Thursday, July 1, 2010

Out of Your Mind Audio Book,CD by Alan Watts

Now, with Out of Your Mind: Essential Listening from the Alan Watts Audio Archives, you are invited to immerse yourself in 12 of this legendary thinker's pinnacle teaching sessions about how to break through the limits of the rational mind and begin expanding your awareness and appreciation for the Great Game unfolding all around us.
Out of Your Mind brings you six complete seminars carefully selected from hundreds of recordings by Alan Watts' son and archivist, Mark Watts, that capture the true scope of this brilliant teacher in action. On these superb, digitally restored recordings, you will delve into Alan Watts' favorite pathways out of the trap of conventional awareness, including:
The art of the controlled accident: what happens when you stop taking your life so seriously and start enjoying it with complete sincerity.
How we come to believe the myth of myself that we are skin-encapsulated egos separate from the world around us and how to transcend that illusion.
Why we must fully embrace chaos and the void to find our deepest purpose.
Unconventional and refreshing insights into the deeper principles of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Western philosophy, plus much, much more. 
Find  Out of Your Mind on Amazon

Alan Watts This Is It Audio CD

Titled "This Is IT" the album is in fact missing from all Watts bibliographies I've seen, and it ranks as one of his rarest works. The record's importance and uniqueness is only now beginning to see recognition, and its earliest advocates were esoteric record collectors rather than Watts admirers or psychedelic archivists. Its rarity is somewhat puzzling as Watts had recorded and released two albums in the same series and on the same label (MEA) in 1958-59, and these aren't half as obscure.
The record is not easy to describe, and much in line with its theme it remains an aural experience impossible to analyse in a structured way. A key word to suggest its nature might be tribal. Referred to on the back cover as a "spontaneous musical happening", its relationship with the LSD testimonies in "The Joyous Cosmology" is made clear by explicit mention and extensive quotes from this book. Full review here. Find This Is It audio cd on Amazon

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tao: The Watercourse Way Book Review

I feel like the book has helped me quite a bit in understanding Laozi, Zhuangzi, as well as the general ideas of Contemplative Taoism. It draws from various original writings on Taoism, as well as some more contemporary parallels. The author, Alan Watts, also uses mostly his own translations of Laozi as well as those of others. Footnotes often draw attention to differences in translations, which also is very helpful with something as widely translated as Dao De Jing.

That said, I've read the book once and am hopeful that I understand about 50%. Definitely something to re-read once or twice. This is the point that prevents me from giving it five stars, as I feel any book on Taoism should be more straightforward and not as intellectual.

For students of Chinese, the book also helpfully offers Chinese ideograms in the margins when referring to Chinese words in the main text. Moreover, the book contains a good deal of original calligraphy, used for the names of each chapter as well as quite a few quotations from Laozi, Zhuangzi, and Liezi.

Nature, Man and Woman Book Review

This book was just what I needed to read when I read it. I love when that happens. It reminded me of just what part of myself has been neglected thus far in my life.... instinct, feeling (as opposed to logical thinking) and helped me relax around 'knowing' and remind me I have an 'understanding' of a different sort when I can tune it in.
Watts says: "We know that the fish swim in constant fear of their lives, that they hang motionless so as not to be seen, and dart into motion because they are just nerves, startled into a jump by the tiniest ghost of an alarm. We know that the 'love of nature' is a sentimental fascination with surface-that the gulls do not float in the sky for delight but in watchful hunger for fish, that the golden bees do not dream in the lilies but call as routinely for honey as collection agents for rent, and that the squirrels romping, as it seems, freely and joyously through the branches, are just frustrated little balls of appetite and fear. We know that the peaceful rationality, the relaxed culture, and the easy normality of civilized human life are a crust of habit repressing emotions too violent or poignant for most of us to stand-the first resting place which life had found in its arduous climb from the primordial, natural world of relentless struggle and terror."

Does It Matter?: Essays on Man's Relation to Materiality Book Review

In this series of essays, Alan Watts gives a snarky, matter-of-fact, spiritual approach to how we treat ourselves, each other, and the other living things on this planet. With his dash of self-aware arrogance and know-it-all attitude, he leads you through the idea of humanity and our relationship to the material world, all the way down to how we should design our kitchens. To give an example of his mildly irreverent tact: "Life, like getting an erection, is spontaneous process which collapses when one tries to force it to happen." While I may not agree with everything the man says, indeed, I must have underlined at least a quarter of this book.

With a Buddhist bent, this philosopher smart-ass takes you on a trip (and yes, he experimented with LSD) around money, food, drugs, clothing and all the material trappings that we cannot escape while living on this planet. Reading this book was a brilliantly comical and realistic inspiration, and I am still absorbing his other material.

Note: You can also download podcasts of his lectures online. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

This Is It: and Other Essays on Zen and Spiritual Experience by Alan w Watts

My reading this book was perfect timing for when i read it. It was just what i needed at the time. It's a collection of essays. I did get sort of a theme of commentary on dualism; especially with the mystic/sensualist, spiritualist/materialist part. My interpretation is he is commenting on the paradox of being in a "spiritual" or "mystical" state and balancing with the material world we see and can enjoy all around us. Especially interesting to me is the idea of these school of camps trying to get you to prescribe to a way of being of their choosing and having to choose one extreme over another, how there doesn't seem the option, but possible to be balancing on a fence in between. There doesn't seem as much acceptance, at least at that time, for such thinking, but I think a lot of us do, whether we realize it or not. Although I get an impression from him sometimes that he struggles quite a bit and may not be as stable as his persona (whether created by him or outside) portrays, I think he really gives a good inner dialog I/you can relate with.
Find This Is It on Amazon

The Way of Zen by Alan Watts

 I see the Way of Zen not so much as an exposition of a secularized version of Zen Buddhism (or Eastern thought more generally), explained in a manner easily understood by Westerners (which it is), but more as an accoutrement to Eastern spiritual practices like meditation and other numinous experiences derived from Eastern thought. This book is easily as good as anything I've read on spirituality, and probably the very best. It is important to read between the lines in this book if the full benefit of the spiritual practices of the East is to be had. Whenever I read this book I am overcome by a profound feeling of the numinous, comparable to, but not quite reaching the highest hights of, the most profound spiritual experiences of my life. The best work of Alan Watts I have read to date, this book is highly recommended for anybody interested in Eastern spirituality.
Find The Way of Zen on Amazon

Become What You Are by Alan W. Watts

"Life exists only at this very moment, and in this moment it is infinite and eternal. For the present moment is infinitely small; before we can measure it, it has gone, and yet it exists forever. . . . You may believe yourself out of harmony with life and its eternal Now; but you cannot be, for you are life and exist Now."—from Become What You Are

In this collection of writings, including nine new chapters never before available in book form, Watts displays the intelligence, playfulness of thought, and simplicity of language that has made him so perennially popular as an interpreter of Eastern thought for Westerners. He draws on a variety of religious traditions, and covers topics such as the challenge of seeing one's life "just as it is," the Taoist approach to harmonious living, the limits of language in the face of ineffable spiritual truth, and the psychological symbolism of Christian thought.
Find Become What You Are on Amazon

The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan W. Watts

Alan Watts is an ex Episcopal priest who converted to Zen Buddhism and then to Taoism, and then sort of moved beyond both in his own way. The Wisdom of Insecurity is a book that was for me life-changing. It argues, among other things, that insecurity, indeterminacy, is the truth of existence, and that to cling to particular things as if they were eternal is to waste your time and strength. He says it far more eloquently than I can. If you are the kind of person who asks questions, this is a book for you.
Buy This Book on Amazon

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

This is one of those books that goes deep into the essence of the PERSONAL EGO. The way we look at the world and why we look at it with squinting eyes. This book literally opened up my mind to some new thoughts and at solidified some of my own ideas that I had been dwelling on for years. 
Its funny at times. But, Read it with no distractions around. Its only enjoyable if you can literally digest what the man is saying.

Youll never look at the world the same once youve read this book, and I mean that in a good way. 

Find The Book at:Amazon