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Alan Watts: What do you desire? (video)


After watching -but most importantly listening- the above inspirational video with the gorgeous music of Ludovico Einaudi - "Divenire", it’s apparent that 1) Alan Watts knew exactly what he was talking about, and 2) he was ahead of his time. It’s proof that a good idea along with some patience and time will spread to those who are ready for it. The British philosopher inspires us all to do what we love.

Transcript

What do you desire? What makes you itch? What sort of a situation would you like?

Let’s suppose, I do this often in vocational guidance of students, they come to me and say, well, "we’re getting out of college and we have the faintest idea what we want to do". So I always ask the question, "what would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?"

Well, it’s so amazing as a result of our kind of educational system, crowds of students say well, we’d like to be painters, we’d like to be poets, we’d like to be writers, but as everybody knows you can’t earn any money that way. Or another person says well, I’d like to live an out-of-doors life and ride horses. I said you want to teach in a riding school? Let’s go through with it. What do you want to do?

When we finally got down to something, which the individual says he really wants to do, I will say to him, you do that and forget the money, because, if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.

And after all, if you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is, you can eventually turn it – you could eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way to become a master of something, to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much.

That’s everybody is – somebody is interested in everything, anything you can be interested in, you will find others will. But it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like, in order to go on spending things you don’t like, doing things you don’t like and to teach our children to follow in the same track.

See what we are doing, is we’re bringing up children and educating to live the same sort of lifes we are living. In order that they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children to bring up their children to do the same thing, so it’s all retch, and no vomit it never gets there.

And so, therefore, it’s so important
to consider this question: What do I desire?


Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973)


Early Years

Alan Watts was born in London in January of 1915 at the start of the first World War. At a young age he became fascinated with the arts of the Far East, and by the time he was ten or eleven he began to read thriller stories by Sax Rohmer about about mysterious Oriental villains. This interest led him in turn to the works of Lafcadio Hern, Christmas Humphreys, and DT Suzuki, and by fourteen was writing on Eastern themes, and was published in the Journal of the London Buddhist Lodge before producing his first booklet on Zen in 1932. He moved to New York in 1938 and then to Chicago where he served as an Episcopal priest for six years before leaving the Church. In 1950 he moved to upstate New York, and in late 1950 visited with Joseph Campbell and, composer John Cage, and Luisa Commaraswamy at his Millbrook farmhouse. Then in 1951 at the invitation of Frederic Spiegelberg he moved to San Francisco to teach at the Academy of Asian Studies.

Worldview

Alan Watts was profoundly influenced by the East Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Buddhism, and by Taoist thought, which is reflected in Zen poetry and the arts of China and Japan. After leaving the Church he never became a member of another organized religion, although he wrote and spoke extensively about Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoisim. Some American Buddhists criticized him for not sitting regularly in zazen, even though he recorded several guided meditations teaching a variety of mediation techniques. Alan Watts responded simply by saying: “A cat sits until it is done sitting, and then gets up, stretches, and walks away.”

1950′s and early ’60′s

After teaching at the Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco he became Dean, and began to give regular radio talks on KPFA, the Berkeley free radio station. In 1957 he published his bestselling Way of Zen, and in 1958 returned to Europe where he met with CG Jung. He was an early subject in pioneering psychedelic trials, and after recording two seasons of the public television series “Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life” traveled to Japan several times in the early sixties. By the late sixties he had become a counter culture celebrity, and traveled widely to speak at universities and growth centers across the US and Europe.

Later Years

By the early seventies Alan Watts had become a foremost interpreter of Eastern thought for the West, and was widely published in periodicals including Earth, Elle, Playboy, and Redbook. He appeared on CBS television’s Camera Three in 1969, and in 1971 he recorded a pilot for a new show titled “A Conversation with Myself” for NET, the precursor to PBS. When the series was not produced he recorded the shows in 1972 with his son Mark and his long-time audio archivist Henry Jacobs. Overall Alan Watts developed an extensive audio library of nearly 400 talks and wrote more than 25 books during his lifetime, including his final volume, Tao; the Watercourse Way. Alan died in his sleep in November of 1973 after returning from an intensive international lecture tour.

Alan Watts: What do you desire? (video)