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10 thoughts on “Tao: The Watercourse Way

  1. says:

    While I most enjoy the hundreds of hours of lectures by this, my favorite thinker of all time, I do treasure this book which was his last and was a gift to me from his son Mark After I received it, I noticed the musty smell of a fine old book Watts died in the 70 s while in his late 50 s and he lived on a houseboat in Sausalito harbor near San Francisco he also had a cabin in the forests just 30 minutes north where he would go for solitude When I asked Mark about the smell of the book he told me that it had come from a box of the books which were on his boat..and so it is a treasure to me.His audio is widely available online and I am happy to share incredible lectures I have of him speaking to impressive audiences IBM Systems Engineers, Southern Methodist University, and countless other churches, and other places of spiritual focus always without notes and his velvet voice and classic English accent not only with sense of humor always intact, but his speaking is never tainted with any verbal crutch nor do I recall him ever repeating the same words even rarely articulating the same concept He is was deeply knowledgeable about most subjects but especially theology, comparative religions, psychiatry psychology, art, music , languages, literature, education, ecology, mythology, mysticism, consciousness in all it s seemingly infinite states , logic and so much His friends were Carl Jung, Bertrand Russell, Alan Ginsberg, D.T Suzuki, G.K Chesterton and countless other authors, artists, musicians, spiritual leaders and intellectuals of both the east and west He is a singular master in his ability to bring truth to especially Christianity, Buddhism, psychiatry and common perceptions and mis perceptions His ultimate love of life and lighthearted view of it, along with his incredible knowledge and admission to his own inherent rascality we all are rascals at times endears him to me and I suspect to any open minded thinking person If you would llke to talk or receive audio, please call me Marc 760.633.0004

  2. says:

    Ha Ha Ha Ho Ho Ho

  3. says:

    I read this book, Watts last, immediately after reading The Spirit of Zen, his first What I got from The Spirit of Zen was to what great extent early Zen Buddhism was influenced by Taoism What I got from The Watercourse Way was how utterly fucking cool Taoism is A fitting swan song from the ever lucid Watts.

  4. says:

    It is very difficult to for me to write this review because, like water, Tao seems to be something so pervasive yet so elusive It is the source of everything but it is not their Creator It permeates everything but it cannot be seen and cannot be grasp It reigns but does not rule Tao has order but it is not law Because we are part of Tao, and Tao flows through us, we are part of the stream and it is difficult for us to see, understand or describe it objectively The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao goes the first line of Lao Tzu s Tao De Jing Alan Watts acknowledged the irony of him talking and writing about Tao but explained that it was his way of trying to grasp what it is Lao Tzu said It could be the mother of everything, I don t know its name, and call it Tao Perhaps it is akin to the universal ways and energetic flows of the universe Just as grass grows just because, and a flower blooms just becauseAccording to Tao, man too should try to follow the natural way of things and the path of least resistence But this path is not to be associated with inertia, passivity or a laissez faire way but needs to be approached with intelligence and alertness It is a path of non forcing but flowing with the natural way of things Like the soft branches of a tree that is able to survive the strong winds compared to the hard branches that resist and break Or using your opponent s aggressiveness to fall him as in judo or aikido Or using our innate wisdom, being true to ourselves, being devoid of artifice A philosophical approach called wu wei My only wonder is how this path of least resistence works in the real man made world of language, concept, rules, laws and judgements of right and wrong which is completely opposite to Tao For instance, the Tao approach advocates fewer laws and less intrusion by government That people, in their small villages and towns will be able to sort things out I could not understand it But apparently, close to the the times of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu, Chin Shi Huang Di the first Chin emperor ruled with an iron first and wanted his empire to last a thousand years But it only lasted 10 years, and broke up upon his death However, Emperor Han Kao Tsu that came next ruled with a light touch only making clear that harsh punishment will be meted out of manslaughter, assault and thievery and the Han Empire lasted 400 years.I will resist writing than I should on the subject I am just beginning to grasp a little of a beautiful and mysterious thing and will let nature, my kammic call or my destiny to lead me to those ah ha moments when I can experience Tao in my heart and my being, without words to describe it I end by adding how impressed I was with Alan Watts understanding of the Chinese language and ideograms Alan has written this subject, which is as difficult as water to grasp, beautifully and he has kept me entertained throughout This is the first Alan Watts book I read It was the last one he wrote before he died in 1973 and it was eventually completed by his good friend Al Huang postscript After reading this, I came across Thomas Merton s comment while reading On Eastern Meditation When the right moment arrives, even one who seems incapable of any instruction whatever will become mysteriously aware of the Tao.

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  6. says:

    This is the book which explaines why it is impossible to foollow the requets like You have to relax or You need to love God with all your heart There are things in life which are natural like loving, relaxing, gettinng inspiration Fortunately, noone can hurry them or postpone them as noone can smooth out the waves on the sea and one s thoughts , to tell the truth One can only attune to them and follow the course much like the coursewater.Alan Watts tells that living is turned to such a process by wise men of the East who eat when they are hungry, urinate when they need to pee, and go to bed when they are sleepy Watts tells the most simple things with the help of the brightest metaphors And reading this book liberated my mind from working too hard on the things that must not come hard.

  7. says:

    This was my first brush with the work of Alan Watts, and I have to say it was very intriguing Not so much because of the content, I read quite some classical Chinese in university and there were no real surprises, but because of the magnetic personality of the writer that radiates of each page In the afterword there s an account from the coauthor about the great joy as well as the tragedy in Watts life, which I found very moving.

  8. says:

    The finger pointing to the moon is not the moon, and the Way that can be named is not the eternal Way Watts knows this well, but points and names for fun anyway effectively than anyone else I ve come across so far.

  9. says:

    Just as Chinese writing is at least one step closer to nature than ours, so the ancient philosophy of the Tao is of a skillful and intelligent following of the course, current, and grain of natural phenomena seeing human life as an integral feature of the world process, and not as something alien and opposed to it Looking at this philosophy with the needs and problems of modern civilization in mind, it suggests an attitude to the world which must underlie all our efforts towards an ecological technology For the development of such a technology is not just a matter of the techniques themselves, but of the psychological attitude of the technician.Hitherto, Western science has stressed the attitude of objectivity a cold, calculating, and detached attitude through which it appears that natural phenomena, including the human organism, are nothing but mechanisms But, as the world itself implies, a universe of mere objects is objectionable We feel justified in exploiting it ruthlessly, but now we are belatedly realizing that the ill treatment of the environment is damage to ourselves for the simple reason that subject and object cannot be separated, and that we and our surroundings are the process of a unified field, which is what the Chinese call Tao In the long run, we simply have no other alternative than to work along with this process by attitudes and methods which could be as effective technically as judo, the gentle Tao, is effective athletically As human beings have to make the gamble of trusting one another in order to have any kind of workable community, we must also take the risk of trimming our sails to the winds of nature For our selves are inseparable from this kind of universe, and there is nowhere else to be The fountain of creative work is an intelligent questioning of the rules Lancelot Whyte Thought is born of failure When action satisfies there is no residue to hold the attention to think is to confess a lack of adjustment which we must stop to consider Only when the human organism fails to achieve an adequate response to its situation is there material for the processes of thought, and the greater the failure the searching they become Confucius is the first clear example of a man in this situation Concerned at the disintegration of primitive Chinese civilization, he sought to restore order by relying on the power of ideas to organize behavior He was aware of what he was trying to do society was to be set right by calling everything by its right name, or as he put it, the rectification of names.