“It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together.”
- Alan Watts describing the Tao? Nope. Obi-Wan Kenobi as he explained The Force to young Luke Skywalker.
The Tao is not something we can speak clearly about, because the Tao we can speak about is not the real Tao. The Tao is that thing beyond the language about the Tao. It's that great permeating essence that is not only contained within the box people put it in, but also contains all of people who put it in the box, and the box itself. It surrounds us, penetrates us... well, you get the point!
There is an inherent balance that is the natural course of things, and if left to its own vices and devices, it maintains a sort of cosmic equilibrium - but nowadays it seems we're finding out that our influence is anything but subtle. When we exert force, we can knock the balance askew. Is that a good thing, a bad thing? Maybe! Remember the Chinese Farmer?
Anyway, George Lucas had this to say about changing the balance of the Force to the darkness:
“What happens when you go to the dark side is it gets out of balance… When you get selfish you want stuff… and when you want stuff and you get stuff, you’re afraid someone’s going to take it away from you... Once you become afraid you’re gonna lose it, you start to become angry… and that anger leads to hate… and hate leads to suffering… You spend all your time being afraid of losing everything you’ve got instead of actually living.”
- George Lucas
Or as Alan put it some years prior:
“Man suffers because of his craving to possess and keep forever things which are essentially impermanent...this frustration of the desire to possess is the immediate cause of suffering.”
- Alan Watts... some years prior
As we consider the stories and myths we hear today, it's interesting to recognize how much they borrow from the stories people have been writing for thousands of years. Sure, they may be set during a war in outer-space now, but the light and the dark are still the factors we consider. The interplay between man and nature... between the nature of woman and the varying degrees of nature we call wilderness... the nature OF things and the way all things are interdependent... that yin-yang nature is still and will always be the basis for the greatest stories.
Our best stories have questions that will perhaps never be answered and mysteries that will perhaps always be interesting. Those stories are the eternal stories... so I suppose we can't really speak about them.
What's your story? We'd love to hear from you! You can reply directly to this email with your favorite Alan Watts lecture, a fond memory, requests, corrections, and so on... Here are some stories we received as a response to our last newsletter:
Rosalia about listening to Alan: "Recently I was listening to an Alan Watts recording in my car while parked in the grocery store parking lot. A woman got out of a car parked next to me and tapped on my window and said, “You know, I just love Alan Watts too!"
Olivier on the new transcripts: "This is absolutely fantastic for a French reader/listener like me who sometimes struggles with understanding the words. Thank you so much for all the great work!!!"