Famous Quotes & Sayings

Alan W. Watts Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Alan W. Watts.

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Alan W. Watts Quotes 2032640

Indeed, whoever imagines he has explained Zen has in fact only explained it away; it can no more be bound by a definition than the wind can be shut in a box without ceasing to be wind. Thus any attempt to write on Zen may seem an absurdity from the beginning, but that is only so if either reader or writer imagines that Zen can be contained in a set of ideas. A book about London is in no sense London itself, and no sane person would dream of thinking that it is. Yet apparently intelligent people often make the equally ridiculous mistake of identifying a philosophical system, a dogma, a creed, with Ultimate Truth, imagining that they have found that Truth embraced in a set of propositions which appeals to their reason. There — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1792946

Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 2222808

The British and the Western Europeans in general, as well as the North Americans, waste the space of their homes with these rooms for ludicrously vast sleeping-machines
some with four pillars and a roof, some with iron fences at each end, topped with brass balls, and some with mahogany headboards whose function I have never yet understood. I would rather follow the Turkish proverb that "he who sleeps on the floor will not fall out of bed." In sum, I despise all furniture as monstrous, heavy, space-greedy, expensive, and pretentious. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 478539

Clear sight has nothing to do with trying to see; it is just the realization that that the eyes will take in every detail all by themselves, for so long as they open they can hardly prevent the light from reaching them. In the same way, there is no difficulty in being fully aware of the eternal present as soon as it is seen that one cannot possibly be aware of anything else - that in concrete fact there is no past or future. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 991429

A scholar tries to learn something everyday; a student of Buddhism tries to unlearn something daily. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1206617

This may be illustrated by the Taoist story of a farmer whose horse ran away. That evening the neighbors gathered to commiserate with him since this was such bad luck. He said, "May be." The next day the horse returned, but brought with it six wild horses, and the neighbors came exclaiming at his good fortune. He said, "May be." And then, the following day, his son tried to saddle and ride one of the wild horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. Again the neighbors came to offer their sympathy for the misfortune. He said, "May be." The day after that, conscription officers came to the village to seize young men for the army, but because of the broken leg the farmer's son was rejected. When the neighbors came in to say how fortunately everything had turned out, he said, "May be."14 — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 2167812

[T]he joy of travel is not nearly so much in getting where one wants to go as in the unsought surprises which occur on the journey. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1153129

It is hard indeed to notice anything for which the languages available to us have no description. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1570269

[A] certain amount of "sitting just to sit" might well be the best thing in the world for the jittery minds and agitated bodies [...]. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 714252

The further truth that the undivided mind is aware of experience as a unity, of the world as itself, and that the whole nature of mind and awareness is to be one with what it knows, suggests a state that would usually be called love. For the love that expresses itself in creative action is something much more than an emotion. It is not something which you can "feel" and "know," remember and define. Love is the organizing and unifying principle which makes the world a universe and the disintegrated mass a community. It is the very essence and character of mind, and becomes manifest in action when the mind is whole. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1206235

We think that the world is limited and explained by its past. We tend to think that what happened in the past determines what is going to happen next, and we do not see that it is exactly the other way around! What is always the source of the world is the present; the past doesn't explain a thing. The past trails behind the present like the wake of a ship and eventually disappears. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 986055

it has been possible to make the insecurity of human life supportable by belief in unchanging things beyond the reach of calamity - in God, in man's immortal soul, and in the government of the universe by eternal laws of right. Today — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1343419

God is the Self of the world, but you can't see God for the same reason that, without a mirror, you can't see your own eyes, and you certainly can't bite your own teeth or look inside your head. Your self is that cleverly hidden because it is God hiding. You may ask why God sometimes hides in the form of horrible people, or pretends to be people who suffer great disease and pain. Remember, first, that he isn't really doing this to anyone but himself. Remember, too, that in almost all the stories you enjoy there have to be bad people as well as good people, for the thrill of the tale is to find out how the good people will get the better of the bad. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 2271365

In precisely the same way, the individual is separate from his universal environment only in name. When this is not recognized, you have been fooled by your name. Confusing names with nature, you come to believe that having a separate name makes you a separate being. This is - rather literally - to be spellbound. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 505930

Logic, intelligence, and reason are satisfied, but the heart goes hungry. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 732190

To "know" reality you cannot stand outside it and define it; you must enter into it, be it, and feel it. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 650779

When we are in control of everything and we have great panels of push buttons whereby the slightest touch fulfills every wish, what will we want then? We will eventually want to arrange to have a special, red button marked "surprise" built into the panel. Touch that button and what happens? We will suddenly disappear from our normal consciousness and find ourselves in a situation very much like the one we are now in, where we feel ourselves to be a little bit out of control, subject to surprises, and subject to the whims of an unpredictable universe. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 2017920

The standard-brand religions [...] are - as now practiced - like exhausted mines: very hard to dig. With some exceptions not too easily found, their ideas about man and the world, their imagery, their rites, and their notions of the good life don't seem to fit in with the universe as we now know it, or with a human world that is changing so rapidly that much of what one learns in school is already obsolete on graduation day. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1415176

A world which increasingly consists of destinations without journeys between them, a world which values only "getting somewhere" as fast as possible, becomes a world without substance. One can get anywhere and everywhere, and yet the more this is possible, the less is anywhere and everywhere worth getting to. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 475240

[W]ords can be communicative only between those who share similar experiences. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 250758

In attachment there is pain, and in pain deliverance, so that at this point attachment itself offers no obstacle, and the liberated one is at last free to love with all his might and to suffer with all his heart. This is not because he has learned the trick of splitting himself into higher and lower selves so that he can watch himself with inward indifference, but rather because he has found the meeting-point of the limit of wisdom and the limit of foolishness. The Bodhisattva is the fool who has become wise by persisting in his folly. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1290290

To receive the universe into oneself, after the manner of some "mystics," is simply to become inflated with the conceit that one is God and so set up yet another opposition between the mighty whole and the degraded part. To give oneself utterly and slavishly to the world is to become a spiritual nonentity, a mechanism, a shell, a leaf blown by the winds of circumstance. But if the world is received and the self given at the same time, there prevails that union which brings about the Second Birth. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1810204

The ego-self constantly pushes reality away. It constructs a future out of empty expectations and a past out of regretful memories. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 116785

On the one hand, there are people known as straight, regular, square (and there are also cubes and tesseracts), classified, degreed, graduated, and moneyed, who live in little boxes made of ticky-tacky, cultivate lawn order, and want to get things ironed out in nothing flat. On the other, there are bohemians, nuts, bums, freaks, eccentrics, beatifics, whollymen, courtesans, vagrants, and hippies (a name which ought to have something to do with the dangerous curves of women's hips), who want to experience the universe in a groovy, swinging, ecstatic, syncopated, rock-and-rolling, mind-blown, turned-on, and far-out way. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1836600

I want to contrast this ceramic image of the world with the distinctly different dramatic image that is the presiding image of the Hindus. Their idea is that God did not make the world, but acted it. That is to say, every person and every thing is a role or part that the Godhead is playing. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 2074702

We do not feel that ordinarily, do we? What we feel, instead, is an identification of ourselves with our ideas of ourselves - I would rather say, with our image of ourselves. That is the person, or the ego. You play a role; you identify with that role. I play a role called Alan Watts. And I know very well that it is a big act. I can play some other roles besides Alan Watts if necessary, but I find this one is best for making a living. But I assure you that is a mask and I do not take it seriously. The idea of my being a kind of guru, or savior of the world just breaks me up, because I know me. Besides, it is very difficult to be holy, in the ordinary sense. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1913727

The common error of ordinary religious practice is to mistake the symbol for the reality, to look at the finger pointing the way and then to suck it for comfort rather than follow it. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1453094

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. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1186344

When you are dying and coming to life in each moment, would-be scientific predictions about what will happen after death are of little consequence. The whole glory of it is that we do not know. Ideas of survival and annihilation are alike based on the past, on memories of waking and sleeping, and, in their different ways, the notions of everlasting continuity and everlasting nothingness are without meaning. It needs but slight imagination to realize that everlasting time is a monstrous nightmare, so that between heaven and hell as ordinarily understood there is little to choose. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 2239128

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. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1589047

[T]he anxiety-laden problem of what will happen to me when I die is, after all, like asking what happens to my fist when I open my hand, or where my lap goes when I stand up. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 820762

People try to accept themselves in order to be different, and try to surrender themselves in order to have more self-respect in their own eyes - or — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 2104224

To practice with an end in view is to have one eye on the practice and the other on the end, which is lack of concentration, lack of sincerity. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 723940

you can only know God through an open mind just as you can only see the sky through a clear window. You will not see the sky if you have covered the glass with blue paint. But — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1321198

Paradox as it may seem, we likewise find life meaningful only when we have seen that it is without purpose, and know the "mystery of the universe" only when we are convinced that we know nothing about it at all. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 218636

We could say that meditation doesn't have a reason or doesn't have a purpose. In this respect it's unlike almost all other things we do except perhaps making music and dancing. When we make music we don't do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1482708

In reality there are no separate events. Life moves along like water, it's all connected to the source of the river is connected to the mouth and the ocean. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 75233

The result of feeling that we are separate minds in an alien,
and mostly stupid, universe is that we have no common sense, no way of making sense of the world upon which we are agreed in common. It's just my opinion against yours, and therefore the most aggressive and violent (and thus insensitive) propagandist makes the decisions. A muddle of conflicting opinions united by force of propaganda — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 150148

Almost all civilized peoples have been brought up to think of themselves as ghosts in machines, — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 162246

When you no longer make the distinction between the universe and how you are acting upon it, you are really on your own and so acquire a sense of responsibility. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 175066

Backwards law. When you try to stay on the surface of the water, you sink; but when you try to sink, you float. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 178122

In a relativistic universe you don't cling to anything, you learn to swim. And you know what swimming is - it's kind of a relaxed attitude with the water. In which you don't keep yourself afloat by holding the water, but by a certain giving to it. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 192334

Irrevocable commitment to any religion is not only intellectual suicide; it is positive unfaith because it closes the mind to any new vision of the world. Faith is, above all, openness - an act of trust in the unknown. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 226785

Therefore, at about the age of twenty-one, I made to myself the solemn vow that I would never be an employee or put up with a "regular job." I have not always been able to fulfill this vow. I have had to work (in a reasonably independent manner) for the Church and for a graduate school, but since the age of forty-two I have been a free lance, a rolling stone, and a shaman ... — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 300365

Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 310068

Like too much alcohol,self-consciousness makes us see ourselves double, and we make the double image for two selves - mental and material, controlling and controlled, reflective and spontaneous. Thus instead of suffering we suffer about suffering, and suffer about suffering about suffering. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 328025

If we cling to belief in God, we cannot likewise have faith, since faith is not clinging but letting go. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 367555

Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 389389

Like a mighty army moves the Church of God. But this is no way for a gentle-man. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 402474

Everybody loves to play this game - the game of hide-and-seek, the game of scaring oneself with uncertainty. It is human. It is why we go to the theater or movies and why we read novels. And our so-called real life, seen from the position of the mystic, is a version of the same thing. The mystic is the person who has realized that the game is a game. It is hide-and-seek, and everything associated with the "hide" side of it is connected to those places within us where we as individuals feel lonely, impotent, put down, and so on - the negative side of existence. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 421856

Make a spurious division of one process into two, forget that you have done it, and then puzzle for centuries as to how the two get together. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 427833

Discord on one level is harmony on another — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 496350

It is surely absurd to seek God in terms of a preconceived idea of what God is. To seek thus is only to find what we know already, which is why it is so easy to deceove oneself into all manner of "supernatural" experiences and visions. To believe in God and to look for the God you believe in is simply to seek confirmation of an opinion. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 516136

We know that from time to time, there arise among human beings, people who seem to exude love as naturally as the sun gives out heat. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 522823

According to tradition, the originator of Taoism, Lao-tzu, was an older contemporary of Kung Fu-tzu, or Confucius, who died in 479 B.C.1 Lao-tzu is said to have been the author of the Tao Te Ching, a short book of aphorisms, setting forth the principles of the Tao and its power or virtue (Te e). But traditional Chinese philosophy ascribes both Taoism and Confucianism to a still earlier source, to a work which lies at the very foundation of Chinese thought and culture, dating anywhere from 3000 to 1200 B.C. This is the I Ching, or Book of Changes. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 563293

What's it gonna be like, dying? To go to sleep and never, never, never wake up.

Well, a lot of things it's not gonna be like. It's not going to be like being buried alive. It's not going to be like being in the darkness forever.

I tell you what - it's going to be as if you never had existed at all. Not only you, but everything else as well. That just there was never anything, there's no one to regret it - and there's no problem.

Well, think about that for a while - it's kind of a weird feeling when you really think about it, when you really imagine.

[The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are ] — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 601492

Although the rhythm of the waves beats a kind of time, it is not clock or calendar time. It has no urgency. It happens to be timeless time. I know that I am listening to a rhythm which has been just the same for millions of years, and it takes me out of a world of relentlessly ticking clocks. Clocks for some reason or other always seem to be marching, and, as with armies, marching is never to anything but doom. But in the motion of waves there is no marching rhythm. It harmonizes with our very breathing. It does not count our days. Its pulse is not in the stingy spirit of measuring, of marking out how much still remains. It is the breathing of eternity, like the God Brahma of Indian mythology inhaling and exhaling, manifesting and dissolving the worlds, forever. As a mere conception this might sound appallingly monotonous, until you come to listen to the breaking and washing of waves. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 654367

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. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 683060

We are convinced that sleep is a waste of valuable time and continue to chase these fantasies far into the night. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 779817

The real reason why human life can be so utterly exasperating and frustrating is not because there are facts called death, pain, fear, or hunger. The madness of the thing is that when such facts are present, we circle, buzz, writhe, and whirl, trying to get the "I" out of the experience. We pretend that we are amoebas, and try to protect ourselves from life by splitting in two. Sanity, wholeness, and integration lie in the realization that we are not divided, that man and his present experience are one, and that no separate "I" or mind can be found. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 782713

The scientist was first discovering the laws of God, in the faith that the workings of the world could be reformulated into the terms of the word, the reason, and the law which they were obeying. As the hypothesis of God made no difference to the accuracy of his predictions, he began to leave it out and to consider the world as a machine, something which followed laws with no lawgiver. Lastly, the hypothesis of pre-existing and determinative laws became unnecessary. They were seen simply as human tools, like knives, with which nature is chopped up into digestible portions. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 797817

To notice is to select, to
regard some bits of perception, or some features of the world, as more
noteworthy, more significant, than others. To these we attend, and the
rest we ignore - for which reason conscious attention is at the same time ignorance despite the fact that it gives us a vividly
clear picture of whatever we choose to notice. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 872671

As you make more and more powerful microscopic instruments, the universe has to get smaller and smaller in order to escape the investigation. Just as when the telescopes become more and more powerful, the galaxies have to recede in order to get away from the telescopes. Because what is happening in all these investigations is this: Through us and through our eyes and senses, the universe is looking at itself. And when you try to turn around to see your own head, what happens? It runs away. You can't get at it. This is the principle. Shankara explains it beautifully in his commentary on the Kenopanishad where he says 'That which is the Knower, the ground of all knowledge, is never itself an object of knowledge.'
[In this quote from 1973 Watts, remarkably, essentially anticipates the discovery (in the late 1990's) of the acceleration of the expansion of the universe.] — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 873088

It seems obvious that the universe is a system which, by means of living bodies, becomes aware of itself - up to a point. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 888372

When water is still, it is like a mirror, reflecting the beard and the eyebrows. It gives the accuracy of the water-level, and the philosopher makes it his model. And if water thus derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind? The mind of the Sage being in repose becomes the mirror of the universe, the speculum of all creation.22 [59a] The fluidity of water is not the result of any effort on the part of the water, but is its natural property. And the virtue of the perfect man is such that even without cultivation there is nothing which can withdraw from his sway. Heaven is naturally high, the earth is naturally solid, the sun and moon are naturally bright. Do they cultivate these attributes?23 [63b] — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 920709

Eskimos have five words for different kinds of snow, because they live with it and it is important to them. But the Aztec language has but one word for snow, rain, and hail. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 927144

We suffer from the delusion that the entire universe is held in order by the categories of human thought, fearing that if we do not hold to them with the utmost tenacity, everything will vanish into chaos. We — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 948469

Accustomed, as it is, to think of man as a dualism of mind and body, and to regard the former as "sensible" and the latter as a "dumb" animal, our cultture is an affront to the wisdom of nature and a ruinous exploitation of the human organism as a whole. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 953723

There is, indeed, a viewpoint from which this "rationalization" of life is not rational. The brain is clever enough to see the vicious circle which it has made for itself. But it can do nothing about it. Seeing that it is unreasonable to worry does not stop worrying; rather, you worry the more at being unreasonable. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 964786

If you try to capture running water in a bucket, it is clear that you do not understand it and that you will always be disappointed, for in the bucket the water does not run. To "have" running water you must let go of it and let it run. The same is true of life and of God. The — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1012114

[F]ast intercommunication between points is making all points the same point. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1076676

Nothing is really more inhuman than human relations based on morals. When a man gives bread in order to be charitable, lives with a woman in order to be faithful, eats with a Negro in order to be unprejudiced, and refuses to kill in order to be peaceful, he is as cold as a clam. He does not actually see the other person. Only a little less chilly is the benevolence springing from pity, which acts to remove suffering because it finds the sight of it disgusting. But — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1083323

For the trouble with our rich and powerful people is not so much that they are wicked, but that they do not enjoy themselves. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1130225

Look, here is a tree in the garden and every summer is produces apples, and we call it an apple tree because the tree "apples." That's what it does. Alright, now here is a solar system inside a galaxy, and one of the peculiarities of this solar system is that at least on the planet earth, the thing peoples! In just the same way that an apple tree apples! — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1204939

The brain can only assume its proper behavior when consciousness is doing what it is designed for: not writhing and whirling to get out of present experience, but being effortlessly aware of it. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1235707

Because the world is not going anywhere there is no hurry. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1265678

Ego is a social institution with no physical reality. The ego is simply your symbol of yourself. Just as the word water is a noise that symbolizes a certain liquid without being it, so too the idea of ego symbolizes the role you play, who you are, but it is not the same as your living organism. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1306194

To the philosophers of India, however, Relativity is no new discovery, just as the concept of light years is no matter for astonishment to people used to thinking of time in millions of kalpas, (A kalpa is about 4,320,000 years). The fact that the wise men of India have not been concerned with technological applications of this knowledge arises from the circumstance that technology is but one of innumerable ways of applying it. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1310384

Human beings appear to be happy just so long as they have a future to which they can look forward - whether it be a "good time" tomorrow or an everlasting life beyond the grave. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1384770

As soon as we freed ourselves from the mirage of hurrying time - which was nothing more than the projection of our own impatience - we were alive again, as in childhood, to the miracles and ecstasies of ordinary life. You would be astounded at the beauty of our homes, our furniture, our clothes, and even our pots and pans, for we have the time to make most of these things ourselves, and the sense of reality to see that they - rather than money - constitute genuine wealth. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1404791

Inability to accept the mystic experience is more than an intellectual handicap. Lack of awareness of the basic unity of organism and environment is a serious and dangerous hallucination. For in a civilization equipped with immense technological power, the sense of alienation between man and nature leads to the use of technology in a hostile spirit - -to the "conquest" of nature instead of intelligent co-operation with nature. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1454520

[I]t would seem that to be incapable of sitting and watching with the mind completely at rest is to be incapable of experiencing the world in which we live to the full. For one does not know the world simply in thinking about it and doing about it. One must first experience it more directly, and prolong the experience without jumping to conclusions. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1466100

We have made a problem for ourselves by confusing the intelligible with the fixed. We think that making sense out of life is impossible unless the flow of events can somehow be fitted into a framework of rigid forms. To be meaningful, life must be understandable in terms of fixed ideas and laws, and these in turn must correspond to unchanging and eternal realities behind the shifting scene. But if this what "making sense out of life" means, we have set ourselves the impossible task of making fixity out of flux. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1537977

Subjectively, a gnat doubtless feels that its span of a few days is a reasonably long lifetime. A tortoise, with its span of several hundred years, would feel subjectively the same as the gnat. Not so long ago the life expectancy of the average man was about forty-five years. Today it is from sixty-five to seventy years, but subjectively the years are faster, and death, when it comes, is always all too soon. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1744805

The problem is that the dieticians who actually supervise such "cooking" can indeed prove that it contains the proper amount of proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. But this is like judging the worth of music in terms of decibels and wave frequencies. "This record certified noninjurious to the human ear. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1777484

Do not let the rapidity with which these thoughts can change deceive you into feeling that you think them all at once. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1865713

Fictions are useful so long as they are taken as fictions. They are then
simply ways of "figuring" the world which we agree to follow so that
we can act in cooperation, as we agree about inches and hours, numbers
and words, mathematical systems and languages. If we have no
agreement about measures of time and space, I would have no way of
making a date with you at the corner of Forty-second Street and Fifth
Avenue at 3 P.M. on Sunday, April 4. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1906789

Society is our extended mind and body. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1921297

Suppressing the fear of death makes it all the stronger. The point is only to know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that "I" and all other "things" now present will vanish, until this knowledge compels you to release them - to know it now as surely as if you had just fallen off the rim of the Grand Canyon. Indeed you were kicked off the edge of a precipice when you were born, and it's no help to cling to the rocks falling with you. If you are afraid of death, be afraid. The point is to get with it, to let it take over - fear, ghosts, pains, transience, dissolution, and all. And then comes the hitherto unbelievable surprise; you don't die because you were never born. You had just forgotten who you are. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1935892

What governs what we choose to notice? The first (which we shall have to qualify later) is whatever seems advantageous or disadvantageous for our survival, our social status, and the security of our egos. The second, again working simultaneously with the first, is the pattern and the logic of all the notation symbols which we have learned from others, from our society and our culture. It is hard indeed to notice anything for which the languages available to us (whether verbal, mathematical, or musical) have no description. This is why we borrow words from foreign languages. — Alan W. Watts

Alan W. Watts Quotes 1936683

We fail so easily to see the difference between fear of the unknown and respect for the unknown, thinking that those who do not hasten in with bright lights and knives are deterred by a holy and superstitious fear. Respect for the unknown is the attitude of those who, instead of raping nature, woo her until she gives herself. But what she gives, even then, is not the cold clarity of the surface but the warm inwardness of the body - a mysteriousness which is not merely a negation, a blank absence of knowledge, but that positive substance which we call wonderfull. — Alan W. Watts

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Trying not to grasp is the same thing as to grasp since it's motivation is the same, my urgent desire to save my self from a difficulty. I can not get rid of this desire since it is one and the same desire as the desire to get rid of it. — Alan W. Watts

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This book explores an unrecognized but mighty taboo - our tacit conspiracy to ignore who, or what, we really are. Briefly, the thesis is that the prevalent sensation of oneself as a separate ego enclosed in a bag of skin is a hallucination which accords neither with Western science nor with the experimental philosophy-religions of the East - in particular the central and germinal Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism. This hallucination underlies the misuse of technology for the violent subjugation of man's natural environment and, consequently, its eventual destruction. — Alan W. Watts

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Paradoxical as it may seem, the purposeful life has no content, no point. It hurries on and on, and misses everything. Not hurrying, the purposeless life misses nothing, for it is only when there is no goal and no rush that the human senses are fully open to receive the world. — Alan W. Watts

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The agnostic, the skeptic, is neurotic, but this does not imply a false philosophy; it implies the discovery of facts to which he does not know how to adapt himself. The intellectual who tries to escape from neurosis by escaping from the facts is merely acting on the principle that "where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise. — Alan W. Watts

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A mind that is single and sincere is not interested in being good, in conducting relations with other people so as to live up to a rule. Nor, on the other hand, is it interested in being free, in acting perversely just to prove its independence. — Alan W. Watts

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It is fundamental to both Taoist and Confucian thought that the natural man is to be trusted, and from their standpoint it appears that the Western mistrust of human nature-whether theological or technological-is a kind of schizophrenia. It would be impossible, in their view, to believe oneself innately evil without discrediting the very belief, since all the notions of a perverted mind would be perverted notions. — Alan W. Watts

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It is both dangerous and absurd for our world to be a group of communions mutually excommunicate. — Alan W. Watts

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Indeed, the power of words has gone to man's head in more than one way. To define has come to mean almost the same thing as to understand. — Alan W. Watts

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But in reality we cannot compare joy with sorrow. Comparison is possible only by the very rapid alternation of two states of mind, and you cannot switch back and forth between the genuine feelings of joy and sorrow as you can shift your eyes between a cat and a dog. Sorrow can only be compared with the memory of joy, which is not at all the same thing as joy itself. — Alan W. Watts