Wisdom Of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety — Alan W Watts

One of our team at doopoll, Ryan Glover, recommended this to me. I found it a very different way of looking at the world.

WATTS is a person who writes mostly about eastern philosophy but this book also examines some of the sayings of Christ. And that’s a rare thing. I think that maybe he misses the point of some of those gospel extracts but then, as James Paul writes later in the Bible, ‘the wisdom of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.’

Anyway, better or worse, here are some highlights:

When belief in the eternal becomes impossible, and there is only the poor substitute of belief in believing, men seek their happiness in the joys of time. However much they may try to bury it in the depths of their minds, they are well aware that these joys are both uncertain and brief.

And this:

The common error of ordinary religious practice is to mistake the symbol for the reality, to look at the finger pointing the way and then to suck it for comfort rather than follow it. Religious ideas are like words—of little use, and often misleading, unless you know the concrete realities to which they refer. The word “water” is a useful means of communication amongst those who know water. The same is true of the word and the idea called “God.”

A key point for this time:

The conflict is not only between ourselves and the surrounding universe; it is between ourselves and ourselves.

Have been interested in ideas similar to this recently:

If, when swimming, you are caught in a strong current, it is fatal to resist. You must swim with it and gradually edge to the side. One who falls from a height with stiff limbs will break them, but if he relaxes like a cat he will fall safely. A building without “give” in its structure will easily collapse in storm or earthquake, and a car without the cushioning of tyres and springs will soon come apart on the road.

And this classy little poem – the author of which fails me:

Und so lang du das nicht hast, Dieses: stirb und werde, Bist du nur ein trüber Gast Auf der dunklen Erde.