Anyone who has read a book from this brilliant philosopher knows that he was a man who had figured out a lot of things about life. Alan Watts lived from 1915 to 1973 and in that time has accomplished plenty.
He is among the first men to spread Eastern wisdom to a Western audience and although he, like many philosophers, was criticized by society, it didn’t stop him from being a great writer, poet, radical thinker, teacher, and so on.
He has written approximately 25 books that focus on the meaning of life, spiritual balance, how we think individually and as a society, and generally what is happiness and how to achieve it. I am sure that you won’t be disappointed by any of his books and you will be surprised by how this man was thinking and all the knowledge his work holds. Have a look at some of Alan Watts’ best books.
The Way of Zen
Alan was a man who was familiar with and studied many religions such as Buddhism. In The Way of Zen, he wanted to show all his readers how fascinated he was with this mythical way of life for many Asian people. Watts divided the book into two sections.
The first held precious knowledge about the history of Zen Buddhism as well as important principles and practices. The second half has its own sections that include titles like Empty and Marvelous, Sitting Quietly, Doing Nothing, Za-zen and the Koan, and Zen and the Arts.
Truly valuable information for any reader who wishes to spiritually grow, improve, and make important changes in their life. To understand life itself better and see the different ways people live in.
It’s believed that Alan’s purpose for this book was mainly to show the Western audience that they were limited to their strict commitment to logical structures, unlike the Eastern people who were far from that. He wanted to show people that there are many different ways that people understand life and live by different principals, and most important of all, that that is completely okay.
Everyone who wishes should learn about new ways of life that might just change theirs for the better. That’s what he hopes to achieve with The Way of Zen and Zen Buddhism.
The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
This is a book about understanding yourself. Alan Watts takes you on a journey through the universe in an attempt to make people understand their meaning and presence in this world. After all, if we understand ourselves we will have a better understanding of what everyone else is going through and what they generally desire, happiness.
He believed that he could help people better understand their own personal identity with the help of the Hindu philosophy of Vedanta and by adapting to its principles.
He talks about how we constantly misuse great technology instead of using it to our advantage to grow as a race and to solve life-threatening problems. How we can all work together instead of fighting about things that hurt our ego. The very fact the after understanding ourselves will allow us to have peace and have nothing that we cannot solve as a union.
Alan very strongly negates what we have been told that we are isolated beings, and unconnected to anything in the universe. From start to finish, Watts covers many topics that we believe are taboo and explains that we give them too much credit.
It’s definitely a book that will help you find yourself and understand the bigger picture and what is truly important to live happily.
The Wisdom of Insecurity
We as human beings are generally insecure about things that we think about too much and are always prone to finding flaws. We then put aside the many or little positive elements and always focus on the flaws.
Alan Watts goes very in-depth about being insecure about anything in general and finds a way to explain it. He wonders in religion, philosophy, intellectual security, logic, emotions because in fact, insecurity can be born out of anything.
This book is definitely meant for everyone who constantly thinks about this stuff and is struggling with any kind of insecurity themselves, looking for a way out and a great revelation. Anyone who is interested in logic and scientific facts, anyone who has trouble finding their religious path, anyone who is open to looking at things differently and will give anything that makes sense a chance.
When people find themselves being insecure about anything it is completely normal to want to find new ways of solving their problem and regain certainty. Watts has made brilliant revelations in this book which offer help to anyone who needs it.
Like many other books of his, this book is all about self-help by understanding something and looking at it from very different ways. He tries to explain to the readers that insecurity is not actually the consequence of trying to be secure like many have argued to be true.
He looks at things in a completely different way that actually makes a lot of sense and has some unique and outstanding answers for you to find out for yourself when you start reading this book.
Tao: The Watercourse Way
This is Alan’s last book and due to his death, it is a short one that holds five chapters but, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good one. Far from that actually. It’s a great book that is considered to be the perfect introduction to Taoism.
He had actually planned to write two more chapters about how Taoism can help sick people and mainly show the people from the west that everyone can be healed from life-threatening illnesses by practicing some of the many great techniques of it.
The book holds priceless information backed up by his own studies of Taoism accompanied by historical facts. Much like his first book The Way of Zen, he explains in this one a different lifestyle of different people and the great advantages it holds. He has also included calligraphic samples of many of the cited Chinese texts.
This man makes every book he writes a masterpiece by explaining so gracefully priceless ways of life and information to people who just adore reading about these topics and are always amazed by every new book Watts releases.
Although it is his last book ever made from him, it certainly deserves a place in the best Alan Watts books ever written. Trust me, it’s pretty hard to decide which fit the top 5 list because Alan couldn’t write a bad book even if he wanted to.
Become What You Are
Finally, last but definitely not least, this is one of my favorites as well and it’s a book that really takes you to some deep places in your mind and makes you think radically. A quick suggestion from me is to make sure you are familiar with Alan’s philosophy before you dive into this book.
It covers a lot of things he has written about earlier, like the amazing and life-changing practice of Taoism, the knowledge of one’s true self, Zen, and so on. This man has always been real in what he says in his books, and sometimes the truth can be harsh, but Watts urges everyone to always face the truth and deal with it as it does make us stronger beings.
In the book, he talks about how important a balance in life is, as we would not know what is good without bad, what love feels like without knowing how it feels to hate someone, how important and good it feels like to be happy without suffering through something tragic and feeling sad.
He urges us to understand the balance so we that we can appreciate the good times. Otherwise, life would be very dull and we wouldn’t even be aware that we are even alive.
Become What You Are will most surely change your way of thinking and urge you to become better as a person. It’s the closest thing to help you understand how Alan Watts was thinking in general and what were his motivations for this way of life. He involves everything people believe in like religion, logic, emotions to make sure we understand what he is saying and to understand the nature of life itself.
These are our choices for the best Alan Watts books out there, but if you do have the time, read every single one of his books and rest assured that you will start thinking and understand life in very different and life-changing ways.
Thanks to this astonishing philosopher, we have a lot of priceless information and thoughts about life that are just mind-blowing and make his readers feel absolutely amazed.