But it convinced me. After spending nearly two years studying Zen, Taoism and the works of Alan Watts, I think I genuinely achieved a sort of satori — a freedom from the inner weights and contradictions of ordinary life. When a student asked Watts what enlightenment felt like, he said if felt very ordinary — but like walking slightly in the air, an inch above the ground. And that is exactly how I felt — every day.
I don’t know how long the experience lasted. Perhaps as long as a year, perhaps even longer. All that time, Watts and the Zen idea were there in my head, informing my thoughts and actions. The background noise, the static of worry and gabble that informed my old life had disappeared. My head was clear. The philosophy entirely permeated me. My life was truly more joyful than it had ever been. Nothing bothered me. I felt full of energy and optimism.
Same here. Reading Watts didn’t make me feel like I had achieved some sort of esoteric understanding; it was more like realizing how many of the philosophical questions and dilemmas I was preoccupied with were actually incoherent to begin with. It was the “Aha!” moment when your mind latches onto what initially sounds like a vertiginous cacophony and recognizes a familiar melody or rhythm. I used to read about Buddhism and Taoism and wonder what enlightenment was—how would I know it if I found it? How would an enlightened person act in the world? The difference after reading Watts was that I just laughed at the very thought of such questions.