The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety Paperback – 8 February 2011
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--Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea "Perhaps the foremost interpreter of Eastern disciplines for the contemporary West, Watts had the rare gift of 'writing beautifully the unwritable.'"
--Los Angeles Times "The wisdom of insecurity is not a way of evasion, but of carrying on wherever we happen to be stationed--carrying on, however, without imagining that the burden of the world, or even of the next moment, is ours. It is a philosophy not of nihilism but of the reality of the present--always remembering that to be of the present is to be, and candidly know ourselves to be, on the crest of a breaking wave."
--Philip Wheelwright, Arts and Letters "This book proposes a complete reversal of all ordinary thinking about the present state of man. The critical condition of the world compels us to face this problem: how is man to live in a world in which he can never be secure, deprived, as many are, of the consolations of religious belief? The author shows that this problem contains its own solution--that the highest happiness, the supreme spiritual insight and certitude are found only in our awareness that impermanence and insecurity are inescapable and inseparable from life. Written in a simple and lucid style, it is a timely message."
--Book Exchange (London)
About the Author
Alan W. Watts, who held both a master's degree in theology and a doctorate of divinity, is best remembered as an interpreter of Zen Buddhism in particular, and of Indian and Chinese philosophy in general. Standing apart, however, from sectarian membership, he has earned the reputation of being one of the most original and "unrutted" philosophers of the twentieth century. Watts was the author of some twenty books on the philosophy and psychology of religion that have been published in many languages throughout the world, including the bestselling The Way of Zen. An avid lecturer, Watts appeared regularly on the radio and hosted the popular television series, Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life, in the 1960s. He died in 1973.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
And I understand why he would say that. I understood (albeit not perfectly) the message that he is trying to pass on. Watts is the most Eastern Westerner I know. His philosophies, particularly in this book, can lead into a metaphysical web that could leave you stuck indefinitely. At this same time, if you peel back the philosophical layers, which he helps you do at times, you will notice that the message, at its core, is always simple. He is begging the reader not to eliminate the ego, but to come to a full realization, a hyper awareness of sorts, that there is NO ego - that the ego, or the "I," is simply a figment of imagination. There is no method to achieve this hyper-awareness, no guide, no set of instructions, but only this imperative: "Look!"
I may be just a tad bit too simplistic to fully grasp the significance of this, but I believe that at times I caught a glimpse of the implications of Watt's message. To live perfectly in the moment, to understand that the experience and the "experiencer" are one in the same just as a wave is not part of the ocean, but is the ocean, all of it - I can begin to fathom how one would be able to shed so much pretense and predispositions. Or not, I don't know.
My personal opinion is that there are gems in this book, but as it is with all things, anything in excess is harmful. This book sells Eastern thought in its entirety, and I believe that no, Alan Watt's does not have the answer to the meaning of life (which he would probably agree to me saying) and I don't think you'll find in this book all the answers to your questions. It is a refreshing read though, at least it was for me. I really had to break down my mind, my prejudices, my perceptions and realize that my reality is truly the product of my own mind - and that I can change that, if I want to.
In any case, a worthy read, but definitely not a book if you're looking for "10 Ways to Reduce Anxiety." It is rather an exhortation to awareness.