Alan Watts was a talented philosopher who tried to do something that was almost impossible. He tried to put something that wasn’t known into words. This is not surprising because Watt was an outsider and a spiritual entertainer who had a look at the divine. His philosophy and wisdom are in a lot of books, so it’s not surprising.
To follow a creed or look to him as a “guru,” Watts didn’t want you. He didn’t want you to think of him as some kind of “self-help guru.” He asked only for you to be. The following Alan Watts books cover a wide range of topics. As a Zen teacher, Watts helped people from the East and West understand each other better. They paint a picture of a well-lived life in a whimsically poetic way. One that makes you want to look inside yourself and the world around you.
The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
Many people aren’t sure which Alan Watts book to read first. Watts has a lot of books in his bibliography, but one of the most important is called “The Book.” Watts goes to this place to find out what he thinks is the most important thing we don’t know about ourselves. It has been hard for us to see the world “outside of ourselves” as friendly because we think of ourselves as separate from the rest of the world.
Watts tries to get rid of all of these arbitrary divisions that we make up because of how we speak and how we were raised. Watts takes ideas from the Hindu Vedanta and other Eastern works to come up with a new way to look at the self and the world together:
A person with sensitive eyes, magical ears, and a brain full of nerves can’t feel like a less-than-god, but that doesn’t make sense.
Watts does a great job of making fun of the idea that the Self is a separate thing from the rest of the world by using language that is both playful and conversational.
Become What You Are
Some of Watt’s ideas have been spread online through a mix of lectures he gave over the years. Become What You Are is a set of unique essays that can be read in a few days. The book reads like a bunch of ideas about how to live.
People think they’re out of step with life and its eternal now, but they can’t be, because they are life and live now. There is no way to get to it or get away from it. It is, and you are it. Then, become what you are.
This wonderful piece of truth grows throughout the rest of the book and serves as another way to get into his more in-depth and comprehensive works. His ability to grasp and express complex ideas in a way that anyone can understand is a gift that is shown very well in this book.
The Way of Zen
A long time before yoga studios and hip Zen phrases became popular in the West, Alan Watts was teaching and practicing Zen Buddhism to a new group of people. There is a book called “The Way of Zen.” It talks about how Zen came to be and what it means to practice it in the modern world. A lot of people thought Zen was important because it came from the East.
There are a lot of things about Zen that are explained in the best way possible. Zen is something that needs to be felt and experienced. A wink and a cosmic smirk are used to explain things in this book.
Until a toad said, “Pray, which leg goes after which?'” His mind was so worked up by this that while he lay in a ditch, he thought about how to run.
Zen is one of the many types of Buddhism, and it is one of them. The Way of Zen tells you that zen comes from being spontaneous and that it leads you into the now and the experience of the now. At all times, Watts compares this way of thinking to the fast-paced and unthinking nature of modern society and its tendency to make us feel empty, rudderless and unfulfilled. This is what Watts is talking about.
“A world that becomes more and more focused on “getting somewhere” as quickly as possible, a world that values only “getting somewhere” as quickly as possible, becomes a world without substance.”
Nature, Man and Woman
Watts was always interested in the idea of dualities and how they affect the way the mind thinks. As he put it, they were “the great two poles of human thought, spirit and nature.” When Alan Watts studies Taoism, he comes up with a new way of looking at the relationship between man and the universe. This is based on what he knows.
“He thinks out loud” in the preface of the book. This is Alan Watts at his best. He digs deep and weaves freely into the parts of us that are most interesting.
A lot of people who are spiritually minded in our culture aren’t very comfortable with the idea of men and women having relationships with each other.
The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for the Age of Anxiety
To get you into the now and live in the now, this is a book. We’ve heard this cliche so many times now that the words sound empty. But Alan Watts will always be the best at giving wisdom to things we think we already know.
In 1951, he wrote words that were very accurate about how modern society would move quickly because of more and more complicated technology. Because of this, the real and authentic experiences we used to be able to connect with would not only fade away, but they wouldn’t happen again.
As long as you aren’t living in the present, tomorrow and your plans for the future have no meaning at all. It is in the present, and only in the present, that you live. It doesn’t matter how long you live; if you lived for the future, you’d never get it right.
In My Own Way: An Autobiography
We get to read Alan Watts’ autobiography now, which is a change of pace. As a child, Watts grew up in rural England. As time went on, he began to emerge as the spiritual counterculture figure that many people would come to know him as.
A lot of his interactions with famous people and gurus, as well as psychedelic experiences, are told in his book, My Own Way. He also talks about the philosophical ideas that he talks about in his other books and lectures.
“My job in life is to wonder about how the universe works.” When I talk about these subjects, I’m not only talking about them but also experiencing them. This makes me at least a little bit of a philosopher and a mystic, though I don’t say it outright.
The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness
A psychedelic book called The Joyous Cosmology now joins the ranks of some of the best books ever written. Alan Watts’ work on the altered consciousness of psychedelics is as important as Aldous Huxley’s seminal work, “The Doors of Perception.” Watts kept up the tradition of being a philosopher and not just having fun. He saw the true value of psychedelic exploration.
He thought that true understanding could only be found with “sustained philosophical reflection by a person who is not looking for kicks, but for understanding.” Watts was way ahead of his time when it came to both the counterculture of the 1960s and our own time. He argued for the protection and right to our own brains and nervous systems. Rights that were never debated by any government, like the right to life and the right to work.
Quakers, Shakers, Levellers, and Anabaptists, for example, were not members of established denominations at the time. They were “screwball” and “subversive” people who didn’t fit in with the established groups. There is little doubt that people who use cannabis or other psychedelics for religious reasons are now part of a group that is being persecuted. To the rest of society, this group is a threat to “mental health,” not the old-fashioned “immortal soul.” But it’s the same old thing.