Alan Watts: The essential introduction to his life and ideas - Deepstash

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The life of Alan Watts

The life of Alan Watts

Alan Watts was a philosopher, writer, poet, radical thinker, teacher and critic of society. He popularised Eastern wisdom and interpreted it for a Western audience.

  • He was born close to London in 1915 and discovered a Buddhist Lodge early in his life.
  • In 1938, he moved to the United States and became an Episcopal priest.
  • In 1951, he moved to San Francisco to teach Buddhist studies.
  • In 1956, he began a popular radio show, "Way Beyond the West."
  • By the 19060s, his radio talks were broadcast throughout the United States, and the counterculture movement adopted him as a spiritual spokesperson.

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The real you. Who are you, really?

Watts suggests that at a fundamental level, we are all “I”. He states that when you start to see yourself as connected to the whole cosmos, you break down the illusion of being separate from other people around you.

While you are a complex being, you're doing all this without ever having had an education in how to do it.

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How to make yourself a better person

Alan Watts asks whether there is any way in which one can transform one’s own mind.

He concludes that it's much better to just accept how you are right now. He says people spend enormous amounts of psychic energy trying to do the impossible. Instead, accept that you are not going to improve the world, and you are not going to improve yourself. When you accept that, you have a huge amount of energy left to do things that can be done.

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A simple trick to meditation

A simple trick to meditation

Alan Watts adopted a simple approach to meditation based on what he learned from Eastern wisdom.

Watts’ approach to meditation is based on his insight that we are all entirely connected and the cosmos. He helps people get into a meditative state by dissolving the boundaries between the perceiving self and the supposed world external to your body and mind.

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On the present moment

“The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.”

- ALAN WATTS

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On the meaning of life

On the meaning of life

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”

- ALAN WATTS

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On anxiety

“To remain stable is to refrain from trying to separate yourself from a pain because you know that you cannot. Running away from fear is fear, fighting pain is pain, trying to be brave is being scared. If the mind is in pain, the mind is pain. The thinker has no other form than his thought. There is no escape.”

- ALAN WATTS

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On who you truly are

On who you truly are

“And people get all fouled up because they want the world to have meaning as if it were words… As if you had a meaning, as if you were a mere word, as if you were something that could be looked up in a dictionary. You are meaning.”

- ALAN WATTS

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