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About Alan Watts
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We live in an age of unprecedented anxiety. Spending all our time trying to anticipate and plan for the future and to lamenting the past, we forget to embrace the here and now. We are so concerned with tomorrow that we forget to enjoy today. Drawing from Eastern philosophy and religion, Alan Watts shows that it is only by acknowledging what we do not—and cannot—know that we can learn anything truly worth knowing. In The Wisdom of Insecurity, he shows us how, in order to lead a fulfilling life, we must embrace the present—and live fully in the now. Featuring an Introduction by Deepak Chopra.
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.
Since the first publication of this book in 1957, Zen Buddhism has become firmly established in the West. As Zen has taken root in Western soil, it has incorporated much of the attitude and approach set forth by Watts in The Way of Zen, which remains one of the most important introductory books in Western Zen.
In order to come to your senses, Alan Watts often said, you sometimes need to go out of your mind. Perhaps more than any other teacher in the West, this celebrated author, former Anglican priest, and self-described spiritual entertainer was responsible for igniting the passion of countless wisdom seekers to the spiritual and philosophical delights of India, China, and Japan.
With Out of Your Mind, you are invited to immerse yourself in six of this legendary thinker's most engaging teachings on how to break through the limits of the rational mind and expand your awareness and appreciation for the great game unfolding all around us. Distilled from Alan Watts’s pinnacle lectures, Out of Your Mind brings you an inspiring new resource that captures the true scope of this brilliant teacher in action.
For those both new and familiar with Watts, this book invites us to delve into his favorite pathways out of the trap of conventional awareness, including:
• The art of the “controlled accident”—what happens when you stop taking your life so seriously and start enjoying it with complete sincerity
• How we come to believe “the myth of myself”—that we are skin-encapsulated egos separate from the world around us—and how to transcend that illusion
• Why we must fully embrace chaos and the void to find our deepest purpose
• Unconventional and refreshing insights into the deeper principles of Buddhism, Hinduism, Western philosophy, Christianity, and much more
“If you were God,” asked Alan Watts, “what kind of universe would you create? A perfect one free of suffering and drama? Or one filled with surprise and delight?”
From the 1950s to the 1970s, Eastern spiritual philosophies sparked in the West profound new ways of perceiving ourselves, the mysteries of reality, and the unfolding destiny of humanity. And through his live gatherings and radio talks, Alan Watts was at the forefront—igniting astonishing insights into who we are and where we're heading.
Based on a legendary series of seminars, Just So illuminates three fascinating domains: money versus real wealth, the spirituality of a deeper materialism, and how technology and spirituality are both guiding us to ever greater interconnection in the universe that we find ourselves in.
Along the way, readers will explore many other themes, at turns humorous, prescient, and more relevant today than ever. What unfolds is a liberating view of humanity that arises from possibility and the unpredictable—perfect and “just so,” not in spite of its messy imperfections, but because of them.
1. Going With
- Theology and the Laws of Nature
- Thinking Makes It So
- Everything Is Context
- Going With
- What We Mean by Intelligence
- Ecological Awareness
- Of Gods and Puppets
2. Civilizing Technology
- The Problem of Abstractions
- We Need a New Analogy
- Working with the Field of Forces
- Synergy and the One World Town
- Privacy, Artificiality, and the Self
- Groups and Crowds
3. Money and Materialism
- The Material Is the Spiritual
- Money and the Good Life
- True Materialism
- Wiggles, Seriousness, and the Fear of Pleasure
- The Failure of Money and Technology
- The Problem of Guilt
4. In Praise of Swinging
- Rigidity and Identity
- Now Is Where the World Begins
- Are We Going to Make It?
- Polarization and Contrast
- No Escape
5. What Is So of Itself
- Spontaneity and the Unborn Mind
- Relaxation, Religion, and Rituals
- Saving the World
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.
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.
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.
Examining the background of Zen in East Indian religion, Watts shows us its evolution through the religion of China. Zen is a synthesis of the contemplative insight of Indian religion and the dynamic liveliness of Taoism as they came together in the pragmatic, practical environment of Confucian China. Watts gives us great insight into the living moment of satori and the release of nirvana, as well as the methods of meditation that are current today, and the influence of Zen culturally in the arts of painting and pottery.