Commemorating 100 years of Alan Watts

Today marks the 100-year birthday of Alan Watts. While Watts’ "came out of this world" on 6 January 1915, and "returned to the world" in 1973 (far too young, at 58 years old), his legacy continues and expands in influence and appreciation. Alan Watts was a polymath of spirituality, religions, mysticism, philosophy, psychology, phenomenological, among his many disciplines. Though he tried to prevent labels, he was an expert in Zen Buddhism, Taoism, had a stint as an Episcopal clergyman, and Read more [...]

Retreat from the city: Watts’ mountain cabins and old ferry-boats

My partner, a sculptural artist, and I, with my love of writing, have been thinking about ways we might create some sort of retreat from the city. As I read Alan Watts' biographies I have been curiously uncovering his two most unusual abodes: a communal mountain retreat with Gary Snyder, Catharine A. MacKinnon, Elsa Gidlow and others at Druid Heights, and an old ferry-boat named SS Vallejo with artist Jean Varda and other party-goers in San Fransisco Bay. Druid Heights, Mount Tamalpais "What Read more [...]

A Wattsian Message of Happiness for 2015

In 1940, as the Second World War began its violence, a 25-year old Alan Watts published a book called The Meaning of Happiness. Its subtitle was the quest for freedom of the spirit in modern psychology and the wisdom of the East. This book shares the same essential message of  countless books, articles and lectures that followed: you are not only what is inside your "bag of skin", you are what is outside of it too. To kick off the new year, let me explain what this means and how it relates to Read more [...]

2014 in review

September 2014 marked the five year anniversary of this blog and I didn't even notice. My adventures with ideas haven't stopped, but unfortunately I've been out of the habit of sharing them online. I went to Istanbul in August to present a paper at the International Peace Research Association (IPRA)'s 50th anniversary conference. My talk was on the Global Ecological Crisis: A "New Story" to Address Structural Violence. This was a slice of my MPhil research, which I graduated from in November. Read more [...]

Clutter to clarity – using mantras Soham and Humsa

Mantra literally translates to mind (man) vehicle (tra) - intended to transport your mind from the busy clutter to stillness and clarity. It is also translated to mind protector. A "mantra" is essentially a saying - a few words or sentences that you say over and over again in your head. Your mantra might be 'I am stressed' 'I am stressed'. Or it might be 'I am that'... Soham or its inversion Hamsa. Soham means I am everything that exists, and everything is one. This is the essence of spiritual Read more [...]

Listen to Your Younger Self

I recently watched a show where "Elders" were asked what advice they would give to their 20-year old self. I imagined myself in my mid-to-late seventies being ask that question: what advice might my older self give to my present self? "Listen to your younger self". By this I do not mean to advise one to listen to that insecure or arrogant version of you, in your teenage years or early twenties, but to listen to the optimism and openness of your earliest years of life, and which sometimes can be Read more [...]

Accidentally on Purpose

Stumbled across this poem by Robert Frost and thought I would share. It's called "Accidentally on Purpose": The Universe is but the Thing of things, The things but balls all going round in rings. Some mighty huge, some mighty tiny, All of them radiant and mighty shiny. They mean to tell us all was rolling blind Till accidentally it hit on mind In an albino monkey in the jungle, And even then it had to grope and bungle, Till Darwin came to earth upon a year To show the evolution how Read more [...]

The pain of remaining tight

"The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom" —Anais Nin Throughout my yoga class on Wednesday my teacher repeated the quote: "The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom"... Yoga is not about stretching and fitness, although these are nice side effects. Yoga is about opening the body, the mind and the spirit—but most of all it is about connection. The Sanskrit word yoga Read more [...]

Other people’s shit is other people’s shit

Language warning: there is a lot of "shit" in this post. People are constantly dealing with shit. Sometimes people feel like shit, they treat others like shit, they spread shit all over the place. The arrogant kid on the street, the snickering old lady in a shop, the road rage, people with bad attitudes, negative energies, people who think that dreams are not possible. 99.999999% of the time, other people's shit is all about that person, and nothing to do with the people that surround them. It Read more [...]

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