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Alan Watts on Music and Life

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Have you ever said this to yourself before?

“I’ll be happy when [this] happens.”

“I’ll be happy once I find the right girl/guy.”

“I’ll be fulfilled when ________.”

We’ve all done this. But here’s the thing: We’ve been programmed to do so.

We’re conditioned to think that salvation lies at the end of the rainbow. It’s a malicious deception that has us chasing that “something” our whole lives, yet never finding it. We believe that happiness awaits us tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes. So most people spend their whole lives waiting for their lives to start.

Even when we get what we wanted, we don’t fully appreciate it, because our minds have been conditioned to constantly search for happiness somewhere in the future.

Here’s the secret: What we’re searching for is hidden in plain sight, in the here and now. This isn’t some woo-woo metaphorical rhetoric. It’s true and applicable RIGHT NOW. There’s a reason why the core teachings of almost every spiritual or self-help book is presence and mindfulness. It’s something that is absolutely crucial to understand and PRACTICE.

Take just a few moments to be fully present. Tune into the present moment, experience all of your senses (come to your senses), hold gratitude for where you’re at right now, and you’ll realize that this is what you’ve been searching for all along.

That’s the paradox. The happiness we think happens somewhere in the future when this or that happens has actually been with us all along, in the present moment.

You don’t listen to music just to hear the last note. You don’t eat a meal just for the last bite. You don’t just read the last page of a novel. You don’t just watch the climax of a movie. The process – the ups, downs, challenges and triumphs – is what makes everything beautiful, worthwhile and fun. The same goes for life.

Alan Watts brilliantly explains this concept in a lecture called “Music and Life.” The way he expresses this concept will shift your entire paradigm on life. Here’s the transcript:

Alan Watts

In music one doesn’t make the end of a composition the point of the composition. If that were so the best conductors would be those who played fastest, and there would be composers who wrote only finales. People would go to concerts just to hear one crashing chord; because that’s the end!

But we don’t see that as something brought by our education into our every day conduct. We’ve got a system of schooling that gives a completely different impression. It’s all graded. And what we do is we put the child into the corridor of this grade system with a kind of “come on kitty kitty kitty”, and now you go to kindergarten. And that’s a great thing because when you finish that you get into first grade, and then come on; first grade leads to second grade and so on, and then you get out of grade school. Now you’re going to go to high school, and it’s revving up – the thing is coming. Then you’ve got to go to college, and by Jove then you get into graduate school and when you’re through with graduate school you go out and join the World!

And then you get into some racket where you’re selling insurance. And they’ve got that quota to make, and you’re gonna make that. And all the time that thing is coming. It’s coming, it’s coming! That great thing, the success you’re working for. Then when you wake up one day at about 40 years old you say “My God! I’ve arrived! I’m there”. And you don’t feel very different from what you’ve always felt.

And there’s a slight let down because you feel there’s a hoax. And there was a hoax. A dreadful hoax. They made you miss everything. We thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage which had a serious purpose at the end and the thing was to get to that end. Success or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead.

But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing and we were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.

Alan Watts – Music and Life

15 Profound Quotes About Life

quotes about life

Life is a beautiful mystery. Life is a video game. Life is a challenge. Life is a playground. Life is a learning experience. Life is all of those things, none of those things and much more all at the same time.

Life is here and now, yet endlessly enigmatic and fleeting. That’s the beauty of it. Without rambling on too much, let’s dance in the mystery together.

Here are 15 Profound Quotes About Life

  1. “Life is not a problem. To look at it as a problem is to take a wrong step. It is a mystery to be lived, loved, experienced.”
    ― Osho
  2. “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”
    ― Alan Watts
  3. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
    ― Neale Donald Walsch
  4. “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
    ― Charles R. Swindoll
  5. “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
    ― George Bernard Shaw
  6. “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
    ― Anais Nin
  7. “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
    ― Albert Einstein
  8. “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”
    ― James Dean
  9. “Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.”
    ― H. Jackson Brown
  10. “Our life is frittered away by detail… Simplify, simplify.”
    ― Henry David Thoreau
  11. “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
    ― Mother Teresa
  12. “If you are depressed you are living in the past.
    If you are anxious you are living in the future.
    If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

    ― Lao Tzu
  13. “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.”
    ― Eckhart Tolle
  14. “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”
    ― John Lennon
  15. “We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”
    ― Terence McKenna

 

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Time is a Sailing Ship

“We think that the world is limited and explained by its past. We tend to think that what happened in the past determines what is going to happen next, and we do not see that it is exactly the other way around! What is always the source of the world is the present; the past doesn’t explain a thing. The past trails behind the present like the wake of a ship and eventually disappears.” – Alan Watts

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Time is a sailing ship. The past is the wake. The future is what lies in the direction the ship is headed. And all of this concurrently exists in the present moment; the eternal now.

Both the past and future are projections from within the present.

We, as human beings, have a first person point of view of this voyage. Our body is the ship which we view the world from as we sail through space-time.

If you were to draw your perception back to a third person point of view, you would be able to see both the past (the wake left behind) and the future (where you’re headed). In the brilliant documentary “The Illusion of Time,” physicist Brian Greene compares space-time to a loaf of bread. What we perceive as now is a slice in that loaf of space-time, but the whole loaf always exists. So theoretically, if you were to somehow perceive reality from a higher perspective, you would be able to observe the whole “loaf” of space-time (past/present/future). Maybe this is the perspective of those who are able to “see the future.”

While the comparison to a loaf of bread is helpful in conceptualizing the past, present and future as the dimension of space-time, it doesn’t do justice to the ever-changing, dynamic nature of the universe. We live in a quantum soup of infinite possibility. There is no predetermined path (loaf of bread). The path is always shifting according to what you do in the present moment.

That’s why the metaphor of the ship is profound. You can change the direction of your ship at any point, and this will change both the future and the past. When you change direction, the wake you leave behind changes as well as your course ahead.

Even the simple concept of forgiveness demonstrates this. If you forgive someone who has wronged you in the past, you change the meaning of the past. So instead of harboring hatred and resentment in the present moment, you let go and feel freedom, love and empathy.

You have the power to transform past failures into learning experiences; pain into a catalyst for growth; disappointment into opportunity.

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A related, mind-bending phenomenon is called the delayed choice or quantum eraser effect, pioneered by the physicist John Wheeler. Imagine a star emitting a photon billions of years ago, heading towards Earth. And there is a galaxy in between the star and Earth. Because of this, the light will have to bend around the galaxy in order to reach Earth (which is called “gravitational lensing”). The photon can take one of two paths around the galaxy, left or right. Billions of years later, if someone decides sets up a device to catch the photon, it would behave as a wave, not a particle. This demonstrates that the photon really took both ways around the galaxy.

You could also view the photon by focusing a telescope on either side of the galaxy to determine which side the photon traveled to reach Earth. The very act of measuring the photon’s behavior means it can only come from one side. It will no longer act as a wave that went both ways, but as a particle which only went in the direction from which it was observed.

This is mind-bogglingly profound. It means that how we measure the photon now actually affects the direction it traveled in billions of years ago.

Everything is a projection from the present moment. The eternal now is all that exists, and from it you have the power to change both your future and your past.

Enjoy the voyage and sail free.

– Stevie P!

Distilling the Truth of Oneness: Part 2

This is the second part of my “Distilling the Truth of Oneness” series. To read part one, click here.

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(Reiterating the intro from Part 1, because it’s that important…)

Nothing is truly separate. Nothing exists in isolation.

All things, events and people are intimately interconnected. In essence, all is one and one is all. Oneness IS.

This concept of oneness is thrown around a lot, especially in “spiritual” communities. It sounds a bit idealistic, right? One of those “woo-woo” theories with no validity. But after approaching the concept of oneness from different perspectives, I’ve found it to be an all-pervading truth.

This is not about blindly repeating what some so-called “guru” said about oneness. I aim to break it down into digestible pieces for you to metabolize in your own unique way. This article gives you a road map to uncover truth for yourself, because oneness is just an abstract concept until you truly understand and experience it.

I always knew that everything was connected in some way, but in a superficial way, without intrinsically understanding it. Oneness made sense to me as an idea, but I never fully grasped the immense truth and profundity of it until recently. I merely understood the interconnection of everything in the same way that one views a place on a map. Sure, you can envision what it might look like, but you never really understand it until you see the actual place.

If you’re reading this, is there not a connection between “your” consciousness and “my” consciousness?

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein

General relativity posits that space and time are inseparable, often referred to as “space-time.” So if there are no separate events (I discussed this in detail in Part 1), can there be separate objects?

The universe we live in can be imagined as a soup of space-time. To help conceptualize this, think about noodles in a soup. The noodles are not separate from the soup, but a part of it. However, in today’s society, we tend to look at the individual objects within the soup, while ignoring the broth, and conclude that all of the objects are separate. When really, everything is part of the soup. And that’s just one way to look at the oneness of everything.

Where does the boundary of “you” end anyway?

The heart’s magnetic field, for example, can be detected several feet away from the body. Isn’t this part of us?

Is a lion’s roar separate from the lion? And where does the roar end? Where you can’t hear it? Where you can’t measure it with our current instruments? Does it ever end? Or does it just blend into everything else at an infinitely gradual rate?

Once you start going beyond visible light, boundaries start blurring. And that’s only the sense of sight. Boundaries become even more unclear with other senses (except maybe touch). Think about what it would be like to perceive reality on the underlying energetic level (before the information gets interpreted by our brains). Everything would be a swirling amalgamation of vibrations.

Now you’re probably saying, “But there are solid boundaries, I can hit someone, right?” Yes and no. Physical matter is just energy slowed to a dense state. And that impact is just two dense forces interacting. Even in video games, where objects obviously are not solid, they appear solid. You can’t walk through walls in video games because that’s what is encoded into the laws of that reality.

In terms of the building blocks of our reality, atoms are more than 99.9999999% empty space. That means that everything almost fully consists of this empty space. And it turns out that “empty space” is actually quite the opposite of empty, and highly dense (back to the soup/broth analogy).

“All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.” – Swami Vivekananda

Sense of Self

Infants are born with no sense of personal identity. Personal identity manifests as a result of experience in the world and societal conditioning. A child might find themselves displaying a certain quality, like being “fast” or “American” or “poor”, and the ego clings to this and makes it a part of the child’s identity. But the fact is that these are just attributes, not the essence of what we really are.

“The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, personal and family history, belief systems, and often political, nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications. None of these is you.” – Eckhart Tolle

Now you might be like, “I’m an individual. I have my own consciousness different from other people.” This is true, in the same way that a wave is “different” from the ocean. It is a unique manifestation at the surface, yet in essence it is part of the whole. The same is true for you and I. Go into a deep state of meditation and you begin to merge into the stillness of infinite possibility. Boundaries and sense of self disappear. This is our fundamental essence.

If you take a cup of water out of the ocean, isn’t it still the ocean? Our perception, our ego, is the cup, the container which separates us from the whole.

That is not to say that ego, or personal identity can’t be useful. It’s absolutely necessary for survival as well as uniqueness. But the problem arises when it becomes your entire sense of self.

Just as fish are part of the ocean, the Universe (“space”) is the ocean we live in. We are not separate from the whole, but unique parts of it.

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Exploring Oneness From Multiple Angles

“We are all different expressions of one reality, different songs of one singer, different dances of one dancer, different paintings–but the painter is one.” – Osho

The Logical Perspective:

“Within the stillness and silence is All Possibility. All Potential, waiting to be made manifest. Hear the silence and you are hearing All Possibility. Then stare talking, taking an action or making a noise and you have pulled one possibility out of All Possibility. When you stop, your manifested possibility returns to the stillness and silence of All Possibility – Infinite Love, Infinite Harmony, Infinite Balance, Infinite Intelligence, Infinite Everything. This core of existence that I call All Possibility is within all of us – it is us and we are it.” – David Icke

Everything is an expression of infinite possibility.

Think about it logically… A musical note is an expression of infinite possibility. A German Shepherd is an expression of infinite possibility. You are an expression of infinite possibility. I am an expression of infinite possibility. Does everything not share the same essence?

The truth of oneness is deceptively simple from this perspective.

Just as every word is a unique expression of the same alphabet, we are all unique expressions of infinity.

The Physical Perspective:

We’re all made of stardust. Even the most rigid materialists will agree that our bodies are comprised of the same atoms that have been recycled through the expansion of our universe.

There’s no getting around the fact that we share the fundamental building blocks of physical reality with the rest of the Universe.

Another interesting insight is that the nutrients we ingest become the raw materials for our cells. We literally are what we eat, which further blurs the concept of man-made boundaries.

And then there’s the micro-biome. A significant percentage of cells in our body aren’t even human cells, but bacterial cells. You are literally your own ecosystem. Just as bacteria is a part of your ecosystem, you’re part of the larger ecosystem of Planet Earth. And the Earth is part of the solar system. And the solar system is part of the Milky Way Galaxy. Would you say that Earth is “separate” from the solar system? Of course not. We’ve just deluded ourselves into thinking we’re somehow separate from everything, and this has led to so much dysfunction. This separation myth allows the ego to run the show and steadily beats the basic human emotion of empathy out of us.

Quantum Physics and Cutting-Edge Science:

Quantum entanglement is a mind-boggling phenomenon which demonstrates oneness. Basically two particles can be separated, one of them is spun or moved, and it instantaneously influences the other particle (beyond the means of any communication we’re aware of). Einstein famously referred to quantum entanglement as “spooky action at a distance.” It shows that there’s some intrinsic connection and communication between particles that we can’t quite explain yet in scientific terms.

Another quantum phenomenon that hints at oneness is the double-slit experiment, which demonstrates that the observed and the observer are not separate. This video eloquently explains the double-slit experiment:

“Quantum theory thus reveals a basic oneness of the universe. It shows that we cannot decompose the world into independently existing smallest units. As we penetrate into matter, nature does not show us any isolated “building blocks,” but rather appears as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of the whole. These relations always include the observer in an essential way. The human observer constitute the final link in the chain of observational processes, and the properties of any atomic object can be understood only in terms of the object’s interaction with the observer.” – Fritjof Capra

More Into the Mind-blowing World of Quantum Physics:

Are we living in a simulation or a hologram?

The question of whether or not our reality is some sort of simulation has been a hot topic recently. And, relating to oneness, a hologram is the projection of a single source. Marinate on that for a minute.

These articles explore that possibility:
Simulations back up theory that Universe is a hologram
Physicists May Have Evidence Universe Is A Computer Simulation

Physicist James Gates has found equations akin to computer code that make up our reality:

Philosophical Musings:

We’re not the name on our birth certificate. That’s just a combination of letters. We’re not a series of experiences either. The most accurate answer to the question of “Who am I?” is simply “I am.”

Alan Watts once said, “Being central to experience is the nearest thing I can conceive as a meaning for the word I.” So I am central to my experience and you are central to your experience. The word “I” is this theme of centrality of experience. So you can say that we’re all unique expressions of the same “I.”

My personal experiences of oneness:

Meditation – When I get into states of no-thought during meditation, I merge into infinite possibility. Boundaries dissolve. There is no sense of self, just the paradoxical feeling of everything and nothing simultaneously. It’s like being the whole ocean again, instead of just the wave.

Reiki – When I practice Reiki, I often feel my hands melting into “external reality.” Recently, I’ve been experimenting a lot with distance Reiki, and it’s surprising efficacy has really shaken up any ideas I had about the rigidity of space and time (as well as any sense of definitive boundaries between everything).

Music – We’ve all felt the profound effects of music, whether at a concert or just listening to music from a computer. Music has the tendency to penetrate through every layer of being. You don’t just feel music hitting your skin, you feel it reverberating through the depths of your being. This is why it’s such a powerful tool.

Merging into landscapes – I’ve had many experiences in beautiful locations where I felt so deeply and wholly connected to everything. It really was like I had blended with the landscape. One particular moment stands out is when I was hiking in Acadia National Park a few months ago. I specifically remembered being so awe-struck by the landscape that the boundaries melted. In that moment I deeply felt that it was all a part of me and I was all a part of it. Right after, I wrote “I just want to reach out and hug the landscape.” Then I proceeded to take this selfie…

Acadia Selfie

Family portrait

“If I go into the place in myself that is love and you go into the place in yourself that is love, we are together in love.” – Ram Dass

Separation is illusion. Separation is ignorance, a disconnect from all that is. Ignorance begets fear, and fear is the basis of every emotion we consider negative.

We’re all unique expressions of infinite possibility. We’re all waves in the ocean of infinity.

It’s hard to hate someone when you see them as an aspect of yourself.

You are part of everything, yet a unique swell of transitory brilliance. Feel the connection and bask in the exquisiteness of your ever-flowing existence.

We’ve come a long way from poor little me.

One love.

– Stevie P

Distilling the Truth of Oneness: Events

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Nothing is truly separate. Nothing exists in isolation.

All things, events and people are intimately interconnected. In essence, all is one and one is all. Oneness IS.

This concept of oneness is thrown around a lot, especially in “spiritual” communities. It sounds a bit idealistic, right? One of those “woo-woo” theories with no validity. But after approaching the concept of oneness from different perspectives, I’ve found it to be an all-pervading truth.

This is not about blindly repeating what some so-called “guru” said about oneness. I aim to break it down into digestible pieces for you to metabolize in your own unique way. This article gives you a road map to uncover truth for yourself, because oneness is just an abstract concept until you truly understand and experience it.

I always knew that everything was connected in some way, but in a superficial way, without intrinsically understanding it. Oneness made sense to me as an idea, but I never fully grasped the immense truth and profundity of it until recently. I merely understood the interconnection of everything in the same way that one views a place on a map. Sure, you can envision what it might look like, but you never really understand it until you see the actual place.

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” – Carl Sagan

In one of Alan Watts’ mind-blowing lectures, he discusses that there really is no such thing as cause and effect existing as separate events. Watts suggests that everything is in fact one event and that there are no clear boundaries between events.

Think about it… When did your life start? Did it begin when you came out of the womb? No. As a fetus? Nope. When the sperm met the egg? As a sperm cell? As an egg? As your father or mother? As your grandparents? There really is no definitive boundary. And the man-made boundaries we create are merely arbitrary lines drawn to please our ego.

The butterfly effect illustrates the interconnectedness of events as well:

“The butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a hurricane (exact time of formation, exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier.” (Wikipedia)

 

This is why we use the phrase “chain of events.” Everything is intimately linked. There is no link of the chain which stands alone. It is all connected to the chain of existence. (And, as a side note regarding chains, the concept of time often shackles us.) So I would think of it more as a web. Everyone and everything is a strand. All connected, radiating out in a harmonious pattern, spun by the most beneficent force, not a spider with 8 legs, but a force embodied by the sideways 8; the essence of infinity.

Infinity

 

I recently came across this great story from That Buddha Guy that succinctly summarizes just how interrelated everything is:

Holding up a sheet of paper he asked, “Do you see a cloud in this paper?” No one responded. Again he asked, “Do you see a cloud in this paper?” “You must see a cloud in this paper,” he continued, “because without a cloud there is no rain. Without rain there is no tree. Without a tree there is no paper.” He then asked, “Do you see a steel mill?” “You must see a steel mill because without the mill there is no steel. Without steel there is no axe or saw to cut the tree. No tree cut down, no paper.” The audience was beginning to understand his point. Chuckling he asked, “Do you see Wheaties?” “Loggers work hard and need a good breakfast. No loggers, no cut trees, no paper.” What was the point he made? First, nothing exists independent of outside conditions. Second, no single component is more important than another. These two points, along with the idea of impermanence, are the basis of Buddhism.

 

Everything is intimately connected. Don’t underestimate the power of your actions or the impact of your life. We’re all unique strands within the beautiful tapestry of infinity.

One love.

– Stevie P!