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Message Subject Skillful Means
Poster Handle Sunyata
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An excerpt from an Alan Watts book, "The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are", which I am currently reading.

Inside Information

Myth, then, is the form in which I try to answer when children ask
me those fundamental metaphysical questions which come so readily to
their minds: "Where did the world come from?" "Why did God make
the world?" "Where was I before I was born?" "Where do people go
when they die?" Again and again I have found that they seem to be
satisfied with a simple and very ancient story, which goes something
like this:
"There was never a time when the world began, because it goes
round and round like a circle, and there is no place on a circle where it
begins. Look at my watch, which tells the time; it goes round, and so the
world repeats itself again and again. But just as the hour-hand of the
watch goes up to twelve and down to six, so, too, there is day and night,
waking and sleeping, living and dying, summer and winter. You can't
have any one of these without the other, because you wouldn't be able to
know what black is unless you had seen it side-by-side with white, or
white unless side-by-side with black.
"In the same way, there are times when the world is, and times when
it isn't, for if the world went on and on without rest for ever and ever, it
would get horribly tired of itself. It comes and it goes. Now you see it;
now you don't. So because it doesn't get tired of itself, it always comes
back again after it disappears. It's like your breath: it goes in and out, in
and out, and if you try to hold it in all the time you feel terrible. It's also
like the game of hide-and-seek, because it's always fun to find new
ways of hiding, and to seek for someone who doesn't always hide in the
same place.
"God also likes to play hide-and-seek, but because there is nothing
outside God, he has no one but himself to play with. But he gets over
this difficulty by pretending that he is not himself. This is his way of
hiding from himself. He pretends that he is you and I and all the people
in the world, all the animals, all the plants, all the rocks, and all the
stars. In this way he has strange and wonderful adventures, some of
which are terrible and frightening. But these are just like bad dreams,
for when he wakes up they will disappear.
"Now when God plays hide and pretends that he is you and I, he does
it so well that it takes him a long time to remember where and how he
hid himself. But that's the whole fun of it—just what he wanted to do.
He doesn't want to find himself too quickly, for that would spoil the
game. That is why it is so difficult for you and me to find out that we
are God in disguise, pretending not to be himself. But when the game
has gone on long enough, all of us will wake up, stop pretending, and
remember that we are all one single Self—the God who is all that there
is and who lives for ever and ever.
"Of course, you must remember that God isn't shaped like a person.
People have skins and there is always something outside our skins. If
there weren't, we wouldn't know the difference between what is inside
and outside our bodies. But God has no skin and no shape because there
isn't any outside to him. [With a sufficiently intelligent child, I illustrate
this with a Möbius strip—a ring of paper tape twisted once in such a
way that it has only one side and one edge.] The inside and the outside
of God are the same. And though I have been talking about God as 'he'
and not 'she,' God isn't a man or a woman. I didn't say 'it' because we
usually say 'it' for things that aren't alive.
"God is the Self of the world, but you can't see God for the same
reason that, without a mirror, you can't see your own eyes, and you
certainly can't bite your own teeth or look inside your head. Your self is
that cleverly hidden because it is God hiding.
"You may ask why God sometimes hides in the form of horrible
people, or pretends to be people who suffer great disease and pain.
Remember, first, that he isn't really doing this to anyone but himself.
Remember, too, that in almost all the stories you enjoy there have to be
bad people as well as good people, for the thrill of the tale is to find out
how the good people will get the better of the bad. It's the same as when
we play cards. At the beginning of the game we shuffle them all into a
mess, which is like the bad things in the world, but the point of the
game is to put the mess into good order, and the one who does it best is
the winner. Then we shuffle the cards once more and play again, and so
it goes with the world."
 
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