Watts glamoured me yet again on a long plane trip! Very fitting subject matter as well- "Power of Space" - as we were all hurdling so quickly throughWatts glamoured me yet again on a long plane trip! Very fitting subject matter as well- "Power of Space" - as we were all hurdling so quickly through space and time zones.
Similar to the layout of Four Ways to the Center - this is a collection of 4 lectures, the first three focusing on space, no-thing, and Watt's philosophy, and the fourth on "reincarnation" and rebirth, moving away from conventional definitions of such.
Some quotes to share (transcribed from oratory, excuse run-ons, non-punctuation, etc.)
[On the structure of space] "Is it a structure of the human nervous system/human brain/ human thought which is projected on the external world as a tool for measuring it?"
"Your mind, of course, is not something inside of your head. This is a great mistake. Your head is inside of your mind... We can define a person's mind in many ways, beginning with something rather simple: mind is occupied with thinking. Most people think in words, and you didn't get words out of your head, you got them out of the community in which you live and were brought up. So when you think in a language that your community gave you, you are not really thinking your own thoughts."
"In order to handle the world [you see], you have to touch it rather gently. You mustn't try to pin things down. In Zen, they say 'You do not try to drive a nail into the sky'. That's the beauty of space: there is nothing to hang on, nowhere to hang your hat."
"The result of thinking too much: getting accustomed to the warm ruts of thought. You can never see 'the new'. This is the real meaning of an open mind - not merely that you are liberal, but that you can turn off thoughts [and prejudice], and thus be turned on to reality."
What does Buddhism say about animal welfare? suicide? homosexuality?
As it turns out, it's pretty complicated - of course it is, it's ethics!- and notWhat does Buddhism say about animal welfare? suicide? homosexuality?
As it turns out, it's pretty complicated - of course it is, it's ethics!- and not universal across Buddhist traditions. From some previous readings, I knew some basics of Buddhist views on sexuality, marriage, celibacy, and feminism, but this book gets a bit deeper (although one criticism - likely due to the "very short" nature in the title - is that so many examples seem cherry-picked to prove the thesis, where I am certain that there is much more to the story).
The chapter that stood out for me was the one on suicide and euthanasia. The indelible 1960s image of the Vietnamese monks on fire leads the chapter, framing this self-immolation as an ancient practice. While several modern Buddhist countries have ritual suicide or 'voluntary death' traditions, e.g. seppuku in Japan, the book argues that this practice came into regional Buddhism through indigenous culture. Euthanasia is also a complicated issue, as monks and nuns were traditionally caretakers for the dying, and there are several accounts of euthanasia using the central precept of compassion.
3/5 stars - some interesting things covered, even though it did seem "cherry-picked" to fit in as much as it could in less than 200 pages. ...more
A recording of four lectures by Watts - not sure of when or where this lecture was delivered, but it is entertaining to hear the rustlings and laughsA recording of four lectures by Watts - not sure of when or where this lecture was delivered, but it is entertaining to hear the rustlings and laughs in the crowd/room when Watts makes a clever joke. Watts' own voice has a charming lilt, interspersed with a hardy and joyful laugh.
I took some great quotes away from this:
“There is full security in admitting that you are wrong – then you are sure to be right!”
About pain and suffering… “Some people don’t feel that they exist until they are sitting on the point of a thorn. Reality is a measure of pain. Pain, in this way of looking at things, is the most real thing that there is.”
There was a faith healer of Deale who said that although pain is not real when the point of a pin goes into my skin I dislike what I fancy I feel.
“Acquiring all this pretentious junk, and thinking that’s the answer, and it’s a let down. Because they didn’t find out what they do really want. Because everybody has to pretend that it’s good to work for what you don’t want.” (emphasis my own because omg whoa)
“There’s always someone to liberate. While with one hand, reality is realizing what it is, with the other, it’s forgetting."