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    The "Best" of Alan Watts from YouTube - I 

             Way ahead of the game, Alan Watts (1915 - 1973) recorded many of his great lectures before he died.  This link (click here) will take you to a Google Drive page in which the following Alan Watts audio files are available and saved as MP3s.   I've listened to a number of Alan Watts lectures on YouTube over the past year, and these are the best that I've come across. The Google Drive files are from the below YouTube posts (which are often removed due to apparent copyright infringement, which is why hearing and sharing the lectures while you still have the freedom to do so is important).

    -Being in the Right State of Mind
    -Do You Do It, Or Does It Do You?
    -Games of Simplicity and Complexity
    -Jesus, His Religion
    -Money, Guilt, and the Machine
    -The Joker
    -The Spectrum of Love
    -The Veil of Thoughts
    -What do you Want?
    -Liberating the Self from Society
    -What Is Your Rush in Life, Relax
    -Face Your Problems Head On
    -Making Decisions
    -Learning the Human Game





    Carl Sagan, Martin Luther King, and Alan Watts Audio Files

            Here are links to some Google Drive audio files featuring Carl Sagan, Martin Luther King, and Alan Watts. There are hours and hours of wonderful and enlightening listening material from these three wise men. The files are open to the public. Please share and enjoy!

    -Carl Sagan's Cosmos



    Taking Comfort in the Downfall

            The way men mistreat the natural world is as if as though there is another planet Earth waiting in the wings, ready to be populated and put to use.  The way men mistreat each other is if they shall be absolved of their sins before death, and miraculously their souls shall be redeemed.  The way men squander their lives and health is as if as though they believe they will be reincarnated after death, and will have a chance to do it all over again. 

                                                                                                            -Walter Lloyd Waterson, Essay on the Nature of Men, 1828


            The Korean peninsula shuddered this week as the Orwellian technocrats of North Korea arguably detonated a hydrogen bomb in an underground test site.  This comes at a time when much of world is drowning in political and environmental turmoil.  Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Israel, Palestine are but a few areas of conflict which threaten to mushroom into conflagrations involving multiple nuclear powers.  Each passing day of brinksmanship and bloodshed serves to intensify the strife and vengeance between warring parties, thus making the process of healing more difficult and the possibility of reconciliation farther from reach.   Each missile lobbed, bomb dropped, and bullet fired takes humanity closer the moment when it loses this game of Russian roulette, for these metastasizing conflicts will inevitably implode in a worldwide nuclear slugfest in which huge sectors of civilization are extirpated and entire ecosystems are poisoned to death. 

    File:Trinity Test Fireball 25ms.jpg
    Trinity nuclear bomb test, the first nuclear bomb ever detonated, July 16, 1945.

               Endowed with intelligence, human beings have constructed weapons powerful enough to destroy the planet.  Endowed with arrogance, we have proven that we will use these weapons against one another, even if it spells self-destruction and the death of Earth.  All this quarreling over petty, superficial differences (politics, religion, culture) shall one day lead to the fall of our biologically-identical species.  We’ve had a good ride, though.  Over 100 billion people have ever lived on Earth, and our ancestors have sacrificed and fought to preserve and sustain human life, but at some point, somehow, the torch must drop.  I take some comfort in knowing that no one really wants to destroy themselves and myraid other Earthlings, but we have inadvertently created monstrous systems which have grown larger than we could have ever imagined and are now out of our control.   We have let loose economic and political Frankensteins that thrive off the destruction of the planet, autonomous war machines which feed off vegetation and human flesh.  These systems perpetuate slums and sweatshops, the mowing down of rainforests and coral reefs, the damming of rivers, the bombing of ancient cities, the divisions between countries, cultures, and religions, and pit men of power (yet of primitive mindsets) against one another so that they threaten each other with nuclear war, thus dragging all of humanity down an insane and violent path that we neither consented to nor desire to travel.  Thus, when these systems carry us off the brink of annihilation in a nuclear day of reckoning, in our collective downfall we shall reach for each other through the flames and weep in the crucible.  We shall know that no one really wanted our existence to end like this, but we had lost control, and we are sorry for not having done more to dismantle these systems save the world when we had the chance. 



             Scientists were startled in 1980 by the discovery of a tremendous diversity of insects in tropical forests. In one study of just 19 trees in Panama, fully 80 percent of the 1,200 beetle species discovered were previously unknown to science. At least 6 million to 9 million species of arthropods—and possibly more than 30 million – are now thought to dwell in the tropics with only a small fraction currently described.  As scientists begin investigating other little-known ecosystems, like the soil and the deep sea, "surprising" discoveries of species become commonplace. Small wonder. A single square meter of temperate forest can hold 200,000 mites and tens of thousands of other invertebrates. A similar-sized plot from tropical grasslands can hold 32 million nematodes, and one gram of the same soil might hold 90 million bacteria and other microbes. How many species these communities contain is still anyone's guess. Marine systems too are revealing an unsuspected diversity. Scientists believe that the deep sea floor may contain as many as a million undescribed species. Entirely new communities of organisms – hydrothermal vent communities—were found less than two decades ago. More than 20 new families or subfamilies, 50 new genera, and 100 new species from these vents have been identified.

                                                                                            -Global Biodiversity Strategy, World Resources Institute, 1992


    On the Coast Starlight and American Monsters  

    When you want to destroy someone you always define them as unpeople – not really human – monkeys maybe, idiots maybe, machines maybe, but not people.

                                                                                                                                                            -Alan Watts, Out of Your Mind

    Our science and our technology have posed us a profound question. Will we learn to use these tools with wisdom and foresight before it's too late? Will we see our species safely through this difficult passage so that our children and grandchildren will continue the great journey of discovery still deeper into the mysteries of the cosmos? That same rocket and nuclear and computer technology that sends our ships past the farthest known planet can also be used to destroy our global civilization. Exactly the same technology can be used for good and for evil. It is as if there were a God who said to us, “I set before you two ways: You can use your technology to destroy yourselves or to carry you to the planets and the stars. It's up to you.”

                                                                                                                                                                    -Carl Sagan, Cosmos

    I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: the great initiative in this war is ours, the initiative to stop it must be ours… And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

                                                                                                                                                         -Martin Luther King, Beyond Vietnam


                    Though the Amtrak train from Oakland to Salinas comprises a small fraction of America’s railway network, there is an abundance of beautifully flowing scenery and inspiring curiosities to observe during this two-hour trip.  These things – natural and manmade – exemplify the beauty of this country, and are testaments to the remarkable diversity of its geography and people.  I often rail against the United States government, and rightly so, but sharing a train with a diverse array of citizens and visitors traversing the gorgeous inland landscape of the Central Coast is a experience which serves to reaffirm the fact that our nation has come a long way in the ongoing fight for the preservation and expansion of protected lands and seas, as well as in the defense and further attainment of liberty.  Although we still have far to go to ensure that our nation and species can prosper in a paradigm of justice, peace, and freedom, we should be proud and appreciative for having made it this far.  


               I believe that the overwhelming majority (at least ninety-nine percent) of people on Earth are good, but that there is a bad minority which is better organized and therefore running the show.  I believe that people desire to live in peace and freedom together, regardless of race, color, or creed (the eight million inhabitants of New York City are a testament to this).   I believe that the United States of America is the most beautiful country I have ever stepped foot in, and although it’s painful to reflect upon the fact that the roots of our nation were founded on slavery, genocide, and annexation, I am grateful to those people have fought with their lives to save the natural places and soul of this country.  But when I think of the treacherous, psychopathic, barbaric, despicable, and borderline-suicidal actions and ideologies held and exercised the corporate-sponsored government, military, and politicians who are carrying this nation forward, I am reminded of the difference between a nationalist and a patriot: a nationalist is one who supports their government and other predominant national institutions in any endeavor, however foolhardy or immoral; a patriot is one who speaks out against their government when it acts against the interests of its citizens, territory, and values, and can relate to patriots in other countries.  A nation can only be as good as those individuals that reside within it, and like all individuals, our nation is flawed and fallible, capable of taking steps of both angels and demons.   As Martin Luther King states in his sermon, Unfulfilled Dreams:

    There are times that all of us know somehow that there is a Mr. Hyde and a Dr. Jekyll in us. And we end up having to cry out with Ovid, the Latin poet, "I see and approve the better things of life, but the evil things I do." We end up having to agree with Plato that the human personality is like a charioteer with two headstrong horses, each wanting to go in different directions. Or sometimes we even have to end up crying out with Saint Augustine as he said in his Confessions, "Lord, make me pure, but not yet."  We end up crying out with the Apostle Paul, "The good that I would I do not, and the evil that I would not, that I do." Or we end up having to say with Goethe that "there’s enough stuff in me to make both a gentleman and a rogue."  There’s a tension at the heart of human nature.  And whenever we set out to dream our dreams and to build our temples, we must be honest enough to recognize it.

                    Since its inception in 1776, the United States has been embroiled in conflict for 93% of its existence.   We seem incapable of extricating ourselves from this vile habit and insane addiction to perpetuating war for the sake of money and resources.  The United States Congress recently allocated $573 billion to fund the Department of Defense (which, prior to 1949, was called the Department of War).  It’s important to remind yourself that aside from the fact that a significant portion of this money could be put to better use at home, these funds are being used to sustain the aggressive military force of an Empire that is inflicting death upon innocent people and ecosystems alike.  When you step back and look at the world from a global perspective – that billons of human beings are scuttling about like microbes on this relatively small planet floating through space, and that we’ve created these nation-states with invisible borders which separate us, and therefore each major nation, locked in a global standoff, pours vast amounts of energy and resources into sustaining their individual militaries, fueling wars, and maintaining a system of nuclear weapons aimed at each other and capable of obliterating life on Earth – then the insanity of the situation becomes more evident.  What are we doing attempting to annihilate each other like this?  What are we doing pushing buttons to launch missiles which blow up innocent people and devastate this sacred planet?   That almost every major power on Earth possesses nuclear arms and is prepared to destroy each other is absurd enough, but when you incorporate the fact that weapons manufacturing, warmongering, and bomb dropping comes not only at the expense of innocent human life, but at the expense of the ecosystems that all of humanity and most other plant and animals species in the natural world are dependent upon in order to survive, let alone thrive and prosper, it becomes imperative for the sake of our lives and future to identify the murderous monsters who are responsible for proactively sustaining this suicidal structure of inevitable self-destruction and remove them from power.    


                    It is both heartbreaking and mind-boggling to watch humanity barrel down this current spiral of terror, toward an unknown yet unpromising abyssal destination, perhaps not unlike those which we have visited in the past, but maybe now for the final time.  We have missed so many opportunities to turn away from this masochistic path and embark upon a brighter, more promising and sustainable one.  Yet we continue to make the wrong choices, and in this possibly fatal sojourn we are unfairly bringing down everything alive in the world.   99% of all creatures that have ever lived on Earth have gone extinct.  Our time will eventually come, yet we appear hellbent on accelerating the day of our demise.  The existence of life in the universe and on Earth is an inexplicable and incomprehensible miracle.  Endowed with the wisdom and comissioned with the honor to be stewards of the myriad marvelous creatures on this living planet – a planet that defies nearly impossible odds and is flowing with rivers, flourishing with forests, pumping with molten lava, coursing with seas, and is breathing like a lung and beating like a heart - we must cherish this world, learn from it, and defend it with our very lives if necessary, for without Earth we and everything we know are lost and doomed. 

    We use the word "monster" to describe an animal somehow different from us, somehow scary.  But who's the more monstrous the whales, who ask only to be left alone to sing their rich and plaintive songs, or the humans, who set out to hunt them and destroy them and have brought many whale species close to the edge of extinction?

                                                                                                                                                                                -Carl Sagan, Cosmos


    The Bloodiest Century on Earth and the Fifth Miracle

                 Beyond M31 is another very similar galaxy – its spiral arms slowly turning once every quarter-billion years.  This is our own Milky Way, seen from the outside.  This is the home galaxy of the human species.  In the obscure backwaters of the Carina-Cygnus spiral arm, we humans have evolved to conscience and some measure of understanding.  Concentrated in its brilliant core and strewn along its spiral arms are four-hundred-billion suns.  It takes light a hundred-thousand years to travel from one end of the galaxy to the other.  Within this galaxy are stars and worlds and, it may be, an enormous diversity of living things and intelligent beings and space-faring civilizations… In the Milky Way galaxy, there may be many worlds on which matter has grown to consciousness.  I wonder: are they very different from us?  What do they look like?   What are their politics, technology, music, religion?  Or do they have patterns of culture we can’t begin to imagine.  Are they also a danger to themselves?

                                                                                                   -Carl Sagan, Cosmos, The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean

             The myths underlying our culture and underlying our common sense have not taught us to feel identical with the universe, but only parts of it, only in it, only confronting it; aliens.  And we are, I think, quite urgently in need of coming to feel that were are the eternal universe, each one of us.  Otherwise we’re going to go out of our heads.  We’re going to commit suicide, collectively with courtesy of H-bombs.  And, alright, supposing we do, well that will be that and there will be life making experiments on other galaxies.  Maybe they’ll find a better game.

                                                                                                       -Alan Watts, An Independent System

    Shame on us, doomed from the start
    May God have mercy on our dirty little hearts
    Shame on us, for all we have done
    And all we ever were, just zeroes and ones.

                                                                                                      -Nine Inch Nails, Zero-Sum         


               As humanity prepares to enter 2016, the 21st century seems on track to top the 20th century as the most murderous century in history.  Granted, we still have a ways to go before exceeding the 160 millionth violent death mark achieved last century, but having learned little insofar far as averting war and genocide, there is every indication that in the next eighty-four years humans will succeed in making the 21st century the bloodiest on Earth.   The human species is the ultimate paradox, “capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares,” as Carl Sagan put it in Contact.  I can think of no other species that represents such a danger to itself and its environment; that is capable of simultaneously loving members of their own family while desiring to annihilate entire segments of other populations because of a difference in race, religion, or in order to seize the resources contained within the land they inhabit.   The violence, oppression, and destruction currently sweeping the globe is nothing new, for ours is history born of blood, manipulation (human and environmental), and intolerance – qualities which likely served to our advantage in our evolutionary rise to dominance.  Yet these qualities which have characterized and accompanied the rise of humans from a primitive state, in which violent defense mechanisms ensured the survival of the fittest, may in fact spell doom for ourselves in an age of thermonuclear weapons, when the world’s most powerful nations are locked in an ever-deepening death spiral which threatens the collective destruction of all the people they claim to represent.

    El Tres de Mayo, by Francisco de Goya, from Prado thin black margin.jpg
    Francisco de Goya, The Third of May

                As we descend into the familiar throes of political insanity, posturing, brinksmanship, war, and death, it is important to remember to be grateful for the life we have been granted, and for many of us, to be living at the pinnacle of history in terms of our ability to live healthy, stable, and safe lives complete with family, friends, art, and travel.  A fourfold miracle was required for us to arrive at this unlikely existential juncture.  The first involves the aggregation of the Earth in the eons that followed the Big Bang; that our planet was formed over billions of years and happened to fall within the “Goldilocks” orbital zone which is not too far or too close to the sun, but in such a realm that you can feel the warmth of the sun as it breaks through the clouds on a cold day. (In relation to the planetary body miracle, I am inclined to mention the creation and existence of the moon, without which it is doubtful that we would exist.)

    Francisco De Goya, The Dog

               The second miracle is the element of chance involved in the series of evolutionary steps leading up to the creation of the human species.  An unfathomable chain of evolutionary events was required for humans to emerge as the final product on our particular branch of the biological tree.  The vicissitudes of evolution, countless random variables – such as genetic mutations, the extinction of a predator, the disappearance of a virus, the eruption of a volcano, the flourishing of mycelium – are responsible for our existence.  One more microscopic cellular derivation, or one less macrocosmic asteroid strike, and the evolution of life on Earth may turned out wildly differently, as I suspect it has on other planets in the outer reaches of this extensive galaxy and endless universe.  Furthermore, we owe our existence to the successes of our direct progenitors: the handful of primitive men and women whom, hundreds of thousands of years ago, roamed the plains and hinterlands of this dark world, competing with sabretooth cats and giant hyenas for survival, wandering the Earth in disparate bands with torches beneath the glowing stars and carrying in their ancestral bosoms the seeds from which the entire human family would eventually blossom.


    El coloso.jpg
    Francisco de Goya, The Colossus

                The third miracle is that of chance on an individual level; that we as individuals actually came into being, having originated from a single cell in an act of procreation.  In the average ejaculatory load roughly two-hundred million spermatozoa are released.  That we were given the opportunity to participate in the egg fertilization race is unique enough, but that we won the race, apparently outcompeting millions of other swimmers, is truly miraculous (but obviously, someone had to win.)  In alternate reality scenarios, it is possible that our fathers may have felt inclined to masturbate prior to intercourse, thereby subjecting us and our squirmy brethren to die in a mass-drowning within the pipes of the municipal plumbing system, or that the timing of the attempt conceive was incompatible with the reproductive cycles of our mothers, in which case we would have suffered a similar fate, or if for some reason ejaculation was postponed indefinitely, the spermatozoa versions of you and I would have been left to wither away and die in seminiferous tubules while a more fortunate team of swimmers would have possibly been given the chance to compete in the sperm Olympics held at vaginal stadiums across the world. 

    Francisco de Goya, Fight with Cudgels

                The fourth miracle pertains both to the individual and era in which he or she lives.  Most of us are extraordinarily lucky to be who we are when we are.   The conditions established by the aforementioned miracles set the stage for our arrival to town, but to be fortunate enough to be born in at a time of great material abundance and wealth, and in a place of relative stability and safety, is truly remarkable.  100 billion people have already died throughout the course of human history, and the overwhelming majority were not as fortunate as we who live with the luxury of food, jobs, free time, freedom, functioning infrastructure, and shelter.  (That said, there are many drawbacks to modern man’s dependency on technological services and amenities, for he constantly expects them but is ignorant as to how they came to be and how to operate without them.)  Yet this miracle of time and place clearly does not apply to billions of people whom have lived in the modern era.   At least half of the world’s current population live in squalor, under oppressive governments, or in conditions of war which prevent them from fulfilling lives in which they can meet their full physical, intellectual, and spiritual potentials.  It is only right that we who are in positions to help them do so.  Lastly, the time and place miracle may be a godsend for many humans, but it has translated into an absolute travesty for the natural world.  We are living large at the expense of the biosphere; we are engaged in wars which may escalate into nuclear holocausts.  If humans destroy the very foundation upon which these miracles rest, and exterminate each other so as to prevent anyone else from experiencing these miracles, then the time and place miracle will be nullified, for the planet will have transformed into a living Hell.

    Francisco De Goya, Witches' Sabbath

                There exists what may be considered a fifth miracle, but because it has yet to materialize and is only a possibility, it cannot be officially be considered a miracle, for it has yet to manifest.  A concept originally devised by the Ionians in the 4th century B.C,  the fifth miracle relates to the fact that planet Earth appears to contain all the necessary resources and rare earth minerals required of intergalactic space travel.  It is a miracle that this planet has everything we need not only to flourish upon it, but, if we can last long enough, to potentially travel to other star systems.  The Earth could have easily been deprived of some critical element required for interstellar space cruises, or endured a shortage of a particular resource needed to fuel spaceship missions to other planets and potentially other stars, but it looks like we have everything we need right here on Earth, including a wealth of ingenuity, which is found in human beings. 

    Francisco de Goya, Saturn Devouring His Son

                Due to our inability to get along with each other or our environment, I suspect humans won’t last long enough to witness the coming of the fifth miracle.  Indeed, neither did the Ionians.  They speculated that it is more likely that humans will either destroy themselves or be visited by spacefaring extraterrestrials before the fifth miracle is realized and we achieve intergalactic spacefaring status.   If aliens were to visit Earth, their reaction to the current state of human affairs in relation to our interactions with the natural world and own species would probably be a mixture of pity, horror, and disgust.  We should neither be surprised nor blame them if, after collecting a few animals to study and politicians to probe, they turn their spaceship around and fly elsewhere to seek out more promising forms of intelligent life.  Humans, on the other hand, would likely react to extraterrestrial contact in a manner similar to how the boys in Lord of the Flies reacted when the naval officer appeared on the beach and they, in a moment of clarity, realized the diabolical extent of their destructive and murderous behavior.  Perhaps then we would step back and see how foolishly we’ve behaved, how fortunate we are, how stupid it is for us to be risking everything as we destroy each other and the planet,  squandering our resources, and losing our chance to achieve the fifth miracle.

    If the Earth Were Only a Few Feet in Diameter
    , Author Unknown