Sunday, June 22, 2014

ZEN: "The Void," "Sex in the Church" (video)

Brad Warner (Hardcore Zen)
British Zen Buddhist, Taoist, Episcopalian teacher Alan Watts is an inspiration to Californians, where his show continues to air on Los Angeles' Pacifica Radio ( thanks to Roy of Hollywood Tuckman (8:00 am Sundays, midnight Thursdays).

This video is the fourth episode of Alan Watts' 1959 KQED TV series "Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life." (DVDs available at

Alan Watts was an unabashed lover
A native of England, Watts attended the King's School near Canterbury Cathedral. At 14 he became fascinated with the philosophies of the Far East. By 16 he regularly attended the Buddhist Lodge in London, where he met Zen scholars Christmas Humphries and D.T. Suzuki. As a speaker and contributor to the Lodge's journal, The Middle Way, he wrote a series of philosophical commentaries and published his first book on Eastern thought, The Spirit of Zen, at age 21. In the late thirties he moved to New York, and a few years later he became an Episcopalian priest. In 1942 he moved to Illinois and spent the wartime years as chaplain of Northwestern University.
Square to hippie (
In 1950 he left the church, and his life took a turn away from organized religion back toward Eastern ways and expanding horizons. After meeting author and mythologist Joseph Campbell and composer John Cage in New York he headed to California and began teaching at the American Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco.

There his popular lectures spilled over into coffehouse talks and appearances with the well-known beat writers Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, and Allen Ginsberg. In late 1953 he began what would become the longest-running series of Sunday morning public radio talks, which continue to this day with programs from the Alan Watts Tape Archives.
In 1957 he published the bestselling The Way of Zen, beginning a prolific ten-year period during which he wrote Nature, Man and Woman; Beat Zen, Square Zen and Zen; This Is It; Psychotherapy East and West; The Two Hands of God; The Joyous Cosmology; and The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.

By 1960 Watts' radio series "Way Beyond the West" on Berkeley's had an avid following on the West Coast, and NET TV began national broadcasts of the series "Eastern Wisdom in Modern Life." The first season, recorded in the studios of KQED, a San Francisco TV station, focused on the relevance of Buddhism, and the second on Zen and the arts.

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