Alan Watts’ unique ability to understand and assess Eastern Philosophies for the Western mind is a valuable asset to those who follow a Zen lifestyle. Without his writing and those of D. T. Suzuki, from whom Watts borrowed much of his insight, it would be difficult to grasp the true significance of the practice, if we can even call it a practice. I prefer to call it Mind—Being—in the moment.
The following is an excerpt from one of his many spoken lectures; this one addressing the shortcomings of the Western practice of Zen, and Asian thought in general, broadcast from radio station KPFA in Berkeley, California on April 17, 1955. -Pc
“The important thing is simply to begin—anywhere, wherever you are.”
In this broadcast, Mr Watts explains:
“We want to enjoy ourselves, and fear that if we forget ourselves there will be no enjoyment.”
He goes on to give an example with the Western Proverb:
“A watched pot never boils.”… if you try to watch your mind concentrate, it will not concentrate. And if… you begin to watch for the arrival of some insight into reality, you have stopped concentrating.”
It is a paradox. If we try to concentrate we are not concentrating, but watching ourselves trying.
“Real concentration is… a rather curious and seemingly paradoxical state, since it is at once the maximum of consciousness and the minimum of ego-feeling… The only way to enter into this state is precipitately—without delay or hesitation, just to do it…”