Exploring Alan Watts' Panendeistic God

Written by Benjamin Sullivan

The late Brittish philosopher, Alan Watts, was one of the greatest advocates of Eastern Philosophy in the Western world during the 20th century. Like a true positive-agnostic, Deist or Panendeist, Watts admirably presented his ideas as thought experiments for consideration, rather than inevitable conclusions about the nature of reality. While many of the great physicists, including Max Planck, Erwin Schrodinger,  Albert Einstein, and David Bohm, developed complex philosophic views on G-d that were similar to those of Watts, his power to describe these sort of ideas and to lend color and life to them, stands in a class of its own.

In the video below, Watts presents us with his idea of G-d as the Cosmic Mind that dreams reality into being. He paints a beautiful and parsimonious image of existence, suggesting that after dreaming many different kinds of dreams, G-d is dreaming the here and now that we each call reality.

Let's suppose that you were able, every night, to dream any dream you wanted to dream - and that you could, for example, have the power, within one night, to dream 75 years of time. You would, naturally, as you began on this adventure of dreams, fulfill all your wishes, have every kind of pleasure you could conceive, and after several nights of 75 days of total pleasure each, you would say "well, that was pretty great." But now let's have a surprise - let's have a dream that isn't under control, where something is going to happen to me that I don't know what it's going to be. And, you would take that and come out of that and say "wow, that was a close shave wasn't it?" Then, you would get more and more adventurous, and you would make further and further odd-gambles as to what you would dream, and finally you would dream where you are now. You would dream the dream of living the life that you are actually living today - that would be within the infinite multiplicity of choices you would have. So, in this idea then, everybody is fundamentally the ultimate reality - the deep down, basic whatever there is, and you're all that, only you're pretending you're not.Alan Watts