I am listening to some Alan Watts seminars lately. For those of you who don’t know who he is, he is perhaps the best interpreter of Eastern philosophy I have ever come across, and my pool of comparison includes many people from the East itself. He was an authority on comparative religion and gave many seminars explaining Eastern philosophies to Western world. He was an authority of Buddhism and Hinduism.
Watts is especially master of thought experiments and analogies. While listening to him, I thought of an thought experiment myself to understand the perpetual future driven life we all are living.
Imagine you go to a movie theater. You see many many queues. You don’t understand which queue to stand in. But many people are arriving. So you take a quick guess and pick one. It turns out that that is not the queue for the movie ticket, but that is queue just to get a ticket to stand in some other queue. You convince yourself that that other queue must be the movie ticket queue. So you get your ticket and go to the next queue. But that is not the movie queue either.
So all day you keep on standing in queues, only to get a ticket to stand in some other queue. You keep cursing yourself that only if you stood in the correct queue, you would get to the movie quicker. And you have been told that it’s a great movie.
At the end of the day you realize that this whole thing itself was a movie and you were part of it. You had a chance at every moment to make the movie more interesting. To stop standing in queues and to do something real. But you had convinced yourself that the movie is out there somewhere, and your role is passive one, of that of just a watcher.
You also convinced yourself that only thing you need to do to get good entertainment was to figure out which line to stand into. But instead it turns out you had to just start acting.
Or what if you didn’t even realize by the end of the day that your life itself was a movie and you were just blaming yourself for getting bored the whole day just because you could not figure out the “perfect” queue to stand in.
Don’t we all live life like that? Just waiting for another day, another event, another person, another job, another house, another car, to make us happy? Instead shouldn’t we realize that happiness is something to be “done”, an active process, rather than to be “received”, a passive process?
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