Tuesday, April 17, 2007

watts: three views of the world

Human beings have had three great views of the world. One is the Western view of the world as a construct or artifact, by analogy with ceramics and carpentry. Then there is the Hindu view of the world as a drama, looked at as a play. Third is the organic Chinese view, looking on the world as an organism, a body.

But the Hindu view sees it as a drama, or simply that there is what there is, and always was, and always will be, which is called the self; in Sanskrit, atman. Atman is also called brahman, from the root bri: to grow, to expand, to swell, related to our word breath. Brahman, the self in the Hindu worldview, plays hide-and-seek with itself forever and ever. How far out, how lost can you get? According to the Hindu idea, each one of us is the godhead, getting lost on purpose for the fun of it. And how terrible it gets at times! But won't it be nice when we wake up? That's the basic idea, and I've found that any child can understand it. It has great simplicity and elegance.

Alan Watts
The Journey from India
from Buddhism: The Religion of No-Religion (Tuttle, 1996)

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