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Become What You Are

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  4,960 ratings  ·  187 reviews
"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

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Paperback, expanded, 144 pages
Published March 11th 2003 by Shambhala (first published 1955)
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Shaurya What he means is it's very easy to lose yourself to a false image you create in your head of a "good and perfect person". If the weight of failure, on…moreWhat he means is it's very easy to lose yourself to a false image you create in your head of a "good and perfect person". If the weight of failure, on your path to whatever you want to be, is too much to handle and makes you quit into believing that you need to give up "these worldly expectations" and take up a path of solace you might be mistaken.

In plain simple words he is asking you to be honest to your innate self. (less)

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Steve Woods
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Whatever else I may have found to absorb during my now several years of practice I am both glad and grateful that I found Alan Watts, the self proclaimed "spiritual entertainer". His grasp of the essence of practice as it has at least presented to me, is both incisive and insightful and he is always able to express the most abstract idea in a way that anyone can grasp. I am gradually working my way through everything he has written that I can lay my hands on; he always, with out any seeming effo ...more
Mar 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Become what you are and stop trying so hard to become what you are not. :)
David (דוד)
Alan Watts' wonderful compilation of twenty essays,much of which is (essential) wisdom.
Liked at least three quarters of them, some of which could be certainly put into practice.

Excellent. Very much RECOMMENDED.
Jul 14, 2012 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book a lot although not the best Watts. The book is basically just a short collection of essays about becoming what you are collected from mostly magazines. A lot of the essays, since not originally intended to be put in a book form, make some of the same points over and over again. The recurring ideas are great if you are new to them and want to make sure that some of those main points sink in. Even though some essays will say a lot of the same things i feel that each did ...more
Aug 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“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 persists forever.”
Jeffrey Howard
Dec 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
The title perfectly captures the essential truth of this book, but echoes something more akin to the self-help genre rather than philosophy, which will naturally put off a lot of the people who should read it. Additionally, as I have felt compelled to say in the past when reviewing some books on Eastern philosophy, the nature of Alan Watts' book doesn't suit categorization. Most accurately it is not philosophy, religion, or mythology. Zen Buddhism is best understood as a way of the living. It is ...more
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Who you are is what you were?? Don't be fooled by the number of pages. It's a short book, but very dense. Alan Watts does a good job of making Eastern Buddhism accessible to Westerners, but there is still a lot of circuitous / paradoxical logic that is difficult to understand upon first read. ...more
Jun 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I reread this every summer. Preferably in a park. Essential.
Aug 11, 2021 rated it it was ok
Read few of the essays, on reality, on being and so on. not appealing to me currently
Aug 20, 2021 rated it liked it
“The unenlightened man keeps a tight hold on himself because he is afraid of losing himself; he can trust neither circumstances nor his own human nature; he is terrified of being genuine, of accepting himself as he is and tries to deceive himself into the belief that he is as he wishes to be. But these are the wishes, the desires that bind him, and it was such desires as these that the Buddha described as the cause of human misery.”
Life is simply here and now in the present moment. Everythin
Feb 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
great book. for me, i have had to figure out 'what" i am and have always been, which is simply ME. but i've had to wrestle with the acceptance of that I am and always have been what I am and I am exactly perfect in who and what i have always been. too bad i didn't really get that in high school... confused?? mabye if you read the book you'll get what I am talking about. ...more
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Alan Watts writes with such clarity. He thinks deeply and brings it to the reader to grasp and think about. He seems to have the agenda of getting an idea across rather than converting others to his way of thinking, or more precisely perhaps, way of seeing.
Ricardo Magalhães
Dec 04, 2016 rated it liked it
As a big fan of Alan Watts' works, I found this book to be a bit of a mixed bag. It's indeed a collection of essays on topics ranging from Western religion, Buddhism, eastern philosophy, and mostly how they all mingle (and don't mingle) together. The essays feel a bit scattered, though, and while others convey a sense of personal development and self-reflection, others are hands-down a history lesson by the book in which I found myself trying to memorise words, rather than making sense of the te ...more
Nicole Taylor
Apr 05, 2013 rated it liked it
My dad gave me a copy of The Wisdom of Insecurity when I was in high school and it rocked my whole life. It was interesting to read Watts 18 years later. There was something Holden Caulfield-like about it in the way he spends a lot of time talking about phonies on the spiritual path.
I enjoyed reading it, though some essays resonated more than others and I didn't have that experience of each sentence being like a drop of water on a dehydrated tongue. But maybe that experience belongs to the youth
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Didn't understand everything clearly, but some concepts stuck around :). ...more
Kayleigh Cassidy
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the pure light that comes from Alan Watt's (watt. light. couldn't help but make a cheap pun) translations. I guess most of the writing offers insight into living a more meaningful life. Reframing the way we are told to see things. Because the news calls the current situation a 'Lockdown' do we have to call it that too? I feel differently upon reading this book. More in control of my experience. Seeing our homeboundness as a lockdown is limiting in its positivity. I began this bo ...more
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book's review can't be written. This book can't be explained. There are only two possibilities. Reading this book being one and experiencing this book being the other. That leaves me with only one possibility. Experiencing this book. This makes no sense and yet it makes all the sense in this world which is incomplete without this book and without which this book is incomplete. ...more
Nish P
Dec 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Alan Watts has always been an influential person for me. This book traces some of his essays on Zen, Buddhism, Life and the world itself. Some chapters go towards the line of religion. However, most of the chapters try to dig down into the zen practices - by relating to events, stories, so on and so forth.

Tim Belonax
Sep 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020-reads
A solid compilation of wisdom though I might not recommend it as an introduction to Watts or this world of thinking, due to wider references. I’ll be looking into more Watts after this book.
Sep 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy, 2020
A bit redundant in some parts. Perhaps it has a lot to do with the fact that I read this after Krishnamurti's. Would still recommend this for those who are curious with Eastern philosophy. ...more
Kartike Bhardwaj
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
It feels somewhat unfair to rate a book which talks about and describes something which by definition is inexplicable. I give it a four because even though I can hardly say I have "understood" or "realised" Zen, I gained previously unobserved perspective. I gained what can be crudely described as a sense of what Zen or Reality is, and maybe more surely what it isn't. I don't give it a five because the language is not the simplest, although again, the subject matter is notorious for eluding a con ...more
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Alan Watts speaks to me in the same ways as Jiddu Krishnamurti.

Watts is a little more intellectual, as in more precise, therefore, educational, in regards to the subject. After all, Alan wrote (and references) the majority of what's here whereas Jiddu's books are recordings from live conversations he had in the past. I know I'm largely making this out as a comparison or juxtaposition, I can't help but see them both in the same vein. Kirshnamurti as teacher and friend, Alan as bridge and friend.
Oct 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone in search of oneself
Recommended to Musiclovebliss by: it called out to me at the bookstore
I keep this book of compilations of Alan Watts's best essays in my purse, just in case I'm waiting somewhere and need a lift. He never ceases to stimulate the mind and heart. The essay about the finger and the moon would be a great read for anyone wanting an adequate explanation on how to approach religion in daily life, and how some use it as a crutch almost...beautiful metaphors, and later on, it does get a little dry when he discusses all the sects of Buddhism (very informative, nevertheless) ...more
Apr 24, 2015 rated it liked it
A mixed bag. I think anything written by Watts is worth reading, but this collection of early essays (some from the 1930s) is hit or miss. Still, the seeds of the greatness of THE BOOK and other later works are here... the best pieces (for me) are the ones that deal with non-duality in a plain-spoken way that undoes the knots of our ego consciousness. I wonder if hanging out and shooting the shit with Watts would be as amazingly edifying and cool as I imagine it.
Eduardo Santiago
I wish I could embrace Alan Watts; so many people I respect love his writings. I don’t: he reminds me too much of that too-clever Debate Club bully who twists fancy words and esoteric quotations until you’re too dizzy to follow. Watts is no bully, and his message is a valid important one, but something about his approach just turns me off. Partly it’s his reliance on judeochristian mythology: kind of like basing your argument on Obi-Wan Kenobi sayings.
Cosmin Nicolae
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great view, good details, great impact, free will and captivating writeings. I declare myself a fan of Alan Watts.
Lena Christín
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-read
After reading around 20 pages I was literally jumping dancing out of pure joy and enlightenment in my friend’s guest room.. 😅 A really good book in other words.
Sharon Porcaro
Jul 26, 2011 rated it liked it
This dude is a trip.
Aman Mittal
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This not the first Alan Watts book I have read. To read this one, I made myself familiar with his writing and philosophy by reading his other books such as The Wisdom of Insecurity (on someone's recommendation in past) and listening to his teachings in past few weeks. It's important to know your subject in most cases. In this case, even if you aren't familiar with Watts' philosophy, I'd suggest you to go ahead. However, a bit of familiarity only embraces curiosity. The title is the essence of th ...more
Arley A
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
9 little stories/essays about Tao and Zen and all that Watts stuff. Gave me a much clearer understanding of these ideas, and especially of how to concentrate on the present moment. This passage particularly helped it make sense to me:

Now the great deal of talk about the difficulty of action, or the difficulty ofconcentration, is sheer nonsense. If we are sitting together at a meal,and I say to you, "Please pass the salt" –- you just do it, and there is no difficulty about it. You do not stop to
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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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“a man does not really begin to be alive until he has lost himself, until he has released the anxious grasp which he normally holds upon his life, his property, his reputation and position.” 42 likes
“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 persists for ever.” 22 likes
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