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I'm going to keep this as short and sweet as possible, because I simply did not care for and do not recommend this book. Having read numerous books both during and after college on many different religions and life philosophies, this is possibly the worst of any "Religion and Philosophy" book I have ever read. I give it 1 out of 5 stars simply because I will admit that here and there Watts makes a generally "good" point; however, these were few and far between and therefore simply not enough to redeem the quality of "The Book" as a whole.

First of all, I read this book twice, back-to-back, in hopes that maybe I was just missing something, but in the end, I can only conclude that it reads like some sort of drug-induced high-and-mighty take on how much better it is to live as if you are everything and everything is you. What frustrated me the most is that Watts started off by basically saying how all religions (not just Christianity or Judaism, but ALL religions) are bad..then, 18 pages or so later, starts talking about Vedanta and how amazing and perfect it is. Now, I understand that Vedanta is more of a philosophy than a religion, but at the same time, Vedanta does not REJECT religion, so I feel as if Watts is contradicting himself here. Even more annoying is the fact that after a few pages of gushing about Vedanta, Watts moves on to other things and barely ever mentions it again throughout the rest of the book, leaving me wondering why he brought it up in the first place.

This is not the only time Watts contradicted himself in his diatribe on why everything we have ever been told is awful and wrong--for instance, he makes a big long statement about a rainbow only appearing when there is a "certain triangular relationship between three components: the sun, moisture in the atmosphere, and an observer. If all three are present, and if the angular relationship between them is correct, then, and then only, will there be the phenomenon 'rainbow'." Now, I understood the point Watts was trying to make, but if a person isn't there to SEE the rainbow, it does still exist, i.e. the old adage "if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?" Yes, yes it does! The thing is, I could even overlook this whole passage, except that later on in "The Book", Watts makes the statement, "So--there has been a flash, a flash of consciousness or a flash of galaxies. It happened. Even if there is no one left to remember." I understand I'm being a bit nitpicky here, but I'm one to pay attention to details, and regardless of the slightly different wording, this direclty contradicts his earlier statement about a person having to be present in order for a rainbow to exist.

"The Book" was simply all over the place. I never felt as if Watts figures out what HE really believes. He's back and forth and left and right, hence my statement that this work reads like a drug-induced frenzy of bad 1960s "philosophies".

Honestly, I feel bad for this guy's children. If he is this preachy in a published book about his personal philosophies I can only imagine what kind of ordeal their childhood was growing up with such a father. And this is coming from a girl who grew up with a self-righteous Baptist for a father and therefore has major issues with what would be considered her own "religion".

"...there is always something taboo, something repressed, unadmitted, or just glimpsed quickly out of the corner of one's eye because a direct look is too unsettling."

"It is a special kind of enlightenment to have this feeling that the usual, the way things normally are, is odd--uncanny and highly improbable."
~I actually think that since this book was published it has become at least more commonplace for people to understand that 'normal' is actually 'highly improbable', but this is still a good point~

"Even religious liberals play the game of 'we're-more-tolerant-than-you.'"

"...in almost all the stories you enjoy there have to be bad people as well as good people, for the thrill of the tale is to find out how the good people will get the better of the bad. It's the same as when we play cards. At the beginning of the game we shuffle them all into a mess, which is like the bad things in the world, but the point of the game is to put the mess into good order, and the one who does it best is the winner. Then we shuffle the cards once more and play again, and so it goes with the world."

"...'unselfishness' is apt to be a highly refined egotism, comparable to the in-group which plays the game of 'we're-more-tolerant-than-you."

"My wish would be to tell, not how things ought to be, but how they are, and how and why we ignore them as they are."

"...the less I preach, the more likely I am to be heard."

"The narrow slit in the fence is much like the way in which we look at life by conscious attention, for when we attend to something we ignore everything else. Attention is narrowed perception. It is a way of looking at life bit by bit, using memory to string the bits together--as when examining a dark rom with a flashlight having a very narrow beam. Perception thus narrowed has the advantage of being sharp and bright, but it has to focus on one area of the world after another, and one feature after another."

"...in church one may decorously 'rejoice' but not have real, rip-roaring fun."

"Furthermore, every act of interference with the course of nature changes it in unpredictable ways. A human organism which has absorbed antibiotics is not quite the same kind of organism that it was before, because the behavior of its micro-organisms has been significantly altered. The more one interferes, the more one must analyze an ever-growing volume of detailed information about the results of interference on a world whose infinite details are inextricably interwoven."

"If the all-too-intelligent God was disconcerting, relief in getting rid of him was short-lived. He was replaced by the Cosmic Idiot, and people began to feel more estranged from the universe than ever...and people calling themselves naturalists began the biggest war on nature ever waged."

"Instead of giving our children clear and explicit explanations of the game-rules of the community, we befuddle them hopelessly because we--as adults--were once befuddled, and, remaining so, do not understand the game we are playing."

"Life and love generate effort, but effort will not generate them."
~I completely agree about the "love" side of this quote...I learned that the hard way~

"Nothing fails like success--because the self-imposed task of our society and all its members is a contradiction: to force things to happen which are acceptable only when they happen without force."

"...women are slaves to the fashion game with its basic rule, 'I have conformed sooner than you.'"

"...many of our most powerful and wealthy men are miserable dupes and captives in a treadmill, who--with the rarest exceptions--have not the ghost of a notion how to spend and enjoy money."

"No one can be moral--that is, no one can harmonize contained conflicts--without coming to a working arrangement between the angel in himself and the devil in himself, between his rose above and his manure below."
~amen! haha~

"...the real goodness of human nature is its peculiar balance of love and selfishness, reason and passion, spirituality and sensuality, mysticism and materialism, in which the positive pole has always a slight edge over the negative. (Were it otherwise, and the two were equally balanced, life would come to a total stalemate and standstill.) Thus when the two poles, good and bad, forget interdependence and try to obliterate each other, man becomes subhuman--the implacable crusader or the cold, sadistic thug. It is not for man to be either an angel or a devil, and the would-be angels should realize that, as their ambition succeeds, they evoke hordes of devils to keep the balance. This was the lesson of Prohibition, as of all other attempts to enforce purely angelic behavior, or to pluck out evil root and branch."

"Just as true humor is laughter at oneself, true humanity is knowledge of oneself."



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