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The Meaning of Happiness [Paperback]

Alan Watts

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Product details

  • Paperback: 219 pages
  • Publisher: Rider & Co; New impression edition (4 Sep 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091347416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091347413
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 746,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

The Meaning of Happiness By Alan Watts.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Arrow Hits Its Mark 26 April 2000
By Ian Andrews - Published on
To parody one reviewer of this book at the time of its first publication in the Spring of 1940, "The mountain has labored and brought forth wildflowers." Which is to imply that through the mysterious vehicle of words Alan Watts has succeeded in unmasking the mysterious "meaning of happiness," just as a mountain can, mysteriously, bring forth a meadow of beautiful wildflowers where there was once only barren ground.
The original reviewer equated the laboring mountain with the bringing forth of a mouse, by which one may reasonable infer to mean that the voluminous mountain of words amounted to the slightest substantiality of meaning. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Written in 1939 and published in 1940, The Meaning of Happiness, with its annotative subtitle "The Quest for freedom of the spirit in modern psychology and the wisdom of the East," represented a watershed moment in western man's attempt to understand himself and his relationship to the universe and the creative energy of the universe.
At the tender age of twenty-four Alan Watts used all his immense powers of perception and intellect, in this his third book, to draw together seemingly disparate concepts into an organic whole which help to illuminate the genesis of the elusive feeling of happiness. Though the philosophy brought out by Watts' discussion is profound he nevertheless presents it in a simple and easily understandable way, which is perhaps a preview of his uncanny ability to describe the indescribable.
Seen and read today, through the distance of 60 years, The Meaning of Happiness may seem at first to be a bit dated. This is because it was written for a people who were under the influence of a different set of intellectual circumstances than those of us alive today. Back then, in 1940, most westerners had little exposure to the ideas and philosophies of what was then thought of as the Orient, which included the major cultures of Asia -- India, China, Tibet and Japan. Therefore Watts wrote in an effort to help educate as much as to illuminate his Western, predominately Judeo-Christian, audience's understanding of eastern philosophies coupled with the parallels of what was at the time known as modern psychology.
What he was in the initial stages of formulating was a synthesis between traditional Christianity and the unitive mysticism of Hinduism and Buddhism, a theme he would explore in more depth in three other books: Behold the Spirit (1947), The Supreme Identity (1950), and Myth and Ritual in Christianity (1953).
Though there are gems of wisdom and insight throughout the book, the chapters which stand out the most are the third along with the last three -- the sixth, seventh and eighth. If you are one who like to read ahead to get to the meat of the message, you will be especially interested in chapter six, The One in the Many. I won't spoil it for you, but you may find yourself in for a surprise and amazed at the depth of spiritual understanding that Watts brings to the concept of happiness.
In today's world of quick fixes and mind numbing psychotropic drugs, like ritalin, the spiritual truths that Watts wrote about at mid-twentieth century are as meaningful and necessary a cure-all for the ills that plague men's minds today as they were then, in 1940. The lessons are as wise and practical as they are timeless. Here, in the brief span of two hundred pages, Alan Watts has managed to decode an ancient holistic plan for attaining not only mental well-being but for capturing that elusive feeling of bliss.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Be Happy? 31 Jan 2002
By rareoopdvds - Published on
I love Alan Watts' writing. He makes you feel warm, like part of the family, but does not talk down to you like a parent. This book, written in 1940, is one of his earlier works, and you can sense he is still formulating his style. While sometimes scholarly, and other times playful, he mixes the right amount of both perspectives to give the reader a profound sense of being alive. The book is called "The Meaning of Happiness". While we all have at some point experienced happiness, Watts explores the meaning of what happiness is and how might it be experienced more than a transitory feeling. Happiness is defined essentially as "libertaion," where one no longer has the need to be happy, or need to be mad or need be anything exept to be. In a round about way it is enlightenment (or enlightenment is happiness). In Watts' calssical style, there is no progression one must endure, it just happens. It happens as easily looking with ones eyes. This is not the happiness that we coined in "dont worry be happy" because this presumes that one has to worry in order to be happy. It is not the, in order to experience happiness we must experience sadness. It is the "transcendence of opposites". To dispute the Buddha's "all things are sorrow," Watts says all things are happy.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A big blob of grape philosophical gum to chew and ponder 29 Mar 2000
By "mia78" - Published on
If you have ever heard the recorded sessions of Allan Watts, you know what you're in for when reading the book. A must read for anyone feeling alienated from the societal roles they play. As Mr. Watts would say,"Take off your masks! Run free! We are all One! "
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 23 Jun 2014
By Rose - Published on
Alan Watts is the best. If Amazon allowed for shorter reviews, that's all I would say.
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