the art of living

the art of living

28 Dec 2019

"The art of living is neither careless drifting nor clinging to the past. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, regarding it as utterly new and unique. In having the mind open and wholly receptive, seeing the perfection in what is here and now" - Alan Watts

The sensitivity of which Alan is referring to here is called in the tantric tradition 'Sahrdaya' - endowed with Heart. It is alluding to the idea of living deeply. In allowing oneself to be touched in the most intimate way, by everything one experiences, by recognizing it's inherent unity with consciousness. It is the inviting of a sense of aesthetic rapture into one's life. The tantric masters were great aesthetes. Relishing in the pleasures of life; sweet fragrances, beautiful tastes, sights and sounds; all of the 'trappings' of sensory temptation that supposedly bind one to the illusory realm which the ascetic paths reject. Their vision was wide enough to embrace such pleasures as expressions of the Divine blissful nature of consciousness. This is not hedonism, but rather a profound mystical intuition which surpasses the distinction between self and other recognizing that beauty and pleasure, rather than being attributes of the object, are reflections of the inherently blissful nature of being - Ananda.

But someone may object and say 'but some things are ugly, dangerous, and malevolent, should we not guard ourselves from these things?'. There is a danger with spiritual teachings in being too idealistic about them and taking them out of context. The world that most of us experience is a constant flux of darkness and light, suffering and happiness. If our vision is partial and immersed in this domain of relativity then it is wise to exercise discrimination in what we open ourselves up to. Yet, holding as an ideal, this non-dual vision of the world, we can aspire to that degree of naturalness which sees beyond the malevolent nature of those things that would seem to harm us. Not inviting them in, but also not fleeing from them or putting on armor that might continue to linger even once such threats have passed. It is the attitude of one who's sense of individuality has become so subtle and refined that the distinction between self and other no longer poses any threat, leading to contracted and divisive forms of expression.