There are a number of books that give excellent introductions to zen, but this is still one of my favorites. Watts' work has both academic rigor and general accessibility, making for a quality overview of a complex tradition. As in his other books, his background in western philosophy and religion combines with extensive knowledge of eastern traditions to make him particularly adept at moderating between drastically different mindsets/worldviews. And in relation to zen, he stands at an interesting distance to the subject: neither as close as an inside-the-tradition adherent or as distant and personally disengaged as some other academic approaches. His position on the scholar-practitioner spectrum makes for a voice that feels both authoritative and lively as he discusses some of the philosophical background, history of transmission and development, and basic frameworks and orientations of the zen tradition.
— Jason, Vroman's
In his definitive introduction to Zen Buddhism, Alan Watts explains the principles and practices of this ancient religion to Western readers. With a rare combination of freshness and lucidity, he delves into the origins and history of Zen to explain what it means for the world today with incredible clarity. Watts saw Zen as “one of the most precious gifts of Asia to the world,” and in The Way of Zen he gives this gift to readers everywhere.
About 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.