The Paradise Fantasy, Watts 1978
April 10, 2017
[it is ridiculous] to feel so inhuman as to never feel the regrets of the passing of time and life. It’s likewise inhuman, not to have the paradise fantasy, of that mysterious place , round the corner, just over the crest of the hill just behind the island in the distance. Because that place is really a big joke.
That’s why, you will find once you get up the last step, the last Tori, you’re liable to be confronted with a mirror. Everybody is seeking, seeking, seeking, for that thing you gotta have.. well you’ve got it! And nobody’s going to believe you but there it is! The real thing that you are is the paradise land you’re looking for, and it’s far more reliable than any kind of external scene that you could love or hold onto. But of course, the whole fascination of life is that this seems perfectly incredibly.
-The Uncarved Stone, Unbleached Silk, Alan Watts — 1978
Though Watts is describing the nature of gardens in the city of Tokoyo with winding staircases which veer off into mysterious and curious places, his underlying meaning can be applied to any existential anxiety.
The true source of that intense pleasure or fantastic goody we are seeking is not found in the attainment of that achievement, milestone, or life goal set out, but instead ourselves.
That life goal, milestone, achievement or whatever, is a reflection of a part of who we are — be it feeding the hungry, building an enterprise or painting white canvas.
It’s only when one looks back on the trials and tribulations (“final step and last gate”) that the resulting illusion of an ultimate answer, paradise, or fulfillment is revealed. At which point the entire situation becomes comical and as no better put, “perfectly incredibly.”
The insight of course, comes from the fact that one may freely take this idea with a tray of sour milk, stale bread, and subject themselves to a dark corner while life flows by; or one may just as readily jump in, join the music and dance to the magnificent tune a la joie de vivre.
The beauty of it all lies in the purity of choice to decide.