I agree context is vital, particularly with Western teachers and writers of his generation, who were pioneers in the introduction of Buddhism (and other Asian religions) to the West as living traditions. The Wikipedia bio - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Watts - is worth reading for all the familiar and half-familiar names scattered through it - Christmas Humphreys, Ouspensky and Gurdjieff, Joseph Campbell, John Cage, Aldous Huxley, Gary Snyder.Wayfarer wrote: ↑Thu Mar 26, 2020 2:33 am...All that said, I think Watts still had some profound things to say, and that he said some things that you wouldn't find in other sources. In his defense, I don't think he ever proclaimed himself any kind of spiritual master or guru, in fact he said he was an entertainer. ... But I think he can be seriously misleading if taken as any kind of authority - he needs to be understood in context, and that takes a fair bit of reading and study.
Pioneers' role is to explore unknown territory - and survive to return and tell others, who will make better maps, better roads, better descriptions of the territory. In 1954, nearly 20 years after he published the first edition of The Spirit of Zen (1935), his new preface apologised for the errors in the original but was proud of the new bibliography: "The only important change in this second edition is that it carries a completely new bibliography, which is, I believe, as complete a list of writings of Zen in European languages as may be found. This is an important feature of a book which was never intended to be more than a popular introduction to Zen..."
Four years later, for the third edition (the one I bought secondhand many years ago) he wrote: "the bibliography has been brought up to date..."
How long do you reckon it is? Ten pages? Twenty?
No. Two and a half.
We wouldn't be here now without Watts, Suzuki, Huxley, Krishnamurti and the rest. We should thank them for what they achieved, even as we acknowledge that their works have been superseded by those they inspired.