It All Starts Right Now | Alan Watts | Powerful Life Advice


The cause of time is really very much like the cause of a ship in the ocean—cause here’s the ship, you see, and it leaves behind it a wake. The wake fades out and that tells us where the ship has been in just the same way as the past and our memory of the past tells us what we have done. But as we go back into the past, and we go back and back to pre-history and we use all kinds of instruments and scientific methods for detecting what happened, we eventually reach a point where all record of the past fades away in just the same way as the wake of a ship. Now the important thing to remember in this illustration is that the wake doesn’t drive the ship any more than the tale wags the dog. Supposing there’s a neurotic, difficult child–one school of thought is to say, “Well bang him about. Beat him up!” And maybe he’ll change. But then they said, “Oh, no. That’s not fair to the child to beat him up because it was his parents. They didn’t bring him up properly. And so then they say, “Well, punish the parents.” Well the parents say, “Excuse me, but our parents were neurotic too. And they brought us up badly so we couldn’t help what we did.” And so, since the grandparents are dead we can’t get at them. And in any case, supposing we could, we would pass the whole blame back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. And they say they started all this mess. But then Eve would say, “No! The serpent tempted me and I did eat and it was the serpent’s fault!” So you see, if you insist on being moved, being determined by the past, that’s your game. But the fact of the matter is it all starts right now. But we like to establish our connectivity with the past because that gives other people the impression that we’re sane. If you ask me, then, why am I talking? Well I could say, I’m making a living this way, or I have a message that I want to get across to you. But that’s not the reason. I’m talking for the same reason that birds sing, and for the same reason that the stars shine, is, I dig it. Why do you dig it? Well, I could go on answering all sorts of questions about human motivation and psychology but they wouldn’t explain a thing, because explaining things by the past is really a refusal to explain them at all!