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Lions Roar : September 2015
from Buddha through the Buddhas and Patriarchs to you. Alan Watts was a philosopher, a poet, a calligrapher, a lover, a friend, a dharma reveler, a revealer, a great founder of the spirit for all of us. “He saw the true emptiness of all things. He taught us to be free. To see through the multiplicities and absurdities to the Great Universal Personality and Play. He gave us the Dharma Eye of a new age. Our blessings go with you now. “Wide Mind, Joyous Mind, Careful Loving Mind. For the true life is beyond life and death, origination, and extinc- tion. We are with you in the many paths you opened for us. HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Go! Go! Great Hermit! Great Founder!” WATTS’ SOCIETY for Comparative Philosophy didn’t last long after his death, but his influence spread in myriad ways. Recently he was revived as the disembodied wise voice of artifi- cial intelligence in the movie Her. His own voice is heard in the excellent “Alan Watts Theater” videos created by South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and on 2014 hard-rock albums by the bands Yob and Cynic. This May an EP vinyl record, Face the Facts, with Watts’ voice and the music of Jas Walton, was released by Figure & Ground records. A video of the same name is on Vimeo. The Alan Watts Mountain Center, being built by his son Mark Watts north of San Francisco, promises to be a nexus for Watts’ archives, and for study, meetings, lodging, and creativity. Currently, Mark’s website, alanwatts.net, is a treasure trove of resources for reading, listening, and viewing Watts’ cornucopia of sagacity. A recent film by Mark about his father, Why Not Now?, lets Alan Watts speak for himself. Of the books that look at Watts’ impact, one seems to be of particular significance: Alan Watts—Here and Now: Contribu- tions to Psychology, Philosophy, and Religion (SUNY Series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology). The lead chapter is entitled “Alan Watts’ Anticipation of Four Major Debates in the Psychology of Religion.” The book nails Watts’ critical influence on the study of the perennial philosophy as rooted in mystical experience, the relationship of the latter with psychedelics and eroticism, and the shift to the study of spirituality rather than religion. The book also explores Watts’ game-changing influ- ence in psychology, the neuroscience of transcendence, and eco-feminism. Watts was one of the first to suggest a connection between the treatment of the environment and the inferior sta- tus of women. Included is a warning on technology, which “can lead to extinction if not balanced by other types of intelligence.” Watts gave us words with passion, in sound and print. That’s where his moxie shines and that’s all we have of him. I urge you to go to the source—to read, listen, and watch him online at home or in a library. While people who maybe should be spanked speculate on Watts’ practice, personal habits, degree of enlightenment, and depth of understanding, his fresh-air spirit is still present in our thoughts and aspirations. It’s in the strata and the substrata. Much gratitude to this—as he called himself—fake, rascal, philosophical entertainer, ego inside a bag of skin, Alan Watts, our own renaissance man. ♦ DAVID CHADWICK is the author of Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki and posts daily on cuke.com. Recording the Haiku LP in 1958 with Sumire Hasegawa and Sandy Jacobs. Watts with photographer Rona Elliot at Druid Heights, a small community on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais where he lived from 1970 until his death in 1973. SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2015 68