You remember what happened in the Garden of Eden? God set a trap by saying: there is that specific tree, and you mustn’t eat the fruit of it. If he had really not wanted them to eat the fruit, he wouldn’t have said anything about it. But by drawing attention to it in this way, it was obvious they were going to eat it.

Mythology

Mythology refers to the collected myths and legends of a group of people or culture, which often include stories of their gods, heroes, supernatural beings, and explanations for how certain aspects of nature or the world came to be. Myths serve an important purpose in ancient cultures as a way to explain the unexplainable, provide role models that embody cultural ideals, and reinforce moral values.

Across ancient cultures worldwide, common mythical archetypes emerge. Hero myths often follow a similar pattern of a hero overcoming great adversity and accomplishing extraordinary deeds. Fertility myths relate to the cycles of nature. Creation myths aim to explain how the world or a certain people or culture came into existence. The gods of polytheistic mythologies often have very human traits and frequently display jealousy, anger and other emotions in addition to supernatural powers over natural phenomena like storms, seas, or the underworld. Myths help bind a culture together through shared stories and values and preserve important cultural ideas by passing them down orally over generations before eventually being recorded in writing. Though today we understand many natural phenomena that ancient peoples attributed to mythological causes, mythology continues to perform an important cultural function and myths remain ubiquitous in religion as well as contemporary popular culture.

Documents

Alan Watts   (1964)

Beyond Theology

The Art of Godmanship

Alan Watts examines the theme that our normal sense of the person as a lonely island of consciousness is a dramatic illusion based on theological imagery. In a global context, the meaning of this imagery inevitably changes, yet without losing its unique values.

Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan   (1980)

Harmony of the Worlds

Cosmos, Episode 3

Beginning with the separation of the fuzzy thinking and pious fraud of astrology from the careful observations of astronomy, Sagan follows the development of astronomical observation. Beginning with constellations and ceremonial calendars (such as those of the Anasazi), the story moves to the debate between Earth and Sun-centered models: Ptolemy and the geocentric worldview, Copernicus' theory, the data-gathering of Tycho Brahe, and the achievements of Johannes Kepler (Kepler's laws of planetary motion and the first science-fiction novel).

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.

Alan Watts   (1972)

Cosmic Drama

Essential Lectures, Program 5

Alan Watts further explores the Hindu dramatic view of the universe, in which God plays all of the parts – all the while pretending not to know who he/she/it is!

Alan Watts

Jesus, His Religion

Buckle up! Watts is taking us on a wild ride to assert Jesus was just a regular dude who attained cosmic consciousness as other mystics do. He condemns churches for dishing out guilt instead of providing contemplative quiet to realize our collective divinity.

Alan Watts

Problems of Meditation

Watts illuminates meditation as a vehicle to transcend the illusion of individuality and realize one’s intrinsic unity with the cosmos. He unveils a symphony of sacred techniques—from breath awareness to primordial sonic mysticism—as potential pathways to the ineffable experience of non-dual consciousness. By surrendering the ego’s compulsive control, one may ultimately arrive at the paradoxical fruition of subject and object coalescing into one unconditioned field of pure witnessing awareness.

Alan Watts   (1971)

Q and A With God

After discussing the nature of consciousness, the human mind, and the philosophical viewpoint that every person is God, Alan Watts assumes the role of God himself for the latter half of this lecture, answering each question his audience serves with wit and insight.

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.

Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers   (1988)

The Hero's Adventure

The Power of Myth, Part 1

Bill Moyers and mythologist Joseph Campbell begin their groundbreaking and timeless conversation with an exploration of the classic hero cycle, including consistent and enduring hero patterns in literature, real life, and even the Star Wars films. Campbell also encourages the audience to view parts of their own lives as heroic journeys.

Alan Watts

Coincidence of Opposites

The Tao of Philosophy 3

Alan Watts explains the sense in nonsense and how to enjoy the playfulness of life while sincerely participating in the human game.

Terence McKenna   (1991)

Unfolding the Stone

Making and Unmaking History and Language

Also published under the title Empowering Hope in Dark Times, McKenna explores the philosophical underpinnings of alchemy and Hermeticism. He argues that these esoteric traditions promote the inherent divinity of humankind and the overcoming of fate through magic. Psychedelic plants and mystical experiences are positioned as means of glimpsing liberatory truths. McKenna ultimately seeks to empower his audience with a hopeful worldview and a sense of human potential, even in difficult times.

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.