BINDERY: Celebrating Zen Odyssey and The Collected Letters of Alan Watts with Janica Anderson, Steven Zahavi Schwartz, and Anne Watts

Sunday, April 15, 2018 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm

The Bindery hosts a special celebration of two new books: Zen Odyssey: The Story of Sokei-An, Ruth Fuller Sasaki, and the Birth of Zen in America, by Janica Anderson and Steven Zahavi Schwartz, and The Collected Letters of Alan Watts, edited by two of his daughters, Joan and Anne Watts, who will be in conversation with Janica and Steven. Please join us!


Zen Odyssey: The Story of Sokei-An, Ruth Fuller Sasaki, and the Birth of Zen in America

Ruth Fuller Sasaki and Sokei-an Shigetsu Sasaki: two pioneers of Zen in the West. Ruth was an American with a privileged life, even during the height of the Great Depression, before she went to Japan and met D. T. Suzuki. Sokei-an was one of the first Zen priests to come to America; he brought the gift of the Dharma to the United States but in 1942 was put in an internment camp. One made his way to the West and the other would find her way to the East, but together they created the First Zen Institute of America and helped birth a new generation of Zen practitioners: among them, Alan Watts, Gary Snyder, and Burton Watson. They were married less than a year before Sokei-an died, but Ruth would go on to helm trailblazing translations in his honor and to become the first foreigner to be the priest of a Rinzai Zen temple in Japan.


With lyrical prose, Janica Anderson and Steven Zahavi Schwartz bring Ruth and Sokei-an to life. Two dozen intimate photographs show us two people who aren't mere historical figures, but flesh and blood people, walking their paths.



Janica Anderson, a master falconer, has been a student and teacher of esoteric traditions for fifty years, which included being a research assistant in the psychology department at Harvard University and an instructor at Esalen Institute. She founded Big Sur Tapes, which preserved and published audio archives of institutes such as Esalen and individuals such as Aldous Huxley and Alan Watts.


Steven Zahavi Schwartz is a writer, editor, visual artist, and teacher with many years of immersion in Buddhist study and practice, including a year in Asia during which he was a student of Ajahn Buddhadasa at Wat Suan Mokh in Southern Thailand. He is the author of “Making Sanctuary: Craft, Nature, and the Architecture of Attention.” He lives in Sonoma, where he runs Meantimes Press.


The Collected Letters of Alan Watts

Philosopher, author, and lecturer Alan Watts (1915–1973) popularized Zen Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies for the counterculture of the 1960s. Today, new generations are finding his writings and lectures online, while faithful followers worldwide continue to be enlightened by his teachings. The Collected Letters of Alan Watts reveals the remarkable arc of Watts’s colorful and controversial life, from his school days in England to his priesthood in the Anglican Church as chaplain of Northwestern University to his alternative lifestyle and experimentation with LSD in the heyday of the late sixties. His engaging letters cover a vast range of subject matter, with recipients ranging from High Church clergy to high priests of psychedelics, government officials, publishers, critics, family, and fans. They include C. G. Jung, Henry Miller, Gary Snyder, Aldous Huxley, Reinhold Niebuhr, Timothy Leary, Joseph Campbell, and James Hillman. Watts’ letters were curated by two of his daughters, Joan Watts and Anne Watts, who have added rich, behind-the-scenes biographical commentary.


Anne Watts’ philosophies were strongly shaped by her experience as the daughter of Alan Watts. Anne is a certified hypnotherapist and an educator and counselor in the areas of human sexuality, sexual abuse, family stress, self-esteem, and healing the inner child.  She also works with financial and aging issues. Since 1985 she has led hundreds of human growth workshops in the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, England, and Germany as a facility with the Human Awareness Institute.  Anne lives in Santa Rosa, California with her long-time partner and husband.



RSVP appreciated but not required. If you cannot attend the event but would like to requeset a signed copy of The Collected Letters of Alan Watts and/or Zen Odyssey, order below and put your request in the comments field.


Please note: This event will be at The Bindery, 1727 Haight Street.


This is an all ages event. The bar opens at 3:30, event begins at 4pm.

The Collected Letters of Alan Watts Cover Image
ISBN: 9781608684151
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New World Library - December 1st, 2017

Zen Odyssey: The Story of Sokei-An, Ruth Fuller Sasaki, and the Birth of Zen in America Cover Image
ISBN: 9781614292586
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wisdom Publications - January 9th, 2018