In The Book, Alan Watts provides us with a much-needed answer to the problem of personal identity, distilling and adapting the Hindu philosophy of Vedanta. At the root of human conflict is our fundamental misunderstanding of who we are. The illusion that we are isolated beings, unconnected to the rest of the universe, has led us to view the “outside” world with hostility, and has fueled our misuse of technology and our violent and hostile subjugation of the natural world. To help us understand that the self is in fact the root and ground of the universe, Watts has crafted a revelatory primer on what it means to be human—and a mind-opening manual of initiation into the central mystery of existence.
Alan Watts overturns the illusion that individuals are merely 'egos' contained within their bodies who are separate from the rest of the universe. Drawing on the Vedanta religion, Alan Watts explains how a person's identity makes them the centre of the universe, and outlines that the universe has meaning only if each individual places himself at the centre of it. The separation of the Self from the physical universe has led to Mankind's hostile attitude to the environment, and a destructive attitude to Nature. In coming to understand the individual's real place in the universe, Alan Watts presents a critique of Western culture and a healing alternative.
In this collection of essays, Watts displays the playfulness of thought and simplicity of language that has made him one of the most popular lecturers and authors on the spiritual traditions of the East. Watts draws on a variety of religious traditions and explores the limits of language in the face of spiritual truth.
Deep down, most people think that happiness comes from having or doing something. Here, in Alan Watts’s groundbreaking second book (originally published in 1940), he offers a more challenging thesis: authentic happiness comes from embracing life as a whole in all its contradictions and paradoxes, an attitude that Watts calls the "way of acceptance." Drawing on Eastern philosophy, Western mysticism, and analytic psychology, Watts demonstrates that happiness comes from accepting both the outer world around us and the inner world inside us — the unconscious mind, with its irrational desires, lurking beyond the awareness of the ego. Although written early in his career, The Meaning of Happiness displays the hallmarks of his mature style: the crystal-clear writing, the homespun analogies, the dry wit, and the breadth of knowledge that made Alan Watts one of the most influential philosophers of his generation.
Philosopher, author, and lecturer Alan Watts (1915–1973) popularized Zen Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies for the counterculture of the 1960s. Today, new generations are finding his writings and lectures online, while faithful followers worldwide continue to be enlightened by his teachings. The Collected Letters of Alan Watts reveals the remarkable arc of Watts's colorful and controversial life, from his school days in England to his priesthood in the Anglican Church as chaplain of Northwestern University to his alternative lifestyle and experimentation with LSD in the heyday of the late sixties. His engaging letters cover a vast range of subject matter, with recipients ranging from High Church clergy to high priests of psychedelics, government officials, publishers, critics, family, and fans. They include C. G. Jung, Henry Miller, Gary Snyder, Aldous Huxley, Reinhold Niebuhr, Timothy Leary, Joseph Campbell, and James Hillman. Watts’s letters were curated by two of his daughters, Joan Watts and Anne Watts, who have added rich, behind-the-scenes biographical commentary. Edited by Joan Watts & Anne Watts
Six revolutionary essays exploring the relationship between spiritual experience and ordinary life—and the need for them to coexist within each of us. With essays on “cosmic consciousness” (including Alan Watts’ account of his own ventures into this inward realm); the paradoxes of self-consciousness; LSD and consciousness; and the false opposition of spirit and matter, This Is It and Other Essays on Zen and Spiritual Experience is a truly mind-opening collection.
This classic series of essays represents Alan Watts's thinking on the astonishing problems caused by our dysfunctional relationship with the material environment. Here, with characteristic wit, a philosopher best known for his writings and teachings about mysticism and Eastern philosophy gets down to the nitty-gritty problems of economics, technology, clothing, cooking, and housing. Watts argues that we confuse symbol with reality, our ways of describing and measuring the world with the world itself, and thus put ourselves into the absurd situation of preferring money to wealth and eating the menu instead of the dinner. With our attention locked on numbers and concepts, we are increasingly unconscious of nature and of our total dependence on air, water, plants, animals, insects, and bacteria. We have hallucinated the notion that the so-called external world is a cluster of objects separate from ourselves, that we encounter it, that we come into it instead of out of it. Originally published in 1972, Does It Matter? foretells the environmental problems that arise from this mistaken mind-set. Not all of Watts's predictions have come to pass, but his unique insights will change the way you look at the world.
Mark Watts compiled this book from his father's extensive journals and audiotapes of famous lectures he delivered in his later years across the country. In three parts, Alan Watts explains the basic philosophy of meditation, how individuals can practice a variety of meditations, and how inner wisdom grows naturally.
Examines world religions from a mythic as well as a philosophical perspective and explores the role of Christianity in developing human consciousness
A classic look at man's search for certainty from the acclaimed expert on Eastern philosophy In this fascinating book, Alan Watts explores man's quest for psychological security, examining our efforts to find spiritual and intellectual certainty in the realms of religion and philosophy. The Wisdom of Insecurity underlines the importance of our search for stability in an age where human life seems particularly vulnerable and uncertain.Watts argues our insecurity is the consequence of trying to be secure and that, ironically, salvation and sanity lie in the recognition that we have no way of saving ourselves. Alan Watts was the foremost Western expert on Eastern thought, specialising in Zen Buddhism. He was the author of a number of books on the philosophy and psychology of religion, which have continued to be in popular demand over the past forty years.
Modern Civilization, Watts maintains, is in a state of chaos because its spiritual leadership has lost effective knowledge of man's true nature. Neither philosophy nor religion today gives us the consciousness that at the deepest center of our being exists an eternal reality, which in the West is called God. Yet only from this realization come the serenity and spiritual power necessary for a stable and creative society. One of the most influential of Alan Watts's early works, "The Supreme Identity" examines the reality of civilization's deteriorated spiritual state and offers solutions through a rigorous theological discussion on Eastern metaphysic and the Christian religion. By examining the minute details of theological issues, Watts challenges readers to reassess the essences of religions that before seemed so familiar and to perceive Vedantic "oneness" as a meeting ground of all things – "good" and "evil." In addressing how religious institutions fail to provide the wisdom or power necessary to cope with the modern condition, Watts confidently seeks the truth of the human existence and the divine continuum. In this eye-opening account of "metaphysical blindness" in the West, Watts accents this dense exploration of religious philosophy with wry wit that will engage inquiring minds in search of spiritual power and wisdom.
In this new edition of his acclaimed autobiography — long out of print and rare until now — Alan Watts tracks his spiritual and philosophical evolution. A child of religious conservatives in rural England, he went on to become a freewheeling spiritual teacher who challenged Westerners to defy convention and think for themselves. Watts's portrait of himself shows that he was a philosophical renegade from early on in his intellectual life. Self-taught in many areas, he came to Buddhism through the teachings of Christmas Humphreys and D. T. Suzuki. Told in a nonlinear style, In My Own Way combines Watts's brand of unconventional philosophy with wry observations on Western culture and often hilarious accounts of gurus, celebrities, and psychedelic drug experiences. A charming foreword by Watts's father sets the tone of this warm, funny, and beautifully written story. Watts encouraged readers to “follow your own weird” — something he always did himself, as this remarkable account of his life shows.
Alan Watts — noted author and respected authority on Far Eastern thought — studied Taoism extensively, and in his final years moved to a quiet cabin in the mountains and dedicated himself almost exclusively to meditating and writing on the Tao. This new book gives us an opportunity to not only understand the concept of the Tao but to experience the Tao as a personal practice of liberation from the limitations imposed by the common beliefs within our culture. The philosophy of the Tao offers a way to understand the value of ourselves as free-willed individuals enfolded within the ever-changing patterns of nature. The path of the Tao is perhaps the most puzzling way of liberation to come to us from the Far East in the last century. It is both practical and esoteric, and it has a surprisingly comfortable quality of thought that is often overlooked by Western readers who never venture beyond the unfamiliar quality of the word Tao (pronounced "dow"). But those who do soon discover a way of understanding and living with the world that has profound implications for us today in so-called modern societies. The word Tao means the Way — in the sense of a path, a way to go — but it also means nature, in the sense of one's true nature, and the nature of the universe. Often described as the philosophy of nature, we find the origins of Taoism in the shamanic world of pre-Dynastic China. Living close to the earth, one sees the wisdom of not interfering, and letting things go their way. It is the wisdom of swimming with the current, splitting wood along the grain, and seeking to understand human nature instead of changing it. Every creature finds it's way according to the laws of nature, and each of us has our own inner path — or Tao.
Originally published: New York: Random House, 1947.