|Born||Alan Wilson Watts
6 January 1915
Chislehurst, Kent, England
|Died||16 November 1973
Mt. Tamalpais, California, United States
|Nationality||British and American|
|Part of a series on|
Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) was a British-born philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known as an interpreter and populariser of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. Born in Chislehurst, he moved to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York. Pursuing a career, he attended Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, where he received a master's degree in theology. Watts became an Episcopal priest then left the ministry in 1950 and moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies.
Watts gained a large following in the San Francisco Bay Area while working as a volunteer programmer at KPFA, a Pacifica Radio station in Berkeley. Watts wrote more than 25 books and articles on subjects important to Eastern and Western religion, introducing the then-burgeoning youth culture to The Way of Zen (1957), one of the first bestselling books on Buddhism. In Psychotherapy East and West (1961), Watts proposed that Buddhism could be thought of as a form of psychotherapy and not a religion. He also explored human consciousness, in the essay "The New Alchemy" (1958), and in the book The Joyous Cosmology (1962).
Towards the end of his life, he divided his time between a houseboat in Sausalito and a cabin on Mount Tamalpais. His legacy has been kept alive by his son, Mark Watts, and many of his recorded talks and lectures are available on the Internet. According to the critic Erik Davis, his "writings and recorded talks still shimmer with a profound and galvanizing lucidity."
- 1 Early years
- 2 Middle years
- 3 Later years
- 4 Death
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Publications
- 7 Legacy
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
Watts was born to middle class parents in the village of Chislehurst, Kent (now south-east London), in 1915, living at 3 (now 5) Holbrook Lane. His father was a representative for the London office of the Michelin Tyre Company, his mother a housewife whose father had been a missionary. With modest financial means, they chose to live in pastoral surroundings and Alan, an only child, grew up playing at brookside, learning the names of wildflowers and butterflies. Probably because of the influence of his mother's religious family the Buchans, an interest in "ultimate things" seeped in. But it mixed with Alan's own interests in storybook fables and romantic tales of the mysterious Far East.
Watts also later wrote of a mystical vision he experienced while ill with a fever as a child. During this time he was influenced by Far Eastern landscape paintings and embroideries that had been given to his mother by missionaries returning from China. The few Chinese paintings Watts was able to see in England riveted him, and he wrote "I was aesthetically fascinated with a certain clarity, transparency, and spaciousness in Chinese and Japanese art. It seemed to float...". These works of art emphasized the participative relationship of man in nature, a theme that stood fast throughout his life, and one that he often writes about. See, for instance, the last chapter in The Way of Zen.
By his own assessment, Watts was imaginative, headstrong, and talkative. He was sent to boarding schools (which included both academic and religious training of the Muscular Christianity sort) from early years. Of this religious training, he remarked "Throughout my schooling my religious indoctrination was grim and maudlin…" Watts spent several holidays in France in his teen years, accompanied by Francis Croshaw, a wealthy Epicurean with strong interests in both Buddhism and exotic little-known aspects of European culture. It was not long afterward that Watts felt forced to decide between the Anglican Christianity he had been exposed to and the Buddhism he had read about in various libraries, including Croshaw's. He chose Buddhism, and sought membership in the London Buddhist Lodge, which had been established by Theosophists, and was now run by the barrister Christmas Humphreys. Watts became the organization's secretary at 16 (1931). The young Watts explored several styles of meditation during these years.
Watts attended The King's School, Canterbury next door to Canterbury Cathedral. Though he was frequently at the top of his classes scholastically, and was given responsibilities at school, he botched an opportunity for a scholarship to Oxford by styling a crucial examination essay in a way that was read as presumptuous and capricious.
When he left high school, Watts worked in a printing house and later a bank. He spent his spare time involved with the Buddhist Lodge and also under the tutelage of a "rascal guru" named Dimitrije Mitrinović. (Mitrinović was himself influenced by Peter Demianovich Ouspensky, G. I. Gurdjieff, and the varied psychoanalytical schools of Freud, Jung and Adler.) Watts also read widely in philosophy, history, psychology, psychiatry and Eastern wisdom. By his own reckoning, and also by that of his biographer Monica Furlong, Watts was primarily an autodidact. His involvement with the Buddhist Lodge in London afforded Watts a considerable number of opportunities for personal growth. Through Humphreys, he contacted eminent spiritual authors (e.g., Nicholas Roerich [an artist, scholar, and mystic], Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, and prominent theosophists like Alice Bailey). In 1936, aged 21, he attended the World Congress of Faiths at the University of London, heard D. T. Suzuki read a paper, and afterwards was able to meet this esteemed scholar of Zen Buddhism. Beyond these discussions and personal encounters, Watts absorbed, by studying the available scholarly literature, the fundamental concepts and terminology of the main philosophies of India and East Asia.
Influences and first publication
In 1936, Watts's first book was published, The Spirit of Zen. In The Way of Zen he disparaged The Spirit of Zen as a "popularisation of Suzuki's earlier works, and besides being very unscholarly it is in many respects out of date and misleading."
In 1938 he and his bride left England to live in America. Watts would become an American citizen in 1943. He had married Eleanor Everett, whose mother Ruth Fuller Everett was involved with a traditional Zen Buddhist circle in New York. A few years later, Ruth Fuller married the Zen master (or "roshi"), Sokei-an Sasaki, who served as a sort of model and mentor to Watts, though he chose not to enter into a formal Zen training relationship with Sasaki. During these years, according to his later writings, Watts had another mystical experience while on a walk with his wife.
Watts's fascination with the Zen (or Ch'an) tradition—beginning during the 1930s—developed because that tradition embodied the spiritual, interwoven with the practical, as exemplified in the subtitle of his Spirit of Zen: A Way of Life, Work, and Art in the Far East. "Work," "life," and "art" were not demoted due to a spiritual focus. In his writing, he referred to it as "the great Ch'an (or Zen) synthesis of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism after A.D. 700 in China."
Christian priest and after
Watts left formal Zen training in New York because the method of the teacher did not suit him. He was not ordained as a Zen monk, but he felt a need to find a professional outlet for his philosophical inclinations. He entered Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, an Episcopal (Anglican) school in Evanston, Illinois, where he studied Christian scriptures, theology, and church history. He attempted to work out a blend of contemporary Christian worship, mystical Christianity, and Asian philosophy. Watts was awarded a master's degree in theology in response to his thesis, which he published as a popular edition under the title Behold the Spirit: A Study in the Necessity of Mystical Religion. The pattern was set, in that Watts did not hide his dislike for religious outlooks that he decided were dour, guilt-ridden, or militantly proselytizing—no matter if they were found within Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism.
All seemed to go reasonably well in his next role, as Episcopal priest (beginning in 1945, aged 30), until an extramarital affair resulted in his young wife having their marriage annulled. It also resulted in Watts leaving the ministry by 1950. He spent the New Year getting to know Joseph Campbell and Campbell's wife, Jean Erdman; as well as John Cage the notable composer.
In early 1951, Watts moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco. Here he taught alongside Saburō Hasegawa (1906-1957), Frederic Spiegelberg, Haridas Chaudhuri, lama Tada Tōkan (1890-1967), and various visiting experts and professors. Hasegawa, in particular, served as a teacher to Watts in the areas of Japanese customs, arts, primitivism, and perceptions of nature. Besides teaching, Watts served for several years as the Academy's administrator. One notable student of his was Eugene Rose, who later went on to become a noted hieromonk and theologian in the Eastern Orthodox Church in America.
Watts also studied written Chinese and practiced Chinese brush calligraphy with Hasegawa as well as with some of the Chinese students who enrolled at the academy. While Watts was noted for an interest in Zen Buddhism, his reading and discussions delved into Vedanta, "the new physics", cybernetics, semantics, process philosophy, natural history, and the anthropology of sexuality.
After heading up the Academy for a few years, Watts left the faculty for a freelance career in the mid-1950s. In 1953, he began what became a long-running weekly radio program at Pacifica Radio station KPFA in Berkeley, which continued until his death in 1973. Like other volunteer programmers at the listener-sponsored station, Watts was not paid for his broadcasts; they did, however, gain him a large following in the San Francisco Bay Area. These programs were later carried by additional Pacifica stations, and were re-broadcast many times over in the decades following his death. The original tapes are currently held by the Pacifica Radio Archives, based at KPFK in Los Angeles, and at the Electronic University archive founded by his son, Mark Watts (alanwatts.org).
In 1957 when 42, Watts published one of his best known books, The Way of Zen, which focused on philosophical explication and history. Besides drawing on the lifestyle and philosophical background of Zen, in India and China, Watts introduced ideas drawn from general semantics (directly from the writings of Alfred Korzybski and also from Norbert Wiener's early work on cybernetics, which had recently been published). Watts offered analogies from cybernetic principles possibly applicable to the Zen life. The book sold well, eventually becoming a modern classic, and helped widen his lecture circuit.
In the 1960s, Watts began to experiment with psychedelics, initially with mescaline given to him by Dr. Oscar Janiger. He tried LSD several times with various research teams led by Drs. Keith S. Ditman (1921-2001), Sterling Bunnell, Jr., 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. Watts's books of the '60s reveal the influence of these chemical adventures on his outlook. He later said about psychedelic drug use, "If 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.
Supporters and critics
Watts's explorations and teaching brought him into contact with many noted intellectuals, artists, and American teachers in the human potential movement. His friendship with poet Gary Snyder nurtured his sympathies with the budding environmental movement, to which Watts gave philosophical support. He also encountered Robert Anton Wilson, who credited Watts with being one of his "Light[s] along the Way" in the opening appreciation of Cosmic Trigger. Werner Erhard attended workshops given by Alan Watts and said of him, "He pointed me toward what I now call the distinction between Self and Mind. After my encounter with Alan, the context in which I was working shifted."
Though never affiliated for long with any one academic institution, he did have a fellowship for several years at Harvard University. He also lectured to many college and university students. His lectures and books gave him far-reaching influence on the American intelligentsia of the 1950s–1970s, but he was often seen as an outsider in academia. When questioned sharply by students during his talk at University of California Santa Cruz in 1970, Watts responded that he was not an academic philosopher but rather "a philosophical entertainer".
Watts has been criticized by Buddhists such as Philip Kapleau and D. T. Suzuki for allegedly misinterpreting several key Zen Buddhist concepts. In particular, he drew criticism from those who believe that zazen must entail a strict and specific means of sitting, as opposed to a cultivated state of mind available at any moment in any situation. Typical of these is Kapleau's claim that Watts dismissed zazen on the basis of only half a koan. In regard to the aforementioned koan, Robert Baker Aitken reports that Suzuki told him, "I regret to say that Mr. Watts did not understand that story." In his talks, Watts addressed the issue of defining zazen practice when he said, "A cat sits until it is tired of sitting, then gets up, stretches, and walks away."
He also had his supporters in the Zen community, including Shunryu Suzuki, the founder of the San Francisco Zen Center. As David Chadwick recounted in his biography of Suzuki, Crooked Cucumber: the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki, when a student of Suzuki's disparaged Watts by saying "we used to think he was profound until we found the real thing", Suzuki "fumed with a sudden intensity", saying, "You completely miss the point about Alan Watts! You should notice what he has done. He is a great bodhisattva."
Watts sometimes alluded to a group of neighbors in Druid Heights (near Mill Valley, California) who had endeavored to combine architecture, gardening, and carpentry skills to make a beautiful and comfortable life for themselves. These neighbors accomplished this by relying on their own talents and using their own hands, as they lived in what has been called "shared bohemian poverty". Druid Heights was founded by the writer Elsa Gidlow, and Watts dedicated his book The Joyous Cosmology to the people of this neighborhood.
Regarding his intentions, Watts attempted to lessen the alienation that accompanies the experience of being human that he felt plagued the modern Westerner, and (like his fellow British expatriate and friend, Aldous Huxley) to lessen the ill will that was an unintentional by-product of alienation from the natural world. He felt such teaching could improve the world, at least to a degree. He also articulated the possibilities for greater incorporation of aesthetics (for example: better architecture, more art, more fine cuisine) in American life. In his autobiography he wrote, "… cultural renewal comes about when highly differentiated cultures mix".
In his last novel Island (1962), Aldous Huxley mentions the religious practice of maithuna as being something like what Roman Catholics call "coitus reservatus". A few years before, Alan Watts had discussed the theme in his own book Nature, Man and Woman. There, he discusses the possibility of the practice being known to early Christians and of it being kept secretly by the Church.
In his writings of the 1950s, he conveyed his admiration for the practicality in the historical achievements of Chán (Zen) in the Far East, for it had fostered farmers, architects, builders, folk physicians, artists, and administrators among the monks who had lived in the monasteries of its lineages. In his mature work, he presents himself as "Zennist" in spirit as he wrote in his last book, Tao: The Watercourse Way. Child rearing, the arts, cuisine, education, law and freedom, architecture, sexuality, and the uses and abuses of technology were all of great interest to him. Though known for his Zen teachings, he was also influenced by ancient Hindu scriptures, especially Vedanta, and spoke extensively about the nature of the divine Reality Man that Man misses, how the contradiction of opposites is the method of life and the means of cosmic and human evolution, how our fundamental Ignorance is rooted in the exclusive nature of mind and ego, how to come in touch with the Field of Consciousness and Light, and other cosmic principles. These are discussed in great detail in dozens of hours of audio that are in part captured in the 'Out of Your Mind' series.
Watts sought to resolve his feelings of alienation from the institutions of marriage and the values of American society, as revealed in his classic comments on love relationships in "Divine Madness" and on perception of the organism-environment in "The Philosophy of Nature". In looking at social issues he was quite concerned with the necessity for international peace, for tolerance and understanding among disparate cultures. He also came to feel acutely conscious of a growing ecological predicament; as one instance, in the early 1960s he wrote: "Can any melting or burning imaginable get rid of these ever-rising mountains of ruin—especially when the things we make and build are beginning to look more and more like rubbish even before they are thrown away?" These concerns were later expressed in a television pilot made for NET filmed at his mountain retreat in 1971 in which he noted that the single track of conscious attention was wholly inadequate for interactions with a multi-tracked world.
He disliked much in the conventional idea of "progress". He hoped for change, but he preferred amiable, semi-isolated rural social enclaves, and also believed in tolerance for social misfits and eccentric artists. Watts decried the suburbanization of the countryside and the way of life that went with it. In one campus lecture tour, which Watts titled "The End to the Put-Down of Man", Watts presented positive images for both nature and humanity, spoke in favor of the various stages of human development (including the teenage years), reproached excessive cynicism and rivalry, and extolled intelligent creativity, good architecture and food.
Watts felt that absolute morality had nothing to do with the fundamental realization of one'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.
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.
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.
In several of his later publications, especially Beyond Theology and The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Watts put forward a worldview, drawing on Hinduism, Chinese philosophy, panentheism, and modern science, in which he maintains that the whole universe consists of a cosmic self playing hide-and-seek (Lila), hiding from itself (Maya) by becoming all the living and non-living things in the universe, forgetting what it really is; the upshot being that we are all IT in disguise. In this worldview, Watts asserts that our conception of ourselves as an "ego in a bag of skin" is a myth; the entities we call the separate "things" are merely aspects of the whole.
Watts's books frequently include discussions reflecting his keen interest in patterns that occur in nature and which are repeated in various ways and at a wide range of scales – including the patterns to be discerned in the history of civilizations.
In October 1973, Watts returned from a European lecture tour to his cabin in Druid Heights. Friends of Watts had been concerned for him for some time over what they considered his excessive drinking of alcohol. On 16 November 1973, he died in his sleep. He was reported to have been under treatment for a heart condition. His body was cremated in a Buddhist ceremony shortly thereafter.
Watts married three times and had seven children (five daughters and two sons). Watts' eldest daughters, Joan Watts and Anne Watts own and manage most of the copyrights to his books. His son, Mark Watts, currently serves as curator of his father's audio, video and film and has published content of some of his spoken lectures in print format. Watts met Eleanor Everett in 1936, when her mother, Ruth Fuller Everett, brought her to London to study piano. They met at the Buddhist Lodge, were engaged the following year and married in April 1938. A daughter, Joan, was born November 1938 and another, Anne, was born in 1942. Their marriage ended eleven years later, but Watts continued to correspond with his former mother-in-law.
In 1950, Watts married Dorothy DeWitt and moved to San Francisco in early 1951 to teach. They began a family that grew to include five children: Tia, Mark, Richard, Lila, and Diane. The couple separated in the early sixties after Watts met Mary Jane Yates King while lecturing in New York. After a difficult divorce he married King in 1964. Watts lived with Mary Jane in Sausalito, California, in the mid-1960s. He divided his later years between a houseboat in Sausalito called the Vallejo, and a secluded cabin in Druid Heights, on the southwest flank of Mount Tamalpais north of San Francisco, California.
- 1932 An Outline of Zen Buddhism, The Golden Vista Press, 1932, 32 pages.
- 1936 The Spirit of Zen: A way of life, work and art in the Far East, paperback 1969. ISBN 0-8021-3056-9 A preview from Google Books
- 1937 The Legacy of Asia and Western Man
- 1940 The Meaning of Happiness, paperback, 1970. ISBN 0-06-080178-6
- 1944 Theologica Mystica of St. Dionysius (translation from Greek of Pseudo-Dionysius, available online)
- 1947 Behold the Spirit: A Study in the Necessity of Mystical Religion, Vintage, 1972, ISBN 0-394-71761-9
- 1950 Easter: Its Story and Meaning
- 1950 The Supreme Identity, Vintage, 1972. ISBN 0-394-71835-6
- 1951 The Wisdom of Insecurity, Vintage, 1968. ISBN 0-394-70468-1
- 1953 Myth and Ritual in Christianity, Beacon Press, 1971. ISBN 0-8070-1375-7
- 1957 The Way of Zen, Vintage Spiritual Classics, 1999. ISBN 0-375-70510-4
- 1958 Nature, Man, and Woman, Vintage reissue, 1991. ISBN 0-679-73233-0
- 1959 Beat Zen Square Zen and Zen, paperback, ASIN B000F2RQL4
- 1960 This Is It and Other Essays on Zen and Spiritual Experience, Vintage reprint, 1973. ISBN 0-394-71904-2
- 1961 Psychotherapy East and West, Vintage ed. 1975, ISBN 0-394-71609-4 An excerpt at the Wayback Machine (archived December 1, 2004)
- 1962 The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness
- 1963 The Two Hands of God: The Myths of Polarity
- 1964 Beyond Theology: The Art of Godmanship, Vintage, 1973. ISBN 0-394-71923-9
- 1966 The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Vintage reissue, 1989. ISBN 0-679-72300-5 An excerpt at the Wayback Machine (archived October 31, 2004)
- 1967 Nonsense. ISBN 0-525-47463-3. (A spiritual application of literary nonsense).
- 1970 Does It Matter?: Essays on Man's Relation to Materiality, Vintage ed. 1971. ISBN 0-394-71665-5
- 1971 The Temple of Konarak: Erotic Spirituality (Thames and Hudson, London). Photographs by Eliot Elisofon; text by Alan Watts. Published as Erotic Spirituality: The Vision of Konarak by Macmillan, NY
- 1972 The Art of Contemplation: A Facsimile Manuscript with Doodles
- 1972 In My Own Way: An Autobiography 1915–1965, Vintage, 1973. ISBN 0-394-71951-4 A preview from Google Books
- 1973 Cloud-hidden, Whereabouts Unknown: A Mountain Journal, Vintage, 1974. ISBN 0-394-71999-9
- 1974 The Essence of Alan Watts, ed. Mary Jane Watts, Celestial Arts
- 1975 Tao: The Watercourse Way, with Al Chung-liang Huang, Pantheon
- 1976 Essential Alan Watts, ed. Mark Watts,
- 1978 Uncarved Block, Unbleached Silk: The Mystery of Life
- 1979 Om: Creative Meditations, ed. Mark Watts
- 1982 Play to Live, ed. Mark Watts
- 1983 Way of Liberation: Essays and Lectures on the Transformation of the Self, ed. Mark Watts
- 1985 Out of the Trap, ed. Mark Watts
- 1986 Diamond Web, ed. Mark Watts
- 1987 The Early Writings of Alan Watts, ed. John Snelling, Dennis T. Sibley, and Mark Watts
- 1990 The Modern Mystic: A New Collection of the Early Writings of Alan Watts, ed. John Snelling and Mark Watts
- 1994 Talking Zen, ed. Mark Watts
- 1995 Become What You Are, Shambhala, expanded ed. 2003. ISBN 1-57062-940-4
- 1995 Buddhism: The Religion of No-Religion, ed. Mark Watts A preview from Google Books
- 1995 The Philosophies of Asia, ed. Mark Watts
- 1995 The Tao of Philosophy, ed. Mark Watts, edited transcripts, Tuttle Publishing, 1999. ISBN 0-8048-3204-8
- 1996 Myth and Religion, ed. Mark Watts
- 1997 Taoism: Way Beyond Seeking, ed. Mark Watts
- 1997 Zen and the Beat Way, ed. Mark Watts
- 1998 Culture of Counterculture, ed. Mark Watts
- 1999 Buddhism: The Religion of No-Religion, ed. Mark Watts, edited transcripts, Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0-8048-3203-X
- 2000 What Is Zen?, ed. Mark Watts, New World Library. ISBN 0-394-71951-4 A preview from Google Books
- 2000 What Is Tao?, ed. Mark Watts, New World Library. ISBN 1-57731-168-X
- 2000 Still the Mind: An Introduction to Meditation, ed. Mark Watts, New World Library. ISBN 1-57731-214-7
- 2000 Eastern Wisdom, ed. Mark Watts, MJF Books. ISBN 1-56731-491-0, three books in one volume: What is Zen?, What is Tao?, and An Introduction to Meditation (Still the Mind). Assembled from transcriptions of audio tape recordings made by his son Mark, of lectures and seminars given by Alan Watts during the last decade of his life.
- 2002 Zen, the Supreme Experience: The Newly Discovered Scripts, ed. Mark Watts, Vega
- 2006 Eastern Wisdom, Modern Life: Collected Talks, 1960–1969, New World Library
Audio and video works, essays
Including recordings of lectures at major universities and multi-session seminars.
- ???? Myth and Religion (Video on YouTube)
- 1960 Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life, television series, Season 1 (1959) and Season 2 (1960)
- 1960 Essential Lectures
- 1960 Nature of Consciousness (here)
- 1960 The Value of Psychotic Experience
- 1960 The World As Emptiness
- 1960 From Time to Eternity
- 1960 Lecture On Zen
- 1960 The Cross of Cards
- 1960 Taoism
- 1962 This Is It - Alan Watts and friends in a spontaneous musical happening (Long playing album - MEA LP 1007)
- 1968 Psychedelics & Religious Experience, in California Law Review (here)
- 1969 Why Not Now: The Art of Meditation
- 1971 A Conversation With Myself (part 1 on YouTube part 2 on YouTube part 3 on YouTube part 4 on YouTube)
- 1972 The Art of Contemplation, Village Press
- 1972 The Way of Liberation in Zen Buddhism, Alan Watts Journal, vol. 2, nr 1
- 1994 Zen: The Best of Alan Watts (VHS)
- 2004 Out of Your Mind: Essential Listening from the Alan Watts Audio Archives, Sounds True, Inc. Unabridged edition,
- 2005 Do You Do It, or Does It Do You?: How to let the universe meditate you (CD)
- 2007 Zen Meditations with Alan Watts, DVD (here)
- 2013 "What If Money Was no Object"
- 1976 Alan Watts: The Rise and Decline of the Ordained Shaman of the Counterculture, by David Stuart (pseudonym for Edwin Palmer Hoyt, Jr.), Chilton Book Co, PA
- 1986 Genuine Fake: a Biography of Alan Watts, by Monica Furlong, published by Heinemann (published by Houghton Mifflin as Zen Effects: The Life of Alan Watts)
In recent years, portions of Watts' lectures have been popularized by a series of animated internet videos, purported to have been created in part by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of the animated series South Park (though there is no clear evidence of their involvement). This has spawned a culture of user-animated videos all around the net.
Saybrook University offers the only course on Watts in the United States and perhaps the world (EHTP 3075: The Life and Work of Alan Watts) taught by Dr. Jeannine A. Davies. Saybrook also has the only Watts academic chair in the world, which is held by Dr. Stanley Krippner, Executive Faculty Member.
Samples from lectures by Alan Watts are featured in the intros or endings of several of STRFKR songs, including "Florida", "Isabella of Castile", "Medicine", "Pistol Pete", "Mystery Cloud", "Hungry Ghost" and "Quality Time". And the 2013 GoPro feature "Whale Fantasia" was viewed more than one million times in less than three months.
Writer/director Spike Jonze re-introduces the spirit and "voice" of Watts in his 2013 film Her, where a futuristic, cyber version of Watts—an artificially intelligent operating system—is portrayed by Brian Cox.
- Alan Watts at NNDB
- James Craig Holte The Conversion Experience in America: A Sourcebook on American Religious Conversion Autobiography page 199
- David, Erik (2006). The Visionary State: A Journey through California's Spiritual Landscape. Chronicle Books. ISBN 0-8118-4835-3.
- Watts, Alan W. 1973 In My Own Way: An Autobiography 1915–1965, New York: Pantheon
- Zen Effects: The Life of Alan Watts, by Monica Furlong, p. 12
- Zen Effects: The Life of Alan Watts, by Monica Furlong, p. 22
- Watts, Alan W. 1973, pp. 71–72
- Watts, Alan W. 1957, Part 2, Chapter 4
- Watts, Alan W. 1973, p. 60
- Watts, Alan W. 1973, p. 102
- Watts, Alan W. 1973, pp. 78–82
- Watts, Alan W., 1957, p.11
- "Alan Wilson Watts". Encyclopedia of World Biography.
- Watts, Alan W. 1947/1971 Behold the Spirit, revised edition. New York: Random House / Vintage. p. 32
- Watts, Alan W. 1973, p. 321.
- Alan Watts, "Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life, Season 1 (1959)" and Season 2 (1960), KQED public television series, San Francisco
- The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness (the quote is new to the 1965/1970 edition (page 26), and not contained in the original 1962 edition of the book).
- William Warren Bartley, Werner Erhard, The Transformation of a Man
- Kapleau 1967, pp. 21–22
- Aitken 1997, p. 30. 
- Chadwick, D: Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki, Broadway Books,2000
- ^ Davis, Erik (May 2005). Druids and Ferries "Druids and Ferries". Arthur (Brooklyn: Arthur Publishing Corp.) (16). http://www.techgnosis.com/index_druid.html Druids and Ferries.
- Davis, Erik (May 2005). "Druids and Ferries". Arthur (Brooklyn: Arthur Publishing Corp.) (16).
- The Joyous Cosmology, p. v
- Watts, Alan W. 1973, p. 247.
- The Joyous Cosmology, p. 63
- De Ropp, Robert S. 2002 Warrior's Way. Nevada City, CA: Gateways, p. 334.
- Watts, Alan W. 1947/1971, pp. 25–28.
- Zen Effects: The Life of Alan Watts, by Monica Furlong
- "Alan Watts, Zen Philosopher, Writer and Teacher, 58, Dies". The New York Times. 16 November 1973. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
- Stirling 2006, pg. 27
- The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (1966)
- Watts, Alan, 1973, pp. 300–304
- Flash Animated Philosophy From South Park Creators www.coldhardflash.com
- "GoPro: Whale Fantasia". GoPro. 26 September 2013. 1,073,925 views at time of this access. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
- "Her (2013)". IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
- Aitken, Robert. Original Dwelling Place. Counterpoint. Washington, D.C. 1997. ISBN 1-887178-41-4 (paperback)
- Charters, Ann (ed.). The Portable Beat Reader. Penguin Books. New York. 1992. ISBN 0-670-83885-3 (hard cover); ISBN 0-14-015102-8 (paperback)
- Furlong, Monica, Zen Effects: The Life of Alan Watts Houghton Mifflin. New York. 1986 ISBN 0-395-45392-5, Skylight Paths 2001 edition of the biography, with new foreword by author: ISBN 1-893361-32-2
- Kapleau, Philip. Three Pillars of Zen (1967) Beacon Press. ISBN 0-8070-5975-7
- Stirling, Isabel. "Zen Pioneer: The Life & Works of Ruth Fuller Sasaki" Shoemaker & Hoard. 2006. ISBN 978-1-59376-110-3
- Watts, Alan, In My Own Way. New York. Random House Pantheon. 1973 ISBN 0-394-46911-9 (his autobiography)
- Clark, David K. The Pantheism of Alan Watts. Downers Grove, Ill. Inter-Varsity Press. 1978. ISBN 0-87784-724-X
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Alan Watts|
- The Alan Watts Electronic University – Alan Watts audio and video courses, co-founded by Alan Watts, Mark Watts, and Henry Jacobs in 1973.
- Alan Watts Podcast – The official Podcast of Alan Watts
- Master Enlightenments Arts Seminars and Lectures by Alan Watts – Looking at many different forms of enlightenment – Recorded by Henry Jacobs in 1964/65 who set up the original Alan Watts radio network.
- Alan Watts Online – Project Unicorn (also Archived October 31, 2004 at the Wayback Machine)
- Works by or about Alan Watts in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Watts essay on Nothingness (This link no longer functions, but is available at Archived August 31, 2008 at the Wayback Machine.)
- Alan Watts Lectures and Essays Audio, video, essays and articles – resources from deoxy.org
- Alan Watts' This Is It: The First Psychedelic LP essay by Patrick Lundborg
- Alan Watts Resource Compilation A collection of audio and video links of Alan Watts lecture and essays
- Alan Watts on YouTube, South Park at the Wayback Machine (archived September 9, 2010) Interview with Mark Watts on the resurgence of his father's work
- watts.progressiveradionetwork.org Gary Nulls online station with Alan Watts show including some archived audio lectures.
- What if money was no object A graphical reinterpretation of Alan Watts lecture.