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Alan Watts: Guru or Fraud?

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by Lorgar-Aurelian, May 2, 2017.

  1. Lorgar-Aurelian

    Lorgar-Aurelian Active Member

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    I've met a number of people over the years that have loved Alan Watts. I've also met a good number of people who think Alan Watts is nothing more than a fraud who knew close to nothing about what he was talking about.

    What do you think of Alan Watts?

    I have to say I personally think he's fine at presenting but didn't seem to know much about Hinduism, Taoism, or Buddhism.
     
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  2. crowfeather

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    From the little I've heard from him, I'd say he was close, but not entirely there. Definitely, though, he was further down the path than most.
    People also view Osho as a fraud, for some reason or other. He was closer than almost anybody, as far as I could see.
    You know a master by his ability to enlarge, ad infinitum, on a theme, without becoming redundant. He was, to all intents, a master.
    Compared to the average joe who considers himself spiritual, both these men were without a doubt, very advanced.

    I get called a fraud all the time, probably for the same reasons they are. When one knows nothing, what equips one to judge anybody who does?
    What goes right by those who don't get it, is that it isn't so much about what the master knows, as what he is.
    Watts was a bit of a space-case, Osho a bit of a clown, and me, a bit of a corvid.

    Takes all sorts.
     
  3. icehorse

    icehorse Well-Known Member
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    I don't recall if Watts ever proclaimed himself to be a guru? I didn't think so. If that's correct, my sense has always been that he was a student maybe a little further down the path, sharing new perspectives with people from whom this stuff was new.
     
  4. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Well-Known Member
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    I grew up with the writings of Alan Watts, and found insight and inspiration in them, but I was deeply involved with disciplined Martial Arts, and still am, and I was not remotely impressed and yes disappointed in his life style, and his negative attitude toward some 'other' belief systems.
     
  5. Lyndon

    Lyndon "Peace is the answer" quote: GOD, 2014
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    Having listened to a lot of Alan Watts on the late night Pacifica radio, I would say he was knowledgeable more on the level of a college professor rather than a guru, as a guru he was a failure being an alcoholic etc, but as a professor he was quite successful, furthering inquiry into Oriental religions and philosophies.
     
  6. Lorgar-Aurelian

    Lorgar-Aurelian Active Member

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    Yeah he was one of those guys I really liked in the beginning when I was first looking into eastern philosophies but the more knowledge I gained the more I found him lacking.
     
  7. Lorgar-Aurelian

    Lorgar-Aurelian Active Member

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    That was one of the things that kind of made me dislike Watt's stuff. For all his knowledge he didn't seem to practice what he preached about living a better life.
     
  8. Terese

    Terese Mangalam Pundarikakshah
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    He's not a fraud, he didn't proclaim to be a guru or such.
     
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  9. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man with a little bit of Bushido.

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    Watts had an impressive and varied background. Aside from being a former ordained minister turned philosopher, I do know he had a working knowledge of Buddhism under the guidance of Sokei-an' under the tradition of Rinzai Zen.

    I am very fond of Watts teachings and am a bit biased in favor of Watts material. Mainly due to the fact that his teachings has really shaped my view on things and had a profound effect as it applied to my practice of Buddhism. Especially the heart sutra.

    I think he comes across as a lecturing type which may be a bit of a turn off for some, but I happen to enjoy that style. Probably from his time as an ordained minister before he dropped Christianity and his academic background.

    He wasn't any type of fraud imv nor a true guru in the full sense of the term, although his charisma does pull people in being eager to hear what he has to say.

    RIP Alan
     
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  10. George-ananda

    George-ananda Advaita Vedanta and Spiritualist and Pantheist
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    I think he was right on to some of the grandest truths. But I wouldn't deify the person either.

    I
     
  11. Shia Islam

    Shia Islam Quran and Ahlul-Bayt a.s.
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    Religion is firstly about belief..this is especially true about certain religions. From the little I've heard from him, it seems that he has only some knowledge. He does not have the belief side..
     
  12. CogentPhilosopher

    CogentPhilosopher Philosophy Student

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    I'm fairly certain that there have been Muslim and atheist scholars of Christianity. I do not think that belief is necessary in order to study a religion.
     
  13. YmirGF

    YmirGF Bodhisattva

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    I didn't like Alan Watts when I first encountered him long ago and over the decades my dislike has grown as I fault him with screwing up many people's thinking about what Buddhism and Hinduism actually say. These days, whenever I hear anyone speak glowingly about him or offer up one of his spiffly little lectures to make some obscure point I simply assume the person is a spiritual illiterate and find something else to amuse myself with.
     
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  14. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Well-Known Member
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    I do not go for dislike, because all philosophy writings present some sort of problems from the fallible human perspective. There are far worse philosophers and human nonsense out there than Alan Watts.
     
  15. Willamena

    Willamena Just me
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    To be fair, he's very clear in his writings that he is not representing Buddhism, Hinduism or Tao. His disclaimers should perhaps be required reading.
     
  16. jonathan180iq

    jonathan180iq Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm... A "philosopher" who preached Eastern religion to the West during the 50's and 60's... I wonder if his enlightened moments could have been heavily influenced by the consumption of any type of synthetic substance...

    Maybe someone should google that.
     
  17. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man with a little bit of Bushido.

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    True. He's not ignorant when it comes to Buddhism. I'm pretty sure he knew where the fluff lay. He definitely said he wasn't a Zen Buddhist in his talks. So it should be I think. "0)
     
  18. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Misanthropic Humanist

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    I can understand why he holds appeal to many people: he affects depth and talks a lot while saying very little.
     
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