Book Review: The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts

The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety by Alan W. Watts

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has been on my bookshelf for decades. I have read or skimmed through this book dozens if not hundreds of times. I have yellow highlighted much of the book. I think that everyone should read the first chapter of this book for Watts’s brilliance and insights into reality. Considering that this book was published over 70 years ago, it’s amazing that the insights are certainly relevant for today’s world. For sure, the world has not become more secure since 1951, but significantly much less.

This book tries to address an issue that was relevant in the past and is certainly relevant in our present time. How are we to find security in peace of mine in a world who is very nature is insecurity, impermanence, and unceasing change?

Watts’s book serves as a guide for life – – how to approach it rationally and wisely. This book has had a profound effect on my life. Both uncomfortable and settling, it has provided some perspective to me on my philosophy of living. In a sense, this book became my Bible.

Listed below are some nuggets of wisdom from the book…

By all outward appearances are life is a spark of light between one eternal darkness and another.

If happiness always depends on something expected in the future, we are chasing a will-o’-the-wisp that ever excludes our grasp, until the future, and ourselves, vanish into the abyss of death.

However long postponed, everything composed must decompose.

When belief in the eternal becomes impossible, and there is only the poor substitute of belief in believing, men seek their happiness in the joys of time.

This kind of living in the fantasy of expectation rather than the reality of the present is the special trouble of those businessman who live entirely to make money. They fail to live because they are always preparing to live.

To be happy, we must have what we cannot have. In men, nature has conceived desires which is impossible to satisfy.

¨We fall in love with people and possessions only to be tortured by anxiety for them.

Human desire tends to be insatiable. We are so anxious for pleasure that we can never get enough of it.

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