The Way of Zen by Alan Watts

wattsa-wayofzenZen Buddhism has become an object of fascination for me in recent years. Fascinating because my personal philosophy happens to be highly compatible with the philosophical underpinnings of Buddhism: the realisation that there is no individual self distinct from the Universe. Buddhism, in contrast to Western religions, seems to offer more of an experiential spirituality than a set of dogmas. It’s an approach of “Do x, and y will happen.” Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, appears to be just a regular guy who realised something deep and profound about life; he is not a saviour figure to be worshipped, the way that Christians worship Jesus.

This little book helped to give me greater clarity about the Buddhist pratice of “seated meditation” called zazen – what the specifics of the posture are for, and what the practitioner can hope to achieve (or not achieve) through sustained pactice. Unfortunately, thus far, I have been far too lazy to meditate on a regular basis. But if all this reading has done one thing for me, it’s to make me much more aware of the general “toxicity” of my mind, and what I can do about it.

The Way of Zen also provides some useful historical anecdotes on the origins of Buddhism. A thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening read – which is no surprise when it comes to Alan Watts, a consistently brilliant writer and lecturer.

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One thought on “The Way of Zen by Alan Watts

  1. Julia Nicholson says:

    I am also increasingly finding that there is no individual self distinct from the universe. I am noticing strange synchronicities of thought space with others, and here is a striking example in your review: “Do x, and y will happen” sounds like it comes from my blog! I have been writing about x and y as the female and male chromosomes X and Y. Do is a verb, which is a doing word, and you conjugate verbs, therefore to me “do” is a euphemism for sex, to conjugate. So if you “do” X, the female, you are conjugating to spread the male seed and get Y, the male baby. Strange but true.

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