Alan Watts – On Nothingness


Ex nihilo nihil fit?

If space is essential to solid it’s perfectly obvious then that nothing is essential to something. If you can’t have something without nothing it means nothing is pretty powerful stuff, because something comes out of it, blpppp, like that. It’s a dogma of Western thought expressed in the Latin phrase “ex nihilo nihil fit,” “out of nothing comes nothing.” But that’s not so! Out of nothing comes something!! Now you would say, “Well if something comes out of nothing there must be some kind of mystery inside nothing, it must have a secret structure of some kind. I mean, there must be sort of electrical goings-on.”

That’s the trouble they have about cosmology. How could this world generate, could it just be out of free-floating hydrogen? No, it’s a much simpler idea than that: it comes out of real, solid nothing. It’s so simple! Look, if you listen, and you live in a world where there’s only sound for a moment, you’ll hear every sound coming out of silence. Where do these sounds come from? They come out of silence. Suddenly…BOING! And you can accustom yourself to seeing light doing the same thing. You can open your eyes and see all this world emerging out of nothing, BOING!…like that, and fading off into the past. And that’s why the future is unknown because the future is zero.

Alan Watts – Biography of a Bohemian

Born in England in 1915, Alan Watts attended King’s College School Canterbury, served on the Council of the World Congress of Faiths (1936-38), and came to the United States in 1938. He held a Master’s Degree in Theology from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and an Honarary DD from the University of of Vermont in recognition of his work in the field of comparative religions.

Alan Watts become widely recognized for his Zen writings and for The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are. He died in 1973 at his home in California, and is survived by his second wife and seven children.

For more than forty years, Alan Watts earned a reputation as a foremost interpreter of Eastern philosophies for the West. Beginning at age sixteen, when he wrote essaye for the journal of the Buddhist Lodge in London, he developed an audience of millions who were enriched through his books, tape recordings, radio, television, and public lectures. In all Watts wrote more than twenty-five books and recorded hundreds of lecture and seminars, all building toward a personal philosophy that he shared in complete candor and joy with his readers and listeners throughout the world. His overall works have presented a model of individuality and self-expression that can be matched by few philosophers.

His life and work reflect an astonishing adventure: he was an editor, Anglican priets, graduate dean, broadcaster, author, lecturer, and entertainer. He has fascinations for archery, calligraphy, cooking, chanting, and dancing, and still was completely comfortable hiking alone in the wilderness.

He held fellowships from Harvard University and the Bollingen Foundation, and was Episcopal Chaplain at Northwestern University during the Second World War. He became professor and dean of the American Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco, made the television series “Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life” for National Educational Television, and served as a visiting consultant for psychiatric institutions and hospitals, and for the United States Air Force. In the mid-sixties he traveled widely with his students in Japan, and visisted Burma, Ceylon, and India.

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