The universe is a system which, by means of living bodies, becomes aware of itself.

Metaphysics

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that studies the fundamental nature of reality. Some of the central questions of metaphysics include: What is the nature of existence? What are the basic categories of being and how are they related? What makes something “real”? Metaphysicians develop theories to describe the structure of the world and what things exist within it.

Some key areas of metaphysics include ontology, the study of existence and what types of things exist; cosmology, the study of the origins and structure of the universe; philosophy of mind, the study of the nature of consciousness and mental states; and free will, the examination of whether human beings truly have freedom of choice. There are many competing schools of thought within metaphysics and intense disagreement around solutions to metaphysical problems. Historical figures who have contributed major ideas to the field include Plato, Aristotle, Avicenna, Aquinas, Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel and Heidegger among others across Western philosophy. Contemporary metaphysics continues to try to provide coherent and meaningful accounts of the most general features of reality.

Documents

Terence McKenna   (1993)

A Weekend with Terence McKenna

“Healing the inner elf through trance, dance, and diet”—the session for true McKenna enthusiasts: twelve hours with the bard himself, in which he touches upon practically all of his trademark topics.

Alan Watts

Consciousness and Rhythm

This seminar explores consciousness as an intrinsic rhythmic interplay with reality instead of a detached witness. Watts challenges notions of separateness, asserting that individuals and the cosmos are fundamentally unified. He encourages transcending ego and dualistic thinking to harmonize with the underlying patterns and dance that all differentiated experiences, including our own being, arise from. The goal is realizing our inherent interconnectedness with the seamless whole.

Alan Watts

Diamond Way

Watts beckons us to peer past the veil, where remembering and forgetting engage in a cosmic dance. Traverse the paradoxical streams of jiriki and tariki, self-power and other-power, until the very concept of “I” dissolves like a dewtopped lotus. Prepare to be unshackled and uninhibited, for in the quest for nothingness lies the quintessence of everythingness.

Terence McKenna   (1998)

Dreaming Awake at the End of Time

Join Terence for an eclectic think along the deconstruction of the deepening worldwide weirdness. With his characteristic hope and humor, McKenna examined time and its mysteries, the nature of language, the techniques of ecstasy, high technology and virtual cyberspace, the role of hallucinogenic plants in shamanism and the evolution of human cultures, and the foundations of postmodern spirituality.

Alan Watts

Ecological Awareness

When Alan Watts talked about the ‘mystical experience’ among scientific circles, he preferred to call it ‘ecological awareness’—referring to a state of mind in which a person ceases to feel separate from the environment in which he or she exists.

Alan Watts   (1972)

Nothingness

Essential Lectures, Program 1

Basing his ideas on sensory perception and physical experience, Alan Watts makes a compelling argument that everything actually depends upon nothing for its very existence.

Alan Watts   (1971)

Conversation with Myself

Essential Lectures, Program 12

While walking in a field above Muir Woods, Alan Watts points to humankind's attempts to straighten out a wiggly world as the root of our ecological crisis.

Tyler Volk   (1995)

Metapatterns

Across Space, Time, and Mind

In the interdisciplinary tradition of Buckminster Fuller’s work, Gregory Bateson’s Mind and Nature, and Fritjof Capra’s Tao of Physics, Metapatterns embraces both nature and culture, seeking out the grand-scale patterns that help explain the functioning of our universe. Metapatterns begins with the archetypal patterns of space, both form-building and relational. Tyler Volk then turns to the arrows, breaks, and cycles that infuse the workings of time. With artful dexterity, he brings together many layers of comprehension, drawing on an astounding range of material from art, architecture, philosophy, mythology, biology, geometry, and the atmospheric and oceanographic sciences. Richly illustrating his metapatterns with a series of sophisticated collages prepared for this book, Volk offers an exciting new look at science and the imagination. As playful and intuitive as it is logical and explanatory, Metapatterns offers an enlightening view of the functional, universal form in space, processes in time, and concepts in mind.

Erwin Schrödinger   (1956)

Mind and Matter

Based on the Tarner Lectures delivered at Trinity College in Cambridge, Mind and Matter is Erwin Schrödinger's investigation into a relationship which has eluded and puzzled philosophers since the earliest times.

Alfred North Whitehead   (1938)

Modes of Thought

Whitehead believed that reality consisted of organic processes within processes, all interrelated and overlapping. These processes are the basis on which human experience, conscious and otherwise, becomes an ongoing center of integrated and novel freedom. In this collection of lectures he urges us to consider “Importance” as an ultimate notion underlying our impulse to create the various modes and sub-generalities of thought which guide our planning and acting.

Erwin Schrödinger   (1951)

My View of the World

A Nobel prize winner, a great man and a great scientist, Erwin Schrödinger has made his mark in physics, but his eye scans a far wider horizon: here are two stimulating and discursive essays which summarize his philosophical views on the nature of the world. Schrödinger's world view, derived from the Indian writings of the Vedanta, is that there is only a single consciousness of which we are all different aspects. He admits that this view is mystical and metaphysical and incapable of logical deduction. But he also insists that this is true of the belief in an external world capable of influencing the mind and of being influenced by it. Schrödinger's world view leads naturally to a philosophy of reverence for life.

Alan Watts

On G. K. Chesterton

Alan Watts reveals how G.K. Chesterton viewed existence as a merry metaphysical carnival, a holy hullabaloo in which we’re invited to gaily gallivant with the angels. Laughing in church? Chesterton insists – for the universe is God’s own vaudeville show, and we’re the bright-eyed children giggling in the front row. So cast aside solemnity, and come delight in the divine comedy!

Alan Watts   (1969)

The Nature of Consciousness (Part 1)

Out of Your Mind 1

A seminar about “what there is.” Watts weaves together keen insights from science and spirituality to propose that existence is more like a game of hide-and-seek where we pretend not to recognize how self and other are interconnected.

Alan Watts   (1969)

The Nature of Consciousness (Part 2)

Out of Your Mind 2

Alan Watts suggests the sole identity with our egoic thoughts limits our consciousness, and that existence is an interdependent web in which consciousness plays a game of pretending to be separate. We must recognize the fundamental unity of self and world; that consciousness encompasses all experience. He provides various techniques aimed at dissolving illusory boundaries of the ego. Watts maintains that enlightenment requires no striving, since we already live in eternal presence and are manifestations of the divine reality, pretending forgetfulness for the adventure of self-discovery.

Alan Watts

The Inevitable Ecstasy (Part 1)

Out of Your Mind 5

We are called to immerse in the sacred waters of the Now, releasing resistance's vain clutch upon illusion's crumbling stones. Feel each quivering wave, Alan chants, and the jewel of awakening will sparkle within your depths. Suffering fades when we cease damming the holy flow, surrendering instead to bliss's inevitable tide. Allow yourself to be cradled within sensation's currents. Let go, dissolve, and the river's timeless mercy will carry you home, beyond words, to dissolve in the ocean's mystical embrace.

Alan Watts   (1968)

Parallel Thinking

Philosophy: East and West, Program 19

What a tickling trickster the universe is! As Watts wanders down philosophical byways, tales emerge of those healed by harmonizing body and world. Yet we teach children to twist themselves to fit odd ideals. Tension tunnels through society, our “civilizing” ways quite uncouth! Might we reconsider, relax our willful ways? Observantly ambling amidst being's little blooms, we rediscover unity in the unruly diversity—finding wisdom whispering within, inviting us to dance delightfully with life’s flowing forms.

Alan Watts

Relevance of Oriental Philosophy

Alan Watts discusses the limitations of Western theology, contrasting it with Eastern philosophies. He argues that the Western concept of God as a separate, authoritarian figure is problematic and that true faith involves letting go of fixed ideas about God. Watts suggests that Eastern ideas, such as the unity of opposites and the illusory nature of the ego, can provide a more meaningful understanding of spirituality and existence.

Terence McKenna, Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham   (1998)

The Evolutionary Mind

What could have been the cause for the breakthrough in the evolution of human consciousness around 50,000 years ago? Part of the Trialogues at the Edge of the Unthinkable held at the University of California.

Alan Watts

The Joker

One of Alan’s most popular seminars, and for good reason—in The Joker, listeners will find out why every society needs fools in order to remind itself not to take life so damn seriously.

Albert Einstein and Rabindranath Tagore   (1930)

The Nature of Reality

Albert Einstein invited Rabindranath Tagore to his home in Caputh, near Berlin, for a stimulating intellectual conversation on the topic of science and religion. According to Einstein's step-son-in-law Dmitri Marianoff, “it was interesting to see them together—Tagore, the poet with the head of a thinker, and Einstein, the thinker with the head of a poet. It seemed to an observer as though two planets were engaged in a chat.” The conversation was recorded and subsequently published in the January 1931 issue of Modern Review.

Erich Jantsch   (1980)

The Self-Organizing Universe

Scientific and Human Implications of the Emerging Paradigm of Evolution

The evolution of the universe—ranging from cosmic and biological to sociocultural evolution—is viewed in terms of the unifying paradigm of self-organization. The contours of this paradigm emerge from the synthesis of a number of important concepts, and provide a scientific foundation to a new world-view which emphasizes process over structure, nonequilibrium over equilibrium, evolution over permanency, and individual creativity over collective stabilization. The book, with its emphasis on the interaction of microstructures with the entire biosphere, ecosystems etc., and on how micro- and macrocosmos mutually create the conditions for their further evolution, provides a comprehensive framework for a deeper understanding of human creativity in a time of transition.

Alan Watts

Slices of Wisdom

The Tao of Philosophy 1

Highlights from the "The Love of Wisdom" radio series by Alan Watts.

Alan Watts   (1973)

Limits of Language

The Tao of Philosophy 8

Alan Watts explains how language helps to construct reality, and what to do about it. He then follows up with the challenges of expressing the ineffable.

William Henry Chamberlin   (1906)

The Ultimate Unity for Thought is the Society of Minds

This lofty philosophical treatise passionately argues that the pinnacle of thought and being is a divine society of free spirits in fellowship, whose joyful self-realization through mutual service and growth comprises the final purpose of all creation. Our supreme hope is participation in this Community of Minds.

Erich Jantsch   (1981)

Unifying Principles of Evolution

In the light of the emerging self-organization paradigm, principles may be found which unify the description of evolution in two important dimensions: (1) across the hierarchy of evolutionary dynamics from ontogeny through phylogeny to anagenesis (the evolution of new levels of evolutionary dynamics), and (2) across domains of reality from the physical (cosmic) through the biological (sociobiological, ecological) to the sociocultural domain. Ten such principles, partly containing each other, are tentatively proposed here: Non-equilibrium, spontaneous symmetry breaking, self-reference, self-transcendence, irreversibility, metastability (complementarity of stochastic and deterministic factors), epigenealogical process (cognition and memory), autonomy, symbiosis, and indeterminacy (openness). Examples are provided which are suggestive of the applicability and unifying quality of these principles along the two dimensions.

Aldous Huxley   (1961)

Visionary Experience

Presented at the 14th Annual Congress of Applied Psychology. Aldous Huxley had been invited to the symposium by Timonthy Leary and Richard Alpert (Ram Dass). The two had met some months earlier, when Tim invited the author of the first two major works of modern psychedelic literature (The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell) to participate in the Harvard research program. Huxley agreed and was “Subject no.11” in a group psilocybin session run by Leary in November 1960.

Aldous Huxley   (1955)

Who Are We?

A lecture held at the Vedanta Society of Southern California’s Hollywood temple, in which Huxley goes into some depth about core issues about human existence, asking the primal question: what is our true nature?

Alan Watts

Who Is It That Knows There Is No Ego?

Alan explores the idea of separateness, and whether our language has tricked us into falsely believing that things are individual, independent, and comprehensible all on their own.