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Lions Roar : September 2015
WHAT GOOD FORTUNE it was to know Alan Watts. The first time I met him was at a party, shortly after I started practicing at San Francisco Zen Center in 1966. Alan and his wife, Jano, were friendly and funny. No pretention. I told Alan that I’d read his book The Way of Zen, and that I’d seen it in so many places he must have made a fortune off it. “Yes,” he said dryly, “I get a penny a copy.” “I read a book called Nature, Man, and Woman,” Jano added, “and I thought, wow, I’d sure like to make love with the man who wrote that!” Alan buried his face in his hands in mock embarrassment. THIS JANUARY, the English-born Watts would have been a hundred years old. He’s best known for his important role in the popularization of Zen in the West. His twenty-six books, and his popular radio and television broadcasts, introduced Americans of the 1950s and 1960s to a Zen that was authentic yet contemporary and accessible. In the hun- dreds of interviews I’ve conducted with practitioners from the early Zen Center days, Watts was the most frequently cited inspiration. at 100 Through his bestselling books and popular broadcasts, Alan Watts did as much as anyone to introduce Americans to Buddhism. DAVID CHADWICK recalls his friend, the unconventional philosopher who uncovered The Way for so many. This—the immediate, everyday, and present experience—is IT, the entire and ultimate point for the existence of a universe. —ALAN WATTS Watts in 1938, shortly before moving to America. PHOTOSCOURTESYOFALANWATTS.ORG SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2015 65