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Nature, Man and Woman

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  1,324 ratings  ·  61 reviews
A provocative and enduring work that reexamines humanity's place in the natural world -- and the spirit's relation to the flesh -- in the light of Chinese Taoism.

That human beings stand separate from a nature that must be controlled, that the mind is somehow superior to the body, and that all sexuality entails a seduction -- a danger and a problem-are all assumptions upon
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 27th 1991 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1958)
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  1,324 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Aug 15, 2007 rated it liked it
Can't go wrong with Alan Watts. Can't go right either. Opposites implied and all.

Nancy Bevilaqua
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Damn--over too soon. Watts describes and explains the alternatives to our often utilitarian, puritanical, guilt-ridden (and anything but spiritual) ways of thinking about love-making, and considers that, contrary to popular opinion, sex, the natural world, and spirituality need not be mutually exclusive at all-he doesn't denounce the celibacy of the spiritual seeker, but he doesn't see it as the only way. Taoism and Zen have always appealed to me, but Watts has a way of breathing life into his i ...more
Jan 07, 2008 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Arun
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, an ...more
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
While parts of this book were a little hard for me to wrap my brain around, not being a philosopher by trade or training, I still left the book riddled with sticky-tabs for later reference and inspiration.

I started to quote my favorite passages, but not wanting to retype large swaths of the book, I erased it all. It's hard to pull tidbits out of long, inter-connected thoughts without compromising the point of the quote. And, on that note, that is exactly the point the author was trying to make,
Sep 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Buddhism isn't for everyone. I recently began working at a temple out west (in chicago) and so my interest in this subject has resurfaced. My family converted (as much as one can convert to a non-religion) to buddhism when I was about twelve. Church on sunday immediately ceased and we were all a lot happier. I didn't really start understanding the precepts of the middle way until, perhaps, high school. I had tried like many others to understand buddhism by trying to read D.T. Suzuki's Understand ...more
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very easy to read contemplative chapters on Zen Buddhism, nature and sexuality with a non judgmental but definitely a 60’s era heteronormative point of view. Recommended, if you are into this kind of thing.
Sep 05, 2010 is currently reading it
"I am God, you are God, everything is God, and God is a boundless and featureless, sea of dimly conscious tapioca pudding." ...more
Oct 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Alan Watts is brilliant and at times mind spinning philosopher that often is beyond my intellectual grasp. In this work he questions our divorce, abuse, and distrust of the natural world.
He suggest that in time and technological expansion that we will be increasingly isolated and find ourselves at odds with ourselves and the environment. To state the obvious -- he got it.

Further on He delves into Eastern fertility practices and the Kundalani/serpent yoga experience.
A noteworthy quote:
"for the
Erik Graff
Jul 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: persons interested in Zen and Taoism
Recommended to Erik by: Anne-Lise Graff
Shelves: philosophy
This, along with The Book, were the two books Mother had by Alan Watts which I read at the end of high school and which got me interested enough to read other volumes by him as I encountered copies at used bookstores. These two volumes and the influence of a friend, Michael Miley, got me into the study of religion through the back door of Eastern mysticism despite strong prejudices against the whole concept of religion.
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Watts writing is entertaining and educating. I'd like to say I understood everything in this book. But I didn't. And that's ok, because it is a book I'd happily reread. ...more
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Something like these words in this book caress so deeply, so profoundly, that it is difficult to describe how much of a gift it is.. Indeed, describing a perspective on the book may be missing the point of the book itself. Before opening this, I had a familiarity of some ideas about interdependant relationships and coherent, simultaneous expression of life in all its forms. In saying that, in attempting to conceive of Watts' message I felt more and more self-aware as being stuck and isolated in ...more
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is one of the better Alan Watts books I've read so far because it feels more like an objective topical study rather than a defense of a Buddhist view, although it does contain clear preferences. It also has a lot of discussion about the Chrisitan idea of nature and sexual relations, so it's kind of a critique that is always welcome. Watts recognizes the good things too when they are present, so it's not a debunking kind of book - more of a dig into the traditions of east and west. Sometimes ...more
Spencer Scott
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life. I can't wait to read it again.

It's a tough read, but a book you almost underline in entirety.
Dec 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing

“Life keeps moving on, and yet remains profoundly rooted in the present, seeking no result, for the present has spread out from its constriction in an elusive pin-point of strained consciousness to an all-embracing eternity. Feelings both positive and negative come and go without turmoil, for they seem to be simply observed, though there is no one observing. They pass trackless like birds in the sky, and build up no resistances which have to be dissipated in reckless action.” * “[T]o be forever
May 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. I actually heard about the Tao (pronounced Dao) many years ago when I was in recovery. They had these cheesy little spiritual tapes when we'd sit at the table in the recovery home kitchen with fruit punch, I thought they were trying to brainwash us... This book isn't that!

Alan Watts is a philosopher whose voice, on old recordings, sounds like a deeply-pitched Alec Guinness, of course he's not Guinness he's Alan Watts. And like Guinness's Star Wars character Obi-Wan Kenobi he
May 30, 2018 rated it liked it
"Then you sort out the recycling. That isn't part of the foreplay process but it is still very important"
-The Flight of the Conchords, "Business Time"

In this book, Mr. Watts attempts to define love within the spheres of nature, religion, and sexuality. As per usual, there is a heaping helping of Eastern thought and phrases brought in to alleviate the stifling rigidity of Western thought. Watts speaks of having an open consciousness which does not chop up reality into classifiable bits of info, b
Cassandra  Glissadevil
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion, philosophy
4.4 stars!
Another Alan Watts classic. I've held Alan Watt's spiritual insights close to my heart for decades. I cherish Alan.
Pain overtakes my life. Suffering suspends living-

“The answer to the problem of suffering is not away from the problem but in it. The inevitability of pain will not be met by deadening sensitivity but by increasing it, by exploring and feeling out the manner in which the natural organism itself wants to react and which its innate wisdom has provided.”
― Alan W. Watts

Let go
Anthony O'Connor
Not his best book

Allan Watts was a good writer. Former theology student and Christian pastor, writing prolifically on so called eastern ‘wisdom’ - Taoism, Buddhism - and the deficiencies of western ‘thought’ and practice. This was in California in the 1950s before that whole bandwagon got rolling - something he may have contributed to. He was very open minded especially for the 1950s. LSD experiments, tantric sex, the need for more than dull placid conformity. And is generally interesting and in
Katja Vartiainen
I can't make a synopsis of this book, because it has so many wonderful revelations. I loved it! The back cover says this: 'That human beings stand separate from nature that must be controlled, that the mind is somehow superior to the body, and that sexuality entails a seduction -a danger or a problem- are assumptions upon which much of Western thought and culture is based.' Though the part of sexuality I think Watts says it that one shouldn't do it with thoughts but let it happen in this bodily ...more
Apr 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Watts wants you to try tantric sex to unite with the divine, with the promise of multiple orgasms.

Perhaps it is only by taking a very different point of view that we are able to contemplate to what extent ours is fucked up. Fucking each other and fucking nature we betray a certain discomfort in ourselves, something Watt's would call, maybe with less adjectives, the frustrating anxiety of the isolated self. Mounted by guilt and bad conscience the need arises to separate nature and sprit, the fo
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This turned out to be a 155 page tome for my tiny mind (the edition I have isn’t listed on goodreads, but it was 155 pages of densely printed text).
I think it has taken me almost 6 weeks to get through it. Every paragraph - sometimes every sentence - I had to stop and reflect, and I STILL feel that I’ve only grasped this on a superficial level.
Definitely going to have to revisit this one.
Elvira Grahn
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the greatest of books that I almost never finished.
It took me about a 100 pages to realise how and why one should read this book by Watts, or really, how and why someone should/would read any book, ever again.

This man talked and wrote a lot of gibberish. I really get the notion, that he understood the world in a way I might never. Gah, such a great book.
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Very poetic and eloquent insight to the intricate and often sensitive relationship between and surrounding sexuality and spirituality. Watts has a great gift for explanation that opens up a new dimension of thought that's provoking and wonderful. ...more
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A dense read and a delightful one. Useful for understanding some of the underlying psychology in contemporary Christianity. Also, has made me think differently about my conceptions of self, belief, and the world.
Olivia Lewman
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
*** Heterosexual people would more easily relate to this analysis because of Watt’s tendency to compare “female” vs. “male” energy in relationships and how they exist in nature. However, if one thinks about it in terms of assumed roles as “giver” and “receiver” it may apply to other types of love and relationships. ***
Watts examines the relationship between women, men and nature and their evolution within human thought molded by the teachings of eastern and western religions. He presents how dif
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
It did nothing for me. Felt like a rambling mess.
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Radical and profound, this is Watts at his very best. Brilliant!
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: alan-watts
Jaya Singh
Mar 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Definitely needs a second read (maybe even more; todo added).
Ernie Truman
Second only to Watts' "The Wisdom of Insecurity" this title goes more deeply into our disconnect with nature, and in the process with ourselves. The chapter that held my attention more than any other was Science and Nature. In this part of the book Watts goes deeply into the method whereby, through our interpretations, we impose certain laws of nature and thus reduce its spontaneity to small patterns that we mistake for the reality of nature. By our mistaken beliefs that thoughts can express so- ...more
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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

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“The more a person knows of himself, the more he will hesitate to define his nature and to assert what he must necessarily feel, and the more he will be astounded at his capacity to feel in unsuspected and unpredictable ways.” 12 likes
“The answer to the problem of suffering is not away from the problem but in it. The inevitability of pain will not be met by deadening sensitivity but by increasing it, by exploring and feeling out the manner in which the natural organism itself wants to react and which its innate wisdom has provided.” 9 likes
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