Alan Watts reveals the ultimate secret to letting go of your ego and living in the present moment

We all know that letting go of the ego is the key to living a fulfilling and happy life.

That much is clear.

But how are we meant to let it go when it feels like such a fundamental part of who we are?

Well, according to Alan Watts, it all comes down to one crucial mindset.

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And in today’s video, he’s going to show you exactly what that mindset is. Enjoy!


Here’s the transcript:

“There’s a story about a man who has a fight with a circus bear. And the bear reads his mind, and always forestalls any attack that he makes on it… there’s absolutely nothing he can do to get past the bear.
And so in the same way, you might imagine a guru who is a mind reader, and he always knows if you decide before you act, and if you do, you’ll see the devil will catch you.
Instead you see of deciding that you won’t be an aloholic anymore… the only thing to do is not to drink, without any previous decision on this matter.
But how can anyone do that, you see? That’s the question! How can I decide not to decide? How can i announce that I won’t make any announcement without making an announcement?
You see, there is no way out of that bind…
Try as you may, you go and on and on, trying as Heracle did to release the bowstring without thinking first to release it… but then, strangely enough one day the thing happend… He did it.
And this is involved in our learning, of almost all techniques, that we work, and work to achieve that final point of perfection, and it doesn’t come, it doesn’t come, and then one day it happens.
Now, what is the reason for that? Is it simply and this is really, you know, a way it’s usually explained, but this is an over-simplification it is not that we have practiced it so often that it suddenly becomes perfect, it is much more subtle than that.
What happens is that we’ve practiced so often, that we find out we can’t do it… and it happens at the moment you know you can’t do it. When you reach a certain point of despair, when you know that you are the one weird child who will never be able to swim, at that moment you’re swimming.
Because, the desperation and the total inability to do it at all, has brought you to appoint which we might call: ‘Don’t care’, you stop trying, you stop not trying, trying to get it that way, you just have arrived at the insight that your decision, your will, doesn’t have any part in the thing at all and that’s what you needed to know, you’ve overcome, you see the illusion of having a separate ego, there’s no way of telling anyone, that that’s an illusion, and getting properly action, because we are truly indoctrinated with the idea, that it’s real, and if I say: ‘Well, I’m going to get rid of my ego’, that’s what the taoists call: ‘Beating a drum in search of a fugitive’…
So the ego, that is to say… the illusion, of having a separate will and a separate eyecenter, that can be an effective agent, that cannot be overcome by a decision which seems to be centered in the ego, you might as well put out fire with fire, it can come only when an attempt to act from the ego center, has been revealed to be completely futile, then the thing happens, because you’ve really discovered, that was afterall an illusion…”

***Do you want to be a stronger person? Do you want to stare down your challenges and overcome any obstacles? If so, check out our eBook: The Art of Resilience: A Practical Guide to Mental Toughness.

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Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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