The Predicament of the Human Ego as Taoist Philosophy Sees It.

“If the positive and negative, the good and the evil, are indeed correlative, no course of action can be recommended, including even the course of inaction.  Nothing will make anything better which will not also make it worse.  But this is exactly the predicament of the human ego as Taoist philosophy sees it.  It is always wanting to control its situation so as to improve it, but neither action nor, with the motive of improvement, inaction will succeed.  Recognizing the trap in which it finds itself, the mind has no alternative but to surrender that ‘straining after the good’ which constitutes the ego.  It does not surrender cunningly, with the thought that this will make things better.  It surrenders unconditionally—not because it is good to do nothing, but because nothing can be done.  All at once there descends upon it, quite spontaneously, a profound and completely uncontrived stillness—a quietude that envelops the whole world like the first fall of heavy snow, or like a windless afternoon in the mountains, where silence makes itself known in the undisturbed hum of insects in the grass.

In this stillness there is no sense of passivity, of submitting to necessity, for there is no longer any differentiation between the mind and its experience.  All acts, one’s own and others’, seem to be happening freely from a single source.  Life keeps moving on, and yet remains profoundly rooted in the present, seeking no result, for the present has spread out from its constriction in an elusive pin-point of strained consciousness to an all-embracing eternity.” 

-Alan Watts “Nature, Man and Woman”

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~ by Scott Hamilton Peters on May 29, 2009.

One Response to “The Predicament of the Human Ego as Taoist Philosophy Sees It.”

  1. Alan Watts, next on my reading list. That was awesome.

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