Being Far Out
Alan Watts touches upon a peculiar tendency wherein psychedelic drugs may ignite mystical experiences similar to those known in the Eastern philosophies. However, wheras Buddhism, Hinduism, and Zen accompany these mystical experiences with discipline in order to cultivate positive outcomes, psychedelically induced insights may lead to unhealthy misinterpretations and possibly even delusions of grandeur if not handled properly.
Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown
Over the course of nineteen essays, Alan Watts ruminates on the philosophy of nature, ecology, aesthetics, religion, and metaphysics. Assembled in the form of a mountain journal, written during a retreat in the foothills of Mount Tamalpais in California, Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown is Watts’ meditation on the art of feeling out and following the watercourse way of nature, known in Chinese as the Tao. Embracing a form of contemplative meditation that allows us to stop analyzing our experiences and start living into them, the book explores themes such as the natural world, established religion, race relations, karma and reincarnation, astrology and tantric yoga, the nature of ecstasy, and much more.
Conversations on the Edge of Magic
Terence’s first workshop at Starwood Festival XIV, where he brings a unique perspective to being in the world that assumes an impending transformation of the human world involving everyone. With humor and in depth we will examine human attitudes toward the Other, time and its mysteries, the nature of language, and the techniques of ecstasy that have developed in non-Western societies to navigate to and from invisible worlds. We will discuss making reasonable choices about spiritual development and techniques. Terence explains that what he calls the “Archaic Revival” is the process of reawakening awareness of traditional attitudes toward nature, including plants and our relationship to them. The Archaic Revival spells the eventual breakup of the pattern male dominance and hierarchy bassed on animal organization, something that cannot be changed overnight by a sudden shift in collective awareness. This is a think-along experience for those who have taken a few moments to chill out from the dance of life.
Face Your Problems Head-On
Jesus, His Religion
Buckle up! Watts is taking us on a wild ride to assert Jesus was just a regular dude who attained cosmic consciousness as other mystics do. He condemns churches for dishing out guilt instead of providing contemplative quiet to realize our collective divinity.
Landscape, Soundscape in Painting, Music, and Mystical Vision
During a seminar at the New College of Sausalito, Alan asks: what is an aesthetically satisfying composition—not just in the visual and auditory arts, but also in the arrangement of the universe?
Man is a Hoax
This talk plucks at the root of discontent in modern life. Watts reveals how society tricks children into chasing an always elusive happiness down the road, never to be found in the here and now. But ah, to truly live this moment! That is the secret. Let Alan dispel the myth of your separation from the joys inherent in our shared existence.
The Nature of Consciousness (Part 2)
Alan Watts suggests the sole identity with our egoic thoughts limits our consciousness, and that existence is an interdependent web in which consciousness plays a game of pretending to be separate. We must recognize the fundamental unity of self and world; that consciousness encompasses all experience. He provides various techniques aimed at dissolving illusory boundaries of the ego. Watts maintains that enlightenment requires no striving, since we already live in eternal presence and are manifestations of the divine reality, pretending forgetfulness for the adventure of self-discovery.
The World As Self (Part 1)
Alan parts the veil on Hinduism's mystical heart. The cosmos is līlā, a divine dance between Brahman, the eternal Self, and māyā, the veiling illusion of multiplicity. We are That: Atman, non-separate from Brahman. Liberation dawns when we wake from māyā's spell of separateness to realize our timeless unity with the One beyond all opposites.
Play and Survival
Life's a game where we forget we're the cosmic nerve-endings of an eternal now. So stop furrowing your brow—there's divine frivolity in the endless, meaningless music of being. Drop your masks and dance lightly as angels, for you are the Joker in the pack. It's all a joke, and the joke's on you!
Shot on location in Prague, Czechoslovakia, during the International Transpersonal Conference in June 1992, this two-part series features Terence McKenna in dialogue with some of the foremost thinkers of the Global Consciousness movement of the time: Ram Dass, Angeles Arrien, Kenneth Ring, Rupert Sheldrake, Jill Purce, David Whyte and Alexander Shulgin.
Promises and Pitfalls of the Spiritual Path
Relevance of Oriental Philosophy
Self and Other
Alan coaxes the listener’s mind to simultaneously zoom in and zoom out in an effort to demonstrate that identity is merely an intellectual hallucination. Instead, personal identity is fluid, ranging from one’s constituent atoms and molecules all the way out to the farthest bounds of cosmic existence. Overcoming this mental myopia leads to greater harmony, contentment, and a desire to playfully dance with this universal energy system.
The Contemplative Endeavor
The Plot Thickens, the Stakes Rise
The Veil of Thoughts
Alan describes the ways in which we have concealed truth behind a veil of thoughts. He talks about how and why we mistake symbols for reality, argues that civilization may be a misguided experiment, offers observations about the way in which abstractions have become more powerful than the realities they are referencing, and explains how we can become “unbamboozled” from these ways of thinking.
Wisdom of the Ridiculous
In this lecture, Alan Watts outlines the philosophy of Chinese thinker Zhuang Zhou, who believed in the value of useless things, relativity, and aligning with nature through “wu wei” or non-action. He used exaggeration and humor to argue against controlling life. Stories illustrate his ideas on uselessness and flowing with life's currents. Zhuang Zhou's approach contrasts with Western notions of God and law. Overall, his playful philosophy advocates not resisting the natural Tao or way of things.