/ Shimmer with a profound and galvanizing lucidity… /
Alan Watts was a British writer and lecturer who interpreted and popularised Eastern philosophy and religion for a Western audience. Born in England, he moved to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York. Pursuing a career, he attended Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, where he received a master’s degree in theology. Watts became an Episcopal priest in 1945, then left the ministry in 1950 and moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies.
Watts’s fascination with the Zen tradition, beginning during the 1930s, developed because that tradition embodied the spiritual, interwoven with the practical, as exemplified in the subtitle of his ”Spirit of Zen: A Way of Life”, ”Work, and Art in the Far East”. “Work“, “life“, and “art” were not demoted due to a spiritual focus. In his writing, he referred to it as “the great Ch’an (or Zen) synthesis of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism after AD 700 in China.” Watts published his first book, ”The Spirit of Zen” in 1936. Two decades later, in ”The Way of Zen” he disparaged ”The Spirit of Zen” as a “popularisation of Suzuki’s earlier works and besides being very unscholarly it is in many respects out of date and misleading.”
According to the critic Erik Davis:
His writings and recorded talks still shimmer with a profound and galvanizing lucidity.
Here’s an excerpt from an inspiring and profound speech from the late Alan Watts, from “Out of your mind“:
”Lets suppose that you were able every night to dream any dream you wanted to dream, and you would naturally as you began on this adventure of dreams, you would fulfill all your wishes. You would have every kind of pleasure and after several nights you would say, ”well that was pretty great.”
But now lets have a surprise, lets have a dream which isn’t under control. Well something is going to happen to me that i don’t know what it’s gonna be. Then you would get more and more adventurous, and you would make further and further out gambles as to what you would dream, and finally you would dream where you are now. If you awaken from this illusion, and you understand that black implies white, self implies other, life implies death. You can feel yourself, not as a stranger in the world, not as something on probation, not as something that has arrived here by fluke, but to feel your own existence as absolutely fundamental.
What you are basically, deep, deep down, far, far in, is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself.”