Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's Bloggerrific

I had great fun reading the internets today. Starting first with Curt at Can't See the Forest who quoted Alan Watts:

"I find that the sensation of my Self as an ego inside a bag of skin is really an hallucination. What we really are is, first of all, the whole of our body. And although our bodies are bounded with skin, and we can differentiate between inside and outside, they cannot exist except in a certain kind of natural environment.

Obviously a body requires air . . . in order to occur, the body must be on a mild and nutritive planet with just enough oxygen in the atmosphere, spinning regularly near a certain kind of star. That arrangement is just as essential to my body as my heart, my lungs, and my brain.

So to describe myself in a scientific way, I must also describe my surroundings, which is a clumsy way of getting around to the realization that you are the entire Universe. However, we do not normally feel that way because we have constructed in thought an abstract idea of our Self."
Later in the day I found this quote from Will Braun of Geez Magazine. It's published in The Idea Factory Magazine, online here:
"I am a Mennonite farm boy from the Bible Belt of Manitoba. Sometimes Mennonites drive me nuts, but I claim my heritage and identity. I don't really see it as a choice – it's who I am.

I believe it is okay to have a love-hate relationship with the church. I don't have to decide if it is all good or all bad. It is both – like me – and I can be part of it anyway.

I believe in being connected to other people. It is popular these days to say ‘I am spiritual but not religious.’ I say bunk to that. I am worried that that leads to the individualization of belief – we all just pick and choose our own little beliefs and do our own thing. It can be a rather arrogant, me-first approach. I think the individualization of belief is the end of belief.

Faith is about connecting to that which is larger than ourselves, and doing so in humility, recognizing the value of relating with others who have varying beliefs and lives. I believe in organized spirituality. I want to be part of a collection of people that includes different generations, people of widely varying backgrounds, and people with whom I disagree."


Colin Madland said...

With all due respect, Michael...Alan Watts has proven in that little quote that he is out to lunch in regards to this particular topic.

His logic as I understand it goes like this...

1. My body requires air and several other things in order to survive.

2. Therefore, I am the entire Universe.

This is complete nonsense.

Clearly, I am not identical to the universe, nor is anyone else. I am not identical to my body (although the I am very well connected to my body and inter-dependent with it).

I would say...I do not have a soul. I AM a soul. I HAVE a body.

mytzpyk said...


You don't need to offer me all due respect to disagree with this one. One doesn't need to travel far to decide Mr. Watts could be out to lunch on a number of topics.

But it's not complete nonsense. Your realization that you are well connected to your body and are inter-dependent with it starts you down the same path. You are also well connected and inter-dependent with the environment, therefore probably the universe. I'm just saying.

I suspect it's more than a matter of coincidence that the artist that created your soul, or your YOU (to follow your logic, I do), is the same artist that created the universe.

Clearly you have "constructed in thought an abstract idea of [your]Self." :)

Here are some things I like about both thoughts...

He goes from the hallucination of ego in skin to "I am the universe" in just a few sentences. That's fast. Too fast.

To get there he goes through how inseparable we are from the environment. That's good. It's an ego problem that we think we're separate.

And then Will Braun does quite a bit of worrying himself. About the end of belief being the individualism of belief. Is that an ego problem too?

When Will says, "Faith is about connecting to that which is larger than ourselves, and doing so in humility, recognizing the value of relating with others who have varying beliefs and lives" it makes me want to ask...

Yes, but what do you LIKE about the quotes?

James Bigler said...

I liked the quote by Will Braun. I am definitely a picker and chooser of my beliefs. I also struggle with being self centered and an egotist. The quote gives me something to think about for sure.

Colin Madland said...

The idea of 'connectedness' really resonates with me. I think Braun gets to this idea much more clearly than Watts, who simply goes too far with no justification.

If we all realized how inter-dependent we all are, I would hope that we would be more thoughtful in our decisions.

I think that living inter-dependently is a sign of maturity spiritually and physically.

But to take inter-dependence to mean identity, then we are on thin ice. It isn't a very large leap to go from "I am the Universe" to "I am God".

Thanks for the thoughts.