The Ultimate Taboo

A different perspective on God.
June 6, 2024

I’ve been looking for you, God. I was slighted by someone, my hips flared up and I was in a terrible gloom. Today, you weren’t there. And I don’t feel you at all, not like I do when all is well and dandy and I’m smiling and happy. Why is that God?


I might answer this with a viewpoint from Alan Watts. But I warn you, it’s quite a taboo. So let’s talk about that which, according to Mr. Watts, is the ultimate of all taboos. As a British philosopher, writer and speaker in the 60s and 70s, he popularized Eastern philosophies in Western cultures and explored themes such as the nature of reality, the meaning of life, and the pursuit of happiness. 


We have all the wisdom and guidance we need already innately within us. And to tap into it is the key to our limitless power and joy.


Doesn’t sound very taboo, does it. Well, that’s because you haven’t heard his analysis. If you haven’t already heard any of his lectures or read his books, I emphatically urge that you do. His work is richly entertaining, blending his philosophical concepts with witty, playful and engaging lightheartedness. He would often use analogies, paradoxes, irony, and clever wordplay to point out the absurdities of life and the human condition. So in this case, in addressing such a reverent matter as our notion of God, Mr. Watts’ perspective is unconventional (and perhaps, for many outrageous), clearly challenging conventional thinking but with a shrewd smile. His claim is that our biggest taboo is finding out what’s really going on beneath our crusty exterior. He believed that deep down, we’ve got this uneasy feeling we might not want to admit, not even to ourselves. What kind of uneasy feeling, you ask?


This one: “God likes to play hide-and-seek, but, because there is nothing outside God, He has no one but Himself to play with… He pretends that He is you and I and all the people in the world, all the animals, all the plants, all the rocks, and all the stars. In this way, He has strange and wonderful adventures, some of which are terrible and frightening… When God plays hide-and-pretend-that-He-is-you-and-I, He does it so well that it takes Him a long time to remember where and how He hid Himself. But that’s the whole fun of it—just what He wanted to do. He doesn’t want to find Himself too quickly, for that would spoil the game. That is why it is so difficult for you and me to find out that we are God in disguise, pretending not to be Himself. But when the game has gone on long enough, all of us will wake up, stop pretending, and remember that we are all one single Self—the God who is all that there is and who lives for ever and ever… 


This is ‘the taboo of taboos: you’re IT!’


You may ask why God sometimes hides in the form of horrible people or pretends to be people who suffer great disease and pain. Remember, first, that He isn’t really doing this to anyone but Himself. Remember, too, that in almost all the stories you enjoy there have to be bad people as well as good people, for the thrill of the tale is to find out how the good people will get the better of the bad. It’s the same as when we play cards. At the beginning of the game we shuffle them all into a mess, which is like the bad things in the world, but the point of the game is to put the mess into good order and the one who does it the best is the winner. Then we shuffle the cards once more and play again, and so it goes with the world….”

—Alan Watts, The Book


So, might it be, I do not feel God sometimes because I am searching in all the wrong places? Everywhere but within me?




How about you, God?


What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson


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