The Wisdom of Insecurity
This book was transformative to the way I look at challenges and life in general. The consistent theme carried through this book is the law of reversed effort. This law indicates reaching a certain point while striving for it’s antithesis. Thus, when you attempt to float, you sink. When you hold your breathe, you lose it. Or, as he references to the true master:
This book is in the spirit of the Chinese sage Lao-Tzu, that master of the law of reversed effort, who declared that those who justify themselves do not convince, that to know truth one must get rid of knowledge, and that nothing is more powerful and creative than emptiness-from which men shrink.
This is not always the easiest concept to grasp but with his wit, intelligence, and hypnotizing writing style, Alan Watts is able to make it seem like common thought. Throughout the book he investigates the way this concept gets to the core of many subjects.
The more we are able to feel pleasure, the more we are vulnerable to pain-and, whether in background or foreground, the pain is always with us.
Watts’ insights, although written for a different generation, speak so profoundly to the present as if he were a prophet. Many of the struggles he references from the time have only escalated, as could probably be expected. Due to the escalation, his words may now hold even more importance.
Human desire tends to be insatiable. We are so anxious for pleasure that we can never get enough of it. We stimulate our sense organs until they become insensitive, so that if pleasure is to continue they must have stronger stimulants.
Watts has gained a modern following. Videos of his many speeches and lectures have been created and spread across the web. You can find videos of short length and lectures that go on for hours on channels such as Alan Watts Lectures, Alan Watts Ideas, Alan Wattsify, and The Spiritual Library among others.