Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness” as Want to Read:
The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness

4.26  ·  Rating Details ·  627 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
The Joyous Cosmology is both a riveting memoir of Watts's personal experiments and a profound meditation on the nature of existence and the existence of the sacred.
ebook, 152 pages
Published April 30th 2013 by New World Library (first published 1962)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Joyous Cosmology, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Joyous Cosmology

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Erik Graff
Jul 05, 2009 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: psychonauts
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: religion
Alan Watts, the student of comparative religions and exponent of Zen to the West, was originally reluctant to equate some of the experiences readily afforded by the psychedelics to those obtained through long yogic disciplines. He changed his views after some experiences with the drugs and this book is his contribution to the discussion, a contribution specifically focusing on the emotional and religious aspects of the experience.

I had a similar experience in college. For some months a Buddhist
Apr 16, 2008 Mason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mason by: David Watts
This book does an incredible job at explaining the many thoughts that cross the minds of people who are fortunate enough to really explore their inner self while under the influence of certain chemicals. There is no way to explain what happens to consciousness during these experiences but Alan Watts does an incredible job at giving an idea.
One of the virtues of this book in comparison to something like The Doors of Perception (Huxley) is that Watts does not hesitate to express the sentiments tha
Dimitris Hall
Seldom before have I read 30 pages of printed .pdf so tightly packed with meaning. A lot of it was profound, written in a time when psychedelic substances were a new unexplored area of the human experience. Research was being done on their medical and other properties (with Watts being sceptical about whether the proper environment for relative experimentation really was research laboratories and clinics). It was an innocent time, before the powers that be had really found out about what a gapin ...more
Arnold Wanker
I sometimes feel as though some of Alan Watts's descriptions of his cosmology can't possibly be improved upon. He is at once very succinct and very poetic - his language is communicative and engaging without ever coming across as obtuse or obnoxious. I would have loved to have seen Watts write fiction, because his use of metaphor and analogy is inspiring.

Ostensibly this is a book about a philosopher taking psychedelic drugs. While his views on drugs are interesting and probably ahead of his time
Jun 30, 2016 Joseph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alan Watts is arguably one of the more important writers of the past century. He brings all of his theological experience to bear in this book.

This book follows in the steps of Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception, but goes to a whole new elevation. Watts held a doctorate in Divinity and a Masters in Theology, and was well versed in religions of East and West. The search for and acceptance of the self, as well as the spiritual way, permeate his work. This work, dealing with his epiphanies and
Jesse D.
Feb 16, 2009 Jesse D. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another from Alan Watts, creator rest his soul, that is just unbelievably well done. This book further opened my eyes to things I had already seen, but had never understood, or connected. I wouldn't say this book really "taught" me anything, but it was more of a reaffirmation of many of my beliefs. I would highly recommend this to anyone who has had a positive experience with LSD.
Jan 02, 2017 Kenneth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I heard that Alan Watts had written a book attempting to explain the psychedelic experience through his own eyes, I knew I had to read it.

Watts' prose style is perfect for describing a subject matter that is stigmatized and controversial.
In my mind, his ability to help the reader come to terms with their own misconceptions on the topic of psychedelics without sounding condescending makes for a laid-back yet informative read.
The book is not very long; it can easily be read in one sitting.
Ankit Bansal
Nice book.

A book for someone who has enough experience in this arena..:) watts has tried to explain something which can never be put in words. It is a pictorial book where watts has tried to explain everything images in an altered state of conciousness or a mystical state. Anyone who has done few experience can reasonate with his words.
May 18, 2013 Kush rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 23, 2010 blakeR rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
The other reviews pretty much said what I think. This was the last of Watts' books I had on my list to read, and I was understandably excited given the subject matter treated by one of my favorite thinkers. He uses his incredible ability of expressing complex ideas very simply in order to describe various "hallucinogenic" experiences he has had: the things he has seen, the thoughts that have occurred, etc. It sometimes reads pretty dry, when he uses very esoteric words to create a sort of poetry ...more
Roberto Tatasciore
This book was my first exposure to the anthology of Mr. Watts. I admire his eloquence and thoroughly enjoyed his account of his personal mystical experiences. I had to re-read many paragraphs several times for many of them were hard to take in and would take long to digest. Of course, that must, in part, be due to English not being my native language. Nonetheless, I would assume some native speakers may struggle with his paragraphs in a similar way. I also enjoyed his well-articulated metaphors. ...more
Aug 25, 2008 BiL rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was very much looking forwardto reading this book as it is the only collaberation that I know of between my two favorite thinkers ever...Ram Dass (wrote the introduction in the book) and Alan Watts. Also, I think that due to the nature of the writings (memoirs written by Watts while on psycadelics) I was ready for the most insightful stuff ever from him. Truth be told...this book reads like a random piecemeal buffet of some of his other writings. The subjects jump as quickly from one to the ne ...more
Apr 11, 2015 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The experiencia that Watts depicts is an extremely vivid scenery full of purposeful patterns that are the basic units of life. We come from this unknown mass of energy that we are all so closely interrelated with one another. However, we tend to forget that we are all one, and we forget that as an organism, we are also one and not separate from the whole.

Sometimes, the void described by religious monks are pegged as full detachment from life; however, it is the complete opposite. It is a detach
Jason Gregory
Sep 27, 2016 Jason Gregory rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In modern times the use of psychedelics is at a premium. But in most cases people suffer from having no frame of reference for the experience they have during psychedelics. It is usually only those people who have already embarked on the spiritual journey prior to a psychedelic experience that have the most insights to bring back for the rest of us to learn from. Alan Watts is one such individual. His life was dedicated to the mystery of life and the exploration of consciousness. In this book he ...more
R Calkins
Mar 29, 2016 R Calkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Books by Allan Watts always top my list of favorites

This book is short but well worth the cost and time to read it. Allan tells us from his own experiences how natural psychedelic plants can open the doors of misperception and allow us to experience what it means to drop the idea of a separate self and explore our true connection to life and the energy that is us. He also goes into the real reasons that our government has made these substances illegal and why they are mistaken in their reasons a
Nov 11, 2013 Aisllan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mr.Watts is trully a brilliant writter, being able to pour that amount of abstract concepts in such a clear and easy way to relate. This was my first book from him and after finishing it I couldn't help comparing his style to Carl Sagan's, yes I know, different fields but there is something there, that remind me of him. The subject of psychedelics and mystical experiences has always interested my a great deal and this book presents a record of a series of different experiences, a topic I could d ...more
Peter Zockoll
More or less a short handbook on Alan Watts describing in vague terms different psychedelic experiences he had while in communion with either LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, DMT, or cannabis. While his observations are lucid, his description of the experiences of course pale in comparison to the experiences themselves. This almost felt to me as a book you might read if you were debating on whether to take the substances. Those experienced with one or any of the above named substances might find this ...more
Apr 04, 2015 Ranah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i thought it was brilliant. the prologue particularly resonated with my philosophy and Watts did such a great job recounting his experience with the drugs he took. i definitely recommend this read if you're curious about the spiritual/consciousness-enhancement potential of chemical drugs or want to dive into this inaccessible but enriching perspective of the harmony and unity of the world around us and within. good stuff.
I have a friend that regularly takes ayahuasca and says it's spiritual, but her experience never really sounds like this. Watts talks abt a different experience of using psychedelics for a spiritual transformational experience. Not inspiring me to do anything this wild right now, but interesting book.
Jul 22, 2016 Claudia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a book exploring psychedelic drugs. I have ZERO interest in drugs of any kind. And so for me was a heavy, 'I-cannot-wait-to-get-rid-of-this-book' kind of book. It's well written and interesting but only It's the wrong sort of book for me. 2 stars is definitely too much but only because I'm not into the subject of this book. Wrong book for the wrong reader perhaps.
Every bit as masterful as one would expect from the grand master that is Alan Watts, with an exceptional (and large) set of forewords/prologues that are quite good, too. The core of it is essentially the Buddhist view of reality as 'discovered' through psychedelics - better than I've seen anyone else distill it.
Jul 16, 2015 Loui rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome book! Loved it. Alan is takes a philosophical and poetic approach to psychedelic experiences. I can relate! He also puts the United States in its place, a totally illogical form of government, well said in the last few pages.
Sep 16, 2014 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-my-bookcase
A lyrically written journey into the mind, Alan Watts impeccably conveys his journey into human consciousness, the ego and the psyche. A must read for anyone intent on exploring the bounds of the mind.
Teo 2050
(view spoiler)
Sara Gray
Sep 26, 2015 Sara Gray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Watts' prose is precise, witty, clear as glass and also surprisingly funny (I'll forever call my ego the Eenie-Weenie now, heh). A warm, mind and heart-opening read before my big trip to Peru to partake of some of the substances he mentions. May my writing efforts be as fruitful.
Daniel Gonçalves
Mar 21, 2015 Daniel Gonçalves rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why do you think the government explicitly prohibits LSD and other conscious altering drugs? It is because they don't want you to understand the bigger-picture: that we are one with nature; that there are no hierarchies; no rulers; no power games. Just us - the universe.
Andrew Baird
Jan 07, 2015 Andrew Baird rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alan Watts justifies the empirical value of hallucinogens, then proceeds to quasi-coherently wax poetic on cosmology and other subjects while tripping his face off on acid while he writes it all down.
May 16, 2015 Damien rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow! This lets you see, through the eyes of a gifted poet, what it is like to take LSD, at least what it is like for him. It's a little wild, unruly and psychedelic ( of course it is!!!!) but it is beautiful, fascinating and ultimately hugely hopeful!
Jul 18, 2016 Kaleb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oct 08, 2016 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and beautiful language, but the real gems for me were in the epilogue. The foreword by Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert was a nice surprise as well.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys
  • LSD: Doorway to the Numinous: The Groundbreaking Psychedelic Research into Realms of the Human Unconscious
  • A Secret History of Consciousness
  • The Way of the Explorer: An Apollo Astronaut's Journey Through the Material and Mystical Worlds
  • The Integral Vision: A Very Short Introduction to the Revolutionary Integral Approach to Life, God, the Universe, and Everything
  • Rational Mysticism: Spirituality Meets Science in the Search for Enlightenment
  • The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries
  • The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena
  • Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity
  • True Hallucinations
  • The New Inquisition: Irrational Rationalism and the Citadel of Science
  • Psyche and Symbol: A Selection from the Writings of C.G. Jung
  • Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion
  • The Future of the Body: Explorations into the Further Evolution of Human Nature
  • Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica
  • Handbook to Higher Consciousness
  • A New Model of the Universe
  • Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View
Alan Wilson Watts was a British philosopher, writer and speaker, who held both a Master's in Theology and a Doctorate of Divinity. Famous for his research on comparative religion, he was best known as an interpreter and popularizer of Asian philosophies for a Western audience. He wrote over 25 books and numerous articles on subjects such as personal identity, the true nature of reality, higher con ...more
More about Alan W. Watts...

Share This Book

“But the transformation of consciousness undertaken in Taoism and Zen is more like the correction of faulty perception or the curing of a disease. It is not an acquisitive process of learning more and more facts or greater and greater skills, but rather an unlearning of wrong habits and opinions. As Lao-tzu said, "The scholar gains every day, but the Taoist loses every day.” 36 likes
“Behind the mask of love I find my innate selfishness. What a predicament I am in if someone asks, “Do you really love me?” I can’t say yes without saying no, for the only answer that will really satisfy is, “Yes, I love you so much I could eat you! My love for you is identical with my love for myself. I love you with the purest selfishness.” No one wants to be loved out of a sense of duty. So I will be very frank. “Yes, I am pure, selfish desire and I love because you make me feel wonderful—at any rate for the time being.” But then I begin to wonder whether there isn’t something a bit cunning in this frankness. It is big of me to be so sincere, to make a play for her by not pretending to be more than I am—unlike the other guys who say they love her for herself. I see that there is always something insincere about trying to be sincere, as if I were to say openly, “The statement that I am now making is a lie.” There seems to be something phony about every attempt to define myself, to be totally honest. The trouble is that I can’t see the back, much less the inside, of my head. I can’t be honest because I don’t fully know what I am. Consciousness peers out from a center which it cannot see—and that is the root of the matter.” 1 likes
More quotes…