Alan Watt’s On Yin and Yang

I don’t know if you’re into philosophy or religion, but if you haven’t heard of Alan Watts, the shame of you. He was a British philosopher, writer and speaker, best known for interpreting Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism for the Western audience.

His best-known work (and something I recommend everyone should read) is The Way of Zen. It’s counterculture but will make a whole lot more sense in 2021 than in 1962, the year it was initially published.

I got introduced to Alan Watt’s through a bibliography of one of the books I read many years back. I bought The Way of Zen and was inspired to explore eastern philosophy more seriously. While I failed at that goal, I’ve continued to follow and appreciate his works that I discovered on the Interwebs.

Last year, I bumped into this Chinese parable from one of his books:

Once upon a time, there was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away. That evening, all of his neighbours came around to commiserate. They said, “We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate.” The farmer said, “Maybe.” The next day the horse came back, bringing seven wild horses with it, and in the evening, everybody came back and said, “Oh, isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!” The farmer again said, “Maybe.” The following day his son tried to break one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbours then said, “Oh dear, that’s too bad,” and the farmer responded, “Maybe.” The next day the conscription officers came around to conscript people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again all the neighbours came around and said, “Isn’t that great!” Again, he said, “Maybe.”

The farmer steadfastly refrained from thinking of things in terms of gain or loss, advantage or disadvantage, because one never knows… We never really know whether an event is a fortune or misfortune; we only know our ever-changing reactions to ever-changing events.

And last evening, I stumbled onto one of his lectures on Yin and Yang. Having heard it three times already, I think the recording is worth sharing here for people to listen, reflect, and see life from a different point of view.

Here’s the recording, and I recommend that you don’t listen to it passively, instead pick up a pen and a notebook and jot down the essential bits that resonate with you.

Be generous and share this post with your friends, so they’re inspired to make the most of yin and yang.

%d bloggers like this: