By the early 1960s author and philosopher Alan Watts was receiving recognition for his radio talks and for his landmark books. This led him into working on a speaking circuit that included colleges and large public halls. By way of a contrast he was also actively engaged in presenting seminars to small, intimate groups.
Following his death in 1973 his son, Mark Watts carried on his fathers work through the Alan Watts Electronic University and nearly ten years ago he selected six of the more important recordings from his fathers’ seminars recorded from the late sixties and early seventies and compiled them into the Our of Your Mind audio collection.
They became an instant success and led to the publication later on of the Out of Your Mind book.
The works featured in this collection are as follows;
- The Nature Of Consciousness
- The Web of Life
- Invisible Ecstasy
- The World as Just So
- The World as Self
- The World as Emptiness
Each of these transcripts include Alan Watts’ take on issues such as shared consciousness, comparative cosmology, and humankind’s place in the natural world.
The central premise that underlies each of them is that many of the deeply held, core beliefs currently resident within the psyches of the Western world are rooted in a science that is outdated and archaic cultural constructs that were first formulated during the nineteenth century.
Watts encapsulates his feelings on this in his presentation The Dramatic Model where he states;
“The ceramic model of the world — the World as a political, monarchical state in which we are all here on sufferance as subjects of God and in which we are created artefacts who do not exist in our own right — necessities profound humility and the need to feel grateful.”
For Watts this observation forms the cornerstone of everything that he believes is so fatally flawed in a dominant philosophy that underpins our sense of who we are and our place in the world. He argues that part of the game that fuels our very existence as human beings is the reliance upon structures of power that are deeply entrenched into our being and which ultimately strips us of our true sense of self.
Gurus and masters, so Watts tells us, are also part of the problem in that they perpetuate this process of self-vicitimization.
In his approach to tackling these erroneous concepts Watts constantly references the need to reintegrate our sense of self — to crawl back our essential selves and to heal our fractured and distant thinking.
In summing up his approach to making this happen Watts. philosophy is simply summed up at the end of The Web as Play.
“What we long to hear is the gap, the break. Those silences create the rhythm, and more complex patterns of silences create even more interesting rhythms.That’s where we can be surprised. But dull people don’t do that. They put their hats on straight, eat the same thing every day, go to the same office, and so on. It’s the same song — day in, day out.”
Our Review of Out of Your Mind by Alan Watts
Not many people these days wake up and take the red pill. Those that do either go on to read Alan Watts or even more commonly cite Watts as the person who single-handedly woke them up to the illusion in the first place.
Watts has this remarkable skill in being able to negotiate a train of thought in such a way that before you realise it the person that you thought you were at the beginning of a sentence is not the same person as the one who reaches its end.
Out of Your Mind is that sort of book.
As a collection of different works this publication actually works really well and has been stitched together well enough for the reader to not notice it’s seams.
As always Watts writing style is clear and concise — which is probably why his works hold such widespread popular appeal. That is not to say that this is an easy read for despite the fact that his ideas are relatively accessible and to understand the sheer mental stamina required to assimilate the changes in thinking that they invoke is sometimes Herculean.
Thus, this book delineates a hard road — but a very, very rewarding one.
Out of Your Mind is out there as one of the great works on spiritual philosophy of this or any age. Alan Watts might be around to appreciate the fact but this a book the world has been long since been waiting for and its time is now.
Book of the Month – June 2017