Top 10 Reasons You Should Like Alan Watts

by Alex

in Spiritual Thinkers

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“Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.”
-Alan Watts

Alan Watts is cool, and among the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. And even though he died 35 years ago, when you listen to his lectures it’s as if he’s speaking about the present. There’s a great series of his recordings called “Out of Your Mind”, plus he has other great lectures on religion and philosophy. Very entertaining and one of my favs.

Here’s a snippet of his bio from Wikipedia:

Alan Wilson Watts (January 6, 1915 – November 16, 1973) was a philosopher, writer, speaker, and student of comparative religion. He was best known as an interpreter and popularizer of Asian philosophies for a Western audience.

He wrote more than twenty-five books and numerous articles on subjects such as personal identity, the true nature of reality, higher consciousness, meaning of life, concepts and images of God and the pursuit of happiness, relating his experience to scientific knowledge and to the teachings of Eastern and Western religions or philosophies (Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc.).


1. ERIC CARTMAN LOVES HIM – The South Park guys are into him. There’s something unique about you if you’re cool enough to have parts of your lectures set to Terence & Philip style animation (South Park fans know what I’m talking about).

You can see more at the Alan Watts Theater or on YouTube.

2. HILARIOUS – Very funny and entertaining. Interweaves many funny stories into his lectures. (You can hear people cracking up in some of the old recordings.)

3. RELEVANT – An oddly modern way of discussing the world (despite his recordings being from the 60s).

4. PROLIFIC – With his 25 books, he was among the first to popularize Eastern philosophy in the West (or at least get more people talking about it.)

5. RELAXING – He’s like a human Quaalude, (akin to Bob Ross), his style of speech is very relaxing to listen to. That being said, he will NOT put you to sleep.

6. INFLUENTIAL – His style and delivery have been extremely influential on the self-help and spiritual movement. You can clearly see his influence in just about every popular western spiritual thinker from Wayne Dyer to Eckhart Tolle.

7. POPULAR – His work has had a resurgence over the last few years, and is very popular on college campuses today.

8. HUMBLE – Seems like he was a genuinely cool guy – doesn’t seem to have subtle (or not so subtle) smell of self-righteousness we see in a lot of modern spiritual thinkers.

9. BOAT OWNER – The man lived on a boat in Sausalito.

10. WORLD VIEW – A very cool way of viewing the world (from Wikipedia):

  • In several of his later publications, especially Beyond Theology and The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Watts put forward a worldview, drawing on Hinduism, Chinese philosophy, pantheism, and modern science; in which he maintains that the whole universe consists of God playing hide-and-seek (Maya (illusion)), hiding from himself by becoming all the living and non-living things in the universe, forgetting who he really is; the upshot being that we are all God in disguise. In this worldview, Watts asserts that our conception of ourself as an “ego in a bag of skin” is a myth; the entities we call the separate “things” are merely processes of the whole.

Alan Watts: A Conversation with Myself – Part 1

You can also hear some old recordings at the Alan Watt’s Podcast.

Descriptions of a few of Alan’s books and recordings:

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Posted on Monday, August 18th, 2008

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{ 1 trackback }

What is Spirituality? | Spiritual Mind
July 6, 2009 at 7:58 am

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Charlie August 24, 2008 at 5:19 am

Great list. I love Watts.

Sandy Leviev August 26, 2008 at 9:54 pm

Great post – number 9 cracked me up!

Posy October 28, 2008 at 9:30 pm

People should read this.

Simonides May 5, 2009 at 5:43 pm

Alan Watts is the music I would never want to give up. After a Watts recommendation by a friend, my many years of study invested in Science, Religion, and Philosophy were finally enriched by true spirituality. If you haven’t read or heard him, you just have to.

wesker February 21, 2010 at 4:10 pm

I really liked Alan Watts, I remember watching Bill Hicks when I was 21 and being delighted that I wasn’t the only one who thought like that, now I’m 25 and although I still love Hicks, Watts goes into a bit more detail of Hicks “message”.

Also the guy is so laid-back and interesting. I definitely recommend him.

Eckhart March 7, 2010 at 7:05 am

# 8 Humble ?

Dorie LaRue January 16, 2011 at 8:25 am

Such ego. try reading more carefully. Cool?????

Tim Kinney September 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Allan Watts was VERY cool. I’m not sure if the term “humble” is at all appropriate or even relevant to the man but he was by no means an egotist. He certainly had criticisms for organized religion but it’s not necessarily arrogant or egotistical to be critical. I think we can all agree that organized religion is deserving of some criticism, and if you pay attention you’ll notice that he never criticizes individual, fallible human beings, only the institutions themselves. If you think Dr. Watts was an egotist I fear to think what you might say about Osho! :) Thanks for the great article, Alex, keep up the good work!

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Angelina August 9, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Dear Chet, This is the first time I’ve read your personal blog and I loved it. I pctliaurarly liked your rant on Mr. Graham since I’ve been hearing (inadvertently) his BS for many long years before you. I profess no affiliation to any organized religion, although I was born a Jew. Part of me believes there’s something out there; just don’t know what it is. I must say, the old creep was caught red-handed expounding on his anti-semitism with the other creep, Nixon, many years ago. Also, one of the most moral and decent friends I have is an avowed atheist way better than I. I shall be reading more in the future and coming back to check out those pieces I missed. Peace.

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