un dialecto del hebreo.

Como en la mayor parte del mundo civilizado, la lengua principal de Alejandría en el siglo III a.C. era el griego. Había por eso gran necesidad de una traducción griega de las Sagradas Escrituras. La historia relata que Demetrio de Faleron, el bibliotecario de Plotomeo II (285-246 a.C.), quería unas copias de la Ley Judía para la Biblioteca de Alejandría. La traducción se realizó a inicios del siglo tercero a.C. y se llamó la Traducción de los Setenta (por el número de traductores que trabajaron en la obra). Comenzando con el Torá, tradujeron todas las Sagradas Escrituras, es decir todo lo que es hoy conocido por los cristianos como el Antiguo Testamento. Introdujeron también una nueva organización e incluyeron Libros Sagrados que, por ser mas recientes, no estaban en los antiguos cánones pero eran generalmente reconocidos como sagrados por los judíos. Se trata de siete libros, escritos en griego, que son llamados hoy deuterocanónicos. Vemos entonces que no hay un “silencio bíblico” (una ausencia de Revelación) en los siglos precedentes al nacimiento de Jesús. 
La Traducción de los Setenta contiene los textos originales de algunos de los deuterocanónicos (Sabiduría y 2 Macabeos) y la base canónica de otros, ya sea en parte (Ester, Daniel y Sirac) o completamente (Tobit, Judit, Baruc y 1 Macabeos).

La Traducción de de los Setenta es la que se usaba en tiempo de Jesucristo y los Apóstoles
La versión alejandrina, con los siete libros deuterocanónicos, se propagó mucho y era la generalmente usada por los judíos en la era Apostólica. Por esta razón no es sorprendente que esta fuera la traducción utilizada por Cristo y los escritores del Nuevo Testamento. 300 de las 350 referencias al Antiguo Testamento que se hacen en el Nuevo Testamento son tomadas de la versión alejandrina. Por es no hay duda de que la Iglesia apostólica del primer siglo aceptó los libros deuterocanónicos como parte de su canon (libros reconocidos como Palabra de Dios). Por ejemplo, Orígenes, (Padre de la Iglesia, 254), afirmó que los cristianos usaban estos libros aunque algunos líderes judíos no los aceptaban oficialmente.
Al final del primer siglo de la era cristiana, una escuela judía, quizás de rabinos, hicieron un canon hebreo en la ciudad de Jamnia, en Palestina. Cerraron el canon con los profetas Esdras (458 a. C.), Nehemías (445 a. C.), y Malaquías (433 a. C.). Este canon comprendía de 22 a 24 libros. No rechazaron los libros deuterocanónicos definitivamente, pero no los incluyeron entre los canónicos. El canon reconocido por los judíos no se fijó hasta mas de cien años después. Aun entonces, los libros “deuterocanónicos” siguieron siendo leídos y respetados por los judíos. Mientras tanto los cristianos siguieron reconociendo la versión alejandrina. Es así que surgieron los dos cánones del Antíguo Testamento.

Los dos cánones del Antiguo Testamento
El canon de Alejandría (la traducción de los Setenta al griego, hecha antes de Cristo y aceptada por todos los cristianos y muchos judíos, que contiene los libros deuterocanónicos).
El canon de Palestina (Jamnia, traducción hebrea hecha después de Cristo).
Los historiadores ponen como fecha en que se fijaron los cánones de las traducciones de Alejandría y de Palestina para el siglo segundo de nuestra era. El Obispo Melito de Sardis registró la primera lista conocida del canon alejandrino en el año 170 A.D. Contenía 45/46 libros (el libro de Lamentaciones se consideraba como parte de Jeremías). El canon Palestino contenía solo 39 libros pues no tenía los libros 7 libros Deuterocanónicos.

La Vulgata de San Jerónimo
La primera traducción de la Biblia al latín fue hecha por San Jerónimo y se llamó Vulgata (año 383 AD). El latín era entonces el idioma común en el mundo Mediterráneo. San Jerónimo en un principio tradujo del texto hebreo del canon de Palestina. Su estilo era mas elegante y en algunas frases distinto a la Traducción de los Setenta. Además le faltaban los libros deuterocanónicos por no estar en el texto hebreo. Esto produjo una polémica entre los cristianos. En defensa de su traducción, San Jerónimo escribió una carta: Ad Pachmmachium de optimo genere interpretandi, la cual es el primer tratado acerca de la traductología. Por eso se le considera el padre de esta disciplina. Ahí explica, entre otras cosas el motivo por el cual considera inexacta a la septuagésima. Finalmente se aceptó su versión, pero con la inclusión de los libros deuterocanónicos. Por eso la Vulgata tiene todos los 46 libros.

La Iglesia establece el canon
La controversia sobre que libros son canónicos fue larga, extendiéndose hasta el siglo IV y aun mas tarde. Las polémicas con los herejes, particularmente los seguidores de Marción, que rechazaban libros generalmente reconocidos por los Padres, hizo que la Iglesia definiera con autoridad la lista de los libros sagrados (el canon).
Los concilios de la Iglesia, el Concilio de Hipona, en el año 393 y el Concilio de Cartago, en el año 397 y 419, ambos en el norte de África, confirmaron el canon Alejandrino (con 46 libros para el Antiguo Testamento) y también fijaron el canon del Nuevo Testamento con 27 libros. La carta del papa S. Inocencio I en el 405, también oficialmente lista estos libros. Finalmente, el Concilio de Florencia (1442) definitivamente estableció la lista oficial de 46 libros del A.T. y los 27 del N.T.

El canon del Nuevo Testamento se definió en el siglo IV tras un largo y difícil proceso de discernimiento
El mismo nombre de “Nuevo Testamento” no se usó hasta el siglo II. Uno de los criterios para aceptar o no los libros fue que tuviese como autor a un apóstol; su uso, especialmente en la liturgia en las Iglesias Apostólicas y la conformidad con la fe de la Iglesia. Fue bajo estos criterios que algunos evangelios atribuidos a los Apóstoles (ej. Ev de Tomás, Ev. de Pedro) fueron rechazados. El evangelio de San Juan y el Apocalipsis se consideraron por largo tiempo como dudosos por el atractivo que tenían con grupos sectarios y milenaristas.
Todos los católicos aceptaron el canon de la Biblia fijado por los concilios mencionados y, como este canon no fue causa de seria controversia hasta el siglo XVI, no se necesitó definir el canon de la Biblia como una verdad infalible.

A la Biblia Protestante le faltan libros
En el 1534, Martín Lutero tradujo la Biblia al alemán y agrupó los siete libros deuterocanónicos bajo el título de “apócrifos”, señalando: “estos son libros que no se tienen por iguales a las Sagradas Escrituras y sin embargo son útiles y buenos para leer.” Es así como los protestantes llegaron a considera a los deuterocanónicos como libros no aceptados en el canon, o sea como libros apócrifos.

Siempre los cristianos habían reconocido esos libros como parte de la Biblia. Los concilios del siglo IV y posteriores habían confirmado la creencia cristiana. La opinión de Lutero era mas bien la de los judíos que seguían la traducción de Jamnia. Es por eso que los protestantes, carecen de los libros deuterocanónicos de la Biblia:

  • Tobías
  • Judit
  • Ester (protocanónico con partes deuterocanónicas)
  • Daniel (protocanónico con partes deuterocanónicas)
  • I Macabeos
  • II Macabeos
  • Sabiduría
  • Eclesiástico (también llamado “Sirac”)
  • Baruc


Lutero no solo eliminó libros del Antiguo Testamento sino que hizo cambios en el Nuevo Testamento
“Él [Martín Lutero] había declarado que la persona no se justifica por la fe obrando en el amor, sino sólo por la fe. Llegó incluso a añadir la palabra “solamente” después de la palabra “justificado” en su traducción alemana de Romanos 3, 28, y llamó a la Carta de Santiago “epístola falsificada” porque Santiago dice explícitamente: “Veis que por las obras se justifica el hombre y no sólo por la fe”. (Scott y Kimberly HAHN, Roma dulce hogar, ed. Rialp, Madrid, 2000, página 57; Scott Hahn fue ministro protestante, presbiteriano antes de su conversión)
Se tomó la libertad de separar los libros del Nuevo Testamento de la siguiente manera:
  • Libros sobre la obra de Dios para la salvación: Juan, Romanos, Gálatas, Efesios, I Pedro y I Juan.
  • Otros libros canónicos: Mateo, Marcos, Lucas, Hechos, el resto de las cartas de Pablo, II Pedro y II de Juan.
  • Los libros no canónicos: Hebreos, Santiago, Judas, Apocalipsis y libros del Antiguo Testamento.
Los protestantes tienen los mismos libros que los católicos en el Nuevo Testamento porque no aceptaron los cambios de Lutero para esta parte del canon.
Los protestantes y evangélicos se encuentran en una posición contradictoria
Reconocen el canon establecido por los concilios del siglo IV para el Nuevo Testamento (los 27 libros que ellos tienen) pero no reconocen esa misma autoridad para el canon del AT.
Es interesante notar que la Biblia Gutenberg, la primera Biblia impresa, es la Biblia latina (Vulgata), por lo tanto, contenía los 46 libros del canon alejandrino.

Posición de la Iglesia Anglicana (episcopalianos)
Según los 39 Artículos de Religión (1563) de la Iglesia de Inglaterra, los libros deuterocanónicos pueden ser leídos para “ejemplo de vida e instrucción de costumbres”, pero no deben ser usados para “establecer ninguna doctrina” (Artículo VI). Consecuentemente, la Biblia, versión del Rey Jaime (1611) imprimió estos libros entre el N.T. y el A.T. Pero Juan Lightfoot (1643) criticó este orden alegando que los “malditos apócrifos” pudiesen ser así vistos como un puente entre el A.T. y el N.T. La Confesión de Westminster (1647) decidió que estos libros, “al no ser de inspiración divina, no son parte del canon de las Escrituras y, por lo tanto, no son de ninguna autoridad de la Iglesia de Dios ni deben ser en ninguna forma aprobados o utilizados mas que otros escritos humanos”.


Published on May 24, 2013

In this one-on-one edition of the show, Justin Brierley speaks to New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman about his recent book “Did Jesus Exist?” which argues for the historical fact of Jesus of Nazareth.

Ehrman, whose books are more usually at odds with evangelicals, was this time attacked by atheist proponents of “mythicism” – the view that Jesus never existed.

He responds to the criticisms, including mythicists Bob Price and Richard Carrier and answers questions sent in by Unbelievable? listeners.

Ehrman’s reply to Carrier’s critique of his book:
http://ehrmanblog.org/fuller-reply-to…


Uploaded on Nov 21, 2011

Dr. Bart D. Ehrman brings his insights to Stanford University in a revealing lecture, “Misquoting Jesus: Scribes Who Altered scripture and Readers Who May Never Know,” a textual criticism of Biblical manuscript tampering.

September 22, 2011, The Getty Center

Illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages are significant for the literary texts they preserve. But they are also important, historically and culturally, for their illustrations of the life of Christ. These artistic representations tell tales of their own, and the visual stories are not always found in the corresponding texts. A careful examination of these images shows clearly and convincingly that medieval artists were not only familiar with the stories of the canonical Gospels, but also with many noncanonical apocryphal tales of Jesus. The apocryphal stories, in some instances, were understood to be “Gospel truth” on par with accounts found in Scripture. Bart D. Ehrman, the James A. Gray Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, explores both canonical and apocryphal narratives of Jesus’s life.


Published on Mar 28, 2013

Dr. Richard Carrier flew in from California to lecture the UNCG Atheists, Agnostics, and Skeptics on the historicity of Christ. The historicity of Christ has appeared in the public consciousness over the last few years because of such individuals such as Robert Price and Dr. Carrier. This topic deals with the analysis of historical data to determine if Jesus existed as an actual person.

A library of articles by Dr. Carrier:
http://www.infidels.org/library/moder…

Wiki for Dr. Carrier
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_…


Did Christianity begin with a mythical Christ? Was the original Jesus a man or a mythical savior god? Solving the Jesus Puzzle through the Christian and ancient-world record, from the Pauline epistles to the Gospels to the second century Christian apologists, from Philo to Josephus to Jewish and Hellenistic philosophy.

Christian faith evolved from a Jesus myth to an historical Jesus.


Published on Sep 13, 2013



Uploaded on Nov 9, 2010


What Future for the “History of Israel”?

The Rev Richard Coggins
Senior Lecturer in Old Testament Studies
at King’s College London
The Ethel M Wood Lecture
5 May 1994

http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/israel_coggins.pdf

… Much of the underlying assumption of the ‘History of Israel’ exercise has centred around the assumption, sometimes spelt out, often unwritten, that increased knowledge of archaeology and of sociology would confirm the historical outline conveyed in the biblical text. Well, sometimes it does; but in a very large number of cases it simply serves to show that the biblical account is impossible historically. Attempts, very popular in the 1960s, to make Abraham a kind of Honorary Hurrian, whose marital and legal habits conformed to the texts discovered at Nuzi, are now generally abandoned. The very existence of a presettlement period of nomadic existence for Israel is now widely doubted. If we turn to detail it is the same story; how could the walls of Jericho have fallen if there was no settled city at any credible time for a supposed siege? And so on: I will not bore you with details, but the traditional story and the reconstruction from modern scholarly methods simply do not match. Some will of course say: So much the worse for modern methods, but I cannot suppose that that kind of conclusion was what this lecture foundation had in mind.

We have rather to recognise that the search for ancient Israel may have a long way to go before anything approaching a coherent history, or the confidently structured kind which has characterised the genre, can legitimately be written. At least down to the Babylonian period there are too many imponderables for any kind of confident reconstruction. More attention has begun to be paid to the Judaism of the Second Temple, or Second Commonwealth; and fascinating and important though such study is, it is notoriously difficult for lack of evidence to put together anything like a coherent and structured history. Finally the question arises as to the value of the material from Genesis to 2 Kings which has been the main subject of our attention this evening. Here there will surely be sharp differences of opinion. For some to deny them the status of accurate history will deny them all value. For others much will depend on the power to be granted in religious terms to the concept of story. If a text tells a story of a people’s belief in God and the way it has been manifested over the ages how much will hang on historical reliability, how much can be accepted through the power of the story and its correspondence with human experience, so that listeners can say ‘Yes, that could be my story too’?


Where the Genesis stories really came from: Not surprisingly, it seems the Genesis stories really came from the same place that the Jewish people said they really came from– the much, much more ancient civilization of Sumer (in the region later known as Babylon). The Jews believed themselves to be descended from Abraham, who after a series of wanderings eventually moved to the future home of Israel.  His homeland, or where he originally moved from was Ur (Genesis 11:31) and Ur was one of the many city states which made up the country of Sumer, called by many scholars the world’s first advanced civilization.

A model of the ziggurat of Ur

The Sumerians invented, among other things, the stairstep pyramid temples called ziggurats, the wheel, and, perhaps most importantly for our purposes, writing.  One of the things they liked to write about, naturally, was the activities of their gods and goddesses. The first written tales of creation were recorded by the Sumerians and who did they say created the world? A goddess.  Nammu, the mother of all things, Goddess of the Primordial Sea, created the heavens and earth from her own body long before Yahweh had ever been heard of.  Thousands of years before, in fact, as this civilization dates to about 3,500 BC.  For comparison, Father Abraham is said to have lived about 1,800 BC in the Biblical narrative, around the time that Sumer was taken over by Babylon.  Scholars debate the authenticity of this tale, though.  Some say that, rather than a legendary patriarch, Abraham was a literary fiction created by Jewish priests while the nation of Judah (southern Israel) was in exile in Babylon in the 5th and 6th centures BC.
Whether the Jewish people were descended from a Sumerian man, as Genesis asserts, or whether they simply stole Babylon’s ancient tales (which included Sumer’s) while they were exiled in that country much later, there is a clear connection between Israel and Sumer.  This no doubt explains the reason why all the major stories of “Jewish” history prior to the beginning of Abraham’s story in Genesis 11 are nearly identical to tales written first in Sumer.  There is, however, one very important difference between the Jewish (later to become Christian) version of these stories and those of the the far more ancient Sumerian culture:  In the Biblical creation narrative the gender of the Creator of Heaven and Earth has been switched from female to male and the Goddess erased from the tale.  Unless, that is, you know where to look.

Enki

Nammu and Enki, mother of the world and father of humankind: According to the Sumerians, Nammu, the Primordial Sea Goddess, was the first to exist and hence, the creator of all things.  She began by giving birth to An, the Sky God, and Ki, the Earth Goddess. She also was mother to Enki, the God of Water and Wisdom.  Enki was a bit of a trickster and troublemaker, but also the one who helped Nammu make human beings. Just as in the Biblical narrative, we were fashioned out of clay, at Enki’s suggestion (as shown  in this translation by S.N. Kramer, who also translated the other verses below):
“Mix the heart of the clay that is over the abyss,
The good and princely fashioners will thicken the clay,
You, [Nammu] do you bring the limbs into existence;
Ninmah [earth-mother or birth goddess] will work above you,
The goddesses [of birth] .  . . will stand by you at your fashioning;
O my mother, decree its [the newborn’s] fate,
Ninmah will bind upon it the image (?) of the gods,
It is man . . . . “
Notice that, just like in the later Bible, humans are made in the image of the Gods. The Sumerians also first wrote about Eden, which they called Dilmun, describing it like this:
“In Dilmun the raven uttered no cries,
The kite uttered not the cry of the kite,
The lion killed not,
The wolf snatched not the lamb,
Unknown was the kid-killing dog…”
The story in which Eve (which means “mother of the living”) is taken from Adam’s rib is probably a garbled rewrite of Ninti, a Sumerian Goddess whose name is a pun, meaning both “lady life” and “rib,” and who assists Enki and Nammu in bringing forth humans.
Later, when Enlil, the king of the gods, decides to wipe the troublesome humans off the face of the earth with a great flood, Enki saves us all by convincing one man (called in different accounts Atrahasis, Utnapishtim, or Ziusudra) to build an ark.
Also here is the equivalent of the Biblical tale of the invention of multiple languages.  Just as in the Tower of Babel story of Genesis, the people once spoke the same language, but when their languages were altered in the Sumerian version, Enki did it:
“In those days, the lands of Suberi (and) Hamazi,
Harmony-tongued Sumer, the great land of the decrees of princeship,
Uri, the land having all that is appropriate,
The land Martu, resting in security,
The whole universe, the people in unison
To Enlil in one tongue [spoke].
(Then) Enki, the lord of abundance (whose) commands are trustworthy,
The lord of wisdom, who understands the land,
The leader of the gods,
Endowed with wisdom, the lord of Eridu
Changed the speech in their mouths, [brought] contention into it,
Into the speech of man that (until then) had been one.”

The disappearance of Nammu:  Yahweh of the Israelites was not the first Sky God to usurp Nammu’s position. Around the same century that Abraham allegedly skipped town (whether before, during, or after depends on which scholar’s estimate of his century is correct), the city-state of Babylon took over Ur and the rest of the country of Sumer.  Under the much more patriarchal influence of the Babylonian Empire the Creator Goddess lost her position to the Sky God Marduk.

Marduk

The Babylonians said Marduk created the heavens and earth by murdering  Tiamat (Nammu’s Babylonian name) and forming the universe from her body. Tiamat did not go out quietly.  The tale of how Tiamat, primordial Sea Goddess and source of all things created demonic monsters to fight against the hero god Marduk and of how Marduk defeated her, claiming kingship of the gods and creating heaven and earth from her body is told in the Enuma Elish.
Eventually, when the priests of Judah rewrote the tale, the Goddess would disappear altogether from the narrative .  Well, almost disappear.  She is traceable still by linguistics, for when God hovers over “the deep” in the opening scene of Genesis (Chapter 1, Verse 2), the word  translated here is tehom, meaning the deeps, the abyss, and linguistically the Semitic form of Tiamat, the name of the Babylonian Goddess.  In time, Nammu would be forgotten, but now, thanks to archaeologists, we can remember the Goddess who came before Heaven and Earth, before the sky gods ascended the throne of history, before even the Bible, before ever the priest put pen to scroll to write the words  “In the Beginning….”


According to the Hebrew Bible, Solomon’s Temple, also known as the First Temple, was the Holy Temple (Hebrew: ???????????????????: Bet HaMikdash) in ancient Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount (also known as Mount Zion), before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE. There is no direct archaeological evidence for the existence of Solomon’s Temple,[1] and no mention of it in the surviving contemporary extra-biblical literature.[2]

The Hebrew Bible states that the temple was constructed under Solomon, king of the Israelites. This would date its construction to the 10th century BCE, although it is possible that an earlier Jebusite sanctuary had stood on the site. During the kingdom of Judah, the temple was dedicated to Yahweh, the god of Israel, and is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant. Rabbinic sources state that the First Temple stood for 410 years and, based on the 2nd-century work Seder Olam Rabbah, place construction in 832 BCE and destruction in 422 BCE (3338 AM), 165 years later than secular estimates.

Because of the religious sensitivities involved, and the politically volatile situation in Jerusalem, only limited archaeological surveys of the Temple Mount have been conducted. No excavations have been allowed on the Temple Mount during modern times. An Ivory pomegranate mentions priests in the house of YHWH, and an inscription recording the Temple’s restoration under Jehoash have appeared on the antiquities market, but the authenticity of both has been challenged and they remain the subject of controversy. No conclusive archeological evidence for the existence of Solomon’s Temple has been found


April 13, 2001|TERESA WATANABE | TIMES RELIGION WRITER
For centuries, the biblical account of the Exodus has been revered as the founding story of the Jewish people, sacred scripture for three world religions and a universal symbol of freedom that has inspired liberation movements around the globe.

But did the Exodus ever actually occur?

On Passover last Sunday, Rabbi David Wolpe raised that provocative question before 2,200 faithful at Sinai Temple in Westwood. He minced no words.

“The truth is that virtually every modern archeologist who has investigated the story of the Exodus, with very few exceptions, agrees that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way it happened, if it happened at all,” Wolpe told his congregants.

Wolpe’s startling sermon may have seemed blasphemy to some. In fact, however, the rabbi was merely telling his flock what scholars have known for more than a decade. Slowly and often outside wide public purview, archeologists are radically reshaping modern understanding of the Bible. It was time for his people to know about it, Wolpe decided.

After a century of excavations trying to prove the ancient accounts true, archeologists say there is no conclusive evidence that the Israelites were ever in Egypt, were ever enslaved, ever wandered in the Sinai wilderness for 40 years or ever conquered the land of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership. To the contrary, the prevailing view is that most of Joshua’s fabled military campaigns never occurred–archeologists have uncovered ash layers and other signs of destruction at the relevant time at only one of the many battlegrounds mentioned in the Bible.

Today, the prevailing theory is that Israel probably emerged peacefully out of Canaan–modern-day Lebanon, southern Syria, Jordan and the West Bank of Israel–whose people are portrayed in the Bible as wicked idolators. Under this theory, the Canaanites who took on a new identity as Israelites were perhaps joined or led by a small group of Semites from Egypt–explaining a possible source of the Exodus story, scholars say. As they expanded their settlement, they may have begun to clash with neighbors, perhaps providing the historical nuggets for the conflicts recorded in Joshua and Judges.

“Scholars have known these things for a long time, but we’ve broken the news very gently,” said William Dever, a professor of Near Eastern archeology and anthropology at the University of Arizona and one of America’s preeminent archeologists.


Khirbet Qeiyafa (Elah Fortress) is the site of an ancient city overlooking the Elah Valley.[1] The ruins of the fortress were uncovered in 2007,[2] near the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh, 20 miles (32 km) from Jerusalem.[3] It covers nearly 6 acres (2.4 ha) and is encircled by a 700-meter-long (2,300 ft) city wall constructed of stones weighing up to eight tons each.[4] A number of archaeologists have claimed that it might be the biblical city of Sha’arayim or Neta’im[5] and that it might contain the ruins of King David‘s palace.[6][7] Others are sceptical, and suggest it might represent either a Judahite or Canaanite fortress.[8]

The meaning of the Arabic name of the site, Khirbet Qeiyafa, is uncertain. Scholars suggest it may mean “the place with a wide view.”[9] The modern Hebrew name, Elah Fortress, derives from the location of the site on the northern bank of Nahal Elah, one of six brooks that flow from the Judean mountains to the coastal plain.

The Elah Fortress lies just inside a north-south ridge of hills separating Philistia and Gath to the west from Judea to the east. The ridge also includes the site currently identified as Tel Azekah.[10] Past this ridge is a series of connecting valleys between two parallel groups of hills. Tel Sokho lies on the southern ridge with Tel Adullam behind it. The Elah Fortress is situated on the northern ridge, overlooking several valleys with a clear view of the Judean Mountains. Behind it to the northeast is Tel Yarmut. From the topography, archaeologists believe this was the location of the cities of Adullam, Sokho, Azekah and Yarmut cited in Joshua 15:35.[10] These valleys formed the border between Philistia and Judea.

The site of Khirbet Qeiyafa was surveyed in the 1860s by Victor Guérin who reported the presence of a village on the hilltop. In 1875, British surveyors noted only stone heaps. In 1932, Dimitri Baramki, reported the site to hold a 35 square metres (380 sq ft) watchtower associated with Khirbet Quleidiya (Horvat Qolad), 200 metres (660 ft) east.[9] The site was mostly neglected in the 20th century and not mentioned by leading scholars.[2] Yehuda Dagan conducted more intense surveys in the 1990s and documented the visible remains.[9] The site raised curiosity in 2005 when Saar Ganor discovered impressive Iron Age structures under the remnants.[2]

Excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa began in 2007, directed by Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, and continued in 2008.[11] Nearly 600 square metres (6,500 sq ft) of an Iron Age IIA city were unearthed. Based on pottery styles and two burned olive pits tested for carbon-14 at Oxford University, Garfinkel and Ganor have dated the site to 1050–970 BC,[2] although Israel Finkelstein contends evidence points to habitation between 1050 and 915 BC.[12]
The initial excavation by Ganor and Garfinklel took place from August 12 to 26, 2007 on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Archaeology. In their preliminary report at the annual ASOR conference on November 15, they presented a theory that the site was the Biblical Azekah, which until then had been exclusively associated with Tell Zakariya.[13] In 2008, after the discovery of a second gate, they identified the site as the biblical Sha’arayim (“two gates” in Hebrew).[2]

Releasing the preliminary dig reports for the 2010 and 2011 digging seasons at Khirbet Qeiyafa, the Israel Antiquities Authority stated: “The excavations at Khirbat Qeiyafa clearly reveal an urban society that existed in Judah already in the late eleventh century BCE. It can no longer be argued that the Kingdom of Judah developed only in the late eighth century BCE or at some other later date.”[14]
Discoveries at Khirbet Qeiyafa are significant to the debate about the veracity of the biblical account of the United Monarchy at the beginning of Iron Age II. As no archaeological finds were found that could corroborate claims of the existence of a magnificent biblical kingdom, various scholars have advanced the opinion that the kingdom was no more than a small tribal entity. Garfinkel, who said in 2010 that the debate could not “be answered by the Qeiyafa excavations”, is of the opinion that “what is clear, however, is that the kingdom of Judah existed already as a centrally organized state in the tenth century B.C.E[15][16][17] In addition to Garfinkel’s theory there are two other hypotheses: one, supported by Nadav Na’aman and Ido Koch holds the ruins to be Canaanite, based on strong similarities with the nearby Canaanite excavations at Beit Shemesh. The third hypothesis, advanced by Israel Finkelstein and Alexander Fantalkin, maintains that the site shows affiliations with a North Israelite entity.[8]

In 2010, Gershon Galil of the University of Haifa identified Khirbet Qeiyafa as the “Neta’im” of 1 Chronicles 4:23, due to its proximity to Khirbet ?udrayathe (biblical Gederah). The inhabitants of both cities were said to be “potters” and “in the King’s service”, a description that is consistent with the archeological discoveries at that site.[18]
Yehuda Dagan of the Israel Antiquities Authority also disagrees with the identification as Sha’arayim. Dagan believes the ancient Philistine retreat route after their defeat in the battle at the Valley of Elah (1 Samuel 17:52), more likely identifies Sha’arayim with the remains of Khirbet esh-Shari’a. Dagan proposes that Khirbet Qeiyafa be identified with biblical Adithaim (Joshua 15:36).[9]
The fortifications at Khirbet Qeiyafa predate those of contemporary Lachish, Beersheba, Arad, and Timnah. All these sites have yielded pottery dated to early Iron Age II. The parallel valley to the north, mentioned in Samuel I, runs from the Philistine city of Ekron to Tel Beit Shemesh. The city gate of the Elah Fortress faces west with a path down to the road leading to the sea, and was thus named “Gath Gate” or “Sea Gate.” The 23-dunam (5.7-acre) site is surrounded by a casement wall and fortifications.[16] The top layer of the fortress shows that the fortifications were renewed in the Hellenistic period.[10]
Garfinkel suggests that it was a Judean city with 500–600 inhabitants during the reign of David and Solomon.[19][20][16] Based on pottery finds at Qeiyafa and Gath, archaeologists believe the sites belonged to two distinct ethnic groups. “The finds have not yet established who the residents were,” says Aren Maeir, a Bar Ilan University archaeologist digging at Gath. “It will become more clear if, for example, evidence of the local diet is found. Excavations have shown that Philistines ate dogs and pigs, while Israelites did not. The nature of the ceramic shards found at the site suggest residents might have been neither Israelites nor Philistines but members of a third, forgotten people.”[21] Evidence that the city was not Philistine comes from the private houses that abut the city wall, an arrangement that was not used in Philistine cities.[22] There is also evidence of equipment for baking flat bread and hundreds of bones from goats, cattle, sheep, and fish. Significantly, no pig bones have been uncovered, suggesting that the city was not Philistine.[22][23] Nadav Na’aman of Tel Aviv University nevertheless associates it with Philistine Gath, citing the necessity for further excavations as well as evidence from Bet Shemesh whose inhabitants also avoided eating pork, yet were associated with Ekron.[24] Na’aman proposed identification with the Philistine city of Gob.[24]
Yigal Levin has proposed that the ma’gal (????) or “circular camp” of the Israelites which is mentioned in the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17:20) was described this way because it fitted the circular shape of the nearby Khirbet Qeiyafa.[25] Levin argues that the story of David and Goliath is set decades before Khirbet Qeiyafa was built and so the reference to Israel’s encampment at the ma’gal probably does “not represent any particular historical event at all”. But when the story was composed centuries later, the round structure of Khirbet Qeiyafa “would still have been visible and known to the author of 1 Samuel 17“, who “guessed its function, and worked it into his story”.[25]

 

On July 18, 2013, the Israel Antiquities Authority issued the press release “King David’s Palace was Uncovered in the Judean Shephelah” on behalf of Khirbet Qeiyafa archaeologists Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor.[7] The report discusses two large buildings dated to the tenth century B.C.E. by the Qeiyafa team. One of the buildings is a large palatial structure, the other is a pillared store room with hundreds of stamped storage vessels. The suggestion that the larger structure can be associated with one of King David’s palaces led to significant media coverage as well as claims of sensationalism.[39] Professor Aren Maeir, an archaeologist at Bar Ilan University, pointed out that there are still doubts about the existence of King David’s monarchy and among others Israel Finkelstein suggested that it could have been built by other people such as Philistines and Canaanites.[40][41]

(AP)—A team of Israeli archaeologists believes it has discovered the ruins of a palace belonging to the biblical King David, but other Israeli experts dispute the claim.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-07-king-david-palace-israeli-team.html#jCp

Archaeologists from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Israel’s Antiquities Authority said their find, a large fortified complex west of Jerusalem at a site called Khirbet Qeiyafa , is the first palace of the biblical king ever to be discovered.

“Khirbet Qeiyafa is the best example exposed to date of a fortified city from the time of King David,” said Yossi Garfinkel, a Hebrew University archaeologist, suggesting that David himself would have used the site. Garfinkel led the seven-year dig with Saar Ganor of Israel’s Antiquities Authority.

Garfinkel said his team found cultic objects typically used by Judeans, the subjects of King David, and saw no trace of pig remains. Pork is forbidden under Jewish dietary laws. Clues like these, he said, were “unequivocal evidence” that David and his descendants had ruled at the site.

Critics said the site could have belonged to other kingdoms of the area. The consensus among most scholars is that no definitive physical proof of the existence of King David has been found.

Biblical archaeology itself is contentious. Israelis often use archaeological findings to back up their historic claims to sites that are also claimed by the Palestinians, like the Old City of Jerusalem. Despite extensive archaeological evidence, for example, Palestinians deny that the biblical Jewish Temples dominated the hilltop where the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam’s third-holiest site, stands today.

In general, researchers are divided over whether biblical stories can be validated by physical remains.

The current excavators are not the first to claim they found a King David palace. In 2005, Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar said she found the remains of King David’s palace in Jerusalem dating to the 10th century B.C., when King David would have ruled. Her claim also attracted skepticism, including from Garfinkel himself.

Using carbon dating, the archaeologists traced the site’s construction to that same period. Garfinkel said the team also found a storeroom almost 15 meters (50 feet) long, suggesting it was a royal site used to collect taxes from the rest of the kingdom.

Garfinkel believes King David lived permanently in Jerusalem in a yet-undiscovered site, only visiting Khirbet Qeiyafa or other palaces for short periods. He said the site’s placement on a hill indicates that the ruler sought a secure site on high ground during a violent era of frequent conflicts between city-states.

“The time of David was the first time that a large portion of this area was united by one monarch,” Garfinkel said. “It was not a peaceful era.”

Archaeologist Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University agreed that Khirbet Qeiyafa is an “elaborate” and “well-fortified” 10th century B.C. site, but said it could have been built by Philistines, Canaanites or other peoples in the area.

He said there was no way to verify who built the site without finding a monument detailing the accomplishments of the king who built it. Last week, for instance, archaeologists in Israel found pieces of a sphinx bearing the name of the Egyptian pharaoh who reigned when the statue was carved.

Garfinkel insisted that critics like Finkelstein are relying on outdated theories.

“I think other people have a collapsed theory and we have fresh data,” he said.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-07-king-david-palace-israeli-team.html#jCp


Three decades of dialogue, discussion, and debate within the interrelated disciplines of Syro-Palestinian archaeology, ancient Israelite history, and Hebrew Bible over the question of the relevance of the biblical account for reconstructing early Israels history have created the need for a balanced articulation of the issues and their prospective resolutions. This book brings together for the first time and under one cover, a currently emerging centrist paradigm as articulated by two leading figures in the fields of early Israelite archaeology and history. Although Finkelstein and Mazar advocate distinct views of early Israels history, they nevertheless share the position that the material cultural data, the biblical traditions, and the ancient Near Eastern written sources are all significantly relevant to the historical quest for Iron Age Israel. The results of their research are featured in accessible, parallel syntheses of the historical reconstruction of early Israel that facilitate comparison and contrast of their respective interpretations. The historical essays presented here are based on invited lectures delivered in October of 2005 at the Sixth Biennial Colloquium of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in Detroit, Michigan.

This review is from: The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archaeology and the History of Early Israel (Archaeology and Biblical Studies) (Paperback)

This is an excellent introduction to the latest research in Biblical Archaeology, presenting a middle ground between the Minimalist and Maximalist debate which has sought to polarise the issue over the last 15 years. Both Finkelstein and Mazar are leading exponents in the field of Post-processual Archaeology, but neither are afraid of examining where the Biblical record is confirmed or challenged by the findings of modern archaeology. For a balanced view, with good editorial summaries, this book looks at the various periods and brings the reader up-to-date with the findings of the latest ecavations.

Comments

Jason says:
Would you care to back that claim up, “that Finkelstein publicly admitted…his views are incorrect,” with legitimate references? By legitimate I mean don’t cite links to religious websites with an agenda to flog by using spurious logic, fallacious arguments and highly edited quotes to suit their needs.

I would suspect you yourself are squarely in the camp with a bias to prove the Bible as history with your definitive statement, “…substantiating the united monarchy again.” Especially since your categorical affirmation of the “true in the light of the excavations” contradicts the article that surely you can’t be referring to from the National Geographic issue of December 2010, David and Solomon – Kings of Controversy, where Finkelstein’s main opponents entire arguments are based on the entirely circular argument of trying to use the Bible to prove biblical history, albeit using archaeology to force fit discoveries into their narrow interpretations.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/12/david-and-solomon/draper-text

To quote from the article, shattering your own claims about the “true light” of Khirbet Qeiyafa: “Here would be a second reason to be skeptical of Yossi Garfinkel’s conclusions: He announced them, swiftly and dramatically, despite the fact that he had only four olive pits on which to base his dating, a single inscription of a highly ambiguous nature, and a mere 5 percent of his site excavated. In other words, says archaeologist David Ilan, “Yossi has an agenda-partly ideological, but also personal.” This is hardly a firm and valid premise from which to dispense with all the evidence of “low chronology” and revert post haste to the Bible as the alpha and omega authority of its own self-interested history.

His critics, themselves with a religiously-fueled biased agenda to prove the historicity of the Bible, “claim” they have undermined Finkelstein’s theories, but I don’t see where he publicly admitted that he has to rethink his earlier positions. Indeed the article states quite clearly: With greater venom, Finkelstein mocks Garfinkel’s discoveries at Khirbet Qeiyafa: “Look, you’ll never catch me saying, ‘I’ve found one olive pit at a stratum in Megiddo, and this olive pit-which goes against hundreds of carbon-14 determinations-is going to decide the fate of Western civilization.’?” Though in fairness and my desire not to use the selective reporting techniques of the inherently biased, the article does go on to say in the next paragraph that the discoveries do indeed put Finkelstein’s theories on the defensive. On the defensive, that is not the same as an admission of being incorrect, or that he is even wrong at all; he could still be proven right in the end and the new discoveries debunked. Frankly, the shamefully adamant statements you make in your review above strike me as being wholly disingenuous and deliberately phrased to confuse and mislead the uninformed with unsubstantiated and incorrect claims. I wait for you to prove me wrong by providing the requested reference above to the November 2010 statement where Finkelstein states this book is now incorrect.

If you’ve been paying attention all along, you would know that the earlier “Bible in one hand and spade in the other” approach by devout Judeo-Christian pioneers to biblical archaeology has been wholly discredited by the numerous examples of later unbiased, scientifically-minded archaeologists proving the original Bible-inspired categorizations of dig sites were clearly wrong and that you can’t classify a site as being such and such, because a passage in the Bible says it must be so. Archaeologists must look at the evidence without any preconceived notions shaped by their religious ideology, as they do on other sites without the baggage of religious dogma.

In short, Finkelstein gets attacked by traditionalists, indoctrinated as they have been since Sunday School on tales of David and Goliath, for daring to challenge their “faith” with evidence. Undermining strict literal interpretations of the Bible does not detract from the spiritual messages inherent in many of the biblical stories – to have hope in times of suffering – as cited by Rabbi David Wolpe during his Passover sermon in 2001 when he challenged the historicity of the Exodus.
http://articles.latimes.com/2001/apr/13/news/mn-50481 

I’ve love to see a legitimate reference for Finkelstein “recanting”. I’m currently doing a university course on archeology and the history of Israel, and I’ve been looking for recent – citable! – sources for a major essay project.

In polite terminology, “Please elaborate on your claim, so that I can investigate it, myself, and possibly include it in a scholarly essay.” In vulgar terms, “Put up or shut up.”  

P.Gaber’s assertions above are not only NOT backed up by any cited reference to this supposed “recantation” by Finkelstein, but are refuted by what Finkelstein, himself, has said about both the Khirbet Qeiyafa site as well as the work of Israeli “archaeologist” Eilat Mazar. Simply put, P.Gaber is contriving a lie to throw potential readers of this book off the trail.

In the case of the Khirbet Qeiyafa site, which was initially dated between 1050-970 BCE, Finkelstein is specifically on record as having stated that he is skeptical of the date range and the methodology employed by the authors (Finkelstein, Israel; Eli Piasetzky (June 2010). “Khirbet Qeiyafa: Absolute Chronology”. Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University 37 (1)). Furthermore, it was merely on the assumption that the site could be dated between 1050-970 BCE that the authors assumed it proved the existence of a United Monarchy under the successive reigns of kings Saul, David, and Solomon, despite the fact that no inscriptions discovered at the site mentioned anything about any of these monarchs, nor any monarchy, in general. In fact, the only inscription discovered at the site was that on a 6 inch by 6 inch ostracon, which failed to mention anything that could be uniquely identified with any Biblical text or tradition. Making matters worse, the ostracon appears to have been written in Proto Phoenician, not Hebrew (the written form of which had already been in existence for at least three centuries prior to the 10th century BCE), which throws doubt on the supposed “Biblical” character of the site.

Secondly, the work of “archaeologist” Eliat Mazar has been widely considered highly dubious by mainstream scholars including Finkelstein. For example, Mazar claimed that the “Large Stone Structure,” which she discovered in 2005, was datable to the 10th century BCE and likely the palace of King David. Other scholars, however, have noted their skepticism of both her dating technique and her methodology, which she admits is Biblically-inspired. As Finkelstein put it: “The biblical text dominates this field operation, not archaeology. Had it not been for Mazar’s literal reading of the biblical text, she never would have dated the remains to the 10th century BCE with such confidence.” (Israel Finkelstein, Ze’ev Herzog, Lily Singer-Avitz and David Ussishkin (2007), Has King David’s Palace in Jerusalem Been Found?, Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, 34(2), 142-164.) Clearly, Finkelstein and others consider her scholarship to be of questionable merit. It should also be pointed out that Mazar’s funding for this excavation was provided by a private banker, and not any academic or professional scientific organization. In the field of archaeological (and other scientific) research, privately funded operations are usually an indication that the research was not taken seriously by the scientific community and could not secure funding through a reputable scientific organization (e.g., the National Science Foundation).

These kinds of bogus book reviews are commonly found on Amazon, and particularly in association with scholarly works having to do with archeology, history, or literature that touch on the Bible. It seems that many Christians, Jews, and Muslims are not comfortable with the idea that the truth may not comport with their self-deluding theological tendencies, which makes one wonder why they would bother reading books at all.


Los Libros de la Biblia fueron escritos por diversos personajes de la historia, tanto hebrea en el Antiguo Testamento como griega cristiana en el Nuevo Testamento.
El Antiguo Testamento ( o Escrituras Hebreoarameas) se compone, según el canon, de 39 libros para los protestantes, de 46 libros para la iglesia católica (49 si se cuentan de forma separada el Capítulo 6 del Libro de Baruc, y los Capítulos 13 y 14 del Libro de Daniel), y hasta 53 para las diferentes iglesias cristianas ortodoxas.
El Nuevo Testamento (o Escrituras Griegas Cristianas), que no se encuentra en los escritos judíos, se compone de 27 libros para todos los grupos de confesión cristiana.
Así, el total de libros de la Biblia varía según el canon. Los primeros cristianos utilizaron el canon alejandrino, 1 una traducción del hebreo al griego que incluía una serie de libros que fueron rechazados del canón del Tanaj judío, y fueron recibidos por la iglesia cristiana de los primeros siglos. En la iglesia católica se llama a estos libros deuterocanónicos. Los protestantes los han llamado apócrifos. Las iglesias cristianas orientales y ortodoxas incluyen en sus Biblias de cuatro a ocho textos en adición a éstos, y rechazan el uso occidental de distinguirlos de los protocanónicos.

El texto hebreo original consistía solamente de consonantes. Los libros de la Torá (como los judíos conocen a los primeros cinco libros de la Biblia, o Pentateuco) generalmente tienen nombres basados en la primera palabra prominente de cada libro. Sin embargo, los nombres en español no son traducciones del hebreo, sino están basados en los nombres en griego creados por la traducción llamada Septuaginta, basándose en los nombres rabínicos que describen el contenido temático de cada libro.
Estos son los libros del Antiguo Testamento, ordenados según la costumbre occidental:

Tanaj [nombre en hebreo] Atribuido tradicionalmente a Iglesia Protestante Iglesia Católica Iglesia Ortodoxa
Génesis [??????????? / Bereshit] Moisés Génesis Génesis Génesis
Éxodo [??????? / Shemot] Moisés Éxodo Éxodo Éxodo
Levítico [?????????? / Vayikra] Moisés Levítico Levítico Levítico
Números [??????????? / Bamidbar] Moisés Números Números Números
Deuteronomio [????????? / Devarim] Moisés; terminado por Josué Deuteronomio Deuteronomio Deuteronomio
Josué [????????? / Yehoshúa] Josué Josué Josué Josué
Jueces [?????????? / Shoftim] Samuel Jueces Jueces Jueces
Rut [???? / Rut] Samuel Rut Rut Rut
Samuel [????????? / Shemuel] Samuel, Gad , Natán I Samuel I Samuel I Samuel
Gad, Natán II Samuel II Samuel II Samuel
Reyes [???????? / Melajim] Jeremías I Reyes I Reyes I Reyes
Jeremías II Reyes II Reyes II Reyes
Crónicas [???????? ????????? / Divrei Hayamim] Esdras I Crónicas I Crónicas I Crónicas
Esdras II Crónicas II Crónicas II Crónicas
Esdras [???????] y Nehemías [?????????] Esdras Esdras Esdras Esdras
Nehemías Nehemías Nehemías Nehemías
III Esdras
IV Esdras
Tobías Tobías
Judit Judit
Ester [????????] Mardoqueo Ester¹ Ester Ester
I Macabeos I Macabeos
II Macabeos II Macabeos
III Macabeos
IV Macabeos
Job [??????? / Iyov] Job Job Job Job
Salmos [?????????? / Tehilim] David, Asaf, Salomón y otros Salmos Salmos Salmos (151)
Proverbios [???????? / Mishlei] Salomón, Agur, Lemuel Proverbios Proverbios Proverbios
Eclesiastés [??????? / Cohelet] Salomón Eclesiastés Eclesiastés (Cohelet) Eclesiastés (Cohelet)
Cantar de los Cantares [????? ?????????? / Shir Hashirim] Salomón Cantar de los Cantares Cantar de los Cantares Cantar de los Cantares
Pseudo-Salomón (170-30 a.C.) (?) Sabiduría Sabiduría
Jesús de Sirac, llamado Sirácides Eclesiástico (Sirácides) Eclesiástico (Sirácides)
Varios Odas
Pseudo-Salomón (70-60 a.C.) (?) Salmos de Salomón
Isaías [???????????? / Yeshayahu] Isaías Isaías Isaías Isaías
Jeremías [??????????? / Yirmiyahu] Jeremías Jeremías Jeremías Jeremías
Lamentaciones [?????? / Eijá] Jeremías Lamentaciones Lamentaciones Lamentaciones
Pseudo-Baruch (150 a.C.) (?) Baruch Baruch
Pseudo-Jeremías (100 a.C.) (?) Carta de Jeremías Carta de Jeremías
Ezequiel [?????????? / Yejezkel] Ezequiel Ezequiel Ezequiel Ezequiel
Daniel [??????????] Daniel Daniel¹ Daniel Daniel
Oseas [???????? / Hoshea] Oseas Oseas Oseas Oseas
Joel [?????? / Yoel] Joel Joel Joel Joel
Amós [?????? / Amós] Amós Amós Amós Amós
Abdías [????????? / Ovadia] Abdías Abdías Abdías Abdías
Jonás [?????? / Yona] Jonás Jonás Jonás Jonás
Miqueas [?????? / Mija] Miqueas Miqueas Miqueas Miqueas
Nahúm [??????] Nahúm Nahum Nahum Nahum
Habacuc [????????? / Javakuk] Habacuc Habacuc Habacuc Habacuc
Sofonías [????????? / Tzefania] Sofonías Sofonías Sofonías Sofonías
Hageo [?????? / Jagai] Hageo Hageo Hageo Hageo
Zacarías [????????? / Zejaria] Zacarías Zacarías Zacarías Zacarías
Malaquías [?????????] Malaquías Malaquías Malaquías Malaquías

¹ No incluyen las partes griegas, que se consideran deuterocanónicas.

Libros del Nuevo Testamento

Libro Atribuido a
Mateo Mateo
Marcos Marcos
Lucas Lucas
Juan Juan
Hechos de los Apóstoles Lucas
Romanos Pablo
I Corintios Pablo
II Corintios Pablo
Gálatas Pablo
Efesios Pablo
Filipenses Pablo
Colosenses Pablo
I Tesalonicenses Pablo
II Tesalonicenses Pablo
I Timoteo Pablo
II Timoteo Pablo
Tito Pablo
Filemón Pablo
Hebreos Pablo
Santiago Santiago
I Pedro Pedro
II Pedro Pedro
I Juan Juan
II Juan Juan (?)
III Juan Juan (?)
Judas Judas
Apocalipsis o Revelación de Juan Apóstol Juan

The Middle Way

Buddhism is a nontheistic religion that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as the Buddha, meaning “the awakened one”. According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha lived and taught in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.[1] He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end their suffering through the elimination of craving and ignorance by way of understanding and the seeing of dependent origination, with the ultimate goal of attainment of the sublime state of nirvana.[2]
Two major branches of Buddhism are generally recognized: Theravada (“The School of the Elders”) and Mahayana (“The Great Vehicle”). Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar etc.). Mahayana is found throughout East Asia (China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan etc.) and includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, and Tiantai (Tendai). In some classifications, Vajrayana—practiced mainly in Tibet and Mongolia, and adjacent parts of China and Russia—is recognized as a third branch, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana.
While Buddhism is practiced primarily in Asia, both major branches are now found throughout the world. Estimates of Buddhists worldwide vary significantly depending on the way Buddhist adherence is defined. Estimates range from 350 million to 1.6 billion, with 350–550 million the most widely accepted figure. Buddhism is also recognized as one of the fastest growing religions in the world.[3][4][5][6]
Buddhist schools vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures, and especially their respective practices.[7] The foundations of Buddhist tradition and practice are the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings), and the Sangha (the community). Taking “refuge in the triple gem” has traditionally been a declaration and commitment to being on the Buddhist path, and in general distinguishes a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist.[8] Other practices may include following ethical precepts; support of the monastic community; renouncing conventional living and becoming a monastic; the development of mindfulness and practice of meditation; cultivation of higher wisdom and discernment; study of scriptures; devotional practices; ceremonies; and in the Mahayana tradition, invocation of buddhas and bodhisattvas.


The Way of Zen

The Way of Zen begins as a succinct guide through the histories of Buddhism and Taoism leading up to the development of Zen Buddhism, which drew deeply from both traditions. It then goes on to paint a broad but insightful picture of Zen as it was and is practiced, both as a religion and as an element of diverse East Asian arts and disciplines. Watts’s narrative clears away the mystery while enhancing the mystique of Zen.

Since the first publication of this book in 1957, Zen Buddhism has become firmly established in the West. As Zen has taken root in Western soil, it has incorporated much of the attitude and approach set forth by Watts in The Way of Zen, which remains one of the most important introductory books in Western Zen

Buddhism is a nontheistic religion that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as the Buddha, meaning “the awakened one”. According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha lived and taught in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.[1] He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end their suffering through the elimination of craving and ignorance by way of understanding and the seeing of dependent origination, with the ultimate goal of attainment of the sublime state of nirvana.[2]
Two major branches of Buddhism are generally recognized: Theravada (“The School of the Elders”) and Mahayana (“The Great Vehicle”). Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar etc.). Mahayana is found throughout East Asia (China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan etc.) and includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, and Tiantai (Tendai). In some classifications, Vajrayana—practiced mainly in Tibet and Mongolia, and adjacent parts of China and Russia—is recognized as a third branch, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana.
While Buddhism is practiced primarily in Asia, both major branches are now found throughout the world. Estimates of Buddhists worldwide vary significantly depending on the way Buddhist adherence is defined. Estimates range from 350 million to 1.6 billion, with 350–550 million the most widely accepted figure. Buddhism is also recognized as one of the fastest growing religions in the world.[3][4][5][6]
Buddhist schools vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures, and especially their respective practices.[7] The foundations of Buddhist tradition and practice are the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings), and the Sangha (the community). Taking “refuge in the triple gem” has traditionally been a declaration and commitment to being on the Buddhist path, and in general distinguishes a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist.[8] Other practices may include following ethical precepts; support of the monastic community; renouncing conventional living and becoming a monastic; the development of mindfulness and practice of meditation; cultivation of higher wisdom and discernment; study of scriptures; devotional practices; ceremonies; and in the Mahayana tradition, invocation of buddhas and bodhisattvas.


The Way of Zen

The Way of Zen begins as a succinct guide through the histories of Buddhism and Taoism leading up to the development of Zen Buddhism, which drew deeply from both traditions. It then goes on to paint a broad but insightful picture of Zen as it was and is practiced, both as a religion and as an element of diverse East Asian arts and disciplines. Watts’s narrative clears away the mystery while enhancing the mystique of Zen.

Since the first publication of this book in 1957, Zen Buddhism has become firmly established in the West. As Zen has taken root in Western soil, it has incorporated much of the attitude and approach set forth by Watts in The Way of Zen, which remains one of the most important introductory books in Western Zen

Un Buda

“Un buda” es la historia de un joven que, inserto en el mundo de la gran ciudad, lucha por evadir y posponer sistemáticamente su particular y profunda necesidad espiritual, el desesperado anhelo de su alma por saber quién es él. La pérdida, el desengaño y la tragedia lo llevan irremediablemente a adentrarse de un modo extremo en el abismo de prácticas espirituales ascéticas, abandonando completamente su vida, su entorno, su alimentación y sacudiendo profundamente el mundo de las personas que lo rodean.

“Un buda” es la historia de un joven que, inserto en el mundo de la gran ciudad, lucha por evadir y posponer sistemáticamente su particular y profunda necesidad espiritual, el desesperado anhelo de su alma por saber quién es él. La pérdida, el desengaño y la tragedia lo llevan irremediablemente a adentrarse de un modo extremo en el abismo de prácticas espirituales ascéticas, abandonando completamente su vida, su entorno, su alimentación y sacudiendo profundamente el mundo de las personas que lo rodean.

Self and Other

Published on Sep 12, 2013


Self and Other
by Alan Watts

Now, the subject of this seminar is ‘Self and Other,’ and this is therefore to be an exploration into the subject that interests me most, which is the problem of personal identity, man’s relationship to the universe, and all the things that are connected with that. It is, for our culture at this time in history an extremely urgent problem, because of our technological power. In known history, nobody has had such capacity for altering the universe than the people of the United States of America. And nobody has gone about it in such an aggressive way.

I think sometimes that the two symbols of our present kind of technological culture are the rocket ship and the bulldozer. The rocket as a very, very phallic symbol of compensation for the sexually inadequate male. And the bulldozer, which ruthlessly pushes down hills and forests and alters the shape of the landscape. These are two symbols of the negative aspect of our technology. I’m not going to take the position that technology is a mistake. I think that there could be a new kind of technology, using a new attitude. But the trouble is that a great deal of our power is wielded by men who I would call ‘two o’clock types.’
Maybe you saw an article I wrote in “Playboy” magazine called “The Circle of Sex,” and it suggested at least a dozen sexual types rather than two. And that the men who are two o’clock on the dial, like a clock, are men who are ambisexterous, named after Julius Ceasar, because Julius Ceasar was an ambisexterous man, and he equally made love to all his friend’s wives and to his good-looking officers. And he had no sense of guilt about this at all. Now, that type of male in this culture has a terrible sense of guilt, that he might be homosexual, and is scared to death of being one, and therefore he has to overcompensate for his masculinity. And so he comes on as a police officer, Marine sergeant, bouncer, bookie, general–tough, cigar-chewing, real masculine type who is never able to form a relationship with a woman; they’re just ‘dames’ as far as he’s concerned. But he, just like an ace Air Force pilot puts a little mark on his plane each time he shoots down an enemy, so this kind of man, every time he makes a dame he chalks up one, because that reassures him that he is after all a male. And he’s a terrible nuisance. The trouble is that the culture doesn’t permit him to recognize and accept his ambisexterity. And so he’s a trouble spot.
But that kind of spirit of knocking the world around is something that is causing serious danger here. It arises, you see, because this tremendous technological power has been evolved in a culture which inherits a sense of personality which is frankly a hallucination. And we get this sense of personality from a long, long tradition of Jewish and Christian and Greek ideas which have caused man to feel that the universe of nature – the physical world, in other words – is not himself. You may think that that is a very odd thing to say, because one always assumes that oneself is one’s own body, or at least something inside one’s body, like a soul. And that naturally, everything outside is not oneself. But this is, as I’ve said many, many times, a hallucination. Let’s think, here we are in the middle of New York City. And you know what happens when New York City goes wrong. When there’s a subway strike, or when the power fails, or when the sewers back up, your life is in danger. Because you are not only constituted by the bloodstream of your veins and the communications network of your nervous system. An extension of your bloodstream, and of your alimentary canal, and of your nervous system, is all the communication systems of this city.
In other words, you know well every night streams of trucks pour into this city, carrying food. I understand there is even a kind of big drain pipe which brings milk in. You consume three million pounds of fish a week. You then also have to have the exit end of this. The sewers are very complicated. The water system and all it’s pipes, the telephone systems, the electric light systems, the air conditioning things, the traffic streams. All these things going on are essential extensions of your own inner tubing. And therefore, you have to be aware, more and more, that the city is an extended body for every person living in it. And not only of course the city, because the city depends on untold acres of fields where farm products are grown, cattle are raised, on lakes and underground water sources; on the constitution of the atmosphere, and finally on the location of the Earth on this propitious spot rather close to the sun, where we have our basic heating system working.
And all that is not a world into which you arrived, from somewhere else altogether. It is a complex system of relationships, out of which you grew in exactly the same way that fruit grows on a tree, or a flower on a stem. Just as these blossoms here are symptomatic of the plant, and you identify the plant by looking at the blossoms – here are these little oranges, you see – we know that this is an orange tree. Now in exactly that way, you are all growing in this world, and so we know that this world is a ‘humaning’ system – and therefore it has a certain kind of innate intelligence, just as this tree, with its roots, has the innate intelligence which comes out in these oranges.
So the cosmos in which we live is a network of communications. You don’t need to think of it in an authoritarian pattern, namely there is God the father, who makes it all work, because that doesn’t really answer anything. That’s just applying to the world an explanation derived from the political systems of the ancient Near East. You realize that? The great political systems of the Egyptians and the Chaldeans, where there was an enormous father figure in charge of everything, became the model for the idea of monotheism. And these great kings, like Hammurabi and Amenhotep IV, laid down legal systems so man thought of a prince, a king of kings, a lord of lords, in the words of the Book of Common Prayer. It’s a political idea. And I often wonder how citizens of a republic, who have to curse and swear that they think that this is the best form of government, can put up with a monarchial conception of nature. Very funny. You know, a republic, and it says ‘In God We Trust,’ and most people by God mean a king of the universe. Very strange.
But you don’t have to think that way in order to have the faith that the universe is something other than mere stupid, blind energy. What we are coming to see is that the total universe, consisting of all its galaxies, and not only this galaxy, is a living organism. How will we define that? What do we mean by a living organism? I mean a system of intercommunication of extreme complexity. Just like you are. You try to define what you are, and you go into it, you suddenly discover that as you take off the skin and look underneath, that we are an enormously complex system of tubes and fibers, beautifully patterned. When we look at it with a microscope, we say ‘Oh my, look at that. Isn’t that gorgeous?’ Have you seen those models of cells that the Upjohn Company has made? They’re exquisite. And incidentally, you should all, if you’ve never done so, go to the Charles Darwin Hall in the New York Museum of Natural History and see the glass models of the tiniest microorganisms, called radiolaria. They are also such things as are running around in you, and they are incomparable jewelry.
Now I suppose if we looked at ourselves from that microscopic point of view, all these funny creatures that are running around us that don’t look like people, would if you got used to them seem like people. And they would be having their problems. They’ve got all sorts of fights going on, and collaborations and conspiracies and so on. But if they weren’t doing that, we wouldn’t be healthy. If the various corpuscles and cells in our blood stream weren’t fighting each other, we would drop dead. And that’s a sobering thought, that war at one level of being can bring peace and health at another.
So we are, inside us, each indivudial body, an enormous ecological system. And what we have to recognize is that that interconnected system which constitutes the beauty of a human organism, that sort of interconnection is going on outside us. Do you remember in early science fiction that was published in the 1920s, by people like Olaf Stapleton and some of the early writers? They pictured the men of the future as having huge heads to contain very big brains. It was expected, in other words, that the future evolution of mankind would be an evolution of the mind and the brain, and so bigger brains. But what has happened instead of that is that instead of evolving bigness of brain, we are evolving an electronic network in which our brains are very swiftly being plugged into computer systems. Now some very awkward things about this are arising, and we’ve got to watch out for it, because what has increasingly happened is this: nobody is having any private life left. The invasion of ordinary privacy by the telephone, by your watching television, which is after all looking at somebody else’s life going on, by people watching you – all the people with bugging systems and snoopers, and credit agents, and everybody knows everything about you. Even in California, all the houses are built with picture windows looking at other picture windows, and if you draw the curtains, everyone thinks you’re snooty. Like if you build a fence in most Midwestern communities, they think ‘Who the hell do you think you are, building a fence to keep everybody else out? See, you’re not democratic.’
But the reason for all this is, imagine the situation when all the original neurons became linked in with the central nervous system. They said, ‘Well, we’re losing our privacy.’ So it’s a very serious question as to how we’re going to be linked in with other people. I feel – it may be old fashioned of me – but I feel very strongly that privacy should be maintained as much as possible. But the reason being that human beings, in my experience, are a combination of two worlds – the private world and the public world – such that a person with a very strong and different and unique personality is not an isolated person, but a person extremely aware of his identity with the rest of the universe. Whereas people with nondescript, mass-produced personalities tend to be unaware of this. They tend to be the kind of person who is taken in by the system.
So what I think we could aim for in the way of human civilization and culture would be a system in which we are all highly aware of our existing interconnection and unity with the whole domain of nature, and therefore do not have to go to all sorts of wild extremes to find that union. In other words, look at the number of people we know who are terrified of silence, and who have to have something going all the time, some noise streaming into their ears. They’re doing that because of their intense sense of loneliness. And so when they feel silent, they feel lonely and they want to escape from it. Or people who just want to get together. As we say, they want to escape from themselves. More people spend more time running away from themselves. Isn’t that wretched? What a definition. What an experience of self if it’s something you’ve always got to be running away from and forgetting. Say you read a mystery story. Why? So you forget yourself. You join a religion. Why? To forget yourself. You get absorbed in a political movement. Why? To forget yourself. Well it must be a pretty miserable kind of self if you have to forget it like that. Now for a person who doesn’t have an isolated sense of self, he has no need to run away from it, because he knows.
Let’s take hermits. People today think being a hermit is a very unhealthy thing to do. Very antisocial, doesn’t contribute anything to everybody else – because everybody else is busy contributing like blazes, and a few people have to run off and get out of the way. But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything. That every little insect that comes buzzing around you is a messenger, and that little insect is connected with human beings everywhere else. You can hear. You become incredibly sensitive in your ears and you hear far-off sounds. And just by the very nature of isolating yourself and becoming quiet, you become intensely aware of your relationship with everything else that’s going on. So if you really want to find out how related you really are, try a little solitude off somewhere, and let it begin to tell you how everything is interdependant in the form of what the Japanese buddhists call ‘jijimugi'(?). ‘Ji’ means a ‘thing event,’ so it means ‘between thing event and thing event, there is no block.’ Every thing in the world, every event, is like a dewdrop on a multidimentional spider’s web, and every dewdrop contains the reflection of all the other dewdrops. But you see, the hermit finds this out through his solitide, and so also human beings can aquire a certain solitude, even in the middle of New York City. It’s rather easier, as a matter of fact, to find solitude in New York City than it is in Des Moines, Iowa.
But the point is that a human represents a certain kind of development, wherein a maximal sense of his oneness with the whole universe goes hand in hand with the maximum development of his personality as somebody unique and different. Whereas the people who are of course trying to develop their personality directly and taking a Dale Carnegie course on how to win friends and influence people, or how to become successful – all those people come out as if they came from the same cookie cutter. They don’t have any personality.
Now then, it therefore becomes the great enterprise of our time from this point of view so this technology shall not go awry, and that it shall not be a war with the cosmos, that we aquire a new sense of identity. It isn’t just a theoretical thing that we know about, as ecologists, for example, know about the identity of the organism with its environment, but becomes something that we actually experience. And I feel that this is not at all beyond the bounds of possibility for an enormous number of people. For a simple reason. Let me draw a historical analogy. Several hundred years ago, it seemed absolutely incomprehensible for most people that the world could be round, or that the planets and stars should be up in the sky unsupported, or even that the Earth itself should be floating freely in space. The Earth is falling through space, but it seems stable, and therefore it was supposed in ancient mythologies that the Earth rested on a giant turtle. Nobody asked too carefully what the turtle rested on, but just so that there was some sense of solidity under things. So in the same way that the stars were supposed to be suspended in crystal spheres, and just as people know that the Earth is flat because you can look at it and see that it is, so people looked into the sky and they could see the crystal spheres. Of course you could see the crystal spheres: you could see right through them. So when the astronomers cast doubts on the existence of crystal spheres, everybody felt threatened, that the stars were going to fall on their heads. Just as when they talked about a round Earth, people felt a danger of if you went around to the other side, you’d drop off, or feel funny and upside-down, a rush of brains to the head, and all sorts of uncomfortable feelings. But then since then, we have got quite used to the idea that the stars float freely in space in gravitational fields, that you can go around the Earth without falling off, and now everybody realizes this and feels comfortable with it.
Likewise, in our day when Einstein propounded the theories of relativity, people said they couldn’t understand it. It used to be something at a cocktail party to be introduced to somebody who understands Einstein. Now every young person understands Einstein and knows what it’s about. You’ve got even one year of college, you know what relativity is. And you know it not only in an intellectual way, you know this as a feeling, just as you have a feeling of the roundness of the world, especially if you travel a lot on jet planes. So I feel that in just that way, within I don’t know how many years, but in not too long a time, it’s going to become basic common sense that you are not some alien being who confronts an external world that is not you, but that almost every intelligent person will have the feeling of being an activity of the entire universe.
You see, the point is that an enormous number of things are going on inside us of which we are not conscious. We make a very, very arbitrary distinction between what we do voluntarity and what we do involuntarity, and we define all those things which we do involunarily as things which ‘happen’ to us, rather than things that we do. In other words, we don’t assume any responsibility for the fact that our heart beats, or that our bones have such and such a shape. You can say to a beautiful girl, ‘Gee, you’re gorgeous,’ and she’d say ‘How like a man, all you think about is bodies. My body was given to me by my parents, and I’m not responsible for it, and I’d like to be admired for my self and not for my chassis.’ And so I’d tell her ‘You poor little chauffeur. You’ve disowned your own being and identified yourself not being associated with your own body.’ I agree that if she had a terrible body with a lousy figure, she might want to feel that way, but if she is a fine-looking human being, she should get with it and not disown herself. But this happens again and again.
So you see, if you become aware of the fact that you are all of your own body, and that the beating of your heart is not just something that happens to you, but something you’re doing, then you become aware also in the same moment and at the same time that you’re not only beating your heart, but that you are shining the sun. Why? Because the process of your bodily existence and its rhythms is a process, an energy system which is continuous with the shining of the sun, just like the East River, here, is a continuous energy system, and all the waves in it are activities of the whole East River, and that’s continuous with the Atlantic Ocean, and that’s all one energy system and finally the Atlantic ocean gets around to being the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, etc., and so all the waters of the Earth are a continuous energy system. It isn’t just that the East River is part of it. You can’t draw any line and say ‘Look, this is where the East River ends and the rest of it begins,’ as if you can in the parts of an automobile, where you can say ‘This is definitely part of the generator, here, and over here is a spark plug.’ There’s not that kind of isolation between the elements of nature.
So your body knows that its energy system is one with and continuous with the whole energy system, and that if it’s in any sense true to say that I am my body, and that I beat my heart, and that I think by growing a brain, where do you draw the line between what you think and the power to think? Do you think with your brain in the same way that you carve wood with a knife? Y’know, it’s an instrument that you pick up and use. I don’t think our bodies are just instrumental in that way. They’re something we are doing, only we don’t think about it, in the sense that we don’t have to consider when we get up in the morning as an act of voluntary behavior how to connect all of the switches in our brain to get us ready for the day; they come on automatically. But this automatic or, I would rather call it, spontaneous functioning of the brain is what is called in Japanese ‘shizen'(?), that is to say, the spontenaity of nature. It does all this, and what we perform consciously is simply a small fragment of our total activity, of which we happen to be aware in a special way. We are far more than that. And it isn’t only, say, that the sun is light because we have eyes and optical nerves which translate the energy of the sun into an experience called ‘light.’ It is also that that very central fire of the sun is something that you are doing just as much as you are generating temperature in your body.
In other words, let’s suppose that those cosmologists and astronomers are right who believe that this universe started out with an original big bang, which flung all those galaxies out into space. Well, you know what that would be like. It’d be like taking a bottle of ink and flinging it hard at a white wall, and it makes a great splash. And you know how the nature of a splash is–in the middle of it, it’s dense, and as it gets to the outside of the splash, there’s all kinds of curlicues. But it’s a continuous energy system. In other words, the bang in the beginning cannot really be separated from the little curlicues at the end. So, supposing there was an original cosmic explosion which went FOOM, we sitting around in this room now are little curlicues on the end of it, you see? We are, actually, every one of us is incredibly ancient. The energy which is now manifested as your body is the same energy which was there in the beginning. If anything at all is old, this hand is as old as anything there is. Incredibly ancient. I mean, the energy keeps changing shapes, doing all sorts of things, but there it all is. It’s one continuous SPAT.
Now, if you just want to define yourself as a little curlicue on the end of things and say ‘That’s all of me there is,’ then you’ve got to be a puppet and say ‘Well, I’ve been pushed around by this whole system.’ Like a juvenile delinquent who knows a little Freud. ‘Well I can’t help what I’m doing, because it was my mother. She was terribly mixed up, and she didn’t bring me up properly, and my father was a mess. He was an alcoholic and he never paid any attention to me. So I’m a juvenile delinquent.’ So the social worker says ‘Yes, I’m afraid that’s so,’ and eventually some journalist gets ahold of it and says ‘We should punish the parents instead of the kids.’ So they go around to the parents and the mother says ‘Yes, I admit I’m a mess,’ and the father says ‘Of course I’m an alcoholic, but it was OUR parents who brought us up wrong, and we had all that trouble.’ Well, they can’t find them because they’re dead. And so you can go passing the buck way back, and you get to some characters called Adam and Eve. And when THEY were told they were responsible, they passed it again to a snake. And when that snake was asked about it, he passed the buck back to God, and God said ‘I disown you, because I don’t let my right hand know what my left hand doeth.’ And you know who the left hand of God is. The right hand is Jesus Christ, the left is the Devil. Only it mustn’t be admitted. Not on your life.
But that’s the whole thing, you see, in a nutshell. That once you define yourelf as the puppet, you say ‘I’m just poor little me, and I got mixed up in this world. I didn’t ask to be born. My father and mother gave me a body which is a system of tubes into which I got somehow mixed up, and it’s a maze and a tunnel and I don’t understand a way around it. It needs all these engineers and doctors and so on to fix it, educate it, tell it how to keep going, and I’m mixed up in it. Poor little me.’ Well this is nonsense! You aren’t mixed up in it, it’s you, and everybody’s being a blushing violet and saying ‘I’m not responsible for this universe, I merely came into it.’ And the whole function of every great guru is to kid you out of that, and look at you and say ‘Don’t give me that line of bull.’ But you have to be tactful; you have to be effective. You can’t just tell people this. You can’t talk people out of an illusion. It’s a curious thing.
There’s a whole debate going on now, as you all know, about whether God exists, and they’re going to do a cover story on God in ‘Time’ magazine, and they sent a reporter around to me – they sent reporters around to all sorts of prominent theologans and philosophers. I said ‘I have a photograph of God which you must put on the cover.’ It’s a gorgeous photograph of a Mexican statue made by Dick Borst(?). Beautiful God-the-father with a crown like the Pope. Only they said they were going to use something by Tintoretto. This photograph is a lovely thing. You know, a real genuine Mexican Indian thing. Simple people think this is what God looks like; very handsome man. Anyway, they’re going to do a cover story on God because the theologans are now arguing about a new kind of Christianity which says there’s no God and Jesus Christ is his only son. But what these people want to do is they desperately want to keep the church in Christianity because it pays off, that’s the minister’s job, and although they feel very embarrassed about God, what they’re doing is they want the Bible and Jesus to sort of keep this authority going. How you can do that, I don’t know.
But at any rate, the point is that God is what nobody admits to being, and everybody really is. You don’t look out there for God, something in the sky, you look in you. In other words, underneath the surface of the consciousness that you have and the individual role that you play and are identifying yourself with, you are the works. Just as you ARE beating your heart, in the same way you’re shining the sun, and you’re responsible. But in our culture, you mayn’t admit this, because if you come on that you’re God, they’ll put you in the nuthouse. Because our idea of God is based on Near Eastern politics, and so if you’re God, then you’re the ruler, the governor – ‘Oh Lord our governor!’ And so if you’re the governor, you know all the answers if that’s what you claim to be. So when anybody in our culture says ‘I’m God,’ we say ‘Well, well, why don’t you turn this shoe into a rabbit and show me that you’re God.’
But of course in Oriental cultures, they don’t think of God as an autocrat. God is the fundamental energy of the world which performs all this world without having to think about it. Just in the same way that you open and close your hand without being able to say in words how you do it. You do it. You say ‘I can open and close my hand.’ But how? You don’t know. That only means, though, that you don’t know in words. You do know in fact, because you do it. So in the same way, you know how to beat your heart, because you do it, but you can’t explain it in words. You know how to shine the sun, because you do it, but you can’t explain it in words, unless you’re a very fancy physicist, and he’s just finding out – what a physicist is doing is translating what he’s been doing all along into a code called mathematics. Then he says he knows how it’s done. He means he can put it into the code – and that’s what the academic world is. It’s translating what happened into certain codes called words, numbers, algorhythms, etc., and that helps us repair things when they go wrong.
So, the discovery of our inseparability from everything else is something that I don’t think will have to come by the primitive methods of difficult yoga meditations, or even through the use of psychedelic chemicals. I think it’s something that’s within the reach of very many people’s simple comprehension. Once you get the point. Just in the same way you can understand that the world is round and you experience it as such. You could call this a kind of guinana(?) yoga, in Hindu terms. But I don’t think it’s going to be necessary for our culture to get this point by staring at it’s navel, or by spending hours practicing Za-Zen, not that I’ve got anything against it, because after all, to sit still can be an extraordinarily pleasant thing to do, and it’s important for us to have more quiet. But I think this is essentially a matter of intuitive comprehension that will dawn upon us and suddenly hit us all in a heap, and you suddenly see that this is totally common sense, and that your present feeling of how you are is a hoax. You know how Henry Emerson Foster wrote a book called ‘How to be a Real Person’? Translated into it’s original terms, that means ‘How to be a Genuine Fake.’ Because the person is the mask, the ‘persona’ worn by actors in Greco-Roman drama. They put a mask on their face which had a megaphone-shaped mouth which projected the sound in an open- air theater. So the ‘dramatis persona’ at the beginning of a play is the list of masks, and the word ‘person,’ which means ‘mask,’ has come to mean the real you. ‘How to be a Real Person.’ Imagine.
But I think we’ll get over it, and discover the thing that we simply don’t let our children in on, that we don’t let ourselves in on. Let me emphasize this point again. It is not at the moment common sense, not plausible, because of our condition, but we can very simply come to see that YOU are not some kind of accident that pops up for a while and then vanishes – but that deep inwards, you are what there is and all that there is, which is eternal, and that which there is no whicher. That’s you. Now, you don’t have to remember that all the time, as you don’t have to remember how to beat your heart. You could die and forget everything you ever knew in this lifetime, because it’s not necessary to remember it. You’re going to pop up as somebody else later on, just as you did before, without knowing who you were. It’s as simple as that. You were born once, you can get born again. If there was a cosmic explosion once that blew everything into existence and is going to fizzle out, if it happened once, it can happen again, and it goes on..
It’s a kind of undulating system of vibrations. Everything’s a system of vibrations. Everything is on/off. Now you see it, now you don’t. Light itself is, but it’s happening so fast that the retina doesn’t register it. Everything in the sun is like an arc-lamp, only it’s a very fast one. It goes on-off. Sound does; and the reason you can’t put your finger through the floor is the same reason you can’t, without serious problems, push it through an electric fan. The floor is going so fast. Even faster than a fan. The fan is going slow enough to cut your finger if you put it into it. But the floor is going so fast, you can’t even get in. But that’s the only reason. It’s coming into existence and going out of existence at a terrific clip. So everything is on/off. So is our life. You can die, say ‘Well, I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t know anything.’ Just like in the same way you don’t know what’s going on inside your nervous system. How the nervous system links together, or anything like that. You don’t need to know, and if you had to find it all out, you’d get so confused with all the information that you wouldn’t be able to operate. It’d be just too much to think about with a single-pointed ordinary attention consciousness, which is a scanning system, like radar. You don’t need to know how it all works in order to work it out. That’s the real meaning of omnipotence.


ALAN WATTS: SELF AND OTHER, part 2 of 3


This morning, I was discussing the problem of technological civilization’s urgent need for a new sense of human existence, in which the human being no longer discovers himself as an alien oddity, somehow trapped and caught up in a system of tubes called the body, confronting an external world which is not himself. The urgency of realizing that just as this city is an extension of you, so is everything out to the farthest galaxies that we have any knowledge of, and beyond. Of regaining a sense of responsibility and identity with the basic functioning of your self as a complete physical organism, and that beyond that, your own organism, in a certain sense, knows its identity with its whole environment. In other words, the human body belongs in a continuous energy system which is co-extensive with the universe. And instead of making out that this is something you got caught up in, and for which you are not responsible, and in which you are just a victim, and if you’re lucky, you beat the game for a while, and win until death destroys you and you lose everything. You know, you can’t take it with you. That reminds me of a funny– Gary Schneider is a great friend of mine. He’s a poet from the West Coast, and he’s a very good Zen student. He’s studying under Oda-Roshi. And he suggested one day that we found a null and void title in Gary and Trust Company, with its slogan ‘Register your absence with us.’ And what you do is, you give your fortune to us, and we guarantee to transport it to you in the next life.
Anyway. This situation, I was suggesting, is one that can be overcome reasonably simply, if you can just get the idea straight. A lot of people say, you know, ‘I understand what you say intellectually, but that’s not enough. I don’t really understand it.’ But I often think that when people say that, they don’t fully understand it intellectually. If you can get something quite clear, really clear in your head, I don’t think that our mind is compartmentalized so that the intellect’s over here, and the feelings are over here, and the intuition is over there, and the sensations are over there. I don’t think Jung meant that when he made that classification. I think every faculty of the mind is continuous with all the others.
And so what you’re saying when you say ‘I understand it intellectually, but I don’t get it intuitively,’ or ‘I don’t feel it in my bones,’ is that you understand it in the sense of being able to repeat a form of words. Now it’s true that there’s lots of debates and problems that are purely verbal. A great deal of what goes on as theological or philosophical discussion is absolutely nothing except a war of words. A logical positivist, for example, can show conclusively that all metaphysical statements are meaningless. But so what? That’s just talk. People have, on the other hand, experienced, say, mystical states, and these experiences are quite as real as the experience of swimming in water, or lying in the sun, or eating a steak, or dying. And you can’t talk them away. They’re THERE, in a very concrete sense. But there is a very close connection between your conceptual understanding of the world and how you actually see the world.
In other words, let’s take for example this problem: there are people who don’t have number systems going beyond three. They count ‘One, two, three, many.’ So anything above three is a heap, or many. Now those people cannot know that a square table has four corners. It has many corners. But once you’re able to count beyond four, you can extend your counting system indefinitely. You have a different feeling about nature. It’s not only you know more, but you feel more. You feel more clearly. So my point is simply that the intellect is not something cut off from every other kind of experience, existing in a kind of abstract vacuum which has nothing to do with anything else. The intellect is part and parcel of the whole fabric of life. It goes along with your fingers; it goes along with being able to touch. After all, what an intellectual thing in a way the human hand is. It can do things that other hands can’t do. No other mammal can have thumb-finger contact. The monkey doesn’t achieve it.
So the hand is intellectual. So, as a matter of fact, a plant is intellectual. This thing is a gorgeous pattern. If you look into it and realize how this is designed to absorb light and moisture and so on, and to expose itself in different ways and to propogate its species, that it’s in alliance with bees and other insects, so that the bees and the plants, since they go together and are found together, they’re all one continuous form of life. This doesn’t exist except in a world where bees are floating around. I mean, you can bring it into an apartment, but you can’t expect it to propogate beyond that point. It’s decorative here. But in it’s natural habitat, this goes along with being bees, and bees go with their being something else. So this form that you see here is inseparable from all kinds of other forms which must exist if this is to exist. And the bees have language, if you’ve read Van Fritche’s(?) book about bees and their marvelous intelligence. But you see that the intelligence of the plant is the same as the pattern of the plant. You shouldn’t think that I would say the plant is the result of intelligence. The shape of it is the same as its intelligence. The shape of your brain, the shape of your face, the whole structure of the culture you live in, the human interrelationships that go on– it’s that pattern which is intelligence.
Now what I’m trying to talk about is a deeper understanding of the pattern in which we live, and if you understand that, it suddenly hits you so that you feel, right in your guts, this new kind of existence that is NOT yourself alone facing an alien world, but yourself as an expression of the world in the same way as the wave is the expression of the ocean.
Now then, the most important shift one has to make in intelligence and understanding this is to be able to think in a polar way. We sometimes say of things that we want to describe as being opposed to each other as being in conflict, that they are ‘the poles apart.’ People who belong to different schools of thought; people who belong to nations in opposition with each other; people who are in flat, outright conflict, we say they are the poles apart. But that’s a very funny phrase. Because things that are the poles apart happen to be very deeply connected. The North and the South Pole are the poles of one Earth. So try to imagine a situation in which there is an encounter between opposites, which have no connection with each other at all. Where will they come from? How will they meet each other? You think from the opposite ends of space? But what is space? For space to have opposite ends, there has to be a continuum between the ends. And so to think in a polar way is to realize the intimate connection between processes or events or things, which language describes as if they were unconnected and opposed.
Let’s take, first of all, two very fundamental poles. We’ll call them respectively ‘solid’ and ‘space,’ if you want existence and non-existence, because we tend to treat space as something that is not there. That’s simply because we don’t see it; we ignore it. We treat it as if it had no effective function whatsoever, and thus when our astronomers begin to talk about curved space, expanding space, properties of space, and so on, we think ‘What are they talking about? How can space have a shape? How can there be a structure in space, because space is nothing.’ But it isn’t so. You see, this is something we completely ignore. Why? Because we have specialized in a form of attention to the world which concentrates on certain features as important. We call this conscious attention, and therefore it ignores or screens out everything which doesn’t fit into its particular scheme. And one of the things that doesn’t fit into our scheme is space. So we come into a room like this and notice all the people in the room, and the furniture, and the flowers and the ornaments, and think that everything else just isn’t there. I mean, what about this interval that is between me sitting here and the inner circle of people who are arranged around the floor? What a mess we would be in if there wasn’t that interval. You know, I would be blowing down your throat to talk to you.
Now intervals of this spacial kind are tremendously important. Let me demonstrate this to you in a musical way. When you listen to a melody, what is the difference between hearing that melody and hearing a series of noises? The answer is that you heard the intervals. You heard the musical spaces between the series of tones. If you didn’t hear that, you heard no melody, and you would be what’s called tone-deaf. But what you actually hear is the steps between the levels of sound–the levels of vibration–that constitute the different tones. Now those weren’t stated, they were tacit. Only the tones were stated, but you heard the interval. So it made all the difference whether you heard the interval or not. So in exactly the same way, the intervals between us, seated around here, constitute many important things. They constitute the diginity of us all. They constitute the fact my face isn’t all mushed up in your face, and that we therefore have individual faces, and that need spaces around us.
In a country like Japan, space is the most valuable commodity, because it’s a small island that’s heavily overpopulated. So an apartment in Japan costs you a lot of money; in Hong Kong, it’s sky- high. But they have mastered the control of space in a fantastic way. And one of the ways they control space is through politeness. You can live with other people so that you live in a house where you’re so close together that you can hear every belly rumble of your neighbor, and you know exactly what’s going on. But you learn to hear without listening, and to see without looking. There’s a courtesy, you see, a respect for privacy which puts an interval between one individual and another. And it’s by reason of that interval that you are defined as you and I’m defined as I.
So you see the various kinds of space, various kinds of intervals? The pauses, when a person plays the drum–it’s those intervals–otherwise it would be of no interest. It’s the intervals that make the thing valuable. The space, then, is as real as the solid. This is the principle of polarity. Space and solid, in other words, which are formally opposed things. And you think, ‘Well, where there is a solid, there is something, and where there is space, there is nothing.’ They are actually as mutually supportive as back and front. They go together. Nobody ever found a space without a solid, and nobody ever found a solid without a space. But we’ve been trained to fix our attention on the solid and disregard the space. Well then obviously you haven’t been given the news, you haven’t been let in on what the secret of life is. It is that the space is as important as the solid. And if you see that, then you have the clue.
Now in the same way exactly, all other kinds of supposedly opposed entities and forces imply and involve each other. And this is the key to getting a different kind of consciousness of oneself, because you wouldn’t know who you are unless you knew what you have defined as other than yourself. Self and other define each other mutually. Let’s consider this first of all in a kind of a funny social way. In every town in the United States, there are a group of people who consider themselves to be the ‘nice’ people. They live on the right side of the tracks. Where I live in Sausalito, California, they live up on the hill, and down on the waterfront, there live all kinds of beatniks and bums, and we live in boats and shacks of all kinds. Some of these shacks are elegant inside, but that’s a secret. We call the boat I live on the Oyster, because you know how an oyster’s shell on the outside is very rough and crude, but there’s pearls on the inside.
But anyway, the people up on the hill say–what do they talk about? When they get together for cocktails or dinner or whatever and they have their social occasions, what’s the topic of conversation? It’s how the people are awful down below, and they’re encroaching and the town is going to the dogs, and etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. By this means, they preserve their collective ego. Meanwhile, the people down below, what do they talk about at their parties? They talk about the squares up on the hill who are engaged in business, which is ridiculous because it’s nothing but a rat-race, and they buy Cadillacs and other phony objects, and they deride them, but in the same way, those beatniks are enhancing THEIR collective ego, and they don’t realize that they need each other. That the symbiosis between the nice people and the nasty people, between the ‘in’ group and the ‘out’ group, is as much a symbiosis as between the bees and the flowers. Because you wouldn’t know who you were, unless there was an outsider.
In exactly the same way, politically speaking, our economy is presently dependant upon the cold war, which mustn’t be allowed to become hot. Because if there weren’t an enemy, defined as communism, nobody would be disturbed, nobody would be worried, therefore they wouldn’t put all this energy and money and taxes into a certain kind of productivity. Likewise on the other side, if those people in China and Russia couldn’t be worried about and afraid of the dirty capitalists, they wouldn’t have any means of stirring up their people to do something. Everybody would presumably just loaf around.
So because you define your position in opposition to another position, then you know who you are courtesy of the outsider, and so you can say to the outsider–if this suddenly strikes you, you start laughing, because you realize that you’re indebted to the outsider, whom you defined as awful, because you know where he is, you know where you are. Well now it’s the same thing in philosophy and religion. There are all sorts of schools of thought, and they disagree with each other, they debate with each other, but so far as I’m concerned, I wouldn’t know what I thought unless there were people who had different opinions than mine. Therefore, instead of saying to those people, ‘You ought to agree with me,’ I’d say to them, ‘Thank you so much for disagreeing, because now I know where I am.’ I wouldn’t know otherwise. In other words, the in goes with the out; the solid with the space. It’s a very funny thing.
Take any highly organized system of life. Take the way a garden exists. It’s full of, in a sense, competitive species. Snails and thrushes and various insects that are supposed to be at war with each other. And because their fights keep going on, the life of the garden as a whole is maintained. And so I can’t say ‘All snails in this garden should be abolished, so that the lettuces should thrive,’ because if there aren’t some snails around there, the birds won’t come around, because they like the snails. And the birds do all sorts of things for my garden, not to mention supplying it with manure and all kinds of things. So I need them around. So the price of having birds is snails that eat your lettuces. And so on. I mean, this is merely an instance, an example of this.
The funny thing is, though, that when you realize this, and you suddenly see for the first time that you and your point of view, and everything that you stand for and believe in–and you think ‘Boy, I’m going to stand for that and I’m going to fight for that!’–that it depends on its opposite. When you get that, it starts giving you the giggles, and you begin to laugh at yourself, and this is one of the most amazing forces in life, the creative force is human. Because when you are in a state of anxiety, and you are afraid that black may win over white, that darkness may conquer light, that non-being may conquer being, you haven’t seen this point. When it strikes you that the two go together, the trembling emotional feeling which we call anxiety is given another value, and it’s called laughter.
Now let’s take the phenomenon of an electric bell. When you turn on an electric bell, you turn on a system in which ‘yes’ implies ‘no.’ That is to say, here’s the bell, and beneath it, there’s an electromagnet, and that magnet, when it’s switched on, magnetizes an armature, which comes and hits the bell. But the moment it does that, it turns off the current, so that the magnet releases it, and because the armature has a spring on it, it goes back. That turns the current on. So it comes back; that turns the current off. So ‘yes’ equals ‘no’; ‘no’ equals ‘yes.’ And so the bell vibrates, which is what you want it to do. Now, how do you interpret your own vibrating, your alternation between ‘yes’ and ‘no’? You can interpret this as an awful thing of doubt, and then you say you were anxious. But if you see that the one implies the other, then it becomes ‘ha ha ha ha ha.’ It becomes a laugh. So the transformation of anxiety into laughter comes about through realizing the polarity of ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ of ‘to be’ and ‘not to be.’
But the important thing for our purposes is the polarity between the self and the other. Let’s consider for example, when you hate, you love yourself. ‘I love me.’ Let’s be very egotistic and VERY selfish indeed. What do you love when you love yourself? Think about it. Say you were going to live a completely disillusioned, self-interested life, and other people can go hang. Now consider, what is it that you’re interested in? ‘Well,’ you say for example, ‘I like eating.’ Okay. Do you eat yourself? ‘No. I like eating fish, oysters, radishes, mushrooms.’ All these are things that are formally speaking not me, yet these are what I say I like. Well, could you say ‘What I really like about them is the state they put ME in when they impinge on me’? In other words, when I put the mushroom sauce in my mouth, that does something to my mouth and my body, and it’s THAT that I like, rather than the mushrooms as such. Well that isn’t the truth. If that’s all, you can’t cook properly. I can tell instantly when I taste something that’s been cooked, what state of mind the cook was in.
Now let me tell you a secret. You cannot possibly be a good cook unless you like to pick up an onion in your hands, look it over, and say ‘Oh, isn’t that lovely?’ Or feel an egg. I think an egg is one of the most beautiful shapes on Earth, and you take it up, and although it’s an opaque shell, it has a kind of subtle, luminous transparency to it. Especially when you see the variations between white eggs and brown eggs, and you look at those things and you just love them. Now unless you have that feeling, you can’t cook. You may follow recipes, you may have had a training course, you may have had everything. But everything you’re going to cook, unless you have that feeling, is going to taste as though it’s been washed in detergent, and you can tell. It may be that they used no fancy sauces, they roasted a piece of meat. Let’s take the Chinese way of cooking a chicken. You take a chicken, and you put in boiling water for ten minutes, with salt and a little sherry. You turn it off, and you leave it there for a half an hour. Then you take it out and chill it, and that can be the most succulent chicken imaginable.
But somehow it doesn’t quite come off if this was just a formula. Same way when you strike a note on the piano, it isn’t simply a matter of so much pressure which could be measured on some sort of mechanical instrument, because if that was so, all we’d have to do is get those player pianos which hit the notes regularly in accordance with the formula, and they all sound terrible. Because there’s a thing in touching that’s called follow-through. When you hit a golf ball, it’s not enough to hit the ball with a certain volume, you have to have a swing that goes beyond that, and so in the same way with striking notes, there has to be a thing called follow-through, that you go beyond the actual hitting of the note, and that is a thing that’s hard to measure, but is very important and makes all the difference.
So then, the relationship of self to other is the complete realization that loving yourself is impossible without loving everything defined as other than yourself. In fact, the more you try to think about what your self is, the more you discover that you can only think about yourself in terms of things that you thought were other than yourself. If you search for yourself, this is one of the great koan problems in Zen, produce you, find out who you are. When, for example, Shri Ramana Maharshi, that great Hindu sage of modern times–people used to come to him and say ‘Who was I in my previous incarnation?’ You know, that sort of stupid question. He would say ‘Who wants to know?’ Who are you? Find out who you are. And you can search for you endlessly, and never find out. Never. Everything that you get a kind of sensation of as being yourself will, upon examination, turn out to be something else. Something other.
And now let’s work on the other direction. Go exactly the opposite way. What do you mean by something other? Let’s find something other than me, and search for that. ‘Well,’ I say, ‘all right. I can touch the ground here.’ This is something other than me, and yet, I realize that my sensation of this soft carpet with something firm underneath it is a state of my nerve endings in my hand and in my muscles, which report to me that this is a softly covered hardness, and that everything I feel about this carpet and the floor is a condition of my brain. In other words, when I feel this so-called external thing, I feel it only as it is as it were translated into states of my own body. All of you I see with your various shapes and colors, when I look out here, I am actually having an experience of how it feels inside my head. That’s the place where I know you, and you know me, in your heads. So that I really do not have any sensations of anything other than myself, because whatever I do know, I have to translate it into a state of my own body in order to know it at all.
But do you see now what I have done? I carried in one direction the argument, where do I find my self? And it all turned out to be something other. Then I followed the question, how do I find something other, and it all turned out to be me. The same thing happens, for example, when you get into the old debates about fate and free will. When you discover that everything that you do is completely determinate. Then you suddenly have to wake up to the fact that the only real you is whatever it is that’s determining what you do. I mean, if you say ‘All that I do here and now is a result of the past. There have been processes in the past, going back and back and back, and my sitting here in this room and talking to you is simply the necessary effect of all that ever happened before.’ Do you know what that’s saying? It’s saying that here in your presence talking to you is everything that ever happened before. That’s me. Wowee, and so of course with you being here, if you want to figure it that way, because all this problem about causality is completely phony.
It’s all based on this–that in order to talk about the world and think about it, we had to chop it up into bits, and we called those bits things and events. In the same way, if you want to eat chicken, you can’t swallow a whole chicken unless you’ve got a huge mouth. So you cut it up into pieces, or you get a cut-up fryer from the store, but you don’t get a cut-up fryer from an egg. Chicken comes whole out of the egg. So in the same way, the universe of nature doesn’t come in bits or bites. It comes all in one piece. But to digest it, to absorb it into your mind, you’ve got to cut it into bits and take it in, as we say, one thing at a time. But that chopping of the world into these separate bits is like chopping up the chicken or carving the slices off the beef, or taking water out, cupful by cupful. You can handle it that way, but that’s not the way it is.
So you have to see that the whole notion of there being particular, separate events, and particular, separate things, is nothing more than a calculus. A calculus. Calculus means ‘pebbles.’ Pebbles used for counting. So when we measure curves, we pretend as if they were a series of points, and the position of these points can be expressed in an arithmatical way, say by tracing a curve across a piece of finely calibrated graph paper. That’s the basis of the calculus. So that a curve swings so many points across, so many down, etc., and so you feel you have control of the curve that way, you measure it, you know where it really goes. But where it really goes, you have set up this ‘really’ in terms of your other criss- cross system, and you said ‘That’s for real.’ All it means is you’ve meshed two different systems, one on top of the other, and you’re saying ‘What I mean by reality is the systems of measurements that I’ve invented. The system of weights and measures. This thing is REALLY,’ and you feel a great sense of confidence, ‘exactly two pounds.’ Now simply because you’ve made the two pounds of apples correspond with the weighing machine, which is a constant. Two pounds of apples, two pounds of grapes, different number of apples, different number of grapes, but you say ‘That’s really two pounds.’
But so, in just the same way, we say ‘There are really different people. There are really different events.’ But actually there aren’t. I’m not saying that if we were to see the world in its truth, all of you different people would disappear, that your outlines would suddenly become vague, and you would turn into a solid lump of gelatinous goo. A lot of people think that’s the way mystics see things. That’s not at all what would happen. The thing I’m saying is this: we are all different, but we are as interrelated and indispensable to each other as the different organs in our body – stomach, heart, glands, bones, etc. Now you can argue that the stomach is fundamental–eating is the big thing, and therefore we grew brains as extensions of the stomach to get it more food. So that you say ‘The brain is the servant of the stomach.’ But you can argue equally that the brain is primary, and it has all these thinking games to play, and it needs a stomach as an appendage to supply it with energy. Or you can argue that the sex organs are primary and they need the brain and the stomach to keep that ecstasy going. But the brain and the stomach can equally argue that they wouldn’t find it worthwhile going on unless they had the sex organ appendange to give them solace. The truth of the matter is that nobody comes first. No one pushes the other around. You don’t find brains without stomachs and sex organs. They all go together – and this is the fallacy of Freud, in saying that the sexual apparatus are primary. It just goes along with the others.
So you don’t have a universe in which a series or a collection of separate events or things are banging each other around like an enormous mass of billiard balls. You have a situation which is quite different from that, where what have hitherto been called ‘causally related events,’ to say that certain events are causally related is a very clumsy way of saying that these certain specific events which you have isolated as being causally related, were in fact really all parts of the same event.


ALAN WATTS: SELF AND OTHER, pt 3 of 3


In the previous session, I was discussing polarity and polar thinking as the key to understanding that our identity is more than the skin-encapsulated ego. Polar thinking is the crux, the essential tool for making the jump from feeling yourself to be something merely in this universe on the one hand, to the state of feeling, on the other hand, that you are this universe, focused and acting in that particular way that we call the human individual. If you study the writings of the mystics, you will always find things in them that appear to be paradoxes, as in Zen, particularly. Empty-handed I go, yet a spade is in my hand. I walk on foot, and yet I’m riding on the back of an ox – and when crossing a bridge, the bridge flows, and the water stays still. Or when Jim drinks, John gets tipsy. Zen is full of paradoxes of this kind. Eckhart is full of sayings like this, ‘The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me. The love with which I love God is the same love with which God loves me.’ Things like that.
So this principle is explained in the sutra of the sixth patriarch. You know, the famous platform sutra of Whey-No he gives a long instruction on how to answer people’s questions about Zen. He says ‘If they ask you a question about something sacred, give them an answer in terms of the secular. If they ask about the secular, give them an answer in terms of the sacred.’ So if somebody says ‘What is buddha?’ say ‘This saucepan holds about a quart.’ If they ask you about a saucepan, you say ‘Why is my hand so much like the buddha’s hand?’
And so that’s the secret to understanding funny stories in Zen, that it’s the same thing that – It’s polarity. All these paradoxes are polarity thinking. Because what makes the difference between a person who has this type of cosmic or mystical consciousness – I don’t like these words, but we haven’t got a good word for this state of mind. Well, we’ll have to put our heads together and invent something better. In academic circles, I call it ‘ecological awareness,’ because mysticism is a dirty word around the academy. So ‘ecological awareness’ does fairly well, except again, you always have to explain to people what ecology is; they don’t know yet. Ecology is the science which deals with the relationships between organisms and their environments. Just as economics, in Greek, ‘ecos,’ is the ‘home.’ So economics, ‘ecosnomos,’ is the law of the home, and ‘ecologos’ is the logic of the home, and so the ‘ecos,’ the home of man, is the world. So ecology is man’s relationship to the world, or a plant’s relationship to its environment. All that kind of relationship, the study of the bee and flower bit, is ecology.
The thing that is so characteristic, then, of this new or different kind of consciousness, is that it starts from or has its foundation in awareness of relationship, of ‘go withness,’ that the inside of a situation goes with the outside, and although you may think from the point of view of ordinary consciousness, that they work independantly from each other; in this state of consciousness you see that they don’t. In other words, it’s slowly beginning to penetrate our ordinary consciousness. That what any individual does, and we ascribe to him as his behavior and praise him for it or blame him for it, everything that he does goes with what happens outside him. The behavior of the environment, and the behavior of that organism within that environment, is one behavior, and you mustn’t think of this deterministically. That is to say, as if the organism were something merely subservient to the environment. Nor must you think the opposite way, that the environment is something that can be pushed around by the organism. When an organism starts looking as if it were pushing its environment around, it simply means that the environment/organism, the total field, is changing itself.
So there is no determinism in this, just as there is no idea of old-fashioned free will. You learn to see that there is simply one behavior pattern working, which we will call the organism-environment, and if you understand that, you undertand that YOU are this totality organism-environment, and so you are moving with it in the same way that all the organs of your physical body are moving together. As all the cells of the brain cooperate. You don’t have to make them cooperate, you don’t have to tell them to; you don’t have to arrange a treaty of some kind, they just do so. So when birds fly, you notice particularly birds like sandpipers, when they turn suddenly in the air, they turn as if they were all one bird. Although when they land on the sand, they become individuals, and they run about independantly looking for worms. Then suddenly you shout at them, and they shoot into the air, and they’re all one creature, moving as if it had a single mind. You know that haiku poem:

A hundred goods from the mind of one vine.

So just as we are organized that way, as organisms, so also we are, although not aware of it, organized that way collectively as individuals relating to each other and relating to the other forms of life, and to the geology, and the meteorlogical and astronomical phenomena around us. Only we haven’t come to notice it. Our attention has been so fixed upon some of the details of this relationship, that we have created a system of details as if it were a separate physical system. You understand, I’ve mentioned this, I’m sure, to many of you before, that human beings have for at least 3000 years specialized in one kind of attention only. That is what we call conscious attention, and that is a form of scanning the physical environment as if we were looking at it with a spotlight. And therefore, the nature of scanning is this: that it takes in the whole scene in series, bit by bit. Even if you don’t go in a straight line, and you scan looking around you, you have a series of glimpes or glances piled up, and that gives you the history, in linear time, of your existence, because it’s one experience of attention after another. Now, in just the same way with all of us in this room exist total


Published on Sep 12, 2013


Self and Other
by Alan Watts

Now, the subject of this seminar is ‘Self and Other,’ and this is therefore to be an exploration into the subject that interests me most, which is the problem of personal identity, man’s relationship to the universe, and all the things that are connected with that. It is, for our culture at this time in history an extremely urgent problem, because of our technological power. In known history, nobody has had such capacity for altering the universe than the people of the United States of America. And nobody has gone about it in such an aggressive way.

I think sometimes that the two symbols of our present kind of technological culture are the rocket ship and the bulldozer. The rocket as a very, very phallic symbol of compensation for the sexually inadequate male. And the bulldozer, which ruthlessly pushes down hills and forests and alters the shape of the landscape. These are two symbols of the negative aspect of our technology. I’m not going to take the position that technology is a mistake. I think that there could be a new kind of technology, using a new attitude. But the trouble is that a great deal of our power is wielded by men who I would call ‘two o’clock types.’
Maybe you saw an article I wrote in “Playboy” magazine called “The Circle of Sex,” and it suggested at least a dozen sexual types rather than two. And that the men who are two o’clock on the dial, like a clock, are men who are ambisexterous, named after Julius Ceasar, because Julius Ceasar was an ambisexterous man, and he equally made love to all his friend’s wives and to his good-looking officers. And he had no sense of guilt about this at all. Now, that type of male in this culture has a terrible sense of guilt, that he might be homosexual, and is scared to death of being one, and therefore he has to overcompensate for his masculinity. And so he comes on as a police officer, Marine sergeant, bouncer, bookie, general–tough, cigar-chewing, real masculine type who is never able to form a relationship with a woman; they’re just ‘dames’ as far as he’s concerned. But he, just like an ace Air Force pilot puts a little mark on his plane each time he shoots down an enemy, so this kind of man, every time he makes a dame he chalks up one, because that reassures him that he is after all a male. And he’s a terrible nuisance. The trouble is that the culture doesn’t permit him to recognize and accept his ambisexterity. And so he’s a trouble spot.
But that kind of spirit of knocking the world around is something that is causing serious danger here. It arises, you see, because this tremendous technological power has been evolved in a culture which inherits a sense of personality which is frankly a hallucination. And we get this sense of personality from a long, long tradition of Jewish and Christian and Greek ideas which have caused man to feel that the universe of nature – the physical world, in other words – is not himself. You may think that that is a very odd thing to say, because one always assumes that oneself is one’s own body, or at least something inside one’s body, like a soul. And that naturally, everything outside is not oneself. But this is, as I’ve said many, many times, a hallucination. Let’s think, here we are in the middle of New York City. And you know what happens when New York City goes wrong. When there’s a subway strike, or when the power fails, or when the sewers back up, your life is in danger. Because you are not only constituted by the bloodstream of your veins and the communications network of your nervous system. An extension of your bloodstream, and of your alimentary canal, and of your nervous system, is all the communication systems of this city.
In other words, you know well every night streams of trucks pour into this city, carrying food. I understand there is even a kind of big drain pipe which brings milk in. You consume three million pounds of fish a week. You then also have to have the exit end of this. The sewers are very complicated. The water system and all it’s pipes, the telephone systems, the electric light systems, the air conditioning things, the traffic streams. All these things going on are essential extensions of your own inner tubing. And therefore, you have to be aware, more and more, that the city is an extended body for every person living in it. And not only of course the city, because the city depends on untold acres of fields where farm products are grown, cattle are raised, on lakes and underground water sources; on the constitution of the atmosphere, and finally on the location of the Earth on this propitious spot rather close to the sun, where we have our basic heating system working.
And all that is not a world into which you arrived, from somewhere else altogether. It is a complex system of relationships, out of which you grew in exactly the same way that fruit grows on a tree, or a flower on a stem. Just as these blossoms here are symptomatic of the plant, and you identify the plant by looking at the blossoms – here are these little oranges, you see – we know that this is an orange tree. Now in exactly that way, you are all growing in this world, and so we know that this world is a ‘humaning’ system – and therefore it has a certain kind of innate intelligence, just as this tree, with its roots, has the innate intelligence which comes out in these oranges.
So the cosmos in which we live is a network of communications. You don’t need to think of it in an authoritarian pattern, namely there is God the father, who makes it all work, because that doesn’t really answer anything. That’s just applying to the world an explanation derived from the political systems of the ancient Near East. You realize that? The great political systems of the Egyptians and the Chaldeans, where there was an enormous father figure in charge of everything, became the model for the idea of monotheism. And these great kings, like Hammurabi and Amenhotep IV, laid down legal systems so man thought of a prince, a king of kings, a lord of lords, in the words of the Book of Common Prayer. It’s a political idea. And I often wonder how citizens of a republic, who have to curse and swear that they think that this is the best form of government, can put up with a monarchial conception of nature. Very funny. You know, a republic, and it says ‘In God We Trust,’ and most people by God mean a king of the universe. Very strange.
But you don’t have to think that way in order to have the faith that the universe is something other than mere stupid, blind energy. What we are coming to see is that the total universe, consisting of all its galaxies, and not only this galaxy, is a living organism. How will we define that? What do we mean by a living organism? I mean a system of intercommunication of extreme complexity. Just like you are. You try to define what you are, and you go into it, you suddenly discover that as you take off the skin and look underneath, that we are an enormously complex system of tubes and fibers, beautifully patterned. When we look at it with a microscope, we say ‘Oh my, look at that. Isn’t that gorgeous?’ Have you seen those models of cells that the Upjohn Company has made? They’re exquisite. And incidentally, you should all, if you’ve never done so, go to the Charles Darwin Hall in the New York Museum of Natural History and see the glass models of the tiniest microorganisms, called radiolaria. They are also such things as are running around in you, and they are incomparable jewelry.
Now I suppose if we looked at ourselves from that microscopic point of view, all these funny creatures that are running around us that don’t look like people, would if you got used to them seem like people. And they would be having their problems. They’ve got all sorts of fights going on, and collaborations and conspiracies and so on. But if they weren’t doing that, we wouldn’t be healthy. If the various corpuscles and cells in our blood stream weren’t fighting each other, we would drop dead. And that’s a sobering thought, that war at one level of being can bring peace and health at another.
So we are, inside us, each indivudial body, an enormous ecological system. And what we have to recognize is that that interconnected system which constitutes the beauty of a human organism, that sort of interconnection is going on outside us. Do you remember in early science fiction that was published in the 1920s, by people like Olaf Stapleton and some of the early writers? They pictured the men of the future as having huge heads to contain very big brains. It was expected, in other words, that the future evolution of mankind would be an evolution of the mind and the brain, and so bigger brains. But what has happened instead of that is that instead of evolving bigness of brain, we are evolving an electronic network in which our brains are very swiftly being plugged into computer systems. Now some very awkward things about this are arising, and we’ve got to watch out for it, because what has increasingly happened is this: nobody is having any private life left. The invasion of ordinary privacy by the telephone, by your watching television, which is after all looking at somebody else’s life going on, by people watching you – all the people with bugging systems and snoopers, and credit agents, and everybody knows everything about you. Even in California, all the houses are built with picture windows looking at other picture windows, and if you draw the curtains, everyone thinks you’re snooty. Like if you build a fence in most Midwestern communities, they think ‘Who the hell do you think you are, building a fence to keep everybody else out? See, you’re not democratic.’
But the reason for all this is, imagine the situation when all the original neurons became linked in with the central nervous system. They said, ‘Well, we’re losing our privacy.’ So it’s a very serious question as to how we’re going to be linked in with other people. I feel – it may be old fashioned of me – but I feel very strongly that privacy should be maintained as much as possible. But the reason being that human beings, in my experience, are a combination of two worlds – the private world and the public world – such that a person with a very strong and different and unique personality is not an isolated person, but a person extremely aware of his identity with the rest of the universe. Whereas people with nondescript, mass-produced personalities tend to be unaware of this. They tend to be the kind of person who is taken in by the system.
So what I think we could aim for in the way of human civilization and culture would be a system in which we are all highly aware of our existing interconnection and unity with the whole domain of nature, and therefore do not have to go to all sorts of wild extremes to find that union. In other words, look at the number of people we know who are terrified of silence, and who have to have something going all the time, some noise streaming into their ears. They’re doing that because of their intense sense of loneliness. And so when they feel silent, they feel lonely and they want to escape from it. Or people who just want to get together. As we say, they want to escape from themselves. More people spend more time running away from themselves. Isn’t that wretched? What a definition. What an experience of self if it’s something you’ve always got to be running away from and forgetting. Say you read a mystery story. Why? So you forget yourself. You join a religion. Why? To forget yourself. You get absorbed in a political movement. Why? To forget yourself. Well it must be a pretty miserable kind of self if you have to forget it like that. Now for a person who doesn’t have an isolated sense of self, he has no need to run away from it, because he knows.
Let’s take hermits. People today think being a hermit is a very unhealthy thing to do. Very antisocial, doesn’t contribute anything to everybody else – because everybody else is busy contributing like blazes, and a few people have to run off and get out of the way. But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything. That every little insect that comes buzzing around you is a messenger, and that little insect is connected with human beings everywhere else. You can hear. You become incredibly sensitive in your ears and you hear far-off sounds. And just by the very nature of isolating yourself and becoming quiet, you become intensely aware of your relationship with everything else that’s going on. So if you really want to find out how related you really are, try a little solitude off somewhere, and let it begin to tell you how everything is interdependant in the form of what the Japanese buddhists call ‘jijimugi'(?). ‘Ji’ means a ‘thing event,’ so it means ‘between thing event and thing event, there is no block.’ Every thing in the world, every event, is like a dewdrop on a multidimentional spider’s web, and every dewdrop contains the reflection of all the other dewdrops. But you see, the hermit finds this out through his solitide, and so also human beings can aquire a certain solitude, even in the middle of New York City. It’s rather easier, as a matter of fact, to find solitude in New York City than it is in Des Moines, Iowa.
But the point is that a human represents a certain kind of development, wherein a maximal sense of his oneness with the whole universe goes hand in hand with the maximum development of his personality as somebody unique and different. Whereas the people who are of course trying to develop their personality directly and taking a Dale Carnegie course on how to win friends and influence people, or how to become successful – all those people come out as if they came from the same cookie cutter. They don’t have any personality.
Now then, it therefore becomes the great enterprise of our time from this point of view so this technology shall not go awry, and that it shall not be a war with the cosmos, that we aquire a new sense of identity. It isn’t just a theoretical thing that we know about, as ecologists, for example, know about the identity of the organism with its environment, but becomes something that we actually experience. And I feel that this is not at all beyond the bounds of possibility for an enormous number of people. For a simple reason. Let me draw a historical analogy. Several hundred years ago, it seemed absolutely incomprehensible for most people that the world could be round, or that the planets and stars should be up in the sky unsupported, or even that the Earth itself should be floating freely in space. The Earth is falling through space, but it seems stable, and therefore it was supposed in ancient mythologies that the Earth rested on a giant turtle. Nobody asked too carefully what the turtle rested on, but just so that there was some sense of solidity under things. So in the same way that the stars were supposed to be suspended in crystal spheres, and just as people know that the Earth is flat because you can look at it and see that it is, so people looked into the sky and they could see the crystal spheres. Of course you could see the crystal spheres: you could see right through them. So when the astronomers cast doubts on the existence of crystal spheres, everybody felt threatened, that the stars were going to fall on their heads. Just as when they talked about a round Earth, people felt a danger of if you went around to the other side, you’d drop off, or feel funny and upside-down, a rush of brains to the head, and all sorts of uncomfortable feelings. But then since then, we have got quite used to the idea that the stars float freely in space in gravitational fields, that you can go around the Earth without falling off, and now everybody realizes this and feels comfortable with it.
Likewise, in our day when Einstein propounded the theories of relativity, people said they couldn’t understand it. It used to be something at a cocktail party to be introduced to somebody who understands Einstein. Now every young person understands Einstein and knows what it’s about. You’ve got even one year of college, you know what relativity is. And you know it not only in an intellectual way, you know this as a feeling, just as you have a feeling of the roundness of the world, especially if you travel a lot on jet planes. So I feel that in just that way, within I don’t know how many years, but in not too long a time, it’s going to become basic common sense that you are not some alien being who confronts an external world that is not you, but that almost every intelligent person will have the feeling of being an activity of the entire universe.
You see, the point is that an enormous number of things are going on inside us of which we are not conscious. We make a very, very arbitrary distinction between what we do voluntarity and what we do involuntarity, and we define all those things which we do involunarily as things which ‘happen’ to us, rather than things that we do. In other words, we don’t assume any responsibility for the fact that our heart beats, or that our bones have such and such a shape. You can say to a beautiful girl, ‘Gee, you’re gorgeous,’ and she’d say ‘How like a man, all you think about is bodies. My body was given to me by my parents, and I’m not responsible for it, and I’d like to be admired for my self and not for my chassis.’ And so I’d tell her ‘You poor little chauffeur. You’ve disowned your own being and identified yourself not being associated with your own body.’ I agree that if she had a terrible body with a lousy figure, she might want to feel that way, but if she is a fine-looking human being, she should get with it and not disown herself. But this happens again and again.
So you see, if you become aware of the fact that you are all of your own body, and that the beating of your heart is not just something that happens to you, but something you’re doing, then you become aware also in the same moment and at the same time that you’re not only beating your heart, but that you are shining the sun. Why? Because the process of your bodily existence and its rhythms is a process, an energy system which is continuous with the shining of the sun, just like the East River, here, is a continuous energy system, and all the waves in it are activities of the whole East River, and that’s continuous with the Atlantic Ocean, and that’s all one energy system and finally the Atlantic ocean gets around to being the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, etc., and so all the waters of the Earth are a continuous energy system. It isn’t just that the East River is part of it. You can’t draw any line and say ‘Look, this is where the East River ends and the rest of it begins,’ as if you can in the parts of an automobile, where you can say ‘This is definitely part of the generator, here, and over here is a spark plug.’ There’s not that kind of isolation between the elements of nature.
So your body knows that its energy system is one with and continuous with the whole energy system, and that if it’s in any sense true to say that I am my body, and that I beat my heart, and that I think by growing a brain, where do you draw the line between what you think and the power to think? Do you think with your brain in the same way that you carve wood with a knife? Y’know, it’s an instrument that you pick up and use. I don’t think our bodies are just instrumental in that way. They’re something we are doing, only we don’t think about it, in the sense that we don’t have to consider when we get up in the morning as an act of voluntary behavior how to connect all of the switches in our brain to get us ready for the day; they come on automatically. But this automatic or, I would rather call it, spontaneous functioning of the brain is what is called in Japanese ‘shizen'(?), that is to say, the spontenaity of nature. It does all this, and what we perform consciously is simply a small fragment of our total activity, of which we happen to be aware in a special way. We are far more than that. And it isn’t only, say, that the sun is light because we have eyes and optical nerves which translate the energy of the sun into an experience called ‘light.’ It is also that that very central fire of the sun is something that you are doing just as much as you are generating temperature in your body.
In other words, let’s suppose that those cosmologists and astronomers are right who believe that this universe started out with an original big bang, which flung all those galaxies out into space. Well, you know what that would be like. It’d be like taking a bottle of ink and flinging it hard at a white wall, and it makes a great splash. And you know how the nature of a splash is–in the middle of it, it’s dense, and as it gets to the outside of the splash, there’s all kinds of curlicues. But it’s a continuous energy system. In other words, the bang in the beginning cannot really be separated from the little curlicues at the end. So, supposing there was an original cosmic explosion which went FOOM, we sitting around in this room now are little curlicues on the end of it, you see? We are, actually, every one of us is incredibly ancient. The energy which is now manifested as your body is the same energy which was there in the beginning. If anything at all is old, this hand is as old as anything there is. Incredibly ancient. I mean, the energy keeps changing shapes, doing all sorts of things, but there it all is. It’s one continuous SPAT.
Now, if you just want to define yourself as a little curlicue on the end of things and say ‘That’s all of me there is,’ then you’ve got to be a puppet and say ‘Well, I’ve been pushed around by this whole system.’ Like a juvenile delinquent who knows a little Freud. ‘Well I can’t help what I’m doing, because it was my mother. She was terribly mixed up, and she didn’t bring me up properly, and my father was a mess. He was an alcoholic and he never paid any attention to me. So I’m a juvenile delinquent.’ So the social worker says ‘Yes, I’m afraid that’s so,’ and eventually some journalist gets ahold of it and says ‘We should punish the parents instead of the kids.’ So they go around to the parents and the mother says ‘Yes, I admit I’m a mess,’ and the father says ‘Of course I’m an alcoholic, but it was OUR parents who brought us up wrong, and we had all that trouble.’ Well, they can’t find them because they’re dead. And so you can go passing the buck way back, and you get to some characters called Adam and Eve. And when THEY were told they were responsible, they passed it again to a snake. And when that snake was asked about it, he passed the buck back to God, and God said ‘I disown you, because I don’t let my right hand know what my left hand doeth.’ And you know who the left hand of God is. The right hand is Jesus Christ, the left is the Devil. Only it mustn’t be admitted. Not on your life.
But that’s the whole thing, you see, in a nutshell. That once you define yourelf as the puppet, you say ‘I’m just poor little me, and I got mixed up in this world. I didn’t ask to be born. My father and mother gave me a body which is a system of tubes into which I got somehow mixed up, and it’s a maze and a tunnel and I don’t understand a way around it. It needs all these engineers and doctors and so on to fix it, educate it, tell it how to keep going, and I’m mixed up in it. Poor little me.’ Well this is nonsense! You aren’t mixed up in it, it’s you, and everybody’s being a blushing violet and saying ‘I’m not responsible for this universe, I merely came into it.’ And the whole function of every great guru is to kid you out of that, and look at you and say ‘Don’t give me that line of bull.’ But you have to be tactful; you have to be effective. You can’t just tell people this. You can’t talk people out of an illusion. It’s a curious thing.
There’s a whole debate going on now, as you all know, about whether God exists, and they’re going to do a cover story on God in ‘Time’ magazine, and they sent a reporter around to me – they sent reporters around to all sorts of prominent theologans and philosophers. I said ‘I have a photograph of God which you must put on the cover.’ It’s a gorgeous photograph of a Mexican statue made by Dick Borst(?). Beautiful God-the-father with a crown like the Pope. Only they said they were going to use something by Tintoretto. This photograph is a lovely thing. You know, a real genuine Mexican Indian thing. Simple people think this is what God looks like; very handsome man. Anyway, they’re going to do a cover story on God because the theologans are now arguing about a new kind of Christianity which says there’s no God and Jesus Christ is his only son. But what these people want to do is they desperately want to keep the church in Christianity because it pays off, that’s the minister’s job, and although they feel very embarrassed about God, what they’re doing is they want the Bible and Jesus to sort of keep this authority going. How you can do that, I don’t know.
But at any rate, the point is that God is what nobody admits to being, and everybody really is. You don’t look out there for God, something in the sky, you look in you. In other words, underneath the surface of the consciousness that you have and the individual role that you play and are identifying yourself with, you are the works. Just as you ARE beating your heart, in the same way you’re shining the sun, and you’re responsible. But in our culture, you mayn’t admit this, because if you come on that you’re God, they’ll put you in the nuthouse. Because our idea of God is based on Near Eastern politics, and so if you’re God, then you’re the ruler, the governor – ‘Oh Lord our governor!’ And so if you’re the governor, you know all the answers if that’s what you claim to be. So when anybody in our culture says ‘I’m God,’ we say ‘Well, well, why don’t you turn this shoe into a rabbit and show me that you’re God.’
But of course in Oriental cultures, they don’t think of God as an autocrat. God is the fundamental energy of the world which performs all this world without having to think about it. Just in the same way that you open and close your hand without being able to say in words how you do it. You do it. You say ‘I can open and close my hand.’ But how? You don’t know. That only means, though, that you don’t know in words. You do know in fact, because you do it. So in the same way, you know how to beat your heart, because you do it, but you can’t explain it in words. You know how to shine the sun, because you do it, but you can’t explain it in words, unless you’re a very fancy physicist, and he’s just finding out – what a physicist is doing is translating what he’s been doing all along into a code called mathematics. Then he says he knows how it’s done. He means he can put it into the code – and that’s what the academic world is. It’s translating what happened into certain codes called words, numbers, algorhythms, etc., and that helps us repair things when they go wrong.
So, the discovery of our inseparability from everything else is something that I don’t think will have to come by the primitive methods of difficult yoga meditations, or even through the use of psychedelic chemicals. I think it’s something that’s within the reach of very many people’s simple comprehension. Once you get the point. Just in the same way you can understand that the world is round and you experience it as such. You could call this a kind of guinana(?) yoga, in Hindu terms. But I don’t think it’s going to be necessary for our culture to get this point by staring at it’s navel, or by spending hours practicing Za-Zen, not that I’ve got anything against it, because after all, to sit still can be an extraordinarily pleasant thing to do, and it’s important for us to have more quiet. But I think this is essentially a matter of intuitive comprehension that will dawn upon us and suddenly hit us all in a heap, and you suddenly see that this is totally common sense, and that your present feeling of how you are is a hoax. You know how Henry Emerson Foster wrote a book called ‘How to be a Real Person’? Translated into it’s original terms, that means ‘How to be a Genuine Fake.’ Because the person is the mask, the ‘persona’ worn by actors in Greco-Roman drama. They put a mask on their face which had a megaphone-shaped mouth which projected the sound in an open- air theater. So the ‘dramatis persona’ at the beginning of a play is the list of masks, and the word ‘person,’ which means ‘mask,’ has come to mean the real you. ‘How to be a Real Person.’ Imagine.
But I think we’ll get over it, and discover the thing that we simply don’t let our children in on, that we don’t let ourselves in on. Let me emphasize this point again. It is not at the moment common sense, not plausible, because of our condition, but we can very simply come to see that YOU are not some kind of accident that pops up for a while and then vanishes – but that deep inwards, you are what there is and all that there is, which is eternal, and that which there is no whicher. That’s you. Now, you don’t have to remember that all the time, as you don’t have to remember how to beat your heart. You could die and forget everything you ever knew in this lifetime, because it’s not necessary to remember it. You’re going to pop up as somebody else later on, just as you did before, without knowing who you were. It’s as simple as that. You were born once, you can get born again. If there was a cosmic explosion once that blew everything into existence and is going to fizzle out, if it happened once, it can happen again, and it goes on..
It’s a kind of undulating system of vibrations. Everything’s a system of vibrations. Everything is on/off. Now you see it, now you don’t. Light itself is, but it’s happening so fast that the retina doesn’t register it. Everything in the sun is like an arc-lamp, only it’s a very fast one. It goes on-off. Sound does; and the reason you can’t put your finger through the floor is the same reason you can’t, without serious problems, push it through an electric fan. The floor is going so fast. Even faster than a fan. The fan is going slow enough to cut your finger if you put it into it. But the floor is going so fast, you can’t even get in. But that’s the only reason. It’s coming into existence and going out of existence at a terrific clip. So everything is on/off. So is our life. You can die, say ‘Well, I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t know anything.’ Just like in the same way you don’t know what’s going on inside your nervous system. How the nervous system links together, or anything like that. You don’t need to know, and if you had to find it all out, you’d get so confused with all the information that you wouldn’t be able to operate. It’d be just too much to think about with a single-pointed ordinary attention consciousness, which is a scanning system, like radar. You don’t need to know how it all works in order to work it out. That’s the real meaning of omnipotence.


ALAN WATTS: SELF AND OTHER, part 2 of 3


This morning, I was discussing the problem of technological civilization’s urgent need for a new sense of human existence, in which the human being no longer discovers himself as an alien oddity, somehow trapped and caught up in a system of tubes called the body, confronting an external world which is not himself. The urgency of realizing that just as this city is an extension of you, so is everything out to the farthest galaxies that we have any knowledge of, and beyond. Of regaining a sense of responsibility and identity with the basic functioning of your self as a complete physical organism, and that beyond that, your own organism, in a certain sense, knows its identity with its whole environment. In other words, the human body belongs in a continuous energy system which is co-extensive with the universe. And instead of making out that this is something you got caught up in, and for which you are not responsible, and in which you are just a victim, and if you’re lucky, you beat the game for a while, and win until death destroys you and you lose everything. You know, you can’t take it with you. That reminds me of a funny– Gary Schneider is a great friend of mine. He’s a poet from the West Coast, and he’s a very good Zen student. He’s studying under Oda-Roshi. And he suggested one day that we found a null and void title in Gary and Trust Company, with its slogan ‘Register your absence with us.’ And what you do is, you give your fortune to us, and we guarantee to transport it to you in the next life.
Anyway. This situation, I was suggesting, is one that can be overcome reasonably simply, if you can just get the idea straight. A lot of people say, you know, ‘I understand what you say intellectually, but that’s not enough. I don’t really understand it.’ But I often think that when people say that, they don’t fully understand it intellectually. If you can get something quite clear, really clear in your head, I don’t think that our mind is compartmentalized so that the intellect’s over here, and the feelings are over here, and the intuition is over there, and the sensations are over there. I don’t think Jung meant that when he made that classification. I think every faculty of the mind is continuous with all the others.
And so what you’re saying when you say ‘I understand it intellectually, but I don’t get it intuitively,’ or ‘I don’t feel it in my bones,’ is that you understand it in the sense of being able to repeat a form of words. Now it’s true that there’s lots of debates and problems that are purely verbal. A great deal of what goes on as theological or philosophical discussion is absolutely nothing except a war of words. A logical positivist, for example, can show conclusively that all metaphysical statements are meaningless. But so what? That’s just talk. People have, on the other hand, experienced, say, mystical states, and these experiences are quite as real as the experience of swimming in water, or lying in the sun, or eating a steak, or dying. And you can’t talk them away. They’re THERE, in a very concrete sense. But there is a very close connection between your conceptual understanding of the world and how you actually see the world.
In other words, let’s take for example this problem: there are people who don’t have number systems going beyond three. They count ‘One, two, three, many.’ So anything above three is a heap, or many. Now those people cannot know that a square table has four corners. It has many corners. But once you’re able to count beyond four, you can extend your counting system indefinitely. You have a different feeling about nature. It’s not only you know more, but you feel more. You feel more clearly. So my point is simply that the intellect is not something cut off from every other kind of experience, existing in a kind of abstract vacuum which has nothing to do with anything else. The intellect is part and parcel of the whole fabric of life. It goes along with your fingers; it goes along with being able to touch. After all, what an intellectual thing in a way the human hand is. It can do things that other hands can’t do. No other mammal can have thumb-finger contact. The monkey doesn’t achieve it.
So the hand is intellectual. So, as a matter of fact, a plant is intellectual. This thing is a gorgeous pattern. If you look into it and realize how this is designed to absorb light and moisture and so on, and to expose itself in different ways and to propogate its species, that it’s in alliance with bees and other insects, so that the bees and the plants, since they go together and are found together, they’re all one continuous form of life. This doesn’t exist except in a world where bees are floating around. I mean, you can bring it into an apartment, but you can’t expect it to propogate beyond that point. It’s decorative here. But in it’s natural habitat, this goes along with being bees, and bees go with their being something else. So this form that you see here is inseparable from all kinds of other forms which must exist if this is to exist. And the bees have language, if you’ve read Van Fritche’s(?) book about bees and their marvelous intelligence. But you see that the intelligence of the plant is the same as the pattern of the plant. You shouldn’t think that I would say the plant is the result of intelligence. The shape of it is the same as its intelligence. The shape of your brain, the shape of your face, the whole structure of the culture you live in, the human interrelationships that go on– it’s that pattern which is intelligence.
Now what I’m trying to talk about is a deeper understanding of the pattern in which we live, and if you understand that, it suddenly hits you so that you feel, right in your guts, this new kind of existence that is NOT yourself alone facing an alien world, but yourself as an expression of the world in the same way as the wave is the expression of the ocean.
Now then, the most important shift one has to make in intelligence and understanding this is to be able to think in a polar way. We sometimes say of things that we want to describe as being opposed to each other as being in conflict, that they are ‘the poles apart.’ People who belong to different schools of thought; people who belong to nations in opposition with each other; people who are in flat, outright conflict, we say they are the poles apart. But that’s a very funny phrase. Because things that are the poles apart happen to be very deeply connected. The North and the South Pole are the poles of one Earth. So try to imagine a situation in which there is an encounter between opposites, which have no connection with each other at all. Where will they come from? How will they meet each other? You think from the opposite ends of space? But what is space? For space to have opposite ends, there has to be a continuum between the ends. And so to think in a polar way is to realize the intimate connection between processes or events or things, which language describes as if they were unconnected and opposed.
Let’s take, first of all, two very fundamental poles. We’ll call them respectively ‘solid’ and ‘space,’ if you want existence and non-existence, because we tend to treat space as something that is not there. That’s simply because we don’t see it; we ignore it. We treat it as if it had no effective function whatsoever, and thus when our astronomers begin to talk about curved space, expanding space, properties of space, and so on, we think ‘What are they talking about? How can space have a shape? How can there be a structure in space, because space is nothing.’ But it isn’t so. You see, this is something we completely ignore. Why? Because we have specialized in a form of attention to the world which concentrates on certain features as important. We call this conscious attention, and therefore it ignores or screens out everything which doesn’t fit into its particular scheme. And one of the things that doesn’t fit into our scheme is space. So we come into a room like this and notice all the people in the room, and the furniture, and the flowers and the ornaments, and think that everything else just isn’t there. I mean, what about this interval that is between me sitting here and the inner circle of people who are arranged around the floor? What a mess we would be in if there wasn’t that interval. You know, I would be blowing down your throat to talk to you.
Now intervals of this spacial kind are tremendously important. Let me demonstrate this to you in a musical way. When you listen to a melody, what is the difference between hearing that melody and hearing a series of noises? The answer is that you heard the intervals. You heard the musical spaces between the series of tones. If you didn’t hear that, you heard no melody, and you would be what’s called tone-deaf. But what you actually hear is the steps between the levels of sound–the levels of vibration–that constitute the different tones. Now those weren’t stated, they were tacit. Only the tones were stated, but you heard the interval. So it made all the difference whether you heard the interval or not. So in exactly the same way, the intervals between us, seated around here, constitute many important things. They constitute the diginity of us all. They constitute the fact my face isn’t all mushed up in your face, and that we therefore have individual faces, and that need spaces around us.
In a country like Japan, space is the most valuable commodity, because it’s a small island that’s heavily overpopulated. So an apartment in Japan costs you a lot of money; in Hong Kong, it’s sky- high. But they have mastered the control of space in a fantastic way. And one of the ways they control space is through politeness. You can live with other people so that you live in a house where you’re so close together that you can hear every belly rumble of your neighbor, and you know exactly what’s going on. But you learn to hear without listening, and to see without looking. There’s a courtesy, you see, a respect for privacy which puts an interval between one individual and another. And it’s by reason of that interval that you are defined as you and I’m defined as I.
So you see the various kinds of space, various kinds of intervals? The pauses, when a person plays the drum–it’s those intervals–otherwise it would be of no interest. It’s the intervals that make the thing valuable. The space, then, is as real as the solid. This is the principle of polarity. Space and solid, in other words, which are formally opposed things. And you think, ‘Well, where there is a solid, there is something, and where there is space, there is nothing.’ They are actually as mutually supportive as back and front. They go together. Nobody ever found a space without a solid, and nobody ever found a solid without a space. But we’ve been trained to fix our attention on the solid and disregard the space. Well then obviously you haven’t been given the news, you haven’t been let in on what the secret of life is. It is that the space is as important as the solid. And if you see that, then you have the clue.
Now in the same way exactly, all other kinds of supposedly opposed entities and forces imply and involve each other. And this is the key to getting a different kind of consciousness of oneself, because you wouldn’t know who you are unless you knew what you have defined as other than yourself. Self and other define each other mutually. Let’s consider this first of all in a kind of a funny social way. In every town in the United States, there are a group of people who consider themselves to be the ‘nice’ people. They live on the right side of the tracks. Where I live in Sausalito, California, they live up on the hill, and down on the waterfront, there live all kinds of beatniks and bums, and we live in boats and shacks of all kinds. Some of these shacks are elegant inside, but that’s a secret. We call the boat I live on the Oyster, because you know how an oyster’s shell on the outside is very rough and crude, but there’s pearls on the inside.
But anyway, the people up on the hill say–what do they talk about? When they get together for cocktails or dinner or whatever and they have their social occasions, what’s the topic of conversation? It’s how the people are awful down below, and they’re encroaching and the town is going to the dogs, and etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. By this means, they preserve their collective ego. Meanwhile, the people down below, what do they talk about at their parties? They talk about the squares up on the hill who are engaged in business, which is ridiculous because it’s nothing but a rat-race, and they buy Cadillacs and other phony objects, and they deride them, but in the same way, those beatniks are enhancing THEIR collective ego, and they don’t realize that they need each other. That the symbiosis between the nice people and the nasty people, between the ‘in’ group and the ‘out’ group, is as much a symbiosis as between the bees and the flowers. Because you wouldn’t know who you were, unless there was an outsider.
In exactly the same way, politically speaking, our economy is presently dependant upon the cold war, which mustn’t be allowed to become hot. Because if there weren’t an enemy, defined as communism, nobody would be disturbed, nobody would be worried, therefore they wouldn’t put all this energy and money and taxes into a certain kind of productivity. Likewise on the other side, if those people in China and Russia couldn’t be worried about and afraid of the dirty capitalists, they wouldn’t have any means of stirring up their people to do something. Everybody would presumably just loaf around.
So because you define your position in opposition to another position, then you know who you are courtesy of the outsider, and so you can say to the outsider–if this suddenly strikes you, you start laughing, because you realize that you’re indebted to the outsider, whom you defined as awful, because you know where he is, you know where you are. Well now it’s the same thing in philosophy and religion. There are all sorts of schools of thought, and they disagree with each other, they debate with each other, but so far as I’m concerned, I wouldn’t know what I thought unless there were people who had different opinions than mine. Therefore, instead of saying to those people, ‘You ought to agree with me,’ I’d say to them, ‘Thank you so much for disagreeing, because now I know where I am.’ I wouldn’t know otherwise. In other words, the in goes with the out; the solid with the space. It’s a very funny thing.
Take any highly organized system of life. Take the way a garden exists. It’s full of, in a sense, competitive species. Snails and thrushes and various insects that are supposed to be at war with each other. And because their fights keep going on, the life of the garden as a whole is maintained. And so I can’t say ‘All snails in this garden should be abolished, so that the lettuces should thrive,’ because if there aren’t some snails around there, the birds won’t come around, because they like the snails. And the birds do all sorts of things for my garden, not to mention supplying it with manure and all kinds of things. So I need them around. So the price of having birds is snails that eat your lettuces. And so on. I mean, this is merely an instance, an example of this.
The funny thing is, though, that when you realize this, and you suddenly see for the first time that you and your point of view, and everything that you stand for and believe in–and you think ‘Boy, I’m going to stand for that and I’m going to fight for that!’–that it depends on its opposite. When you get that, it starts giving you the giggles, and you begin to laugh at yourself, and this is one of the most amazing forces in life, the creative force is human. Because when you are in a state of anxiety, and you are afraid that black may win over white, that darkness may conquer light, that non-being may conquer being, you haven’t seen this point. When it strikes you that the two go together, the trembling emotional feeling which we call anxiety is given another value, and it’s called laughter.
Now let’s take the phenomenon of an electric bell. When you turn on an electric bell, you turn on a system in which ‘yes’ implies ‘no.’ That is to say, here’s the bell, and beneath it, there’s an electromagnet, and that magnet, when it’s switched on, magnetizes an armature, which comes and hits the bell. But the moment it does that, it turns off the current, so that the magnet releases it, and because the armature has a spring on it, it goes back. That turns the current on. So it comes back; that turns the current off. So ‘yes’ equals ‘no’; ‘no’ equals ‘yes.’ And so the bell vibrates, which is what you want it to do. Now, how do you interpret your own vibrating, your alternation between ‘yes’ and ‘no’? You can interpret this as an awful thing of doubt, and then you say you were anxious. But if you see that the one implies the other, then it becomes ‘ha ha ha ha ha.’ It becomes a laugh. So the transformation of anxiety into laughter comes about through realizing the polarity of ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ of ‘to be’ and ‘not to be.’
But the important thing for our purposes is the polarity between the self and the other. Let’s consider for example, when you hate, you love yourself. ‘I love me.’ Let’s be very egotistic and VERY selfish indeed. What do you love when you love yourself? Think about it. Say you were going to live a completely disillusioned, self-interested life, and other people can go hang. Now consider, what is it that you’re interested in? ‘Well,’ you say for example, ‘I like eating.’ Okay. Do you eat yourself? ‘No. I like eating fish, oysters, radishes, mushrooms.’ All these are things that are formally speaking not me, yet these are what I say I like. Well, could you say ‘What I really like about them is the state they put ME in when they impinge on me’? In other words, when I put the mushroom sauce in my mouth, that does something to my mouth and my body, and it’s THAT that I like, rather than the mushrooms as such. Well that isn’t the truth. If that’s all, you can’t cook properly. I can tell instantly when I taste something that’s been cooked, what state of mind the cook was in.
Now let me tell you a secret. You cannot possibly be a good cook unless you like to pick up an onion in your hands, look it over, and say ‘Oh, isn’t that lovely?’ Or feel an egg. I think an egg is one of the most beautiful shapes on Earth, and you take it up, and although it’s an opaque shell, it has a kind of subtle, luminous transparency to it. Especially when you see the variations between white eggs and brown eggs, and you look at those things and you just love them. Now unless you have that feeling, you can’t cook. You may follow recipes, you may have had a training course, you may have had everything. But everything you’re going to cook, unless you have that feeling, is going to taste as though it’s been washed in detergent, and you can tell. It may be that they used no fancy sauces, they roasted a piece of meat. Let’s take the Chinese way of cooking a chicken. You take a chicken, and you put in boiling water for ten minutes, with salt and a little sherry. You turn it off, and you leave it there for a half an hour. Then you take it out and chill it, and that can be the most succulent chicken imaginable.
But somehow it doesn’t quite come off if this was just a formula. Same way when you strike a note on the piano, it isn’t simply a matter of so much pressure which could be measured on some sort of mechanical instrument, because if that was so, all we’d have to do is get those player pianos which hit the notes regularly in accordance with the formula, and they all sound terrible. Because there’s a thing in touching that’s called follow-through. When you hit a golf ball, it’s not enough to hit the ball with a certain volume, you have to have a swing that goes beyond that, and so in the same way with striking notes, there has to be a thing called follow-through, that you go beyond the actual hitting of the note, and that is a thing that’s hard to measure, but is very important and makes all the difference.
So then, the relationship of self to other is the complete realization that loving yourself is impossible without loving everything defined as other than yourself. In fact, the more you try to think about what your self is, the more you discover that you can only think about yourself in terms of things that you thought were other than yourself. If you search for yourself, this is one of the great koan problems in Zen, produce you, find out who you are. When, for example, Shri Ramana Maharshi, that great Hindu sage of modern times–people used to come to him and say ‘Who was I in my previous incarnation?’ You know, that sort of stupid question. He would say ‘Who wants to know?’ Who are you? Find out who you are. And you can search for you endlessly, and never find out. Never. Everything that you get a kind of sensation of as being yourself will, upon examination, turn out to be something else. Something other.
And now let’s work on the other direction. Go exactly the opposite way. What do you mean by something other? Let’s find something other than me, and search for that. ‘Well,’ I say, ‘all right. I can touch the ground here.’ This is something other than me, and yet, I realize that my sensation of this soft carpet with something firm underneath it is a state of my nerve endings in my hand and in my muscles, which report to me that this is a softly covered hardness, and that everything I feel about this carpet and the floor is a condition of my brain. In other words, when I feel this so-called external thing, I feel it only as it is as it were translated into states of my own body. All of you I see with your various shapes and colors, when I look out here, I am actually having an experience of how it feels inside my head. That’s the place where I know you, and you know me, in your heads. So that I really do not have any sensations of anything other than myself, because whatever I do know, I have to translate it into a state of my own body in order to know it at all.
But do you see now what I have done? I carried in one direction the argument, where do I find my self? And it all turned out to be something other. Then I followed the question, how do I find something other, and it all turned out to be me. The same thing happens, for example, when you get into the old debates about fate and free will. When you discover that everything that you do is completely determinate. Then you suddenly have to wake up to the fact that the only real you is whatever it is that’s determining what you do. I mean, if you say ‘All that I do here and now is a result of the past. There have been processes in the past, going back and back and back, and my sitting here in this room and talking to you is simply the necessary effect of all that ever happened before.’ Do you know what that’s saying? It’s saying that here in your presence talking to you is everything that ever happened before. That’s me. Wowee, and so of course with you being here, if you want to figure it that way, because all this problem about causality is completely phony.
It’s all based on this–that in order to talk about the world and think about it, we had to chop it up into bits, and we called those bits things and events. In the same way, if you want to eat chicken, you can’t swallow a whole chicken unless you’ve got a huge mouth. So you cut it up into pieces, or you get a cut-up fryer from the store, but you don’t get a cut-up fryer from an egg. Chicken comes whole out of the egg. So in the same way, the universe of nature doesn’t come in bits or bites. It comes all in one piece. But to digest it, to absorb it into your mind, you’ve got to cut it into bits and take it in, as we say, one thing at a time. But that chopping of the world into these separate bits is like chopping up the chicken or carving the slices off the beef, or taking water out, cupful by cupful. You can handle it that way, but that’s not the way it is.
So you have to see that the whole notion of there being particular, separate events, and particular, separate things, is nothing more than a calculus. A calculus. Calculus means ‘pebbles.’ Pebbles used for counting. So when we measure curves, we pretend as if they were a series of points, and the position of these points can be expressed in an arithmatical way, say by tracing a curve across a piece of finely calibrated graph paper. That’s the basis of the calculus. So that a curve swings so many points across, so many down, etc., and so you feel you have control of the curve that way, you measure it, you know where it really goes. But where it really goes, you have set up this ‘really’ in terms of your other criss- cross system, and you said ‘That’s for real.’ All it means is you’ve meshed two different systems, one on top of the other, and you’re saying ‘What I mean by reality is the systems of measurements that I’ve invented. The system of weights and measures. This thing is REALLY,’ and you feel a great sense of confidence, ‘exactly two pounds.’ Now simply because you’ve made the two pounds of apples correspond with the weighing machine, which is a constant. Two pounds of apples, two pounds of grapes, different number of apples, different number of grapes, but you say ‘That’s really two pounds.’
But so, in just the same way, we say ‘There are really different people. There are really different events.’ But actually there aren’t. I’m not saying that if we were to see the world in its truth, all of you different people would disappear, that your outlines would suddenly become vague, and you would turn into a solid lump of gelatinous goo. A lot of people think that’s the way mystics see things. That’s not at all what would happen. The thing I’m saying is this: we are all different, but we are as interrelated and indispensable to each other as the different organs in our body – stomach, heart, glands, bones, etc. Now you can argue that the stomach is fundamental–eating is the big thing, and therefore we grew brains as extensions of the stomach to get it more food. So that you say ‘The brain is the servant of the stomach.’ But you can argue equally that the brain is primary, and it has all these thinking games to play, and it needs a stomach as an appendage to supply it with energy. Or you can argue that the sex organs are primary and they need the brain and the stomach to keep that ecstasy going. But the brain and the stomach can equally argue that they wouldn’t find it worthwhile going on unless they had the sex organ appendange to give them solace. The truth of the matter is that nobody comes first. No one pushes the other around. You don’t find brains without stomachs and sex organs. They all go together – and this is the fallacy of Freud, in saying that the sexual apparatus are primary. It just goes along with the others.
So you don’t have a universe in which a series or a collection of separate events or things are banging each other around like an enormous mass of billiard balls. You have a situation which is quite different from that, where what have hitherto been called ‘causally related events,’ to say that certain events are causally related is a very clumsy way of saying that these certain specific events which you have isolated as being causally related, were in fact really all parts of the same event.


ALAN WATTS: SELF AND OTHER, pt 3 of 3


In the previous session, I was discussing polarity and polar thinking as the key to understanding that our identity is more than the skin-encapsulated ego. Polar thinking is the crux, the essential tool for making the jump from feeling yourself to be something merely in this universe on the one hand, to the state of feeling, on the other hand, that you are this universe, focused and acting in that particular way that we call the human individual. If you study the writings of the mystics, you will always find things in them that appear to be paradoxes, as in Zen, particularly. Empty-handed I go, yet a spade is in my hand. I walk on foot, and yet I’m riding on the back of an ox – and when crossing a bridge, the bridge flows, and the water stays still. Or when Jim drinks, John gets tipsy. Zen is full of paradoxes of this kind. Eckhart is full of sayings like this, ‘The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me. The love with which I love God is the same love with which God loves me.’ Things like that.
So this principle is explained in the sutra of the sixth patriarch. You know, the famous platform sutra of Whey-No he gives a long instruction on how to answer people’s questions about Zen. He says ‘If they ask you a question about something sacred, give them an answer in terms of the secular. If they ask about the secular, give them an answer in terms of the sacred.’ So if somebody says ‘What is buddha?’ say ‘This saucepan holds about a quart.’ If they ask you about a saucepan, you say ‘Why is my hand so much like the buddha’s hand?’
And so that’s the secret to understanding funny stories in Zen, that it’s the same thing that – It’s polarity. All these paradoxes are polarity thinking. Because what makes the difference between a person who has this type of cosmic or mystical consciousness – I don’t like these words, but we haven’t got a good word for this state of mind. Well, we’ll have to put our heads together and invent something better. In academic circles, I call it ‘ecological awareness,’ because mysticism is a dirty word around the academy. So ‘ecological awareness’ does fairly well, except again, you always have to explain to people what ecology is; they don’t know yet. Ecology is the science which deals with the relationships between organisms and their environments. Just as economics, in Greek, ‘ecos,’ is the ‘home.’ So economics, ‘ecosnomos,’ is the law of the home, and ‘ecologos’ is the logic of the home, and so the ‘ecos,’ the home of man, is the world. So ecology is man’s relationship to the world, or a plant’s relationship to its environment. All that kind of relationship, the study of the bee and flower bit, is ecology.
The thing that is so characteristic, then, of this new or different kind of consciousness, is that it starts from or has its foundation in awareness of relationship, of ‘go withness,’ that the inside of a situation goes with the outside, and although you may think from the point of view of ordinary consciousness, that they work independantly from each other; in this state of consciousness you see that they don’t. In other words, it’s slowly beginning to penetrate our ordinary consciousness. That what any individual does, and we ascribe to him as his behavior and praise him for it or blame him for it, everything that he does goes with what happens outside him. The behavior of the environment, and the behavior of that organism within that environment, is one behavior, and you mustn’t think of this deterministically. That is to say, as if the organism were something merely subservient to the environment. Nor must you think the opposite way, that the environment is something that can be pushed around by the organism. When an organism starts looking as if it were pushing its environment around, it simply means that the environment/organism, the total field, is changing itself.
So there is no determinism in this, just as there is no idea of old-fashioned free will. You learn to see that there is simply one behavior pattern working, which we will call the organism-environment, and if you understand that, you undertand that YOU are this totality organism-environment, and so you are moving with it in the same way that all the organs of your physical body are moving together. As all the cells of the brain cooperate. You don’t have to make them cooperate, you don’t have to tell them to; you don’t have to arrange a treaty of some kind, they just do so. So when birds fly, you notice particularly birds like sandpipers, when they turn suddenly in the air, they turn as if they were all one bird. Although when they land on the sand, they become individuals, and they run about independantly looking for worms. Then suddenly you shout at them, and they shoot into the air, and they’re all one creature, moving as if it had a single mind. You know that haiku poem:

A hundred goods from the mind of one vine.

So just as we are organized that way, as organisms, so also we are, although not aware of it, organized that way collectively as individuals relating to each other and relating to the other forms of life, and to the geology, and the meteorlogical and astronomical phenomena around us. Only we haven’t come to notice it. Our attention has been so fixed upon some of the details of this relationship, that we have created a system of details as if it were a separate physical system. You understand, I’ve mentioned this, I’m sure, to many of you before, that human beings have for at least 3000 years specialized in one kind of attention only. That is what we call conscious attention, and that is a form of scanning the physical environment as if we were looking at it with a spotlight. And therefore, the nature of scanning is this: that it takes in the whole scene in series, bit by bit. Even if you don’t go in a straight line, and you scan looking around you, you have a series of glimpes or glances piled up, and that gives you the history, in linear time, of your existence, because it’s one experience of attention after another. Now, in just the same way with all of us in this room exist totally together here and now, with all our innumerable physical organs, and every single one of our hairs, all present here. Nevertheless, we notice all this in series, and we come to imagine, therefore, that we live in time instead of in eternity, and so I have to resort to funny little tricks, like I was discussing yesterday, to show how the past is influenced by the future, because we screen that possibility out by the way we pay attention to things. We are absolutely befuddled with words, and you see, words follow the same linear pattern, because words are a notation. Conscious observation of the world by the spotlight always is accompanied by a notation. That is to say the notation of language, the notation of written letters, the notation of numbers, the notation of algebraical symbols, any kind of notation you want to think of. Musical notes–they do the same thing. And you notice what you can notate, and that is what is notable, noteworthy, because we observe and become aware consciously only of those things that we consider important. And what do you consider important? Well, that depends on your hobby. For which for most people is survival.
But when you get relaxed, when you get into the contemplative state, and you sit quietly–you know, you should try tea ceremony for this; this is a way of noticing everything. I mean, if suddenly realizing that what people consider important is that most of them are absolutely out of their minds. They are rushing around with piercing eyes looking into the future, trying to make livings, and then when they make the living, they don’t know what to do with it, because they don’t have time to enjoy it. I mean, after all, if you’ve got a business, and you’re fleecing the public by putting out an inferior product and making scads of money doing this, then when you’ve made your money, all you have to buy is the inferior products of your competitors, and you’ve cheated yourself, because you didn’t know how to live.
I’m getting ready to do a new television series on the contributions of Asia to the lesiurely life and the good life. It’s going to be about things like Chinese and Indian cooking; Japanese bathtubs, how to install one in the American home; how to do Japanese massage; how to make up your wife like a Hindu dancing girl; how to dress, what Asia has to contribute to comfortable clothes; all kinds of things like that. How to be civilized, yes, because we’re [telling?] the American public that they’re the richest country in the world and they don’t know how to enjoy themselves. Really, the things that we are told are enjoyable, aren’t, really. It will discuss, for example, things like the snow treatment, which is four couples–or four of anybody, for that matter–it’s where an evening is set aside for one person to serve the other, wait on them hand and foot, and deliver them a glorious evening of dining, dancing, hot tubs, massage, lovemaking, everything, and you really knock yourself out to do something beautiful for another person. But people don’t do that sort of thing. I don’t know why not, it’s tremendous fun, for both parties involved. ‘Snow,’ is slang for heroin, and is used in this case as a joke, that this is the ultimate pleasure. So we say to ‘snow’ someone is to give them an absolutely royal time.
But this incapacity for–well, we could call it an incapacity for pleasure, and this tremendous preoccupation with time and with rush and with getting there, is a result of overspecialization in linear consciousness. Now, linear consciousness is indeed remarkable, but it is something in a way aggresive. Just as the sword, the cutting edge, is an aggresive instrument, as distinct from the total skin. With the total skin, you can feel all over, and in this way you embrace life. When you get into a hot tub, it goes all over your skin, and it’s a type of diffused thing, what Freud called polymorphus erotic feeling, all over. Whereas conscious awareness is like the point of a pencil: it jabs, and it writes down precisely what. And so those people who are all conscious attention are sort of intellectual porcupines. They’re all prickles into things, and that gives them an essentially hostile attitude toward life, because of course conscious attention is a troubleshooter. It’s the radar in the human organism to watch out for changes in the environment, just as the radar of a ship is watching out for icebergs, and an airplane’s radar is watching out for thunderclouds. So in the same way, our thing is going around like this, and it’s serving a very valuable function. But if you identify yourself all entire with that part function, then you define yourself as being in trouble, and looking for trouble, and you become unaware of your generalized relationship with the external world.
So then, you don’t see that other things are important, besides those things which are ‘practical.’ Nobody takes time off to look at these things, and Nan-sen, the Zen master, said ‘most people look at these flowers as if they were in a dream.’ That is to say, they were not awake, not looking at it at all. And people think, ‘Well, they’re pretty; they decorate the room; they have green leaves, and that’s nice.’ And once you get them to draw what they think it looks like, it doesn’t look anything like it. You know, you draw a leaf, you make an outline like this, and you fill it up with green paint. But these aren’t green. They’re every color of the rainbow. If you look at any single leaf of this plant, and you look deeply enough, you will see the reflection of every color in the room in it. And you will begin to realize that if you contemplate long enough on the leaf of the flower, that it involves the whole universe.
You should watch for things like this, it’s fascinating. Don’t dismiss refections as things that aren’t there. When you walk into a room, you can see that not only do the windowpanes, and polished furniture, and people’s spectacles, and people’s eyeballs, not only do they reflect everything going on around you, also things pick up color. What color is the carpet? It depends on the light. You say, ‘Well, it’s a white carpet.’ That’s only because the windows aren’t colored. If the windows were blue, it would be a blue carpet. ‘But,’ you say, ‘a transparent window is of course a truer and more correct window than a blue one,’ but is it? Why should it be? Why should so- called white glass be more real somehow than blue glass? Nobody every answered that. So it’s just that white glass is what we use most of the time, so we say that’s more ‘real’ than what we would only use occasionally. But then in a dark room, the color of the carpet changes. When it’s got shadows on it in a certain way, any painter can say ‘that’s no longer a white carpet. What color are these shadows? I don’t know. Some of them look gold.’ So then you begin to realize through reflection that in a way, everything is reflection. That’s quite a thought. We all feel that there are substantial things. The feeling of hardness I get when I shove my fist against somthing is exactly like the feeling of light when I meet somthing with my eyes.
The point is that the eyes are so sensitive that they can realize the concreteness of light. The ears are so sensitive that they can realize the concreteness of air vibrations and turn them into sound. The fingers are less sensitive, and they realize concreteness–that is, reality–in terms of touch, in terms of hardness. But all these things are reflections. That is to say– Well, let’s ask the question, is a rainbow real? Well, it fulfills all the catagories of being there, because it fills all the catagories of public observation. It isn’t the hallucination of just one observer, because you can stand beside me and see the rainbow, too. But you just try to get ahold of that rainbow, approach it. I remember as a little boy, I’d ride my bicycle around chasing rainbow ends, and believing there might be a pot of gold at the end of it. But the irritating thing was, you could never catch up with the rainbow. Well, was it there, or wasn’t it? Well, everybody saw it. But you see, it depends on a kind of triangulation between you and the sun and the moisture in the air, and if that triangulation doesn’t exist, and of those three functions don’t exist, there isn’t any rainbow. Just like if I hit a drum, and I pound the hell out of it with no skin on the drum, it won’t make any noise. In other words, for the drum to beat, needs both skin and a fist. If there’s no skin, the drum doesn’t make any noise; if there’s no fist, the drum doesn’t make any noise.
So in the same way, exactly, the hard floor made of stone is like a rainbow. It is there only if certain conditions of relationship are fulfilled. Now, we like to think, you see, that houses and things go on existing in their natural state when we’re not around looking at them or feeling them. But what about the rainbow? Supposing that there’s nobody to see it; would it be there? Or let me put it in another way. We’re supporting the myth that the external world exists without us, but let’s ask the question in another way. Supposing I was there, capable of seeing a rainbow, but there wasn’t any sun out. It wouldn’t be there, would it? Let’s put it another way. Suppose the sun was out, and I was there to see it, but there wasn’t any moisture in the atmosphere. It wouldn’t be there, would it? So equally, it wouldn’t be there if there was no one there to see it. It just as much depends on somebody to see it as it depends on the sun and it depends on the moisture.
But we try to pretend, you see, that the external world exists altogether independently of us. That’s the whole myth of the independent observer, of man coming into a world into which he doesn’t really belong, and that it’s all going in there and he has nothing to do with it, but he just arrives in here and sees it as it always was. But that’s a jokeº and people could only feel that way if they felt compeletely alienated and did not feel that the external world was continuous with their own organism. You bet you the external world is so continuous with your own organism: the whole world is human because it’s humaning.
There was a superstition in the 19th century to think of it some other way. Because, for example, when it was found out that the Earth was not the center of the cosmos, but that we were a small planet in a rather insignificant solar system, way out on the edge of a galaxy that certainly wasn’t the biggest galaxy there was in all space, and people began to say, ‘Oh, dear me. Man is nothing. He’s merely a fungus on this little rock that goes around the sun, and nature couldn’t care less.’ And so all the poets of the new 19th century philosophy of science said ‘Man is nothing.’ But at the same time, man was saying he was the spearhead of evolution, the farthest that life had progressed, and he was going to conquer nature, because he’s just a poor little accident, and if he’s going to make his way of life successful, he’s got to fight all this nonsense around him, all these other creatures that aren’t even civilized, and beat them into submission so they’ll be civilized.
Well that’s a big story; that’s a fairly tale. You could equally say man is a mighty atom, tiny, way off in some funny corner of the universe–but don’t forget, the universe has no corners. Everywhere in it is the middle, or can be regarded as such, just as I pointed out to you that any point on a sphere can be seen as the center of the surface of the sphere. So in the same way, anything in curved space can be seen as the middle of it all. And here in the middle of it all, once again the Earth has become the center of the cosmos. The infinitely mobile central point of all possible orbits. That was a joke phrase invented by Franz Verfeld(?) in his book ‘Star of the Unborn.’ But it really is. You can regard anywhere as central. So, here in the center is this extraordinary little being whose importance is not in his size–that’s no criterion of value–but in his complexity, in his sensitivity, in the fact that these little germs, these tiny, tiny creatures we call people are each one of them essential to the existence of the whole cosmos. That’s the sort of relation we have here between the great and the small, the macrocosm and the microcosm.
But you see, we don’t think about it, because of a way– We are all brought up within social forms which denied us. ‘Little children should be seen and not heard.’ When children come into this world, we put them down. You get used to that in infancy, and all your life through, you feel vaguely put down by reality. Government gives itself airs and graces, even in a democracy. The police are superbly rude to everybody else, just because they happen to be the instruments of the law. Incidentally, there’s a very amusing article in a periodical called the ‘East Village Other,’ on policemanship, and what to do if you’re detained by one of these officers of the law, how to behave. You must be respectful, that’s the main point. You see, that attitude, that you are here on probation, on sufferance, that you don’t matter, that you’re not important to this whole thing at all, and that you could be wiped out any time and no one would miss you, is very, very deeply pushed into us by social institutions. Because we’re afraid that if we taught people otherwise they would get too big for their boots. Well, of course they might, because they would be reacting against the old way of doing things. If you tell a person who’s been put down all his life that he is in fact the lord god, he’s liable to go off his rocker.
But the problem is that we have got a certain criterion of what to experience, and what to look at, and what is important, as a result of specialization of conscious attention alone, and with that goes the idea that the most important virtue in a living organism is agression. We’re terribly anxious if our kids aren’t brought up to be aggressive. You know, you get a report about your boy from the school teacher telling you that Johnny’s not aggressive enough. Well, you thought he was supposed to be integrated with the group, that’s what they were talking about some time ago, and now they say he doesn’t show aggression. Because the culture is aggressive; it’s based, for example, you can– Look at our taboos. We have no taboo against pictures of people being tortured and murdered, which are very unpleasant, but we do have a taboo against pictures of people making love. Why? We have the feeling, you see, that everything to do with the glowing, flowing, glorious, warm participation of life is slightly sickening. Whereas where life is not participated in, but where there’s kind of a sharp contact, why that’s real. A lot of people don’t really know they’re here unless they hurt. And if you have any doubts in your conscious as to whether you’re all right, so long as you’re in pain you can be sure you are. Suffering is so good for you, because it builds character, and above all it tells you that you’re here. I know people who like going to the dentist, because they get a great sense of reality from going to the dentist.
But, in the history of mankind, there have been all kinds of perfectly viable and successful cultures which didn’t buy that story. The famous matriarchal cultures were always different in their attitude. They weren’t afraid of pleasure. They wouldn’t say that ecstacy was enfeebling. This is a system of values based on people for whom the object of existence is survival and conquest, and they say, ‘Well, that is important,’ and they cannot understand that survival might not be that important. Survival only seems to you that important when you think that your particular death is curtains. But if you see that the world goes on anyhow, and even supposing we were to blow up this planet tomorrow, completely, it’d be a matter of time, but the whole thing would soon be going again. Might not be in this solar system, or even in this galaxy, because simply what happened once can happen again. And it may take billions of years, but what’s that in cosmic time? It’ll go on. And if people see this, they won’t blow it up. What will make us blow the planet up that the competition for survival is our anxiety for the whole thing. ‘Oh, let’s blow it up, because we can’t bear sitting around wondering when it’s going to happen. Get it over with.’ And this is our difficulty.
So if you understand–let’s carry this further now–that you are really the cosmos, and that you can’t die, in that sense of you, you can disappear as an individual organism, yes, but that’s only your surface. The real you can’t die, so stop fooling around as if you could. You’ll be relaxed and you’ll be happy, and you won’t start this tremendous project to assert your individuality over everybody else, just to tell you that you’re really there; that’s all they do. I mean, a person who goes out for power, who wants to feel that he’s in control of all the things that are happening around him is simply somebody who is in a state of terror.
I was in a club in Dallas a few days ago, and I met a man who’s alleged to be the richest man in the United States, and he looked miserable. But boy, does he have power. And of course, he’s spending his life trying to prevent other people having any, especially his competitors. But he’s miserable. He looks as if he had ulcers, and just terrible.
So this is a question of learning new values and learning them by letting up on this tremendously frantic kind of consciousness, which jumps from one thing to another and says ‘What’s next?’ Now if you do this, for example, if you get out of that bind, you can take–I seem to be facing the carpet, so it forms a natural illustration–you can take the carpet, and in the ordinary way you would look at that and say ‘Well, it’s a nice carpet, it’s all right, but it’s mighty disorganized.’ You know, all the hairs in it, and the tufts go this way and that way and so on. But if you see it the way I’m looking at it at the moment, it’s not disorganized at all, because this is not chaos. This is– I don’t have any preconception about it, that it should be this way or it should be that way. This looks to me as beautiful as patterns in foam, or the way bark grows on a tree, or the way leaves scatter themselves across the surface of a pond. You see, we see all those things are beautiful, because the painters copy them and the photographers enjoy photographing them. They never go wrong in their formations. Nor do you. Except from a certain point of view. Yes, I mean when we don’t know that we don’t go wrong, then we go wrong, because we get in a panic about what’s going to happen to us. But if we do know that we don’t go wrong, then we don’t get in a panic, and we can live harmoniously.
But we’re afraid, you see, to know that we don’t go wrong, because we think that if we do that, we will lose our morals. But the only reason why people lose their morals is that they’re scared. They can’t trust life, or they can’t trust others. They think that if you die or something like that, it will be terrible, it will be awful, it will be the end. So the fights. So the desperate efforts to make it all in one life, and that’s greed. That’s excessive protections of one’s security. But if you are really open, and you start looking around, you suddenly see that you’re in a world where everything is absolutely incredible. Not simply lovely things like these blossoms here, but also the dust on the floor, little wiggles, cracks, and the quality of light in things. That’s what’s so fascinating, the reflection of light on everything, becuase everything that exists is really a reflection of everything else. Reflection is ultimate. The reflection is a mirror, here, and when the curtain is drawn, it suddenly looks as if the Chrysler building is across the other side of the East River. You say, ‘Well, it isn’t really there, that’s just a reflection.’ But the Chrysler building on THAT side of the river is a reflection. Some reflection, but that’s what it is. The whole world is just energy bouncing. What exists if it’s not reflecting? That’s the clue: reflection. The reflective life, the contemplatory life, is therefore wisdom.

Alan Watts – The Art of The Controlled Accident

Published on Jul 10, 2012 http://www.youtube.com/user/AntiVirus…”Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news re…

Published on Jul 10, 2012
http://www.youtube.com/user/AntiVirus…

“Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.”

Alan Watts

Alan Watts by South Park creators

Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) was a British-born philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known as an interpreter and populariser of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. Born in Chislehurst, he moved to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York. Pursuing a career, he attended Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, where he received a master’s degree in theology. Watts became an Episcopal priest then left the ministry in 1950 and moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies.

Watts gained a large following in the San Francisco Bay Area while working as a volunteer programmer at KPFA, a Pacifica Radio station in Berkeley. Watts wrote more than 25 books and articles on subjects important to Eastern and Western religion, introducing the then-burgeoning youth culture to The Way of Zen (1957), one of the first bestselling books on Buddhism. In Psychotherapy East and West (1961), Watts proposed that Buddhism could be thought of as a form of psychotherapy and not a religion. He also explored human consciousness, in the essay “The New Alchemy” (1958), and in the book The Joyous Cosmology (1962).

Towards the end of his life, he divided his time between a houseboat in Sausalito and a cabin on Mount Tamalpais. His legacy has been kept alive by his son, Mark Watts, and many of his recorded talks and lectures are available on the Internet. According to the critic Erik Davis, his “writings and recorded talks still shimmer with a profound and galvanizing lucidity.”

In 1936, Watts’s first book was published, The Spirit of Zen. In The Way of Zen[12] he disparaged The Spirit of Zen as a “popularisation of Suzuki‘s earlier works, and besides being very unscholarly it is in many respects out of date and misleading.”

In 1938 he and his bride left England to live in America. He had married Eleanor Everett, whose mother Ruth Fuller Everett was involved with a traditional Zen Buddhist circle in New York. A few years later, Ruth Fuller married the Zen master (or “roshi”), Sokei-an Sasaki, and this Japanese gentleman served as a sort of model and mentor to Watts, though he chose not to enter into a formal Zen training relationship with Sasaki. During these years, according to his later writings, Watts had another mystical experience while on a walk with his wife.

Watts’s fascination with the Zen (or Chan) tradition—beginning during the 1930s—developed because that tradition embodied the spiritual, interwoven with the practical, as exemplified in the subtitle of his Spirit of Zen: A Way of Life, Work, and Art in the Far East. “Work,” “life,” and “art” were not demoted due to a spiritual focus. In his writing, he referred to it as “the great Ch’an (or Zen) synthesis of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism after A.D. 700 in China.”

Watts left formal Zen training in New York because the method of the teacher did not suit him. He was not ordained as a Zen monk, but he felt a need to find a professional outlet for his philosophical inclinations. He entered Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, an Episcopal (Anglican) school in Evanston, Illinois, where he studied Christian scriptures, theology, and church history. He attempted to work out a blend of contemporary Christian worship, mystical Christianity, and Asian philosophy. Watts was awarded a master’s degree in theology in response to his thesis, which he published as a popular edition under the title Behold the Spirit: A Study in the Necessity of Mystical Religion. The pattern was set, in that Watts did not hide his dislike for religious outlooks that he decided were dour, guilt-ridden, or militantly proselytizing—no matter if they were found within Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism.

All seemed to go reasonably well in his next role, as Episcopal priest (beginning in 1945, aged 30), until an extramarital affair resulted in his young wife having their marriage annulled. It also resulted in Watts leaving the ministry by 1950. He spent the New Year getting to know Joseph Campbell and Campbell’s wife, Jean Erdman; as well as John Cage the notable composer.

In early 1951, Watts moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco. Here he taught alongside Saburō Hasegawa, Frederic Spiegelberg, Haridas Chaudhuri, lama Tokwan Tada, and various visiting experts and professors. Hasegawa, in particular, served as a teacher to Watts in the areas of Japanese customs, arts, primitivism, and perceptions of nature. Besides teaching, Watts served for several years as the Academy’s administrator. One notable student of his was Eugene Rose, who later went on to become a noted hieromonk and theologian in the Eastern Orthodox Church in America.

Watts also studied written Chinese and practiced Chinese brush calligraphy with Hasegawa as well as with some of the Chinese students who enrolled at the academy. While Watts was noted for an interest in Zen Buddhism, his reading and discussions delved into Vedanta, “the new physics“, cybernetics, semantics, process philosophy, natural history, and the anthropology of sexuality.

After heading up the Academy for a few years, Watts left the faculty for a freelance career in the mid-1950s. In 1953, he began what became a long-running weekly radio program at Pacifica Radio station KPFA in Berkeley, which continued until his death in 1973. Like other volunteer programmers at the listener-sponsored station, Watts was not paid for his broadcasts; they did, however, gain him a large following in the San Francisco Bay Area. These programs were later carried by additional Pacifica stations, and were re-broadcast many times over in the decades following his death. The original tapes are currently held by the Pacifica Radio Archives, based at KPFK in Los Angeles, and at the Electronic University archive founded by his son, Mark Watts (alanwatts.org).

In 1957 when 42, Watts published one of his best known books, The Way of Zen, which focused on philosophical explication and history. Besides drawing on the lifestyle and philosophical background of Zen, in India and China, Watts introduced ideas drawn from general semantics (directly from the writings of Alfred Korzybski and also from Norbert Wiener‘s early work on cybernetics, which had recently been published). Watts offered analogies from cybernetic principles possibly applicable to the Zen life. The book sold well, eventually becoming a modern classic, and helped widen his lecture circuit.

In 1958, Watts toured parts of Europe with his father, meeting the renowned psychiatrist Carl Jung and the German psychotherapist Karlfried Graf Dürckheim.[14]

Upon returning to the United States, Watts recorded two seasons of a television series (1959–1960) for KQED public television in San Francisco, “Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life.”

In the 1960s, Watts began to experiment with psychedelics, initially with mescaline given to him by Dr. Oscar Janiger. He tried LSD several times with various research teams led by Drs. Keith Ditman, Sterling Bunnell, and Michael Agron. He also tried marijuana and concluded that it was a useful and interesting psychoactive drug that gave the impression of time slowing down. Watts’s books of the ’60s reveal the influence of these chemical adventures on his outlook. He later said about psychedelic drug use, “If you get the message, hang up the phone.”[16]

For a time, Watts came to prefer writing in the language of modern science and psychology (Psychotherapy East and West is a good example), finding a parallel between mystical experiences and the theories of the material universe proposed by 20th-century physicists. He later equated mystical experience with ecological awareness, and typically emphasized whichever approach seemed best suited to the audience he was addressing.

Watts’s explorations and teaching brought him into contact with many noted intellectuals, artists, and American teachers in the human potential movement. His friendship with poet Gary Snyder nurtured his sympathies with the budding environmental movement, to which Watts gave philosophical support. He also encountered Robert Anton Wilson, who credited Watts with being one of his “Light[s] along the Way” in the opening appreciation of Cosmic Trigger.

Though never affiliated for long with any one academic institution, he did have a fellowship for several years at Harvard University. He also lectured to many college and university students. His lectures and books gave him far-reaching influence on the American intelligentsia of the 1950s–1970s, but he was often seen as an outsider in academia. When questioned sharply by students during his talk at University of California Santa Cruz in 1970, Watts responded that he was not an academic philosopher but rather “a philosophical entertainer”.

Watts has been criticized by Buddhists such as Philip Kapleau and D. T. Suzuki for allegedly misinterpreting several key Zen Buddhist concepts. In particular, he drew criticism from those who believe that zazen can only be achieved by a strict and specific means of sitting, as opposed to a cultivated state of mind available at any moment in any situation. Typical of these is Kapleau’s claim that Watts dismissed zazen on the basis of only half a koan.[17] In regard to the aforementioned koan, Robert Baker Aitken reports that Suzuki told him, “I regret to say that Mr. Watts did not understand that story.”[18] In his talks, Watts addressed the issue of defining zazen practice when he said, “A cat sits until it is tired of sitting, then gets up, stretches, and walks away.”

He also had his supporters in the Zen community, including Shunryu Suzuki, the founder of the San Francisco Zen Center. As David Chadwick recounted in his biography of Suzuki, Crooked Cucumber: the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki, when a student of Suzuki’s disparaged Watts by saying “we used to think he was profound until we found the real thing”, Suzuki “fumed with a sudden intensity”, saying, “You completely miss the point about Alan Watts! You should notice what he has done. He is a great bodhisattva.”

Watts sometimes alluded to a group of neighbors in Druid Heights (near Mill Valley, California) who had endeavored to combine architecture, gardening, and carpentry skills to make a beautiful and comfortable life for themselves. These neighbors accomplished this by relying on their own talents and using their own hands, as they lived in what has been called “shared bohemian poverty”.[20] Druid Heights was founded by the writer Elsa Gidlow,[21] and Watts dedicated his book The Joyous Cosmology to the people of this neighborhood.[22]

Regarding his intentions, Watts attempted to lessen the alienation that accompanies the experience of being human that he felt plagued the modern Westerner, and (like his fellow British expatriate and friend, Aldous Huxley) to lessen the ill will that was an unintentional by-product of alienation from the natural world. He felt such teaching could improve the world, at least to a degree. He also articulated the possibilities for greater incorporation of aesthetics (for example: better architecture, more art, more fine cuisine) in American life. In his autobiography he wrote, “… cultural renewal comes about when highly differentiated cultures mix”.[23]

In his last novel Island (1962), Aldous Huxley mentions the religious practice of maithuna as being something like what Roman Catholics call “coitus reservatus“. A few years before, Alan Watts had discussed the theme in his own book Nature, Man and Woman. There, he discusses the possibility of the practice being known to early Christians and of it being kept secretly by the Church.

In his writings of the 1950s, he conveyed his admiration for the practicality in the historical achievements of Chán (Zen) in the Far East, for it had fostered farmers, architects, builders, folk physicians, artists, and administrators among the monks who had lived in the monasteries of its lineages.

In his mature work, he presents himself as “Zennist” in spirit as he wrote in his last book, Tao: The Watercourse Way. Child rearing, the arts, cuisine, education, law and freedom, architecture, sexuality, and the uses and abuses of technology were all of great interest to him.

Though known for his Zen teachings, he was equally if not more influenced by ancient Hindu scriptures, especially Vedanta, and spoke extensively about the nature of the divine Reality Man that Man misses, how the contradiction of opposites is the method of life and the means of cosmic and human evolution, how our fundamental Ignorance is rooted in the exclusive nature of mind and ego, how to come in touch with the Field of Consciousness and Light, and other cosmic principles. These are discussed in great detail in dozens of hours of audio that are in part captured in the ‘Out of Your Mind’ series.

On the personal level, Watts sought to resolve his feelings of alienation from the institutions of marriage and the values of American society, as revealed in his classic comments on love relationships in “Divine Madness” and on perception of the organism-environment in “The Philosophy of Nature”.

In looking at social issues he was quite concerned with the necessity for international peace, for tolerance and understanding among disparate cultures. He also came to feel acutely conscious of a growing ecological predicament; as one instance, in the early 1960s he wrote: “Can any melting or burning imaginable get rid of these ever-rising mountains of ruin—especially when the things we make and build are beginning to look more and more like rubbish even before they are thrown away?”[24] These concerns were later expressed in a television pilot made for NET filmed at his mountain retreat in 1971 in which he noted that the single track of conscious attention was wholly inadequate for interactions with a multi-tracked world.

He disliked much in the conventional idea of “progress”. He hoped for change, but he preferred amiable, semi-isolated rural social enclaves, and also believed in tolerance for social misfits and eccentric artists. Watts decried the suburbanization of the countryside and the way of life that went with it.
In one campus lecture tour, which Watts titled “The End to the Put-Down of Man”, Watts presented positive images for both nature and humanity, spoke in favor of the various stages of human development (including the teenage years), reproached excessive cynicism and rivalry, and extolled intelligent creativity, good architecture and food.

Watts felt that absolute morality had nothing to do with the fundamental realization of one’s deep spiritual identity. He advocated social rather than personal ethics. In his writings, Watts was increasingly concerned with ethics applied to relations between humanity and the natural environment and between governments and citizens. He wrote out of an appreciation of a racially and culturally diverse social landscape.

He often said that he wished to act as a bridge between the ancient and the modern, between East and West, and between culture and nature.

Watts led some tours for Westerners to the Buddhist temples of Japan. He also studied some movements from the traditional Chinese martial art T’ai chi ch’uan, with an Asian colleague, Al Chung-liang Huang.

In several of his later publications, especially Beyond Theology and The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Watts put forward a worldview, drawing on Hinduism, Chinese philosophy, panentheism, and modern science, in which he maintains that the whole universe consists of a cosmic self playing hide-and-seek (Lila), hiding from itself (Maya) by becoming all the living and non-living things in the universe, forgetting what it really is; the upshot being that we are all IT in disguise. In this worldview, Watts asserts that our conception of ourselves as an “ego in a bag of skin” is a myth; the entities we call the separate “things” are merely processes of the whole.

Watts’s books frequently include discussions reflecting his keen interest in patterns that occur in nature and which are repeated in various ways and at a wide range of scales – including the patterns to be discerned in the history of civilizations

Alan Watts by South Park creators

Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) was a British-born philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known as an interpreter and populariser of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. Born in Chislehurst, he moved to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York. Pursuing a career, he attended Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, where he received a master’s degree in theology. Watts became an Episcopal priest then left the ministry in 1950 and moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies.

Watts gained a large following in the San Francisco Bay Area while working as a volunteer programmer at KPFA, a Pacifica Radio station in Berkeley. Watts wrote more than 25 books and articles on subjects important to Eastern and Western religion, introducing the then-burgeoning youth culture to The Way of Zen (1957), one of the first bestselling books on Buddhism. In Psychotherapy East and West (1961), Watts proposed that Buddhism could be thought of as a form of psychotherapy and not a religion. He also explored human consciousness, in the essay “The New Alchemy” (1958), and in the book The Joyous Cosmology (1962).

Towards the end of his life, he divided his time between a houseboat in Sausalito and a cabin on Mount Tamalpais. His legacy has been kept alive by his son, Mark Watts, and many of his recorded talks and lectures are available on the Internet. According to the critic Erik Davis, his “writings and recorded talks still shimmer with a profound and galvanizing lucidity.”

In 1936, Watts’s first book was published, The Spirit of Zen. In The Way of Zen[12] he disparaged The Spirit of Zen as a “popularisation of Suzuki‘s earlier works, and besides being very unscholarly it is in many respects out of date and misleading.”

In 1938 he and his bride left England to live in America. He had married Eleanor Everett, whose mother Ruth Fuller Everett was involved with a traditional Zen Buddhist circle in New York. A few years later, Ruth Fuller married the Zen master (or “roshi”), Sokei-an Sasaki, and this Japanese gentleman served as a sort of model and mentor to Watts, though he chose not to enter into a formal Zen training relationship with Sasaki. During these years, according to his later writings, Watts had another mystical experience while on a walk with his wife.

Watts’s fascination with the Zen (or Chan) tradition—beginning during the 1930s—developed because that tradition embodied the spiritual, interwoven with the practical, as exemplified in the subtitle of his Spirit of Zen: A Way of Life, Work, and Art in the Far East. “Work,” “life,” and “art” were not demoted due to a spiritual focus. In his writing, he referred to it as “the great Ch’an (or Zen) synthesis of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism after A.D. 700 in China.”

Watts left formal Zen training in New York because the method of the teacher did not suit him. He was not ordained as a Zen monk, but he felt a need to find a professional outlet for his philosophical inclinations. He entered Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, an Episcopal (Anglican) school in Evanston, Illinois, where he studied Christian scriptures, theology, and church history. He attempted to work out a blend of contemporary Christian worship, mystical Christianity, and Asian philosophy. Watts was awarded a master’s degree in theology in response to his thesis, which he published as a popular edition under the title Behold the Spirit: A Study in the Necessity of Mystical Religion. The pattern was set, in that Watts did not hide his dislike for religious outlooks that he decided were dour, guilt-ridden, or militantly proselytizing—no matter if they were found within Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism.

All seemed to go reasonably well in his next role, as Episcopal priest (beginning in 1945, aged 30), until an extramarital affair resulted in his young wife having their marriage annulled. It also resulted in Watts leaving the ministry by 1950. He spent the New Year getting to know Joseph Campbell and Campbell’s wife, Jean Erdman; as well as John Cage the notable composer.

In early 1951, Watts moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco. Here he taught alongside Sabur? Hasegawa, Frederic Spiegelberg, Haridas Chaudhuri, lama Tokwan Tada, and various visiting experts and professors. Hasegawa, in particular, served as a teacher to Watts in the areas of Japanese customs, arts, primitivism, and perceptions of nature. Besides teaching, Watts served for several years as the Academy’s administrator. One notable student of his was Eugene Rose, who later went on to become a noted hieromonk and theologian in the Eastern Orthodox Church in America.

Watts also studied written Chinese and practiced Chinese brush calligraphy with Hasegawa as well as with some of the Chinese students who enrolled at the academy. While Watts was noted for an interest in Zen Buddhism, his reading and discussions delved into Vedanta, “the new physics“, cybernetics, semantics, process philosophy, natural history, and the anthropology of sexuality.

After heading up the Academy for a few years, Watts left the faculty for a freelance career in the mid-1950s. In 1953, he began what became a long-running weekly radio program at Pacifica Radio station KPFA in Berkeley, which continued until his death in 1973. Like other volunteer programmers at the listener-sponsored station, Watts was not paid for his broadcasts; they did, however, gain him a large following in the San Francisco Bay Area. These programs were later carried by additional Pacifica stations, and were re-broadcast many times over in the decades following his death. The original tapes are currently held by the Pacifica Radio Archives, based at KPFK in Los Angeles, and at the Electronic University archive founded by his son, Mark Watts (alanwatts.org).

In 1957 when 42, Watts published one of his best known books, The Way of Zen, which focused on philosophical explication and history. Besides drawing on the lifestyle and philosophical background of Zen, in India and China, Watts introduced ideas drawn from general semantics (directly from the writings of Alfred Korzybski and also from Norbert Wiener‘s early work on cybernetics, which had recently been published). Watts offered analogies from cybernetic principles possibly applicable to the Zen life. The book sold well, eventually becoming a modern classic, and helped widen his lecture circuit.

In 1958, Watts toured parts of Europe with his father, meeting the renowned psychiatrist Carl Jung and the German psychotherapist Karlfried Graf Dürckheim.[14]

Upon returning to the United States, Watts recorded two seasons of a television series (1959–1960) for KQED public television in San Francisco, “Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life.”

In the 1960s, Watts began to experiment with psychedelics, initially with mescaline given to him by Dr. Oscar Janiger. He tried LSD several times with various research teams led by Drs. Keith Ditman, Sterling Bunnell, and Michael Agron. He also tried marijuana and concluded that it was a useful and interesting psychoactive drug that gave the impression of time slowing down. Watts’s books of the ’60s reveal the influence of these chemical adventures on his outlook. He later said about psychedelic drug use, “If you get the message, hang up the phone.”[16]

For a time, Watts came to prefer writing in the language of modern science and psychology (Psychotherapy East and West is a good example), finding a parallel between mystical experiences and the theories of the material universe proposed by 20th-century physicists. He later equated mystical experience with ecological awareness, and typically emphasized whichever approach seemed best suited to the audience he was addressing.

Watts’s explorations and teaching brought him into contact with many noted intellectuals, artists, and American teachers in the human potential movement. His friendship with poet Gary Snyder nurtured his sympathies with the budding environmental movement, to which Watts gave philosophical support. He also encountered Robert Anton Wilson, who credited Watts with being one of his “Light[s] along the Way” in the opening appreciation of Cosmic Trigger.

Though never affiliated for long with any one academic institution, he did have a fellowship for several years at Harvard University. He also lectured to many college and university students. His lectures and books gave him far-reaching influence on the American intelligentsia of the 1950s–1970s, but he was often seen as an outsider in academia. When questioned sharply by students during his talk at University of California Santa Cruz in 1970, Watts responded that he was not an academic philosopher but rather “a philosophical entertainer”.

Watts has been criticized by Buddhists such as Philip Kapleau and D. T. Suzuki for allegedly misinterpreting several key Zen Buddhist concepts. In particular, he drew criticism from those who believe that zazen can only be achieved by a strict and specific means of sitting, as opposed to a cultivated state of mind available at any moment in any situation. Typical of these is Kapleau’s claim that Watts dismissed zazen on the basis of only half a koan.[17] In regard to the aforementioned koan, Robert Baker Aitken reports that Suzuki told him, “I regret to say that Mr. Watts did not understand that story.”[18] In his talks, Watts addressed the issue of defining zazen practice when he said, “A cat sits until it is tired of sitting, then gets up, stretches, and walks away.”

He also had his supporters in the Zen community, including Shunryu Suzuki, the founder of the San Francisco Zen Center. As David Chadwick recounted in his biography of Suzuki, Crooked Cucumber: the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki, when a student of Suzuki’s disparaged Watts by saying “we used to think he was profound until we found the real thing”, Suzuki “fumed with a sudden intensity”, saying, “You completely miss the point about Alan Watts! You should notice what he has done. He is a great bodhisattva.”

Watts sometimes alluded to a group of neighbors in Druid Heights (near Mill Valley, California) who had endeavored to combine architecture, gardening, and carpentry skills to make a beautiful and comfortable life for themselves. These neighbors accomplished this by relying on their own talents and using their own hands, as they lived in what has been called “shared bohemian poverty”.[20] Druid Heights was founded by the writer Elsa Gidlow,[21] and Watts dedicated his book The Joyous Cosmology to the people of this neighborhood.[22]

Regarding his intentions, Watts attempted to lessen the alienation that accompanies the experience of being human that he felt plagued the modern Westerner, and (like his fellow British expatriate and friend, Aldous Huxley) to lessen the ill will that was an unintentional by-product of alienation from the natural world. He felt such teaching could improve the world, at least to a degree. He also articulated the possibilities for greater incorporation of aesthetics (for example: better architecture, more art, more fine cuisine) in American life. In his autobiography he wrote, “… cultural renewal comes about when highly differentiated cultures mix”.[23]

In his last novel Island (1962), Aldous Huxley mentions the religious practice of maithuna as being something like what Roman Catholics call “coitus reservatus“. A few years before, Alan Watts had discussed the theme in his own book Nature, Man and Woman. There, he discusses the possibility of the practice being known to early Christians and of it being kept secretly by the Church.

In his writings of the 1950s, he conveyed his admiration for the practicality in the historical achievements of Chán (Zen) in the Far East, for it had fostered farmers, architects, builders, folk physicians, artists, and administrators among the monks who had lived in the monasteries of its lineages.

In his mature work, he presents himself as “Zennist” in spirit as he wrote in his last book, Tao: The Watercourse Way. Child rearing, the arts, cuisine, education, law and freedom, architecture, sexuality, and the uses and abuses of technology were all of great interest to him.

Though known for his Zen teachings, he was equally if not more influenced by ancient Hindu scriptures, especially Vedanta, and spoke extensively about the nature of the divine Reality Man that Man misses, how the contradiction of opposites is the method of life and the means of cosmic and human evolution, how our fundamental Ignorance is rooted in the exclusive nature of mind and ego, how to come in touch with the Field of Consciousness and Light, and other cosmic principles. These are discussed in great detail in dozens of hours of audio that are in part captured in the ‘Out of Your Mind’ series.

On the personal level, Watts sought to resolve his feelings of alienation from the institutions of marriage and the values of American society, as revealed in his classic comments on love relationships in “Divine Madness” and on perception of the organism-environment in “The Philosophy of Nature”.

In looking at social issues he was quite concerned with the necessity for international peace, for tolerance and understanding among disparate cultures. He also came to feel acutely conscious of a growing ecological predicament; as one instance, in the early 1960s he wrote: “Can any melting or burning imaginable get rid of these ever-rising mountains of ruin—especially when the things we make and build are beginning to look more and more like rubbish even before they are thrown away?”[24] These concerns were later expressed in a television pilot made for NET filmed at his mountain retreat in 1971 in which he noted that the single track of conscious attention was wholly inadequate for interactions with a multi-tracked world.

He disliked much in the conventional idea of “progress”. He hoped for change, but he preferred amiable, semi-isolated rural social enclaves, and also believed in tolerance for social misfits and eccentric artists. Watts decried the suburbanization of the countryside and the way of life that went with it.
In one campus lecture tour, which Watts titled “The End to the Put-Down of Man”, Watts presented positive images for both nature and humanity, spoke in favor of the various stages of human development (including the teenage years), reproached excessive cynicism and rivalry, and extolled intelligent creativity, good architecture and food.

Watts felt that absolute morality had nothing to do with the fundamental realization of one’s deep spiritual identity. He advocated social rather than personal ethics. In his writings, Watts was increasingly concerned with ethics applied to relations between humanity and the natural environment and between governments and citizens. He wrote out of an appreciation of a racially and culturally diverse social landscape.

He often said that he wished to act as a bridge between the ancient and the modern, between East and West, and between culture and nature.

Watts led some tours for Westerners to the Buddhist temples of Japan. He also studied some movements from the traditional Chinese martial art T’ai chi ch’uan, with an Asian colleague, Al Chung-liang Huang.

In several of his later publications, especially Beyond Theology and The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Watts put forward a worldview, drawing on Hinduism, Chinese philosophy, panentheism, and modern science, in which he maintains that the whole universe consists of a cosmic self playing hide-and-seek (Lila), hiding from itself (Maya) by becoming all the living and non-living things in the universe, forgetting what it really is; the upshot being that we are all IT in disguise. In this worldview, Watts asserts that our conception of ourselves as an “ego in a bag of skin” is a myth; the entities we call the separate “things” are merely processes of the whole.

Watts’s books frequently include discussions reflecting his keen interest in patterns that occur in nature and which are repeated in various ways and at a wide range of scales – including the patterns to be discerned in the history of civilizations