PART 2 | Alan Watts on How to make Yourself a Better Person | Original

TRANSCRIPT to this video:

"Now, here we get to the real problem because we're always telling each other that we should be different. I'm not going to tell you that tonight. Why not? Because I know you can't be.

Nor, can I?

That may sound depressing, but I'll show you that It isn't; It's very heartening. But everybody you see who is at all sensitive to their own problems and human problems is trying to change himself. We know we can't change the world unless we change ourselves. If we are all individually selfish, we are going to be collectively selfish. If we don't really love people and only pretend to, somehow we've got to find a way to love. After all it said in the Bible, Thou Shalt Love The Lord Thy God and your neighbor as yourself. You must love. Yeah, we all agree, sure, but we don't.

And this particularly becomes appalling when we enter into the realm of higher things. By which I mean spiritual development. Everybody these days is interested in spiritual development and a wisely because we want to change our consciousness. Many people are well aware that this egocentric consciousness is a hallucination.

And that they presume it's the function of religion to change it because that's what the Zen Buddhists and Yogis and all these people in the Orient are doing; they are changing their state of consciousness to get something called Satori, a mystical experience or nirvana or Moksha or what have you. And everybody around here is really enthused about that because you don't get that in church. I mean, there have been Christian mystics though the church has been very quiet about them. In the average church, all you'll get is talk. There is no meditation, no spiritual discipline. They tell God what to do as if he didn't know, and then they tell the people what to do as if they could or even wanted to. And then they sing religious nursery rhymes about it, in pursuing these spiritual disciplines, yoga and zen and so forth, and also psychotherapy, a big difficulty comes up and the big difficulty is this. I want to find a method whereby I can change my consciousness and therefore to improve myself. But then the self that needs to be improved is the one that is doing the improving. And so I'm rather stuck. I find out the reason that I think I believe, say in God, is that I sure hope that somehow God will rescue me.

Now in other words I want to hang onto my own existence and I feel rather shaky about doing that for myself, but I just hope there's a god who will take care of it.

Or if I could be loving, I would have a better opinion of myself. I'd feel better about it. I could face myself as people say if I were more loving. So the unloving me somehow by some gimmickry has to turn itself into a loving me. And this is just trying to lift yourself off the ground with your own bootstraps. It can't be done. And that's why religion in practice mainly produces hypocrisy and guilt because of the constant failure of these enterprises. Oh, people go and study and they come back and say, wow, getting rid of your ego is a superhuman task. I'll show you, It's going to be very, very difficult to get rid of your ego. You're going to have to sit for a long time and you're going to get the sore legs, it's hard work. All you wretched kids, you think you're getting rid of your ego on pot or something or other and easy yoga.

You don't know what you're in for when it really comes down to the nitty gritty, but you know the biggest ego trip going is getting rid of your ego and the joke of it all is your ego doesn't exist, but your not going to get rid of, it's an illusion. As I tried to explain it, but you still want to ask how to stop the illusion, now who's asking? I mean, do you think in the ordinary sense in which you use the word I. How can I stop identifying with myself, with the wrong me, but the answer is simply you can't. The Christians put it this way when they say that mystical experience is a gift of divine grace. Man, as such cannot achieve this experience. It is a gift of God and if God doesn't give it to you, there's no way of getting it. Now that is solidly true, you can't do anything about it because you don't exist. Well you say that's pretty depressing news, but the whole point is it isn't depressing news? It is the joyous news. There is a zen poem which puts it like this. When you're talking about it, it means the mystical experience, Satori, the realization that you are the eternal energy of the universe like Jesus did. It says it like this; "You cannot catch hold of it, nor can you get rid of it and not being able to get it, you get it. When you speak, It's silent. When you're silent, it speaks. Now in not being able to get it, you get it because this whole feeling..." what Christina Murti is trying to explain to people. For example, when he says, "why do you ask for a method? There is no method. All methods are simply gimmicks for strengthening your ego." So how do we not do that? Then he says, you're still asking for a method. There is no method. If you really understand what I is, you will see there is no method.

It's Just so sad, but it's not.

This is the gospel, the good news!

Because if you cannot achieve it, if you cannot transform yourself, that means that the main obstacle to mystical vision has collapsed. That was you. What happens? You can't do anything about it. You're at your wits end. What? Are you going to commit suicide? But supposing you just put that off for a little while. You're waiting to see what happens. You can't control your thoughts. You can't control your feelings because there is no controller. You are your thoughts and your feelings and they're running along, running along, running along. Just sit and watch them. Here they go. You're still breathing aren't you? Still growing. You're still seeing and hearing. Are you doing that? I mean is this breathing something that you do. Do you see? I mean, do you organize the operations of your eyes and know exactly how to work those rods and cones in the retina? It's a happening! So you couldn't feel all of this happening. Now your breathing is happening. Your thinking is happening. Your feeling is happening. You're hearing, you're seeing the clouds that are happening across the sky. The Sky is happening blue, the sun is happening shining. There it is. All this happening and may I introduce you. This is yourself! This begins to be a vision of who you really are and that's the way you function. You function by happening. That is to say by spontaneous occurrence, and this is not a state of affairs that you should realize. I cannot possibly preach it to you because the minute you start thinking, I should understand what this is, the stupid notion again of I should bring it about, when there is no you to bring about. That's why I'm not preaching. You can only preach to egos. All I can do is to talk about what it. It amuses me to talk about what it is because it's wonderful. I love it. So this is not easy. The whole approach here is not to convert you, to make you over, not to improve you. But for you to discover that if you really knew the way you are, things would be would be sane. But you see you can't do that. You can't make that discovery because you're in your own way, so long as you think I'm me, so long as that hallucination blocks it and then the hallucination disappears only in the realization of it's own futility. When at lasts, you see you can't do it. You cannot make yourself over. You cannot really control your own mind. A lot of yoga teachers try to get you to control your own mind, mainly to prove to you that you can't do it. There's nothing you know, a fool who persistent in his folly will become wise, so they, what they do is they speed up the folly and so you get concentrating and you can have a certain amount of superficial and initial success by a process commonly called self hypnosis. And you can think you're making progress and a good teacher will let you go along that way for awhile until he really throws you with one. Why are you concentrating?

See, Buddhism works this way. Buddha said, if you suffer, you suffer because you desire and your desires are either unattainable or always being disappointed or something. So they cut out desire. So those disciples went away and they stamped on desire, jumped on desire, cut the throat of desire and threw out desire. But then they came back and Buddha said, but you are still desiring not the desire. So when you see that that's nonsense, there naturally comes over you a quietness. And when seeing that you cannot control your mind, you realize there is no controller."

-Alan Watts