.April 08


notes on: Alan Watts



Dig the Ambience in this 7-min youtube clip: On Mount Tamalpais (near San Francisco)

(Click on the link, set picture to full screen, sit quietly then just watch and listen ..... )

Much more to be added to this neglected page soon.

Phil (23.12.10)


April 2008:

A few weeks ago it was my birthday so Rod, being the great sport he is, went to the trouble of recording loads of fabulous little items off YouTube which he knew I'd appreciate. Everything he recorded was brilliant - then tonight when watching almost the last of these there was this guy who was a real follower of Alan Watts - or rather, a follower of his work and philosophy... and he sat there, this guy, on camera, chatting away for about 20-minutes, and doing it superbly, the pauses, the retractions, everything, just bloody brill like a real pro, and then he holds up a couple of books, the first Watts's 'Does It Matter' (1968) from which he quotes a treasured paragraph from the introduction, and then after a few more diversions and observations and even at one point taking his webcam and showing the chaos of his room, and alluding breifly too to the chaos of his life - all gripping stuff... I wanted him to go on and on and I reckon I could have been held there for several hours listening to and trying to fathom this amazing guy... and then suddenly he grabs another book: Watts's 460-page autobiography, no less, written and completed in the same year he died (1972) 'In My Own Way' and then quotes from that too.... well, I recognised both books immediately he mentioned and showed them, because by an incredible stroke of luck I just happened to have them there on my shelf, easily to hand (you see, so far as books are concerned, I pretty-well got rid of any chaos in this house some while ago, as soon in fact as the extension - the 'rumpus' - was finished) and I could follow the text in the books as this guy read from them... As for what he actually read out, well, the sections he thought they were so significant: SEE BELOW: (After all, his main topic throughout the monologue was: that atheism does not preclude the recognition of a spiritual dimension to life and the universe... AND that recognising a spiritual dimention doesn't preclude the obvious absurdity and non-existence of what people call 'afterlife' - which is precisely the crux of the respective quotes.)





From p-xiv of:

Does It Matter?

by Alan Watts

We need to become vividly aware of our ecology, of our interdependence and virtual identity with all other forms of life which the divisive and emboxing methods of our current way of thought prevent us from experiencing. The so-called physical world and the so-called human body are a single process, differentiated only as the heart from the lungs or the head from the feet. In stodgy academic circles I refer to this kind of understanding as "ecological aware­ness." Elsewhere it would be called "cosmic consciousness" or "mystical experience." However, our intellectual and scientific "establishment" is, in general, still spellbound by the myth that human intelligence and feeling are a fluke of chance in an entirely mechanical and stupid universe— as if figs would grow on thistles or grapes on thorns. But wouldn't it be more reasonable to see the entire scheme of things as continuous with our own consciousness and the marvelous neural organization which, shall we say, sponsors it?


And from p443 of:

In My Own Way

(autobiography) 1972
by Alan Watts

If we get rid of all wishful thinking and dubious metaphysical speculations, we can hardly doubt that – at a time not too distant – each one of us will simply cease to be. It won't be like going into darkness forever, for there will be neither darkness nor time, nor sense of futility, nor anyone to feel anything about it. Try as best you can to imagine this, and keep at it. The universe will, supposedly, be going on as usual, but for each individual it will be as if it had never happened at all; and even that is saying too much, because there won't be anyone for whom it never happened. Make this prospect as real as possible: the one total certainty. You will be as if you had never existed, which was, however, the way you were before you did exist - and not only you but everything else. Nevertheless,with such an improbable past, here we are. We begin from nothing and end in nothing. You can say that again. Think it over and over, trying to conceive the fact of coming-to never having existed. After a while you will begin to feel rather weird, as if this very apparent something that you are is at the same time nothing at all. Indeed, you seem to be rather firmly and certainly grounded in nothingness, much as your sight seems to emerge from that total blankness behind your eyes. The weird feeling goes with the fact that you are being introduced to a new common sense, a new logic, in which you are beginning to realize the identity of ku and shiki, void of form. All of a sudden it will strike you that this nothingness is the most potent, magical, basic, and reliable thing you ever thought of, and that the reason you can’t form the slightest idea of itis that it's yourself. But not the self you thought you were.


[And who can argue with that?]