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Interesting videos from Alan Watts

misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a HinduIndia Veteran
hi all,

from last few days, i have watched some videos of Alan Watts on internet and I have find them both interesting and insightful, so thought of sharing with all:


  • Wonderful. Will have to watch the complete set when I have time.
    Alan Watts, despite his flaws or maybe because of them, had an an ability to understand and convey the dharma to the west from a Westerners perspective. Thanks for sharing. :bowdown:

    . . . actually maybe should not be bowing :rockon:
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited August 2013
    I don't know...call me superficial but something about Watts has never sat right with me.
    I simply don't believe him. I think he's an actor.
    I actually met him and thought so then too...
    I have asked myself if its because I know that he was a piss-artist who drank himself to death in his early fifties..and I can honestly say it isn't that.
    I was a student of a Guru who managed to drink himself to death even more successfully in terms of life span.
    I have asked myself whether I have a knee-jerk reaction to his RP accent with its overtones of privilege..me being a scion of the lumpen proletariat an' all....
    And I don't think its 'thet '.
    I certainly don't think that the corny background music that has been added to the talks helps.
    But that is not the core of my problem.
    In the end I simply don't believe him. I think its a learned role. He is the Olivier of guru-biz.

    I wonder how I would have reacted to his talks if I had never actually met him...and of course I don't know.
  • misterCopemisterCope PA, USA Veteran
    I quite like Alan Watts, but I can see what you mean, @Citta. I think it might be because his work has a definite "outside looking in" perspective. He most often seems to be explaining to one group of people how another group of people sees things. He seems kind of uninvolved, maybe? Like the voiceover guy in a documentary.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    My impression when I met him...and of course I could be way off, is best summed -up like this.
    Stand up.
    Put the back of your hand to your forehead.
    Look at the ceiling and say in as deep and sonorous a voice as you can muster ..
    ' Ay em an act-or '.
  • He was a preacher all his life, and that made him part actor and part author and another part entertainer, that's all. People forget that he started as an Episcopal priest after attending a theological seminary. But he became fascinated with Zen Buddhism, traded his priest robe for a meditation cushion, and spent the rest of his life writing and lecturing about Zen.

    When I listen to his talks, I hear sermons. He could be standing behind a pulpit sounding exactly the same, talking about some aspect of the Bible. Christianity lost a good priest when he joined the dark side.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    Except that even that was a sham..he was quite open about the fact that he joined the priesthood as a career move, rather than out of conviction.
    I made the comparison with Olivier. I think the comparison goes further.
    Someone who knew Olivier well said that apart from when he was performing there was no one at home..a cypher..
    I think that the same was true of Watts. And I don't mean in the Buddhist sense . I am not talking about anatta or shunyata.
    I think he was a collection of learned roles. A robe with no one inside.
  • I thought that I had learned not to open my mouth in this forum, because looking at what has been written, later, there is always something in it that I wish I hadn't written. However, the subject of Alan Watts has a particular interest for me, and I can't help writing this.

    Over many years, I have read a fair number of Alan's books, and have always found them absorbing, as well as entertaining. He certainly knew how to "talk" to his reader in terms that made the reader feel that this writer had thought about things just as oneself had, and that he really understood the world. Also, he never came across as a "Holy Joe". Despite his dealing with religious topics, he seemed human. In his presence, one would not be bashful in the way that one is bashful in the presence of "religious" people. One felt that he would understand one's ordinariness and one's human failings. Despite this, not many of the points that he made were of any great help to me after reading his book. There was hardly ever a time when, after reading one of his books, that I felt some progress in understanding had been made and that in the book was something to remember.

    One of his books was an exception from the rest. It gave me a strong impression that Alan really knew what he was talking about, and that book was "The Supreme Identity". How it could be possible for a mere poseur to write such a book is beyond me. Almost the entire work implies first-hand knowledge of his Subject. Is there anyone else on this forum that read the book (I'm willing to bet that there is, of course), and if so, how did that particular book impress you? If you feel that Alan was a fake, how do you explain the book?

    It seems to me that if Watts had no first-hand knowledge of the Self (or whatever term suits you), then the only way that his implied authority, seen in the work I mention, can be explained, would be to conclude that not only was he an actor but that he must also have been a shameless charlatan, writing simply to make money — a view that I could never accept.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited August 2013
    I dont accept your conclusion that he must be a shameless charlatan. I think he was sincere. Which is completely compatible with being an actor.
    He had internalised a lot of stuff. He could trot out a quote on demand. He could be convincing.
    Importantly he could convince himself...
    If he inspired you then good for you. Do what he didn't. Actualise Dharma in your life and on the cushion. That would be a fitting tribute to his ability to inspire.
    I have quoted this before but I was present when Christmas Humphreys said to DT Suzuki " What DO you make of him ? " ( Watts, who had just left the venue ) And Suzuki shook his head and and put his hands in the air...
  • Citta wrote: "I dont accept your conclusion that he must be a shameless charlatan. I think he was sincere."

    Citta, I also think that Alan Watts was sincere (also that he was a realised man, who knew what he was talking about). I don't believe that he was, or may have been, a charlatan. In context, my remark about charlatanism was that IF he had had no first-hand knowledge of the Self, then he must have been a charlatan (etc.), the implication being that his comments in the book in question imply that he HAD realised the Self. IF he had not realised, then the comments he made would have shown him to be a charlatan — which view I could never accept, as I have said.

    I thought that there may have been a reader or more who was as convinced as I am that he MUST have been a realised sage, since the alternative would be too outrageous to accept about that kind of writer, and I was inviting confirmation from them. In other words, I was asking whether those others saw the issue to be as clear-cut as I see it to be.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited August 2013
    I think you were/are missing the third alternative..that he was neither a charlatan nor a realised man. But someone ( like Osho or Adi- Da ) who could talk the talk , but did not even attempt to walk the walk.
    Frankly having met him I would not believe that he was a realised sage even if I did not know that he drank himself to death a few years after.
    I don't think anyone who actually knew him thought of him as anything other than a loveable rogue.
    The idea of him as a sage and mystic grew up after he had left the planet surfing an ocean of vodka.
    Even his admiring biographer and friend Monica Furlong called her biog of him " Genuine Fake ".. ;)
  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran
    edited September 2013
    another video from Alan Watts:

    found it both interesting and insightful, so thought of sharing with all.
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