A Sea of Cosmic Consciousness
Who am I?
If one really stops and thinks about the question, “Who am I?” I think that they will find that this is really one of life’s great mysteries. An absolutely fascinating question, this question has occupied much of my time and I have searched, nay, quested for many years to arrive at a satisfactory answer and I have devoured a great many works of literature on the subject until I stumbled upon Alan Watts.
I understand that there is some controversy around the reputation of Dr. Watts and I think any philosopher pioneering a new way of thinking and feeling about himself and his place in the Universe would garner such attention. In my opinion the mere fact that that he has caused such a stir makes him well worth reading if only to see what all the fuss is about.
The fuss is this. If one were to stop and seriously consider that the philosophies and opinions of Alan Watts might actually be scientifically true or more importantly that his views and theories might be beneficial to humanity regardless of actual fact; then one can see immediately see that with his ideas and western technology combined; that it might be possible to foster a culture, a community based on collaboration rather than competition.
The philosophies of Alan Watts are not new. To say that Alan ‘invented’ the idea of a living Universe that is ‘so of itself,’ would be like saying Levi Strauss invented pants. He didn’t he just added a bit of glam to them and made denim jeans incredibly popular. So too, this is what Dr. Watts has done for the philosophies of the Hindu, Taoists, Buddhists, and Zen.
The foundation of Alan’s philosophy is an answer to the question, “Who am I?” His answer is very simple, but will require a reexamination of how we think about ourselves and the world. The answer is this: you are fundamentally, that is deep, deep down inside; you are a form of, a function of, a symptom of this Universe in rather the same way as a wave on an ocean.
Think about an ocean for a bit. Suspend your disbelief for a moment and take a philosophical journey with me. Looking out on an ocean you see all these waves. Waves over here, waves over there and you may say, “That wave is made of water.” No, it isn’t… it IS water. Waves are not made of water any more than tree branches are made of wood, or mountains made of stone. These things are water, wood, and stone.
In exactly the same way, our human consciousness is not made of some sort of ‘external’ Consciousness; we are Consciousness. Each one of us are individual expressions of a Conscious Living Universe that is aware of itself and your personality is just one of the myriad of forms that the Universe takes. The Universe makes all kinds of forms (people, trees, birds, rocks, rivers… etc.), just as the ocean makes all kinds of waves.
Each of these waves seem separate, seem distinct from each other, but really they are all unique expressions of the same fundamental energy source (ocean). If Wave A is = to Ocean B. and Wave C is = to Ocean B. Then Wave A is = to Wave C. This logic is absolutely basic.
If A=B and B=C Then C=A
I want you to understand that the feeling of separateness you and others may experience towards the environment; towards the so called ‘external world’ is a lie. It is a pure hallucination. Need some convincing? I thought you might.
Consider this, in order to describe the behavior of any organism, it is impossible to describe that behavior accurately without also describing the environment in which you find the organism. Follow these thoughts with me. If I were to describe a man moving, I find that I cannot describe him without also describing the ground upon which he walks. A walking man does not swing his legs in empty space, that’s stupid. So I must describe the floor and I find that when he moves, he moves through a room, his position changes in relation to other objects in the room.
To describe a man talking I must describe the organism to which he talks; his voice makes vibrations in the air, which are received and interpreted by the ear drum and brain of another organism and his voice interacts with whatever it is that hears his sound. If the voice is heard by another man he may say hello, if the voice is heard by a mouse it may run and hide.
Organisms are not nearly as isolated as we are lead to believe. Hell, they’re not isolated at all. Everything is connected by a vast, vast web of interactions. There is no separation between You and what is outside you, what we might call Other. You and Other seem different, appear to be separate, but the actual reality is that you cannot define Self without defining that which you consider separate from the self; from Other. You and the ‘external world’ interdepend to such a degree that you could not have one without the other. Just you cannot have hot without cold, or light without dark, or left without right; in exactly the same way you cannot have Self without Not Self. And so I am saying to you that your although you and your environment appear to be separate, secretly you go together and that the external world is literally as much ‘you’ as your own body.
Your skin isn’t a barrier between you and ‘not you,’ it’s a bridge through which the entire Universe flows through you. Consider a flowing river with rapids. The rapids begin at some point, continue for a portion of the river and then stop and the river moves on, and so we can say that the rapids have a definite form, but the same water does not stay in it. The rapids are something that the whole river is ‘doing’ and in exactly the same way, the Universe is ‘doing’ each one of us. There is a constant stream of water that flows through the rapids and in the same way, the Universe flows through us; the constant stream of food and liquids and air and sunlight and words and emotions and experience that pass through our bodies and through our lives; it’s all one process! Only the Universe is ‘streaming’ in a different way with each individual because variety is the spice of life.
And so I am also suggesting to you that if we are each unique, individual expressions of the Universe like waves on an ocean, that also as a wave IS the ocean, I am telling you that You are the Universe, the whole friggen thing; all there is! Each one of us is really that, only we don’t know this fact, because we haven’t been brought up by our culture and education system to feel this way. We haven’t been taught to feel identical with the Universe and that other people are all really ‘Myself’ or individually expressed siblings of Consciousness.
If we knew this, not only intellectually, but really felt the fact, I suspect that many of our fears, suspicions, wars, and profit seeking would literally disappear. And I think that in the unfolding chaos, especially the impending American chaos, that it really is high time that we bring to light this harmonious fact, or else we may end up committing mass suicide courtesy of nuclear weapons, the Patriot Act, SOPA, the ‘War on Terror,’ and an insane economic system that thrives on cancer like growth and exploitation.