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Alan Watts Quotes

A Watts Philosophy

Alan Watts quotes: sayings from the late British philosopher.

“We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain.”

“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.”

“You didn’t come into this world.  You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean.  You are not a stranger here.”

“To put it 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.”

“There will always be suffering.  But we must not suffer over the suffering.”

“Life exists only at this very moment, and in 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.”

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

“We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infintesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future.  We have no present.  Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation.  We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience.  We are therefore out of touch with reality.  We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is.  We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions, and ideas.”

“The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.”

“The sense of wrong is simply failure to see where something fits into a pattern, to be confused as to the hierarchical level upon which an event belongs.”

“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”

“To be free from convention is not to spurn it but not to be deceived by it.”

“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.”

“When you get free from certain fixed concepts of the way the world is, you find it is far more subtle, and far more miraculous, than you thought it was.”

“The menu is not the meal.”

“Without birth and death, and without the perpetual transmutation of all the forms of life, the world would be static, rhythm-less, undancing, mummified.”

“Every individual is a unique manifestation of the whole, as every branch is a particular outreaching of the tree.”

“Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.”

“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.”

“What you are basically, deep, deep down, far, far in, is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself.”

“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.”

“Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.”

“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.”

“The more we struggle for life (as pleasure), the more we are actually killing what we love.”

“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.”

“Everyone has love, but it can only come out when he is convinced of the impossibility and the frustration of trying to love himself.”

“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.”

“There is no formula for generating the authentic warmth of love.  It cannot be copied.”

“Your body does not eliminate poisons by knowing their names.  To try to control fear or depression or boredom by calling them names is to resort to superstition of trust in curses and invocations.  It is so easy to see why this does not work.  Obviously, we try to know, name, and define fear in order to make it ‘objective.’  That is, separate from ‘I.'”

“Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way.”

“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.”

“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”

“Philosophy is man’s expression of curiosity about everything and his attempt to make sense of the world primarily through his intellect.”

“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.”

The end.  But don’t leave without reading these inspirational quotes.

Cory Johnson: CEO of a business he has yet to launch. As seen on your mom’s phone. Scaled to 7-figures in seven seconds selling a course on selling courses. Kidding. Watch this.