These Alan Watts quotes represent his philosophy regarding living a successful and happy life. I recommend you carefully analyze these phrases and absorb the wisdom of him.
Alan Watts (1915 –1973) was a prominent British philosopher, writer, and lecturer renowned for his interpretation and promotion of Eastern philosophy by making it accessible to Western audiences.
Watts wrote more than 25 books and a large number of articles on various topics such as personal identity, the nature of reality and the search for happiness, relating his experience with the teaching of Eastern and Western religions and philosophies (Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc.)
Some of his most famous books include “The Way of Zen” (1957), “East and West Psychotherapy” (1961), “The Meaning of Happiness” (1940), and “Joyful Cosmology” (1962), among others. .
Table of Contents
40 phrases of Alan Watts that will awaken your conscience
1. “We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain.”
2. “Life exists only at this precise moment and it is at this moment that it is infinite and eternal. Since the present moment is infinitesimally small, before we can measure it it is gone, yet it persists forever.”
3. “There will always be suffering, but we must not suffer for suffering.”
4. “Each person is a unique manifestation of the whole, since each branch is a particular extension of the tree.”
5. “The only way to make sense of change is to immerse yourself in it, move with it, and join in the dance.”
6. “But I will tell you something that only hermits know. If you go into the depths of a forest, and remain silent. You will come to understand that you are connected to the whole.”
7. “When you free yourself from certain fixed concepts about what the world is like, you discover that it is much more subtle and much more miraculous than you thought.”
8. “To have faith is to entrust yourself to the water. When you swim, you don’t grab onto the water because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead what you do is relax and float.”
9. “Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.”
10. “Those who do not have the capacity to live in the now cannot make valid plans for the future. I have realized that the past and the future are the real illusions and they exist in the present, which is all there really is.”
11. “This is the true secret of life: to be totally involved in whatever you are doing in the here and now. Instead of calling it work, realize that it’s a game.”
12. “When you really understand zen… any book can be used. The Bible can be used. You can use Alice in Wonderland or the dictionary because…the sound of rain doesn’t need translation.”
13. “A scholar tries to learn something every day; a student of Buddhism tries to unlearn something daily.”
14. “The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to lack life.”
15. “The desire that is despised for the sole reason of not being able to satisfy it is one of the greatest enemies of man.”
16. “Words cannot express more than a small fragment of human knowledge, because what we can say and think is always vastly less than what we experience.”
18. “You have not come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.”
19. “Never fake a love that you don’t really feel, because we can’t control love.”
20. “No work or love will flourish from guilt, fear or emptiness of the heart, just as no valid plan for the future can be made by those who have no capacity to live in the now.”
21. “Things are as they are. When we look at the universe at night, we do not make comparisons between right and wrong stars, or between well-arranged and ill-arranged constellations.”
22. “Without birth and death, and without the perpetual transmutation of all forms of life, the world would be static, without rhythm, without dance, mummified.”
23. “Your soul is not in your body; your body is in your soul.”
24. “Your mind is like muddy water, it clears up better left alone.”
25. “Do not look for God out there, as something that is in the sky, look for it in you.”
26. “No one is more dangerously insane than he who is in his right mind all the time: he is like a steel bridge without flexibility, and the order of his life is rigid and brittle.”
27. “Life exists only in this moment, and this moment is infinite and eternal, because the present moment is infinitely small; before we can measure it, it is gone and yet it exists forever.”
28. “The reason why there is poverty is that we have no imagination. There are a large number of people accumulating what they think is enormous wealth, but it is just money… they don’t know how to enjoy it because they have no imagination.”
29. “The hostile attitude of wanting to conquer nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events – that the world beyond the skin is an extension of our own bodies – and will end up destroying the environment from which we emerge and from which all our life depends.”
30. “You are a function of everything the universe is doing, in the same way that a wave is a function of everything the ocean is doing.”
31. “We rarely realize that our innermost thoughts and emotions are not ours. We think in terms of languages and images that we did not invent, but were imposed on us by society.”
32. “The meaning of life is simply to be alive. It is so simple, so obvious and so simple. And yet, everyone rushes around in a panic as if they need to achieve something beyond themselves.”
33. “Most human activities are designed to make permanent experiences and joys that are only lovable because they are changing.”
34. “To put it even more clearly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are exactly the same. Holding your breath is wasting your breath. A society based on the search for security is nothing more than a breath-holding contest, in which everyone is as tense as a drum and as purple as a beet.”
35. “Philosophy is the expression of man’s curiosity about everything and his attempt to make sense of the world primarily through his intellect.”
36. “What I am really saying is that you do not need anything, because if you see yourself in the right way, you are a phenomenon of nature as extraordinary as the trees, the clouds, the patterns in the running water, the flickering of fire, the distribution of stars and the shape of a galaxy. You are just like all that and there is nothing wrong with you.”
37. “Detachment means not feeling any remorse for the past or fear for the future; letting life take its course without trying to interfere with its movement and change, without trying to prolong pleasant things or cause unpleasant things to disappear. To act in this way is to move to the rhythm of life, to be in perfect harmony with its changing music, this is called enlightenment.”
38. “How is it possible that a being with jewels as sensitive as the eyes, musical instruments as enchanted as the ears, and an arabesque of nerves as fabulous as the brain can experience themselves as anything less than a god?”
39. “If you say that making money is the most important thing, you will spend your life wasting your time. You will be doing things that you don’t like to continue with a life that consists of doing things that you don’t like. It’s stupid. It is better to have a short life full of things you like to do than a life lived in a miserable way.”
40. “There is always something taboo, something repressed, not admitted, something that is only glimpsed slightly out of the corner of the eye, because it is too disturbing to face it. Taboos lie within taboos, like the layers of onion skin. It is said that sex is taboo, but it is not true, sex is no longer a serious taboo. Teenagers know more than adults about it. I believe that the most repressive taboo of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent and isolated ego.
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