Zen and the Beat Way
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Zen and the Beat Way is based upon selections from Alan Watts's early radio talks, many of which were first aired on the Pacifica Radio Network in the late fifties and early sixties, and sessions from two of his most compelling seminars in the mid-sixties.
The materialistic industrial societies are increasingly caught in a round-the-clock whirl in which people are trapped, day after day, in a breathless grind of facing deadlines, racing the clock between several jobs, and trying to raise children and rush through the household chores at the same time. Agriculture and industrialism, in reality, have created a glut of material goods and a great poverty of time. Most people have a way of life devoid of everything except maintaining and servicing their
For example, there is Western astrology-something that is partly superstitious in my view. Astrology does not seem to me to be an effective method of predicting the future. But it has some sense to it, in that when a child is born, the parents consult an astrologer, and the astrologer draws a map of the baby's soul, o: character. The map consists of a symbolic picture of the universe as it was the moment the child was born. And if the picture of the childs soul is the same thing as a picture of
original innocence. This is the meaning of the answer when a Zen master was asked, "What do you do here in this Zen institution?" The master said, "We eat when hungry, and we sleep when tired." "But," the questioner replied, "that is being just like everybody else. They all do that." The master answered, 'They do not. When they eat, they do not eat. They think of all sorts of extraneous matters. When they tire, they do not sleep. They dream all kinds of dreams." Nobody ever transforms himself
and to experience life as it was "on the first day" and as it is, underneath all our planning and thinking, even now. C H A P T E R O N E Introduction to the Way Beyond the West A little over six years ago , I began a series of radio programs that have been running ever since under the general title Way Beyond the West. I think I may as well give you a short explanation of that title. It obviously has a double meaning. The first is geographical. The West Coast of the United
men also have wives and families. They don't have to become celibate hermits. And so such people are painting because they know that is what they really want to do, or some of them are carpenters or unofficial architects or writers or poets. A lot of these people will work as carpenters or loggers or seamen, or something of that kind, until they earn enmfgh money to knock off for a few months and do what they really want to do. This is one aspect of what has come to be called the Beat movement.