For every single book that I read, I take notes on everything that I want to remember. Hundreds and hundreds of books (at the time of this writing), and notes on each one.
I never intended to sell these notes or package them in a totally comprehensive way, so some of my notes go further in depth than some professional book summaries, and some not so deep at all.
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But they are just what I personally have taken from each book, and I hope that they have some value for you.
Remember to think critically! Some notes are just interesting ideas taken from the text that I may or may not agree with.
Regardless, I wanted to remember them so as to stimulate my thinking at a later date. So don’t confuse my notes here with something that I staunchly believe. Sometimes you’ll be right, and other times you’ll be wrong.
I have turned them into a product which I sell in return for donations to Doctors Without Borders.
But I’ve decided to release some of my notes periodically on my site, for free.
The article before you today comes from my notes on Alan Watts’ book, “Does It Matter?”.
From Amazon: This is a series of essays representing philosopher Alan Watts’s most recent thinking on the astonishing problems of man’s relations to his material environment. The basic theme is that civilized man confuses symbol with reality, his ways of describing and measuring the world with the world itself, and thus puts himself into the absurd situation of preferring money to wealth and eating the menu instead of the dinner.
Thus, with his attention locked upon numbers and concepts, man is increasingly unconscious of nature and of his total dependence upon air, water, plants, animals, insects, and bacteria. He has been hallucinated into the notion that the so-called “external” world is a cluster of “objects” separate from himself, that he “encounters” it, that he comes into it instead of out of it. Consequently, our species is fouling its own nest and is in imminent danger of self-obliteration.
Does It Matter:
The very same politicians who passed laws against flag burning are the ones responsible for the degradation of the very land that that flag is supposed to represent
An economic utopia is the necessary alternative to self-destruction
Affluent people have never shown much imagination in cultivating the arts of pleasures
Plans for the future are of use only to those able to live fully in the present
Profit is identified entirely with money, instead of the real profit of living with dignity and elegance in beautiful surroundings
The greatest illusion of the abstract ego is that it can do anything to bring about radical improvement in either itself or the world
Most of the evil perpetrated in the world is well-intentioned
Cultivate the proper love of animals and plants, upon which our life depends
“Any animal that BECOMES me should enjoy itself AS me”
Instant coffee is a well-deserved punishment for being in a hurry to reach the future
When you hand the money to the cashier, your wealth is being transferred into the shopping bags you’re taking home with you, but people are still unhappy because of their promise of wealth in the future
Parts of the world around us looks as if we hated it
The sun, the earth, and the forests are just as much features of your own body as your brain
If I am my entire organism, even the unconscious processes, then I am also my environment, and everything in my environment
The self is not only the body, but the whole energy system which embodies itself in all bodies
The whole point of life is to be fully aware of it as it happens
You are something being done by the universe, and the universe is being done by you
Vast confusion arises from believing that a republic is the best form of government if you also believe that the universe, heaven, and hell are a monarchy
All projects to improve yourself or gain power are based on the assumption that there is something external, and the violence that this causes comes from being unable to solve a problem which was absurd from the beginning
Trust your nature, nature itself, to do whatever is appropriate under the circumstances
Emptiness is form, and form is emptiness
Existence includes both being and nonbeing, solid and space, form and void
The conflict between right and wrong is the sickness of the mind
The division between doer and deed, knower and known, is a division of words, not of nature
“Suffering alone exists, none who suffer. The deed there is, but no doer thereof. Nirvana is, but no one seeking it. The path there is, but none who travel it.”
As long as you do not know how to die and come to life again, you are but a sorry traveler on this dark earth.
People are tormented with the anxiety that death may overcome life, that nonbeing will swallow being, or that the viewpoint which we call “self” may vanish, and leave only a world of objects or “others”
This is a very big world, and there is plenty of room for us all
So there you have it. My notes from one of my favorite authors of all time, Alan Watts.
I hope they sparked your interest, or led to some new questions, or just made your life better in some way.
If they did, I’d love for you to consider donating to the phenomenal international non-profit, Doctors Without Borders. We operate all over the world, proving free medical services to those hardest hit by war, famine, and other disasters and atrocities. We never discriminate on the basis of gender, religion, ethnicity, etc. And we would be honored to receive your support.
Matt Karamazov is a human rights activist, boxer, and writer who reads 200 books per year and throws 300 punches per minute. His website, Godlike Discipline, is dedicated to raising money for causes like Doctors Without Borders, and Human Rights Watch, among others. It’s also dedicated to helping people tackle their biggest willpower challenges. He also like death metal, and so, consequently doesn’t get many second dates. Here he is on a horse.