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vineri, 2 octombrie 2009

Alan Watts - The Way of Zen


After D.T. Suzuki, Alan Watts stands as the godfather of Zen in America. Often taken to task for inspiring the flimsy spontaneity of Beat Zen, Watts had an undeniably keen understanding of his subject. Nowhere is this more evident than in his 1957 classic The Way of Zen, which has been reissued. Watts takes the reader back to the philosophical foundations of Zen in the conceptual world of Hinduism, follows Buddhism's course through the development of the early Mahayana school, the birth of Zen from Buddhism's marriage with Chinese Taoism, and on to Zen's unique expression in Japanese art and life.

As a Westerner, Watts anticipates the stumbling blocks encountered with such concepts as emptiness and no-mind, then illustrates with flawlessly apt examples. Many popular books have been written on Zen since Watts' time, but few have been able to muster the rare combination of erudition and clarity that have kept The Way of Zen in readers' hands decade after decade.

Best known as an interpreter of Eastern wisdom (specifically Zen Buddhism) for the contemporary West, Alan Wilson Watts was born in Britain on 6 January 1915. While training to become an Anglican priest in Canterbury, he discovered Buddhism from London Bookstores. He worked with D.T. Suzuki and The Buddhist Lodge, becoming editor of their quarterly, The Middle Way. He published his first book, "The Spirit of Zen" in 1935 (revised in 1968). In 1938, he married Eleanor Everett and moved to New York.

He wrote and published several books, then enrolled in Seabury Western Theological Seminary in Illinois; he was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1944. In 1950, he left the priesthood and his first wife, moving to New York with Dorothy Dewitt. In January 1951, he and his new wife moved to California, to a job teaching at the Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco. He was soon invited to speak on public radio station KPFA in Berkeley.

He published "The Way of Zen" in 1957, which immediately became a best-seller. Radio syndication and the N.E.T. tv series, "Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life" greatly increased his renown. He later received an honorary doctorate of divinity.

Thru his books, tape recordings, radio, television, and public lectures, he developed an audience of millions, in effect becoming an unintentional spokesman for the counterculture movement.

Alan Watts died in his sleep on 16 November 1973, at home aboard the old ferryboat 'Vallejo', in San Francisco Bay; he is survived by his wife and seven children. In recent times, son Mark has compiled and edited many books based on his father's lectures and essays.


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