In this intimate session, Alan Watts shares distinctive philosophical vantage points outlining humankind’s relationship to nature.
Welcoming listeners into a seminar session from SMU in 1965, Mark introduces the pivotal Alan Watts lecture, ‘Man and Nature,’ which he describes as one of his father’s most engaging talks, positively focused on ecology and our relationship with the natural world and ecosphere.
Today’s talk comes from the Tao of Philosophy from Mark’s specially curated Alan Watts Essential Lectures Collection
Man & Nature, Here & Now
In this intimate 1965 ecology-focused lecture entitled, ‘Man and Nature,’ Alan Watts illuminates our inseparable connection with ecology, the environment, and the way of all things. Opening the session by digging past the ‘superficial self’ to unearth the totally interconnected nature of our consciousness and the vast universe, Alan invites us into the recognition of the eternal, undying nature of awareness.
“We have been brought up to experience ourselves as isolated centers of awareness and action, placed in a world that is not-us, that is foreign, alien, other, which we confront. Whereas in fact, the way an ecologist describes human behavior is as an action—what you do is what the whole universe is doing at the place you call here and now.” – Alan Watts
Open yourself to how we can regenerate the living miracle of the environment, on Ep. 15 of the Brown Rice Hour
The Three Theories of Nature (11:53)
Alan Watts elucidates the three theories of nature in its relation to humankind— 1.) Western Theory: that nature is a machine or artifact, some mechanism made by God. 2.) East Indian Theory: Nature not as artifact, but as drama, magic, art, and illusion; a multitude play of One Self. 3.) Chinese Theory: That nature is what happens of itself; spontaneity, self-moving biology; The Tao.
“The universe doesn’t let you in on the truth that all sense experiences are vibrations of the self—not just yourself, but The Self—and all of us share this Self in common because it is pretending to be all of us.” – Alan Watts
From the inside out—restore the balance of ecology, environment, and nature, on Ep. 382 of Mindrolling
The Undefinable Order of Nature (35:30)
Exploring the Chinese concept of ‘Li’ – organic pattern or natural order, Alan inquires— Can foam on water make an artistic mistake? Should the stars in the sky be criticized? Do we praise the mountains and scold the valleys? Through this contemplative lens, Alan describes the “high philosophical anarchy” that is the Taoist view on the truly undefinable order of nature and reality.
Take a journey along India’s Ganga River in this pilgrimage of Devotional Ecology, on Ep. 2 of Walking Each Other Home
Trust, Play, & Purposelessness (45:00)
After outlining humankind’s association with trust and nature, Alan explains the true meaning of scholarship in relation to leisure; before uncovering the innate wise-freedom in understanding the universe as play and purposeless—a happening, like the waves washing against the beach.
“All music is purposeless. Is music getting somewhere? If the aim of a symphony were to get to the final bar, the best conductor would be the one who got there fastest. When you dance do you aim to arrive at a particular place on the floor? The aim of dancing is to dance, is the present. It’s exactly the same with our life.” – Alan Watts