While the Music Lasts

I had planned to follow up on my previous post about The Wisdom of Insecurity (by Alan Watts), but Maria Popova did it so well at Brain Pickings that I defer to her piece, where she writes, “Watts argues that the root of our human frustration and daily anxiety is our tendency to live for the future…” and “our primary mode of relinquishing presence is by leaving the body and retreating into the mind — that ever-calculating, self-evaluating, seething cauldron of thoughts, predictions, anxieties, judgments, and incessant meta-experiences about experience itself.”

Head on over to Brain Pickings to read several extended excerpts of Watts’s book, including this one:

“The real reason why human life can be so utterly exasperating and frustrating is not because there are facts called death, pain, fear, or hunger. The madness of the thing is that when such facts are present, we circle, buzz, writhe, and whirl, trying to get the ‘I’ out of the experience. We pretend that we are amoebas, and try to protect ourselves from life by splitting in two. Sanity, wholeness, and integration lie in the realization that we are not divided, that man and his present experience are one, and that no separate ‘I’ or mind can be found.

To understand music, you must listen to it. But so long as you are thinking, ‘I am listening to this music,’ you are not listening.”

Or, as T. S. Eliot wrote in “The Dry Salvages” (from The Four Quartets), 

…there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightening
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts.

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