Alan Watts

Alan Watts Organization, Store, Wikipedia page

Alan Watts was a British-born philosopher, author and speaker. Though he gravitated towards teachings from Zen Buddhism, Alan was deeply knowledgeable about several spiritual traditions, even completing seminary school at age 30 and spending five years as an ordained Episcopal priest. Feeling the need to choose between the Christian and Eastern traditions, Alan later elected to leave the ministry and moved to San Francisco in 1951 to join the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies. He remained with the academy for only a few years before leaving to try his hand as a freelance writer and radio show host in the mid-1950s. The local popularity of his weekly radio show, Way Beyond the West, during which Alan shared his interpretations of Eastern philosophies with his Western audience, brought him national attention and by the time the counter-culture movement of the '60s was in full swing, Alan was in the perfect position to emerge as the spokesman he became. Alan went on to publish a number of books and essays on Zen Buddhism and continued to speak and write until his death in 1973.
“Jesus Christ knew he was God. So wake up and find out eventually who you really are. In our culture, of course, they’ll say you’re crazy and you’re blasphemous, and they’ll either put you in jail or in a nut house (which is pretty much the same thing). However if you wake up in India and tell your friends and relations, ‘My goodness, I’ve just discovered that I’m God,’ they’ll laugh and say, ‘Oh, congratulations! At last you found out!” --Alan Watts
What's been helpful: I tend to think of Alan Watts as 'The Richard Burton of the Non-dual Teachers Club'; he has a voice you at once imagine coming from some Shakespearean stage. I came upon a video of Alan while surfing the net for 'consciousness' content and the first thing that struck me was his voice; it is the epitome of whiskey-and-cigar-soaked. Then he laughs and you can hear it - the man is full of whiskey and cigar smoke. A whiskey-drinking, cigar-smoking non-dual spiritual teacher who sounds like a Shakespearean actor and can knowledgeably cite various theological texts at length? ... Sign. Me. Up.

In the first few months after awakening, I was still confusing 'religion' with 'spirituality' and so was immediately drawn to (and relieved by) Alan's frank and amusing approach to spirituality. But soon after this initial contact, I moved on to focus on other teachers, I think largely because Alan refers to such a wide range of theological concepts that I was getting distracted by the details. Now that I've spent time developing my own understanding of the nondual view, I've come back to find I'm really enjoying Alan's more flamboyant - but always educational - lectures and books. And the amount of esoteric information running around in this man's head is not just a wonder to behold, it also adds a richness to his stories that is uniquely Alan Watts.

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1 Comment

  • Grace Brownlee

    February 5, 2023 at 11:51 am Reply

    Could have sworn it was Richard burton speaking in advert

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