Reality is the 'Ting'

Reality is less the snap of a snare, than the carrying harmonics of a cymbal tone, to paraphrase, and underplay one of the notable expressions of the 20th century English philosopher Alan Watts, by passing on the key instrument of the message (the actual striking of a gong).

However, in context it has a congruous ring; to the extent it’s beyond rational comprehension, reality resonates over time and in sensation, it doesn’t spontaneously vanish like a thought might.

Sentience casts an original light on the static symbols articulated by the artist.

Time - rather than the keeping of time.

Watts’ intention is benign, his tone amiable, his lesson carefully conducted and his message clearly communicated (unlike some!)

Versed, as a philosopher might be, in the religions, in buddhism, zen and tao, in the eastern and western perspectives, Watts is lucid on a broad spread of philosophies, a vaster vista over the ages and areas than most philosophers, I would contend.

The clang of the metal is a tangent into a mode of musical media as well as the last word on a subject.

Although expansive in scope and rich with symbolism, Watts’ illustration of life, the universe and everything is accessible; sit back and listen; it’s a lecture; rhythmically delivered, elegantly woven with a thread of advices, and punctuated with sagacious tales…

A student is on his way to see his zen master, who has made it clear on several occasions the pupil still needs to successfully relate an answer to the question ‘Who am I?’ Fortunately, on his journey the man spots a large bullfrog, sweeps it up and puts it in his pocket. When he reaches his destination, he produces the bullfrog and presents it to the zen master, who shakes his head. “ - Too intellectual.”

Alan Watts is on the precipice of coining the ultimate meaning of experiential sensation…

…and delivers the spectacle of his on-stage cymbal.

Teachers are rarely able to serve such a cascade of instruction onto the student without condescending on a subject which isn’t given to concrete conclusions.

You know, where -

“This is true!”

It begs the question.

That’s not to say Watts would not play this phrase. He might use it, but in good-humour, invoking the audience’s curiosity.

What is Alan Watts’ philosophy? It’s a balance, but with an angle. Like an archer poised, with intention, in a display ofskilful technique shooting the arrow (it has to be one single smooth action). It’s a balance, but he won’t surrender to the relativistic catch-all -‘whatever you want to believe is real’- open-mindedness of the naive. The balance is well placed.

It’s a ‘balanced’ balance.

Watts is far from authoritarian, in spite of being abundantly wise in the subject of his profession.

His speeches twist and turn, with or without deliberately deviating from the point, and with logical veracity. (Sounder than I recognise in my own logical training; I see very few fallacies in his reasoning (evaluating from my own curtailed skills in analysis (If that makes any sense.)))

I can tell…I think I can tell…Can I tell? - Can you tell?? - Alan Watts improvises his talks. I detect chalking on a board for his audience to note symbols on the key concepts, but I get no indication of anything in the way of a pause to check on any script - which is not to say there is no deliberate route of course; the tone with which he expounds upon philosophical themes, from the outset, elicits confidence in the listener.

You are invited to believe the destination is around the next corner, however there is invariably another bend on an Alan Watts adventure.

A budding idea might sprout as an offshoot, and branch out of the original tree of knowledge you seeded. Such tangents are a real live thing, Watts’ metaphysics might remind you.

So, then - the departure is sound when a reply to a literary question is conveyed by another kind of real ‘ting’.




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