Alan Watts was born in England in 1915. Beginning at age sixteen, when he wrote essays for the journal of the Buddhist Lodge in London, he developed a reputation over the next forty years as a foremost interpreter of Eastern philosophies for the West, eventually developing an audience of millions who were enriched through his books, tape recordings, radio and television appearances, and public lectures. He became widely recognized for his Zen writings and for The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are. In all, Watts wrote more than twenty-five books and recorded hundreds of lectures and seminars, all building toward a personal philosophy he shared honestly and joyfully with 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.
Watts came to the United States in 1938 and earned a master’s degree in theology from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. He was Episcopal Chaplain at Northwestern University during World War II, and held fellowships from Harvard University and the Bollingen Foundation. He became professor and dean of the American Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco and lectured and traveled widely.
He died in 1973 at his home in northern California, survived by his second wife and seven children.
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