Introduction to Alan Watts

Alan Watts was a philosopher, writer, and speaker. He became a well-known figure for popularizing Eastern philosophy for a Western audience, and his hours of audio lectures (available on YouTube) are a joy to listen to. His spiritual notions draw from several sources but are largely rooted in a kind of pantheistic, Buddhist sensibility, which is very psychedelic indeed.

Unlike Terence McKenna, Watts is not known for use of psychedelics. He did dabble in them, but said about psychedelic drug use, “If you get the message, hang up the phone.” This can be extrapolated to mean, you don’t have to do psychedelics to have a psyche-spiritual worldview.

To put his worldview simply, I quote from Wikipedia: ‘Watts put forward a worldview, drawing on Hinduism, Chinese philosophy, pantheism or panentheism, and modern science, in which he maintains that the whole universe consists of a Cosmic Self playing hide-and-seek (Lila), hiding from itself (Maya) by becoming all the living and non-living things in the universe, forgetting what it really is; the upshot being that we are all IT in disguise. In this worldview, Watts asserts that our conception of ourselves as an “ego in a bag of skin” is a myth; the entities we call the separate “things” are merely aspects of the whole.’

In other words, everything is one, and this One likes to get lost in itself, which is what we are, along with everything else.

Also unlike McKenna, his voice is probably a lot easier to listen to, and his oration style is simpler. And a British accent is just so nice to listen to. His lectures are simple in the sense that they address basic human problems of desire for control and pursuit of happiness without a lot of verbose technical vocabulary. But they are full of insight and wisdom that can be applied to your own life. Like we’ve said on this blog before, philosophy is first and foremost about making YOURSELF happy (though not in a materialistic way).

The above 4 minute video has Alan Watts speak on the fear of death and the beyond, and how such a fear is illogical. And he tells you why it is illogical. It doesn’t matter if you believe what he says, what is important is that these ideas enter your consciousness and go to work on you. Then you can decide if they are bullshit or not.

Like we’ve said before, to bring philosophy in your life doesn’t take a big effort. All you need is 5-10 minutes a day and an internet connection.

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