Just now I was reading an Alan Watts forum and noticed people were talking about anatta/anatman and it occurred to me that Alan Watts must have realised it himself. So I searched online and found a very clear description - beautiful description. Alan Watts does not see substance but formations, events, actions, operations, processes, relations and interconnectedness.

Quote from his book “This is It: and Other Essays on Zen and Spiritual Experience“ :

The general impression of these optical sensations is that the eyes, without losing the normal area of vision, have become microscopes, and that the texture of the visual field is infinitely rich and complex. I do not know whether this is actual awareness of the multiplicity of nerve-endings in the retina, or, for that matter, in the fingers, for the same grainy feeling arose in the sense of touch. But the effect of feeling that this is or may be so is, as it were, to turn the senses back upon themselves, and so to realize that seeing the external world is also seeing the eyes. In other words, I became vividly aware of the fact that what I call shapes, colors, and textures in the outside world are also states of my nervous system, that is, of me. In knowing them I also know my self. But the strange part of this apparent sensation of my own senses was that I did not appear to be inspecting them from outside or from a distance, as if they were objects. I can say only that the awareness of grain or structure in the senses seemed to be awareness of awareness, of myself from inside myself. Because of this, it followed that the distance or separation between myself and my senses, on the one hand, and the external world, on the other, seemed to disappear I was no longer a detached observer, a little man inside my own head, having sensations. I was the sensations, so much so that there was nothing left of me, the observing ego, except the series of sensations which happened---not to me, but just happened---moment by moment, one after another.

To become the sensations, as distinct from having them, engenders the most astonishing sense of freedom and release. For it implies that experience is not something in which one is trapped or by which one is pushed around, or against which one must fight. The conventional duality of subject and object, knower and known, feeler and feeling, is changed into a polarity: the knower and the known become the poles, terms, or phases of a single event which happens, not to me or from me, but of itself. The experiencer and the experience become a single, ever-changing self-forming process, complete and fulfilled at every moment of its unfolding, and of infinite complexity and subtlety. It is like, not watching, but being, a coiling arabesque of smoke patterns in the air, or of ink dropped in water, or of a dancing snake which seems to move from every part of its body at once. This may be a "drug-induced hallucination," but it corresponds exactly to what Dewey and Bentley have called the transactional relationship of the organism to its environment. This is to say that all our actions and experiences arise mutually from the organism and from the environment at the same time. The eyes can see light because of the sun, but the sun is light because of the eyes. Ordinarily, under the hypnosis of social conditioning, we feel quite distinct from our physical surroundings, facing them rather than belonging in them. Yet in this way we ignore and screen out the physical fact of our total interdependence with the natural world. We are as embodied in it as our own cells and molecules are embodied in us. Our neglect and repression of this interrelationship gives special urgency to all the new sciences of ecology, studying the interplay of organisms with their environments, and warning us against ignorant interference with the balances of nature.

The sensation that events are happening of themselves, and that nothing is making them happen and that they are not happening to anything, has always been a major feature of my experiences with LSD. It is possible that the chemical is simply giving me a vivid realization of my own philosophy, though there have been times when the experience has suggested modifications of my previousthinking. (1) But just as the sensation of subject-object polarity is confirmed by the transactional psychology of Dewey and Bentley, so the sensation of events happening "of themselves" is just how one would expect to perceive a world consisting entirely of process. Now the language of science is increasingly a language of process---a description of events, relations, operations, and forms rather than of things and substances. The world so described is a world of actions rather than agents, verbs rather than nouns, going against the common-sense idea that an action is the behavior of some thing, some solid entity of "stuff." But the commonsense idea that action is always the function of an agent is so deeply rooted, so bound up with our sense of order and security, that seeing the world to be otherwise can be seriously disturbing. Without agents, actions do not seem to come from anywhere, to have any dependable origin, and at first sight this spontaneity can be alarming. In one experiment it seemed that whenever I tried to put my (metaphorical) foot upon some solid ground, the ground collapsed into empty space. I could find no substantial basis from which to act: my will was a whim, and my past, as a causal conditioning force, had simply vanished. There was only the present conformation of events, happening. For a while I felt lost in a void, frightened, baseless, insecure through and through Yet soon I became accustomed to the feeling, strange as it was. There was simply a pattern of action, of process, and this was at one and the same time the universe and myself with nothing outside it either to trust or mistrust. And there seemed to be no meaning in the idea of its trusting or mistrusting itself, just as there is no possibility of a finger's touching its own tip.

Upon reflection, there seems to be nothing unreasonable in seeing the world in this way. The agent behind every action is itself action. If a mat can be called matting, a cat can be called catting. We do not actually need to ask who or what "cats," just as we do not need to ask what is the basic stuff or substance out of which the world is formed---for there is no way of describing this substance except in terms of form, of structure, order, and operation. The world is not formed as if it were inert clay responding to the touch of a potter's hand; the world is form, or better, formation, for upon examination every substance turns out to be closely knit pattern. The fixed notion that every pattern or form must be made of some basic material which is in itself formless is based on a superficial analogy between natural formation and manufacture, as if the stars and rocks had been made out of something as a carpenter makes tables out of wood. Thus what we call the agent behind the action is simply the prior or relatively more constant state of the same action: when a man runs we have a "manning-running" over and above a simple "manning." Furthermore, it is only a somewhat clumsy convenience to say that present events are moved or caused by past events, for we are actually talking about earlier and later stages of the same event. We can establish regularities of rhythm and pattern in the course of an event, and so predict its future configurations, but its past states do not "push" its present and future states as if they were a row of dominoes stood on end so that knocking over the first collapses all the others in series. The fallen dominoes lie where they fall, but past events vanish into the present, which is just another way of saying that the world is a self-moving pattern which, when its successive states are remembered, can be shown to have a certain order. Its motion, its energy, issues from itself now, not from the past, which simply falls behind it in memory like the wake from a ship.

When we ask the "why" of this moving pattern, we usually try to answer the question in terms of its original, past impulse or of its future goal. I had realized for a long time that if there is in any sense a reason for the world's existence it must be sought in the present, as the reason for the wake must be sought in the engine of the moving ship. I have already mentioned that LSD makes me peculiarly aware of the musical or dance-like character of the world, bringing my attention to rest upon its present flowing and seeing this as its ultimate point. Yet I have also been able to see that this point has depths, that the present wells up from within itself with an energy which is something much richer than simple exuberance.

One of these experiments was conducted late at night. Some five or six hours from its start the doctor had to go home, and I was left alone in the garden. For me, this stage of the experiment is always the most rewarding in terms of insight, after some of its more unusual and bizarre sensory effects have worn off. The garden was a lawn surrounded by shrubs and high trees---Pine and eucalyptus---and floodlit from the house which enclosed it on one side. As I stood on the lawn I noticed that the rough patches where the grass was thin or mottled with weeds no longer seemed to be blemishes. Scattered at random as they were, they appeared to constitute an ordered design, giving the whole area the texture of velvet damask, the rough patches being the parts where the pile of the velvet is cut. In sheer delight I began to dance on this enchanted carpet, and through the thin soles of my moccasins I could feel the ground becoming alive under my feet, connecting me with the earth and the trees and the sky in such a way that I seemed to become one body with my whole surroundings.

Looking up, I saw that the stars were colored with the same reds, greens, and blues that one sees in iridescent glass, and passing across them was the single light of a jet plane taking forever to streak over the sky. At the same time, the trees, shrubs, and flowers seemed to be living jewelry, inwardly luminous like intricate structures of jade, alabaster, or coral, and yet breathing and flowing with the same life that was in me. Every plant became a kind of musical utterance, a play of variations on a theme repeated from the main branches, through the stalks and twigs, to the leaves, the veins in the leaves, and to the fine capillary network between the veins. Each new bursting of growth from a center repeated or amplified the basic design with increasing complexity and delight, finally exulting in a flower.

From my description it will seem that the garden acquired an atmosphere that was distinctly exotic, like the gardens of precious stones in the Arabian Nights, or like scenes in a Persian miniature. This struck me at the time, and I began to wonder just why it is that the glowingly articulated landscapes of those miniatures seem exotic, as do also many Chinese and Japanese paintings. Were the artists recording what they, too, had seen under the influence of drugs? I knew enough of the lives and techniques of Far Eastern painters to doubt this. I asked, too, whether what I was seeing was "drugged." In other words, was the effect of the LSD in my nervous system the addition to my senses of some chemical screen which distorted all that I saw to preternatural loveliness? Or was its effect rather to remove certain habitual and normal inhibitions of the mind and senses, enabling us to see things as they would appear to us if we were not so chronically repressed? Little is known of the exact neurological effects of LSD, but what is known suggests the latter possibility. If this be so, it is possible that the art forms of other cultures appear exotic---that is, unfamiliarly enchanting---because we are seeing the world through the eyes of artists whose repressions are not the same as ours. The blocks in their view of the world may not coincide with ours, so that in their representations of life we see areas that we normally ignore. I am inclined to some such solution because there have been times when I have seen the world in this magical aspect without benefit of LSD, and they were times when I was profoundly relaxed within, my senses unguardedly open to their surroundings.

Feeling, then, not that I was drugged but that I was in an unusual degree open to reality, I tried to discern the meaning, the inner character of the dancing pattern which constituted both myself and the garden, and the whole dome of the night with its colored stars. All at once it became obvious that the whole thing was love-play, where love means everything that the word can mean, a spectrum ranging from the red of erotic delight, through the green of human endearment, to the violet of divine charity, from Freud's libido to Dante's "love that moves the sun and other stars." All were so many colors issuing from a single white light, and, what was more, this single source was not just love as we ordinarily understand it: it was also intelligence, not only Eros and Agape but also Logos. I could see that the intricate organization both of the plants and of my own nervous system, like symphonies of branching complexity, were not just manifestations of intelligence---as if things like intelligence and love were in themselves substances or formless forces. It was rather that the pattern itself is intelligence and is love, and this somehow in spite of all its outwardly stupid and cruel distortions.
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