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|Birthday/Birthplace||Alan Wilson Watts
(1915-01-06)6 January 1915
Chislehurst, Kent, England
|Deceased||16 November 1973(1973-11-16)
Mt. Tamalpais, California, United States
|Citizenship||British and American|
Alan Wilson Watts (Chislehurst Kent, January 6, 1915 – Mt. Tamalpais California, November 16, 1973) was a British philosopher, as well as an editor, Anglican priest, speaker, dean, writer, lecturer and expert in religion. He is best known for his work as an interpreter and popularizer of Asian philosophies for the Western audience.
Wrote more than twenty-five books and numerous articles on topics such as personal identity, the true nature of reality, the raising of consciousness and the pursuit of happiness, relating their experience with scientific knowledge and the teaching of Eastern and Western religions and philosophies (Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc.)
Alan Watts was a well-known autodidact. Scholarship from Harvard University and the Bollingen Foundation, he obtained a master’s degree in Theology from the Sudbury-Western Theological Seminary and an honorary doctorate from the University of Vermont, in recognition of his contribution to the field of comparative religion.
Alan Watts’s Biography
Watts was born into a middle-class family in the town of Chislehurst (now London borough of Bromley), Kent, England in 1915. His father, Laurence Wilson Watts, was a representative of the London office of the tire company Michelin ; his mother, Emily Mary Buchan, was a housewife whose father had been a missionary. With modest family means, they decided to live in the bucolic periphery, and Alan, the only child, grew up learning the names of wild flowers and butterflies, playing among streams and celebrating funeral ceremonies for dead birds.
Probably due to the influence of his mother’s family, very religious, the Buchans, he grew an interest in “the ultimate nature of things”, which was combined with Alan’s passion for fable and story books romantics of the then mysterious Far East. Watts also wrote later about a kind of mystical vision that he experienced when, as a child, he was ill with fever. During that time he was influenced by the Far Eastern landscape paintings and embroidery that his mother had received from missionaries returned from China. As for the Chinese paintings he had seen in England, Watts wrote “I was aesthetically fascinated by a certain clarity, transparency and spaciousness of Chinese and Japanese art, it seemed to float …” [according to his autobiography]. These works of art emphasized the participatory relationship between man and nature, a theme that would be important to him throughout his life.
According to his own opinion, Watts was imaginative, stubborn, and talkative. He was sent to a boarding school (which included academic and religious instruction) from a young age. During the holidays as a teenager, Francis Croshaw, a rich Epicurean with great interest in Buddhism and little-known aspects of European culture, took Watts on a trip through France. Not long after, Watts felt compelled to decide between the Anglican Christianity of his environment or Buddhism, about which he had read in several libraries, including Croshaw. He chose Buddhism, and became a member of the “London Buddhist Lodge,” founded by theosophists, and was then headed by the lawyer Christmas Humphreys. Watts became secretary of the organization at age 16 (1931). The young Watts experimented with various types of meditation during those years.
Watts attended the King’s School, next to Canterbury Cathedral. Although he was generally an outstanding student, and he was entrusted with responsibilities in the school, he missed the opportunity to obtain a scholarship in Oxford for writing one of the final exams in a style that was considered presumptuous and capricious.
Therefore, when he graduated from high school, Watts was forced to seek employment, working in a printing press and later in a bank. He devoted his free time to the “Buddhist Lodge” and was also under the tutelage of a guru named Dimitrije Mitrinović (Mitrinović, in turn, had received influences from Piotr Ouspenski, GI Gurdjieff and the various psychoanalytic schools of Sigmund Freud or close to psychoanalysis as those of Carl Gustav Jung and Alfred Adler). During this period, Watts also read extensively works of philosophy, history, psychology, psychiatry and Eastern wisdom.
During the period of the Second World War he became the episcopal chaplain of Northwestern University. He was later a professor and dean at the American Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco. In the mid-sixties he traveled with his students from the American Academy to Japan, visiting Burma, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and India, he could have contact with the Zen Buddhist philosopher Dr. Suzuki. He also made television: his program, broadcast on the National Educational Television, was titled “Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life.”
After his death, his son, Mark Watts, founded Electronic University to continue the work of his father and realize his vision of education through electronic media.
More Facts about Alan Watts
|Whole Name||Alan Wilson Watts|
|Nickname(s)||Alan Watts, Watts, Alan|
|Born/Where||Chislehurst, Kent, England|
|Born||January 06, 1915|
|Lived||58 years, 10 month, 10 days|
|Work||Alan Watts on YouTube, South Park|
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