Alan Watts Quotes
This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.
Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.
Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.
I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.
Things are as they are. Looking out into it the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.
To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.
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.
I owe my solitude to other people.
Faith is a state of openness or trust.
Reality is only a Rorschach ink-blot, you know.
The ego is nothing other than the focus of conscious attention.
Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.
But to me nothing – the negative, the empty – is exceedingly powerful.
Omnipotence is not knowing how everything is done; it’s just doing it.
A myth is an image in terms of which we try to make sense of the world.
You are that vast thing that you see far, far off with great telescopes.
You don’t look out there for God, something in the sky, you look in you.
The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.
So what is discord at one level of your being is harmony at another level.
The religious idea of God cannot do full duty for the metaphysical infinity.
We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain.
The reason we want to go on and on is because we live in an impoverished present.
Religion is not a department of life; it is something that enters into the whole of it.
Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command.
But we try to pretend, you see, that the external world exists altogether independently of us.
Buddhism has in it no idea of there being a moral law laid down by some kind of cosmic lawgiver.
But at any rate, the point is that God is what nobody admits to being, and everybody really is.
But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.
You and I are all as much continuous with the physical universe as a wave is continuous with the ocean.
Wars based on principle are far more destructive… the attacker will not destroy that which he is after.
What the devil is the point of surviving, going on living, when it’s a drag? But you see, that’s what people do.
The difficulty for most of us in the modern world is that the old-fashioned idea of God has become incredible or implausible.
Technology is destructive only in the hands of people who do not realize that they are one and the same process as the universe.
The style of God venerated in the church, mosque, or synagogue seems completely different from the style of the natural universe.
If you study the writings of the mystics, you will always find things in them that appear to be paradoxes, as in Zen, particularly.
Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.
The moralist is the person who tells people that they ought to be unselfish, when they still feel like egos, and his efforts are always and invariably futile.
But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.
So then, the relationship of self to other is the complete realization that loving yourself is impossible without loving everything defined as other than yourself.
And although our bodies are bounded with skin, and we can differentiate between outside and inside, they cannot exist except in a certain kind of natural environment.
No work or love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.
In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe, becomes a person who has no faith at all.
In known history, nobody has had such capacity for altering the universe than the people of the United States of America. And nobody has gone about it in such an aggressive way.
So the bodhisattva saves all beings, not by preaching sermons to them, but by showing them that they are delivered, they are liberated, by the act of not being able to stop changing.
The myths underlying our culture and underlying our common sense have not taught us to feel identical with the universe, but only parts of it, only in it, only confronting it – aliens.
Some believe all that parents, tutors, and kindred believe. They take their principles by inheritance, and defend them as they would their estates, because they are born heirs to them.
The reason we have poverty is that we have no imagination. There are a great many people accumulating what they think is vast wealth, but it’s only money… they don’t know how to enjoy it, because they have no imagination.
Jesus Christ knew he was God. So wake up and find out eventually who you really are. In our culture, of course, they’ll say you’re crazy and you’re blasphemous, and they’ll either put you in jail or in a nut house (which is pretty much the same thing). However if you wake up in India and tell your friends and relations, ‘My goodness, I’ve just discovered that I’m God,’ they’ll laugh and say, ‘Oh, congratulations, at last you found out.
Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.
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