Alan Watts Quotes (70): Life Changing Quotes & Thoughts

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Alan Wilson Watts popularised Buddhist, Taoist, and Hindu thought in the West by interpreting Japanese, Chinese, and Indian traditions. He moved to New York in 1938 from Chislehurst, England, to study Zen. He earned with a master’s in theology from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in 1945. In 1950, he left the ministry for California’s American Academy of Asian Studies.

NameAlan Wilson Watts
Born6 January 1915, Chislehurst, United Kingdom
Died16 November 1973, Druid Heights Influenced: Seraphim Rose, Robert Anton Wilson, Monica Furlong
Influenced byCarl Jung, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Laozi, D. T. Suzuki, Timothy Leary, more
SpouseEleanor Everett ​(m. 1938; div. 1949), Dorothy DeWitt ​(m. 1950; div. 1963), Mary Jane Yates King​(m. 1964).
RegionWestern Philosophy

Alan Watts Quotes Images

Faith is a state of trust or openness.

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

What’s the sense of surviving, of continuing to live when it’s a drag? But, as you can see, that’s exactly what people do.

The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.
Alan Watts

In our experience, there is a distinction between what we do and what occurs to us.

A scholar tries to learn something everyday; a student of Buddhism tries to unlearn something daily

Tomorrow and plans for tomorrow have no meaning until you are fully immersed in the reality of the present, since you live in the now and only in the present. There is no other reality but the now, thus living for the future would be to miss the point forever, even if one lived for countless aeons.

Alan Watts Quotes on life

Religion is not a separate aspect of life; it pervades every aspect of it.

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.

The attitude of faith, on the other hand, is to let go and be open to reality, whatever it may be.

Meaning of life Alan watts

Being fully present in the activity that you are now doing in the here and now is the true key to success in life. And rather than calling it work, acknowledge that it is really play.

Alan Watts Quotes on suffering

We can’t increase our sensitivity to pleasure without increasing our sensitivity to suffering.


Leaving muddy water alone is the most effective way to clean it.

Alan Watts Quotes on Life & Change

The only way to make sense of change is to immerse oneself in it, move along with it, and participate in the dance that it creates.

Consider what it would be like to go to bed and never wake up… then consider what it would be like to wake up having never gone to bed.

It is impossible to avoid giving the person we are attempting to exert power or control over the exact same power or control over us when we engage in power or control struggles with them.

A scholar seeks to learn something new every day, whereas a Buddhist student tries to unlearn something every day.

Principle-based wars are far more destructive… the attacker will not destroy what he is after.

Meaning of life

The meaning of life is to be alive and be present to each moment. It is completely clear, unmistakable, and uncomplicated. Despite this, everyone seems to be running about in a frenzy, as if doing so were required in order to accomplish something that is greater than themselves.

The art of life is neither thoughtless drifting nor frightened clutching to the past. It entails being aware of each moment, seeing it as completely fresh and distinct, and having an open and receptive mind.

The purpose of life is similar to that of music. When we listen to music, we are not listening to the past or the future; rather, we are listening to an expanded version of the now that we are living in. Because we are living in an eternal now, there is no way for us to hear the past or the future.

Faith is putting your confidence in the water. When swimming, you don’t grasp hold of the water since you’ll sink and die if you do. Rather, you rest and float.

I’ve understood that the past and future are only illusions, and that they only exist in the present, which is all there is.

So, the self-to-other connection is the entire understanding that loving oneself is impossible without also loving everything characterised as other than yourself.

The menu is not the same thing as the dinner.

When something has a greater propensity to be permanent, it also has a greater propensity to be lifeless.

We are currently living in a culture that is completely hypnotised by the illusion of time. In this culture, the so-called “present moment” is experienced as nothing more than an infinitesimally thin hairline that separates an all-powerfully causal past from an absorbingly significant future. There is no gift for us. Memory and anticipation nearly totally consume our conscious attention at any one moment. We are oblivious to the fact that the sensation we are having right now has never been before, does not exist now, and will never exist again. Because of this, we have lost connection with the actual world. We mistake the world as it is described, measured, and discussed with the world as it truly exists. We are afflicted with an unhealthy infatuation with the practical instruments of names and numbers, symbols, signs, ideas, and concepts.

Overthinking Quotes

“A person who is always thinking has nothing else but thinking to think about. ” Therefore, he is no longer connected to the world around him and instead lives in a fantasy world.


Because man is always tied as long as he relies for his happiness on a partial experience; pleasure must always give way to sorrow, else it can never be recognised as joy. Because man is always bound as long as he depends for his happiness on a partial experience.

Even though happiness is commonly associated with states of relaxation, this does not mean that it is impossible to experience joy while engaged in strenuous activity. In order for strenuous activity to be truly effective, it must, in a sense, revolve around a stable and immovable centre. The question that stands before us is how to locate such a centre of relaxed balance and poise in the individual life of a man – a centre whose happiness is unshaken by the whirl that goes on around it, which creates happiness because of itself and not because of events that occur in the outside world, and which does so in spite of the fact that it may experience those events in all of their aspects and extremes, ranging from the utmost bliss to the utmost agony.

When a person views himself as nothing more than an instrument of fate, or when he restricts his freedom to whatever he and his ego can do to wrest from life the rewards that they want, that person will never be able to comprehend what it is to be free. In order for man to be free, he must understand himself and life as an integrated totality, not as an active force and a passive instrument but rather as two facets of the same action.

Every instant, the mystic acknowledges and embraces the whole of his experience, including himself exactly as he is, his surroundings exactly as they are, and the connection between the two exactly as it is. His acceptance is complete, and he leaves nothing out of his experience, no matter how unpleasant it may be. The word that best describes him is “wholeness.”


Never pretend to love something you don’t really feel, since love isn’t something we can demand.

The ego is just the centre of one’s conscious attention.

Everything is how it is. When we look up into the night sky at the stars, we don’t draw comparisons between good and incorrect stars, or well-arranged and badly-arranged constellations.

We are all connected to the physical cosmos in the same way that a wave is connected to the ocean.

But I’ll tell you something that hermits are aware of. If you go into a deep, dark forest and sit quietly for a while, you’ll realise that you’re linked to everything.

So, what may be disharmony on one level of your being, may be harmony on another.

No work or love can grow in the presence of shame, dread, or a void in the heart, just as no solid plans for the future can be established by individuals who are unable to live in the present.

Only humans who are unaware that they are part of the same process as the cosmos may be harmful with technology.

But nothing – the negative, the emptiness – has a lot of force for me.

We don’t have any experience, which is why we’re poor. Many people are accumulating what they believe to be vast wealth, but it is simply money… they have no idea how to enjoy it because they lacks experience.

We want to continue on and on because we are living in a poor time.

Some people believe whatever their parents, instructors, and peers say. They inherit their values and protect them as if they were their properties because they were born heirs to them.

Faith, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of clinging to believing, of hanging on.

There is no concept of a moral code established by some type of cosmic lawgiver in Buddhism.

So the bodhisattva saves all creatures by showing them that they are liberated, freed, by the act of not being able to stop changing, rather than by delivering sermons to them.

And, despite the fact that our bodies are restricted by skin and that we can distinguish between outside and inside, they can only live in a certain kind of natural environment.

You know, reality is just a Rorschach ink blot.

Alan Watts Quotes on Thoughts

The only reason man has to go through pain is because he takes things too seriously that the gods merely intended as a joke.

We are not always aware of some things, such as the fact that even our deepest, most personal thoughts and feelings are not really our own. Because of this, we think in terms of languages and pictures that we did not create but that were presented to us by the culture in which we were raised.

It’s like attempting to bite your own teeth when it comes to defining oneself.

When individuals still feel like egos, the moralist reminds them that they should be selfless, and his efforts are always and always fruitless.

Every intelligent person has the need to understand what makes them tick, yet the reality that oneself is the hardest thing of all things to know can be both fascinating and frustrating.

We do not “enter” this world; rather, we emerge from it, much like leaves falling from a tree. The population of the cosmos may be compared to the waves of the ocean. Every person is their own unique manifestation of the natural world as a whole, and the universe as a whole is responsible for their existence.

What we have failed to remember is that both our thoughts and our words are nothing more than traditions, and that it is a dangerous mistake to take conventions too seriously. To take money as an example, a convention is a social convenience; nonetheless, it is foolish to take money too seriously or to mistake it with actual riches. In a manner somewhat dissimilar to this, ideas, thoughts, and words serve as “coins” for the objects that really exist.

Saints need sinners.

Quotes on Zen

Spirituality is not the same as thinking about God while peeling potatoes, according to Zen. It’s as simple as peeling the potatoes when it comes to Zen spirituality.

It’s like if you tossed a bottle of ink against a brick wall. Smash! And the ink was all over the place. And it’s thick in the centre, isn’t it? See how the small droplets grow finer and finer as they move closer to the edge, creating more intricate patterns? As a result, there was a loud boom at the start of everything, and it quickly spread. And as intricate human beings, you and I, sitting here in this room, are on the very edge of that boom. We’re the tangle of intricate patterns at the end of it. It’s quite intriguing. As a result, we limit ourselves to that. You describe yourself as one extremely intricate tiny curlique, out out on the edge of that explosion, if you believe you are merely within your skin. In both space and time, it’s a long way out. You were a gigantic bang billions of years ago, yet today you’re a complex human person. Then we shut ourselves off, and we don’t feel like the enormous boom is still going on. However, you are. It all depends on how you see yourself. You are not a consequence of the big bang if this is how things began, assuming there was a large bang in the beginning. You aren’t some kind of puppet at the conclusion of the procedure. You are still a part of the process. You are the great bang, the universe’s first force, manifesting as whatever you are. When I meet you, I don’t view you as Mr. so-and-so, Ms so-and-so, Mrs so-and-so; instead, I see each of you as the primal energy of the cosmos rushing towards me in this unique manner. I’m sure I’m the same way. However, we’ve learnt to distance ourselves from it.

Alan watts Zen

When studying the works of the mystics, you will constantly come across things that seem to be paradoxes, especially in Zen.

Quotes on God, Universe, Time & Reality

The future is a ruse unless one can live completely in the now.

How can a creature with such delicate gems as the eyes, charmed musical instruments like the ears, and a spectacular arabesque of nerves like the brain feel anything less than godhood?

You don’t look to the sky for God; instead, you seek inside yourself.

You are the window through which the cosmos observes and investigates itself. The universe is looking at itself via you.

In other words, a religious fanatic who clings to particular views about the nature of God and the cosmos eventually becomes a person who has no faith at all.

The theological concept of God is incapable of fully addressing the metaphysical infinite.

Those who are unable to live in the present cannot make good plans for the future.

But, in any case, the point is that God is something that no one acknowledges to being, but that everyone is.

The worship of God in the church, mosque, or synagogue seems to be much different from that of the natural world.

A myth is a picture that humans use to attempt to make sense of the world.

You are that enormous object that you view with big telescopes from afar.

Nobody in history has had the power to change the universe like the people of the United States of America. Nobody has ever gone about it with such vigour.

The problem for most people in the present world is that the traditional concept of God has become unbelievable or unrealistic.

Jesus Christ was self-aware of his divine nature. Therefore, it is time to come to your senses and discover the truth about who you are. In our society, of course, they will label you as insane and blasphemous, and they will either send you to prison or a mental institution for the criminally insane (which is pretty much the same thing). However, if you wake up in India and tell your friends and relatives, “My goodness, I’ve just discovered that I’m God,” they will laugh and say, “Oh, congratulations, at last you found out.”

Advice? I am unable to provide any guidance. Put an end to your aspirations and begin writing. You may consider yourself a writer if you write regularly. Write as if you were a damned death row convict and there was no prospect of a pardon since the governor was out of the country. Write as if you are clinging to the edge of a cliff with white knuckles, on your last breath, and you have just one more thing to say, write as if you are a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for the love of God, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Write as if you are a bird flying over us and you can see everything. Write as if you are a bird flying over us and you can see everything Take a deep breath, and then tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so that we may wipe the sweat from our brows and realise that we are not the only ones going through this. Write as though you have received a communication from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the fortunate people who doesn’t have to do that. Who knows.

But, you know, we strive to act as though the outside world existed completely independently of ourselves.

Omnipotence isn’t about understanding how things are done; it’s about doing them.

The mythologies that underpin our culture and common sense have taught us that we are not identical with the cosmos, but rather merely portions of it, only in it, only confronted by it – aliens.

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