64 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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Alan Watts was sent to boarding schools from early years.


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.


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


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


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


When he left King's, Alan Watts worked in a printing house and later a bank.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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


Alan Watts studied written Chinese and practised Chinese brush calligraphy with Hasegawa as well as with Hodo Tobase, who gave classes for a period in the Academy's kitchen, which were attended by Gordon Onslow Ford.


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


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.


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


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


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


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".


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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.


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".


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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.


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


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


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.


Typical of these is Kapleau's claim that Alan Watts dismissed zazen on the basis of only half a koan.


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


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.


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


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.


Alan Watts married three times and had seven children.


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


Alan Watts moved to San Francisco in early 1951 to teach.


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


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