Zen : The Best of Alan Watts is a documentary film directed by Elda Hartley presenting the Zen Philosophy as known to Alan Watts. Alan Watts (1915-1973) who held both a master's degree in theology and a doctorate of divinity, is best known as an interpreter of Zen Buddhism in particular, and Indian & Chinese philosophy in general.
He authored more than 20 excellent books on the philosophy and psychology of religion, and lectured extensively, leaving behind a vast audio archive. With characteristic lucidity and humor Watts unravels the most obscure ontological and epistemological knots with the greatest of ease.
While many in the 60's played the stock market and paid their mortgages, Alan Watts lived aboard a colorful houseboat, writing, speaking, and inspiring a generation to re-assess their values.
For more than forty years, Alan Watts earned a reputation as a foremost interpreter of Eastern philosophies for the West. Beginning at age sixteen, when he wrote essay for the journal of the Buddhist Lodge in London, he developed an audience of millions who were enriched through his books, tape recordings, radio, television, and public lectures.
In all, Watts wrote more than twenty-five books and recorded hundreds of lectures and seminars, all building toward a personal philosophy that he shared in complete candor and joy with his readers and listeners throughout the world. His overall works have presented a model of individuality and self-expression that can be matched by few philosophers.
His life and work reflects an astonishing adventure: he was an editor, Anglican priest, graduate dean, broadcaster, author, lecturer, and entertainer. He had fascinations for archery, calligraphy, cooking, chanting, and dancing, and still was completely comfortable hiking alone in the wilderness. He held a Master's Degree in Theology from Sudbury-Western Theological Seminary and an Honorary DD from the University of Vermont in recognition of his work in the field of comparative religions.
He held fellowships from Harvard University and the Bollingen Foundation, and was Episcopal Chaplain at Northwestern University during the Second World War. He became professor and dean of the American Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco, made the television series "Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life" for National Educational Television, and served as a visiting consultant for psychiatric institutions and hospitals, and for the United States Air Force. In the mid-sixties he traveled widely with his students in Japan, and visited Burma, Ceylon, and India.
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