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He was a prolific man who wrote 25 books, lectured as Dean of the Institute of Asian Studies in San Francisco, hosted a radio show on Berkeley’s free radio KPFA and recorded television specials.
In his book The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Watts draws from Vedanta, Buddhism (Zen in particular), quantum physics, and Freudian psychology, and combines them in a singular acrobatic philosophy.
In every direction there is just the one Self playing its myriad games of hide-and-seek.
Birds are not better than the eggs from which they have broken.
Hidden behind their explicit differences is the implicit unity of what Vedanta calls the Self, the One-without-a-second, the what there is and the all that there is which conceals itself in the form of you.
If, then, there is this basic unity between self and other, individual and universe, how have our minds become so narrow that we don’t know it?
Indeed, it could be said that a bird is one egg’s way of becoming other eggs. The Game of Black and White The general habit of conscious attention is, in various ways, to ignore intervals.
From the late fifties to early seventies, Alan Watts (1915-1973) introduced the West to Eastern philosophy, which in part fueled the spirit and imagination of the beat and countercultural movements.
We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree.
As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.” Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.
In recent years, Watts’ lectures have reemerged on the Internet with the help of his fans and his son Mark Watts, and also the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who have animated this talk that has over 2 million views.
Listening to his voice gives the best sense of his personality. The combination gives the feeling he’s directing his words at your inner child.
It’s a modification of Zen directed at the modern ego, a retelling of the wisdom of Eastern philosophy for the West’s particular psychological, spiritual, scientific, and cultural hangups.