Alan Watts – “The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are”

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“God also likes to play hide-and-seek, but because there is nothing outside God, he has no one but himself to play with. But he gets over this difficulty by pretending that he is not himself. This is his way of hiding from himself. 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. But these are just like bad dreams, for when he wakes up they will disappear. “Now when God plays hide and pretends 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.


“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 best is the winner. Then we shuffle the cards once more and play again, and so it goes with the world.”

The Dhammapada

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Not to commit any sin, to do good, and to purify one’s mind, that is the teaching of (all) the Awakened.


Let a wise man blow off the impurities of his self, as a smith blows off the impurities of silver one by one, little by little, and from time to time.

Let no man think lightly of evil, saying in his heart, It will not come nigh unto me. Even by the falling of water-drops a water-pot is filled; the fool becomes full of evil, even if he gather it little by little.

Let no man think lightly of good, saying in his heart, It will not come nigh unto me. Even by the falling of water-drops a water-pot is filled; the wise man becomes full of good, even if he gather it little by little.

-The Dhammapada

What a gem this volume is! It’s a collection of sayings attributed to the Buddha, from the Theraveda tradition of Buddhism. It’s one of the least religious sutras I’ve read – it concentrates more of the philosophy of proper living in this world than theological matters.

Buddhism is a religion that recommends moderation in body, spirit, and mind, as well as detachment from emotions and day-to-day life. One goal of the Buddhism is to reduce suffering in this world, by promoting good deeds and a gentleness toward all living beings. The other aspects vary depending on which branch you’re studying, but another common goal is release from the cycle of reincarnation, the multiple rebirths experienced until a being has spiritually purified itself and obtained nirvana.

What I especially love about most forms of Buddhism is its focus on correct living in this world, rather than dogma. Gautama Buddha himself is generally not deified and is treated as a fellow traveler who could have released himself from the rebirth cycle but chose to teach and help others free themselves instead. Anyone can eventually become a buddha, with enough spiritual practice.

As someone who’s experienced chafing at Western religion, I adore the freedom of Buddhism’s flexibility on specific dogmas. I especially like that we’re all given endless chances to achieve heaven and cessation of being – there is no one great chance, instead we’re all fellow co-learners at different points of development…

There are many forms of Buddhism, and there are many deities-Mara, being the king of Hell, and others. For me, right now, I read it more these as a metaphor – a greedy person or addict who dies without is reborn as a hungry ghost in the hell realm to suffer eternal hunger.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone interested – you can read it as an ancient philosophy that ables to our modern world.

An Unexpected Eulogist

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Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints

As heads is tails, just call me Lucifer
Cause I’m in need of some restraint
So if you meet me, have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste

“Sympathy for the Devil”, Rolling Stones

“Eli Eli lama sabachthani?” outstretched wasted limbs,

his derelict tongue sounds syllables foreign to the land, and he

closes his eyes as the light dims

“Eli Eli lama sabachthani?”

Passive observation is my vice; I never hated the boy, uncanny

eyes like his mother, his father’s stubborn insistence was his sin.

I felt an uncle’s pride when he became a man and grew savvy

Savvy, but unwilling to compromise, to my chagrin

I met him armed with sweet words and brandy

Instead he chose the path of pain and eulogizing hymns

“Eli Eli lama sabachthani?”

I’m blaming this particular heresy on chronic lack of sleep and a persistent headache. The form is called a roundel, btw…

It has been a belief of mine for a long time that we all believe we are essentially good, but lately I kind of feel like everyone, including myself, is mostly an asshole.

*offered half ownership of a house, reacts by craving narcotics*

Site Guide

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Hi! Welcome to She-Who-Hears.Net and its off-shoot, the Learning to Live Sober blog. Both blogs are written by me, Joss, a 29 year old who’s passionate about living a life that reflects her values and her potential. I have a lot of struggles in my life right now – health, sobriety, and education – these blogs document them.


She-Who-Hears.Net is my general blog, which includes daily updates on different themes – typical life stuff, thoughts on spirituality, times past, the present and my hopes for the future. I also do creative writing – mostly poetry.

I’m following the 365 Days of Writing Prompts guide, and have my own weekly and monthly features. Each week, I’ll post a quote, poem, and piece of art. Each month, I’ll review a book, album and movie and write up an inspiring person. Currently, most of my thoughts about sobriety and my struggle to achieve it are here, but as time goes on I’ll shift the majority of it over to Learning to Live Sober.

Learning to Live Sober is strictly a collection daily reflections pertaining to sobriety and stepwork. If you’re not affliated with recovery, what that means is that I’ll be doing reflections from “Each Day A New Beginning”, a book which features an inspiring quote each day meant to aid in recovering women’s character development and therefore enhance their sobriety.

Stepwork is the written work behind achieving advancement through the twelve steps. I’m following the Narcotics Anonymous stepwork guide, which includes my thoughts on addiction and actions that I’m responsible for and my attempts to remedy the damage and grow as a person.

You can follow both, one or neither – but I’m clarifying what in the devil is going on here.

Polite Company

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I love when people talk to me about religion and politics, but it’s a topic I generally avoid mentioning around all but a select few. This is because, well,  if you want to throw labels around, I’m a spiritual agnostic-atheist anarchist, so pretty much nobody agrees with me on anything.

I probably get in more serious discussions on the concept of god with atheists, because they refuse to let me off the hook with my standard response of: “I respect your beliefs, but I’ve decided the whole topic is beyond my understanding; what’s important is people try to live good lives.”

Generally, religious people let me off with that one. They might even wish me well, and hope things change for me, meanwhile, I try that with one with an atheist, and x hours later, I’m exhausted, have gone on some kind of insane rant, and feel the need to flee for a while.

Ironically, I annoy atheists way more than religious people, even though I feel like I’m much closer to being an atheist than a person of faith. Relatedly, one of the things atheists point out is how strict and intolerant religious people are, and the strictest and most intolerant people in my personal life are all atheists. I realize that this is just a reflection of the people I know, and I love people on both sides of issue. I just wish we’d all learn to respect one another’s differences.

So, ultimately my answer is that it’s best not to discuss these things with people you don’t know that well, because religion and politics tend to stir up some pretty deep emotions with people, and you’re putting a person’s core beliefs on trial, and that can get pretty messy.

Also, people on any side of these issues post some amazingly disrespectful stuff on Facebook. How do you expect to change someone’s mind by deeply insulting them?