Remembering Alan Watts
Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) was a British philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known as an interpreter and populariser of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. Born in Chislehurst, he moved to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York. Pursuing a career, he attended Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, where he received a master’s degree in theology. Watts became an Episcopal priest but left the ministry in 1950 and moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies.
I never knew any of this but I read every book he wrote and was always amazed by his skill at getting to the heart of the most difficult philosophical and metaphysical conundrums and forging them into a profound wisdom that was ultimately applied and practical. He was a man of considerable learning and able to quote scripture in Greek and Latin or translate directly from Sanskrit. He abandoned the narrow and spirit smothering perspective of traditional Church Based Chrisitian Authoritarianism, of which he was a memebr, for the fresh air of exploration deep into other religious and metaphysical traditions. Through this process he was able to liberate the Chrisitan perspective and provide deep connections with all of the other world religions. He imported the ancient wisdom of the core teachings of Buddhism, Hinduism, Zen and a variety of other religions into western modern culture in a manner that was relevant and comprehensible and the effect will reverberate for some time to come. He deeply influenced the thinking of a whole generation and the effects can still be felt. For those looking for a street level guide to the heart of metaphysics and the wisdom of the ancients grounded in scholarship this mans books are some of the best reading available.