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The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety Paperback – February 8, 2011
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“Reading Alan Watts challenges us to explore new avenues of thinking, inspires us to lead more fulfilling lives. His legacy lives on in The Wisdom of Insecurity, a work that energetically displays Watts’s piercing intellect, razor-sharp wit, and winning grace. For the clarity and wisdom with which it engages timeless concerns crucial to us all, it is unmatched. An important book.”
—Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea
“Perhaps the foremost interpreter of Eastern disciplines for the contemporary West, Watts had the rare gift of ‘writing beautifully the unwritable.’”
—Los Angeles Times
“The wisdom of insecurity is not a way of evasion, but of carrying on wherever we happen to be stationed—carrying on, however, without imagining that the burden of the world, or even of the next moment, is ours. It is a philosophy not of nihilism but of the reality of the present—always remembering that to be of the present is to be, and candidly know ourselves to be, on the crest of a breaking wave.”
—Philip Wheelwright, Arts and Letters
“This book proposes a complete reversal of all ordinary thinking about the present state of man. The critical condition of the world compels us to face this problem: how is man to live in a world in which he can never be secure, deprived, as many are, of the consolations of religious belief? The author shows that this problem contains its own solution—that the highest happiness, the supreme spiritual insight and certitude are found only in our awareness that impermanence and insecurity are inescapable and inseparable from life. Written in a simple and lucid style, it is a timely message.”
—Book Exchange (London)
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An exploration of man's quest for psychological security and spiritual certainty in religion and philosophy. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
And I understand why he would say that. I understood (albeit not perfectly) the message that he is trying to pass on. Watts is the most Eastern Westerner I know. His philosophies, particularly in this book, can lead into a metaphysical web that could leave you stuck indefinitely. At this same time, if you peel back the philosophical layers, which he helps you do at times, you will notice that the message, at its core, is always simple. He is begging the reader not to eliminate the ego, but to come to a full realization, a hyper awareness of sorts, that there is NO ego - that the ego, or the "I," is simply a figment of imagination. There is no method to achieve this hyper-awareness, no guide, no set of instructions, but only this imperative: "Look!"
I may be just a tad bit too simplistic to fully grasp the significance of this, but I believe that at times I caught a glimpse of the implications of Watt's message. To live perfectly in the moment, to understand that the experience and the "experiencer" are one in the same just as a wave is not part of the ocean, but is the ocean, all of it - I can begin to fathom how one would be able to shed so much pretense and predispositions. Or not, I don't know.
My personal opinion is that there are gems in this book, but as it is with all things, anything in excess is harmful. This book sells Eastern thought in its entirety, and I believe that no, Alan Watt's does not have the answer to the meaning of life (which he would probably agree to me saying) and I don't think you'll find in this book all the answers to your questions. It is a refreshing read though, at least it was for me. I really had to break down my mind, my prejudices, my perceptions and realize that my reality is truly the product of my own mind - and that I can change that, if I want to.
In any case, a worthy read, but definitely not a book if you're looking for "10 Ways to Reduce Anxiety." It is rather an exhortation to awareness.
If I were rating just the first half of this book it would get five stars. In these first four chapters Watts gives a brilliant diagnosis of the problem of modern man. Put very briefly we are caught in the eternal 'I', feeling separate from life, and caught up in contemplation of past hurts and future hopes. We never really live our life, which after all is in the here and now. We are driven to escape a sense of "insecurity" without realizing that this very uncertainty is a basic feature of life.
In the second half of the book Watts tries to describe a new way of living based on 'now consciousness'. His task is I guess impossible as he is trying to describe something which is basically unknowable unless you actually live it. I did really understand his point that if you mind shifts off the 'I' it naturally turns to contemplating others, and this is the basis of compassion. I suspect that this second half of the book will mean more to me when I have experimented a little and reread a few times. This second half of the book has certainly given me something to think about.
Don't let my comments in the above paragraph put you off reading the book. Maybe you are brighter or more 'enlightened' than me and so it will all make instant sense to you. Maybe you will become instantly "enlightened' as you read, where I was not.
This book in particular is the best thus far. The world is a better place because Alan Watts was here and recorded his ideas of what the truth of our being is all about.
This is not easy reading, but if you are a seeker, you will be amazed. Heck, even if you aren't, you will be amazed.