Although he died more than forty years ago, the recorded speeches and writings of British philosopher, Alan Watts, is still very much relevant in today’s world. With an uncountable number of essays, more than 25 books and about 400 lectures to his credit, Watt’s works touch on different subjects such as love, the pursuit of happiness, the meaning of life, the true nature of reality, death, and higher consciousness.
In this article, some of the famous Alan Watts quotes that will help you become more conscious of yourself and the world around you is brought to you. Enjoy!
100 Famous Alan Watts Quotes That Will Blow Your Mind
1. 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.
2. The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
3. What I am really saying is that you don’t need to do anything, because if you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomenon of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that, and there is nothing wrong with you at all.
4. One is a great deal less anxious if one feels perfectly free to be anxious, and the same may be said of guilt.
5. Love is not something that is a sort of rare commodity, everybody has it.
6. Technology is destructive only in the hands of people who do not realize that they are one and the same process as the universe.
7. People who exude love are apt to give things away. They are in every way like rivers; they stream. And so when they collect possessions and things they like, they are apt to give them to other people. Because, have you ever noticed that when you start giving things away, you keep getting more?
8. You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.
9. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.
10. Your skin does not separate you from the world. It’s a bridge through which the external world flows into you. And you flow into it.
11. Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.
12. 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.
13. If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid.
14. The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.
15. Everyone has love, but it can only come out when he is convinced of the impossibility and the frustration of trying to love himself.
16. But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.
17. Your soul is not in your body; your body is in your soul.
18. What the devil is the point of surviving, going on living when it’s a drag? But you see, that’s what people do.
19. To have faith is to trust yourself.
20. If the universe is meaningless, so is the statement that it is so. If this world is a vicious trap, so is its accuser, and the pot is calling the kettle black.
21. 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.
22. Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.
23. You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.
24. The world is filled with love-play, from animal lust to sublime compassion.
25. Everything that happens, everything that I have ever done, everything that anybody else has ever done is part of a harmonious design, that there is no error at all.
26. Hospitals should be arranged in such a way as to make being sick an interesting experience. One learns a great deal sometimes from being sick.
27. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.
28. You are the big bang, the original force of the universe, coming on as whoever you are. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.
29. Don’t make a distinction between work and play. Regard everything that you’re doing as play, and don’t regard for one minute that you have to be serious about it.
30. Zen is a liberation from time. For if we open our eyes and see clearly, it becomes obvious that there is no other time than this instant, and that the past and the future are abstractions without any concrete reality.
31. Life exists only at this very moment, and at this moment it is infinite and eternal, for the present moment is infinitely small; before we can measure it, it has gone, and yet it exists forever…
32. We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain.
33. Every intelligent individual wants to know what makes him tick, and yet is at once fascinated and frustrated by the fact that oneself is the most difficult of all things to know.
34. Try to imagine what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up…now try to imagine what it was like to wake up having never gone to sleep.
35. You can only be on them in relation to something that is out.
36. 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.
37. We do not come into this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree, as the ocean waves, the universe peoples. Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.
38. The greater part of human activity is designed to make permanent those experiences and joys which are only lovable because they are changing.
39. You don’t look out there, you look in you.
40. The source of all light is in the eye.
41. Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the Gods made for fun.
42. You don’t look out there for God, something in the sky, you look in you.
43. A scholar tries to learn something every day; a student of Buddhism tries to unlearn something daily.
44. What we have to discover is that there is no safety, that seeking is painful, and that when we imagine that we have found it, we don’t like it.
45. The positive cannot exist without the negative.
46. Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them.
47. Only words and conventions can isolate us from the entirely undefinable something which is everything.
48. 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.
49. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.
50. But the transformation of consciousness undertaken in Taoism and Zen is more like the correction of faulty perception or the curing of a disease. It is not an acquisitive process of learning more and more facts or greater and greater skills, but rather an unlearning of wrong habits and opinions. As Lao-tzu said, The scholar gains every day, but the Taoist loses every day.
51. 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.
52. You and I are all as much continuous with the physical universe as a wave is continuous with the ocean.
53. No one is more dangerously insane than one who is sane all the time: he is like a steel bridge without flexibility, and the order of his life is rigid and brittle.
54. Our pleasures are not material pleasures, but symbols of pleasure – attractively packaged but inferior in content.
55. We notice only what we think noteworthy, and therefore our visions highly selective.
56. 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.
57. There is always something taboo, something repressed, un-admitted, or just glimpsed quickly out of the corner of one’s eye because a direct look is too unsettling. Taboos lie within taboos, like the skin of an onion.
58. The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
59. The real you is the whole universe.
60. To Taoism that which is absolutely still or absolutely perfect is absolutely dead, for without the possibility of growth and change there can be no Tao. In reality, there is nothing in the universe which is completely perfect or completely still; it is only in the minds of men that such concepts exist.
61. 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.
62. The ego is nothing other than the focus of conscious attention.
63. The menu is not the meal.
64. Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command.
65. To be free from convention is not to spurn it but not to be deceived by it.
66. The problem is to overcome the ingrained disbelief in the power of winning nature by love, in the gentle (ju) way (do) of turning with the skid, of controlling ourselves by cooperating with ourselves.
67. No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now. 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.
68. Man suffers only because he takes seriously.
69. There is nothing at all that can be talked about adequately, and the whole art of poetry is to say what can’t be said.
70. We are all floating in a tremendous river and the river carries you along. Some of the people in the river are swimming against the current, but they are still being carried along. Others have learned that the art of the thing is to swim with it. You have to flow with the river. There is no other way. You can swim against it, and pretend not to be flowing with it. But you still flow with the river.
71. Philosophy is man’s expression of curiosity about everything and his attempt to make sense of the world primarily through his intellect.
72. The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.
73. Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way.
74. It is hard indeed to notice anything for which the languages available to us have no description.
75. Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.
76. What you are basically, deep, deep down, far, far in, is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself.
77. If you really understand Zen… you can use any book. You could use the Bible. You could use Alice in Wonderland. You could use the dictionary, because… the sound of the rain needs no translation.
78. Zen is a way of liberation, concerned not with discovering what is good or bad or advantageous, but what is.
79. When you look out of your eyes, at nature happening out there, you’re looking at you. That’s the real you. The you that goes on of itself.
80. We can’t say anything sensible about everything…about the universe, because we can’t find something that’s not the universe.
81. There will always be suffering. But we must not suffer over the suffering.
82. 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.
83. When we attempt to exercise power or control over someone else, we cannot avoid giving that person the very same power or control over us.
84. It’s better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.
85. Words can be communicative only between those who share similar experiences.
86. Much of the secret of life consists in knowing how to laugh, and also how to breathe.
87. The sense of wrong is simply a failure to see where something fits into a pattern, to be confused as to the hierarchical level upon which an event belongs.
88. Don’t hurry anything. Don’t worry about the future. Don’t worry about what progress you’re making. Just me entirely content to be aware of what is.
89. To put is still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath.
90. This is why human beings find it difficult to learn and adapt to new situations: because we are always looking for precedence, for authority from the past on what we’re supposed to do now. And that gives us the impression that the past is all-important.
91. Just as true humor is laughter at oneself, true humanity is knowledge of oneself.
92. Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.
93. You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.
94. Society is our extended mind and body.
95. If you cannot trust yourself, you cannot even trust your mistrust of yourself – so that without this underlying trust in the whole system of nature you are simply paralyzed.
96. In the more intimate sphere of personal life, the problem is the pain of trying to avoid suffering and the fear of trying not to be afraid.
97. Tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live. There is no other reality than present reality, so that, even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly.
98. The only zen you’ll find on the mountain tops is the zen you bring up there with you.
99. We’re living in a fluid universe, in which the art of faith is not in taking one’s stand, but in learning to swim.
100. The sure foundation upon which I had sought to stand has turned out to be the center from which I seek.