New York: Pantheon Books, 1966. Octavo. Red top-stain, khaki cloth boards in an unclipped tan dust wrapper, quarter-inch tear affecting the bottom of the verso, very light soiling, else fine. 146 pages. First edition. Near fine.
On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are. This book delves into the cause and cure of the illusion that the self is a separate ego, housed in a bag of skin, which “confronts” a universe of physical objects which are alien and stupid. According to Watts, this illusion underlies the misuse of technology for a violent and hostile subjugation of man’s natural environment, leading to its eventual destruction. To find the urgently needed answer to this problem of personal identity, the author modernizes and restates the ancient Hindu philosophy of Vedanta and brings out the full force of its startling and psychologically subversive way of realizing that the self is in fact the root and ground of the universe—a realization so strange and inadmissible to the West that it is virtually our most rigid taboo.
"How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself anything less than a god?"