The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are Quotes

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The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan W. Watts
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“Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself anything less than a god.”
Alan Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“Other people teach us who we are. Their attitudes to us are the mirror in which we learn to see ourselves, but the mirror is distorted. We are, perhaps, rather dimly aware of the immense power of our social enviornment.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“We seldom realize, for example, that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society. We copy emotional reactions from our parents, learning from them thatexcrement is supposed to have a disgusting smell and that vomiting is supposed to be an unpleasant sensation. The dread of death is also learned from their anxieties about sickness and from their attitudes to funerals and corpses. Our social environment has this power just because we do not exist apart from a society. Society is our extended mind and body. Yet the very society from which the individual is inseparable is using its whole irresistible force to persuade the individual that he is indeed separate! Society as we now know it is therefore playing a game with self-contradictory rules.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“Irrevocable commitment to any religion is not only intellectual suicide; it is positive unfaith because it closes the mind to any new vision of the world. Faith is, above all, openness - an act of trust in the unknown.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“Real travel requires a maximum of unscheduled wandering, for there is no other way of discovering surprises and marvels, which, as I see it, is the only good reason for not staying at home.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“Just as true humor is laughter at oneself, true humanity is knowledge
of oneself.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“For if you know what you want, and will be content with it, you can be trusted. But if you do not know, your desires are limitless and no one can tell how to deal with you. Nothing satisfies an individual incapable of enjoyment.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“We do not "come into" this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“This state of affairs is known technically as the "double-bind." A
person is put in a double-bind by a command or request which contains
a concealed contradiction...
This is a damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don't
situation which arises constantly in human (and especially family)
relations...

The social doublebind game can be phrased in several ways:The first rule of this game is that it is not a game.
Everyone must play.
You must love us.
You must go on living.
Be yourself, but play a consistent and acceptable role.
Control yourself and be natural.
Try to be sincere.
Essentially, this game is a demand for spontaneous behavior of certain
kinds. Living, loving, being natural or sincere—all these are
spontaneous forms of behavior: they happen "of themselves" like
digesting food or growing hair. As soon as they are forced they acquire
that unnatural, contrived, and phony atmosphere which everyone
deplores—weak and scentless like forced flowers and tasteless like
forced fruit. Life and love generate effort, but effort will not generate
them. Faith—in life, in other people, and in oneself—is the attitude of
allowing the spontaneous to be spontaneous, in its own way and in its
own time.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“You have seen that the universe is at root a
magical illusion and a fabulous game, and that there is no separate
"you" to get something out of it, as if life were a bank to be robbed. The
only real "you" is the one that comes and goes, manifests and withdraws
itself eternally in and as every conscious being. For "you" is the
universe looking at itself from billions of points of view, points that
come and go so that the vision is forever new.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“Peace can be made only by those who are peaceful, and love can be shown only by those who love. No work of love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“Suppressing the fear of death makes it all the stronger. The point is only to know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that "I" and all other "things" now present will vanish, until this knowledge compels you to release them - to know it now as surely as if you had just fallen off the rim of the Grand Canyon. Indeed you were kicked off the edge of a precipice when you were born, and it's no help to cling to the rocks falling with you. If you are afraid of death, be afraid. The point is to get with it, to let it take over - fear, ghosts, pains, transience, dissolution, and all. And then comes the hitherto unbelievable surprise; you don't die because you were never born. You had just forgotten who you are.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“As it is, we are merely bolting our lives—gulping down undigested experiences as fast as we can stuff them in—because awareness of our own existence is so superficial and so narrow that nothing seems to us more boring than simple being. If I ask you what you did, saw, heard, smelled, touched and tasted yesterday, I am likely to get nothing more than the thin, sketchy outline of the few things that you noticed, and of those only what you thought worth remembering. Is it surprising that an existence so experienced seems so empty and bare that its hunger for an infinite future is insatiable? But suppose you could answer, “It would take me forever to tell you, and I am much too interested in what’s happening now.” How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such a fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself as anything less than a god? And, when you consider that this incalculably subtle organism is inseparable from the still more marvelous patterns of its environment—from the minutest electrical designs to the whole company of the galaxies—how is it conceivable that this incarnation of all eternity can be bored with being?”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“What we see as death,
empty space, or nothingness is only the trough between the crests of this
endlessly waving ocean. It is all part of the illusion that there should
seem to be something to be gained in the future, and that there is an
urgent necessity to go on and on until we get it. Yet just as there is no
time but the present, and no one except the all-and-everything, there is
never anything to be gained—though the zest of the game is to pretend
that there is.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“For every individual is a unique
manifestation of the Whole, as every branch is a particular outreaching
of the tree. To manifest individuality, every branch must have a
sensitive connection with the tree, just as our independently moving and
differentiated fingers must have a sensitive connection with the whole
body. The point, which can hardly be repeated too often, is that
differentiation is not separation.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“Yet again, the more you strive for some kind of perfection or mastery—in
morals, in art or in spirituality—the more you see that you are playing a
rarified and lofty form of the old ego-game, and that your attainment of
any height is apparent to yourself and to others only by contrast with
someone else's depth or failure.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“The startling truth is that our best efforts for civil rights, international
peace, population control, conservation of natural resources, and
assistance to the starving of the earth—urgent as they are—will destroy
rather than help if made in the present spirit. For, as things stand, we
have nothing to give. If our own riches and our own way of life are not
enjoyed here, they will not be enjoyed anywhere else. Certainly they
will supply the immediate jolt of energy and hope that methedrine, and
similar drugs, give in extreme fatigue. But peace can be made only by
those who are peaceful, and love can be shown only by those who love.
No work of love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart,
just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no
capacity for living now.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“Nothing fails like success—because the self-imposed task of our
society and all its members is a contradiction: to force things to happen
which are acceptable only when they happen without force.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“Society is our extended mind and body.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“We therefore work, not
for the work's sake, but for money—and money is supposed to get us
what we really want in our hours of leisure and play. In the United
States even poor people have lots of money compared with the wretched
and skinny millions of India, Africa, and China, while our middle andupper classes (or should we say "income groups") are as prosperous as
princes. Yet, by and large, they have but slight taste for pleasure. Money
alone cannot buy pleasure, though it can help. For enjoyment is an art
and a skill for which we have little talent or energy.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“For unless one is able to live fully in the present, the future is a hoax. There is no point whatever in making plans for a future which you will never be able to enjoy. When your plans mature, you will still be living for some other future beyond. You will never, never be able to sit back with full contentment and say, “Now, I’ve arrived!” Your entire education has deprived you of this capacity because it was preparing you for the future, instead of showing you how to be alive now.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“Man aspires to govern nature, but the more one studies ecology, the
more absurd it seems to speak of any one feature of an organism, or of
an organism/environment field, as governing or ruling others.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“Genuine love comes from knowledge, not from a sense of duty or guilt.”
Alan W. Watts, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“If the human race develops an electronic nervous system, outside the bodies of individual people, thus giving us all one mind and one global body, this is almost precisely what has happened in the organization of cells which compose our own bodies. We have already done it. [...] If all this ends with the human race leaving no more trace of itself in the universe than a system of electronic patterns, why should that trouble us? For that is exactly what we are now!”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“We suffer from a hallucination, from a false and distorted sensation of our own existence as living organisms. Most of us have the sensation that "I myself" is a separate center of feeling and action, living inside and bounded by the physical body—a center which "confronts" an "external" world of people and things, making contact through the senses with a universe both alien and strange. Everyday figures of speech reflect this illusion. "I came into this world." "You must face reality." "The conquest of nature." This feeling of being lonely and very temporary visitors in the universe is in flat contradiction to everything known about man (and all other living organisms) in the sciences. We do not "come into" this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean "waves," the universe "peoples." Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe. This fact is rarely, if ever, experienced by most individuals. Even those who know it to be true in theory do not sense or feel it, but continue to be aware of themselves as isolated "egos" inside bags of skin.”
Alan Watts, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“Make a spurious division of one process into two, forget that you have done it, and then puzzle for centuries as to how the two get together.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“But when you know for sure that your separate ego is a fiction, you actually feel yourself as the whole process and pattern of life. Experience and experiencer become one experiencing, known and knower one knowing.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
“every individual is a unique manifestation of the Whole, as every branch is a particular outreaching of the tree.”
Alan Wilson Watts, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

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