In the premiere episode of Being in the Way – an Alan Watts podcast – Mark Watts and Raghu introduce a dharma talk on Taoism, the interdependence of nature, and dropping out of karma.
In this inaugural episode of Being in the Way – an Alan Watts podcast exclusively here on the Be Here Now Network – Alan’s son, Mark Watts, introduces the show, uncovering the recorded treasure trove of wisdom collected of his father over the years, and stating the deep intention of Being in the Way: to ‘see how his words resonate with current events and how they are changing our outlook as we emerge from a deep sleep as a culture.’
“The great Tao flows everywhere, both to the left and to the right. It loves and nourishes all things, but does not lord it over them. And when good things are accomplished, it lays no claim to them.” – Lao Tzu from Tao Te Ching
Eastern Philosophy: Taoism & Confucianism
Exploring the philosophy of the Tao in regards to our human relationship with karma, Alan Watts compares it with the other focal stream of Chinese thought, Confucianism. Contrasting Confucianism’s rigid structure, morals, and formalities to Taoism’s organic, surrendered flow, Alan expresses the wisdom inherent in ‘getting out of one’s own way’ to fall into accordance with the Tao – the natural way of things. Elucidating passages from Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, Alan invites us into a relationship with the flow of nature.
“The world is a system of interrelated components, none of which can survive without each other. Just as in the case of bees and flowers, you will never find bees around in place where there aren’t flowers, and you will never find flowers around in a place where there aren’t bees. What that tells us secretly, is that although bees and flowers look different from each other, they’re inseparable. To use an important Taoist expression: they arise mutually.” – Alan Watts
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Mutual Arising: Polarity, Nature, & Interdependence (24:32)
Extrapolating the Taoist concept of mutual arising, Alan illuminates how all phenomena, even seeming opposites like positive and negative, light and dark, loud and soft, and being and nonbeing, are dependent on each other – all mutually coming into being together, and can only be experienced through terms of their polar experience, a measuring based off of polarity/duality. Through this lens, Alan highlights nature as a totally connected system of interdependence, otherwise knowns as the Tao.
“Whereas the idea of God involved the control of everything going on, the idea of the Tao is the ruler who abdicates and trusts all the people to conduct their own affairs, to let it all happen. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a unified organism and everything is in chaos. It means that the more liberty you give, the more love you give, the more you allow things in yourself and your surroundings to take place, the more order you will have.” – Alan Watts
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Dropping Out From Karma: The Way Through Now (33:16)
Sharing eastern wisdom stories exemplifying how one can get free from karma while still taking part in the action of the world, Alan expresses how one can ‘drop out from karma’ without challenging it. Sometimes referred to as ‘the easy way’ of dealing with karma, Alan offers Taoism as a shortcut, a distinct path of enlightened liberation that uses cleverness instead of muscle. From this perspective, Alan poses the question: Can you find a way that sees into your own nature – the Tao – immediately?
“When you know that this moment is the Tao, and this moment, considered by itself, is without past, without future, eternal, neither coming into being, nor going out of being: there is nirvana.” – Alan Watts