Tao of Philosophy is part of the Essential Lectures Collection. The Tao of Philosophy album began life as the first Essential Lecture series in 1972 after Alan Watts asked his son Mark to compile a collection of core talks. The series looks at issues of identity, our place in nature, and the limits of symbolic thinking.
Originally mastered for cassette, the series was updated and remastered for CD in the mid-90’s, and is now available exclusively for download in high quality MP3 format. This series was also released to public radio as part of the Love is Wisdom program.
Landscape, Soundscape in Painting, Music, and Mystical Vision
During a seminar at the New College of Sausalito, Alan asks: what is an aesthetically satisfying composition—not just in the visual and auditory arts, but also in the arrangement of the universe?
Love of Waters
00:00 Do you mind if I talk for a while about something I love; about water and the ocean? Ever since I can remember anything at all, the light, the smell, the sound and motion of the...
Man is a Hoax
00:00 Now, I’m particularly interested in what Dr. Weaver said about the attitude of the family to children. Because we have an absolutely extraordinary attitude—in our culture and in...
Mind over Mind
00:00 The general title of these talks that I’m giving here is Mind over Mind, and I’m going into all the various problems which have to do with the control of the mind. And so I might...
Mysticism and Morality
00:03 I’m referring to a kind of experience, a kind of—shall we say—state of consciousness which seems to be as prevalent among human beings as measles. It’s something that...
Not What Should Be, But What Is
Alan reminds his audience that our mental image of the world is just an internal fairy tale loosely related to the truth of reality. Paying attention to our sensory experiences can therefore help us lift this thought-tainted veil, an action which reveals the magic of being far better than any words ever could.
On Being God (With Q&A)
After discussing the nature of consciousness, the human mind, and the philosophical viewpoint that every person is God, Alan Watts assumes the role of God himself for the latter half of this lecture, answering each question his audience serves with wit and insight.
00:00 So since we’re under the auspices of the School of Business, I’m going to talk about commerce. And basically, the word “commerce” is very friendly, because it means “communion...
On G. K. Chesterton
00:00 I want you to have in mind an enormously fat man wearing a black cloak and a rather large, wide-brimmed hat, with pince-nez secured to his nose, and prevented from destruction...
00:00 Somebody raised the question at the end of this morning’s session about instinct, and the instinct for survival, the instinct for procreation, so on. This is fascinating, because...
Originally broadcast on the KPFA radio series Philosophy East and West. Alternate title: Simultaneous Discovery.
Power of Space
Part 1 00:00 I suppose you may think it rather nervy of me to devote this whole seminar to talking about nothing. But it’s about space. And in most people’s minds space is just nothing...
Pursuit of Pleasure
Where does pleasure come from? What are we trying to achieve in our frantic day-to-day activities? Why are we in such a hurry? And why do all of our efforts to pin the universe down and bring it under our control dial up the misery?
Reality, Art, and Illusion
Watts explores the different meanings of the Sanskrit word māyā and explains them to the Western audience.
Relevance of Oriental Philosophy
00:00 Theology has not, as a matter of fact, had a very distinguished record in promoting the study of other than the Christian religion. And this is rather puzzling....
Self and Other
Alan coaxes the listener’s mind to simultaneously zoom in and zoom out in an effort to demonstrate that identity is merely an intellectual hallucination. Instead, personal identity is fluid, ranging from one’s constituent atoms and molecules all the way out to the farthest bounds of cosmic existence. Overcoming this mental myopia leads to greater harmony, contentment, and a desire to playfully dance with this universal energy system.
Sense of Nonsense
In this public radio broadcast, Alan explores the origin of the desire for meaningfulness. In the search for satisfaction, what is it that is really sought for or yearned after? The talk turns from academic discussion into poetry. What is the meaning of significance?
Spectrum of Love
00:00 I’m going to talk to you this evening on the subject of the spectrum of love. We know that from time to time there arise among human beings people who seem to exude love as...
Alan Watts touches upon a peculiar tendency wherein psychedelic drugs may ignite mystical experiences similar to those known in the Eastern philosophies. However, wheras Buddhism, Hinduism, and Zen accompany these mystical experiences with discipline in order to cultivate positive outcomes, psychedelically induced insights may lead to unhealthy misinterpretations and possibly even delusions of grandeur if not handled properly.
Still the Mind
Part 1 00:00 Realize that anybody whom you consider—in matters spiritual, psychologial, and so on—as an authority has this authority because of your opinion that he has or she has. How...