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Alcoholism: Alan Watts died from alcoholism?

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  • Alcoholism: Alan Watts died from alcoholism?

    As I contemplate alcoholism and have done some research I can across this Website Spiritual Mutt and found this article which is thought provoking.

    Alan Watts died from alcoholism?

    Wow. As a wannabe hippy in the late 80s/early 90s I had a fascination with all things hippy/countercultural. Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, the Grateful Dead, the 'scene' in San Francisco and, of course, drugs. I consumed literature on the subject and though I didn't get into the music that much, I did see the Dead on on their East Coast tour in '94.

    But over time I began to realize the size of the egos involved and how it is so contrary to the ideals that were preached. Timothy Leary and company were just a bunch of spoiled brats, misleading those who followed them into potentially misleading and dangerous paths. It would seem that Richard Alpert transcended what is really just an immersion into licentious behaviour under the sophistry of "wisdom" talk.

    I just found out that Alan Watts, whose books are quite lucid and clear, died of complications due to alcoholism. I understand he was 'just' human but it was still a disappointment to find out that he was also a womanizer, married three times.

    And it makes me wonder about the Path. Is it the position they found themselves in, the temptation of guru status? Perhaps it is the dilemma of being "followed" by so many and, at the same time, the realization of the responsibility and at the same time the lack of wanting that responsibility? Is it the lack of freedom that comes with such responsibility, the fame a surprise?

    Gia Fu Feng, who was with Watts at the Esalen Institute, that bastion of hippydom, had this to say:

    Q. You've mentioned Alan Watts several times and I know that you've been with him when he was teaching. What was he like to be with?

    A. You see Alan Watts was very creative. When he drinks he's very clever. He was in a class, you know, at night time, he was all drunk. But his lectures were never boring. He was a tremendous entertainer. He said, "I'm an entertainer, I'm no Buddhist philosopher."

    Q. Alan Watts actually died from alcohol, didn't he?

    A. Oh yeah. At that time he drank whisky by the bottle.

    Q. But how could that tie in with the Tao?

    A. That's from the Tao! The fact that he drank is totally in tune with the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove-his utter disregard for convention. One of the sages, a famous poet called Liu Ling, had a servant who followed him carrying a jug of wine and a spade. In this way he always had some wine to drink and his servant would be ready to bury him if he dropped dead during a drinking bout! It's in the Tao. So Alan Watts' drinking is quite Taoistic.

    Something to think about.

    I suppose in the end all is as it should be as the Path is solely our responsibility. That, more than anything, is the issue. It just came as a surprise as I too held him in something of a 'guru' light as if he was somehow different than I. I don't believe he held such a notion. He just had something he was compelled to teach.

    Alcohol, drugs, anything chemical (yes, even my beloved caffeine) can be a distraction or a crutch. True transcendence is to arrive at a place not where these are deemed bad or condemned but that they are not needed at all and all judgment as to whether they are good or bad is left aside. This is non-attachment.

    And I am not there yet either...

    May I hold a soft spot in my heart for these individuals and may I reflect on the lessons their lives have to teach.
    The poetry of life and death lie within the process.

  • #2
    truth is truth no matter who says it or why, even if that person is lying.
    !soil first! every garden is an experiment no experiment is a failure
    ------------------------------------** eat lots of salad! **-----------------------------------


    • #3
      I figure anything that opens the veil, takes you closer to the other side is a tool to hear and see into the other side. Liquor is called spirits for a reason. Anything that takes you closer to death gives you access to hear and see the other side, other planes, other realms. I don't suggest it though if you want a 'normal' life, to be grounded on earth and flow with society. It's a path only for those who can handle it. Personally I feel being gifted to see and hear through the fog should be left to those born with the ability. Those born with a lose connection to the dirt beneath our feet. Ever see someone and think, my they are so light on their feet? It's like they are floating above the ground it seems. They are enchanted, things come easy to them, all the street lights turn green and they always have a parking place at the door. Something about them makes their life light and unburdened. I wonder if these are them? They don't need chemicals to be enlightened.


      • #4
        Alan Watts first funeral.

        Here are is a first hand account of Alan' s first funeral. I hope to learn more about Mr Watts here, especially as it pertains to his relationship to Jean Burden, the recipient of this letter. Coincidently, this letter was written by Maud Oaks, whom made a living studying native culture and ceremony. Ms. Burden was perhaps the key love of Alan's life and a good friend of Mauds.



        Maud Oakes
        12 St. Jude Rd.
        Mill Valley, Ca 94941

        Dear Jean(Burden),

        Last Sunday by invitation there was a Christian Mass, I guess I should say an Anglo Catholic Mass, at Alan's library. It started at 9 A.M. And lasted about an hour. Then there was a fire ceremony given by a character if there ever was one. He is a Buddhist , a fire worshipper. This was fascinating with the strange music that went with it. Then this man and Ram Das sang and jazzed about to more strange music.
        After this the Zen priests came and half of Alan's ashes (bones) put in a hole in the earth with a hand carved stupa over it. This was done to chanting and the sprinkling of water , salt and rice.the priest with chop sticks dropped the first bone into the hole and Jano followed with each of the family after her.
        Jano has been wonderful and realizes she has a life to lead of her own, hence she is not drinking.
        After this at 2 A.M. The 100 day final Zen ceremony at Green Gulch where the other half of Alan's ashes will be. Then in June, the 19th there is to be a public ceremony in honor of Alan in the afternoon or evening in San Francisco. The talent by friends of Alan.
        I am well and hope that you are and that you don't work too hard.


        • #5
          I don't know this man you speak of but as an ex alcoholic I'd like to add my input if that's okay?!

          Maybe the alcohol caused him to a womaizer? I don't know like I said I don't know who your talking about.

          I went to rehab at 18 as a few people here already know this, I'm now 22. The aclohol completely changed my character, I feel like it totally cut me off from reality I even lost touch with my own gifts. (My psychic ability, my premonitions became rare & even my card reading turned sloppy.) I've been clean 4 years now & I'm STILL trying to get back in tune with my gifts as I have many.

          The alcoholism only did one good thing for me, the fact I nearly died gave me wisdom at a young age & I've been able to help other people with my bad experience, but I too turned violent, as you say this man mentioned was a womanizer well at times, I got very violent I wouldn't dream of hurting another person its not in my nature but alcohol is very powerful.

          It's like being on another level completely I felt like I was on another freaking planet most of the time, perception changes, your morals go out the window & you create your own reality etc.

          Lv Chel
          Last edited by [7.7.7.x.CORE]; 11-10-2014, 08:21 AM. Reason: wrong wording
          I will fight for what is right. <3 <3
          We do not forgive, we do not forget, Expect us.!.
          This world is for ALL of us we wouldn't be here if we weren't sent.


          • #6
            People call him a ," womanizer ," and with good reason. But he was essentially a serial monogamist . He divorced and married three times in rapid succession. The first relationship ended over Alan's infidelity . The second , after now five children to care for from two marriages, was near the end when he met Jean Burden, the poet. Jean was his soul mate and Alan dedicated his book, "Nature, Man and Woman," to her.
            Alan would have married her but she could not accept the drinking and licentious behavior. He never got over her, referring to her obliquely but tellingly on page 297 in the footnote of his autobiography .