21 Days, Alan Watts & The Midnight Gospel
My consumption of metaphysical material and a practice towards sanity in personal essay form
One day I got a message from a dear friend inviting me to join a meditation group wherein we were to do a simple task everyday to achieve abundance. Now I lie in the midpoint between hippie-spiritual and pragmatic-expedient. Throw back to my punk-rock sk8r girl adolescence which also made me transition to being “jesusfiona”, making all my friends go to this deeply Catholic retreat.
But back to the present, I practice yoga and meditation for when I need it emotionally or physically. It serves a deep need to find peace within myself because I am a believer of some form of independence when it comes to that. Yes, friends, family and community are there for support, but I think most of the time we are indeed alone and we have to come to terms with that.
I joined the group, doing the tasks with divided attention in the first few days. There was just even more things running through your head caused by the quarantine anxiety or I’m just one of the majority that has found solace in that excuse. So it was with some strength of the mind I got on a roll with my morning task and meditation with Deepak Chopra. After the initial 7 days, I have found myself welcoming this ritual and if I miss to do it first thing, I also seek for that silence.
Before meditation there is usually a task, mostly a written reflection that makes you confront some questions and thoughts you may have otherwise avoided for more years in your life:
WARNING SPOILERS! Who are the people that influenced you most? How is your relationship with money? How can you achieve what you truly desire? Write a letter of forgiveness to someone that has hurt you
And if there’s anything I’ve learned in philosophy (sorry but I gotta put the definition here: the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence) — it is that asking the question is more important.
On reflection I wrote which is a highlight for me is that…
In the context of our self isolation and global shifts in all aspects, the message that “This too shall pass” is perfectly fitting. There are growing pains and then accomplishments that follow that.
For me this message re-emphasizes this meditation challenge’s call for participants to be in the present moment, in full consciousness.
Because whether we find ourselves in despair or victory, the present is giving us something of value, something that we need in order to move forward in our own journey because things don’t get easier, you only get better.
In the midst of the challenge, I started reading The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts, a millennial top hit when it “modern philosophy” comes to the discussion. (Check out his lectures overlapped with lo-fi beats here)
The same friend that invited to me to do the meditation challenge was indulging me with more talk on the benefits and effects. She also got to saying how things were making more sense to her. In retrospect, the events that occur within our sphere of existence always make sense with a clear enough mind. This happened in order for me to blank. And you can connect the dots with occurrences even before you were born.
As I was reading Watts’ book, I came to a passage that I had to read several times over, where he explained how thinking or awareness takes away from your full experience of the act that is happening at the present moment. When you are thinking “I am reading” you aren’t completely reading, you are thinking that you are reading and you can follow that deep dark hole of thinking that you are thinking that you are…thinking.
In a way the happiness and fulfillment that we are chasing after is one that we can master and train our minds to do. The concept of flow, the feeling of going to deep into the task at hand that hours pass by and you lost track of time. If we get to the point where this becomes a habit, where most of our days we sustain ourselves being engrossed in discovery and creation and learning (still what flow means to me), then we have unlocked or shattered the barrier that prevents us from the contentment and understanding that we yearn for.
On its way to being classic, timeless, relevant, the book written in 1951 brings up how society has been moving to get more out of everything, consumption, materialism, people want a higher high.
This [is] what we call our high standard of living, a…complex stimulation of the senses, which makes them progressively less sensitive and thus in need of yet more violent stimulation
The availability of information and the instant gratification on most fronts have lessened ones’ appreciation to what we have. I think that in stories where there’s a character who experiences a slow death due to age or illness will always treasure those simply joys above everything else he owns or accomplishes.
I am actually so appreciative now that the circles that I move in are also shifting perspectives and champion the mindfulness and personal well-being as something that is both beneficial to oneself and to others. Even if we are all panicking deep inside, the fact that we are even thinking about “What is it that I truly want out of my time and action??” is sufficient enough to push us away from getting lost in the clutter and the unnecessary.
And then comes this animated TV Series right, that visualizes this very way of thinking. The Midnight Gospel.
[It is an experience of a show and the number one rule is to put away your phone and actually watch the thing as a whole. You may know that I am dangerously addicted to backgammon, so I even made a mental note for myself to not play the game when I’m watching Midnight Gospel!]
It’s mind-blowing because of its content (pure meta), delivery or script and format: neon, kind of ASMR and cuteviolent, a word I made up just to describe the graphics.
For anyone who has watched all available episodes already, I imagine that just listening to the audio of Midnight Gospel remains a good supplement because there’s so much nuggets of wisdom you might miss it when you’re faced with the cuteviolent visuals.
I’ve watched 3 episodes so far because I want to relish it that much and from this I gather that all episodes follow the format where our protagonist interviews some alien creature and they just become each others’ thought partners for 20 minutes or so. This is while they both face some pretty disgusting and morbid situations in that alien planet.
Now that you have the context, this is what I am referring to when I say that Midnight Gospel literally gives you a visual into the way of thinking where a human being wants to achieve full presence of mind. Because there are at least 10 things happening at the same time, the cuteviolent become background, representing the noise that clouds our focus from the essential: the dialogue that is happening between Clancy and his interviewee of the day. And with the format being an animation or a cartoon, the heaviness of its dialogue gets a tiny bit diluted into something that you can digest whenever you are looking for (what I call) the good kind of stimuli.
Disclaimer: It’s not for everyone. It’s one heck of a 2020 production & master piece in my personal evaluation of it and because I am open-minded and discerning, I won’t completely hate you if you disagree.
And in summary what did we get out of this?
There is nothing outside the here and now. For real.