- uploaded: Jan 15, 2009
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Alan Watts - Myth and Religion - Not What Should Be, Not What Might Be, But What Is.
Watts felt that absolute morality had nothing to do with the fundamental realization of oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s deep spiritual identity. He advocated social rather than personal ethics. In his writings, Watts was increasingly concerned with ethics applied to relations between humanity and the natural environment and between governments and citizens. He wrote out of an appreciation of a racially and culturally diverse social landscape. At the same time, he favored representative government rather than direct democracy (which he felt could readily degenerate into mob rule).
He often said that he wished to act as a bridge between the ancient and the modern, between East and West, and between culture and nature.
When he returned to the United States, he began to dabble in psychedelic drug experiences, initially with mescaline given to him by Dr. Oscar Janiger. He tried LSD several times with various research teams led by Drs. Keith Ditman, Sterling Bunnell, and Michael Agron. He also tried Marijuana and concluded that it was a useful and interesting psychoactive drug that gave the impression of time slowing down. WattsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ books of the 60s reveal the influence of these chemical adventures on his outlook. He would later comment about psychedelic drug use, "When you get the message, hang up the phone."
For a time, Watts came to prefer writing in the language of modern science and psychology (Psychotherapy East and West is a good example), finding a parallel between mystical experiences and the theories of the material universe proposed by 20th-century physicists. He later equated mystical experience with ecological awareness, and typically emphasized whichever approach seemed best suited to the audience he was addressing.
Watts led some tours for Westerners to the Buddhist temples of Japan. He also studied some movements from the traditional Chinese martial art T'ai Chi Ch'uan, with an Asian colleague, Al Chung-liang Huang. Watts lived his later years at times on a houseboat in Sausalito and at times in a secluded cabin on Mount Tamalpais. Laden with social and financial responsibilities, he struggled increasingly with alcohol addiction, which probably shortened his life. In October 1973 he returned from an exhausting European lecture tour. Watts died of heart failure in his sleep at his home on Mt. Tamalpais the following month at the age of 58.