Alan Watts is a 20th Century British philosopher credited with advancing the adoption & understanding of eastern philosophical/religious traditions in the West. Watts was raised Catholic but renounced his Christian upbringing to pursue an eastern spiritual complex (comprised of Zen Buddhism, Daoism, and Hinduism). After leaving the church and moving to the United States, Watts began giving weekly speeches at Pacifica Radio station KPFA at Berkeley College. The lectures would be the foundation for his renewal in online popularity in the 21st century.
Watts has found a resurgence in popularity in the advent of the internet, with his lectures garnering multi-millions of views online. If you search Alan Watts on Youtube, you will be met with numerous lectures, mixes, and edits to aid the exploration of the internal spiritual experience. With a decline in traditional religious attendance, spirituality has become increasingly popular (especially in the last 15 years) among people in Canada and the United States (Forum Research Poll 2012 & Pew Research 2017).
Watts takes a multi-faceted approach examining the intricacies of Buddhism, Daoism, and Hinduism, which could directly coincide with the movement's rise. Along with other thinkers under the Perennial Philosophical umbrella, Watts likely thought in a single metaphysical origin of the Universe. What is so striking about the work of Watts is how much it still relates to the experience of modern life (given its age).
Below is one instance we found most striking during our exploration of his material is listed below
"Would it be too presumptuous of me to say that you were looking for help?
That you hoped you would hear somebody who had something to say that would be of help and relevance to you as members of a world which is running into the most intense difficulty. A world beset by a complex of problems, any one of which would be bad enough. But when you add together all the great political, social, and ecological problems with which we are facing they are appalling.
And one naturally says the reason why we are in such a mess is not simply that we have wrong systems for doing things whether they be technological, political, or religious but we have the wrong people. The systems may be all right but they are in the wrong hands because we are all in various ways self-seeking, lacking in wisdom, lacking in courage, afraid of death, afraid of pain.
Unwilling really to cooperate with others.
Unwilling to be open to others. And we all think that's too bad, it's me that's wrong! And if only I could be the right person. Is this man going to tell me something that will help me to change myself? So that I will be a more creative and cooperative member of the human race.
I would like to improve...
So, in so many people's minds and from so many different angles, there is this urgent feeling that I must improve me. And this is critically important because it's obvious that at least it's superficially obvious, that the way things are, we are going to hell fast."
- Alan Watts (Mind Over Mind Pt. 1)
EXAMPLES OF ARTISTS SAMPLING ALAN WATTS
More and more artists are discovering the work of Watts with recent samples from Yellow Days on 'I've been thinking too hard,' Conway the Machine on 'From King,' Acid Ghost's 'hide my face,' and quickly, quickly's 'getsomerest/sleepwell.' We are likely to see many more uses of the teachings of Alan Watts in upcoming releases.
Closing out the article, we would like to provide a quote.
“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”
- Alan Watts
ARTIST LINKS: ALAN WATTS