Phil Watt seeks a deeper spiritual truth that embraces life, but doesn’t ignore conspiracy culture.
photo by: Skeptiko
Alex Tsakiris: Today we welcome Phillip J. Watt to Skeptiko. Phil is a fellow podcaster — which is always fun for me — he’s also quite a spiritual seeker, a former social worker, an out-of-body traveler, a lucid dreamer, a bunch of other stuff and you can add to that list an author of a very cool new book titled, The Simulation.
(later in the interview)
Again, this gets to this topic that I, kind of, just touch on sometimes and it might be fun to stretch it out into a little bit of a longer discussion, and the phrase I always put on it is backdoor-materialism. So, it’s like, we’re out there preaching post-materialism, “Hey, materialism doesn’t work, and consciousness is the underlying fundamental nature of everything and everything arises out of consciousness,” and then as soon as we get any kind of momentum, we want to go back and go, “And here’s how we can measure it, control it, make it better, optimize it.” It’s like, wait a minute, in what way would that mean anything to use empirical means to study the efficacy of…?
I mean, there’s an underlying contradiction there that begins with the assumption that driving this back into the material world, and measure it in some way, is somehow good, useful, important for some goal that we have ill-defined and we really think we’ve moved past. Do you get where I’m at all coming from, with the backdoor-materialism?
Phillip Watt: Yeah, but I would say that the material world isn’t the material world, it’s an expression of reality and when we look at our scientific investigation into that expression of reality, if we look through a different lens, we’re going to see it differently, we’re going to have different results. But we shouldn’t be looking at it as, “Well, science is only the study of matter.” Science isn’t the study of matter, science is the organic investigation of humanity into reality.
So, how that unfolds, how we measure and actually interact with the so-called material world, which is very much connected to the quantum physical world, it’s connected to the observer and the collapse of the wave function into a particle experience, all the way the co-created process happens, as well as things that we don’t know about.
Alex Tsakiris: I hear you and I’m going to bring you back to a point where we were at in our prior discussion that, to me, gets at this question in a beautiful way and I was telling you about my story with my friend and excellent host of the terrific show, Buddha at the Gas Pump, that I always reference, because it’s an incredible show with so many incredibly spiritually, awakening people as Rick calls them. And one of them is Amma, known as the hugging saint, and I love this story about Amma, because in way I think it combines what you’re saying with what I’m saying, but in a way it leaves a big gap.
So, Amma is this person who definitely, from all appearances, for millions of people, seems like an awakened or an awakening soul with incredible spiritual presence, whatever that means to doubters or whatever, I don’t know, you go and check her out. I checked her out, I went to a weekend with her in LA. I didn’t have an incredible spiritual experience, but a lot of other people did and that means something. Not everyone, I think, is intended to have the same experience at the same time.
But the story about Amma, that I love, is Amma is tireless in her work. You just go and see her and however old she is, I don’t know how her physical body withstands the work that she does, and on the last day she stays up for like 36 hours, constantly hugging people, helping people, doing all of this stuff. And when she’s in India, if you watch the videos, it’s even more impressive. She’s out there digging the latrines with the untouchables, and all of this stuff.
One of her disciples went up to her one day and said, “Amma, you’re always talking about how the world doesn’t exist and we’re spiritual beings and none of this stuff matters, and yet, you’re doing all of this stuff for the world?” and her response is, what I’ve written there on the page, she says, “World? What world?” As if she’s the embodiment of that, kind of Vedantic, yogic, kind of beautiful contradiction of someone who realizes that just because you’re in service, doesn’t mean you’re attached at all to any of the servers, you’re just this soul being who’s, kind of going through life.
That paradox, that catch 22, “World? What world?” contradiction, to me explains the backdoor-materialism, but Dean Radin doesn’t. Using new empirical means to find out how magic really works, that doesn’t,. That doesn’t ring true to me in a way that Amma does.
Phil, I throw it to you buddy, what do you say?
Phillip Watt: Yeah, well it’s a divine economy, life is full of divined economies, isn’t it? That’s the naturist theory that I talk about, it’s one, sort of, big paradox in many ways. For example, how can we have one thing, but also two things? So, this monistic view on life, there is only one thing which is part of, sort of, the new-age, sort of appropriation stuff, but also how does duality work with that? I just look at it simply as, okay, look at it as math. You’ve got different numbers, which are individual numbers on the mathematic spectrum. The mathematical spectrum is the one thing, each number is the [unclear 00:06:36], so zero and one, there’s your first step duality, and then it continues.
But look, I appreciate Amma and her choice, in terms of how she wants to provide that [unclear 00:06:46] service. That’s fantastic. I learned a long time ago to provide that (upper case S) Service to myself, first and foremost. That spiritual Service that really genuinely looks at what it means to be an authentic person and care for myself; go through the self-healing, go through whatever magic of life you can experience, we’re only living this life once Alex, so we may as well have a crack at it and really enjoy it, but really facilitate the best, sort of, experience of wellbeing, of good experience as we possibly can.
But, I would suggest, especially for myself but also others, that we need to have some sort of balance. Okay, fine, she wants to decide that there is no world. I would, sort of, disagree with that. I would say there is a world. Okay, it might be deceptive, in terms of the fundamental nature of reality, be we’re literally here, having this dualistic experience. The way I describe that is there are some people…
The spiritual community essentially says that consciousness or mind or spirit is at the core of reality and then the material world is some sort of illusion, and I would suggest that, okay it’s deceptive and it’s not necessarily a pure expression of what reality is, but it’s still an experience we’re having.
So, if you want to spend your life, only giving to others and not really to yourself, or, giving to others is an expression of giving to yourself as well anyway, so there’s a great argument there, but I like to experience my life. I’m not going to invest all of my service in the outside world, I’m going to do it for myself, including having some fun and really live my life to the best of my ability. Work out all of these layers, which are a big part of what I’ve been sharing with my audience, is really connecting with the various layers of health, including things like creativity and expressing that creativity and going on adventures and whatever, face your fears, jump out of a plane, it doesn’t matter.
So, that’s her choice around how she wants to conceptualize life, she conceptualizes it, “What world?” Well, okay, sure, on one level I believe that is absolutely true, but on another level, I’m literally having an experience right now, in this, so-called, illusionary world, and I may as well enjoy it. It’s a very, very real experience regardless if it’s not a very, very real reflection of true reality.
Alex Tsakiris: I really like where we’re going with this discussion, because it’s a discussion that I rarely have a chance to have on Skeptiko, and I like that, the way it’s kind of flowing, is really consistent with the two things you brought up at the beginning, spirituality and truth. I think what you’re talking about is, kind of a cool way of putting it. I like that you, just kind of push back and the way you’re pushing back makes sense and I think will make sense to a lot of people.
But, along those lines, I want to take it one step further, because there’s another clip that I want to play for you, that is, kind of provocative, but is highly meaningful to me and I want to reintroduce it and see if we can talk on this for a while.
So, next up for consideration Phil, is another BatGap guest. A guy that, I’m sure, slipped under the radar for 90% of the people who listen to BatGap, but it’s a guy who said something that just has stuck with me, and has been so meaningful to me, it’s in my list of daily questions that I ask and challenge myself with, to kind of propel me forward.
The guy’s name is Norio Kushi. He’s a Japanese truck driver. He’s American, but Japanese by ancestry. And he’s a truck driver, he really is a truck driver, and his experience, and you’ve got to give Rich Archer again a ton of credit, because, true to the name of the show, Buddha at the Gas Pump suggests that Buddha may be right there, you know, filling up with diesel at the truck stop.
This guy claims he never was into meditation, never was into deep, kind of spiritual devotion of any kind or another, but was contemplating these deep questions on the road and thinking very deeply about them, and the one thing that he said, which I just think is a golden, golden nugget, I’m going to play for you and then we can talk about it.
Norio Kushi: The words came clear, they said, “Life is not going to turn out.”
Alex Tsakiris: And I’m going to stop it right there, in order to keep it beautifully succinct and I want to expand on it a little bit because it’s one of those things that I think is so great in the truth seeking path that we’re talking about, in the spiritual seeking path, that someone can say one little throwaway line like that, and it can reach into my soul and touch me, and it doesn’t reach into everybody’s soul, but it reaches into my soul and it says, “You know, I’m a doer, I make things happen, and I’m successful and I have a good family and a wife,” and all of this stuff and, “I made it happen,” and, you know what, it’s not going to work out. It never works out. Something is always looming that isn’t going to work out and it truly, from the deeper I get into my spirituality, the deeper I understand the fundamental truth in that, that I want to control things, I want to scheme, I want to, even if it’s good scheming, I want to scheme on behalf of my kids or on behalf of this group or that group. And in the end, none of the scheming ever works out, because that’s not what ‘service’ is about, that’s not what Amma ‘what world?’ is about. She’s saying the same thing. She’s saying, “I’m just doing this crazy shit because I’m doing it, not because I think it’s going to work out, it’s just what I am drawn to do at the moment.”
Okay mate, I throw it all, I toss it over to you.
Phillip Watt: That sounded like an attempt at an Aussie accent, mate, as well.
Alex Tsakiris: I got halfway into it and then I said, I’ll stick with the Chicago, but I’ll use the ‘mate’. Hey, you know, all of us Americans, we love when someone calls us ‘mate’, it’s like the greatest thing in the world, you know?
Phillip Watt: It’s a very endearing term. But yeah, look, life doesn’t work out as we expect, sure, because we’ve got wants that don’t align with needs. That’s the way I, sort of, conceptualized it early on. I was going, “Okay, I’ve got these desires, but my desires aren’t what’s coming to fruition a lot of the time.” A lot of the time they do. I think we are very powerful co-creators in our reality. Our potential to manifest our potential… Sorry, the potential we have as manifestors in our experience is very, very strong.
How I learned to figure it out myself is, because the subconscious activity, the subconscious, one of the most powerful manifestors, more so than the egoic mind at least, then I need to connect with what’s going on subconsciously to really amplify my manifestor potential, so to speak. That also goes to the blueprint etc., as well, which I talk about a little bit.
But, essentially, some things do work out and it’s great, we achieve goals, whatever it may be, sometimes we don’t. There this inner, sort of, conflict that we all are experiencing, where we’re trying to achieve whatever it may be, whatever goals and whatnot, and again, it doesn’t turn out sometimes.
So, I guess what I’m saying is that, well, I’d like to start off with that answer in terms of something you said before, you said ‘awakening’ instead of ‘awaken’, and I think it’s really integral that as a seeker of truth and undertaking this process of trying to work out what the hell’s going on, is that we really embed into us that it’s a journey.
We need to ask the questions to ourselves seriously; do we accept when we’re wrong? What is our capacity to actually accept within us, when we’ve been wrong about something? Do we apply cognitive distance or are we open enough to be seeking information in a way to revolutionize our belief systems or just certain beliefs within them?
The other question is, do we really accept when we don’t know? So, that’s a very, very important question that we need to embrace within ourselves. Do we fill gaps, even on an unconscious or subconscious level, that we’re not really aware of, or are we facing ourselves, face thyself, in a way where we’re genuine, in terms of, where we’re wrong about something and we seriously don’t know the answer to it?
So, this is journey of waking up, not, “Alright, we’ve reached a plateau. I’m now conscious. I’m now awakened or enlightened or empowered or whatever,” that some people like to get to. I prefer, personally, because I get bored pretty quickly, so if I’ve got to deal with myself, the way I am right now, for the rest of my life, I’m going to be pretty disappointed, you know? I need to revolutionize and have rebirths in my life and continue in this journey.
So, that’s a really good starting point, in terms of connecting with the process that we’re actually going through.
Now, through that process, we want to try and create stuff, we want to have desires met, we want to ensure that our expectations come into manifestation to a certain degree. I realized quite early on my journey that I had these wants, these desires, that weren’t connected to my needs. So, what I did is I undertook a process of trying to align my needs with my wants. So, how do you work out what your needs are? You pay attention to your experience.
The way I like to describe this Alex is, one of the most powerful manifestors in my life was not my subconscious and not my ego, it was something else. Whatever created me, in this particular time and space, with these parents, with these genetics, with these epigenetic experiences, with this early stuff that, sort of influenced how I was programmed into reality, that blueprint, which some people call it the soul, other people might just call it growth potential, there’s many ways of describing whatever this thing is, right at the very fundamental layer of us, and then there’s also that in us that connects with the whole co-creative, collective type consciousness, sort of energy grid that we’ve got going on as well.
But I’ve started to pay attention to that, because it was helping me. I just saw this guidance in my life and went, “Okay, well, I didn’t create that. That was definitely not subconscious”, because that was not part of my apparatus at that point, “so, what I need to do is connect with this blueprint.” And this blueprint was showing me my needs, essentially, and the way I describe it is, my needs are realizing my growth potential. In other words, what that means is, connecting with the next phase of the expansion of your experience of consciousness.
So, that’s what I took seriously. I just went, “Okay, well, I know this blueprint,” which can be very tricky at times, it can be very hard discern whether or not that’s that, or it’s something else, but I did accept and respect its existence and started trying to align with it.
So, through that process I realized that, “Alright, so it’s got some needs, but those needs can be met in an infinite amount of ways.” They don’t have to happen in this time and space, with this particular person, having this particular experience. Your needs can be met, your growth potential can be met in a myriad of ways. So therefore, there’s the other aspect, called free will, that can freely choose how to have your needs met.
So, I just went, “Okay, put down what you think it wants. It’s okay to have your desires filled, let that roll to the best of your ability, but if they don’t come to fruition, if they are out of alignment with whatever these fundamental needs are, then that’s cool.”
So, I detached pretty early from actually having to achieve this, at this particular time and all the rest of it, that gave me a level of freedom that I’d never actually had before.
Now, in saying that, it’s also awesome to want to actually create your reality, to create whatever you want. So, it’s this balance between trying to come into alignment with your needs… There are situations where your needs do not contradict with whatever your desires might be. So, to have, I don’t know, a garden out the back with a particular arrangement of vegetables and fruits or whatever, that might not necessarily align fundamentals to the absolute needs that we have, so we’ve got the power to create within that framework, within those boundaries and I’d love to talk a little bit about boundaries in a bit.
But yeah, it’s one of those things where, are you true to your needs? Can you align your wants to your needs? Are you going to be disappointed, is there suffering, is there a lack of realization of expectations? Yes. Well, are you going to cry about it, is it going to be something that causes you, to essentially abuse yourself over, so do you inflict self-abuse, self-harm over the fact that your desires aren’t being met? There’s a whole process of dealing with this mystery, because really, this is what it is.
And talking about truth earlier, if we get to a point where we think we know the absolute truth, we probably need to go down to the bottom of mountain and start again, because this whole experience is a journey of connecting with the truth.
Now, it’s awesome that we get some really big convictions, get some bigger frameworks on life, so we absolutely submit and solidify ourselves into those belief systems or are we open to that evolving and refining in whatever particular way?
So yeah, appreciate that we don’t get our needs and our wants all the time, we can do it at certain times, and enjoy the mystery, enjoy the journey Alex.
[silence from 00:20:53 – 00:21:07]
Alex Tsakiris: Tony Robbins for example, he isn’t teaching intentionality, he’s teaching a very specific set of how to reorient your thinking in a particular way in order to make you more effective.
If you go and read Stephen Covey, he has now passed away, who spiritually was a Mormon and was, kind of a strange guy in all the ways that Mormons are, but was brilliant, in terms of time management, in terms of work management.
These people are geniuses and there’s many, many… I mean, I read over 200 business self-help books. Go and turn on CNBC and watch Shark Tank, which I can’t even watch it, I get so annoyed, wanting to throw stuff at the TV, but the essential nature, these people are multimillionaires for a reason. The way they orient themselves to the world, to their problems, to the problem of amassing wealth is nothing to do with chaos magic and they’re infinitely more effective than anything I’ve heard about, from the chaos magic community. It’s not even a reasonable conversation to have.
So, if you want to do chaos magic and think that you’re adjusting the odds from 50/50 to 49/51, have at it, but if you want to amass some wealth, just go and read from the people who’ve done it and are going to tell you how to do it, it’s a much more effective way.
Phillip Watt: As I said, I think we’ve got our own way of practicing this. I think intentions are at the basis of Tony Robbins’ stuff, because it’s about goal setting, and I absolutely agree that the new arrangement…
Alex Tsakiris: You don’t know the material. You don’t know the material. You haven’t gone through it, right?
Phillip Watt: Well, to a certain extent I have, but not to a large extent, but surely part of the primary, sort of, agenda is to set goals, is that correct? And setting goals is setting an intention. That is right, isn’t it?
Alex Tsakiris: You’re kind of playing very fast and loose with… I mean, let’s not even get into the whole Tony Robbins’ thing, but he started with neurolinguistic programming with Bandler and Grinder who were psychologists who were working with schizophrenic patients and he was learning how to communicate with them, but he’s incorporated a million different things into it.
You know what Tony Robbins does, which is brilliant and keeps it fresh, is he says very simply that what he does is, when he wants to master something, he goes and finds someone who’s mastered it and he asks them what they believe about their mastery of it, and that’s the genius move there. It’s not, “How do you do it?” Because if you go and ask somebody, “How do you ride a bike?” and they’re an expert bike rider, they can’t tell you. But if you go and ask them, “Hey, how do you master that corner?” They’re liable to tell you something about how they believe, how they feel, what their inner workings are and that’s what you need to get at.
But, you know, again, I’ve read, literally, I was reading everything I could get my hands on back in the day, in terms of, how to print a business card, what it should say on the front, on the back, how to present it, how to do… So, there’s a lot of stuff there. It’s not just goal setting, no, there’s a whole technology.
Phillip Watt: Let me jump in. When you move from a materialist, separatist, biological meaningless universe perspective and you have some sort of mindful, you know, we’re connected perspective, you need to look through a different lens. The way that you interpret and process your environment and your experience needs to be done in a way where the fundamental belief is connection, alright? So, that’s a shift from I to We in the ego, it’s about reprogramming the mind. I will quickly get into that reprogramming and subconscious in a quick moment, but the point being, is that how that manifests with people, how they choose to experience and have ritual and routine and all the rest of it through that so-called connective lens, or inner connective lens, is up to each individual.
Alright, so maybe some of the most wealthiest and successful people in the world like that aren’t necessarily practicing something like chaos magic, but that doesn’t mean that they’re in complete coherence with their environment. I mean, just have a look at what happens when people get wealth from fame, it doesn’t necessarily turn out that great a lot of the time. So, just because they’ve got that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a coherent authentic being. Someone like Tony Robbins absolutely might and I 100% agree.
So, there are practices that people choose to do, that’s their individual choice and may work to a certain extent, maybe it does increase probability sometimes, maybe not other times, it depends if they’re actually aligned to their needs and the blueprint that I talked about before. I 100% believe through my own experience that my blueprint has been the primary driver of my manifest potential, growth potential. So therefore, I want to align to that.
Now, what you’re talking about is the rearrangement, the NLP, the rearrangement of the egoic mind and the subconscious mind, I 100% agree with, because I got to a point when I was in my early adulthood where I was like, “Okay, I’ve got this egoic perspective of connection of We, not just I, but We as well, but I’m really depressed and I’ve got all of this subconscious trauma and all of this stuff that’s poor programming and is getting in the way of me enjoying me life to the level I could, and not only that, it’s undermining what I’m trying to achieve with my egoic conscious, free will mind.
So, what I had to do is go through a lot of meditation, a lot of deep meditation, a lot of mindfulness [unclear 00:27:09] in life, a lot of facing the shadow, facing thyself, really understanding my contradictions and hypocrisies and trying to rearrange, reprogram, redesign my subconscious.
Our subconscious is only subconscious in a particular moment. For example, if I use the word ‘now’ right ‘now’, that is my subconscious coming into light. So, it’s always in the shadow, the subconscious, but it’s not always… Sorry, sometimes it’s in the shadow but it’s not always in the shadow.
So, how you actually learn to understand what your subconscious is saying is how it manifests in your actual thoughts, your actual conscious experience and then in response to that, if it’s not something that you actually want, for example, if you’re being driven by a trauma a lot of your life and it causes anger and sadness and what not, whatever, so what you want to do is actually recognize that within yourself and then go back into the subconscious and redesign it in another way, which is more conducive to health and happiness and wellbeing and all the rest of it.
So, I’ve spent a huge amount of time doing that, trying to get my egoic mind and my subconscious mind into some sort of alignment and that alignment wasn’t just with each other, but also with this core blueprint stuff or this destined stuff, whatever you want to call it. I know it sounds a bit new-age, but it’s been absolutely, without a doubt, a part of my experience. It was very, very clear to me earlier on that a lot of this experience I was having wasn’t being driven by myself. So, what I try to do, is try to align that egoic and subconscious mind to that blueprint.
Alright, so sure, there’s really good measure and ways in which we can manifest reality. Some people do it in different ways to others.
What is it? It’s all good and well to have achievement in life Alex, this is another lesson I learned a long time ago, is that, cool, get a good job, have a good family, achieve whatever goals, be at the top of your game, whatever field, discipline you may be in. Yeah, good achievements, they’re good successes, but to me that wasn’t real success. Real success to me was coming into coherence with myself, so in terms of my internal layers of health, actually understanding myself, actually being real and raw to myself, and coming to some sort of equilibrium in my moment.