Mark Watts compiled this book from his father's extensive journals and audiotapes of famous lectures he delivered in his later years across the country. In three parts, Alan Watts explains the basic philosophy of meditation, how individuals can practice a variety of meditations, and how inner wisdom grows naturally.
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 consciousness, the meaning of life, concepts and images of God and the non-material pursuit of happiness. In his books he relates his experience to scientific knowledge and to the teachings of Eastern and Western religion and philosophy.
"You must understand that in meditation, we are concerned only with what is, with reality, nothing else. The past is a memory. The future, an expectation. Neither past nor future actually exist. There is simply eternal now. So don't seek or expect a result from what you are doing. That wouldn't be true meditation. There is no hurry. Just now you're not going anywhere. Simply be here. Live in the world of sound. Let it play. That's all."
Oddly enough, I can distinctly hear the rustling of trees outside as I'm writing this. This vividness of sensation—this old familiar feeling when a moment suddenly seems to linger there, lasting longer than a moment, the stillness of it. That moment of heightened sensibility, when the senses are sharpened and everything, just about everything, seems remarkably clear.
I guess it's pointless if you listen or read this book without observing a change in your state of consciousness—a vividness, a lucidity that must ensue and cannot escape you.
Another strange thing, I kind of stumbled upon this book right after finishing The Time Machine by H. G. Wells!
The goosebumps are totally worth it in this lighthearted talk on the premises of meditation. Recommended.
Very enjoyable and lighthearted and insightful/deep at the same time. Alan Watts sounds like he was a great guy. I wanted to quote a lot of this book, but it seriously would have been like every line in the book. I think my lilbro would like this.
I love Alan Watts. This book is more of an edited collection of bits of lectures and writing compiled not by Alan. As such it's not as focused and doesn't have the thorough digestion of topic that his other true books possess which explains my average rating. I would suggest, for a Watts newcomer, to start with Wisdom of Insecurity or The Book on the Taboo of Knowing Who You Are.
Excellent read. Alan Watts has incredible talent presenting his ideas with great lucidity. I am a big fan. Enjoy how he can take difficult concepts, especially for the western mind, and make them seem if not obvious at least intelligible.
This book was the first Alan Watts book I read. Its more like a daily reminder book. Its bits and pieces of his lectures put into a book. Its good to carry around with you if you are having a confusing day. Something to go to and just get lost in.
Its not really a HOW TO book per say, but it is A HOW TO HOW TO Book.
A lovely and amusing lecture by Mr. Watts, but I don't know why this is titled as an introduction to meditation. I doubt a beginner would find much useful here, but it's an enjoyable deconstruction of self and effort.
This has been one of the few audiobooks where I get to the end and I really have no clue what the book is about. I remember there being some interesting comments, but they were fairly disconnected from other comments.
There are some things on which I agree with Watts and others on which I don't. But perhaps the biggest question I have is, since what Watts is advocating seems to be a kind of radical non-interference, does it make any difference to anything? Is it meant to? One might even be forgiven for thinking you could summarise Watts's entire oeuvre as, "Keep calm and carry on. Or don't. It's up to you, really. And, by you, I mean, the universe."
But we are in the realm of paradox here. As the title suggests, the intended effect is to produce stillness. "Don't worry about worrying", or "Don't feel guilty for feeling guilty" - that kind of thing. I get a sense that maybe, if one could stop the meta-worrying, the core worrying might, of itself, ease, since it no longer has the self-perpetuating aspect. And this is a paradox because to produce such an effect, we must cease to care whether we produce such an effect.
And, as I intimated, this might all be a lot of nothing. But Watts has very positive views of nothing; he speaks of it quite warmly.
And he speaks well, generally. I've come to the conclusion that Watts is a very good speaker. It was only after re-reading this book that I realised that it was transcribed from him speaking. I listened to a talk that part of the book is taken from on YouTube recently, and saw that that section of the book has been transcribed almost word for word, and yet it comes out as very polished, rhythmic, felicitous prose, pithy and aphoristic. I wonder if he ad-libbed?
Watts describes himself as a spiritual entertainer. If nothing else, he is certainly that. I find myself returning to his work, and I don't think I would do so if his brand of nothing were merely nothing, or if it were boring.
analysing the modern fear of nothingness through the frame work of meditation. Watts in his quintessential new-age lyricism opens with a gentle affront on organised religion and proceeds to illustrate his re-framing of adopted social norms while maintaining an awareness of the impossibility of a complete severance from our social and natural environments. When regarding nature in our process to obtaining a level of Darmah, Watts speaks of how we have become frugal in our displays of exuberance which is contra to our natural surroundings -
"We are always scrimping and saving because our economic models are based on scarcity rather than exuberance. But notice that the economics of nature are allegedly wasteful by out standards and they are based on exuberance. Many more seeds than are nesessary for trees and there are galaxies galore. Nature is a fast celebration of energy."
This is then followed by a meditation process that can be employed and revisited after completing the book. Though brief it is insightful and well worth a read. Perhaps one of my favourite sections is from the chapter 'Higher Orders of Being' where Watts asks us to regard the emotional intelligence of a potato in his classic tongue-in-cheek, take life with a pinch of salt quality that lands at a satisfyingly profound conclusion.
Oh boy...checked this out on recommendation from a friend. So weird. Now...I did the audio version...and, honestly, it sounded like something that escaped from Guyana from the Jim Jones days. While, I'm totally down with meditation...maybe this was a bit too remedial, and woo-woo for me?
This was my second attempt to appreciate Watts. This one was like listening to a beatnik professor ramble on in front of a class of college freshman. Not a lot of rubber hitting the road here, which is fine if that is your thing.
To think this man was born in 1915. To think Zen Buddhism began in the year 500. read watts if you want to give up reality while keeping your feet planted firmly on the ground. I feel more lost and more present than ever
I became intrigued by Alan Watts after hearing him mentioned in the sci-fi movie Her, where he plays a critical role. I listened to this book as an audiobook and I'm certain that made it a different experience for me. In any case, I loved the book. As someone who has briefly practiced meditation and has an affinity for Existentialism and Buddhism, this book was made for someone like me.
That said. It was very provocative and had a lot of food for thought, but the audiobook was a bit scattered and random. It seemed to be 3-4 lectures that were recorded of Alan Watts speaking to an audience, ending with a directly recorded exposition to the reader/listener. I'm not sure if the book was the same. In any case, I would have preferred more structure and a central narrative even though I really liked it.
I don't think it is overstating that the biggest challenge to robust Christian commitment in America today is its fascination with Eastern religion, often morphing on American soil. Alan Watts was a popularizer of Zen Buddhism in the 60's and 70's. This book is a compilation of lectures that Watts delivered on the topic of meditation. As you would expect, there is a great deal of practical wisdom and social critique. The non-striving, non-manipulating approach to meditation is instructive for Christians as well. Of course the appeal of adapting Buddhism to American consumerist culture is that you can pick and choose the parts of that tradition that best works for you. Ultimately this book has good things to say, but doesn't present a compelling vision of the Spiritual life.
Not for everyone, it's more of Watts' personal take on letting go and living in the 'Eternal Now' than a practical guide on exactly what to do in order to meditate. I find it an interesting take on why a person would engage in meditation, but if you're like me you'll also want a guidebook with specific instruction on how to sit, breathe, etc., exactly what to do. It's interesting but limited in its usefulness, at least it was for me.
This is a book where the forest is greater than the trees. At times, the book is impossible to figure out but if you stick with it, the while philosophical outlook, which combines a kind of positive existentialism with Buddhism, becomes more clear. It's one of those books that says things like you are nothing and your are all, which sounds like it makes no sense but Watts eventually elaborates such that it starts to make some sense. This is not a trendy self help book at all.