Today we bring you an excerpt from "Thusness" by Alan Watts. Here he helps us to explore who we really are. Before you came to be, who were you?
SRAMANA, sramana. This is closely allied to the word shaman, and a shaman is the holy man in a culture that is still hunting, it isn’t settled, it isn’t agrarian. There is a very strong and important difference between a shaman and a priest. A priest receives his ordination from his superiors. He receives something from a tradition which is handed down.
A shaman doesn’t. He receives his enlightenment by going off into the forest by himself to be completely alone. In other words, a shaman is a man who has undergone solitariness. He has gone away into the forest to find out who he really is, because it’s very difficult to find that out while you’re with other people, and the reason is that other people are busy all the time telling you who you are, in many many ways, by the laws they impose on you, by the behavior ruts they set on you, by the things they tell you, by the fact that they always call you by your name, and by the fact that when you live among people you have to be in a state of ceaseless chatter.
But if you want to find out who you are before your father and mother conceived you, who you really are, you almost have to go off by yourself. You go into the forest, and stop talking, and even stop thinking words, and be absolutely alone, and listen to the great silences.