Monday, December 31, 2007

The Book

The Book, by Alan Watts
$9.56 at Amazon.com
ISBN: 0679723005
The complete title is The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are. The late Alan Watts (pictured below) was a British philosopher who made Eastern philosophy accessible to people from the western world. Those interested in learning about Buddhism and Hinduism but uncertain how to begin will find this is the perfect choice. It's a great way to expand your spiritual horizons.
As an added bonus, philosophy books tend to be very dry and repetitive; but this one is lively and actually quite funny at times.
It begins with one of what we would consider one of the "big questions": what is the meaning of life and why are we here? Is it just to take in food and poop it out again until we expire? This is a process whose origins began with the first microscopic life on Earth. Over time the organisms have grown more complex, and intelligent, finally reaching the apogee in humanity. But what is the point to the whole thing? What are we meant to be doing here on Earth?
Watts explains that we often see ourselves as living outside and separated from the rest of the Universe. He goes on to say that individuality is actually all an illusion. The idea that we are each souls imprisoned in a bag of skin, confronting a world which is 
alien to us and stupid, is what prevents us from achieving true peace and happiness. It keeps us from understanding who we really are.
The Book has been one of my own beloved favorites for years. I've given it as a gift to several people and they've all enjoyed it. This is the sort of book which can change your life. It takes a real genius to delve into the mysteries of existence, but in a way which is accessible and even enjoyable for someone who knows nothing of eastern philosophy.
Christians, even the more traditional ones, will be able to read the Book without feeling that their own religion is being 
threatened. It's an ideal gift for anyone who's experiencing an identity crisis.
There is a basic unity between ourselves and all other individuals in the Universe. We just don't realize it because our minds have become too narrow. Watts teaches his readers to expand their minds beyond simply what he calls our "conscious attention", and to see all existence as an endless game between two sides, neither of which will ever win or lose for good.

1 comment:

Godfrey said...

But let us not forget that Alan Watts drank like a fish and was a legendary chaser of pussy. Ah, the Path to Enlightenment has many cheerful distractions on the way.