Free Listening Through May 22, 2018:
This dialogue with the daughters of Alan Watts takes a deep dive into the colorful and controversial life of this late philosopher and popularizer of Zen Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies. Through his collected letters they describe the story of Watts’ correspondence with the founder of the Buddhist Society of London that led to an invitation for him to give a lecture. The Society was totally shocked to see a teenage boy show up. Such was the erudition and wisdom of Watts even as a youngster. He was a most devoted son. After moving to the U.S., he kept up a daily correspondence with his parents, even during WWII. His letters show that he was always learning something new and he would write long letters about these things. He was clear that his views will always be under revision and that wisdom is not a static thing. He wrote, “[W]hat I think now, what shall I think tomorrow? I don’t know. The whole fun of life is that it’s full of new surprises and new things to learn, provided you are willing to keep on growing and not settle into a rut.” They describe his aversion to being put up on a moral pedestal that he could never live up to. In another letter his humor was showing when he got an award for an article he wrote for Playboy Magazine about Wealth versus Money and replied, “Thank you very much. In some ways I prefer this award to getting an honorary degree from Harvard.” Such are a few gems gleaned from this delightful conversation about this most impressive, playful, and erudite genius.