Monday, November 9, 2015

Alan Watts: What Haunts the Present

Author and thinker Alan Watts
“The object of dread may not be an operation in the immediate future. It may be the problem of next month’s rent, or a threatened war or social disaster, of being able to save enough for old age, or of death at the last. The ‘spoiler of the present’ may not even be a future dread. It may be something out of the past, some memory of an injury, some crime or indiscretion, which haunts the present with a sense of resentment or guilt. The power of memories and expectations is such that for most human beings the past and the future are not as real, but more real than the present. The present cannot be lived happily unless the past has been ‘cleared up’ and the future is bright with promise.
“There can be no doubt that the power to remember and predict, to make an ordered sequence out of a helter skelter chaos of disconnected moments, is a wonderful development of sensitivity. In a way, it is the achievement of the human brain, giving man the most extraordinary powers of survival and adaptation to life. But the way in which we use this power is apt to destroy all its advantages, For it is of little use to us to be able to remember and predict if it makes us unable to live fully in the present.”
Alan Watts, “The Wisdom of Insecurity” (1951)