SON OF SATURN – TRIALS & TRIBULATIONS
How Many Lifetimes Does It Take For One To Attain Self-Knowledge?
The following quote from the Chinese sage Lao Tzu is apt when trying to answer this question:
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
Don’t worry about how long it takes, just start examining and learning about yourself now. As Lao Tzu’s wise words intimate, this lifetime should be a marathon and not a sprint and the only thing that matters is to endeavour to take that first step towards self-knowledge.
Once you take that step, the ignorance you once had should begin to dissipate and reveal a true path towards understanding, knowledge and wisdom. As you start to perceive this wondrous path you will then become encouraged to take another enlightening step, and then another, until it becomes instinctive to the point that you are won’t even be aware of how many steps you have already taken. Contentment and equanimity reached.
I will leave you by saying that self-knowledge should accompany you on your journey of life and will be of immense benefit and joy to you no matter how many lifetimes you may or may not hope to negotiate.
THIS BOOK explores an unrecognized but mighty taboo—our tacit conspiracy to ignore who, or what, we really are. Briefly, the thesis is that the prevalent sensation of oneself as a separate ego enclosed in a bag of skin is a hallucination which accords neither with Western science nor with the experimental philosophy-religions of the East—in particular the central and germinal Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism.
This hallucination underlies the misuse of technology for the violent subjugation of man’s natural environment and, consequently, its eventual destruction. We are therefore in urgent need of a sense of our own existence which is in accord with the physical facts and which overcomes our feeling of alienation from the universe. For this purpose I have drawn on the insights of Vedanta, stating them, however, in a completely modern and Western style—so that this volume makes no attempt to be a textbook on or introduction to Vedanta in the ordinary sense. It is rather a cross-fertilization of Western science with an Eastern intuition.
Particular thanks are due to my wife, Mary Jane, for her careful editorial work and her comments on the manuscript. Gratitude is also due to the Bollingen Foundation for its support of a project which included the writing of this book.
ALAN WATTS January, 1966
As much as I love the Christmas period with all the food and drink you can consume, as well as spending quality time with loved ones, there are times when it can all become a stress-filled, conflict-ridden and decadent exercise which can do more harm than good to one’s mind, body and spirit.
Everyone, I guess, is entitled to self-indulge (within reason, mind) at least once a year, but we must be careful not to enter the new year carrying too much weight, anxiety and damaged relationships.
Christmas should be a time to reinvigorate ourselves and to reconnect with friends and family who we have, directly or indirectly, long since neglected.
Surely, we’re not too busy for the important things in life?
Just to let you know that I don’t belong to any religious faith whatsoever, but felt the need to propose the following ten commandments (with a bit of humour thrown in for good measure) of my own for you to adopt towards having a happy Christmas of moderation. So no belief in God or morality are required.
These precepts or maxims may or may not help you to negotiate life more wisely, as well as put you in very good stead for the coming New Year and beyond. Just remember to have fun along the way.
The following describes the ancient art of ‘Alchemy’ (from which the word “chemistry” was derived):
Alchemy is an ancient tradition, the primary objective of which was the creation of the mythical “philosopher’s stone,” which was said to be capable of turning base metals into gold or silver, and also act as an elixir of life that would confer youth and immortality upon its user. As practiced historically, alchemy can be viewed as a protoscience, a precursor to modern chemistry, having provided procedures, equipment, and terminology that are still in use. However, alchemy also included various non-scientific mythological, religious, and spiritual concepts, theories and practices.
You may well ask yourself, “How does the practice of alchemy relate to oneself?”
Well, before I try to answer that question, many alchemists have attempted and failed to achieve this so-called “philosopher’s stone”, whilst some have claimed to have discovered this elusive magical solution.
But in most cases, these stories (or myths) have been mostly put down to con artists who dabbled in the occult and alchemy so to get rich off gullible Kings who in turn thought that they would become even wealthier than they already were.
However, whatever the truth may have been regarding the history (or legend) of the alchemist’s ambition of transmuting lead into gold, there lies a more than allegorical meaning that we can apply to ourselves in terms of developing our own spiritual, mental and physical lives.
“When Dennis, an introvert bodybuilder, invites a local girl out on a date his mother is hurt and disappointed. Despite the pressure she puts on him to cancel the date, Dennis ventures into a night that he will never forget.”
Any man who suffers from emotional dependency should watch this and learn: