The Illusion of Good and Bad, Animated Short – Alan Watts (Video)

The Illusion of Good and Bad, Animated Short - Alan Watts (Video) | Third Monk

The Story of the Chinese Farmer is a parable about life and nature narrated by Alan Watts, animated by Steve Agnos, and with music by Chris Zabriskie.

The whole process of nature is a process of immense complexity and it is really impossible to tell whether something that happens in it is good or bad.

Because you never know the consequences of the misfortune. Or, you never know the consequences of good fortune. – Alan Watts


The Buddhist Guide to a Happy Life: The Noble Eightfold Path

The Buddhist Guide to a Happy Life: The Noble Eightfold Path  | Third Monk image 1

Buddha correctly recognized that suffering (duhkha) originates through ignorance and craving, the Noble Eightfold Path is a guide to eliminate ignorance and craving, and by extension, suffering.

The 4th Noble Truth, the Eightfold Path deals with the cultivation of wisdom, moral conduct, and mental discipline.

These Eight guide posts are not commandments, they are vows. For anyone interested in the path to liberation, these ways of life serve to accelerate the process.

The aim of the path is to live a fully balanced life; consider following each part of the Eightfold Path simultaneously, as each step on the path is not meant to be a linear progression.


1. Right View (Wisdom)

Having the wisdom to see things as they really are. Observing and accepting the impermanence of reality and the duhkha (suffering) that is caused by craving for a separate, permanent existence.

2. Right Intention (Wisdom)

Defined simply, it is the intention to act only out of love and compassion. Having a wrong view of reality, where one sees things as separate and permanently enduring causes a person to wrongly grasp for what appears to contribute to their form of identification: a separate/permanent self. The false belief that happiness comes by avoiding what appears to threaten the self.

This way of thinking gives rise to craving, hatred, and violence. Those with right intention instead see the interdependence of all things and processes, correctly identifing that cultivating love and compassion for all beings will bring happiness.

Butchart Gardens Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, Canada

3. Right Speech (Ethical Conduct)

Generally, right speech refers to the avoidance of all talk that will hurt either oneself or others and to speak pleasantly in ways that will help overcome suffering.

It’s negative forms can be interpreted as: lying, slander, character assassination, talk that might bring about hatred, jealousy, enmity, discord, harsh or rude talk, impolite or abusive language, idle or malicious gossip, etc.

It’s positive forms are: telling the truth, speaking in a kindly and friendly way, and using language meaningfully and usefully.

By realizing the time and place for certain language, it implies that at times “noble silence” may be ideal.

4. Right Action (Ethical Conduct)

Based on the idea that no beings have independent existence, then all are dependent upon each other. With this understood, selfishness no longer has any basis.

Negatively, right action can be interpreted as killing, hurting, stealing, cheating, etc.

Positively, it means promoting peace and happiness, and respecting the well-being of all living things.

5. Right Livelihood (Ethical Conduct)

This extends the two former tenets to how one earns a living, prohibiting those careers that bring harm to others. Specifically: drug dealing, using and dealing in weapons, making poisons, killing animals, dealing in prostitution or slavery, etc.

Positively, right livelihood requires that one’s living is earned by means that are honorable, useful, and helpful.


6. Right Effort (Mental Development)

The above developments require discipline, which includes right effort and the two tenets below (right mindfulness & concentration).

Practicing Right Effort includes:

  • Preventing evil and unwholesome states of mind from arising,
  • Getting rid of evil and unwholesome states of mind that may already exits,
  • Bringing about good and wholesome states of mind,
  • Developing and perfecting good and wholesome states of mind already present.

7. Right Mindfulness (Mental Development)

Consists in being aware of and attentive to all of one’s activities.


  • Activities of the body,
  • Sensing and feeling,
  • Perceiving,
  • Thinking and consciousness.

This means understanding what these activities are, how they arise, how they disappear, how they are developed, controlled, gotten rid of, and how they are related to each other.

8. Right Concentration (Mental Development)

Refers to a focusing of consciousness that enables one to see deeply into something. Both ignorance and enlightenment, which produce suffering and happiness respectively, have their root in one’s mental activities.

Because one’s mental states determine everything one does, it makes sense to concentrate on purifying one’s mental activities as a means to achieving happiness.

1st Stage:
  • Concentrate on getting rid of lust, ill-will, laziness, worry, anxiety, and doubt.
  • These unwholesome mental activities are replaced by feelings of joy and happiness.
2nd Stage:
  • Concentrate on seeing through and getting beyond all mental activities.
  • Retaining an awareness of joy and happiness. 
3rd Stage:
  • One goes beyond the mental activity responsible for the feeling of joy.
  • Achieves an equanimity pervaded by happiness.
4th Stage:
  • Complete equanimity and total awareness.


Alan Watts on The Real Eightfold Path

Source (recommended for further philosophical study)

Animated Zen Series with Alan Watts, South Park Animation (Video)

Animated Zen Series with Alan Watts, South Park Animation (Video) | Third Monk image 4

We’ve featured one part of this series before, but now it’s time for the rest of the animated shorts.

The Zen series is animated by Matt Stone & Trey Parker and combined with transcendent audio taken from Alan Watts lectures.

The wisdom in Alan’s words shines through brightly as the audio is enhanced by the accompanying animation.

Alan Watts – Zen Series

I just want you to enjoy a point of view, which I enjoy. – Alan Watts

Alan Watts – The Myth of Myself (“Appling”)

You cannot get an intelligent organism such as a human being, out of an unintelligent universe. – Alan Watts

Alan Watts – Prickles and Goo

This natural universe is neither prickles nor goo exclusively, it’s gooey prickles and prickly goo! – Alan Watts

alan_watts-prickles and goo - Zen Series

Alan Watts – Madness

Both poetry and music lead us to the understanding of what this world is all about, which is, is a dance, a rhythm. – Alan Watts

madness - Zen Series

Alan Watts – I or Ego

I’ve always been tremendously interested in what people mean by the word “I”, because it comes out in curious lapses of speech. – Alan Watts

Zen Series - Don't ask, it just makes sense

The Four Noble Truths – Buddha’s First Teaching

The Four Noble Truths - Buddha's First Teaching | Third Monk image 2

beautiful-lotus-flower-pictures-Four Noble Truths

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. Do not believe anything because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything because it is written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and the benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. – The Buddha

peace-buddha-buddhism-Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths:

  1. All things and experiences are marked by suffering/ disharmony/ frustration (dukkha). 
    • Suffering exists. We suffer when we experience pain. We suffer when we do not get what we want. We suffer when we get what we want, but it does not last indefinitely. We suffer when we have some idea of what we want and the reality is a bit different. This is the First Noble Truth.
  2. The arising of suffering/ disharmony/ frustration comes from desire/ craving/ clinging. 
    • The cause of suffering is desire—our inflexible desire for things to be other than what they are. According to the Buddha, the problem is not that we are not getting what we want, it is that we want too much.
  3. To achieve the cessation or end of suffering/ disharmony/ frustration, let go of desire/ craving/ clinging.
    • It is possible to put an end to suffering by learning to live more simply and be content with what we do have. This is sometimes referred to as putting an end to desire, but it doesn’t mean that we desire nothing at all; it means that we recognize desire as desire, and we act on some desires, such as the desire to make others happy, but we do not expect that we will realize happiness by satisfying our desires.
  4. The way to achieve that cessation of suffering/ disharmony/ frustration, is walking the Eight-fold Path.
    • Right understanding, aspiration, speech, conduct, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration.

Alan Watts – The Four Noble Truths

Alan Watts gives his interpretation of the four noble truths in this video lecture.

Buddha | Lucid Cafe

> Buddhism | Parralax

There is Only One Energy in the Universe and You’re It – Alan Watts

There is Only One Energy in the Universe and You're It - Alan Watts | Third Monk image 4

Alan Watts suggests that humans created a superior being to worship out of fear and uncertainty.

The behavior of worship is reinforced by government and religious organizations to create a population that will obey. If we realize that we are all one energy, we can start to see through the illusion.

Audio of the speech is from Alan Watts lecture Zen Bones and Tales.

The Yin and Yang of the Universe

yin-yang-universe-Alan Watts

According to Buddhist philosophy, all this universe is one ‘dadada.’ That means ‘ten thousand functions, ten thousand things, one suchness,’ and we’re all one suchness. And that means that suchness comes and goes like anything else because this whole world is an on-and-off system.

As the Chinese say, it’s the yang and the yin, and therefore it consists of ‘now you see it, now you don’t, here you are, here you aren’t, here you are,’ because that the nature of energy, to be like waves, and waves have crests and troughs, only we, being under a kind of sleepiness or illusion, imagine that the trough is going to overcome the wave or the crest, the yin, or the dark principle, is going to overcome the yang, or the light principle, and that ‘off’ is going to finally triumph over ‘on.’

Death is the Other Face

death-blackhole-Alan Watts

Isn’t it odd that anything exists? It’s most peculiar, it requires effort, it requires energy, and it would have been so much easier for there to have been nothing at all. Therefore, we think ‘well, since being, since the ‘is’ side of things is so much effort’ you always give up after a while and you sink back into death.

But death is just the other face of energy, and it’s the rest, the not being anything around, that produces something around, just in the same way that you can’t have ‘solid’ without ‘space,’ or ‘space’ without ‘solid.’

Reborn Star Dust

stardust-Alan Watts

You are really a playing of this one energy, and there is nothing else but that, that is you, but that for you to be always you would be an insufferable bore, and therefore it is arranged that you stop being you after a while and then come back as someone else altogether, and so when you find that out, you become full energy and delight. As Blake said, ‘Energy is eternal delight.’

Fear of the Illusion

fear_is_a_liar-Alan Watts

You realize you’re That–we won’t put a name on it– you’re That, and you can’t be anything else. So you are relieved of fundamental terror. That doesn’t mean that you’re always going to be a great hero, that you won’t jump when you hear a bang, that you won’t worry occasionally, that you won’t lose your temper. It means, though, that fundamentally deep, deep, deep down within you, you will be able to be human, not a stone Buddha.

But to have no hang-ups, that is to say, to be able to drift like a cloud and flow like water, seeing that all life is a magnificent illusion, a plane of energy, and that there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. Fundamentally. You will be afraid on the surface. You will be afraid of putting your hand in the fire. You will be afraid of getting sick, etc. But you will not be afraid of fear. Fear will pass over your mind like a black cloud will be reflected in the mirror.

Alan Watts – Thinking is a Good Servant, But a Bad Master (Video)

Alan Watts - Thinking is a Good Servant, But a Bad Master (Video) | Third Monk

Alan Watts talks about the art of meditation and why it is important to practice it, especially in the civilized world. Too much mental chatter can trap you in a world of illusion.

I’m not saying that thinking is bad. Like everything else, it’s useful in moderation. A good servant, but a bad master.

All so called civilized peoples have increasingly become crazy and self-destructive, because through excessive thinking, they have lost touch with reality. That’s to say we confuse signs, words, numbers, symbols and ideas with the real world.

Most of us would rather have money than tangible wealth and a great occasion is somehow spoiled for us unless it is photographed. And, to read about it the next day in the newspaper is oddly more fun for us than the original event. This is a disaster


Alan Watts – What Do You Desire? (Comic Strip)

Alan Watts - What Do You Desire? (Comic Strip) | Third Monk image 2

Alan Watts was an English philosopher and writer who played a large part in popularising Zen Buddhism in the West. He gained a wide following after moving to the United States where he published numerous books on Zen and Eastern philosophy.

He is well known for his inquisitive nature and ability to cut through the bullshit of conventional thought to get to the meat of an issue.

In this comic strip penned by Zen Pencils, Watts delves deep into the eternal question:

What do you desire?

The answer may be more simple than you possibly imagined. 


> What if money was no object? | Zen Pencils

Alan Watts – A Universe of Interdependent Systems (Video)

Alan Watts - A Universe of Interdependent Systems (Video) | Third Monk image 2

Our universe of interdependent systems is made up of many parts that build a whole. We see this principle over and over again. I walk around with a sense of being whole and I have the knowledge that numerous cells make up who I am physically.

It is beautiful that we can be diverse in so many ways and still be here together as one; living in harmony is acceptance of what separates us and acknowledgment of how we are knit together.

A Universe of Interdependent Systems – Alan Watts “You Define I” Transcript

The Earth is not a big rock, infested with living organisms, any more than your skeleton is bones infested with cells.

The Earth is geological, yes, but this geological entity grows people. And our existence on the Earth is a symptom of the solar system and its balances as much as the solar system in turn is a symptom of our galaxy and our galaxy in its turn is a symptom of the whole company of galaxies; goodness only know what that’s in.

But you see, when as a scientist you describe the behavior of an living organism you try to say what a person does. Its the only way in which you can describe what a person is, describe what they do.

Then you find out in making this description you cannot confine yourself to what happens inside the skin. In other words you can’t talk about a person walking, unless you start describing the floor. Because when I walk i don’t just dangle my legs in empty space. I move in relationship to a room. So In order to describe what I’m doing when I’m walking I have to describe the room, I have to describe the territory.

So in describing my talking at the moment I can’t describe this just as a thing in itself because I’m talking to you. So what I’m doing at the moment is not completely described unless your being here is described also.

So if that is necessary if in other words in order to describe my behavior I have to describe your behavior and the behavior of the environment; it means that we really got one system of behavior. That what I am involves what you are. I don’t know who I am unless I know who you are and you don’t know who you are unless you know who I am.

There was a wise rabbi who once said “If I am I because you are you and you are you because I am I then I am not I and you are not you.” In other words we are not separate.

We define each other, we’re all backs and fronts to each other. We and our environment, and all of us and each other are interdependent systems. We know who we are in terms of other people.

We all love together and we are; I think, quite urgently, in need of coming to feel that we are the eternal universe each one of us.

Universe of Interdependent System

Alan Watts – Creating Who You Are (Video)

Alan Watts - Creating Who You Are (Video) | Third Monk

Alan Watts shares his thoughts on life’s inherent transiency. Explaining how our own thoughts and feelings may hinder or aid us in our pursuit of discovering who we are; Watts poignantly expands our minds to allow more of ourselves to be remembered.

Alan Watts – Creating Who You Are Transcript

Why don’t you really know what you want?

Two reasons that you don’t really know what you want:

#1 You have it.

#2 You don’t know yourself, because you never can.

The Godhead is never an object of it’s own knowledge. Just as a knife doesn’t cut itself, fire doesn’t burn itself, light doesn’t illumine itself. It’s always an endless mystery to itself. I don’t know…

And this I don’t know uttered in the infinite interior of the spirit. This I don’t know, is the same thing as, I love. I let go. I don’t try to force or control. It’s the same thing as humility. If you think that you understand Brahman, you do not understand. And you have yet to be instructed further. If you know that you do not understand, then you truly understand. For the Brahman is unknown to those who know it, and known to those who know it not.

And the principle is that anytime you as it were, voluntarily let up control, in other words cease to cling to yourself. You have an access of power. Cause you’re wasting energy all the time in self-defense. Trying to manage things, trying to enforce things to conform to your will. Why don’t you stop doing that?

That wasted energy is available. Therefore, you are in that sense having that energy available, you are one with the divine principle, you have the energy. When you are trying, however to act  as if you are God, that is to say you don’t trust anybody, and you are the Dictator, and you try to keep everybody in line. You lose the divine energy, cause what you are doing is simply defending yourself. So then, the principle is the more you give it away, the more it comes back.

Now, you say “I don’t have the courage to give it away – I’m afraid.” And you can only overcome that by realizing you better give it away because there’s no way of holding on to it. The meaning of the fact, you see, that everything is dissolving constantly, that we’re all falling apart. We’re all in the process of constant death, and that the worldly hope that men set their heart upon – turns ashes or it prospers anon like snow upon the desert’s dusty face lighting a little hour or two – is gone and all that Omar Khayyam jazz.

The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces, the great globe itself. Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, and, like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind.

All falling apart. Everything is. That’s the great assistance to you. That fact that everything is in decay is your help. That is allowing you, that you don’t have to let go, because there is nothing to hold on to. It’s achieved for you, in other words, by the process of nature.

So, once you see that you just don’t have a prayer, and that’s it’s all washed up and that you’ll vanish and leave no rack behind. And you really get with that. Suddenly, you find that you have the power, this enormous access of energy. But it’s not power that came to you because you grabbed it, it came in entirely the opposite way. Power that comes to you in the opposite way, is power with which you can be trust.

 The Universe is the game of self. Which plays hide and seek forever and ever. – Alan Watts

Alan-watts-finalIllustration by Stephen Collins

Alan Watts – What is Wrong With Our Culture? (Video)

Alan Watts - What is Wrong With Our Culture? (Video) | Third Monk

Alan Watts explains why our culture is destructive. Offering the possibility that an underlying unconscious thematic pattern within humanity is causing our disconnection with the world and ourselves.

Alan Watts – What is Wrong With Our Culture Transcript

Why is it that we don’t seem to be able to adjust ourselves to the physical environment without destroying it?

Why is it that in a way this culture represents in a unique fashion the law of diminishing returns. That our success is a failure. That we are building up – in other words, an enormous technological civilization which seems to promise the fulfillment of every wish almost at the touch of a button.

And yet as in so many fairy tales when the wish is finally materialized, they are like fairy gold, they are not really material at all. In fact, so many of our products, our cars, our homes, our clothing, our food. It looks as if it were really the instant creation of pure thought; that is to say it’s thoroughly insubstantial, lacking in what the connoisseur of wine calls body.

And in so many other ways, the riches that we produce are ephemeral, and as the result of that we are frustrated, we are terribly frustrated. We feel that the only thing is to go on getting more and more. And as a result of that the whole landscape begins to look like the nursery of a spoiled child – who’s got too many toys and is bored with them and throws them away as fast as he gets them; plays with them for a few minutes.

Also we are dedicated to a tremendous war on the basic material dimensions of time and space. We want to obliterate those limitations. We want to get everything done as fast as possible. We want to convert the rhythms and the skills of work into cash. Which indeed you can buy something with, but you can’t eat it.

And then rush home, to get away from work and begin the real business of life, to enjoy ourselves. You know, for the vast majority of American families, what seems to be the real point of life, what you rush home to get to. Is to watch an electronic reproduction of life, you can’t touch, it doesn’t smell, and it has no taste. You might think that people getting home to the real point of life in a robust material culture would go home to a colossal banquet or an orgy of love-making or a riot of music and dancing, but nothing of the kind.

It turns out to be this purely passive, contemplation of a twittering screen. You see mile after mile of darkened houses with that little electronic screen flickering in the room. Everybody isolated, watching this thing, and thus in no real communion with each other at all. And this isolation of people into a private world of their own is really the creation of a mindless crowd.

And so, we don’t get with each other except for public expressions of getting rid of our hostility, like football or prizefighting. And even in the spectacles one sees on this television, it’s perfectly proper to exhibit people slugging and slaying each other, but oh dear no, not people loving each other, except in a rather restrained way. One can only draw the conclusion that the assumption underlying this is that expressions of physical love are far more dangerous than expressions of physical hatred.

And it seems to me that a culture that has that sort of assumption is basically crazy and devoted – unintentionally indeed – but nevertheless in-fact devoted not to survival, but to the actual destruction of life.


Alan Watts – The Way of Waking Up (Video)

Alan Watts - The Way of Waking Up (Video) | Third Monk image 2

Alan Watts shares his thoughts on reality, our shared connection and the process of waking up to fundamental truths.

Alan Watts – The Way of Waking Up (Transcript)

So then, here’s the drama. My metaphysics, let me be perfectly frank with you, are: That there is the central self, you can call it God, you can call it anything you’d like – and it’s all of us. It’s playing all the parts of all beings whatsoever everywhere and anywhere. And it’s playing the game of hide-and-seek with itself, it gets lost, it gets involved in the farthest out adventures, but in the end it always wakes up and comes back to itself.

And when you’re ready to wake up, you’re going to wake up. And if you’re not ready, you’re going to stay pretending, that you’re just a little – poor little me. And since you’re all here and engaged in this sort of inquiry and listening to this sort of lecture, I assume that you’re all on the process of waking up. Or else, you are teasing yourselves, with some kind of flirtation with waking up, which you are not serious about. But I will assume that maybe you are, not serious, but sincere, that you are ready to wake up.

So then, when you’re in the way of waking up, and finding out who you really are. You meet a character called a Guru; as the Hindu’s say this word: the teacher, the awakened. And what is the function of a guru? He’s the man who looks at you in the eye and says (laughs) “Oh, Come on..” (laughs)…”I know who you are.” You know, you come to the guru and say “Sir, I have a problem, I’m unhappy and I want to get one-up on the universe or I want to become enlightened – I want spiritual wisdom.” Ah, the guru looks at you and says “Who are you?”

You know Shri Ramana Maharshi that great Hindu sage of modern times? People used to come to him and say “Master, who was I in my last incarnation?”, as if that mattered. And he would say “Who is asking the question?” – and he would look at you and say “Basically go right down to it, you’re looking at me – you’re looking out, and you are unaware of what’s behind your eyes..go back in, find out who you are. Where the question comes from, why you ask.” And if you look at a photograph of that man – I have a gorgeous photograph of him, and you look in those – I walk by it everytime I go out of the front door, and I look at those eyes, and the humor, the lilting laugh, it’s a – ho ho, come on….(laughs) SHIVA, I recognize you. 

When you come to my door and you say “I’m so-and-so.” I say “ha-ha” what a funny way god has come on today. (laughs) There are sorts of tricks of course a guru will play..they..they well, they’re going to put you through the mill. And the reason they do that, is simply: you won’t wake up, until you feel you’ve paid a price for it. In other words, the sense of guilt that one has or sense of anxiety is simply the way one experiences keeping the game of disguise going on. Do you see that? Supposing you say: “I feel guilty.” Christianity makes you feel guilty for existing. That somehow the very fact that you exist is an affront. You uh, a fallen human being.

I remember as a child when we went to the services of the church on good Friday, they gave us each a colored postcard with Jesus crucified on it, and it said underneath: This have I done for thee, what doest thou for me. You know you felt awful, you nailed that man to the cross. Because you eat steak, you have crucified Christ. Cause you’ve killed the bull, but after all you depend on it. Mithra, it’s the same mystery. And what are you going to do about that? This have I done for thee, what doest thou for me. You feel awful, that you just exist at all. But that sense, that sense of guilt, is the veil across the sanctuary: Don’t you dare come in!

In order to, you know, in all mysteries when you’re going to be initiated, there’s somebody saying: “uh, uh, uh, uh, don’t you come in – you’ve got to fulfill this requirement, and this requirement, and this requirement, this requirement, then we’ll let you in.” So you go, you go through the mill. Why? Because this is, you’re saying to yourself: “I won’t wake up until I feel I deserve it, I won’t wake up until I’ve made it difficult for me to wake up – so I invent for myself an elaborate system of delaying my waking up. I put myself through this test and that test and when I feel it’s been sufficiently arduous then I may at last admit to myself who I really am, and draw aside the veil.”

And realize that after all, when all is said and done…I am that I am. Which is the name of god. And when it comes to it, that’s really rather funny. They say in Zen, when you attain satori, nothing is left to you at that moment but to have a good laugh.

But naturally, all masters, Zen masters, Yoga masters, every kind of master, puts up a barrier. And says to you…He simply plays your own game, you know, we say anybody who goes to a psychiatrist or has his head examined, because you, when you go to a psychiatrist you define yourself as someone who ought to have his head examined. Same way the Zen masters say anybody who studies Zen or goes to a Zen master ought to be given 30 blows with a stick. Because he was stupid enough to pose the question that he had a problem. But you’re the problem, you put yourself in the situation. So, it’s a question fundamentally: Do you define yourself as a victim of the world, or as the world?