The universe is a system which, by means of living bodies, becomes aware of itself.

Cosmic Consciousness

Enlightenment, satori, ego death, oneness, non-duality, direct experience

Cosmic consciousness is a concept in mysticism and new age spirituality referring to an ultimate state of awareness, a mental shift toward universality and enlightenment. The idea of cosmic consciousness dates back over a century to origins with Transcendentalism, but was notably advanced by Richard Maurice Bucke’s 1901 theories. He defined it as an evolved, uplifted state of consciousness beyond selfhood and intellect, characterized by expanded awareness, ethical values, intellectual enlightenment, and mystical experience.

Bucke viewed cosmic consciousness as the next stage in human development, conjecturing that ancient visionaries like Buddha and Jesus had attained this elevated consciousness. Features of cosmic consciousness might include a profound sense of peace, deep understanding of the unity underlying apparent diversity, no self-centeredness, and a knowing, godlike sense of the universe. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, cosmic consciousness has become a recurrent spiritual concept tied to psychedelics, meditation, and mysticism. Thinkers like Alan Watts and Timothy Leary explored ideas of evolved consciousness as a step to gnosis, spiritual liberation, and realizing a universal identity beyond ego.

Documents

Terence McKenna   (1996)

A Few Conclusions About Life

In his signature wide-ranging style, McKenna explores culture, shamanism, psychedelics, and humanity's collective journey through spacetime. He advocates embracing the ineffable mystery unfolding through us, moving toward a hyperspatial cyberculture. To rediscover our shared humanity, we must trust the transformative wisdom of psychedelic plants.

Alan Watts   (1964)

A Psychedelic Experience

Fact or Fantasy?

As our minds melt into mystic union with the cosmos, philosopher Alan Watts implores us to embody the trippy truth—reality is but a divine drama. Let psychedelic portals transport you through the looking glass, where self and world swirl together like paints in a kaleidoscope. But tread carefully upon this razor's edge, where heaven and hell commingle. Are you ready to lift the veil?

Terence McKenna   (1989)

A Psychedelic Point of View

Buck the status quo! Rebel philosopher Terence McKenna shook things up in this closing speech after a month of being scholar-in-residence at Esalen, arguing that reality escapes our rational grasp. He chided science and philosophy's paltry models that diminish nature's infinitude. Seeking to spur his audience from passive acceptance, McKenna called to revere expanded consciousness. He urged toppling the assumptions bolstering dominator culture to midwife more liberated, psychedelically-attuned societies. By trusting our intuition's cosmic tether, we can transform reality into something stranger and more wonderful than we suppose.

Terence McKenna   (1993)

A Weekend with Terence McKenna

“Healing the inner elf through trance, dance, and diet”—the session for true McKenna enthusiasts: twelve hours with the bard himself, in which he touches upon practically all of his trademark topics.

Terence McKenna   (1997)

Appreciating Imagination

Join Terence McKenna in this weekend workshop as he takes us on an imaginative journey into the depths of human creativity. Through eloquent exploration of psychedelics, virtual worlds, and shamanic states of consciousness, McKenna reveals how embracing our imagination allows us to envision and manifest alternate realities beyond cultural conditioning. By cultivating our creative faculties with mathematical reasoning, intuition, and immersion in nature, he guides us toward transcending ideological limits into an enlightened future of compassion. Ultimately, breaking boundaries through the power of imagination will inspire us to reach new heights of understanding and connectivity.

Alan Watts

Art of Meditation

In this radio program, philosopher Alan Watts leads a meditation session to help listeners experience reality beyond mental chatter. Through mindful awareness of sounds, breathing, and chanting, he guides an exploration of slowing the thinking mind and awakening to the eternal now. The program offers an accessible introduction to meditation and its potential to transcend illusory divides between self and world.

Terence McKenna   (1990)

Awakening to Archaic Values

A weekend workshop in which Terence encourages humanity to return to harmonic habits which have been lost in the tide of time.

Ram Dass   (1971)

Be Here Now

This book is a classic text on Hindu spirituality that bloomed open like a lotus flower in the wake of the hippie movement. The seed for this book was planted in the mind of Harvard psychiatrist turned Indian mystic, Ram Dass, and was written—with the blessings of his guru Neem Karoli Baba—for a Western audience who were, for the most part, materially rich but spiritually poor. Be Here Now offers its readers and followers a drug-free alternative for attaining higher states of consciousness, while its simple message to live in the present encourages the pursuit and cultivation of inner peace.

Alan Watts

Being Far Out

(Spiritual Alchemy)

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.

Alan Watts   (1964)

Beyond Theology

The Art of Godmanship

Alan Watts examines the theme that our normal sense of the person as a lonely island of consciousness is a dramatic illusion based on theological imagery. In a global context, the meaning of this imagery inevitably changes, yet without losing its unique values.

Alan Watts

Birth, Death, and the Unborn

All the patterns we see around us in the world are projections of our minds. There is no way things should be, there is no way things shouldn’t be. But if humans can adopt a mental discipline in which they remain able to project patterns without becoming hung up on them, life for everyone will transform into a beautiful artwork.

Martin Luther King, Jr.   (1967)

Christmas Sermon on Peace and Nonviolence

The fifth and last lecture of the Massey Lecture series, delivered at King's home church, Ebeneezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Alan Watts

Consciousness and Rhythm

This seminar explores consciousness as an intrinsic rhythmic interplay with reality instead of a detached witness. Watts challenges notions of separateness, asserting that individuals and the cosmos are fundamentally unified. He encourages transcending ego and dualistic thinking to harmonize with the underlying patterns and dance that all differentiated experiences, including our own being, arise from. The goal is realizing our inherent interconnectedness with the seamless whole.

Alan Watts

Cosmic Network

Alan takes us from the very small to the very large, explaining the interrelatedness of all things in the universe as a vast network which weaves us into a united yet unnamable divinity.

Terence McKenna   (1999)

Culture and Ideology are not Your Friends

Delivered at the Whole Life Expo, Terence focuses on one of his favorite questions: what does it mean to be human in this cosmos?

Alan Watts

Diamond Way

Watts beckons us to peer past the veil, where remembering and forgetting engage in a cosmic dance. Traverse the paradoxical streams of jiriki and tariki, self-power and other-power, until the very concept of “I” dissolves like a dewtopped lotus. Prepare to be unshackled and uninhibited, for in the quest for nothingness lies the quintessence of everythingness.

Alan Watts

Do You Do It Or Does It Do You?

Alan explores the meaning of personal free will in the context of core tenets in Eastern mythology: how is it possible to control anything when preexisting conditions outside of our influence determine our present situation? It is a realization of the hidden unity behind our apparent diversity and a relinquishing of obsessive control that enables us to unlock a pathway leading out of the conundrum and towards a celebration and reverence of life.

Terence McKenna   (1998)

Dreaming Awake at the End of Time

Join Terence for an eclectic think along the deconstruction of the deepening worldwide weirdness. With his characteristic hope and humor, McKenna examined time and its mysteries, the nature of language, the techniques of ecstasy, high technology and virtual cyberspace, the role of hallucinogenic plants in shamanism and the evolution of human cultures, and the foundations of postmodern spirituality.

Alan Watts   (1960)

Mahayana Buddhism

Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life (Episode 20)

What lies behind the fluttering forms we see? No clay, cries Buddhism, just a ceaseless dance devoid of stuff and substance. Grasping at ghosts within grants no relief, rather anxiety’s siege. Freedom rides life’s wave instead of taking cover. Be sage and bodhisattva mid melody, summoning the courtesan’s carefree bliss. Embrace experience utterly, no escaper you need be. For the void is full, if we still our need to fill.

Alan Watts   (1960)

Buddhism and Science

Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life (Episode 21)

Science precisely describes nature’s wiggly forms by classifying them into yes/no boxes to predict and control the environment. Yet there is ignorance in seeing life as a contest between order and chaos. These principles contain each other; their realization is awakening. Rather than a crude survival struggle, we can see nature’s forms as a joyful cosmic dance, like wise fishes delightedly circling in unity.

Alan Watts

Ecological Awareness

When Alan Watts talked about the ‘mystical experience’ among scientific circles, he preferred to call it ‘ecological awareness’—referring to a state of mind in which a person ceases to feel separate from the environment in which he or she exists.

Alan Watts   (1970)

Ecology and Religion

The raw beauty of nature belies a growing crisis. Watts argues the ecological predicament stems from long-held religious views of the world as separate from humankind. He urges rethinking this, and seeing ourselves as intertwined with the natural world, to find solutions.

Vilayat Inayat Khan   (1974)

Ecstasy of Beings

For those intoxicated by life's seeming meaningfulness, there is only utter shattering of the false self, without compromise. The ego is annihilated in love for the divine beloved, so that one becomes egoless, the beloved all. Ecstasy is the greatest force, breaking the prison of selfhood to merge with the ever-present mystery. In solitude's wilderness within, one experiences God manifesting through all beings as oneself. Dogma is abandoned for pure knowing—the divine perfection working through human limitation.

Alan Watts

Education for Non-Entity

(A True Materialist Society)

Alan presents his argument that the United States—often referred to as the ultimate materialist society—is anything but: it lacks a sincere appreciation for the material world and inadvertently destroys it in an attempt to “live the good life,” chasing after ever greener pastures just beyond the horizon of time.

Ram Dass   (1993)

Embracing the Mystery

“Real compassion is bringing the cosmic giggle into the moments of your life.” With this intriguing statement, Ram Dass invites us to embrace life’s profound mystery. He calls us to transcend our small sense of self and victimization, to open our hearts to suffering with compassion, and to let go of our need to control the uncontrollable. Instead, we can rest in the spacious awareness that embraces all phenomena without judgment—holding both our individuality and our unity, reveling in the cosmic giggle.

Adyashanti   (2004)

Emptiness Dancing

Who are you when you are not thinking yourself into existence? What is ultimately behind the set of eyes reading these words? In Emptiness Dancing, Adyashanti invites you to wake up to the essence of what you are through the natural and spontaneous opening of the mind, heart, and body that holds the secret to happiness and liberation. From the first stages of realization to its evolutionary implications, Adyashanti shares a treasure trove of insights into the challenges of the inner life, offering lucid, down-to-earth advice on topics ranging from the ego, illusion, and spiritual addiction to compassion, letting go, the eternal now, and more.

Alan Watts   (1972)

Nothingness

Essential Lectures, Program 1

Basing his ideas on sensory perception and physical experience, Alan Watts makes a compelling argument that everything actually depends upon nothing for its very existence.

Alan Watts   (1972)

Ego

Essential Lectures, Program 2

Alan Watts was concerned with the way we trap ourselves in words. He considered it unfortunate that we separate the “I” from reality and think of “I” in terms of how others see us or the image that we want to project. What is the answer?

Alan Watts   (1972)

Meditation

Essential Lectures, Program 3

As Alan Watts explains, “A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts and loses touch with reality.” He covers basic mediation techniques, including listening without naming and chanting mantras.

Alan Watts   (1972)

Time

Essential Lectures, Program 6

Here Alan Watts points out that our insistence that the past determines the present is nonsensical.

Alan Watts   (1972)

Death

Essential Lectures, Program 8

Alan Watts comments on the circle of life and our response to the surprising event of being born in the first place.

Alan Watts   (1971)

Conversation with Myself

Essential Lectures, Program 12

While walking in a field above Muir Woods, Alan Watts points to humankind's attempts to straighten out a wiggly world as the root of our ecological crisis.

Alan Watts

Four Ways to the Center

Can an ego overcome egocentrism? Can a self become selfless? Is there even any value in this pursuit, and if so, how should one approach it? Through renunciation and repentance, or through acceptance and merging into it? Many consciousnesses encounter this conundrum on the brisk seas of being, and Alan invites us to take a closer look at our so-called individuality.

Alan Watts

Game Theory of Ethics

Alan muses whether life's a game worth playing. He argues we're all gambling from birth, so best embrace the dice-roll with open arms. Though the rules seem fixed, we shape them by how we play. At the heart of it, trusting the game and one another renders it all worthwhile.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin   (1950)

How May We Conceive And Hope That Human Unanimization Will Be Realized On Earth?

Amid the depressing spectacle of human chaos, Teilhard sees glimmers of hope for unanimity. Geographic crowding and intellectual cross-pollination compress us, while deeper forces of attraction pull us together—a rekindled sense of shared species-destiny, and for some, a longing for a “universal lover” at the apex of cosmic evolution to which all egos could converge. Might such planetary energies of compression and gravitational yearning ultimately triumph over our instincts for dispersal? Teilhard dares to envision an inexorable trajectory toward an “Omega” unifying human consciousness.

John Danaher and Stephen Petersen   (2020)

In Defence of the Hivemind Society

The idea that humans should abandon their individuality and use technology to bind themselves together into hivemind societies seems both farfetched and frightening—something that is redolent of the worst dystopias from science fiction. In this article, we argue that these common reactions to the ideal of a hivemind society are mistaken. The idea that humans could form hiveminds is sufficiently plausible for its axiological consequences to be taken seriously. Furthermore, far from being a dystopian nightmare, the hivemind society could be desirable and could enable a form of sentient flourishing. Consequently, we should not be so quick to deny it. We provide two arguments in support of this claim—the axiological openness argument and the desirability argument—and then defend it against three major objections.

Terence McKenna   (1998)

In the Valley of Novelty

Journeying through multiple dimensions of psychedelic consciousness, Terence McKenna's visionary weekend workshop invites us on an entheogenic voyage to the frontiers of the mind and its imminent conquering of matter. Blending scientific insights with shamanic wisdom, McKenna argues that natural plant medicines like psilocybin and DMT provide portals into mystical realms and alien dimensions, catalyzing revelations about nature, reality, and the human psyche. He urges us to courageously explore these consciousness-expanding substances, seeking the gratuitous beauty and truths they unveil. For McKenna, the psychedelic experience holds secrets to our world and ourselves—if only we dare lift the veil.

Alan Watts

Individual and the World

This seminar covers a variety of topics, from the illusion of our separation from the environment and the futility of trying to be genuine, all the way to the discipline required to handle mystical experiences in order to bring something back from them to share with the rest of the world. The presentation ends with his endorsement of insanity, saying a healthy amount of craziness in old age is necessary to prepare for a joyous death.

Alan Watts

Ineffable Order

Societies—organisms or machines? Watts weighs in, finding us more cog-like than cells. But beneath individuals and collectives, he spies nature's web—infinitely intricate, ineffably complex. This tangled tapestry, the Taoist , makes a mockery of our mechanistic ways. So while groups lack living complexity, the individual is no alpha and omega. Our world's too messy for such simplicity.

Alan Watts

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.

Albert Einstein   (1950)

Letter to Dr. Robert Marcus

Einstein wrote this letter of condolence to a grieving father named Robert S. Marcus, whose son had succumbed to polio a few days earlier.

Rudolf Steiner   (1919)

Lucifer and Ahriman

We live in critical, apocalyptic times. In these five lectures, given just after the end of the First World War and in the midst of trying to effect the social-political life of his times with the movement for a threefold social order, Steiner focuses on the vital task of developing a right orientation toward the spirit: a free spiritual life. With great compassion and understanding he shows how humanity must walk a conscious middle path between the two “tempting” powers of Lucifer and Ahriman. He tells of the incarnation of Lucifer in the third millennium BCE, from which flowed not only the wisdom of paganism but also the intellectual consciousness we enjoy today. Ahriman is shown to be approaching humanity through phenomena such as materialism, nationalism, and literalism in preparation for his incarnation in the millennium now opening. It must not be thought, however, that these two powers work apart: on the contrary, they work more and more together. Our task is to hold them in balance, continually permeating the one with the other. Doing this requires a new form of conscious spirituality.

Ervin László   (2023)

Manifesto on the Spirit of Planetary Consciousness

Our future is in our hands. László's manifesto calls on each of us to embrace creativity, diversity, and responsibility to evolve society toward stability and sustainability. By shifting our individual and collective values to recognize how we all depend on and impact each other, we can build a peaceful world where all people thrive. It starts with transforming our own minds and spirits.

Erwin Schrödinger   (1951)

My View of the World

A Nobel prize winner, a great man and a great scientist, Erwin Schrödinger has made his mark in physics, but his eye scans a far wider horizon: here are two stimulating and discursive essays which summarize his philosophical views on the nature of the world. Schrödinger's world view, derived from the Indian writings of the Vedanta, is that there is only a single consciousness of which we are all different aspects. He admits that this view is mystical and metaphysical and incapable of logical deduction. But he also insists that this is true of the belief in an external world capable of influencing the mind and of being influenced by it. Schrödinger's world view leads naturally to a philosophy of reverence for life.

Alan Watts

Mysticism and Morality

What if our feelings were never wrong? Philosopher Alan Watts probes the liberating link between mysticism's reverence for all things and an honest morality that accepts our emotions as natural, not shameful. By embracing our true feelings without pretense, we act with integrity, not violence.

Alan Watts

Of Itself So

Watts takes us on an odyssey to peer through the prism of East and West. Brace for a metamorphosis as familiar philosophical tenets are unraveled and recast in vibrant hues. From the celestial monarchies of old to the grand cosmic theater, diverse models of existence intertwine, beckoning us to shed our self-imposed blinders. An electrifying exploration of consciousness itself, this lecture tantalizes with the promise of inner awakening and long-sought liberation.

Alan Watts   (1969)

The Nature of Consciousness (Part 1)

Out of Your Mind 1

A seminar about “what there is.” Watts weaves together keen insights from science and spirituality to propose that existence is more like a game of hide-and-seek where we pretend not to recognize how self and other are interconnected.

Alan Watts   (1969)

The Nature of Consciousness (Part 2)

Out of Your Mind 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.

Alan Watts

The Web of Life (Part 1)

Out of Your Mind 3

Alan Watts explores the interconnectedness and interdependence of all things. He asserts that human consciousness excludes an awareness of the whole, instead focusing narrowly and seeing the world as disjointed parts. Watts aims to broaden awareness to encompass the fundamental unity underlying apparent diversity. Using examples like music intervals, Chinese philosophy, and weaving, he elucidates the inseparability of opposites like order and randomness, sound and silence, self and other. Watts contends that a recognition of the implicit wholeness of existence brings peace, joy and harmony. He encourages a view of life that pairs an individual persona with an understanding that each person is an expression of the total cosmos.

Alan Watts

The Web of Life (Part 2)

Out of Your Mind 4

A deep dive into the cosmic game of life. Alan says existence is an interwoven, rhythmic dance veiled in illusion, but when we peek behind the veil, we find life is actually playful—so come on in and join the party!

Alan Watts

The Inevitable Ecstasy (Part 1)

Out of Your Mind 5

We are called to immerse in the sacred waters of the Now, releasing resistance's vain clutch upon illusion's crumbling stones. Feel each quivering wave, Alan chants, and the jewel of awakening will sparkle within your depths. Suffering fades when we cease damming the holy flow, surrendering instead to bliss's inevitable tide. Allow yourself to be cradled within sensation's currents. Let go, dissolve, and the river's timeless mercy will carry you home, beyond words, to dissolve in the ocean's mystical embrace.

Alan Watts

The Inevitable Ecstasy (Part 2)

Out of Your Mind 6

With cosmic wit, Watts unveils the mystic truth: our selves are but specks of dust, our lives a flicker in eternity's eye. Yet in this vanishing wisp of consciousness, we may glimpse our true nature—the boundless void that births the ten thousand things. Facing the abyss with laughter, we find liberation in the inevitable ecstasy of dissolution.

Alan Watts

The World as Just So (Part 1)

Out of Your Mind 7

Alan Watts lectures on the origins and essence of Zen, a branch of Mahayana Buddhism that spread from India to China and Japan. He discusses key concepts like satori, no-mind, and non-attachment, and emphasizes Zen's spontaneity, directness, and humor. Major figures covered include Bodhidharma, Hui-neng, Rinzai, and Dogen. Watts aims to illuminate Zen's appeal in the West and convey the feeling of its practices.

Alan Watts

The World as Just So (Part 2)

Out of Your Mind 8

This lecture on Zen Buddhism describes the Japanese Zen monastery, meditation practices, kōans used by masters to guide students, and the enlightenment experience. Watts explains how masters help students break attachment to ego through impossible tasks. He contrasts Bankei's simple "unborn mind" Zen with Hakuin's intense kōan training.

Alan Watts

The World As Self (Part 1)

Out of Your Mind 9

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.

Alan Watts

The World As Self (Part 2)

Out of Your Mind 10

The journey of self-realization follows the winding path inward, to the place where you already are. As the egoic illusion falls away, the universe unveils your true face. Trust in the guru's skillful means, which trick the mind into its own liberation. Embrace each stage of life with sincerity, not forcing but allowing insight to dawn in its own time. Know yourself to be That, the eternal Self of all that is.

Alan Watts

The World as Emptiness (Part 1)

Out of Your Mind 11

With Buddha as our guide, Watts leads us along the unfolding petals of the Eightfold Path—past the thorns of suffering, through the mists of illusion, and into the open arms of change. Life, impermanent as the wind, is ours not to grasp but to embrace. Accept each fading blossom without clinging, observe each passing cloud without craving, and suffering falls away like autumn leaves. We are left not with answers, but with questions that bloom into understanding.

Joan Tollifson   (2010)

Painting the Sidewalk with Water

Talks and Dialogues About Non-Duality

These lively talks and dialogues are about seeing through the illusion of separation and waking up to the boundless wholeness that is all there is. Joan's approach is open and explorative, questioning all attempts to conceptually grasp and frame the movement of life. She talks about seeing through the stories and beliefs that create our human suffering and waking up to the simplicity of what is. This book beautifully dissolves the apparent dichotomy between the uncompromising "this is it, just as it is" message of radical non-duality and the emphasis on "being here now" that is found in many meditation teachings. Joan has an affinity with Buddhism, Advaita, and radical non-duality, but she belongs to no tradition. In these talks and dialogues, she takes on such perennial questions as, Is there a way out of personal and global suffering? Can we choose to stop addictive and destructive patterns? Does being awake take effort, vigilance, and practice, or is it effortlessly and unavoidably always already the case? What happens when we die?

Alan Watts

Problems of Meditation

Watts illuminates meditation as a vehicle to transcend the illusion of individuality and realize one’s intrinsic unity with the cosmos. He unveils a symphony of sacred techniques—from breath awareness to primordial sonic mysticism—as potential pathways to the ineffable experience of non-dual consciousness. By surrendering the ego’s compulsive control, one may ultimately arrive at the paradoxical fruition of subject and object coalescing into one unconditioned field of pure witnessing awareness.

Alan Watts

Pursuit of Pleasure

Where does pleasure come from? What are we trying to achieve in our frantic day-to-day activities? Why are we in such a hurry? And why do all of our efforts to pin the universe down and bring it under our control dial up the misery?

Alan Watts   (1971)

Q and A With God

After discussing the nature of consciousness, the human mind, and the philosophical viewpoint that every person is God, Alan Watts assumes the role of God himself for the latter half of this lecture, answering each question his audience serves with wit and insight.

Alan Watts

Reality, Art, and Illusion

Join Alan as he expresses the meaning of life through the Hindu-Buddhist idea of reality as a divine game of hide-and-seek. "Life is not ultimately serious," Watts argues. By embracing the fluidity of identity and recognizing our interconnectedness, we can creatively engage with existence as impermanent, unified, and filled with playful potential. Accessible yet philosophically rich, these decades-old lectures offer timeless insights on the nature of reality.

Alan Watts

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.

Alan Watts   (1969)

Spectrum of Love

Alan Watts explores love in its many forms, from desire to divine connection. He argues against forcing or faking love, saying real charity can't be willed. Instead, Watts suggests honestly examining one's own selfish motivations, since even egotism stems from a distorted love. By following our inner drives, love can unfold organically. Watts sees embracing risks as better than bottling up this energy, which leads to self-destruction. Allowing love to flow freely, despite heartbreaks, enables human flourishing. For Watts, light passes through a prism, but it's all love.

Ajahn Brahm   (2013)

Talk on Non-Self (Anattā)

Ajahn Brahm uses the metaphor of a lotus flower to describe the path of meditation leading to enlightenment. He guides the listener inward, petal by petal, until reaching the very heart—the ultimate truth of non-self and emptiness. With his characteristic wit and wisdom, he reveals how all phenomena are impermanent processes devoid of a permanent essence. Though initially confronting, Brahm suggests this teaching contains the song of freedom itself, destined to liberate those who have heard it.

Alan Watts   (1966)

The Book

On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

At the root of human conflict is our fundamental misunderstanding of who we are. The illusion that we are isolated beings, unconnected to the rest of the universe, has led us to view the “outside” world with hostility, and has fueled our misuse of technology and our violent and hostile subjugation of the natural world. In The Book, philosopher Alan Watts provides us with a much-needed answer to the problem of personal identity, distilling and adapting the ancient Hindu philosophy of Vedanta to help us understand that the self is in fact the root and ground of the universe. In this mind-opening and revelatory work, Watts has crafted a primer on what it means to be human—and a manual of initiation into the central mystery of existence.

Adyashanti   (2018)

The Contemplative Endeavor

Adyashanti illuminates the profound moment when awareness awakens to its own presence, likening it to a child's startling self-discovery in the mirror. He recounts Ramana Maharshi's fearless contemplation of death, which unveiled the eternal essence beyond the transient self. Adyashanti invites us to courageously encounter our immediate experience of being, for therein lies the foundation of authentic spiritual inquiry—a silent yet transformative communion with the heart of existence.

Aldous Huxley   (1954)

The Doors of Perception

The Doors of Perception is a philosophical essay detailing Aldous Huxley’s experiences of a mescaline trip that took place over the course of an afternoon in May 1953. The book takes its title from a phrase in William Blake’s 1793 poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Huxley recalls the insights he experienced, which range from the purely aesthetic to sacramental vision. He also incorporates later reflections on the experience and its meaning for art and religion.

Alan Watts, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder   (1967)

The Houseboat Summit

An extended conversation between Alan Watts, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, and Gary Snyder on the problem of whether to “drop out or take over,” conducted on Alan Watts’ houseboat in 1967.

Neil Theise   (2019)

The Inherent Compassion of a Self-Organizing Universe

Buddhism teaches the emptiness of inherent existence: "everything is not a thing." Contemporary physics, chemistry, and biology—seen through the simplifying lens of complexity theory—shows us that the non-dual realm is in complementarity with all of duality, that the presence/absence of boundaries, of separation, is dependent on perspective. "Wisdom" is seeing the world without delusion, and science is one means to washing delusion from one's mind. In doing so, the inherent compassionate nature of the universe and of every being within and of that universe is revealed.

Alan Watts

The Joker

One of Alan’s most popular seminars, and for good reason—in The Joker, listeners will find out why every society needs fools in order to remind itself not to take life so damn seriously.

Alan Watts   (1962)

The Joyous Cosmology

Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness

The Joyous Cosmology is Alan Watts’ exploration of the insight that the consciousness-changing drugs LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin can facilitate when accompanied with sustained philosophical reflection by a person who is in search, not of kicks, but of understanding. More than an artifact, it is both a riveting memoir of Alan’s personal experiments and a profound meditation on our perennial questions about the nature of existence and the existence of the sacred.

Alan Watts

The Myopic View of the World

(We as Organism)

Alan Watts argues that we spend most of our life in a sort of myopia; that is, only perceiving a microscopic subsection of the reality which we occupy. By mentally “zooming out,” humans can begin to see (and enjoy) the marvelous universal dance that has been unfolding since the Big Bang—and which now expresses itself in and through us at this very moment.

Frank White   (1987)

The Overview Effect

Space Exploration and Human Evolution

Frank White explores how space exploration transforms human perspectives, leading to a profound shift in consciousness known as the “overview effect.” Astronauts’ experiences of seeing Earth from space highlight interconnectedness and promote environmental awareness, urging humanity to unite for the planet’s well-being. White’s insightful exploration delves into the philosophical and psychological implications of space travel, inspiring readers to contemplate our place in the universe and the potential for positive evolution.

Rabindranath Tagore   (1922)

The Religion of Man

The Religion of Man is a compilation of lectures by Rabindranath Tagore, edited by him and drawn largely from his Hibbert Lectures given at Oxford University. A Brahmo playwright and poet of global renown, Tagore deals with the universal themes of God, divine experience, illumination, and spirituality.

Alan Watts

Slices of Wisdom

The Tao of Philosophy 1

Highlights from the "The Love of Wisdom" radio series by Alan Watts.

Alan Watts

Images of God

The Tao of Philosophy 2

Alan Watts talks on the impact of various models of the ultimate reality, and the contrasts between male and female symbolism.

Alan Watts   (1965)

Myth of Myself

The Tao of Philosophy 5

The ferryboat philosopher riffs on how we're not skin bags with an “I” inside, but the whole cosmos peeking out! Says we feel separate because we ignore our cosmic “floodlight” consciousness. But we're waves in the ocean, apples on the tree. Realizing this brings real joy.

Alan Watts   (1965)

Man in Nature

The Tao of Philosophy 6

How should we view nature—as machine, drama, or organism? Alan says we must trust its organic patterns, explaining that the borders of our imagined selves determine our relationship to the environment and our role in the universe. So go with the flow, be purposeless, let the Tao wash over you like wild geese vanishing into clouds.

Alan Watts

Symbols and Meaning

The Tao of Philosophy 7

Alan Watts joyfully upends assumptions about reality, using wit and wisdom to reveal how existence is a dazzling, musical mystery beyond language—not a problem to be solved but an unfolding to be experienced.

Timo Järvilehto   (1998)

The Theory of the Organism-Environment System

In any functional sense, organism and environment are inseparable and form only one unitary system. The organism cannot exist without the environment, and the environment has descriptive properties only if it is connected to the organism. Separation of organism and environment cannot be the basis of any scientific explanation of human behavior. The theory leads to a reinterpretation of basic problems in many fields of inquiry and makes possible the definition of mental phenomena without their reduction either to neural or biological activity or to separate mental functions. According to the theory, mental activity is activity of the whole organism-environment system, and the traditional psychological concepts describe only different aspects of organization of this system.

Alan Watts   (1960)

The Value of Psychotic Experience

Watts questions society’s rigid definitions of sanity and madness, arguing we should embrace diverse states of consciousness rather than forcibly conform people. Drawing from Zen and Eastern thought, he advocates a humble, curious approach to the human condition, eschewing the search for grand, predetermined meanings. Instead, Watts encourages simply being present and attentive to the spontaneity of existence, free from the narrow constraints of societal norms and expectations. He cautions against dismissing the nonconformist as “sick,” urging an open-minded tolerance of life’s variations.

Alan Watts   (1965)

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.

Alan Watts   (1951)

The Wisdom of Insecurity

This 1951 classic explores how our modern pursuit of security through money, status, and technology leads to anxiety. Watts artfully weaves Eastern philosophy and Christian mysticism to argue that seeking permanence in an impermanent world is futile. Rather, we must embrace the present moment and recognize the illusion of the ego. Watts writes breezily with penetrating insight about how relaxing our grip on life's impermanence paradoxically allows us to live fully. Though challenging at times, ultimately Watts' message brings great comfort in understanding the futility of chasing security. Give it a read and you may just find the wisdom that insecurity brings!

Alan Watts   (1960)

This Is It

and Other Essays on Zen and Spiritual Experience

Six revolutionary essays exploring the relationship between spiritual experience and ordinary life—and the need for them to coexist within each of us. With essays on “cosmic consciousness” (including Alan Watts’ account of his own ventures into this inward realm); the paradoxes of self-consciousness; LSD and consciousness; and the false opposition of spirit and matter, This Is It and Other Essays on Zen and Spiritual Experience is a truly mind-opening collection.

David Sloan Wilson   (2019)

This View of Life

Completing the Darwinian Revolution

It is widely understood that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution completely revolutionized the study of biology. Yet, according to David Sloan Wilson, the Darwinian revolution won’t be truly complete until it is applied more broadly—to everything associated with the words “human,” “culture,” and “policy.” In a series of engaging and insightful examples—from the breeding of hens to the timing of cataract surgeries to the organization of an automobile plant—Wilson shows how an evolutionary worldview provides a practical tool kit for understanding not only genetic evolution but also the fast-paced changes that are having an impact on our world and ourselves. What emerges is an incredibly empowering argument: If we can become wise managers of evolutionary processes, we can solve the problems of our age at all scales—from the efficacy of our groups to our well-being as individuals to our stewardship of the planet Earth.

Alan Watts

Transcending Duality

An exploration of the male and female symbolism in Tantric yoga and the unity of polar opposites as a form of resonance.

Timothy Leary   (1966)

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out

Aimed specifically at young adults, this hour-long, soft-spoken piece explores Leary's early research into LSD in New York and Mexico, how new ideas spread throughout society over the course of generations, his vision of a future society in which the psychedelic experience is revered and respected, the effects of marijuana, and how seekers can launch their own journey to tune in, turn on, and drop out of the modern rat race.

Terence McKenna   (1991)

Unfolding the Stone

Making and Unmaking History and Language

Also published under the title Empowering Hope in Dark Times, McKenna explores the philosophical underpinnings of alchemy and Hermeticism. He argues that these esoteric traditions promote the inherent divinity of humankind and the overcoming of fate through magic. Psychedelic plants and mystical experiences are positioned as means of glimpsing liberatory truths. McKenna ultimately seeks to empower his audience with a hopeful worldview and a sense of human potential, even in difficult times.

Aldous Huxley   (1955)

Who Are We?

A lecture held at the Vedanta Society of Southern California’s Hollywood temple, in which Huxley goes into some depth about core issues about human existence, asking the primal question: what is our true nature?

Ram Dass   (1976)

Who Are You

Ram Dass discusses the illusion of identity and attachment. He examines different levels of consciousness, from the egoic thinking mind to universal oneness. Dass encourages living fully while cultivating spacious awareness, embracing all of life's experiences as opportunities for awakening. He emphasizes being present, listening deeply, and recognizing the perfection underlying apparent imperfection.

Alan Watts

Who Is It That Knows There Is No Ego?

Alan explores the idea of separateness, and whether our language has tricked us into falsely believing that things are individual, independent, and comprehensible all on their own.

Joanna Macy   (1991)

World as Lover, World as Self

This overview of Joanna Macy's innovative work combines deep ecology, general systems theory, and the Buddha's teachings on interdependent co-arising. A blueprint for social change, World as Lover, World as Self shows how we can reverse the destructive attitudes that threaten our world.

Alan Watts   (1967)

Zen Bones

Alan invites us to float like clouds and experience life directly instead of mediating it through concepts. Constant thinking takes us from the real. Open wide the mind’s doors, be here, flow present like water. Watts touches on meditation’s liberating power in realizing our true nature already within. Sit, walk, breathe; see through illusion’s mist, marvel at the mundane’s hidden jewels, embrace each now, wake up! Enlightenment’s sunrise awaits those who cease thinking. Realize you're already It and let life’s living magic move your feet.