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Still the Mind: An Introduction to Meditation

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Mark Watts compiled this book from his father’s extensive journals and audiotapes of famous lectures he delivered across the country. In three parts, Alan Watts -- the author of The Way of Zen and The Joyous Cosmology -- explains the basic philosophy of meditation, how individuals can practice a variety of meditations, and how inner wisdom grows naturally.


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Mark Watts compiled this book from his father’s extensive journals and audiotapes of famous lectures he delivered across the country. In three parts, Alan Watts -- the author of The Way of Zen and The Joyous Cosmology -- explains the basic philosophy of meditation, how individuals can practice a variety of meditations, and how inner wisdom grows naturally.

30 review for Still the Mind: An Introduction to Meditation

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sohaib

    "You must understand that in meditation, we are concerned only with what is, with reality, nothing else. The past is a memory. The future, an expectation. Neither past nor future actually exist. There is simply eternal now. So don't seek or expect a result from what you are doing. That wouldn't be true meditation. There is no hurry. Just now you're not going anywhere. Simply be here. Live in the world of sound. Let it play. That's all." Oddly enough, I can distinctly hear the rustling of trees ou "You must understand that in meditation, we are concerned only with what is, with reality, nothing else. The past is a memory. The future, an expectation. Neither past nor future actually exist. There is simply eternal now. So don't seek or expect a result from what you are doing. That wouldn't be true meditation. There is no hurry. Just now you're not going anywhere. Simply be here. Live in the world of sound. Let it play. That's all." Oddly enough, I can distinctly hear the rustling of trees outside as I'm writing this. This vividness of sensation—this old familiar feeling when a moment suddenly seems to linger there, lasting longer than a moment, the stillness of it. That moment of heightened sensibility, when the senses are sharpened and everything, just about everything, seems remarkably clear. I guess it's pointless if you listen or read this book without observing a change in your state of consciousness—a vividness, a lucidity that must ensue and cannot escape you. Another strange thing, I kind of stumbled upon this book right after finishing The Time Machine by H. G. Wells! The goosebumps are totally worth it in this lighthearted talk on the premises of meditation. Recommended.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    Very enjoyable and lighthearted and insightful/deep at the same time. Alan Watts sounds like he was a great guy. I wanted to quote a lot of this book, but it seriously would have been like every line in the book. I think my lilbro would like this.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Pleasant.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Matt Vandegriff

    I love Alan Watts. This book is more of an edited collection of bits of lectures and writing compiled not by Alan. As such it's not as focused and doesn't have the thorough digestion of topic that his other true books possess which explains my average rating. I would suggest, for a Watts newcomer, to start with Wisdom of Insecurity or The Book on the Taboo of Knowing Who You Are. I love Alan Watts. This book is more of an edited collection of bits of lectures and writing compiled not by Alan. As such it's not as focused and doesn't have the thorough digestion of topic that his other true books possess which explains my average rating. I would suggest, for a Watts newcomer, to start with Wisdom of Insecurity or The Book on the Taboo of Knowing Who You Are.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hans

    Excellent read. Alan Watts has incredible talent presenting his ideas with great lucidity. I am a big fan. Enjoy how he can take difficult concepts, especially for the western mind, and make them seem if not obvious at least intelligible.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Quentin Crisp

    There are some things on which I agree with Watts and others on which I don't. But perhaps the biggest question I have is, since what Watts is advocating seems to be a kind of radical non-interference, does it make any difference to anything? Is it meant to? One might even be forgiven for thinking you could summarise Watts's entire oeuvre as, "Keep calm and carry on. Or don't. It's up to you, really. And, by you, I mean, the universe." But we are in the realm of paradox here. As the title sugges There are some things on which I agree with Watts and others on which I don't. But perhaps the biggest question I have is, since what Watts is advocating seems to be a kind of radical non-interference, does it make any difference to anything? Is it meant to? One might even be forgiven for thinking you could summarise Watts's entire oeuvre as, "Keep calm and carry on. Or don't. It's up to you, really. And, by you, I mean, the universe." But we are in the realm of paradox here. As the title suggests, the intended effect is to produce stillness. "Don't worry about worrying", or "Don't feel guilty for feeling guilty" - that kind of thing. I get a sense that maybe, if one could stop the meta-worrying, the core worrying might, of itself, ease, since it no longer has the self-perpetuating aspect. And this is a paradox because to produce such an effect, we must cease to care whether we produce such an effect. And, as I intimated, this might all be a lot of nothing. But Watts has very positive views of nothing; he speaks of it quite warmly. And he speaks well, generally. I've come to the conclusion that Watts is a very good speaker. It was only after re-reading this book that I realised that it was transcribed from him speaking. I listened to a talk that part of the book is taken from on YouTube recently, and saw that that section of the book has been transcribed almost word for word, and yet it comes out as very polished, rhythmic, felicitous prose, pithy and aphoristic. I wonder if he ad-libbed? Watts describes himself as a spiritual entertainer. If nothing else, he is certainly that. I find myself returning to his work, and I don't think I would do so if his brand of nothing were merely nothing, or if it were boring.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Duffy

    This book was the first Alan Watts book I read. Its more like a daily reminder book. Its bits and pieces of his lectures put into a book. Its good to carry around with you if you are having a confusing day. Something to go to and just get lost in. Its not really a HOW TO book per say, but it is A HOW TO HOW TO Book. Thats the best way I can describe it. Read other books by him first. Once again, Positive Reading.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nisha

    A lovely and amusing lecture by Mr. Watts, but I don't know why this is titled as an introduction to meditation. I doubt a beginner would find much useful here, but it's an enjoyable deconstruction of self and effort. A lovely and amusing lecture by Mr. Watts, but I don't know why this is titled as an introduction to meditation. I doubt a beginner would find much useful here, but it's an enjoyable deconstruction of self and effort.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Cox

    This has been one of the few audiobooks where I get to the end and I really have no clue what the book is about. I remember there being some interesting comments, but they were fairly disconnected from other comments.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Omri

    A wonderful introduction to the philosophy of Alan Watts, which seamlessly brings Eastern ideas to a Western audience. "Alan Watts is able to use words to take us beyond them." A wonderful introduction to the philosophy of Alan Watts, which seamlessly brings Eastern ideas to a Western audience. "Alan Watts is able to use words to take us beyond them."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ankur Banerjee

    Easy and simple in words and quite enlightening, without going too much into terminology. Many one-liners that sum up Zen concepts succinctly.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    An enjoyable perspective on Zen, existence, wholeness, the illusion of separateness, mindfulness, and enjoyment. Oh he good.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ross Cohen

    Unpretentious and illuminating.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anju Mai

    I liked this book! It was very slow to read for me. I started reading it more than a month ago even though the book was only 120 pages or so. I think I want to make a YouTube video about this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Pelin

    A great audiobook experience, and great insights about meditation.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jon Barr

    I liked his introduction to breathing. Just notice, don't modify. I liked his introduction to breathing. Just notice, don't modify.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I intend to listen to this again.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Francesca Scotti-Goetz

    To think this man was born in 1915. To think Zen Buddhism began in the year 500. read watts if you want to give up reality while keeping your feet planted firmly on the ground. I feel more lost and more present than ever

  19. 5 out of 5

    Catie

    "The whole energy of the universe is coming at you and through you, and you are that energy." "We may think we will become nothing, but what we don't realize is that nothing, in its own way, is as important as something." "People become concerned with being more humble than other people." After all, to be human you have to have within you a touch of rascality." "A person who is looking for peace is obviously in turmoil." "If you want to see something clearly, you relax, and instead of making an effor "The whole energy of the universe is coming at you and through you, and you are that energy." "We may think we will become nothing, but what we don't realize is that nothing, in its own way, is as important as something." "People become concerned with being more humble than other people." After all, to be human you have to have within you a touch of rascality." "A person who is looking for peace is obviously in turmoil." "If you want to see something clearly, you relax, and instead of making an effort you simply trust your eyes and your nervous system to do their job." "You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at itself and exploring itself." "Meditation is the act of allowing one's thoughts to cease." "Reality is simply the present moment." "In nature there can be watching without a separate watcher."

  20. 4 out of 5

    James

    I don't think it is overstating that the biggest challenge to robust Christian commitment in America today is its fascination with Eastern religion, often morphing on American soil. Alan Watts was a popularizer of Zen Buddhism in the 60's and 70's. This book is a compilation of lectures that Watts delivered on the topic of meditation. As you would expect, there is a great deal of practical wisdom and social critique. The non-striving, non-manipulating approach to meditation is instructive for Ch I don't think it is overstating that the biggest challenge to robust Christian commitment in America today is its fascination with Eastern religion, often morphing on American soil. Alan Watts was a popularizer of Zen Buddhism in the 60's and 70's. This book is a compilation of lectures that Watts delivered on the topic of meditation. As you would expect, there is a great deal of practical wisdom and social critique. The non-striving, non-manipulating approach to meditation is instructive for Christians as well. Of course the appeal of adapting Buddhism to American consumerist culture is that you can pick and choose the parts of that tradition that best works for you. Ultimately this book has good things to say, but doesn't present a compelling vision of the Spiritual life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Not for everyone, it's more of Watts' personal take on letting go and living in the 'Eternal Now' than a practical guide on exactly what to do in order to meditate. I find it an interesting take on why a person would engage in meditation, but if you're like me you'll also want a guidebook with specific instruction on how to sit, breathe, etc., exactly what to do. It's interesting but limited in its usefulness, at least it was for me. Not for everyone, it's more of Watts' personal take on letting go and living in the 'Eternal Now' than a practical guide on exactly what to do in order to meditate. I find it an interesting take on why a person would engage in meditation, but if you're like me you'll also want a guidebook with specific instruction on how to sit, breathe, etc., exactly what to do. It's interesting but limited in its usefulness, at least it was for me.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    This is a book where the forest is greater than the trees. At times, the book is impossible to figure out but if you stick with it, the while philosophical outlook, which combines a kind of positive existentialism with Buddhism, becomes more clear. It's one of those books that says things like you are nothing and your are all, which sounds like it makes no sense but Watts eventually elaborates such that it starts to make some sense. This is not a trendy self help book at all. This is a book where the forest is greater than the trees. At times, the book is impossible to figure out but if you stick with it, the while philosophical outlook, which combines a kind of positive existentialism with Buddhism, becomes more clear. It's one of those books that says things like you are nothing and your are all, which sounds like it makes no sense but Watts eventually elaborates such that it starts to make some sense. This is not a trendy self help book at all.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Teo 2050

    2016.08.17–2016.08.17 Contents Watts A (2000) (01:18) Still the Mind - An Introduction to Meditation Publisher’s Preface Introduction by Mark Watts Part I: The Essential Process of the World 1. Who We Are in the Universe 2. Meet Your Real Self Part II: The Essential Process of Meditation 3. The Philosophy of Meditation 4. The Practice of Meditation Part III: Still the Mind 5. Contemplative Ritual About the Author Recommended Reading

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jim Thomas

    As usual, Watts make the most complex of virtually any philosophy simple for the layman and, fo me, always helpful as far as any kind of spiritual seeking or growth. It can be Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or Toasist for Watts was better able to pull virtually all beliefs and Non beliefs together in an understandable way. There is something for everyone except the close minded in his writings and talks. This particular book is probably the simplist wat to understand and begin meditation.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    This posthumous collection of lectures was compiled by the philosopher's son, and we can hear his sycophantic students/adherents laughing and moving around in the lecture hall throughout the recording. There are many excellent books on the benefits of meditation, including Mathieu Ricard's Happiness and the Dalai Lama's The Art of Happiness, but this is not one of them. I would've given it one star except that I enjoyed the guided meditation near the end. This posthumous collection of lectures was compiled by the philosopher's son, and we can hear his sycophantic students/adherents laughing and moving around in the lecture hall throughout the recording. There are many excellent books on the benefits of meditation, including Mathieu Ricard's Happiness and the Dalai Lama's The Art of Happiness, but this is not one of them. I would've given it one star except that I enjoyed the guided meditation near the end.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    An excellent, non-methodical, musing on the essence of meditation itself, and a great introduction into the mind and teachings of Alan Watts. Playful yet deep, simple yet transforming, this is a short book with endless meaning.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    While this is a transcription of talks Alan Watts gave, the material is great. Like the Jon Kabat-Zinn book I just finished, Watts puts the focus on just being with each moment - including all the noise in one's head - to acknowledge it happening as it happens and become centered. While this is a transcription of talks Alan Watts gave, the material is great. Like the Jon Kabat-Zinn book I just finished, Watts puts the focus on just being with each moment - including all the noise in one's head - to acknowledge it happening as it happens and become centered.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lynne

    Oh boy...checked this out on recommendation from a friend. So weird. Now...I did the audio version...and, honestly, it sounded like something that escaped from Guyana from the Jim Jones days. While, I'm totally down with meditation...maybe this was a bit too remedial, and woo-woo for me? Oh boy...checked this out on recommendation from a friend. So weird. Now...I did the audio version...and, honestly, it sounded like something that escaped from Guyana from the Jim Jones days. While, I'm totally down with meditation...maybe this was a bit too remedial, and woo-woo for me?

  29. 4 out of 5

    Eliot

    This was my second attempt to appreciate Watts. This one was like listening to a beatnik professor ramble on in front of a class of college freshman. Not a lot of rubber hitting the road here, which is fine if that is your thing.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chetan Narang

    This right here is Meditation 101. I'd highly recommend hearing the audiobook version rather than reading the book itself; Alan Watts is undoubtedly a delighful orator. "You cannot really do that very well, and worry! Or be serious about anything." This right here is Meditation 101. I'd highly recommend hearing the audiobook version rather than reading the book itself; Alan Watts is undoubtedly a delighful orator. "You cannot really do that very well, and worry! Or be serious about anything."

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