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Tao: The Watercourse Way Paperback – January 12, 1977
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"Perhaps the foremost interpreter of Eastern disciplines for the contemporary West, Alan Watts had the rare gift of 'writing beautifully the unwritable' . . . Watts begins with scholarship and intellect and proceeds with art and eloquence to the frontiers of the spirit . . . This is a profound and worthy work, left by a teacher to echo and re-echo."
—Los Angeles Times
"A remarkable book because of Alan Watts's talent for communicating Eastern ways of thought . . . not only the last of his works, but the best . . . This book is a 'must.'"
"Watts's last book is in the category of his finest work, a lucid discussion of Taoism and the Chinese language . . . profound, reflective, and enlightening. Moreover, the text supplies a sense of his ebullient spirit behind the revelation of Tao."
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Top Customer Reviews
To read the present book it isn't, of course, necessary to have read 'The Way of Zen' first, although you'll probably want to read it afterwards. Nor is it necessary to have read Lao Tzu or Chuang Tzu, although those who haven't will probably want to go on to them too. They'll want to go on to get the rest of the story, because the present book was unfortunately unfinished at the time of Watts' death.
Despite its unfinished state, however, it's a gem we wouldn't want to be without, and there's plenty in in it for both the newbie as well as others. Watts was an amazingly good writer. His style is clear and straightforward, and he had the knack of making even the knottiest matters understandable.
One of the more noteworthy things about the book is Watts' inclusion of a chapter on 'The Chinese Written Language.' In my more cynical moods I'm sometimes inclined to think that there is a conspiracy in the West to pretend that Chinese doesn't exist. Here we have one of the most fascinating and important languages in the world, and yet so few seem to be interested in it. So profound is this neglect that most English books on Chinese subjects don't even bother to give the Chinese characters for names and book titles, presumably because they don't realize how useless the romanized forms are.Read more ›
In the chapter on "Te-Virtuality" Watts offers us an overview of the contemplative way of life. A life of freedom from constraints and extremes. Watts had come a long way from the stuffy England of his youth. He had found an unforced way of living life that agreed with him. An artful way of being true to himself by living naturally; of being free to scream, or cry, or most especially to laugh, whatever is appropriate to the flow of the moment.
In the "Wu-wei" chapter Watts reminds us of the words of Lao-Tzu concerning wu-wei: "The Tao does nothing, and yet nothing is left undone".Read more ›
That said, that which is there is as well-written as any of Watts' other prose. As an "introduction" to Taoism, it is somewhat lacking, but it's a good work to pick up after you're already familiar with the Tao Te Ching in common translations. The chapter on the method and beauty of the Chinese written language is a notable highlight.
In short, if you're looking for an introduction to Taoism, start with the Tao Te Ching; if you're looking for an introduction to Alan Watts, start with "The Way of Zen". But the fact that this book doesn't fulfill either of those purposes well doesn't detract from its good points.
Although some parts dealing with chinese translation and calligraphy can be somewhat monotonous, the insight gained from a heightened understanding of Tao, Te and wu-wei more than make up for any shortcomings of the book. This book is definately an important stepping stone on my personal spiritual journey. I just wish he had put the 'fun stuff' in.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Although I enjoyed Watts' scholarly analysis and excellent writing, he went a little too far in his vindication of 'Eastern' values and indictment of 'Western' values. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Doyle
Though he didn't get to finish it, it is finished enough to give an excellent understanding of the Tao as a philosophy (or non-philosophy, however one may see it), along with the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Adam C. Smith
this book came in good condition, the only problem I had with it was the cover looked like something was spilled on it but I wiped it off and it's fine just my first thought after... Read morePublished 8 months ago by michelle t.
A great introduction to philosophical (non-religious) Daoism.Published 9 months ago by Neil Joinson
Alan Watts' book Tao: The Watercourse Way was much more philosophical and erudite than I was willing to spend time understanding. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jasper Peak Pilates