In My Own Way – Alan Watts

I recently read Alan Watt’s autobiography ‘In My Own Way’, a fine book.  Alan was a man who walked his path and took a large part of a generation along with him.  Whilst reading the book in public, in a series of random places, several people approached me and commented on how much they appreciate Alan’s interpretations and teachings.  I have never been so popular when reading a book!  Most of these people were in their 50’s and beyond, but his message and the way he chose to live is very relevant today.  Be free and enjoy, revel in the mystery and very importantly, simply ‘go with the flow’.

Here is a short passage I’d like to share, it really struck a chord.  Alan is describing the blossoming of a love affair with his last wife lost in the hills of California, living a time of beauty and love.  Alan was a man who enjoyed the finer things in life and conveyed them in such a poetic way:

… was the embodiment of something I had been looking for all down the ages to be chief travelling companion-to be whisked off to a shack overlooking the Pacific, where we would sit on foggy nights by a log fire and talk over a bottle of red wine.  Which was just what happened.

We had a hill cottage in Fairafx, an out-of–the-way village to the north of Tamalapais which, in times past, has often served as a congenial retreat for out-of-the-way-people.

In this sanctuary, known only to close friends, I compiled poetry and The Joyous Cosmology.  Here, where Elsa had left a garden on the hill, and where the northern sky across the valley glowed green at twilight, the world woke up for me.  Jano has a capacity for aesthetic absorption which reaches into pure ecstasy-in the convolutions of a leaf, the light in a drop of water, the shadows of a glass in the sun, patterns of smoke, grain in wood, mottle in polished stone.  Together in this cottage we slowed down time.  We watched the sun blazing from a glass of white wine and watered the garden at sunset, when the slanting light turns flowers and leaves into bloodstone and jade.  We studied the forms of ferns and shells, crystals and teasels, water-flow, galaxies, radiolarian, and each other’s eyes, and looked down through those jewels to the god and the goddess that may be seen within even when the doubting expression on the face is saying “What, me?”  Shankar taking hold of the primordial sound of the universe and rippling it with his fingers into all shapes, patterns, and rhythms of nature. 

We found a lonely road across the mountain……..a road along lakes, through forests, and over high grassy slopes from which one could look across the Pacific, where we would stop and listen to the loneliness and the meadowlarks.      

Alan W. Watts – In My Own Way, 1964

If this interests you, here’s part of an Alan lecture:

10 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    nakularora said,

    After reading this, I am really intrigued to read the book now. 🙂

  2. 3

    […] In My Own Way – Alan Watts ( […]

  3. 4

    NIKOtheOrb said,

    I have read The Joyous Cosmology and highly recommend it if you have been so moved by Alan Watts’ writings.

    Also, there many of Alan Watts’ talks available on YouTube and there are some great ones (I have not encountered one yet I did not like). They are great substitutes for the books (many of which may now be unavailable as he wrote in the 40s and 50s).

    • 5

      leroywatson4 said,

      Thanks Niko, I agree about Alan’s lectures, I have never heard one that does not inspire. I like his writing also, very different feel, a little more serious and the mind seems to meander between the words. One of Alan’s greatest gifts to us all was his laugh! Mischievous and true.

      • 6

        NIKOtheOrb said,

        Oh, his laugh is the best! Sometimes so spontaneous as to be contagious. It’s so sincere and genuine, one of his characteristics I happen to enjoy greatly (as well as his words and thoughts).

        Watts can be listened to and/or read and one can always hear it differently with multiple listenings/readings, I’ve discovered. Alan Watts has stopped changing, but those of us who enjoy him change and we see more profoundly into what he has written and said.

  4. 7

    I have not read his books but you have tempted me go search him out

    • 8

      leroywatson4 said,

      A very interesting chap and was responsible for translating Eastern mysticism to the West in the 40’s!!!! There are many youtube clips of his lectures and he was a charismatic speaker also. I’d recommend the Joyous Cosmology, in fact all of his books are quite special. Happy days………

  5. 10

    Great picture of the great man!


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