Alan Watts – 21st Century Guru

This truly inspiring video from Zen guru Alan Watts has 7.5 million views on You Tube. Its a seeming mish mash of talks Watts gave during his life. It covers a range of topics such as human identity, reincarnation, the unconscious and The Cosmos. Yet it all comes together in a coherent whole. The music and graphics are great, too.

My favourite sentence from the video is:

“You are something that the whole universe is doing, in the same way that a wave is something that the whole ocean is doing.”

So who is Alan Watts? – 10 Surprising Facts About the Millennials’ Guru

  1. Watts was a English/American philosopher who lived from 1915 to 1973.
  2. He is best know for popularising Eastern thought, particularly Zen Buddhism, for a Western Audience. He lived and taught in America for much of his adult life.
  3. His stature has notably grown in the digital era due to many of his talks being posted and available for free on You Tube. Many of his videos/audios have millions of views. He is particularly popular with young people, many of whom seem to admit themselves to the “spiritual, but not religious” category. Watts seems to meet this need.
  4. According to the critic Erik Davis, his “writings and recorded talks still shimmer with a profound and galvanizing lucidity”.
  5. Watts had a Christian upbringing and initially gained a masters degree in theology. He then became an Anglican priest, before becoming interested in Buddhism.
  6. He still referred to many Christian ideas in his Zen lectures.
  7. By his own assessment, Watts was imaginative, headstrong, and talkative. He had a way with words, and a deep, gravelly laugh that endeared people towards him. He had the charisma that people who talk on spiritual topics with much certainty often have.
  8. There are rumours that Watts became an alcoholic in his later years. Wikipedia talks of “friends concern” at Watts “high alcohol consumption” in his later years. These rumours have tainted Watts’ guru status somewhat. How can you be enlightened if you are an alcoholic, after all?
  9. Watts married 3 times and had 7 children.
  10. The 2013 film “Her” features Watts as an artificially intelligent operating system, portrayed by Brian Cox.

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