Alan Watts ~ Why We’re So Depressed…


suppose most of you are familiar with this old optical illusion And you’re asked the question which of the three thick black line is the longer and I suppose ones natural reaction is to say the one on the left and I think you know that this is a result of the illusion of perspective An illusion with which we are so used to which we’re so used and by which. We’re so easily fooled Once we’ve accustomed ourselves to it You might if that picture were drawn more vividly? Even be predisposed to thinking that with a real passage stretching away from you the doors at the end Of course if you came up against that kind of thing painted against the wall you might Make the mistake of walking into it and banging your nose but this is an example of what we were talking about last time as Maya that word from Indian Philosophy which generally has the meaning of illusion or rather Illusions brought about by the acceptance of certain conventions of which perspective was an example When we are not aware that certain things which we take for granted like the separateness of each of things from each other when we’re not aware that this is a matter of convention We are out to be fooled Now I think one of the conventions by which we tend to be fooled more than almost any other is time and for all human beings time is a matter of extraordinary importance and perhaps This is one of the principal ways in which we differ from animals Because man has been called a time binding animal that is to say a creature who is vividly aware of the fact that his life Moves as it were along a line From the past through the present and into the future animals apparently live pretty much moment by moment They don’t appear to have very strong memories But because man has a strong memory He is able to bear the past in mind and as it were cast it Forward into visions of the future based upon what has happened in the past and therefore although this facility gives man the most extraordinary ability to plan his life to prepare for future eventualities at the same time there is a very heavy price which he pays for it and especially if he takes this ability too seriously in other words if he doesn’t realize That the true reality in which he lives is the present moment now for example the animal probably doesn’t concern itself very much with problems of future disease death or starvation things of that kind If an animal sees another dead animal lying around I don’t suppose he thinks to himself well One day that’s going to happen to me Rather he just sees a dead animal sniffs it, sees whether it’s good to eat and wanders away But for human being that’s entirely different Because we actually spend most of our time and a great deal of our emotional energy living in time. Which is not here Living in and elsewhere, which is not concretely real. So much, so that although we may be quite comfortable and happy in our present circumstances If there is not a guarantee not a promise of a good time coming tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow we’re at once Unhappy even in the midst of pleasure and affluence and so we develop a kind of chronic anxiety about time We want to be sure more and more because of our Sensitivity to the feeling and we want to be sure more and more that our future is assured for this reason the future becomes of more importance to most human beings than the present and in this sense we are hooked taken in by a Maya Because it is a very little use to us to be able to control and plan the future Unless we are capable at the same time of living totally in the present and so when in Civilized societies, we spend so much of our time living for the future. We become very much like those Celebrated donkeys, you know that have a carrot Fastened on a stick that’s tied to the neck you know behind here, and it comes over And there’s the carrot dangling in front of them, and they pursue it pursue it pursue it, but can never reach it And so in exactly the same way, it’s that way with us My goodness don’t you remember when you went first to school? You went to kindergarten? Kindergarten the idea was to push along so that you could get into first grade and Then push along, so to get into second grade third grade So on going up and up and then you went to high school and this was a great transition in life and now the pressure is being put on you must get ahead You must go up the grades and finally be good enough to get to college and then when you get to college You’re still going step by step step by step up to the great moment in which you’re ready to go out into the world And then when you get out into this famous world comes the struggle for success in Profession or business and again there seems to be a ladder before you something for which you’re reaching all the time and then Suddenly When you’re about 40 or 45 years old in the middle of life, you wake up one day and say Huh? I’ve arrived And by Joe I feel pretty much the same as I’ve always felt In fact, I’m not so sure that I don’t feel a little bit cheated Because you see you were fooled You were always living for somewhere where you aren’t and while as I said it is of Tremendous use for us to be able to look ahead in this way and to plan There is no use panning for a future Which when you get to it, and it becomes a present you won’t be there you’ll be living in some other future which hasn’t yet arrived and so in this way one is never able actually to inherit and enjoy the fruits of one’s action You can’t live at all unless you can live fully now and because now is never satisfactory because we’re never really living in it We get more and more avid to go ahead and pursue the future. We develop our technology to a fantastic ability Where we can more and more fulfill our desires for the future almost immediately Working Towards a sort of Push-button world But have you ever stopped to think what the world would be like if you could fulfill every wish the moment you wished Suppose for example; I’m going to bed at night. You could always dream Whatever you wanted to dream What would happen after a while ? of course I suppose at first: You would dream fantastic pleasures wonderful Adventures fulfilment of all the things you ever wished Then as time went on don’t you think you’d want to be… oh? a little bit surprised to have a little bit less control over what was happening to you and After you’d experimented with this for some months or years you might even want dreams in which you suffer because There is no real delight No real fulfillment without delay doesn’t every child know on a hot day you think I’m terribly thirsty And I’d like an ice-cream soda Haven’t you tried the experiment of putting off drinking it putting our so to get thirstier and thirstier? And it’s so much fun when you finally get to it So in the same way in patience of time always wanting the future this frustrating

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