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The Wisdom of Insecurity

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Religion, or rather the moral beliefs and practices that come with it, can have a grounding effect. The reassurance of an afterlife that guides a person to lead a virtuous life gives a sense of fulfilment. As the influence of organized religion declines, and as people move further away from religion, there is a gaping void left.

We tend to either live in the past or the future, worrying about the things (especially the bad) that happened to us or about the things that we want in the future and how to get them. By doing this, we forget to live in the present. We deny and resist the experiences that we are living in now making it worse for ourselves. He argues that if everything which happens is said to be under the providence and control of God, this actually amounts to saying nothing. To say that everything is governed and created by God is like saying, "Everything is up,"—which means nothing at all. The notion does not help us to make any verifiable predictions, and so, from the scientific standpoint, is of no value whatsoever. Scientists may be right in this respect. They may be wrong. It is not our purpose here to argue this point. We need only note that such scepticism has immense influence, and sets the prevailing mood of the age.Our mission is to foster a universal passion for reading by partnering with authors to help create stories and communicate ideas that inform, entertain, and inspire. It is for this reason that most of the current return to orthodoxy in some intellectual circles has a rather hollow ring. So much of it is more a belief in believing than a belief in God. The contrast between the insecure, neurotic, educated "modern" and the quiet dignity and inner peace of the old-fashioned believer, makes the latter a man to be envied. But it is a serious misapplication of psychology to make the presence or absence of neurosis the touchstone of truth, and to argue that if a man's philosophy makes him neurotic, it must be wrong. "Most atheists and agnostics are neurotic, whereas most simple Catholics are happy and at peace with themselves. Therefore the views of the former are false, and of the latter true." The immediate results of this honesty have been deeply unsettling and depressing. For man seems to be unable to live without myth, without the belief that the routine and drudgery, the pain and fear of this life have some meaning and goal in the future. At once new myths come into being—political and economic myths with extravagant promises of the best of futures in the present world. These myths give the individual a certain sense of meaning by making him part of a vast social effort, in which he loses something of his own emptiness and loneliness. Yet the very violence of these political religions betrays the anxiety beneath them—for they are but men huddling together and shouting to give themselves courage in the dark.

Watts’ considers an illustrative example of this needless unhappiness by imagining a man waiting for an unavoidable surgery: That’s painful. So our brain tells us to do something pleasurable instead, like eating a pizza or having a drink. Consumerism is the proverbial dangling carrot that only adds to one’s anxieties, leaving them with a feeling of constant discontent. 3. Pain and Pleasure are Two Sides of the Same Coin Everyone wants to lead a happy and fulfilled life. At the same time, no one wants to experience tribulations. They spend their lives worrying about how to make it all easy and make the pain go away. The ego-self constantly pushes reality away. It constructs a future out of empty expectations and a past out of regretful memories.”This is to say that it may be, despite Watts’ assertions to the contrary, possible to actively work on cultivating a mental habit of attentional control. Rather than simply having it be the product of an instantaneous enlightenment which may never come. For Those Interested in Knowing More… Watts continues with some linguistically based logical arguments exploring the concepts of faith, belief, God. He peppers in difficult concepts and then immediately explains them with such clarity that his system of thought is obviously in concert with the workings of the universe. Watts’ next chapter argues for the need of accepting both pleasure and pain in the present moment and to avoid chasing the future as it invalidates the present. In writing about the pursuit of financial stability, he notes, “Instead of earning a living [many people] are mostly earning an earning and thus when the time comes to relax they are unable to do so” (36). Insightful and entertaining essays spanning 40 years of lectures by Alan Watts on Zen, Taoism, psychedelics, and comparative philosophy. This, then, is the human problem: there is a price to be paid for every increase in consciousness. We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain. By remembering the past we can plan for the future. But the ability to plan for the future is offset by the "ability" to dread pain and to fear of the unknown. Furthermore, the growth of an acute sense of the past and future gives us a corresponding dim sense of the present. In other words, we seem to reach a point where the advantages of being conscious are outweighed by its disadvantages, where extreme sensitivity makes us unadaptable.” Leadership Journeys [125] – Abhinav & Raghav Aggarwal –“You are the sum of all the things you do daily”

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