The Book is an absolute pleasure to read. Often recognized as one of the fathers of the Boomer New Age Revival (along with other luminaries of that period like Ram Das, Timothy Leary, etc.), author Alan Watts skewers various hypocritcal taboos of Western culture with an incisive wit and beat poet's flair. His true accomplishment here is in his ability to convey ancient spiritual truths of the perennial philosophy in a prose style so conversational that one feel as if the ideas are being shared over coffee at an outdoor cafe. Published in 1966, this book was a critical success and a huge seller with the emerging Boomer culture of the Children's Revoltion. "The Book" (a pun: "Bible" is Latin for "book") did much to spread many of the basic ideas of Eastern mysticism (Vedanta) in a way that was easily grasped despite the enormous cultural gap and overall depth of material.
Like Hesse's Steppenwolf, this is one of those titles you give to a loved one coming-of-age to aid them in understanding the world and their place in it. Watts' brief story explaining God and the universe to a child in a way they can understand is worth the price of the book alone. I first read this book many years ago. I discovered it all over again in a recent rereading.
While The Book is very much a product of it's time, and it's style reads as sweetly nostalgic now, the content remains as timeless as it is true.
...'The book' is a fantastic introduction to key tenets of the ancient Hindu philosophy of Vedanta. Alan Watts exposits with convincing arguments the problems with our perspective of the self(the same thought that 'Hermann Hesse illustrates in Steppenwolf), the correct interpretation of the Blakean vision of 'Good and Evil being parts of the same coin', the problems that we carry through the rest of our lives because of the conditioning of the senses and intellect and finally the answers and route to salvation that this great philosophy shows.
And to read this book, there is no need to know any history/ jargon of vedanta which are major deterrents to people who do not want to get into sanskrit terms, chronology etc.
Just read it..its pretty much a tripper kind of book in the lines of 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'.