Don’t Give The Devil Any Advance Notice

I created this graphic with Adobe Spark featuring a quote from my all-time favorite writer, the late Zen Philosopher Alan Watts. Though there are numerous ways to slice this pie, here’s an example of what I’ve come to understand about the featured quote.

If you tell yourself you are going to quit drinking, smoking, or whatever it is on “x” or that you’ll start going to the gym on “y”, you just gave the most cunningly deceptive entity advance notice of your plans. If you thought any of these activities were hard enough already, wait until the devil gets involved and starts throwing his notorious curve balls at you. Even the best of luck and well wishes from the Pope himself often times won’t do you any good.

The key is to have the thought of such things and the physical action to happen simultaneously. After all, to quit drinking or to start going to the gym ONLY requires the physical action (don’t put the drink to your lips and swallow). Yet it’s the thought of these actions that have plagued us human types.

That is, we give our enemies far too much advance notice of our future plans and allow them to do what all enemies do which is to plot against our otherwise good intentions. Stop!

Stop telling the devil what it is you intend to do to defeat him. He’s far too skilled of an opponent for you to go stacking the deck in his favor and still believe you are a worthy adversary. As Nike would say, just do it.

Less talking, more doing.

Excerpt from The Taoist Way, The road to here.

Spoken lecture by Alan Watt

If you plan to change your life, to – shall we say ‘turn over a new leaf’, then you mustn’t let the devil know because he will oppose you with all his might if he suddenly discovers you’re going to escape from his power.

So for example, if you have a bad habit, say you drink too much and you make a New year’s resolution that during this coming year you’ll stop drinking, that’s a very, very dangerous thing to do because the devil will immediately know about it and what will happen will be this; that he will confront you with the prospect of 365 drinkless days and that will be awful – oh just overwhelming and you won’t be able to make much more than 3 days on the wagon.

So in that case you compromise with the devil and say “Just today I’m not going to drink but tomorrow you know, we’ll go back”

Then when tomorrow comes you say “Oh just another day lets try, that’s all” and then the next day you say “Oh one more day won’t make much difference”.

So you only do it for the moment and you don’t let the devil know you have a secret intention of going on day after day, after day.