Alan Watts - On the Psychology of Mystical Experience

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Binding contrast into paradox, Alan takes us on a journey through the psychology of mystical experience in relation to life and death, followed by a jaunt through the power of nothingness.

In this episode of Being in the Way, Mark Watts opens the door to the vault, introducing two rare recordings from his father, Alan Watts. The first lecture, entitled Psychology of Mystical Experience, stems from March 5th, 1972 at San Jose State exploring the paradox of life and death. Recorded on Alan’s infamous houseboat in Sausalito, the second talk, Nothingness, highlights the inseparable oneness of contrasts, like form and formlessness.


Psychology of Mystical Experience (00:10)
The Paradox of Life & Death // Nature & the Anxiety to Survive (13:00)
Nothingness // Contrast as Oneness (33:00)

“We can see by a very simple process that when you’re dead you go into the negative dimension of unconsciousness like you do when you go to sleep every night. Now, sleep refreshes you. Isn’t that curious? Sleep is a very little understood phenomenon by psychologists. But being unconscious for a while, or being nowhere, brings you back to life. Of course it does! Because you wouldn’t know you were alive unless you had once been dead, or unless you occasionally went to sleep, you wouldn’t have the feeling of reality, of here-ness, nowness.” – Alan Watts

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Alan Watts
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