Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

One Has No Self To Love

--by Alan Watts (Oct 09, 2017)

Love that expresses itself in creative action is something much more than an emotion. It is not something which you can “feel” and “know,” remember and define. Love is the organizing and unifying principle which makes the world a universe and the disintegrated mass a community. It is the very essence and character of mind, and becomes manifest in action when the mind is whole. For the mind must be interested or absorbed in something, just as a mirror must always be reflecting something. When it is not trying to be interested in itself—as if a mirror would reflect itself—it must be interested, or absorbed, in other people and things. There is no problem of how to love. We love. We are love, and the only problem is the direction of love, whether it is to go straight out like sunlight, or to try to turn back on itself like a “candle under a bushel.”

Where there is to be creative action, it is quite beside the point to discuss what we should or should not do in order to be right or good. A mind that is single and sincere is not interested in being good, in conducting relations with other people so as to live up to a rule. Nor, on the other hand, is it interested in being free, in acting perversely just to prove its independence. Its interest is not in itself, but in the people and problems of which it is aware; these are “itself.” It acts, not according to the rules, but according to the circumstances of the moment, and the “well” it wishes to others is not security but liberty.

Nothing is really more inhuman than human relations based on morals. When a man gives bread in order to be charitable, lives with a woman in order to be faithful, eats with (someone from another race) in order to be unprejudiced, and refuses to kill in order to be peaceful, he is as cold as a clam. He does not actually see the other person. Only a little less chilly is the benevolence springing from pity, which acts to remove suffering because it finds the sight of it disgusting.

But there is no formula for generating the authentic warmth of love. It cannot be copied. You cannot talk yourself into it or rouse it by straining at the emotions or by dedicating yourself solemnly to the service of mankind. Everyone has love, but it can only come out when (people are) convinced of the impossibility and the frustration of trying to love (themselves). This conviction will not come through condemnations, through hating oneself, through calling self-love all the bad names in the universe. It comes only in the awareness that one has no self to love.

From "Wisdom of Insecurity" by Alan Watts.

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On Oct 7, 2017 david doane wrote:

Alan Watts can be deep.  "Nothing is really more inhuman than human relations based on morals" means to me that nothing is more inhuman than human relations based on rules.  A good deed coming from rule or obligation or agenda is manipulative.  It's using the other as a thing.  It's selfish.  Ironically, it may do some good and be appreciated, which is even worse.  Speaking personally, I have many times felt authentic love, that is, times when someone has done something for me out of love for me.  I've been fortunate.  My understanding is that there is my ego self and there is my real or essential self.  So, I have no ego self to love because my ego self isn't really concerned with love -- it's concerned with my own selfish manipulative agendas.  However, loving from my essential self is agendaless and pure, and it is from essential self that authentic human love comes.  Wisdom teachings ask you to practice loving your essential self.

On Oct 7, 2017 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 Love is unselfish and unconditional. Such pure love has no outwardly defined boundaries and prescriptions. Love is not a calculating transaction. Love grows from within like a plant and offers  flowers, fragrance and fruits joyfully. Such offerings fill the cup of life with joy, fulfillment and happiness.

"Nothing is more inhuman than human relations based on morals." This statement by Alan Watts made me think deeply. Morals are prescriptions or commandments or rules to follow for social order and social cohesiveness. As a human being I am born not  as a conditioned self.It is a self not defined by out side agencies. It is pure and free. As that self grows, it is shaped by what is right and what is wrong, the morals of a society. Love, relate and accept those who are on our side. Hate, disconnect and reject those who are on the other side.

The life holding, the life sustaining, and the life blossoming consciousness is diminished by the societal morals. Our essential self is diminished by the societal conditioning. When we quietly introspect and create clear space within us, when we wake up and let the light shine through the cracks of ourselves, we get liberated from the ego self. This light is the light of love. As Alan Watts says," It comes only in the awareness that one has no self to love." We realize that there is Universal Self and that is our Essential Self.

May we attain and retain the awareness of the Universal Self, our Essential Self to serve others who are essentially us!


Jagdish P Dave

On Oct 10, 2017 sandeep wrote:

 A very splendid question for reflection. wanted to engage with it.. . i would like to believe that what is being said here is there is no self,  just love. i have tried hard to build empathy, arouse deep emotions, via guilt or self loathing as well. also using formulas like telling how fortunate i have been and look at how i am better off than majority which is hungry, socially discriminated etc etc. none of these formulas work What sometimes seems to be working is  i have tried to tell myself to wite gratitude diary. this way i have felt more fuller, and less critical of whats happening around. i dont know if its a formula for self love or just love......

On Oct 10, 2017 Rajat wrote:

 "refuses to kill in order to be peaceful, he is as cold as a clam. He does not actually see the other person. Only a little less chilly is the benevolence springing from pity, which acts to remove suffering because it finds the sight of it disgusting."
I can't assimilate the statement of Alan Watt, particularly the Bold one. Look forward to see any clarification on this phrase.

On Oct 10, 2017 Ed wrote:

 Wow!    That ripped my mind apart and put light on my darkness.    Thank you profoundly.    

On Oct 10, 2017 Will Odamtten wrote:

 Love is our mental volition at any time t.
This is true but the concepts used to deduce the point may confuse many a reader. Nonetheless it's still a great article for introspection and growth of awareness. Thank you Alan!

On Oct 10, 2017 Jyoti wrote:

 Wow! Radical. Reminded me of Brother Pancho and his capacity to  just be love - unconditionally. 

On Oct 11, 2017 Matthew John Thomas wrote:

  Nonetheless it's still a great article for introspection and growth of awareness. Thank you Alan!

On Oct 11, 2017 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

 This is a really deep one. To me the idea of love based on morals being inhuman means that love should be unconditional, to allow it to simply be because love is love. This also extends to no self to love: I think the idea is if we are all one, then there is no other or self, just one to love. And that one includes self/other together. So in practice of loving oneself we are loving all. This is what spoke to me. 

On Oct 12, 2017 me wrote:

 I hear you!

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