The Vicious Circle


The motivating power of the vicious circle is pride. In Christian terms we should say that man is not willing to be saved as he is; he feels that it is necessary for him to do something about it, to earn salvation by his own self-made spirituality and righteousness. The Grace of God is offered freely to all, but through pride man will not accept it. He cannot bear the thought that he is absolutely powerless to lift himself up and that the only chance of salvation is simply to accept something which is offered as freely to the saint as to the sinner. If nothing can be done to earn this Grace it seems to set all man’s self-imposed ideals at naught: he has to confess himself impotent, and this is more than he can bear. So the gift of Grace is tacitly ignored, and man goes on trying to manufacture it for himself.


– Alan Watts (1940, P138)






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