How to get out of your own way

The following is an excerpt from a talk by Alan Watts available on youtube…

The whole idea of self-improvement is a hoax. What happens if you KNOW beyond any shadow of doubt that there is nothing you can do to be better. Its a kind of a relief isn’t it? We are so used to making things better, leave the world a better place than we found it, I want to be of service to other people and all those dreadfully hazy ideas. But supposing instead of that – seeing that there isn’t anything we can really do, to improve ourselves or improve the world – If we realize that that is so, it gives us a break, in the course of which we may simply watch what is going on. Nobody ever does this you know. Therefore, it sounds terribly simple. To watch whats happening and what you are doing by way of reaction to it. Just watch it happen. And don’t be in a hurry to think you know what it is.

Look at things without fixing labels and names and gradations and judgments on what happens and what we do. Then it may be, that when you are in this way freed from busy-bodyness and being out to improve everything, that your own nature will begin to take care of itself. Because you are not getting in the way of yourself all the time. You will begin to find out that the great things that you do are really happenings. For example – No great genius can explain how he does it. Yes, he says I have learned the technique to express myself. Because I had something in me that had to come out. So, if I were a musician, I had to learn how music is produced. That means learning a musical instrument, or learning a technique of musical notation, or whatever it may be. But then beyond that I am afraid I cannot tell you how I used the technique to express this mysterious thing that I wanted to show you. Because what is fascinating always about genius is that the fellow does something that we can’t understand. He surprises us.

All growth you see is fundamentally something that happens. But for it to happen, two things are important. The first is that, as I said, you must have the technical ability to express what happens. And secondly, you must get out of your own way. But right at the bottom of the whole problem of control is – how am I to get out of my own way? And if I showed you a system – lets all practice getting out of our own way – It would turn into another form of self-improvement. And we find this problem, repeatedly, throughout the entire history of human spirituality. It is only as getting out of your own way ceases to be a matter of choice, when you see that doing something about your situation is not going to help you, and when you see equally that trying not to do anything about it is also not going to help you. You are non-plussed. And you are simply reduced to watching.