Alan Watts


The first book I read by Alan Watts was, Wisdom of Insecurity. I was nineteen. I was looking for a new way of thinking and being. I had gone through a tough six years after my parents divorce. I was practicing yoga while studying the Bible — seven versions. I was attending college taking Ethics, Psychology, Greek Philosophy, and World Religions. Somewhere along the way, I cam across Alan Watts and his thin green and blue book.

What I took away from Watt’s book was permission to be who I was and to explore new ways of being. My investigation of other philosophies was supported by one phrase in the book: Belief is hanging on, faith is letting go.

I did let go. I let go of all the confusion and hypocrisy I had experienced coming from a divorced family. I went on to study every religion. I intentionally took ethics to understand the basis of right thinking. I began to deconstruct everything I had ever been taught and reconstruct new ways of thinking and being. I read many authors and found men and women who I could relate to; Watts was one such man. Along my path in life I have given away many copies of Watts books to people I knew were confused and needed some guidance. The thing about Watts is his reasoning is so fine and his way of expression so easy to understand. Yet, his knowledge and understanding of eastern philosophies is deep and insightful. He has a very light touch and never overbearing in his rhetoric.

Most philosophical problems are to be solved by getting rid of them, by coming to the point where you see that such questions as “Why this universe?” are a kind of intellectual neurosis, a misuse of words in that the question sounds sensible but is actually as meaningless as asking “Where is this universe?” when the only things that are anywhere must be somewhere inside the universe. The task of philosophy is to cure people of such nonsense, Wittgenstein, as we shall see, had a point there. Nevertheless wonder is not a disease. Wonder, and its expression in poetry and the arts, are among the most important things which seem to distinguish men from other animals and intelligent and sensitive people from morons.

Some of his books are out of print like the Joyous Cosmology. You may find them on ebay or Alibris.

Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) was a British philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known as an interpreter and popularizer of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. Born in Chislehurst, he came to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York. Pursuing a career, he attended Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, where he received a master’s degree in theology. Watts became an Episcopalian priest but left the ministry in 1950 and moved to California where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies.

Living on the West Coast, Watts gained a large following in the San Francisco Bay Area while working as a volunteer programmer at KPFA, a Pacifica Radio station in Berkeley. Watts wrote more than 25 books and articles on subjects important to Eastern and Western religion, introducing the then burgeoning youth culture to The Way of Zen (1957), one of the first bestselling books on Buddhism. In Psychotherapy East and West (1961), Watts proposed that Buddhism could be best thought of as a form of psychotherapy, not just a religion. Like Aldous Huxley before him, he explored human consciousness in the essay, “The New Alchemy” (1958), and in the book, The Joyous Cosmology (1962). Source: Wikipedia

Sources:
Watts Tapes — http://www.wattstapes.com/
Unicorn Project — http://library.holtof.com/unicorn/watts/the_book.htm

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