Friday, January 25, 2008

Alan Watts

I first heard Alan Watts when I was 21. KCRW in Santa Monica would broadcast his talks in the mornings around 10 or 11 AM. I remember hearing his voice for the first time — I stopped everything I was doing and just listened. Then I listened more at every possible opportunity. For all of us who listened, these talks provided a remarkable foundation for all further spiritual and philosophical development, grounding us with breadth and depth in eastern philosophy and religion by a man equally learned and experienced in western philosophy and religion. We were ripe, and Watts exemplified the saying that when the students are ready, the teacher appears. I think that I was listening from just outside the classroom and god knows, I have a lot to learn and practice yet.

I am posting all four parts of this program here because Watts begins by addressing issues related to landscape drawing and painting and concludes with comments related to what I was wondering about in yesterday's post, Beginner's Mind. When Watts talks about looking at nature in Part 1, I'm reminded of the moment in my drawing class when we all first go outside. I point to an area of trees and foliage and before I can even say a word, I can feel the students suddenly becoming overwhelmed by the prospect of attempting to draw what they see before them. I think that I'll have everyone watch this part before the Spring term class goes outside.

This film was made in 1971. I could not begin to compose a comment about the intervening almost 40 years and why we ignored all the red flags. But we've been busy, haven't we?

However, I encourage you to visit Alan Watts and explore his talks and films, assembled and archived so diligently by his son, Mark, who also made these videos available. You can purchase recordings and subscribe to weekly podcasts there and regularly listen to the lovely rhythm, melody and message of the voice of Alan Watts.

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