Alan Watts was a British-born philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known as an interpreter of Eastern philosophy, which he skilfully adapted for a Western audience. He became a faithful student of Zen and went on to acquire a master’s degree in theology. Watts also became an Episcopal priest but eventually left the ministry in 1950 and moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies.
Watts wrote more than 25 books and innumerable articles on subjects important to both Eastern and Western religion, introducing the then-burgeoning youth culture to The Way of Zen (1957), one of the first bestselling books on Buddhism. In a later work, Psychotherapy East and West (1961), Watts proposed that Buddhism could be thought of as a form of psychotherapy and not a religion. He also explored human consciousness, in the essay “The New Alchemy” (1958), and in the book The Joyous Cosmology (1962).
He, like many great minds of the past, seems to be being appreciated more now than when he was here. Here are some of his thought-provoking reflections….