65 Facts About Alan Watts


Alan Wilson Watts was an English writer, speaker and self-styled "philosophical entertainer", known for interpreting and popularising Japanese, Chinese and Indian traditions of Buddhist, Taoist, and Hindu philosophy for a Western audience.

FactSnippet No. 598,398

Alan Watts received a master's degree in theology from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and became an Episcopal priest in 1945.

FactSnippet No. 598,399

Alan Watts left the ministry in 1950 and moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies.

FactSnippet No. 598,400

Alan Watts gained a following while working as a volunteer programmer at the KPFA radio station in Berkeley.

FactSnippet No. 598,401

Alan Watts wrote more than 25 books and articles on religion and philosophy, introducing the emerging hippie counterculture to The Way of Zen, one of the first bestselling books on Buddhism.

FactSnippet No. 598,402

Alan Watts considered Nature, Man and Woman to be, "from a literary point of view—the best book I have ever written".

FactSnippet No. 598,403

Alan Watts explored human consciousness and psychedelics in works such as "The New Alchemy" and The Joyous Cosmology (1962).

FactSnippet No. 598,404

Alan Watts was born to middle-class parents in the village of Chislehurst, Kent, on 6 January 1915, living at Rowan Tree Cottage, 3 (now 5) Holbrook Lane.

FactSnippet No. 598,405

Alan Watts's father, Laurence Wilson Alan Watts, was a representative for the London office of the Michelin tyre company.

FactSnippet No. 598,406

Alan Watts's mother, Emily Mary Watts, was a housewife whose father had been a missionary.

FactSnippet No. 598,407

Alan Watts later wrote of a mystical dream he experienced while ill with a fever as a child.

FactSnippet No. 598,408

The few Chinese paintings Alan Watts was able to see in England riveted him, and he wrote "I was aesthetically fascinated with a certain clarity, transparency, and spaciousness in Chinese and Japanese art.

FactSnippet No. 598,409

Alan Watts spent several holidays in France in his teen years, accompanied by Francis Croshaw, a wealthy Epicurean with strong interests in both Buddhism and exotic little-known aspects of European culture.

FactSnippet No. 598,410

Alan Watts chose Buddhism, and sought membership in the London Buddhist Lodge, which had been established by Theosophists, and was then run by the barrister and QC Christmas Humphreys,.

FactSnippet No. 598,411

The young Alan Watts explored several styles of meditation during these years.

FactSnippet No. 598,412

Alan Watts attended The King's School, Canterbury, in the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral.

FactSnippet No. 598,413

Alan Watts spent his spare time involved with the Buddhist Lodge and under the tutelage of a "rascal guru" named Dimitrije Mitrinovic.

FactSnippet No. 598,414

Beyond attending discussions, Alan Watts studied the available scholarly literature, learning the fundamental concepts and terminology of Indian and East Asian philosophy.

FactSnippet No. 598,415

Alan Watts married Eleanor Everett, whose mother Ruth Fuller Everett was involved with a traditional Zen Buddhist circle in New York.

FactSnippet No. 598,416

Alan Watts left formal Zen training in New York because the method of the teacher did not suit him.

FactSnippet No. 598,417

Alan Watts was not ordained as a Zen monk, but he felt a need to find a vocational outlet for his philosophical inclinations.

FactSnippet No. 598,418

Alan Watts entered Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, an Episcopal school in Evanston, Illinois, where he studied Christian scriptures, theology, and church history.

FactSnippet No. 598,419

Alan Watts attempted to work out a blend of contemporary Christian worship, mystical Christianity, and Asian philosophy.

FactSnippet No. 598,420

Alan Watts was awarded a master's degree in theology in response to his thesis, which he published as a popular edition under the title Behold the Spirit: A Study in the Necessity of Mystical Religion.

FactSnippet No. 598,421

However, the pattern was set, in that Alan Watts did not hide his dislike for religious outlooks that he decided were dour, guilt-ridden, or militantly proselytizing—no matter if they were found within Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism.

FactSnippet No. 598,422

In early 1951, Alan Watts moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco.

FactSnippet No. 598,423

Besides teaching, Alan Watts served for several years as the Academy's administrator.

FactSnippet No. 598,424

Alan Watts studied written Chinese and practiced Chinese brush calligraphy with Hasegawa as well as with some of the Chinese students who enrolled at the academy.

FactSnippet No. 598,425

Alan Watts continued to give numerous talks and seminars, recordings of which were broadcast on KPFA and other radio stations during his life.

FactSnippet No. 598,426

Besides drawing on the lifestyle and philosophical background of Zen in India and China, Alan Watts introduced ideas drawn from general semantics and from Norbert Wiener's early work on cybernetics, which had recently been published.

FactSnippet No. 598,427

Alan Watts offered analogies from cybernetic principles possibly applicable to the Zen life.

FactSnippet No. 598,428

In 1958, Alan Watts toured parts of Europe with his father, meeting the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and the German psychotherapist Karlfried Graf Durckheim.

FactSnippet No. 598,429

Alan Watts lectured college and university students as well as the general public.

FactSnippet No. 598,430

When questioned sharply by students during his talk at University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1970, Alan Watts responded, as he had from the early sixties, that he was not an academic philosopher but rather "a philosophical entertainer".

FactSnippet No. 598,431

Alan Watts had begun to experiment with psychedelics, initially with mescaline given to him by Oscar Janiger.

FactSnippet No. 598,432

Alan Watts tried LSD several times in 1958, with various research teams led by Keith S Ditman, Sterling Bunnell Jr.

FactSnippet No. 598,433

Alan Watts tried marijuana and concluded that it was a useful and interesting psychoactive drug that gave the impression of time slowing down.

FactSnippet No. 598,434

Alan Watts later said about psychedelic drug use, "If you get the message, hang up the phone.

FactSnippet No. 598,435

Alan Watts sometimes ate with his group of neighbours in Druid Heights who had endeavoured to combine architecture, gardening, and carpentry skills to make a beautiful and comfortable life for themselves.

FactSnippet No. 598,436

Druid Heights was founded by the writer Elsa Gidlow, and Alan Watts dedicated his book The Joyous Cosmology to the people of this neighbourhood.

FactSnippet No. 598,437

Alan Watts later dedicated his autobiography to Elsa Gidlow, for whom he held a great affection.

FactSnippet No. 598,438

Alan Watts felt such teaching could improve the world, at least to a degree.

FactSnippet No. 598,439

Alan Watts articulated the possibilities for greater incorporation of aesthetics in American life.

FactSnippet No. 598,440

Alan Watts spoke extensively about the nature of the divine reality which Man misses: how the contradiction of opposites is the method of life and the means of cosmic and human evolution, how our fundamental Ignorance is rooted in the exclusive nature of mind and ego, how to come in touch with the Field of Consciousness and Light, and other cosmic principles.

FactSnippet No. 598,441

Alan Watts sought to resolve his feelings of alienation from the institutions of marriage and the values of American society, as revealed in his comments on love relationships in "Divine Madness" and on perception of the organism-environment in "The Philosophy of Nature".

FactSnippet No. 598,442

Alan Watts came to feel acutely conscious of a growing ecological predicament.

FactSnippet No. 598,443

In October 1973, Alan Watts returned from a European lecture tour to his cabin in Druid Heights, California.

FactSnippet No. 598,444

Friends of Alan Watts had been concerned about him for some time over his alcoholism.

FactSnippet No. 598,445

Alan Watts was reported to have been under treatment for a heart condition.

FactSnippet No. 598,446

Mark Alan Watts relates that Alan Watts was cremated on Muir Beach at 8:30am after being discovered deceased at 6:00am.

FactSnippet No. 598,447

Alan Watts's ashes were split, with half buried near his library at Druid Heights and half at the Green Gulch Monastery.

FactSnippet No. 598,448

Alan Watts flew in from the American Samoas and we interviewed him, and it turned out he was a completely unreliable person to interview because he would make up this, make up that, so at first we thought we had some really valuable information, but as time went on he was spouting every different theory that we'd ever heard and so.

FactSnippet No. 598,449

Alan Watts wrote out of an appreciation of a racially and culturally diverse social landscape.

FactSnippet No. 598,450

Alan Watts often said that he wished to act as a bridge between the ancient and the modern, between East and West, and between culture and nature.

FactSnippet No. 598,451

Alan Watts led some tours for Westerners to the Buddhist temples of Japan.

FactSnippet No. 598,452

Alan Watts studied some movements from the traditional Chinese martial art taijiquan, with an Asian colleague, Al Chung-liang Huang.

FactSnippet No. 598,453

Alan Watts encountered Robert Anton Wilson, who credited Watts with being one of his "Light[s] along the Way" in the opening appreciation of his 1977 book Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati.

FactSnippet No. 598,454

Werner Erhard attended workshops given by Alan Watts and said of him, "He pointed me toward what I now call the distinction between Self and Mind.

FactSnippet No. 598,455

However, Alan Watts did have his supporters in the Zen community, including Shunryu Suzuki, the founder of the San Francisco Zen Center.

FactSnippet No. 598,456

Alan Watts's biographers saw him, after his stint as an Anglican priest, as representative of no religion but as a lone-wolf thinker and social rascal.

FactSnippet No. 598,457

In David Stuart's warts-and-all biography of the man, Alan Watts is seen as an unusually gifted speaker and writer driven by his own interests, enthusiasms, and demons.

FactSnippet No. 598,458

Elsa Gidlow, whom Alan Watts called "sister", refused to be interviewed for this work but later painted a kinder picture of Alan Watts's life in her own autobiography, Elsa, I Come with My Songs.

FactSnippet No. 598,459

Alan Watts met Eleanor Everett in 1936, when her mother, Ruth Fuller Everett, brought her to London to study piano.

FactSnippet No. 598,460

The couple separated in the early 1960s after Alan Watts met Mary Jane Yates King while lecturing in New York.

FactSnippet No. 598,461

Alan Watts was a heavy smoker throughout his life and in his later years drank heavily.

FactSnippet No. 598,462