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Alan Watts: Unveiling self, universe, and life’s mysteries

In a world brimming with self-help gurus and philosophical ideologies, the teachings of Alan Watts stand out with a timeless resonance. 

Known for his eloquent interpretations of Eastern philosophy for Western audiences, Watts delves into the depths of human consciousness and its connection to the universe. 

In his thought-provoking lecture, The Real You, Watts offers profound insights that challenge your perspectives on self-identity, your interconnectedness with the cosmos, and your understanding of life and death. 

These three lessons not only invite introspection but also provide a transformative lens through which you can view your existence and purpose.

The process of self-realisation

Watts emphasises the importance of actively engaging in the journey towards self-awareness.

This process is described as ‘waking up’ to one’s true nature.

He acknowledges that some individuals might be merely flirting with the idea of self-discovery without serious commitment. 

However, his assumption that his audience is sincere in this quest highlights the importance he places on sincere self-inquiry.

This lesson suggests that understanding your deeper self is not just an accidental occurrence but a deliberate pursuit, requiring effort and sincerity. 

Interconnectedness with the universe

In this lesson, Watts explores the concept that individuals are not isolated entities but integral parts of the larger universe.

He uses the metaphor of a wave and the ocean to illustrate this point – just as a wave is a manifestation of the ocean, an individual is an expression of the universe.

This perspective is a radical shift from viewing yourself as a puppet manipulated by external forces to seeing yourself as an active, significant part of the cosmic play. 

Perspective on life and death

Watts challenges conventional fears and beliefs about death.

He proposes an intriguing thought experiment: to contemplate what it is like to go to sleep and never wake up, and subsequently, to consider what it was like to wake up having never gone to sleep – referring to birth.

This philosophical inquiry into the nature of existence and non-existence suggests that life and death are not merely binary states but part of a continuous cycle. 

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