Alan watts myth and ritual in christianity pdf

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alan watts myth and ritual in christianity pdf

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See what's new with book lending at the Internet Archive. Search icon An illustration of a magnifying glass. User icon An illustration of a person's head and chest. Sign up Log in. Web icon An illustration of a computer application window Wayback Machine Texts icon An illustration of an open book. Books Video icon An illustration of two cells of a film strip.

Video Audio icon An illustration of an audio speaker. Audio Software icon An illustration of a 3. Software Images icon An illustration of two photographs. Images Donate icon An illustration of a heart shape Donate Ellipses icon An illustration of text ellipses. In the Beginning 27 n. God and Satan 57 in. Advent 85 iv, Christmas and Epiphany v. From Easter to Pentecost VH. Mansell, London 7 ; Kunstmuseum, Basel 8. O'Connell, is reproduced by permission of Messrs.

PREFACE ONE of the special delights of my childhood was to go and see the cases of illuminated manuscripts in the British Museum, and to walk, as every child can, right into their pages losing myself in an enchanted world of gold, vermilion and cobalt arabesques, of palaces, gardens, landscapes and skies whose colours were indwelt with light as if their sun shone not above but in them.

Their title-pages and richly ornamented initials showed scenes of times and seasons ploughing in springtime, formal gardens bright in summer with heraldic roses, autumn harvesting, and logging in winter snow under clear, cold skies seen through a filigree screen of black trees. I could only assume that these books were some ancient device for marking the passage of time, and they associated themselves in my mind with sundials in old courts yards upon hot afternoons, with the whirring and booming of clocks in towers, with astrolabes engraved with the mysterious signs of the Zodiac, and above all with the slow, cyclic sweep of the sun, moon and stars over my head.

Under all this was a fascination with time itself, with the fact that the seasons and the heavenly bodies went on and yet round, and that men observed their changes with a ceremony of signs and numbers and bells.

I had no sense of the passage of time as a running out of life wherein everything gets later and later, until too late. I had no 2 Myth and Ritual in Christianity feeling of it as a going on and on in an ever upward flight to some ultimate consummation. I simply marveled at the way in which it went round, again and again for ever, so that the marking of time seemed to be the proper and wholly absorbing ritual with which one watched over eternity.

Of course the "Books of Hours" contained, not the mysterix ous hours of time themselves, but the so-called Day Hours of the Breviary, the seasonal ritual of the Work of God whereby, day after day and year after year, the Catholic Church relives the life of Time's redeemer and creator.

As the changing miracle of the seasons brightens the mere march of days, so Time itself is delivered from mere inanity by being lived sub specie aeternitatis, under the shape of eternity. In so far, then, as the inner life of Christianity the contemplax tion of God is not just the reverent remembering of a past history, but the recurrent celebration and reliving of a timeless truth, it is possible for us to discuss the Christian story as something much more profound than mere facts which once happened, to give it not only the status of history but also the tremendous dignity of myth, which is "once upon a time" in the sense that it is behind all time.

Yet, in a relatively short book, such a discussion presents a formidable problem of selection, because it is a subject for which our materials and sources are almost too rich and too vast. Thus in the following approach to the Christian story, every reader will discover that important aspects of the theme have been left out or inadequately treated. For the problem is not merely that the materials are so multitudinous; it is also that many of them are so familiar.

There is, for example, no point in retelling Bible stories which everyone knows already, or, at least, can easily refer to in the inimitable language of the Preface 3 Bible itself. There is an immense quantity of material, such as the Graal legends and the miraculous lives of the saints, which might have been included in a book of this kind but which would have blurred the clear outline of the essential narrative upon which Christianity is founded.

For the most part, then, this book will assume that the reader has a general knowledge of the Old and New Testament narratives, and, like a Missal or Book of Hours, will present Christianity as the ritual reliving of the Christ'Story through the seasonal cycle of the ecclesi' astical year. This has the special advantage of being the form in which Christianity is actually lived, today as yesterday, enabling us to study it as a living organism rather than a dead fossil.

Furthermore, it is the perfect form in which to discuss Christianity as a process for the "redemption of time", the dimension of life which is so strangely problematic for Western man. Even with these limitations upon the material to be used, the subject is endless.

It is not only that Christian liturgy and ritual have been so richly embellished through the centuries with art and architecture, poetry and symbolism. It is also that each single element, each symbol, each image, each figure of speech and action which the liturgy employs is connected with such a wealth of associations, of history, and of mythological parallels, that at every step one is tempted to go off on fascinating digressions which would interfere with the orderly unfolding of the main story.

This accounts for a rather considerable use of footnotes in the following pages, and I trust that the reader will take them, not as an annoying apparatus of pedantry, but as hints of the marvelous complexity of branches, twigs, and leaves which spring from a peculiarly fertile Tree of Life. ALAN W. There are some sound reasons for this omission, for the subject is one of extreme delicacy and complexity, not because of the actual material, but because the whole problem is, in a very special way, "touchy".

Similarly, there are rather wide differences as to the nature and value of Mythology, which has only quite recently become a subject of serious study.

But when one takes the two together, one is doing something best expressed by the colloquialism "sticking one's neck out" and sticking it out very far. To begin with, what is Christianity?

On this matter there is no common agreement. Does it consist of the teaching of Jesus, or of the teachings of the Church about Jesus, or of both, and, if so, whose versions of the teachings of Jesus, and which Church 2 There is simply no way of making a decision on these questions so as to please everyone. If one attempts to be objective, one is automatically pigeon-holed with the "liberals" as distinct from the "orthodox", and thus gets into a rut in the very effort to get out of one.

Therefore, in order to get into the subject at all without volumes of preliminary argumentation, a decision must be made, and it will of necessity be somewhat arbitrary.

This book starts, then, from the avowedly arbitrary position that "Christianity" is contained in the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church, both Roman and Eastern Orthodox. Perhaps this decision is not quite arbitrary, for the author is neither a Christian nor a Catholic in any "party" sense of these words. The basis for the decision is twofold. On the one hand, the Catholic tradition is both the largest and the oldest Christian tradition, and seems to have had the greatest cultural influence.

On the other hand, it is the richest in mythological content. This brings us to the second problem: what is Mythology? To use this word in its popular sense, and to put it in the same phrase as the word "Christianity" is to invite immediate protest from almost every variety of Christian orthodoxy. For the majority of Catholics and Protestants will insist that everything really important in Christianity is not myth, but history and fact.

The orthodoxies do, of course, debate a number of minor, and a smaller number of major, points of factual truth. Protestants, for example, do not agree that the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is an historical event, and Catholics will not insist on the historicity of all the legends about the Wood of the Cross. But debates of this nature will not concern us here, for in this book we are going to treat of the entire body of Catholic tradition without making any disx tinctions as between fact and fancy.

In the sense of the word taken by this book, the whole tradition is "mythological". Prologue 7 For the word "myth" is not to be used here as meaning "untrue" or "unhistoricaT. Myth is to be defined as a complex of stories some no doubt fact, and some fantasy which, for various reasons, human beings regard as demonstrations of the inner meaning of the universe and of human life.

Myth is quite different from philosophy in the sense of abstract concepts, for the form of myth is always concrete consisting of vivid, sensually intelligible, narratives, images, rites, ceremonies, and symbols.

A great deal of myth may therefore be based on historical events, but not all such events acquire the mythic character. No one has based any type of cult or religion upon the undoubted fact that Dr.

Samuel Johnson drank immoderate quantities of tea. For this fact is regarded as unedifying and trivial, despite its actually infinite consequences, and despite the philosophical position that any and every fact embodies the entire mystery of the universe.

Alles Vergangliche 1st nur ein Gleichnis. Even such a momentous fact as the discovery of printing by Gutenberg has acquired no mythological significance, for it lacks those special qualities which fire the imagination, which demand of the human mind that it recognize a revelation of the meaning behind the world. This definition of myth is probably clear enough, even though many specialists in mythology may not altogether agree with it. The problem is much less clear when we come to consider how and why certain events, legends, or symbols acquire the status of myth.

I do not believe that we are anywhere near to a full understanding of the processes governing the formation of myth, of the rationale whereby the human mind selects some narratives as mythic in significance and others as simply historical or merely inconsequential. These processes are very largely unconscious. Only quite rarely 8 Myth and Ritual in Christianity do people, upon hearing or witnessing a narrative, say, "This is obviously mythical because it clearly symbolizes our philosophical views about the meaning of the universe.

Moreover, many stories which become mythical bear no label which marks them as such. But a great number of hero and fairy tales bear no such obvious stamp. In general, however, it would be safe to say that they are received as mythical because their events have a miraculous or "numinous" quality which marks them as special, queer, out of the ordinary, and therefore representative of the powers or Power behind the world.

How is it that myths lose their power, and that, after flourishing for centuries in Egypt and passing over into Roman civilization, the myth of Isis and Osiris did not live on in Western Europe? How is it, however, that the myth which becomes dominant retains some of the characteristics of the myth that wanes, that there are certain important resemblances between Osiris and Christ, Isis and the Virgin Mother?

This, of course, is inseparably bound up with the problem of what myths "really mean" this is, if they do mean somex thing and are not just "natural growths" like flowers and fish.

Prologue 9 Perhaps myths come out of the human mind in the same way that hair comes out of the human head. Now there have been many fashions of opinion among those who claim to interpret myths scientifically.

Anthropologists of the era and school of Sir James Frazer inclined to the view that the significance of myths was either astronomical, vegetative, or sexual a view that still carries a great deal of weight. Myths were held to be naive explanations of the behaviour of the heavenly bodies, of the mysterious forces governing the growth of plants, crops, and cattle, or of the entrancing powers behind sexual love and generation.

With the development of more sophisticated theological and philosophical ideas, these explanations underx went transformations which frequently involved a change of the mystery being explained as the mind of man conceived the powers in question to be more than the sun, the crops, and the feeling of love themselves.

In other words, the actual stories remained, but their meanings as well as the names of their central characters were changed to fit more mature ways of thinking. While this theory probably accounts for some myths, there are several ways in which it is unsatisfactory.

Their premise was that their own culture as the latest" in rime represented the height of evolution. It seems to have escaped our imagination that evolution and progress have occurred in quite other directions than these. We should therefore consider two other theories of myth, the first of which derives from the researches of the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung.

Stated simply, his theory is that myth originates in dream and spontaneous fantasy, rather than in any deliberate attempt to explain anything. This is based on the discovery that the dreams and free fantasies of thousands of modern patients contain the same motifs, patterns, and images as ancient mythologies, and that very frequently they arise without any previous knowledge of these ancient materials.

For this Jung has an explanation which is much more simple and direct than his terminology suggests at first acquaintance. His theory of the origination of myth in the Collective Unconscious sounds highly speculative and "mystical", for which reason it is unpopular among lovers of scientific objectivity. For the Collective Unconscious is not some kind of trans' cendental ghost permeating all human beings.

Consider the human body. It just grows, and we have only the vaguest notions of bow it grows. And the physical structure of a physicvchemist grows neither more nor less efficiently than that of an illiterate peasant. Thus the material form of man is collective in the sense of common to all men, since men by definition are creatures which have just this form.

The process by which this form develops is unconscious and thus the Collective Unconscious is simply a name for this process which is both unconscious and common to all men.

Myth and Ritual In Christianity / Edition 1

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But I somehow have the feeling that since you have contributed to the support of the Zen Center, in expectation of learning something, a few words should be said, even though I warn you, that by explaining these things to you, I shall subject you to a very serious hoax. Because if I allow you to leave here this evening, under the impression that you understand something about Zen, you will have missed the point entirely. Because Zen is a way of life, a state of being, that is not possible to embrace in any concept whatsoever, so that any concepts, any ideas, any words that I shall put across to you this evening will have as their object, showing you the limitations of words and of thinking. Now then, if one must try to say something about what Zen is, and I want to do this by way of introduction, I must make it emphatic that Zen, in its essence, is not a doctrine. There's nothing you're supposed to believe in. It's not a philosophy in our sense, that is to say a set of ideas, an intellectual net in which one tries to catch the fish of reality.

Access options available:. Marie-Louise von Franz was a trusted associate of Carl Jung and she remains one of his staunchest disciples. The Jung Institute Lectures are directed primarily at students of Jungian clinical psychology. The fact that a fairy tale or a myth or any other kind of narrative can, by way of Jungian analysis, reveal something of the problems of human psychology is of immense importance to the psychiatrist. But unless Jungian analysis or Freudian analysis or any analysis of literature is applied to literature by someone whose primary concern is the appreciation or evaluation of the literary work itself, the result is all too often the [End Page ] simplistic kind of literary interpretation which is to be found in the Puer Aeternus book in question here. Whereas The Problem of the Puer Aeternus is sometimes irritating to the reader whose discipline is not psychology, Patterns of Creativity Mirrored in Creation Myths is an engaging work, perhaps because in it Dr. If the literary critic avoids the all too prevalent tendency to confuse clinical conclusions with literary ones, however, the information supplied by Dr.


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Myth and Ritual In Christianity by Alan Watts PDF Download

O'Connell, is reproduced by permission of Messrs. Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Whit' sun, Trinity, Michaelmas names which marked the rotation of the calendar, and lent a kind of form and music to the simple succession of days. Under all this was a fascination.

Alan Watts

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