The individual feels restricted to the area of his voluntary behavior, since all else seems to be an independent and uncontrollable happening on the part of something quite other than himself. He does not realize that, just as one cannot walk without ground, one cannot experience doing except in relation to happening, or self (center) except in relation to other (surround).

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of purposefully bringing one’s attention to the present moment without judgement. The roots of mindfulness can be traced to ancient Buddhist meditation practices, but even outside of spirituality, it has become an increasingly popular way to reduce stress and anxiety. Research shows that mindfulness affects the brain, and regular practice can lead to improved regulation of emotions and enhanced cognitive skills.

Modern applications of mindfulness include mental health treatment plans, corporate wellness programs, and self-help regimens. Rather than an esoteric spiritual discipline, it is now seen as a practical set of techniques for everything from alleviating depression to boosting productivity. Common practices include mindful breathing, body scans to bring non-judgmental awareness to physical sensations, and noticing thoughts and emotions without reacting to them. While the underlying neuroscience is complex, the basic mindfulness exercises are simple and accessible.

Documents

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.

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   (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.

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

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.

Alan Watts   (1959)

Pain

Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life (Episode 9)

Alan Watts discusses the Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist ideas about physical and moral pain, emphasizing the art of accepting pain by ridding it of its contextual associations.

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

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

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)

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)

Work and Play

Essential Lectures, Program 7

Alan Watts swirls an orange on a string and shoots an arrow high into the air before explaining why the art of living is being paid to play—and to the extent that we feel compelled to work and survive, life becomes a drag.

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

Intelligent Mindlessness

Alan discusses ways in which Western civilization confuses symbols with reality and introduces meditation and its associated gadgets as tools to get in touch with reality. Then he encourages his audience to cast off their reliance on symbols by guiding them through various mantra in a half-hour demonstration of this intelligent mindlessness.

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

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 Emptiness (Part 2)

Out of Your Mind 12

Alan Watts talks about the Buddhist perspective on change and impermanence. He discusses how Buddhism encourages detachment from the world of change and pursuit of nirvana, the state beyond change. However, clinging to nirvana as something permanent is still seeking permanence. True liberation comes from fully accepting change and transience, including death. The void or emptiness doctrine in Mahayana Buddhism elaborates on this by teaching that reality escapes concepts. Freedom comes from letting go of fixed ideas and accepting the void.

Alan Watts   (1968)

Parallel Thinking

Philosophy: East and West, Program 19

What a tickling trickster the universe is! As Watts wanders down philosophical byways, tales emerge of those healed by harmonizing body and world. Yet we teach children to twist themselves to fit odd ideals. Tension tunnels through society, our “civilizing” ways quite uncouth! Might we reconsider, relax our willful ways? Observantly ambling amidst being's little blooms, we rediscover unity in the unruly diversity—finding wisdom whispering within, inviting us to dance delightfully with life’s flowing forms.

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   (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.

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.

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.

Alan Watts

The Gateless Gate

Watts explores Zen Buddhism's unconventional approach to conveying enlightenment through seemingly mundane statements or actions instead of words or teachings. He delves into various Zen stories and their commentaries, revealing how direct pointing at reality can lead to a profound realization beyond the limits of language and conceptual thinking.

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.

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

Coincidence of Opposites

The Tao of Philosophy 3

Alan Watts explains the sense in nonsense and how to enjoy the playfulness of life while sincerely participating in the human game.

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   (1973)

Limits of Language

The Tao of Philosophy 8

Alan Watts explains how language helps to construct reality, and what to do about it. He then follows up with the challenges of expressing the ineffable.

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

Unserious Wisdom

(Buddhist Mysticism)

While Pure Land Buddhism promises easy enlightenment through faith in Buddha Amitābha, Alan Watts explains how its eccentric followers, the myōkōnin, found wisdom by goofing off. With playful tales of the monk Ryōkan’s antics, from imitating tigers to forgetting letters mid-juggle, Watts shows how these rascal sages attained childlike wonder by ditching spiritual bootstraps for carefree acceptance of their flawed humanity. For the myōkōnin, the path to Buddhahood involved more fun and games than pious efforts.

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

Zen and the Art of the Controlled Accident

Most people grow up learning to treat life as a problem, a set of circumstances which must be controlled with an iron will. Some transcend this view, realizing there is no problem and nothing to attain. In that state of mind it becomes possible to act without intention, to have “controlled accidents,” and in so doing one may rejoin society as a whimsical rascal who breaks things to improve them.