Alan Watts was born on January 6, 1915 in Chislehurst, England. Watts was a philosopher, author, poet, calligrapher, and a guide to different forms of spiritual understanding. During his lifetime Alan Watts wrote more than 25 books regarding psychology, philosophy and the many religions of the world. He became interested and began studying Buddhism at a young age. By 16 Watts became the secretary of the London Buddhist Association, created his first pamphlet by 17 and published his very first book by the age of 21.
“A Buddha would see you all as being exactly right; just where you are, all of you are Buddhas. Even for those of you who do not know it, it is right for you not to know it at this moment.” Alan Watts
One of the main contributors in bringing eastern philosophy to the America’s, his television and radio broadcasts helped to spark an interest in Zen Buddhism in the west to a level not seen before. Later, he became a Episcopalian priest and chaplain at Northwest University in Illinois where he conducted many spirited discussions with his students. In 1951, he would become the director of the American Academy of Asian Studies after moving San Fransisco. Alan Watts would stay in the San Fransisco Bay Area area until he passed away on November 16th 1973 at Mt. Tamalpais, California. His funeral was held at Green Gulch Farm.
Alan Watts: Mystical Philosopher
Everyone has their own particular views and belief systems when it comes to religion and spirituality. What one thing may be to some, can be completely different for another. However I viewed Alan Watts as an eloquent speaker and passionate poet. During his many well though out lectures Watts presented ancient traditions and spirituality in a very basic and straight forward manor that was easily digestible. He would give examples of the points he would convey through his parables, causing one to reflect deeply on the message being taught. Through these teachings I have personally seen people become freed from their ego’s, addictions, and lofty visions of self. Transforming from the former into a more open minded and compassionate human being.
“I do not even style myself a Zen Buddhist. For the aspect of Zen in which I am personally interested is nothing that can be organized, taught, transmitted, certified, or wrapped up in any kind of system. It can’t even be followed, for everyone has to find it for himself.” Alan Watts
It is my belief that Watts did not see Buddhism as a religion per se, but more of a way for people to dig deeper within and connect with a higher version of themselves. This understanding would ultimately give us the ability to not only heal on a personal level, but to view our reality from a very different perspective than we were use to. In fact, his perspective that our current world of technological advancement is a bit skewed, and that more of a balance between spirituality and technology could benefit us all is a belief I still hold to this day.
“This is the real secret of life—to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” Alan Watts
A uniquely great teacher, Alan Watts brought the ideas of Zen to the West and changed the culture in many unforeseeable ways. A plethora of his books and lectures are still available online and can be found on sites like Youtube. Even today, his legacy continues to live on through a website that he and his son created which can be found at Alanwatts.org
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