Nearly forty years after his death, the words of Alan Watts still generate excitement. Fans trade them, in the form of texts, radio broadcasts, recorded talks, and television programs, both online and off. The British-born interpreter and popularizer of East Asian Buddhist thought generated most of his media in the San Francisco of the 1950s and 1960s, and his televised lectures, produced for local public station KQED, must have offered many a San Franciscan their very first glimpse of Zen. Now that episodes of his series Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life have made it to YouTube (season one, season two), you can see for yourself that Watts’ then-cutting-edge delivery of this ancient wisdom remains entertaining, informative, and striking in its clarity. Begin with the introductory episode above, “Man and Nature,” in which Watts calmly lays out his observations of the ill effects of Westerners’ having grown to distrust their human instincts.Open Culture
Alan Watts Brings Eastern Wisdom to American TV Viewers in 1959 (Complete Episodes)
Alan Watts exerted a huge influence on the Beat Generation of the Fifties, like poet Allen Ginsberg and novelist Jack Kerouac, as well as on the development of the counterculture of the Sixties. His work is relevant today in light of the similarity of the times. He is a cultural icon, a harbinger of spiritual awakening in his era, and it is nice to see this appearing on YouTube. Many of the issues he addressed and things he had to say are just a relevant today. What strikes me as a participant at the time is how much richer the cultural revolution was at that time than the one now underway. Maybe it is still early.