Alan Watts--Here and Now: Contributions to Psychology, Philosophy, and Religion
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Considers the contributions and contemporary significance of Alan Watts. Alan Watts—Here and Now explores the intellectual legacy and continuing relevance of a prolific writer and speaker who was a major influence on American culture during the latter half of the twentieth century. A thinker attuned to the spiritual malaise affecting the Western mind, Watts (1915–1973) provided intellectual and spiritual alternatives that helped shape the Beat culture of the 1950s and the counterculture of the 1960s. Well known for introducing Buddhist and Daoist spirituality to a wide Western audience, he also wrote on psychology, mysticism, and psychedelic experience. Many idolized Watts as a guru-mystic, yet he was also dismissed as intellectually shallow and as a mere popularizer of Asian religions (the “Norman Vincent Peale of Zen”). Both critical and appreciative, this edited volume locates Watts at the forefront of major paradigmatic shifts in Western intellectual life. Contributors explore how Watts’s work resonates in present-day scholarship on psychospiritual transformation, Buddhism and psychotherapy, Daoism in the West, phenomenology and hermeneutics, humanistic and transpersonal psychology, mysticism, and ecofeminism, among other areas. “Columbus and Rice have put together a volume that is well conceived, well written, well edited, and accessible to undergraduates as well as scholars.” — CHOICE “Watts was a stunningly brilliant writer—far better than almost anyone writing then or now; he clearly had grasped ‘the essence of Zen.’ Every essay in this book throws new light on the relevance of his ideas for today, and the ones written by those who are also historical figures in the circles Watts moved in and wrote out of offer fascinating historical tidbits. I enthusiastically recommend this book.” — Jeffrey J. Kripal, author of Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion Peter J. Columbus is Administrator of the Shantigar Foundation in Rowe, Massachusetts. Donadrian L. Rice is Professor of Psychology at the University of West Georgia. They are also the coeditors of Psychology of the Martial Arts.
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that the ego-personality named Alan Watts is an illusion, a social institution (as are all egos), and a fabrication of words and symbols without the slightest substantial reality” (p. 17). Furlong (2001) concluded that “Watts is not a man on whom it is possible to deliver an easy verdict—he escapes labels” (p. xi). Nevertheless, by setting aside the usual inclinations toward idolatry, iconoclasm, and Watts' own self-depreciation, a perusal of the literature reveals a number of variations in
the manipulation of them and perpetuated via neuroplasticity. It therefore appears that Austin's “experiential neurology” is weighted more toward neurology than to experience. To better understand the germane implications of this research bias, the pressing need is to turn to transcendent experiences-as-experienced. Hence, discussion shifts from neuroscience to Alan Watts. WATTS AND THE NATURE OF TRANSCEDENT EXPERIENCE Despite growing interest in the field and its findings, the
supernatural force. Instead, “each one of us … is an aperture through which the universe knows itself, but not all of itself, from a particular point of view” (Watts, 1975, p. 196). Watts (1983) suggested that “we are symptomatic of the universe. Just as in the retina there are myriads of little nerve endings, we are the nerve endings of the universe (p. 25). 4. Watts' use of the phrase “premature Satori” is interesting, especially in light of his affiliation with Gestalt psychotherapist, Fritz