Tao: The Watercourse Way

( 3 )


Drawing on ancient and modern sources, Watts treats the Chinese philosophy of Tao in much the same way as he did Zen Buddhism in his classic The Way of Zen. Critics agree that this last work stands as a perfect monument to the life and literature of Alan Watts.

"A lucid discussion of Taoism and the Chinese. . .language. . .profound, reflective, and enlightening."--Boston Globe

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Drawing on ancient and modern sources, Watts treats the Chinese philosophy of Tao in much the same way as he did Zen Buddhism in his classic The Way of Zen. Critics agree that this last work stands as a perfect monument to the life and literature of Alan Watts.

"A lucid discussion of Taoism and the Chinese. . .language. . .profound, reflective, and enlightening."--Boston Globe

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A gem to remember Watts by . . . There is a flamboyant and fascinating display of learning and complex indications of a personality that seems to have resisted inner pacification."
Kirkus Reviews

"Perhaps the foremost interpreter of Eastern disciplines for the contemporary West, Alan Watts had the rare gift of 'writing beautifully the unwritable' . . . Watts begins with scholarship and intellect and proceeds with art and eloquence to the frontiers of the spirit . . . This is a profound and worthy work, left by a teacher to echo and re-echo."
Los Angeles Times

"A remarkable book because of Alan Watts's talent for communicating Eastern ways of thought . . . not only the last of his works, but the best . . . This book is a 'must.'"
Shambhala Review

"Watts's last book is in the category of his finest work, a lucid discussion of Taoism and the Chinese language . . . profound, reflective, and enlightening. Moreover, the text supplies a sense of his ebullient spirit behind the revelation of Tao."
Boston Globe

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394733111
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/1977
  • Pages: 134
  • Sales rank: 163,304
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.17 (h) x 0.46 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan W. Watts, who held both a master’s degree in theology and a doctorate of divinity, is best remembered as an interpreter of Zen Buddhism in particular, and of Indian and Chinese philosophy in general. Standing apart, however, from sectarian membership, he has earned the reputation of being one of the most original and “unrutted” philosophers of the twentieth century. Watts was the author of some twenty books on the philosophy and psychology of religion that have been published in many languages throughout the world, including the bestselling The Way of Zen. An avid lecturer, Watts appeared regularly on the radio and hosted the popular television series, Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life, in the 1960s. He died in 1973.

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Table of Contents

Foreword vii
Preface xiv
Prolegomena xvii
The Pronunciation of Chinese Words xxi
1 The Chinese Written Language 2
2 The Yin-Yang Polarity 18
3 Tao 37
Chinese Calligraphy 56
4 Wu-wei 74
Chinese Calligraphy 99
5 Te-Virtuality 106
Once Again: A New Beginning 123
Note on My Calligraphy 128
Bibliography 129
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2003

    Incomplete but still quite complete!

    Although we can tell that this is a book Watts started on and was not able to finish himself, there are many important insights in this book. This book presents an in depth exploration of the teachings of Taoism. It goes over many of the teachings of Taoism and Watts applies these ideas to many ordinary things that many of us would experience in life. If you like other works of Watts, you will definitely enjoy this! If you are interested in Taoism and other eastern ideas, you will also like 'The Ever-Transcending Spirit' by Toru Sato. It is a wonderful book that explains the nature of consciousness and how it relates to many of our experiences concerning interpersonal relationships, group relationships, and our own development and evolution. Happy Reading!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2006

    Going with the Flow

    The watercourse in the subtitle is nature as the course of events, the way things are, the way the snow falls and the water flows. Tao is not precisely nature, but to follow the Tao is inevitably to follow the process of nature, going with the flow. In a sense, there is no other choice. All are immersed in nature, floating down the watercourse. Indeed, Tao is really just a name for whatever is, whatever happens of itself. Watts studies the ancient sources and translates them from the Chinese. Chapter 1, in fact, is on ¿The Chinese Written Language.¿ An ideographic and non-alphabetic language, Chinese corresponds well with Tao taken as the immediacy of nature in her living, changing patterns. Chapter 2 explores ¿The Yin-Yang Polarity¿ believed by Taoists to characterize every system or process, living or non-living. The art of living according to Tao is to keep the two poles in balance, not to eliminate one of them. The balance of yin-yang, positive-negative, is called ¿mutual arising.¿ No yang without yin one follows the other in cycle as does night the day, almost playfully. It is not until Chapter 3, ¿Tao,¿ that Watts comes to the heart of his discussion, but do not expect neat definitions even here. Tao and the universe are not separate entities, but neither are they identical. Tao is the harmony of all that happens in the universe. If everything is allowed to go its own way, there will be good order, because all beings are interdependent and mutually arising. This order or harmony consisting of all things being themselves is organic order, rather than legal, linear, logical, or mechanical order. Chapter 4 discusses the fascinating quality called ¿Wu-wei.¿ This term, literally `non action¿, refers to a kind of action that does not force its way or go against the grain of Li (`order¿). Wu-wei describes the lifestyle of one who intuitively knows what to do in every circumstance and does it all-but-effortlessly, like a master of akido or judo. Chapter 5 discusses another fundamental Taoist principle, ¿Te¿Virtuality.¿ It is as if the universe tilts in the direction of goodness, obeying a power, Te, that produces felicitous events spontaneously and without human effort. One who follows Tao can trust this power that directs the course of events. Taoists perceive nature as a well-ordered, interconnected, sustainable system¿an approach to nature that resonates with contemporary ecology. It was the hope of Watts that Taoism might help transform Western technological society, as he felt it had transformed and liberated himself. ¿It is a matter of realizing,¿ says Watts, ¿that oneself and nature are one and the same process, which is the Tao¿ (32). Read this book as the last will and testament of a serious but playful seeker.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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