Book Name

The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts

Rating

Will Melt Your Fucking Brain

One Line Summary

Who Are You?

Why it’s Awesome

Warning: this book can seriously fuck with your head and cause intense emotional reactions. Do not read lightly.

Have you ever noticed that the world is always changing? I think it was my stoner friend in college who said “dude, like the only thing that is constant is like, change. Woah”. But it’s true. Everything is always in flux.

Have you ever also noticed that we humans love to categorize and label our world? The second some new species is discovered, it is immediately given a name and studied to discover how it relates to the rest of our world.

There’s nothing wrong with this. We love to do this because it helps us navigate reality to get desirable outcomes. If I know a snake with certain colors is poisonous, that information may have just saved my life.

But if we had to be real, these are mostly just arbitrary labels. There’s no actual line dividing the United States and Canada. There is no one actual spot where a wave in the ocean starts and ends. We’re making mental divisions where there are none in actual reality. But who cares right? Everyone knows that.

You’re right, everyone does know that. And yet think about how many people take these divisions very seriously. People honestly believe that the United States is blessed by god and other countries are not. They really believe some people are “bad” and some are “good”.

Now here is where I’m going to fuck with your head: what if the mental construct of “you” actually didn’t exist in reality as well?

I don’t mean that what you’re experiencing right now is an illusion. Reality is very real. But this idea that you have of I as separate from the rest of your experience is another arbitrary mental division.

Really stop and consider for a moment what the consequences of that might mean.

This is what The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are is all about. Alan Watts is a famous philosophy who digs deep into this question of exactly who you are and figuring just what the fuck is going on here. His way of words is so good I’m just going to quote what he says here:

“Society, as we now have it, pulls this trick on every child from earliest infancy. In the first place, the child is taught that he is responsible, that he is a free agent, an independent origin of thoughts and actions—a sort of miniature First Cause. He accepts this makebelieve for the very reason that it is not true. He can’t help accepting it, just as he can’t help accepting membership in the community where he was born. He has no way of resisting this kind of social indoctrination. It is constantly reinforced with rewards and punishments. It is built into the basic structure of the language he is learning. It is rubbed in repeatedly with such remarks as, “It isn’t like you to do a thing like that.” Or, “Don’t be a copy-cat; be yourself!” Or, when one child imitates the mannerisms of another child whom he admires, “Johnny, that’s not you. That’s Peter!” The innocent victim of this indoctrination cannot understand the paradox. He is being told that he must be free. An irresistible pressure is being put on him to make him believe that no such pressure exists. The community of which he is necessarily a dependent member defines him as an independent member.”

To put it in simple terms, this idea that you are a constant, separate entity from the rest of your experience is just something you believe because it’s been beaten into your head since the moment you were born by people who had it beat into their head just the same.

What’s more accurate to say is that reality is more like a giant Verb. You don’t “hear” another object, there’s just hearing. No separate perceiver. No separate perceived.

Have you ever noticed that one of human beings strongest desires is a sense of connectedness? We want to feel we are “part of something greater than our self”. It’s the root of all spirituality. Could it be that the real cause of this desire comes from the fact that our entire lives we’ve been telling ourselves we’re separate from something we’re not?

How would people act differently and feel about themselves if they knew this?

I couldn’t actually tell you the answer to these questions. If Watts and other great minds who have pointed to this truth are right, this conditioning runs so deep that to see through it is almost impossible.

But my guess is that this is might be what every human is really searching for deep down. When there’s no more “I”, there’s no more problems. There’s no more fear of death. There’s no more sense of trying to get somewhere or “be” someone. Who is there to even do any of these things?

All that’s left is just awareness of what Is.

Why Does It Suck

This book is really intense, but is any of it really true? Is it even a useful idea to pursue? I don’t know. The whole concept is terrifying at times. It calls into question your entire view of reality.

I also have a tough time believing that any human being has all the answers. Because that’s what this is. Enlightenment would be the end road of human knowledge.

The Wrap Up

If you’re willing to be open minded, this can be an extremely powerful book. It may even make you depressed. So while I think everyone should read Alan Watts, I would also say be careful about just accepting everything he says blindly. Think about it for yourself and GET OTHER OPINIONS. Sometimes we accept something just because we’re ignorant of the other side’s argument.

Published by Austin Kourakin