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Alan Watts - The Rascal Guru

Alan Watts - The Rascal Guru

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Published by: api-3702167 on Oct 17, 2008
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Ivan Frimmel
Alan W. Watts was born in Chislehurst, England, on January 6, 1915, and attended King\u2019s School at

Canterbury. Early in life he developed interest in the cultures, philosophies and religions of the Far East that led him to become one of the foremost interpreters of Oriental thought in the West. He was regarded as a \u2018guru\u2019 by many people in the hippie generation of the sixties. He died in Mill Valley, California, on November 16, 1973, at the age 58.

Watts\u2019 interesting, unconventional and vigorous life as a philosopher-mystic began in his early youth in England, when he started reading books on Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Ch\u2019an and Zen. He failed to get scholarship to Cambridge, left school at 17 and decided to get his own \u201chigher education\u201d according to his own interests. He was helped in his development by his understanding father, by Christmas Humphreys, who was then the president of Buddhist Society in London, and by a popular London Slav-guru Mitrinovich.

Alan Watts steadfastly refused a conventional career and although (for economic reasons) he took some regular jobs, he never allowed his jobs to sway him from his real interests. He edited The Middle Way (Buddhist Society\u2019s) journal in London from 1934 to 1938, worked in his father\u2019s office raising funds for hospitals, was active in the London\u2019s branch of the World\u2019s Congress of Faiths\u2026

In 1938, while still in London, Alan Watts married Eleanor Everett Fuller, step-daughter of Zen Roshi Sokei- an Sasaki, and in 1939 had emigrated with her to the United States. This marriage ended with divorce in April 1950 and they had two children by that marriage. Since June 1950 until his death he was married to the former Dorothy Marie De Witt, a mathematician, and they had five children.

Upon emigrating to the United States, Alan Watts studied theology in Evanston, Illinois, was in residence at the seminary from 1941 to 1944 and earned his Master of Sacred Theology degree in June 1948 and later also a doctorate of divinity. He was ordained a priest of the protestant Episcopal Church and served as a chaplain of this church from 1944 to 1950, when he left the church. A writer inLife quoted Watts as saying that he left the church \u201cnot because it doesn\u2019t practice what it preaches, but because it preaches\u201d. He taught comparative philosophy and psychology at the College of the Pacific, was Dean of the American Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco and occupied himself with lecturing and writing at various universities until his death.

He published over a dozen of excellent books on comparative religion and philosophy, includingThe
Supreme Identity, The Wisdom of Insecurity, The Way of Zen, The Book on the Taboo on Knowing Who You
Are, etc.
The Supreme Identity (1950) is an excellent essay on the treatment of the questions Who am I?and Who is
God? in the Oriental metaphysics and Christian religion:
To become, or realize, what we are, we must first try to become it, in order to realize effectively that it is not necessary to do so.
Realization of the Supreme Identity is found not through seeking it as remote and obscure, but in accepting the truth that nothing is
more obvious and self-evident.
To look for God as an object implies his distance from the knowing subject. To seek for him implies his absence. To set him in the
future is to imply that he is not eternal and present.

In this book Alan Watts drives home with great emphasis the point that I, as an ego, can do nothing to produce, induce or coerce true Self/God-realization\u2014and that the Supreme Identity, the One, that which I truly am, needs nothing to do or realize, just be who One already is, which requires non-doing. He quotes Zen Buddhist text by Hsi-yun:

By their very seeking for it they produce the contrary effect of losing it, for that is using Buddha to seek Buddha and using the
mind (the Self) to grasp the mind (the Self)\u2026

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