Why We Love Alan Watts!


"Life is a game of hide and seek, because life is pulsation. On and off. All life is this flickering in and out, only there are enormous rhythms in it." - Alan Watts

In information theory the smallest unit of information is called a "bit" - yes or no, black or white, beginnings and ends. I think it's useful to contemplate the dance of opposing forces, because the way they work together is the essence of change and creative tension. We create distinctions of meaning by knowing what a thing is not as often as by knowing what it is. 

Where do all the ideas come from? Who puts the opposites back together in new ways? When one is strong enough, it gathers agency, becomes an attractor, pulling other bits to collect around it like a star. It gets gravity. It becomes a well, a world, a galaxy, a universe. It doesn't want to be alone. It's impossible to be alone, because matter and spirit are always dancing, notion and action pulling apart, coming back together--creating cultures, movements, change. The creating and the destroying are the same process. The oldest love story there is. The only game in town, baby.

Entropy breaks everything down to bits. In Newtonian physics everything is programmed to obey the same laws of degradation (to take orders), to come down to the ground, for example, or to fall apart.

"First destruction, then creation," Joseph Campbell said. But which came first, you ask, chicken or egg? Both are happening all the time.

What matters is what's happening on the local scale, with you, with the systems you care about. The bottom-up activity. What is emerging as brand new from the dance of opposites doing their thing to reunify in your experience. 

When you get down to the very, very small, to the quanta, where information begins, shit gets weird. Truly unruly. It looks a little like a lot of chaos. (But all beginnings do.) Down there, at the very local-est level beneath everything that happens, the unruly quanta are dancing and the bits of the world are considering how they will come together again. Seams are sewn with ideas. All of creation began with an idea, a word, logos. 

You are a locus of activity, a swirling together of ideas. The rebellious dance of creation and destruction, of unruly quanta, is happening within you, and without, all the time. The beginnings and endings of a universe made of information. And whether or not you can make heads or tails of it when ends turn into beginnings or when disaster looms, change comes and growth with it.

Alan Watts pointed out that lower orders are always being superseded by higher orders. The lower order can very rarely figure out what the higher order is that’s taking over, and may see it as a terrible threat—as total disaster, as the very end. But the principle of growth always has and always will continue.

"You may add up to some kind of sense that is not apparent to you in your ordinary consciousness," Watts said. "What is, in other words, conflict at one level of magnification is harmony at a higher level. Life is a pattern of immense complexity. Each one of us is the delightfully complex undulation of the whole universe."

The HumanCurrent podcast is hosted by Angie Cross & Stacy Hale. Subscribe in iTunes or listen at www.human-current.com.



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