The Wisdom of Insecurity

by Alan W. Watts · read June 19, 2019


Second read: Returning to this book felt like a completely necessary recalibration for my mind. I still have difficulties with his conception of "I", but I absolutely love chapters 4 to 6, and the book in general is such an excellent diagnosis of certain issues with modernity and epistemology.

This is why modern civilization is in almost every respect a vicious circle. It is insatiably hungry because its way of life condemns it to perpetual frustration. As we have seen, the root of this frustration is that we live for the future, and the future is an abstraction, a rational inference from experience, which exists only for the brain. The "primary consciousness," the basic mind which knows reality rather than ideas about it, does not know the future. It lives completely in the present, and perceives nothing more than what is at this moment.

First read: Many of the ideas in this book really challenged me, especially as a person who loves definitions and structure. It forced me to reconsider my perspective on language, memory, and time, and I was especially interested in his interpretation of many Scriptural passages since it was often different if not opposite to what I've previously learned. I'll admit that I was frustrated by the paradox of consciously living in the moment, but that's something I can work on :)

Free from clutching at themselves the hands can handle; free from looking after themselves the eyes can see; free from trying to understand itself thought can think. In such feeling, seeing, and thinking life requires no future to complete itself nor explanation to justify itself.

Julia Cooke © 2024