Comparative Philosophy is the final album of the Essential Lectures Collection. It was originally compiled by Mark Watts in the summer of 1972 while staying in the pilot house atop Alan’s Sausalito ferryboat, the SS Vallejo. In 1975 it was one of the original audio courses offered by the Alan Watts Electronic University and was updated to include new material when the talks were digitally remastered in 1995.
Art of Meditation
[knocking mokugyo] 00:34 A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts. So he loses touch with reality and lives in a world of illusions. By “thoughts” I...
Birth, Death, and the Unborn
All the patterns we see around us in the world are projections of our minds. There is no way things should be, there is no way things shouldn’t be. But if humans can adopt a mental discipline in which they remain able to project patterns without becoming hung up on them, life for everyone will transform into a beautiful artwork.
Buddhism as Dialogue
How does a person get out of a predicament they’ve talked themselves into?
Clarity of Mind
Delivered at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Alan takes us from the very small to the very large, explaining the interrelatedness of all things in the universe as a vast network which weaves us into a united yet unnamable divinity.
Democracy in the Kingdom of Heaven
Does God really rule over humans like a monarch, or might the concept of divinity express itself as a drama through all of us?
An introductory look at the ideas of Pure Land Buddhism.
Do You Do It Or Does It Do You?
Alan explores the meaning of personal free will in the context of core tenets in Eastern mythology: how is it possible to control anything when preexisting conditions outside of our influence determine our present situation? It is a realization of the hidden unity behind our apparent diversity and a relinquishing of obsessive control that enables us to unlock a pathway leading out of the conundrum and towards a celebration and reverence of life.
00:00 I suppose most of you have heard of Zen. But before going on to explain any details about it I want to make one thing absolutely clear: I am not a Zen Buddhist, I am not advocating Zen...
When Alan Watts talked about the ‘mystical experience’ among scientific circles, he preferred to call it ‘ecological awareness’—referring to a state of mind in which a person ceases to feel separate from the environment in which he or she exists.
Education for Non-Entity
Alan presents his argument that the United States—often referred to as the ultimate materialist society—is anything but: it lacks a sincere appreciation for the material world and inadvertently destroys it in an attempt to “live the good life,” chasing after ever greener pastures just beyond the horizon of time.
Future of Communications (Part 1)
00:00 This is part of a series of seminars on the future, and last weekend we were discussing the very nature of time. And I want to give a sort of summary of what we were...
Future of Communications (Part 2)
00:00 When we communicate, what are we really communicating about? What is the content of communication? Because, you see, McLuhan has come up with a very strange idea: that...
Game Theory of Ethics
Is playing the game of life worth the effort required? Alan turns the question upside-down and investigatates the alternative, allowing us to appreciate every being’s gamble with fate taken upon birth.
Image of Man
00:06 I want to start by giving (what may be to many of you) a new definition of the word “myth.” As normally used, the word “myth” means an idle tale, a fable, a falsehood, or an idea...
Individual and the World
This seminar covers a variety of topics, from the illusion of our separation from the environment and the futility of trying to be genuine, all the way to the discipline required to handle mystical experiences in order to bring something back from them to share with the rest of the world. The presentation ends with his endorsement of insanity, saying a healthy amount of craziness in old age is necessary to prepare for a joyous death.
“A Journey to Unthinking”—an introduction to the Eastern traditions of yoga. Alan describes the entrance into the unspeakable reality, first from the East by practices of dhyana yoga and zazen, and then from the West through the intellectual perspectives of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Spencer Brown. East and West all arrive at the same mysterious that which is unspeakable. Delivered at the First Unitarian Church.
Alan discusses ways in which Western civilization confuses symbols with reality and introduces meditation and its associated gadgets as tools to get in touch with reality. Then he encourages his audience to cast off their reliance on symbols by guiding them through various mantra in a half-hour demonstration of this intelligent mindlessness.
Jesus, His Religion
00:00 Some years ago I had just given a talk on television in Canada, when one of the announcers came up to me and said, “You know, if one can believe that this universe is in [the]...
Journey to India
00:00 Now then, we have to get on to Buddhism. And in order to introduce Buddhism, it’s necessary to remember the whole background of the world view of India. In other words, what...