Zen: The Best of Alan Watts

Zen: The Best of Alan Watts

Ratings: 8.07/10 from 189 users.

Zen: The Best of Alan WattsA person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except faults, so he loses touch with reality and lives in a world of illusions.

By thought I mean the chattering inside the skull; perpetual and compulsive repetition of words, of calculations, and symbols going on inside the head.

For as a result of confusing the real world of nature with mere signs, such as money, stocks and bonds, title deeds, and so forth. This is a disaster. Time to wake up.

Alan Watts (1915-1973) who held both a master's degree in theology and a doctorate of divinity, is best known as an interpreter of Zen Buddhism in particular, and Indian and Chinese philosophy in general.

He authored more than 20 excellent books on the philosophy and psychology of religion, and lectured extensively, leaving behind a vast audio archive. With characteristic lucidity and humor Watts unravels the most obscure ontological and epistemological knots with the greatest of ease.

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70 Comments / User Reviews

  1. FR

    He did have a masters in theology, but nothing in his Wiki page or other biographies stating that Alan Watts had a doctorate in divinity or any other discipline. Just mentioning.

  2. Nay

    I would think listening / reading to more than one film about someone’s research and personal theories of thought and life would give a clearer idea on what it is
    they were trying to offer. Mr Watts has many many videos and readings . We do not have to agree with every word he speaks, only accept what we “get” in the form of our beliefs. No right or wrong , just the right fit for the place we are presently in ...in our journey . He makes you think !!!

  3. Zach

    I’ve heard a lot of people in youtube comments talk about his shortened life alcoholism, however I’ve never specifically heard him suggest abstinence of drugs or alcohol, what he did was conduct a critical and allegorical comparison of western and eastern ideologies. It’s a bias on the part of the Listener to think that spirituality has anything to do with flawlessness or abstinence, and to assume Allan watts was a hypocrite for being neither.

    1. Tom

      Thank you for saying this, I couldn't agree more

    2. Kelly

      So true

  4. Max

    closed it when I heard "the word of god"....cognitive dissonance ain't for me...he made some valid points in his life, but I'm looking for something to learn...not to trap me...cheers

    1. Alex EGAN

      God is a funny word to many. From mete concepts to claimed relationships with something unseen. Good luck on ur journey & allow me the greeting Merry Christmas

  5. DustUp

    From the description: "A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except faults, so he loses touch with reality and lives in a world of illusions." Some commenters say that is a misquote and state that it should be "thoughts" instead of "faults". Referring to "mental chatter"

    Either way, it demonstrates a choice of choosing not to control what you think about. Focus on something you think worthwhile. It is possible to direct your thoughts away from mulling things over and over again or other chatter and onto constructing something worthwhile. The choice is yours, to let yourself be controlled or to control yourself.

    Some people decide they need meditation. Others, like Tesla, honed his mind to the point he didn't need paper to work out the details of constructing his inventions. Fortunately many of them were documented for the purpose of obtaining patents. His assistants stated that his motors and such worked the very first time being built.

    Maybe meditation could be a path to honing one's mind rather than only a means to remove the mental chatter.

    People choose to drown out their conscience and conscious via chemicals when they could direct their mind to very interesting journeys without the need or expense of such chemicals. The most beneficial observation of all is to observe one's ego at work and gently observe it back into its proper place of being a clear pane of glass through which which things are observed, rather than a pain or splinter of glass in everyone's ass. Being in control of your ego and emotions rather than them controlling you is the worthwhile journey.

    Unfortunately the evil in control of the world do much to make that journey harder than ever; for you are the easiest to control and inspire to do the wrong things they desire when your ego and/or emotions are in control of you.

  6. Jamie

    I discovered Alan Watts many years ago by picking up one of his books at he local Buddist temple in Perth, Australia. This was before you tube.
    Since I've discovered that he was a natural speaker having 'Gift of the Gab' but he never travelled to Japan or China, or any Asian country for that matter. I thought this was strange as he often cites examples of Japanese life as though he lived there. I was also disappointed to learn he was an alcoholic and died from cirrhosis of the liver at only 58

    1. Jamey

      Are you joking? He filmed entire TV series in Japan and went there many time. He was not obsessed with clinging to life and dragging things out endlessly. He lived his philosophy.

  7. Luke

    Only rational minded people can participate in this. Youre only disrespecting

  8. Luke

    So ok , God was so concerned about your pimple, meanwhile he cant save millions of murders and accidents in daily basis. Youre too unintuitive for zen you wont get it so plss dont try cause its disresectful.

  9. Luke

    His forever , dont be a dick plsssss, you can believe wat you want but plss do not share your dogma and necro destination.

  10. Billy

    Check out Alan Watts all over Youtube, Amazon, and Piratebay. Very inspiring and REAL.

  11. Donald Buresh

    This is an outstanding documentary. I have listened to it and viewed it many times. I meditate to this documentary. I give it 10 out of 10.

  12. LoganSquareDon

    I have seen this documentary many times, and it always new to me. I thoroughly doing a meditation while listening and watching it. I highly recommend it.

  13. jay

    the opening quote is a misquote. should read "A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except THOUGHTS."

  14. Jacek Walker

    Yet there is not much interest around staying in the here-and-now from what I see on a daily basis. People both young and old recur continously to all sort of tricks so not to be in the here-and-now.
    Sex, drugs, alcohol, tv, sports, shows are the most favourite ones. I wonder why...? They costs a lot of money, time and energy and yet the majority chooses those tricks rather than " be in the present moment" as E. Tolle says.
    Why so many chooses "silly distractions"" other "blissful here-and-now" ?
    This here-and-now phenomenon is nothing new btw. Jesus and Buddha, for example, thaught it long long time ago. Then many others in our times like Osho or Krishnamurti. And yet, and yet...

    1. ralu

      They're trying to numb out an unpleasant emotion...boredom, loss, grief, anger, feeling overwhelmed. That's why people "distract" themselves.

  15. Corrina Cutlip

    What the heck, I see movies that get a bad rating, that end up interesting. This movie I thought would be good from over the top ratings and I am in awe because this is so stupid, is is amazing. I need to make a movie. I am done watching this and not even going to finish it.

    1. Lucas Keller

      Calling this s*upid reveals no faults in the film. only in you.

    2. Your Maker

      Lol!!! "I need to make a movie" Go ahead. What would it be about? Barbies and cosmetics? Get real.

  16. Justin Lesniewski

    Alan Watts has become the father I never had

  17. Lance von Ende

    If you skip to 1:52 you can go striaght? to the Alan Watts material and skip all the producer's self aggrandizement.

    1. Nay

      I would think listening / reading to more than one film about someone’s research and personal theories of thought and life would give a clearer idea on what it is they were trying to offer. Mr Watts has many many videos and readings . We do not have to agree with every word he speaks, only accept what we “get” in the form of our beliefs. No right or wrong , just the right fit for the place we are presently in ...in our journey .

  18. Low Yaocong

    I have stumble upon gold. Truely grateful of him sharing his insight. And opening my mind. Truely grateful. May krama bless this man for his selfless thought and love that will breed so much positivity

  19. Mahsa Yzd

    living is not surviving! which he tried to say.amazing,I love him!

  20. Fouad Aissani

    first time in my life practised meditation through a film , and I liked it !! :-D

  21. martin maycock

    Simply put, too much talk goes on....this is a disaster..... time to shut up!!!!!!!!!!

  22. g isaac

    i thought this was going to be funny :(

  23. Mona l

    Please correct the brief of this documentary.

    "A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except faults,"


    Thank you!

  24. JohnJameson

    Everything comes from nothing. Modern Cosmology has just discovered this. Heisenbergs uncertainty principle says this. The energy of the Vacumn. The Eternal now. All is change. What can I say. This not it.

  25. Roland Juergen

    camping in the tao .......................my choice called DAO

  26. Donald Simons

    At the top of this page, under Zen: The Best of Alan Watts, the first line is incorrect. You have Watts saying, "A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except faults--". It should be, "A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about but thoughts--" I have an audio tape of Watts saying this line, as proof.

    1. Angela Allen

      It actually says (what you said) word for word in this documentary :)

    2. Marino Guerieri

      he says that in the documentary also, somewhere at the beginning

  27. Guest

    There is nothing but a "NOW" even that is fleeting. The (unobserved) "past" is not a real thing, just thoughts, nothing that you can hold in your hand.

    And for the future, could be many, many possibilities because of probabilities, and even then tomorrow never comes, it will always be a "NOW"

    1. His Forever

      Hum. Feeling philisophical are we, Mr. Razor? I'm in a rather anti-zen mood myself. I think I have a flesh eating bacterical infection (no joking)! Two days ago I had a pimple-like bump on my calf that I pinched and now it's got a hole with white flesh in it about the size of a BB with a scarlet red ring about the size of of quarter around it and swelling about the size of a grapefruit with tight hot redding skin. No one seems to be overly concerned but me! What are the chances!?! It's painful. I'm going to see a doctor in the morning as antibiotics haven't helped at all. If you weren't an atheist I'd request prayer! Seriously. :-(

      But my search of symptoms online say that you usually have a fever with a flesh eating bacterial infection, and it doesn't seem to have progressed much today, but what else could make an actual "hole" in your leg? I've never seen anything like it.

      Anyway, I'm quite sure I'd not like this documentary. I think I'll pass.

    2. Guest

      Don't think any flesh eating bacteria is eating you up Charles.
      sounds like you may have a boil.
      Check your bedding, maybe you have some wild "demon" bugs up in your area, see what happens when demons are part of your life, they appear, yes? (LOL) anyway your symptoms sound like a boil. Swelling/inflammation, is not a good sign, forget about praying, see a doctor.

      Actually I myself am not into any "Zen" stuff either.

    3. Guest

      While working on building a rock wall a while back, i got bit by some spider(i suppose) and the thing got itchy, swollen, turning red and hard. They put me on an antibiotic iv at the hospital. You need treatment asap.

    4. His Forever

      A boil? I always pray, but I'll also see a doctor as well. Perhaps you're right. I thought boils had puss in them, but there doesn't seem to be any "puss" coming out. It doesn't seem to be growing at the moment. Well see what it looks like in the morning. We have a clinic litterally in our front yard where training doctors come twice a week to practice on poor people, Mondays and Thursdays, almost for free.

      If I were in the US I'd say it as a bite from a Brown Recluse (perhaps a small one).

    5. His Forever

      Mr. Razor: Most Boils and type II necrotizing fasciitis are both caused by Staph infections (one of several possible bacteria). Staph can be a flesh-eating infection. I'm on oral antibiotics now but the hole is about the size of a small pea now. I hope it's not a MRSA infection.

      I'm glad I know how to pray. It's a bit scary. I can't find any pictures on the net that look exactly like it. Even the doctor was a bit surprised at how it looked and was worried it would go septic, but I don't feel ill or feverish at all. I feel ok except for my leg.

    6. Guest

      Seems like your wound is growing, apparently flesh eating disease called "Leishmaniasis" is on the rise, transmitted by sand flies, found in tropical countries and spreading, due to global warming. Since you do not have that, consider yourself lucky. Zen, and praying would not help.

    7. His Forever

      Yes, I've seen some socking pictures doing research! I certainly don't have what those sand flies transmit, and that is usually to women and children as the sand flies like to be in an enclosed area rather than in the open windy areas outdoors where the men often sleep. Utterly horrendously disfiguring. Very heartbreaking!

      This is a staff infection (boil), I'm nearly sure now. My daughter also has some on her bottom and foot and earlobe, but certainly not like mine, thankfully. Nasty stuff! But she has a fever, so we need to make sure it's not from the staff infection. Life in the Philippines is difficult sometimes!

      I have seen people miraculously healed of things that even the doctors could not help like heart disease and cancer, but I also believe we need to avail ourselves of good healthcare when and where we can. And pray as well. Never leave God out of the equation. But I agree, Zen would not help.

      P.S. The reddening in the other area seems to be lessening. Perhaps the boil will get better now, but I'm not sure how it will close that hole.

    8. His Forever

      I'm feeling much better now and the "hole" seems to be closing a bit. The antibiotics (and God's mercy) seem to be working. It was a bit scary for a while.

    9. John

      Stop taking the antibiotics, and see how far "Gods mercy" will get you. If you really believe there is an invisible man using magical powers to heal you, then why bother with the antibiotics in the first place?

    10. Marino Guerieri

      technically speaking, there is no tommorow, there is only repetitive rising and falling of the sun which also is not permanent (it's just mind established pattern, while in reality sun could be destroyed so there would be no any kind of tommorows) :D

  28. Guest

    He found his way...there are many, some with subtle differences, some with briges, some with inconsistency and many still to be found. I "guess" he died a happy man with many happy people around him for he allowed them to be themself around him.
    Watching the world we see what we are because it shows what "it" is.
    The universe sees what itself is watching us watching it.

  29. alan_watts

    it's " A person who thinks constantly has nothing to think about except thoughts..."
    Very different, although ones thoughts could be about faults....

    1. Marino Guerieri

      well if you think only about thoughts, it could be called fault just because it is meaningless. it's kind of mathematics business, where everything revolves around self imposed rules, and no real things to think about, only abstraction

  30. Amy

    Why would someone blast someone on here for having an opinon about the clarity of the content spoken in the film and expressing his personal discomfort wtih religious overtones by telling the person to not listen to an opinion if he cannot handle a difference in opinion from his own? Does this seem not only rude, but paradoxical to anyone? Also, it is hypocrisy to suppress an opinion by saying the one making it should handle another's opinons w/respect. What a horrible muddled and fascist message.

  31. C M

    Great film, great man, great universe. 'The paradox between the desire of our consciousness to have meaning met with the isolation and nothingness of the universe' Live in the now man, live in the now.

  32. Bryan

    All this Zen peaceful stuff makes me ANGRY!
    j/k love

  33. K

    Eckhart Tolle actually experienced Zen

    1. Angela Allen

      I experience Zen daily :)

  34. Germanus

    I agree with Lisa O.
    Eckhert must have see this or maybe studied Alan Watts

    1. Marino Guerieri

      all of these "orient" teachings are actually very similar, if not the same in the essence (and the essence would probably be something like "let it be" or "non-resistance", "allowing things", etc.)

  35. Leonid B Basin

    This is an awesome introduction to Zen.
    Thank you!:)

  36. moonstone

    sitting in a sunbeam, paiting and listening
    thank you

  37. Jenn

    I admire Alan Watts so much. His philosophies have had such a wonderful impact on my life. This is a must-watch for anyone, really.

  38. Fly Poster

    Mkenzy's statement is misleading, and I have not even watched this yet; What I mean is, S/he offers no congruent arguement, but puts the idea in your mind that Watts is confused, This is called Weasel Phrasing.

    by all means draw your own conclusions, as I will.

  39. yo

    Very interesting and educating documentary

  40. MagicYogi

    Thanks so much for this video. I've been meditating on and off the last couple of years, and the last months have been such a struggle... I have made meditation so complicated, but now I've found its simple nature again,,, thank you...

  41. Zombi

    Mkenzy- if you can't handle people's opinions other than your own, then don't seek them.

    This is a great and informative look at Zen for people who are unfamiliar.

  42. nameless

    Great and meaningful

  43. Mkenzy

    Watts is a confused person as you will Notice from this video, suggesting we have a purposeless exsistence. I can understand the benefits of meditation but the religious aspects of Zen (Buddhism) made me feel uncomfortable.

    1. Angela Allen

      We are made uncomfortable by things we do not understand.

  44. Este

    Very few have had a background so well developed in Eastern and Western religion so as to explain the former to Western audiences. D.T. Suzuki and Chogyam Trungpa are often compared to Watts as promulgatora of Eastern thought in the West, but they didn't have the training in Western religion like Watts. Watts' teachings about Buddhism have been partly responsible for its flowering in the West, a feat well deserved. His eloquence was unmatched.

  45. Lisa O

    Very good. I think Eckert Tolle must have been a fan of Alan Watts. His stuff is similar. I like Watt's style a little better. Wasn't Alan Watts friends with Timothy Leary? It'd be great to have some of his movies on here. I love his stuff!

  46. Andriy S

    Great meditation movie ! I enjoyed it when watching few weeks ago, forgot to leave review.
    pretty match about ZEN meditation and that life is all about present movie as it always was... hehe. Best if watched after meditation... Even without may offer some interesting insights. Recommend.