“The best book I’ve ever read on the nature of what actually is, what the world is about, and how you should behave.” — John Lloyd, BBC Radio 4, Desert Island Discs.
The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are explores an unrecognised, but mighty taboo – our tacit conspiracy to ignore who, or what, we really are…
We are therefore in urgent need of a sense of our own existence, which is in accord with the physical facts and which over comes our feeling of alienation from the universe.
In The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Alan Watts asks what causes the illusion of the self as a separate ego, housed in a bag of skin, which confronts a universe of physical objects that are alien to it. Rather, a person’s identity (their ego) binds them to the physical universe, creating a relationship with their environment and other people. The separation of the self and the physical world leads to the misuse of technology and the attempt to violently subjugate man’s natural environment, leading to its destruction.
Explaining man’s role in the universe as a unique expression of the total universe, and interdependent on it, Alan Watts offers a new understanding of personal identity. It reveals the mystery of existence, presenting an alternative to the feelings of alienation that are so prevalent in Western society, and a vision of how we can come to understand the cosmic self that is within every living thing.
Alan Watts was central in introducing Eastern philosophical and religious thought to Western readers. He became a Buddhist as a teenager and moved to California in 1951, where he became a counterculture icon and one of the best-known writers of the 1960’s and 1970’s.
“For a new generation of readers… look at this ancient philosophy from a modern counter-cultural standpoint. Alan Watts explores the subject in concrete terms, using current idioms and expressions which will also appeal to the younger reader.”
“Offering spiritual answers to the problems of a materialistic lifestyle, alienated from the natural world, Watts is the voice of all who seek a deeper understanding of their own identity and role in the world.”
“Reminds us how Watts presented complex theories and views in a subtle yet straightforward fashion… Still an iconic figure… he made great breakthroughs in stretching our philosophical horizons.”