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The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts

The Wisdom of Insecurity (1951)

by Alan Watts

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An exploration of man's quest for psychological security and spiritual certainty in religion and philosophy.
Title:The Wisdom of Insecurity
Authors:Alan Watts
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The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan W. Watts (1951)


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Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
I like listening to some of the talks Alan Watts gave during his life. He talks in a gentle and humourous way about religion and philosophy in a way that is really easy to understand. I listened to this as an audiobook hoping for more of the same. Unfortunately this is much more scholarly and dense than his talks tended to be. As a result I found it to be quite impenetrable and hard to get along with. I will continue to watch and listen to his talks but I won't be rushing out to listen to anymore of his books. ( )
  Brian. | Apr 9, 2021 |
I'm a fan of Alan W. Watts's speeches and monologues. There are many audio-recordings available on YouTube and other platforms. Some of the ones I like:

Live in the Now
Life and Music
Why Money Rules Your Life
The Dream of Life

and many more, some as long as one or more hour(s).

But one isn't always connected to the internet - that's one of the contemporary diseases, always online, never letting your mind and body come to rest -, so it can then be useful to have, for example, a book by the man. One that instantly grabbed my attention several years ago, was this one here, 'The Wisdom of Insecurity'. The summary at the back is quite clear:

We live in an age of unprecedented anxiety. Spending all our time trying to anticipate and plan for the future and to lamenting the past, we forget to embrace the here and now. We are so concerned with tomorrow that we forget to enjoy today. Drawing from Eastern philosophy and religion, Alan Watts shows that it is only by acknowledging what we do not—and cannot—know that we can learn anything truly worth knowing. In The Wisdom of Insecurity, he shows us how, in order to lead a fulfilling life, we must embrace the present—and live fully in the now. Featuring an Introduction by Deepak Chopra.

The book consists of nine chapters, all fairly quick to read, but it's recommended to be focused, even re-read phrases to understand what Watts is saying/has written. Ok, sometimes a comma is missing so that also requires you to re-read certain phrases. The material presented here is profound, makes you rethink your life, your behaviour, your outlook on life. It's also the kind of book that you have to re-read now and then, which is the case for me. Let it sink in, go on with your life, come back, repeat and see how it affects your behaviour when you apply a change of mind.

A recommended, quick, but not so light read.

Watts's "teachings" remind(ed) me in a way of, for example, Jiddu Krishnamurti's little book, 'The First and last Freedom', of which I read the Dutch translation a few years ago, as you can read here (in Dutch). In addition, I hope to read - in bits and pieces, as it's one gigantic encyclopaedia - [b:De verbeelding van het denken: Geschiedenis van de westerse en oosterse filosofie|24179358|De verbeelding van het denken Geschiedenis van de westerse en oosterse filosofie|Jan Bor|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1423871839s/24179358.jpg|13558406] (translatable as 'The Imagination of Thinking: the History of western and eastern philosophy) by Jan Bor and Errit Petersma. ( )
  TechThing | Jan 22, 2021 |
Meh. I think Watts was one of the first to bring Eastern philosophy to the West (in a way other than just literal translation), and while it's different reading/reviewing it 70 years later, when the good parts of this have been more thoroughly adopted by the culture (and where a certain form of this is cliche), this doesn't seem like a particularly insightful or interesting book.

The good part is asserting that reality is real, and the present is important; Western thought for hundreds of years seemed to be building increasingly toward sacrifice and deferral of reward (exemplified by the Christian idea of sacrifice and horrible lives being a temporary problem compared to eternal salvation; Islam doubles down on this even more...).

Overall, I'd probably skip it today, although I can see how in historical context this kind of book was useful -- in 1960 on Goodreads I probably would have given it a 4.5 rounded up to 5, and then rejoiced at having modern Web and computing technology 70 years too early. ( )
  octal | Jan 1, 2021 |
In this fascinating book, Alan Watts explores man's quest for psychological security, examining our efforts to find spiritual and intellectual certainty in the realms of religion and philosophy. The Wisdom of Insecurity underlines the importance of our search for stability in an age where human life seems particularly vulnerable and uncertain. Watts argues our insecurity is the consequence of trying to be secure and that, ironically, salvation and sanity lie in the recognition that we have no way of saving ourselves.
  PSZC | Mar 23, 2019 |
The solution to a life spent chasing one's own tail and a futile death? Live in the moment. Realise that there is no "I" separate from the universe. Stop trying to make permanent what is impermanent. ( )
  questbird | Feb 12, 2019 |
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By all outward appearances our life is a spark of light between one eternal darkness and another.
Belief clings, but faith lets go.
Seeing that it is unreasonable to worry does not stop worrying; rather, you worry the more at being unreasonable.
If a problem can be solved at all, to understand it and to know what to do about it are the same thing.
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An exploration of man's quest for psychological security and spiritual certainty in religion and philosophy.

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