Toxic Zen Story #25, part 1 of 2: Stanford Zen: Alan Watts and Empty Values in the Psychotic Experience.
| 'Now what bugs Western people about this is
| they would say "Are you trying to tell us that
| life has no meaning, no purpose?" Yes. What's so
| bad about that? What sort of meaning would you
| like it to have? Propose me a meaning for life.
| Anything you want. Well, when people try to think
| of what the meaning of life is, they say "Well, I
| think that we're all part of a plan, and that
| working as if we were characters in a novel or a
| play, and we are all working towards a great
- Alan Watts, describing how little your life means to him.
part 1 of 2.
____ Background for Toxic Zen Stories _____________________
____ Introduction ________________________________________
We know the basic story of D.T. Suzuki, and the fact that he had one face showing towards Japan's Imperial Way Zen, and a different face showing towards the West. And that, for obvious reasons, never the twain would meet.
We know that Suzuki went to America as a young man, to accompany his master, the Rinzai priest Soyen Shaku, to LaSalle-Peru, Illinois, at the behest of Dr. Paul Carus, a German who was the managing editor of Open Court Publishing, which was owned by Zinc magnate Edward Hegeler.
We know that after leaving America, Suzuki influenced people around the world and was one of the stalwart supporters of the Japanese War with Russia, and then in China.
We know that Suzuki's influence in academic circles in Europe was profound, and particularly in mentoring Eugen Herrigel. Herrigel's work erroneously describing the Zen influences on Japanese archery was a twisted mirror to Suzuki's work describing the Zen influences in Bushido swordsmanship.
We know that he had a variety of collaborators, a flock of followers, and influenced many others:
Collaborators in the propagation of Soyen Shaku (D.T.'s Master)-D.T. Suzuki Zen:
Beatrice Lane (wife), Paul Carus, Edward Hegeler, Martin Heidegger, Frederic Spiegelberg, Father Thomas Merton, Alan Watts, Eric Fromm, Carl G. Jung, Richard de Martino, Karen Horney, and a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to lecture extensively at Columbia University and other East Coast schools in the 1950's.
Followers of Shaku-Suzuki Zen:
John Cage, Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and Philip Whalen.
Those strongly affected by the Shaku-Suzuki Zen Influence:
Aldous Huxley, Karl Jaspers, Arnold Toynbee, Gabriel Marcel, Herbert Read, and Lynn White Jr.
What is basically wrong with Zen Buddhism? The problems become apparent when you look closely at the Buddha's own words, relayed in the Buddha's highest teachings (Sutras) and writings (Gosho).
In the Nirvana Sutra it states "Rely upon the Law and not upon persons".
On the topic of "evil friends", who are a "friend" to you, but an enemy of the Law, and who gradually pull you away from the truth and into hellishness, Nichiren writes:
. 'The Buddha states: "Have no fear of mad
. elephants. What you should fear are evil friends!
. Why? Because a mad elephant can only destroy your
. body; it cannot destroy your mind. But an evil
. friend can destroy both body and mind. A mad
. elephant can destroy only a single body, but an
. evil friend can destroy countless bodies and
. countless minds. A mad elephant merely destroys an
. impure, stinking body, but an evil friend can
. destroy both pure body and pure mind. A mad
. elephant can destroy the physical body, but an
. evil friend destroys the Dharma body. Even if you
. are killed by a mad elephant, you will not fall
. into the three evil paths. But if you are killed
. by an evil friend, you are certain to fall into
. them. A mad elephant is merely an enemy of your
. body, but an evil friend is an enemy of the good
. Law." (Nirvana Sutra) Therefore, even more than
. venomous serpents or malevolent demons, one should
. fear the evil friends who follow Kobo [japanese
. true word/shingon founder: tantric buddhism],
. Shan-tao [third chinese nembutsu patriarch], and
. Honen [japanese pure land/jodo sect founder]. This
. is just a brief clarification of the error of
. holding distorted views.'
"Reply to Hoshina Goro Taro" - Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 159
On the topic of Zen, and "transmissions" apart from the teachings of the Buddha. Would these somehow not constitute teachings, in and of themselves? Actually, they are a hidden supplemental teaching, added to the Buddha's golden words. Because of this, they can only serve to distort Buddhism. Nichiren writes:
. The sage replied: "You must first of all set
. aside the doctrines for the moment and consider
. the logic of the matter. Can anyone, without
. inquiring into the essential meaning of the
. Buddha's lifetime teachings or investigating the
. basic principles of the ten schools, presume to
. admonish the nation and teach others? This Zen
. that you are talking about is something that I
. have studied exhaustively for some time. In view
. of the extreme doctrines that it teaches, I must
. say that it is a highly distorted affair.
. "There are three types of Zen, known
. respectively as Thus Come One Zen, doctrinal Zen,
. and patriarchal Zen. What you are referring to
. is patriarchal Zen, and I would therefore like to
. give you a general idea of it. So listen, and
. understand what it is about.
. "It speaks of transmitting something apart
. from the teachings. But apart from the teachings
. there are no principles, and apart from principles
. there are no teachings. Don't you understand the
. logic of this, that principles are none other than
. teachings and teachings none other than
. principles? This talk about the twirled flower,
. the faint smile, and something being entrusted to
. Mahakashyapa is in itself a teaching, and the
. four-character phrase about its being 'independent
. of words or writing' is likewise a teaching and a
. statement in words. This sort of talk has been
. around for a long while in both China and Japan.
. It may appear novel to you, but let me quote one
. or two passages that will clear up your
. "Volume eleven of The Supplement to T'ien-
. t'ai's Three Major Works states: 'If one says that
. we are not to hamper ourselves by the use of
. verbal expressions, then how, for even an instant
. in this saha world, can we carry on the Buddha's
. work? Do the Zen followers themselves not use
. verbal explanations when they are giving
. instruction to others? If one sets aside words and
. phrases, then there is no way to explain the
. meaning of emancipation, so how can anyone ever
. hear about it?'
. "Farther on, we read: 'It is said that
. Bodhidharma came from the west and taught the
. "direct pointing to the mind of man" and
. "perceiving one's true nature and attaining
. Buddhahood." But are these same concepts not found
. in the Flower Garland Sutra and in the other
. Mahayana sutras? Alas, how can the people of our
. time be so foolish! You should all put faith in
. the teachings of the Buddha. The Buddhas, the Thus
. Come Ones, tell no lies!'
. "To restate the meaning of this passage: if
. one objects that we are hampering ourselves with
. doctrinal writings and tying ourselves down with
. verbal explanations, and recommends a type of
. religious practice that is apart from the
. teachings of the sutras, then by what means are we
. to carry on the Buddha's work and make good causes
. in this saha world of ours? Even the followers of
. Zen, who advocate these views, themselves make use
. of words when instructing others. In addition,
. when one is trying to convey an understanding of
. the Buddha way, one cannot communicate the meaning
. if one sets aside words and phrases. Bodhidharma
. came to China from the west, pointed directly to
. people's minds, and declared that those minds were
. Buddha. But this principle is enunciated in
. various places even in the provisional Mahayana
. sutras that preceded the Lotus Sutra, such as the
. Flower Garland, Great Collection, and Great Wisdom
. sutras. To treat it as such a rare and wonderful
. thing is too ridiculous for words. Alas, how can
. the people of our time be so distorted in their
. thinking! They should put their faith in the words
. of truth spoken by the Thus Come One of perfect
. enlightenment and complete reward, who embodies
. the principle of the Middle Way that is the true
. aspect of all things.
. "In addition, the Great Teacher Miao-lo in the
. first volume of his Annotations on 'Great
. Concentration and Insight' comments on this
. situation by saying, 'The people of today look
. with contempt on the sutra teachings and emphasize
. only the contemplation of truth, but they are
. making a great mistake, a great mistake indeed!'
. "This passage applies to the people in the
. world today who put meditation on the mind and
. various other things first, and do not delve into
. or study the teachings of the sutras. On the
. contrary, they despise the teachings and make
. light of the sutras. This passage is saying that
. this is a mistake.
. "Moreover, I should point out that the Zen
. followers of the present age are confused as to
. the teachings of their own school. If we open the
. pages of The Continued Biographies of Eminent
. Priests, we find that in the biography of the
. Great Teacher Bodhidharma, the first patriarch of
. Zen in China, it states, 'By means of the
. teachings one can understand the essential
. meaning.' Therefore, one should study and practice
. the principles embodied in the sacred teachings
. preached by the Thus Come One in the course of his
. lifetime and thereby gain an understanding of the
. substance of the various doctrines and the nature
. of the different schools.
. "Furthermore, in the biography of
. Bodhidharma's disciple, Hui-k'o, the second of the
. six Chinese patriarchs, it states that the
. Meditation Master Bodhidharma handed over the four
. volumes of the Lankavatara Sutra to Hui-k'o,
. saying: 'Observing this land of China, I find only
. this sutra to be of real worth. If you base your
. practice on it, you will be able to bring
. salvation to the world.' Here we see that, when
. the Great Teacher Bodhidharma came from India to
. China, he brought the four volumes of the
. Lankavatara Sutra and handed them over to Hui-k'o,
. saying: 'When I observe the situation in this
. country, I see that this sutra is of outstanding
. superiority. You should abide by it and put it
. into practice and become a Buddha.'
. "As we have just seen, these patriarch-
. teachers placed primary emphasis on the sutra
. texts. But if we therefore say that one must rely
. on the sutras, then we must take care to inquire
. whether those sutras belong to the Mahayana or the
. Hinayana, whether they are the provisional
. teachings or the true teaching.
. "When it comes to making use of sutras, the
. Zen school relies on such works as the Lankavatara
. Sutra, the Shuramgama Sutra, and the Diamond
. Wisdom Sutra. These are all provisional teachings
. that were preached before the Lotus Sutra,
. doctrines that conceal the truth.
. "These various sutras expound partial truths
. such as 'the mind itself is the Buddha, and the
. Buddha is none other than the mind.' The Zen
. followers have allowed themselves to be led astray
. by one or two such sentences and phrases, failing
. to inquire whether they represent the Mahayana or
. the Hinayana, the provisional teachings or the
. true teaching, the doctrines that reveal the truth
. or the doctrines that conceal it. They merely
. advance the principle of nonduality without
. understanding the principle of duality, and
. commit an act of great arrogance, claiming that
. they themselves are equal to the Buddha. They are
. following in the tracks of the Great Arrogant
. Brahman of India and imitating the old ways of the
. Meditation Master Sanchieh of China. But we should
. recall that the Great Arrogant Brahman, while
. still alive, fell into the hell of incessant
. suffering, and that San-chieh, after he died,
. turned into a huge snake. How frightful, how
. frightful indeed!
. "Shakyamuni Buddha, with his understanding
. that had penetrated the three existences, and by
. the light of the clear wisdom-moon of perfect
. enlightenment and complete reward, peered into the
. future and, in the Sutra on Resolving Doubts about
. the Middle Day of the Law, made this prediction:
. 'Among the evil monks there will be those who
. practice meditation and, instead of relying on the
. sutras and treatises, heed only their own view of
. things, declaring wrong to be right. Unable to
. distinguish between what is correct and what is
. erroneous, all they will do is face monks and lay
. believers and declare in this fashion, "I can
. understand what is right, I can see what is
. right." You should understand that it is people
. like this who will destroy my teachings in no time
. at all.'
. "This passage is saying that there will be
. evil monks who put all their faith in Zen and do
. not delve into the sutras and treatises. They will
. base themselves on distorted views and fail to
. distinguish between false and true doctrines.
. Moreover, they will address themselves to men and
. women believers, monks and nuns, declaring, 'I can
. understand the doctrines, but other people do
. not,' in this way working to spread the Zen
. teachings. But you should understand that these
. people will destroy the correct teaching of the
. Buddha. If we examine this passage and observe the
. state of the world today, we see that the two
. match each other as perfectly as do the two halves
. of a tally. Be careful! There is much to fear
"Conversation between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man" - Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, pp. 117-119.
There is the Fivefold Comparison as described in the Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism:
. Fivefold Comparison (Jpn goja-no-sotai): Five
. successive levels of comparison set forth by
. Nichiren (1222-I282) in The Opening of the Eyes
. (Gosho) to demonstrate the superiority of his
. teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo [The essential
. form of the Lotus Sutra for the Latter Day of the
. Law] over all other teachings.
. (1) Buddhism is superior to non-Buddhist
. teachings. Nichiren takes up Confucianism and
. Brahmanism, and concludes that these non-Buddhist
. religions are not as profound as Buddhism in that
. they do not reveal the causal law of life that
. penetrates the three existences of past, present,
. and future.
. (2)Mahayana Buddhism is superior to Hinayana
. Buddhism. Hinayana Buddhism is the teaching for
. persons of the two vehicles, or voicehearers (Skt
. shravaka) and cause-awakened ones
. (pratyekabuddha), who aim at personal
. emancipation; its ultimate goal is to put an end
. to the cycle of rebirth in the threefold world by
. eliminating all earthly desires. It is called
. Hinayana (Lesser Vehicle) because it saves only a
. limited number of people. In contrast, Mahayana
. Buddhism is the teaching for bodhisattvas who aim
. at both personal enlightenment and the
. enlightenment of others; it is called Mahayana
. (Great Vehicle) because it can lead many people to
. enlightenment. In this sense, the Mahayana
. teachings are superior to the Hinayana teachings.
. (3) True Mahayana is superior to provisional
. Mahayana. Here true Mahayana means the Lotus
. Sutra, while provisional Mahayana indicates the
. Mahayana teachings that, according to T'ien-t'al's
. system of classification, were expounded before
. the Lotus Sutra. In the provisional Mahayana
. teachings, the people of the two vehicles, women,
. and evil persons are excluded from the possibility
. of attaining enlightenment; in addition,
. Buddhahood is attained only by advancing through
. progressive stages of bodhisattva practice over
. incalculable kalpas. In contrast, the Lotus Sutra
. reveals that all people have the Buddha nature
. inherently, and that they can attain Buddhahood
. immediately by realizing that nature. Furthermore,
. the provisional Mahayana teachings assert that
. Shakyamuni attained enlightenment for the first
. time in India and do not reveal his original
. attainment of Buddhahood in the remote past, nor
. do they reveal the principle of the mutual
. possession of the Ten Worlds, as does the Lotus
. Sutra. For these reasons, the true Mahayana
. teachings are superior to the provisional Mahayana
. (4) The essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra is
. superior to the theoretical teaching of the Lotus
. Sutra. The theoretical teaching consists of the
. first fourteen chapters of the Lotus Sutra, and
. the essential teaching, the latter fourteen
. chapters. The theoretical teaching takes the form
. of preaching by Shakyamuni who is still viewed as
. having attained enlightenment during his lifetime
. in India. In contrast, the essential teaching
. takes the form of preaching by Shakyamuni who has
. discarded this transient status and revealed his
. true identity as the Buddha who attained
. Buddhahood in the remote past. This revelation
. implies that all the Ten Worlds of ordinary people
. are eternal just as the Buddha's are, and confirms
. that Buddhahood is an ever-present potential of
. human life. For these reasons, the essential
. teaching is superior to the theoretical teaching.
. (5) The Buddhism of sowing is superior to the
. Buddhism of the harvest. Nichiren established this
. comparison based on the concept of sowing,
. maturing, and harvesting that T'ien-t'ai (538-597)
. set forth in The Words and Phrases of the Lotus
. Sutra. In The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra,
. T'ien-t'ai cites the process by which the Buddha
. teaches, described in the "Parable of the Phantom
. City" (seventh) chapter of the Lotus Sutra, as
. well as the relationship of the Buddha and his
. disciples from the remote past explained in the
. "Life Span" (sixteenth) chapter of the sutra. All
. these ideas illustrate how the Buddha begins
. teaching his disciples by sowing the seeds of
. Buddhahood in their lives, helps those seeds
. mature, and finally harvests their fruit by
. leading them to the final stage of enlightenment
. or Buddhahood.
. The Lotus Sutra [28-chapter comprehensive form]
. describes this process as ranging over countless
. kalpas. The sutra does not, however, explain the
. nature of these original seeds, though it is clear
. that the seed of Buddhahood is essential for
. attaining Buddhahood. Nichiren identifies the seed
. as Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and states that it can be
. found only in the depths of the "Life Span"
. chapter. By implanting this seed in one's life,
. one can attain Buddhahood. From this viewpoint,
. Nichiren identifies his teaching as the Buddhism
. of sowing (the teaching aimed at implanting the
. seed of Buddhahood) and Shakyamuni's as the
. Buddhism of the harvest (the teaching aimed at
. harvesting the fruit of enlightenment borne from
. the seed planted in the remote past). He explains
. that Shakyamuni appeared in India in order to
. harvest the fruit of Buddhahood borne from the
. seed he had sown and caused to mature in the lives
. of his disciples until that time. The people of
. the Latter Day of the Law who have no such seed
. implanted in their lives cannot harvest its fruit.
. "This teaching was not propagated in the
. Former or Middle Day of the Law because the other
. sutras had not yet lost their power of benefit.
. Now, in the Latter Day of the Law, neither the
. Lotus Sutra [28 Chapter comprehensive form] nor
. the other sutras lead to enlightenment. Only Nam-
. myohorenge-kyo [essential form of the Lotus Sutra]
. can do so. This is not my own judgment.
. Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, the Buddhas of the ten
. directions, and the bodhisattvas who emerged from
. the earth as numerous as the dust particles of a
. thousand worlds have so determined it. To mix
. other practices with this Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is a
. grave error. A lantern is useless when the sun
. rises. How can dewdrops be beneficial when the
. rain falls? Should one feed a newborn baby
. anything other than its mother's milk? No addition
. of other medicines is needed with a good
from "The Teaching for the Latter Day", Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 903
____ Toxic Zen Story ______________________________
| 'Even though Suzuki brought Zen Buddhism to a
| wider audience, the technical nature of his
| writing made his version difficult to access. Alan
| Watts (1915-1973), once called the "Norman Vincent
| Peale of Zen" [Roszak], paved the way for Zen
| teachings to a larger public, inspiring many young
| Europeans and Americans to consider Zen practice.
Alan Watts was for many people, their first human contact with oriental philosophy. He was on television and radio, not just words on a page, talking deeply about Zen Buddhism. Watts was an Episcopal minister, who fell into studying oriental Philosophy by family connections with his first wife. Then, he had an encounter with Frederic Spiegelberg, which was the gateway encounter leading to his final seduction by D.T. Suzuki.
Now we ought to take a look at one of Alan Watts' seminars. We need to watch closely for how the cobra first hypnotizes and then strikes ...
The Value of Psychotic Experience, by Alan Watts
| 'I think most of you know from the
| announcement of this series of seminars and
| workshops during the summer, they're entitled "The
| Value of Psychotic Experience." And many people
| who are interested in an entirely new approach to
| problems of what have hitherto been called mental
| health are participating in these seminars and
| workshops, and doing something which is extremely
| dangerous and in a way revolutionary. For this
| reason: '
| 'We are living in a world where deviant
| opinions about religion are no longer dangerous,
| because no one takes religion seriously, and
| therefore you can be like Bishop Pike and question
| the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the reality of
| the virgin birth, and the physical resurrection of
| Jesus, and still remain a bishop in good standing.
Ummm, Bishop James Pike was a tragic story. This is what comes from being friends with Murphy and Price at Esalen, and Alan Watts, and the Zen Roshis ... attaching to the Zen types brings great disaster into your life, unless you are a force of evil yourself, and then you bring disaster unto everyone around you.
The Zen afflicted actually like this, deep down in the heart of evil, that exists in every person. They see someone in their environment that appears to have personal and family happiness, and then they cosy up to that person and watch their life fall apart. And gloat at their distress, and the chance to make another convert to the emptiness in life. More Zen to more people. Oh, joy.
First James Pike's son takes his car and tragically commits suicide. Then the Bishop and his family spend a good deal of time trying to contact him from the beyond, fruitlessly. Then the Bishop goes off to the Sahara Desert, gets lost and dies of exposure. It's like Father Thomas Merton, but in more painful slow motion. What a marvelous emptiness !!!
It appears that some can tolerate the presence of great evil in their lives without crashing, but some can't, because their mission in life is not to be a force of evil, but to expose the presence of that force with their lives. Like a canary in a mine shaft.
Watts continues ...
| 'But what you can't get away with today, or at
| least you have great difficulty in getting away
| with is psychiatric heresy. Because psychiatry is
| taken seriously, and indeed, I would like to draw
| a parallel between today and the Middle Ages in
| the respect of this whole question. '
| 'When we go back to the days of the Spanish
| Inquisition, we must remember that the professor
| of theology at the University of Seville has the
| same kind of social prestige and intellectual
| standing that today would be enjoyed by the
| professor of pathology at Stanford Medical School.
| And you must bear in mind that this theologian,
| like the professor of pathology today, is a man of
| good will. Intensely interested in human welfare.
| He didn't merely opine; that professor of theology
| KNEW that anybody who had heretical religious
| views would suffer everlasting agony of the most
| appalling kind. And some of you should read the
| imaginative descriptions of the sufferings of
| Hell, written not only in the Middle Ages, but in
| quite recent times by men of intense intellectual
| acumen. And therefore out of real merciful
| motivation, the Inquisitors thought that it was
| the best thing they could do to torture heresy out
| of those who held it. Worse still, heresy was
| infectious, and would contaminate other people and
| put them in this immortal danger. And so with the
| best motivations imaginable, the used the
| thumbscrew, the rack, the iron maiden, the leaded
| cat-of-nine-tails, and finally the stake to get
| these people to come to their senses, because
| nothing else seemed to be available. '
This is a typical straw man argument, confusing means and ends. Clearly the means of the Inquisition was wrong. Was the end of removing evil wrong? Misguided, since they had the wrong notion of what evil was (they thought Jews, Cathars, etc.), and what the causes are that create it. I certainly don't think that someone as misguided about that as Watts has much to say. And systems of evil beliefs ARE infectious, just look at the infectious nature of Nazism. Those systems travel from mind to mind, and have a force of life of their own, and the fittest systems of beliefs will survive, not necessarily the nicest, or most providential.
Watts continues ...
| 'Today, serious heresy, and rather peculiarly
| in the United States, is a deviant state of
| consciousness. Not so much deviant opinions as
| having a kind of experience which is different
| from "regular" experience. And as Ronald Lang, who
| is going to participate in this series, has so
| well pointed out, we are taught what experiences
| are permissible in the same way we are taught what
| gestures, what manners, what behavior is
| permissible and socially acceptable. And
| therefore, if a person has so-called "strange"
| experiences, and endeavors to communicate these
| experiences--because naturally one talks about
| what one feels--and endeavors to communicate these
| experiences to other people, he is looked at in a
| very odd way and asked "are you feeling all
| right?" Because people feel distinctly
| uncomfortable when the realize they are in the
| presence of someone who is experiencing the world
| in a rather different way from themselves. They
| call in question as to whether this person is
| indeed human. They look like a human being, but
| because the state of experience is so different,
| you wonder whether they really are. And you get
| the kind of--the same kind of queasy feeling
| inside as you would get if, for the sake of
| example, you were to encounter a very beautiful
| girl, very formally dressed, and you were
| introduced, and in order to shake hands, she
| removed her glove, and you found in your hand the
| claw of a large bird. That would be spooky,
| wouldn't it? '
Watts has connected the ability to sense the presence of strangeness or evil in others, which is a survival trait, with the view that people are nonhuman, which would be an immoral view. Sometimes people are strangely-acting-humans, and should be so identified by our senses, and observed carefully and with caution. This is not unnatural, and in fact the reverse is an unnatural dulling of the senses ...
Watts continues ...
| 'Or let's suppose that you were looking at a
| rose. And you looked down in the middle where the
| petals are closed, and you suddenly saw them open
| like lips, and the rose addressed you and said
| "good morning." '
Well, this is just an LSD trip, now ...
| 'You would feel something uncanny was going
| on. And in rather the same way, in an every day
| kind of circumstance, when you are sitting in a
| bar drinking, and you find you have a drunk next
| to you. And he tells you, "undistinguishable
| drunken ranting" and you sort of move your stool a
| little ways away from this man, because he's
| become in some way what we mean by nonhuman. Now,
| we understand the drunk; we know what's the matter
| with him, and it'll wear off. But when quite
| unaccountably, a person gives representation that
| he's suddenly got the feeling that he's living in
| backwards time, or that everybody seems to be
| separated from him by a huge sheet of glass. Or
| that he's suddenly seeing everything in
| unbelievably detailed moving colors. We say, "well
| that's not normal. Therefore there must be
| something wrong with you." '
Once again, we have his objection to society dealing with the dysfunctional, because they are dysfunctional, and he merely wants to accept them into the normal course of life without some attempt to correct their dysfunctional behavior that leads to chaos and the spread of dysfunction to others.
There is certainly an issue of tolerance that needs to be addressed. There is also an issue of who to allow the privilege of driving cars and running nuclear power plants, and teaching on television that which can infect impressionable young minds, like Alan Watts did for KQED on the NET (PBS).
Watts continues ...
| 'And the fact that we have such an enormous
| percentage of the population of this country in
| mental institutions is a thing we may have to look
| at from a very different point of view, not that
| there may be a high incidence of mental sickness,
| but that there may be a high incidence of
| intolerance of variations of consciousness. '
Since he gave this seminar, Governor Ronald Reagan closed all the mental institutions in California and put those institutionalized people on the street. Have the Zen centers taken the permanently Homeless in? Fortunately for the Homeless, the answer is no. The Zen hospice movement gives me nightmares.
Watts continues ...
| 'Now in Arabic countries, where the Islamic
| religion prevails, a person whom we would define
| as mentally deranged is regarded with a certain
| respect. The village idiot is looked upon with
| reverence because it is said his soul is not with
| his body, it is with Allah. And because his soul
| is with Allah, you must respect this body and care
| for it, not as something that is to be sort of
| swept away and put out of sight, but as something
| of a reminder that a man can still be living on
| Earth while his soul is in Heaven. Very different
| point of view. Also in India, there is a certain
| difference in attitude to people who would be
| called nuts, because there is a poem--an ancient
| poem of the Hindus-- which says "sometimes naked,
| sometimes mad, now's a scholar, now's a fool, thus
| they appear on Earth as free men." '
The history of religion, with the exception of Buddhism, is one of evolution over many generations.
[All of the sutras of the Buddha were expounded within a single adult teaching career spanning 50 years for Shakyamuni, culminating with the Lotus Sutra, which was the Buddha's highest teaching and the purpose of his advent, and which was followed by the Nirvana Sutra at the very end of his life. The Nirvana Sutra pointed back to the Lotus Sutra as the Buddha's highest teaching, and admonished the Buddha's followers to honestly discard provisional teachings (those teachings in sutras other than the Lotus Sutra, that differed with the teachings in the Lotus Sutra). ]
Primitive societies allow more dysfunction in the people who embody the charisma of the religion. Indeed, they incorporate it into Shamanism in Primal religions which deify the elements, and consider the less sane among us to be touched by the ultimate. The idea there is crazy = mystical.
Those Primal religions have been historically discarded as societies develop, and more portable religions have displaced the Primal religions that don't move from place to place easily, or across cultures. As Primal religions and shamanism are displaced in societies, the mystical tolerance of the dysfunctional individuals also diminishes. That's just dealing with reality and the emergence of the practical side of society which eventually develops into empiricism and science, which is clearly offensive to the mystical (and hypnotic) side of Alan Watts. (Because that is the side of the audience that he wants to appeal to.)
Watts continues ...
| 'But you see, we in our attitude to this sort
| of behavior, which is essentially in its first
| inception harmless, these people are talking what
| we regard to be nonsense. And to be experienced in
| nonsense. We feel threatened by that, because we
| are not secure in ourselves. '
Here's where the psychotherapy hokum comes in ... "threatened by that" ... "not secure" ... the notion here is that we should not notice the presence of strangeness or evil, because we're sooo tough, we can take it !!!
Ummm ... actually, no, we can't tolerate the unmitigated presence of evil and should not expose ourselves to it, without knowing or being concerned about it. It dulls the ability to sense evil, and continued proximity reduces our immunity to it. Policemen and their families are well acquainted with the effect of this kind of exposure to people's happiness.
You cannot avoid impurity in the Saha (Impure) World. But that doesn't mean you should cosy up to it, wallow in it and lose the ability to discern what is right or wrong, happy or sick. Common sense is indicated here.
Watts continues ...
| 'A very secure person can adapt himself with
| amazing speed to different kinds of communication.
| In foreign countries, for example, where you don't
| speak the language of the people you are staying
| with, if you don't feel ashamed of this, you can
| set up an enormous degree of communication with
| other people through gesture and even something
| most surprising, people can communicate with each
| other by simply talking. You can get a lot across
| to people by talking intelligent nonsense, by, as
| it were, imitating a foreign language; speaking
| like it sounds. '
Only a British person can say something like this. The British never learn even how to pronounce common place names from other languages, like the double "LL" in Spanish names, which is invariably mis-pronounced as aLLa on the BBC instead of aYa.
Non-verbal communication, with sign language and expressions IS NOT "talking intelligent nonsense".
Watts starts to slyly introduce nonsense and voidal concepts like this in the beginnings of every seminar, with the primary goal of confusing the sense of what is meaningful and what is meaningless. Do not be turned away from your own intellect by this hypnotic slippery slope.
Watts continues ...
| 'You can communicate feelings, emotions, like
| and dislike of this, that and the other; very
| simply. But if you are rigid and are not willing
| to do this type of playing, then you feel
| threatened by anybody who communicates with you in
| a funny way. And so this rigidity sets up a kind
| of vicious circle. The minute, in other words,
| someone makes an unusual communication to you
| about an unusual state of consciousness, and you
| back off, the individual wonders "is there
| something wrong with me? I don't seem to be
| understood by anyone." Or he may wonder "what's
| going on? Has everybody else suddenly gone crazy?"
| And then if he feels that he gets frightened, and
| to the degree that he gets more frightened, he
| gets more defensive, and eventually land up with
| being catatonic, which is a person who simply
| doesn't move. And so then what we do is we whiffle
| him off to an institution, where he is captured by
| the inquisitors. '
So, let's see ... by sensing that someone has become unhinged and disconnected from the common reality that we all treasure and try like hell to stay in touch with ... we become the cause of his dehumanization ???
No. Accepting behavior that is unhinged and disconnected from others, without correcting it, is evil tolerating evil. Don't fall into this trap, each person is responsible for giving others feedback when they cross the tripwire into unacceptable behavior.
Watts is clearly into an irresponsible and destructive attitude on this score. Remember Suzuki's quote:
| 'Zen has no special doctrine or philosophy, no
| set of concepts or intellectual formulas, except
| that it tries to release one from the bondage of
| birth and death, by means of certain intuitive
| modes of understanding peculiar to itself It is,
| therefore, extremely flexible in adapting itself
| to almost any philosophy and moral doctrine as
| long as its intuitive teaching is not interfered
| with. It may be found wedded to anarchism or
| fascism, communism or democracy, atheism or
| idealism, or any political or economic dogmatism.
| It is, however, generally animated with a certain
| revolutionary spirit, and when things come to a
| deadlock as they do when we are overloaded with
| conventionalism, formalism, and other cognate isms
| - Zen asserts itself and proves to be a
| destructive force.' - D.T. Suzuki
Seems apropos at this point. Watts is a powerful force of societal chaos from the late Fifties on.
Watts continues ...
| 'This is a very special priesthood. And they
| have all the special marks that priesthoods have
| always had. They have a special vestment. Like the
| Catholic priest at mass wears a *, the mental
| doctor, like every physician, wears a long white
| coat, and may carry something that corresponds,
| shall we say, so a stole, which is a stethoscope
| around his neck. He will then, under his
| authority, which is often in total defiance of
| every conceivable civil liberty, will incarcerate
| this incomprehensible person, and as Lang has
| pointed out, he undergoes a ritual of
| dehumanization. And he's put away. And because the
| hospitals are so crowded with people of this kind,
| he's going to get very little attention. And it's
| very difficult to know, when you get attention,
| how to work with it. '
Yeah, yeah ... Reagan ... hospitals closed ... deranged Homeless people without compassionate care for them ... same issue.
I also am not a fan of Psychiatry, which appears to be an occult practice to me, derived from Mesmerism, derived from Tantric Buddhism (IMHO, but I can't prove that, yet).
That doesn't mean that we should want Free-Range-Crazy-People running all over the place, getting injured and robbed and raped and killed. They clearly are far less capable of defending themselves from the animalistic segment of the population, which only serves to feed that animalistic side by providing more easy targets for it. It's just not right, and Psychiatry is NOT the only alternative, there is Psychology and Sociology, as well, and they are cheaper and less occult disciplines.
Watts continues ...
| 'You get into this Kafka-esque situation which
| you get, say, in the state of California, if you
| are sent to such an institute as Vacaville prison,
| which is as you drive on the highway from San
| Francisco to Sacramento, you will encounter
| Vacaville about halfway between. You will see a
| great sign which will say "California State
| Medical Facility." The state of California is
| famous for circumlocution. When you go underneath
| a low bridge, instead of saying "Low Bridge," it
| says "Impaired Vertical Clearance." Or when you're
| going to cross a toll bridge, instead of saying,
| plainly, "Toll Bridge," it says "Entering
| Vehicular Crossing." And when it should be saying,
| plainly, "Prison," it says either "California
| State Medical Facility," or "California State
| Correctional Facility," as it does as Soledad. '
Ok, now Watts is trying to get you to go along with him, by sympathetically reciting the mundane and practical, the common -sense view. He will repeat this rhythm in hypnotic fashion. Don't be sucked in.
Watts continues ...
| ' Now Vacaville is a place where people get
| sent on what they call a one- to ten-year
| sentence. And there is a supervising psychiatric
| medical sort of social service staff there, who
| examine the inmates once in a while because they
| have such a large number. It's a maximum security
| prison, much more ringed around with defences than
| even San Quentin. I went there to lecture to the
| inmates some time ago. They wanted someone to talk
| to them about meditation and yoga, and one of the
| inmates took me aside--a very clean-cut all-
| American boy. And he had been put in there
| probably for smoking pot; I'm not absolutely sure
| in my memory what the offense was. He said "You
| know, I am very puzzled about this place. I really
| want to go straight and get out and get a job and
| live like an ordinary person." He said "I think
| they don't know how to go about it. I've just been
| refused release; I went up before the committee; I
| talked to them. But I don't know what the rules of
| the game are. And incidentally, the members of the
| committee don't either." '
You notice how everyone Watts talks to or about is confused about what they are doing, or how the rules work? Actually, everyone really knows how things work. One of the rules of talking to cons is: don't get sucked in by cons. They will play you, since that's all they have to do all day, and they will just see visitors as an opportunity, if only to hone their skills at playing visitors. I'm sure the "very clean-cut all-American boy" was perfectly innocent of whatever crime he and Watts were completely confused about the nature of.
Watts continues ...
| 'So we have these situation, you see, of
| confusion. So that when a person goes into a
| mental hospital and feels first of all perhaps
| that he should try to sort himself out and talk
| reasonably with the physician. There is introduced
| into the communications system between them a
| fundamental element of fear and mistrust. Because
| I could talk to any individual if I were malicious
| and interpret every sane remark you make as
| something deeply sinister; that would simply
| exhibit my own paranoia. And the psychiatrist can
| very easily get paranoid, because the system he is
| asked to represent, officially is paranoid. I
| talked with a psychiatrist in England just a few
| weeks ago. One of the most charming women I've
| come across, an older woman, very intelligent,
| quite beautiful, very reasonable. And she was
| discussing with me the problem of the LSD
| psychosis. I asked her what sort of treatments
| they were using, and all sorts of questions about
| that, and she appeared at first to be a little on
| the defensive about it. We got onto the subject of
| the experience of what is officially called
| "depersonalization," where you feel that you and
| your experience--your sensory experience--that is
| to say all that you do experience: the people, the
| things, the animals, the buildings around you--
| that it's all one. I said "do you call this a
| hallucination? After all," I said, "it fits the
| facts of science, of biophysics, of ecology, of
| biology, and much better than our ordinary normal
| experience fits it." She said "that's not my
| problem." She said "that may be true, but I am
| employed by a society which feels that it ought to
| maintain a certain average kind of normal
| experience, and my job is to restore people to
| what society considers normal consciousness. I
| have no alternative but to leave it at that." '
Now this brings up a serious problem with consciousness-raising Mahayana Buddhism, like Dhyana/Ch'an/Zen, that discards or rejects the Lotus Sutra. The problem is: enlightened wisdom that is compassionless.
By rejecting the Lotus Sutra or only using the Lotus Sutra as a means, Zen loses the compassionate heart that the Buddha's wisdom is the product of, and gains occult power with no limits on behavior.
That is Zen in a nutshell. All Zen practitioners are what Shakyamuni and Nichiren Daishonin call Pratyebuddhas, isolated and self-contained. They are not in the tradition of the Sangha, or Buddhist order of Shakyamuni, even though they do clump together with a group mind
They mingle and share information (and cross-contaminate), but there is little real compassion for changing the lives of each other and reducing their suffering, which is the manifestation of the True Entity of any group of people.
I will categorically state that raising consciousness without the limiting factor of the authentic compassion of the Lotus Sutra, to restrain the evil influence that can be exerted by one upon others, by the power that accompanies the raising of consciousness, will ALWAYS lead to evil, and to no other place.
The true intentions of Alan Watts = Evil. Whether he is aware of the Mind of Evil (Bodhidharma) or not, it is present in Zen itself.
That restraining compassion, in Buddhism, is correctly and authentically expressed and contained, solely in the Lotus Sutra, and no other place in the Buddhist Canon.
This is according to the Buddha's own golden words in the Lotus Sutra as translated by Kumarajiva into Chinese 1600 years ago, don't just take my word on this.
Watts continues ...
| 'So, then. When someone is introduced into
| this situation, and it's very difficult to get
| attention, you feel terrified. The mental
| hospital, often in its very architecture, suggests
| some of the great visions of madness, of-- You
| know that feeling of-- The corridors of the mind.
| If you got lost in a maze and you couldn't get
| back. You're not quite sure who you are, or
| whether your father and mother are your real
| father and mother, or whether in the next ten
| minutes you're still going to remember how to
| speak English. You feel very lost. And the mental
| hospital in its architecture and everything
| represents that situation. Endless corridors, all
| the same. Which one are you in? Where are you?
| Will you ever get out? And it goes on
| monotonously, day after day after day after day
| after day. And someone who talks to you
| occasionally doesn't have a straight look in his
| eye. He doesn't see you as quite human. He looks
| at you as if you're weird. What are you to do? The
| best thing to do is get violent, if you really
| want to get out. Well then they say that's proof
| that you're crazy. And then as you get more
| violent, they put you off by yourself, and the
| only alternative you have, the only way of
| expressing yourself is to throw shit at the walls.
| Then they say, "well, that's conclusive. The
| person isn't human." '
So, first he describes the dehumanization of mental hospitals, and then he attempts to dehumanize the listener by the same trek down the confusing corridors of Alan Watts State Hospital.
Watts continues with a silly attempt at humor, which sets you up for the mind-numbing and subjugating attack on the small self which follows immediately after this. This moment is the major focus of his seminar and a critical moment in the life of the listeners ...
| 'Well, the question has been raised a great
| deal in the last few days on the television, as to
| whether this is a sick society. And I have
| listened to a perfectly beautiful psychoanalyst
| with a thick German accent. Oh, marvelous things!
| "Eet ees quite obvious dat society is quite
| hopeless, you zee." And I have listened to four
| red-blooded Americans saying "most people in this
| society are good people, and it's a GOOD society,
| but we have a very sick minority." '
| 'Now, what I want to do in--certainly this
| first part of the seminar--is to call in question,
| very fundamentally, all of our basic ideas about
| what is sickness, what is health, what is sanity,
| what is insanity. Because I think we have to begin
| from this position of humility; that we really
| don't know. It's reported that shortly before he
| died, Robert Oppenheimer, looking at the picture
| of technology, especially nuclear technology, said
| "I'm afraid it's perfectly obvious that the world
| is going to hell." It's going to destroy itself,
| it's on collision course. The only way in which it
| might not go to hell is that we do not try to
| prevent it from doing so. Think that one over. '
There it is .... at this point, the group mind of the listening crowd, which has been carefully pulled in hypnotic fashion, first this way, then that way, all sinks rapidly down the same drain hole, to the same mind-numbing and compassion-draining VOID.
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There is a powerful Mind of Evil operating here: it is the original system of thought of Bodhidharma, still active as inherent cause and latent effect in the three existences of past, present and future. It is ever-present where Zen believers pass on the Heritage of the Void, to one another. The transfer process is called "Ishin Denshin" in Japanese, it means to transfer a system of thoughts from mind-to-mind. This kind of transmission, which by necessity must involve subjugation and submission, always leads to evil.
Let's paraphrase Tolkien:
. One Void for Nuremberg Archers in ivory towers high,
. One for the Green Dragon Roshis in their Soto Zendos,
. One for the Martial Arts Masters doomed to kill and die,
. One for Bodhidharma with his Shaolin hosts,
. One Void to Rule them all,
. One Void to find them,
. One Void to bring them all
. and in the darkness bind them.
So, you think I'm being over-dramatic. Are you saying that Zen has no occult power and influence? You can't have it both ways, folks. Zen has evil power, and I can explain where it comes from. So how does this work?
The explanation comes from Buddhism.
1. "All entities are the True Entity" (Lotus Sutra), so everything is alive and has a physical side and a spiritual side, or as it is called in Buddhism: body and mind. This is true of living beings, and of non-living entities, even down to photons. It is also true of ideas, thoughts and systems of thought. They have a life, and they want to live, and propagate themselves to stay alive.
2. The physical ecosystem which supports the life of thoughts and systems of thought, which we can call "views", are the minds contained in the brain of human beings. Think of views or cultures as surviving or dying off in populations of humans. Some cultures are more "fit" in the competition, in the process of natural selection.
3. In the process of natural selection, that which is "fit" to survive is not always the nice thing, for instance: mosquitos, drug resistant bacteria which pass tiny rings of DNA called plasmids during conjugation across populations of bacteria at lightning speed, RNA and DNA viruses and retroviruses, and now, prions (mad cow disease). So, the physical model has the implication that things at a lower level can undermine and take over more complex things, with the things at the lowest level being the most powerful, with the deepest influence.
So, McDonald's and fast food is everywhere, taking over from higher level retail cuisine. And Rap music, Hip-Hop and Rave music (sans lyrics) is taking over from more complicated music. And in the computer industry, as we well know from Microsoft: Worse is Better: it gets to market quicker, has more features, breaks more often, needs more new releases for greater volume sales, and so is cheaper in price. Nice is Lesser.
4. Shakyamuni states "All composite entities contain within them, their own decay and death.". This is also true of culture and systems of thought, like views. They can also be undermined by something like a virus, at a lower level that takes over and changes the character of the culture or view to be more like the virus itself.
This is why Zen has such power to corrupt other systems of thought and culture. At it's most fundamental level, the original thought of Zen, by Bodhidharma, was to reject the Lotus Sutra and observe natural phenomena and take enlightenment from that. And to pass on that enlightenment through a special transmission outside the teachings of the Buddha, bypassing the Lotus Sutra, which the Buddha stated was his highest teaching and the purpose of his advent.
5. If the Lotus Sutra is fundamental to life: the fundamental entity or True Entity (and it is, let me tell you), then the negation of it: NOT Lotus Sutra, is the lowest level composite entity of mind, that is possible. Because of this lowest-level feature, Zen can undermine every other composite system of thought, or view, or culture that it is combined with.
This means that Zen is the most toxic system of thought, and this is why after more than 1400 years and in almost any variant form, it retains its ability to corrupt anything that can be corrupted, by simple contact, or mixing.
6. And this is why the practice of the Lotus Sutra, chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is the ONLY medicine that cures the corruption of Zen in the Saha (Impure) World. The Buddha's compassion is NOT corruptible by Zen, it is the only thing that cannot be corrupted. It is the fundamental Law of the fundamental entity, and not a composite entity, and so it does not contain it's own decay and death. "The eternal Law at one with the eternal Buddha to which Shakyamuni became enlightened, is the eternal life to which all Buddhas are enlightened" (from volume four of "The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra" by Daisaku Ikeda, et al).
Zen is composite and NOT fundamental, and DOES contain its own decay and death. That is why the Buddha says "Honestly discard provisional teachings." This is an admonition, not a request. Provisional teachings are not fundamental and will be discarded in the face of the Lotus Sutra, one way or another. (A reverse relationship with the Lotus Sutra merely means that one backs his way along the proper path, until a positive relationship is established further on.)
So, ha !!! to those charges that I'm a fundamentalist. It is clearly true. All followers of Nichiren Daishonin and votaries of the Lotus Sutra cannot, ultimately, help but become thus. (It doesn't matter how they feel about it, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is fundamental. Tough, if you don't like it.)
Watts continues, at a later point ...
| '... This is why I abandoned the ministries,
| I've often said, not because the church didn't
| practice what it preached, but because it
| preached. Because you cannot tell people what sort
| of pattern of life they ought to have, because if
| they followed your advice, you might have a breed
| of monsters. Look at it from the point of view
| that the human race is a breed of monsters. '
| 'I was thinking about it this afternoon,
| driving down from Monterey to here, and looking at
| the freeways, and all these little cars going
| along them, and I was wondering if I considered
| that the planet was a physical body like my own,
| whether I might not feel that this was some sort
| of an invasion of weird bacteria that were eating
| me up. Whether it may be that the birds and the
| bees and the flowers--animals in general--were a
| kind of healthy bacteria. You know, bees and birds
| sort of wander about, generally mix in with the
| forest and the fields and carry on a rather
| disorganized but very interesting pattern of life,
| whereas human beings cut straight lines across
| everything. Railways. They cover themselves with
| junk. A bird may have a little nest, but it
| doesn't have to surround itself with automobiles
| and books and buildings and phonograph records and
| universities and clutter up the whole landscape
| with a lot of bric- a-brac. Human beings pride
| themselves on this. "You see, this is culture!"
| This is a great achievement. Build a building, you
| know? It's all you can get money for. You can't
| get money for professors, but you can get them for
| new buildings. So we cover the Earth with clutter.
| And so the Earth might feel as if we might feel if
| suddenly we got a disease which instead of leaving
| us soft-skinned, covered us with crystalline
| scabs, and this would be proliferating all over
| the place--a pox! Are we a pox on the planet?
| Don't be too sure that we're not. Consider simply
| this: '
| 'There is a good argument--keep in mind I'm
| saying these things to provoke you, to make you a
| little insane by being in doubt of all the
| assumptions which you think are firmly true... '
What he's doing, even he is not aware of. The mind of Zen is at such a deep level, that it defies rational description and discussion. All he can do is demonstrate it, by DOING it to people.
So, Alan Watts really doesn't discuss Zen ... he murders the Buddha on stage in real time. It's like a live snuff show. He negates the Law and destroys everyone's Buddha nature in the room, by complicity in slander of the Law. Alan Watts on television on KQED was "Snuff TV", on radio on KPFA, it was "Snuff Radio". Every time you read his book, unless there is a refutation right there (as in this case) the Buddha is murdered right there on the page, and right there on your computer screen.
end of part 1, continued in part 2 of 2 ...
. The full 28 Chapters of the Lotus Sutra,
. Nichiren Daishonin's Gosho volumes I and II,
. the Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings
. (Gosho Zenshu, including the Ongi Kuden) and the
. SGI Dictionary of Buddhism are located at:
. To find an SGI Community Center:
LS Chap. 16 .....
At that time the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:
Since I attained Buddhahood
the number of kalpas that have passed
is an immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands,
millions, trillions, asamkhyas.
Constantly I have preached the Law, teaching, converting
countless millions of living beings,
causing them to enter the Buddha way,
all this for immeasurable kalpas.
In order to save living beings,
as an expedient means I appear to enter nirvana
but in truth I do not pass into extinction.
I am always here preaching the Law.
I am always here,
but through my transcendental powers
I make it so that living beings in their befuddlement
do not see me even when close by.
When the multitude see that I have passed into extinction,
far and wide they offer alms to my relics.