Alan Watts ~ 103 Quotes to Celebrate 103 Years of Influence

A heart FULL Happy Birthday to my favorite philosopher, Alan Watts. I'm overwhelmingly grateful for the enormous mine of wisdom Watts expressed to us—in ways that we can understand, and with humor that infuses joy. 

One intent here is to have minimal crossover with the article I published 2 years ago, featuring 101 favorite Watts quotes. Aside from a small handful of quotes (I'm giving myself a fail-safe cushion), I believe I've accomplished a fresh collection below. As such, I am featuring the content that has been the center of my focus in the recent years. That is to say, these are not my all time favorite quotes, but rather, my recent favorites.

In an effort to to offer a freshly navigable archive to scholars worldwide, I strive for meticulous sourcing: precise moments in audio recordings (linked to originally sourcing), and page numbers from books (editions specified via links). I brim with gratitude toward Mark Watts, curator of the Alan Watts audio archive. The Alan Watts archival project—an endeavor I fervently support—expands the availability of the Watts audio library available in digital form (currently approximately half is available). Mark Watts, and his impassioned orchestration of work-play awakening, steadily invigorate my spirit beyond the restrictions inherent in our culture's collective hallucinations. *If you feel moved to support the Alan Watts archival project, you may use discount code for any purchase: ALANWATTS30, at

Alan Watts ~ We Celebrate You

  1. There’s no need to possess it.  You are it, and by trying to possess it you imply that you’re not. So, by trying to catch hold of it, you, as it were… push it away. Although, you can’t really push it away because the very pushing is all it. You see.” ~Alan Watts speaking of Tao, {"Ecological Awareness" Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}
  2. "You can't have space which is unoccupied by any solid. You cannot have solid not occupying some space. This is absolutely elementary and yet we don't realize it, because—for example—the average person thinks that space is nothing... that it's just a sort of not-there-ness in which there are things. And we are slightly afraid that 'not-there-ness'... that nothingness, that darkness—the negative poles of all these oppositions—will win... that they will eventually swallow up every kind of being and every kind of 'there-ness.' But when you catch on to the game, you realize that that won't happen, because what is called 'not existing' is quite incapable of being there without the contrast of something called 'existing.' It's like the crest and the trough of a wave; you can't have a wave that is all trough and no crest just as you can't have a wave which is all crest and no trough. Such a thing has never been manifested in the physical universe. They go together. And that is the secret. There really is no other secret than that." ~Alan Watts in moment 14:35 "Turning the Head or Turning On" Part 1, from "Psychedelics" Extended Seminars {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}.
  3. "The Buddha said that we suffer because we desire, so if we can give up desire, we won't suffer. But that isn't the last word. That was merely the opening to a greater dialogue. See, if you tell someone to get rid of desire, all they end up doing is desiring not to desire. You can't give up desire. It's like telling someone to be unselfish or get rid of their ego or let go and relax. Why would you want to do all that? Only because you're trying to beat the game. Because you're still operating under the hypothesis that you are different from the universe, so you want to get one up on it. And competing with the universe just reveals that you don't understand that you are the universe. You still think there's a real difference between self and other, but the two are mutually necessary, just like the poles on a magnet." ~Alan Watts pg 31 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  4. "Life is pattern; it's a dance of energy. I don't claim to have any private revelations about this. I don't have any mystical knowledge about any higher vibratory plane. All this is standing right in front of you. It's just a question of how you look at it. When you realize this, the most extraordinary thing happens. Some people will use the symbolism of God as a brilliant light, only somehow veiled, hiding underneath all the forms you see. But the truth is actually funnier than that—you're looking at the brilliant light right now. The experience you're having right now—which you might call ordinary, everyday consciousness—is it. And when you find that out, you laugh yourself silly. That's the great discovery." ~Alan Watts on page 30 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  5. "The inside and the outside, the subjective and the objective, the self and the other, go together. In other words, there is a harmony... an unbreakable harmony. When I'm using the word 'harmony,' I don't necessarily mean something sweet. I mean absolute concordant relationship between what goes on inside your skin and what goes on outside your skin. It isn't that what goes on outside is so powerful that it pushes around and controls what goes on inside. Equally so, it isn't that what goes on inside is so strong that it often succeeds in pushing around what goes on outside. It is, very simply, that the two processes—the two behaviors—are one. What you do is what the universe does, and what the universe does is also what you do. Not 'you' in the sense of your superficial ego, which is a very small, little tiny area of your conscious sensitivity, but 'you' in the sense of your total psychophysical organism—conscious as well as unconscious." ~Alan Watts in moment 18:53 "Turning the Head or Turning On" Part 1, from "Psychedelics" Extended Seminars {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}. 
  6. "When you look for your own mind—that is to say, your own particularized center of being that is separate from everything else—you won't be able to find it. But the only way you'll know it isn't there is if you look for it hard enough to find out that it isn't there. That's why gurus of all types tell you to know yourself, to look within, to find out who you really are, because the harder you look, the less you will find, and then you'll realize it was never there in the first place. There isn't a separate you. Your mind is what there is. It's everything. But the only way to find that out is to delve into the state of delusion as hard as possible. Okay, maybe it isn't the only way. But it's one way." ~Page 32 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {}
  7. "A free and easy society loves outsiders. It knows that the outsider is doing for us what we haven't got the guts to do for ourselves. The outsider lives up there in the mountains at the highest peak of human evolution—their consciousness is one with the divine, and that's just great. It makes you feel a little better to have somebody like that around. That person is realized—they know what it's all about. So we need those people, even if they aren't playing our game, because it reminds the government in no uncertain terms that there's something more important going on." ~Page 148-9 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  8. "In yoga, you can be watchful and concentrated and alert, but all that will ever teach you is what not to do—how not to use the mind. You have to just let it happen, like going to sleep. You can't try to go to sleep. It's the same with digesting your food—you can't try to digest your food. And it's the same with liberation—you have to let yourself wake up. When you find out there isn't any way of forcing it, maybe you'll stop forcing it. But most people don't believe this. They say, 'Well, that won't work for me. I'm very involved. I'm just poor little me and if I don't force it, nothing will happen.' " ~Page 145-6 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  9. "Consider the world as a drama. The basis of all drama—of all stories and plots—is the game of hide-and-seek. The first game you play with a baby is hide-and-seek. You put a book in front of your face and peek around at the baby, and the baby starts giggling. The baby understands, because it's close to the origins of life. It comes directly from the womb knowing what everything is all about—it just can't put it into words. Every child psychologist tries to get kids to describe their feelings in psychological jargon, but the baby isn't there yet. It just knows. You put the book in front of your face, you disappear, you peek around, and the baby starts laughing. Because the baby is a recent incarnation of God. The baby knows that hide-and-seek is the basic game." ~Page 17 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  10. "Any good scientist knows that what you call the external world is as much you as your own body. Your skin doesn't actually separate you from the world—it's a bridge through which the world flows into you, and you flow into the world. You're just like a whirlpool. The whirlpool has a definite form, but at no time does water stay put in it. The whirlpool is something the stream is doing, just as we are things the whole universe is doing. So if I meet you again tomorrow, I'll recognize you as the same whirlpool I saw yesterday, but you're moving. The whole world is moving through you—cosmic rays, oxygen, the stream of steaks and milk and eggs you eat—everything flows right through you. You're a wiggle, and the world is wiggling you." ~Page 14 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  11. "The myths underlying our culture and underlying our common sense have not taught us to feel identical with the universe. And that's why we feel alien to it, as if we were separate parts confronting the world. But we quite urgently need to feel that we are the eternal universe, each one of us. Otherwise, we're going to keep going crazy, keep destroying the planet, and collectively commit suicide courtesy of nuclear bombs. And that will be that. But maybe there will be life somewhere else in the galaxy. Maybe they'll find a better game." ~Page 14 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  12. "You have inspiration, but then you have to have technique to incarnate—to express—your inspiration. That is to say, to bring heaven down to earth, and to express heaven in terms of earth. Of course, they are really one behind the scenes, but there's no way of pointing it out unless you do something skillful. You see, we are—at the moment—absolutely in the midst of the beatific vision. [...] We are all there! But we are so much 'there,' that we are like fish in water. They don't know they're in water, like the birds don't know they're in the air because it's all around them. And in the same way, we don't know what the color of our eyes is—I don't mean whether you've got blue or brown eyes, but the color of the lens of your eye. You call that transparent: 'No color,' because you can't see it. But it's basic to being able to see anything. So, in order to find out where you are, there has to be some way of drawing attention to it. And that involves skill: 'upaya' in Sanskrit... skillful means. Anybody can have ecstasy. Anybody—as a matter of fact—can become aware that he is one with the eternal ground of the universe." ~Alan Watts in moment 5:07 "Turning the Head or Turning On" Part 2, from "Psychedelics" Extended Seminars {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}.
  13. "What you are is the universe—in fact, the WORKS: what there IS and always has been and always will be forever and ever—performing an act called: 'John Doe.' And this is such a subversion of common sense, but is, as a matter of fact, something—if you stop to think about it—that is completely obvious. Only, everything conspires to prevent you from seeing that obvious thing. Because, when you were babies, all your parents, and your teachers, and your aunts and uncles, and your older brothers and sisters got together, and they told you who you were. They defined you as 'Johnny,' who is just Johnny, and 'don't you come on too strong Johnny, because you've got elders and betters around! But you're responsible! You're a free agent. You'd better be!' And so, when you are told, from childhood, that you are expected and commanded to behave in a way that will be acceptable only if you do it voluntarily, you remain permanently mixed up. That, if anything, is permanent brain damage." ~Alan Watts, moment 20:25, Turning the Head or Turning On" Part 1, from "Psychedelics" Extended Seminars {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}. 
  14. "Once you get this sense of polarity, of your inside being the same process as your outside, and your ego being one and the same process as the whole universe going on, then we are afraid that people may say: 'Well, good equals bad, and we can do anything we like, and we needn't—in any way—be further subject to the ordinary rules of human conduct, and we can wear what clothes we like or no clothes at all; we can have what sexual life we like. We can do anything. And we are going to, generally—because the world is being rather oppressive towards us—challenge the whole thing and run amock.' And a lot of people are doing just exactly that. [...] In Asiatic traditions, it is well recognized that people who get the knowledge that 'You're IT,' may very well run amok. And, therefore, they always couple any method of gaining this—whether it is yoga, whether it is smoking something, or drinking something, or whatever is the method—they always couple it with a discipline." ~Alan Watts, moment 22:20, Turning the Head or Turning On" Part 1, from "Psychedelics" Extended Seminars {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}.
  15. "We are aware of reality and have symbols that represent reality; we have wealth and money that represent a kind of wealth. But if you don't realize that the symbol is secondary, it doesn't have the same value. It's like when we go to the supermarket, gather a cartload of goodies, and roll up to the cashier. He says, 'That'll be seventy-five dollars, please,' and we get depressed, because we don't recognize that we just traded seventy-five dollars' worth of symbolic paper for an actual cartload of goodies. We just think we lost seventy-five dollars. See, the real wealth is in the cart, but we're depressed because, in our system, the symbol has become more valuable than the reality. Money represents power and potentiality, whereas wealth—well, we just think that the food is something that's ordinary and necessary because we have to eat. And that's really mixed up." ~Alan Watts on page 20 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  16. "Eventually, you will become aware that this happening isn't happening to you, because you are the happening. The only you there is is what's going on. Feel that and disregard the stupid distinctions you've been taught, because they won't help you to feel the happening genuinely. And understand that all of this isn't determined. You will experience an odd feeling of synthesis between doing and happening—doing is as much a happening as happening is, and happening is as much a doing as doing is. This is the profound experience some people have that—outside of the proper understanding—can lead them to proclaim themselves as the omnipotent God Almighty in the Hebrew or Christian sense. Well, you are omnipotent, but not in that way. I am omnipotent insofar as I am the universe, but I am not omnipotent in the role of Alan Watts, only cunning." ~Page 69 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  17. When you are perfectly free to feel stuck or not stuck, then you're unstuck. Nothing can stick to the real mind—you'll find this out yourself if you watch the flow of your thoughts. What we call 'stream of consciousness' or 'flow of thoughts' is described in Chinese by repeating the character for 'thought' three times—nian, nian, nian. Thought, thought, thought. When you ruminate, thought follows thought—thoughts rise and fall like waves on the water. And when thoughts fall away, it is as if they had never been. When you see this, you'll see that your mind doesn't really stick—it's just that you get the illusion of it sticking. You might experience a cycle of the same succession of thoughts that gives you some sense of permanence, but it's just an illusion. It's from our connecting thoughts together that we get the sensation that behind our thoughts there is a thinker who controls the thoughts and experiences them. But the notion that there is a thinker is just a thought in the stream of thoughts—thought, thought, thought, thinker, thought, thought, thinker, thought, thought, thought, thinker, and so on. And if this happens regularly enough, you get the illusion of there being someone who things apart from the stream of thoughts which come and go." ~Alan Watts page 102 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  18. "The guru gives tasks that might seem difficult, but can be accomplished—this gives you a feeling of making progress. But the guru also assigns tasks that are impossible, and these are what you'll get hung up on. And the possible exercises will make you double your efforts in solving the impossible ones. There might be multiple ranks or levels through which you can advance, just like degrees in masonry or belt levels in judo. Different stages of consciousness—that sort of thing. And because you retain this sense of something missing, you get in competition with yourself and others, but all this effort and competition and searching is just like looking for your own head. You can't see it, so you might imagine you've lost it. So we go off in search of ourselves or God or the atman or whatever, but it's the one thing we can't find—because we're already it." ~Alan Watts page 67-8 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  19. "Several thousand years ago, human beings evolved a system of self-consciousness, and we came to know that we know. At that point in our evolution, we stopped trusting our instincts. Instead, we had to think about everything and discipline our lives according to foresight, words, symbols, calculations, and so on. And then we began to worry. Once you start thinking about things, you worry as to whether you thought enough. Did you really take all the details into consideration? Was every fact properly reviewed? And the more you think about it, the more you realize that you really couldn't take everything into consideration, because all the variables in any human decision are incalculable. So you become anxious. This is the price you pay for known that you know, for being able to think about thinking, and feel about feeling." ~Alan Watts page 19-20 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  20. "Zen doesn't present a duality between a higher and lower self. If you believe in the higher self, it's just a simple trick of the lower self. If you believe there is no lower self, but only the higher self, or that the lower self is merely something for the higher self to shine through, that's just lending validity to the duality. If you think you have a lower self—or an ego to get rid of—and you fight against it, nothing strengthens the delusion that it exists more than that. So this tremendous schizophrenia in humans—of thinking they are rider and horse, soul in command of body, a will that must control passions, and so on—this kind of split thinking simply aggravates the problem. We just get more and more split. Thinking this way just results in an interior conflict that will never, never get resolved. You either know the true self or you don't, and if you do know it, then this thing we call the lower self ceases to be a problem, because it's just a mirage. Well, you don't go around hitting at mirages with a stick or trying to put reins on them. You just know they're mirages and walk right through them." ~Alan Watts page 100-101 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  21. "Full moksha is when you come back out of meditative absorption and see this everyday world just as it looks now, but you clearly see that it is all the self. You become aware of the tremendous interconnectedness of everything. You see that everything goes together, which is what we mean by relativity. Relativity means relatedness—fronts go with backs, tops go with bottoms, insides with outsides, solids with spaces. Everything goes together. And it makes no difference if something lasts a long time or a short time—a galaxy goes together with all the universe just as much as a mosquito. From the standpoint of the self, time is completely relative. It's all a question of point of view or—to use a scientific expression—level of magnification. Look at what's in front of you with greater magnification and you'll see molecules, and look at those molecules with greater magnification, and you'll find space so vast between atoms that it's comparable to distance between the sun and its planets." ~Alan Watts page 124 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  22. "Brahman—the Self—according to the Hindu view, plays hide and seek with itself, for always, and always, and always. How far out... How lost can you get? So here, each one of us—according to the Hindu idea—is the godhead, on purpose, getting lost for the fun of it. And, how terrible it can get at times. But won't it be nice when you wake up? That's the basic idea, and I've found it's an idea that any child can understand. It has great simplicity and great elegance. ~Alan Watts, moment 2:14, "The Journey to India" Part 1 {}, from "Religion of No Religion" Eastern Wisdom {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}.
  23. Devas are angels, and they are the people who are the supreme spiritual successes. The naraka are tormented in purgatory, and they are the supreme spiritual failures. They are the poles: the happiest people and the saddest people. Then in between there comes the world of the pretas. The pretas are the frustrated spirits, who have tiny mouths and enormous bellies... huge appetites but very limited means of satisfying them. Next up from the pretas are the human beings, and they are supposed to hold a middle position in the six worlds." ~Alan Watts, moment 3:58, "The Journey to India" Part 1, from "Religion of No Religion" Eastern Wisdom {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}.
  24. "Buddhism—unlike Judaism and unlike Christianity—is not very frantically concerned with being good. It is concerned with being wise. It is concerned with being compassionate, which is a little different from being good... with having tremendous sympathy and understanding and respect for all the ignorant people, who don't know that they're it, but who are playing the very far out game of being 'you' and 'I.' And so, this is why every Hindu greets his brother not by shaking hands, but by putting his hands together and bowing. This is why the Japanese bow to each other, basically. This is why Buddhist rituals are full of the bowing gesture, because you are honoring the self playing the roles of all the people around you, and all the more honor is due when the self has forgotten what it is doing, and is therefore in a very far-out situation.~Alan Watts, moment 7:02, "The Journey to India" Part 1, from "Religion of No Religion" Eastern Wisdom {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}.
  25. "Karma literally means 'doing'—the law of doing—whereby, acts occur in a series, and they are linked with each other in an unbreakable chain. So everybody's karma is the life course that he will work out through (maybe) innumerable lifetimes. [...] You will find that the Zen people—for example—are quite divided on this. They will say: 'No, we don't believe literally in reincarnation... that after your funeral you will suddenly become somebody different, living somewhere else.' They will say that reincarnation means this: That if you, sitting here now, are really convinced that you're the same person who walked in at the door half an hour ago, you're being reincarnated. If you're liberated, you'll understand that you're not. The past doesn't exist. The future doesn't exist. There is only the present. And that's the only real 'you' that there is.~Alan Watts, moment 9:10, "The Journey to India" Part 1, from "Religion of No Religion" Eastern Wisdom {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}.
  26. "When we are asked who we are, we usually give a kind of recitation of a history: 'Well, I'm so-and-so. I was given this name by my parents. I've been to such-and-such college. I've done these things in my profession.' Buddha says: 'Forget it. That's not you. That's some story. That's all gone. That's all passed. I want to see the real you, that you are now!' Well nobody knows who that is, you see? Because we don't know ourselves, except through listening to our echoes, and consulting our memories. But then there's a real you. That takes us back to this question: Who are you... that is, the real you? We shall see how they play with this in Zen by the koans, to get you to come out of your shell and find out who you really are." ~Alan Watts, moment 11:35, "The Journey to India" Part 1, from "Religion of No Religion" Eastern Wisdom {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}.
  27. "The better you get, the more you go up to the deva world. The worse you get, the more you go down to the naraka world. But everything that goes up has to come down. So you can't improve yourself indefinitely. If you improve yourself beyond a certain limit, you simply start to get worse... like when you make a knife too sharp, it begins to wear away. So, the buddha-hood—or liberation, enlightenment—is on no place on the wheel, unless it might be the center. By ascending, by becoming better, you tie yourself to the wheel by gold chains. By retrogressing, and becoming worse, you tie yourself to the wheel with iron chains. But the buddha is one who gets rid of the chains altogether. This will explain why Buddhism—unlike Judaism and unlike Christianity—is not very frantically concerned with being good. It is concerned with being wise. It is concerned with being compassionate, which is a little different from being good." ~Alan Watts, moment 6:00, "The Journey to India" Part 1, from "Religion of No Religion" Eastern Wisdom {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}.
  28. "We define some actions as voluntary, and we feel in control of those. And then there are those things we consider involuntary. But the dividing line between the two is very arbitrary. For example, moving your hand. When you move your hand, you feel that you decide whether to open or close it, but how do you decide? And before you decide, do you decide to decide? No, you just decide to open your hand. But how do you do that? And if you don't know how you do that, is the action voluntary or involuntary? Or take breathing as another example. You can control your breath, but when you don't think about it, you keep on breathing. So is breath voluntary, involuntary, both?" ~Alan Watts page 27 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  29. "I'm not saying it's a bad thing to take your individual life seriously. But you could also see your problems and challenges as manifestations of nature, like patterns in waves, or waves in the ocean, or shells upon the beach. Have you really looked at a seashell? There's not an aesthetic fault in it anywhere—it's absolutely perfect. Now, do you think that shells look at each other and critique each other's appearance? 'Well, your markings are a little crooked and not very well spaced.' Of course not, but that's what we do. Every one of us is marvelous and complicated and interesting and gorgeous just as we are. Really take a look into another person's eyes. They are jewelry beyond compare—just beautiful!~Alan Watts page 42 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  30. "Here's a fundamental question to explore: Do you see yourself as a victim of the world, or do you see yourself AS the world? If you define yourself merely as the voluntary network of your nervous system, then you've defined yourself as a victim in the game. And so you feel that life is some kind of trap imposed on you by God or fate or the cosmic mechanism, and you can live out your life as some poor little me. On the other hand, you could also include in your definition of yourself that which you do involuntarily. You define yourself as the whole works—you beat your own heart, you grow your own hair—and no one imposes this upon you. You're not a victim. You are doing it. You might not be able to explain how you do it, because it would take too long, and words are boring and clumsy. Regardless, you can claim your life and proclaim with gusto, 'I'm responsible.' Whether comedy or tragedy, you did it." ~Alan Watts page 24-5 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  31. "Buddhism is Hinduism stripped for export. The Buddha was a reformer, you might say, in the highest sense of a reformer: someone who wants to go to the original form, or to re-form it for the needs of a certain time. The word 'buddha' is a title, not a proper name... same way as 'Christ' means: the anointed, and is not the surname of Jesus. So 'Buddha' is not the surname of Gautama. It means: the one who is awakened, from the root in Sanskrit 'budh': to know. The man who woke up... who discovered who he really was. The crucial point—wherein Buddhism differs from Hinduism—is it doesn't say who you are. It has no idea, no concept of God, because Buddhism is not interested in concepts. It's interested in direct experience, and direct experience only. So, from the Buddhist standpoint, all concepts are wrong. Just in the same way that nothing is really what you say it is." ~Alan Watts, moment 14:05, "The Journey to India" Part 1, from "Religion of No Religion" Eastern Wisdom {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}.
  32. "Buddhism is saying: you don't need any gizmos to be in the know. You don't need a religion. You don't need any buddha statues. You don't need temples. You don't need any Buddhist bondieuserie, rosaries, and all that jazz. But, when you get to the that you know you don't need any of those things—that you don't need a religion at all—then it's fun to have one. Then—as it were—you can be trusted to use rosaries, and ring bells, and clappers, and chant sutras, you see? But those things won't help you a bit... they'll just tie you up in knots... if you use them as methods of catching hold of something. So, every teacher of Buddhism is a debunker. But, he does it not to be a smart aleck and show how clever he is, but out of compassion. Just as, when a surgeon chops off a bad growth, or a dentist pulls out a rotten tooth, so the Buddhist surgeon (or guru) is getting rid of your crazy ideas for you, which you use to cling on to life and make it dead."  ~Alan Watts, moment 20:02, "The Journey to India" Part 1, from "Religion of No Religion" Eastern Wisdom {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}.
  33. "There are many ways of living Buddhism. The Theravada Buddhists are trying to live without desires. To have no need for wives, or girls, or husbands, or boyfriends. Not to kill anything at all. To live the strictest vegetarian way, and to strain your water so that you don't eat any insects with it. And eventually attain nirvana which will involve your total disappearance from the manifested world. Mahayana feeling is that that is a dualistic point of view. You don't need to get away from the world to experience nirvana, because nirvana is what there is. It's here. It's now. So the ideal person of Mahayana is called a boddhisattva. This originally meant: someone on the way to becoming a buddha. But in Mahayana there's a different meaning. It means somebody who has become a buddha but has gone back into the world, in the spirit of the compassion, to help all other beings to become awakened." ~Alan Watts, moment 23:13, "The Journey to India" Part 1, from "Religion of No Religion" Eastern Wisdom {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}.
  34. "You're only really there when you let go of everything, and you don't depend on any fixed idea, any belief, for your sanity or happiness. So, you would think Buddhism is very destructive because it breaks down—it doesn't believe in God, it doesn't believe in an immortal soul, it doesn't seek any solace in any idea of life after death. It absolutely faces the fact of the transiency of life. There's nothing you can hold on to, so man, let go. Because, there's no one to hold on to anything anyway. So, Buddhism is the discipline of doing that. But, if you do that—you see—you discover something much better than anybody has, who has a belief. Because you got the real thing. Though you can't say what it is. They say in Zen: if you're enlightened in Buddhism, you are like a dumb man who's had a wonderful dream. That is to say: when you've had a wonderful dream, you want to tell everybody what it is, but you can't." ~Alan Watts, moment 17:08, "The Journey to India" Part 1, from "Religion of No Religion" Eastern Wisdom {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}.
  35. "Between every crest of a wave, there's a trough. The Hindus saw that and contemplated the thought of moksha—liberation from the everlasting cycle of appearing and disappearing. And then the Buddha came along and taught his particular way out of samsara—the wheel of birth and death—and others came along and said 'Well, isn't that rather selfish? You get out, but what about everyone else?' Which is why the Buddha taught how to come back again and help everybody else in a very sophisticated way: Nirvana and samsara go together—they imply one another. So you're only truly released if you see that—nirvana and birth and death are the same thing." ~Alan Watts page 84-5 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  36. "At the same time that human consciousness is a form of awareness and sensitivity and understanding, it's also a form of ignorance. Our ordinary, everyday consciousness leaves out more than it takes in—things that are terribly important. For example, it leaves out things that would—if we did know them—allay our anxieties and fears and horrors. If we could extend our awareness to those things that we leave out, we would experience a deep inner peace, because we would all know the one thing we aren't supposed to know. According to one of the rules of our particular social game, you're simply not allowed to know the lowdown on life. On one hand, lowdown means the real dirt on things, but it also means that which is profound, that which is mysterious, that which is in the depths. And the lowdown is that incredibly important aspect of existence that our everyday consciousness screens out." ~Alan Watts page 39 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  37. When you get stuck thinking that the world is a trap and it sucks you in and you can't escape, go deeper. Don't back away—follow the feeling to its extreme. If you suspect you are selfish, go to the extreme of what selfishness means. Confusion largely results from not following feelings or ideas into their depths. People say they want to live forever, or they want this or that new car, or a certain amount of money to make them happy, and so on, but follow that line of thinking to its end. What would it be like to have those desires fulfilled? When you get caught fantasizing about someone you desire, turn the embroidery around and look at the back. Look at all that mess on the underside, but don't get caught doing it. Do it in secret, because on the front of your embroidery, you're playing the game that everything is just as it's supposed to be. That's what makes you human, and that's what makes you funny." ~Alan Watts page 53 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  38. "When you're going to be initiated on one path or another, before learning the great mystery, there's always someone wiser or more official than you saying, 'Nope. Not yet. You have to fulfill this requirement, then that requirement, and then another, and then we'll let you in.' That's a way of putting you through the mill. Because you won't wake up unless you feel you deserve it, and you won't feel that unless the path is difficult. So you put yourself through one test and another and another until the journey has been sufficiently arduous, and only then will you admit to yourself who you really are. That's rather funny, when you think about it." ~Alan Watts page 24 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  39. "The trouble is that we have one-sided minds—we only notice the wave of life when it is at its peak or crest. We don't notice it when it's at the trough—not in the ordinary way. For us, it's the peak that counts. Think about a buzz saw. It seems that the tips of the teeth are the things that do the cutting, not the valleys between the teeth. But you can't have any tips without those valleys—the saw can't cut without tips and valleys. And we ignore that. [...] So since we ignore the valley aspect of things, all wisdom begins by emphasizing the valley aspect as distinct from the peak, and looking at the valleys makes us very uncomfortable. We want to get pleasure by just looking at the peaks, but this actually denies us pleasure, because secretly we know that every peak is followed by a valley—the valley of the shadow of death. And we are always afraid because we are not used to looking at valleys—we're not used to living with them. They represent to us the strange and threatening unknown." ~Alan Watts page 164 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  40. "In contrast to a Pratyekabuddha—who gains nirvana and stays there—the Mahayanists present the idea of the bodhisattva, a kind of junior Buddha who has reached nirvana and chosen to return to everyday life to deliver all other beings. They're a kind of savior figure. In the popular Buddhism of Tibet, China, and Japan, people worship the bodhisattvas, particularly those like Kuan Yin—called Kannon in Japan. So people revere these bodhisattvas as saviors who've come back to save everyone, but there's a more esoteric interpretation of this. The bodhisattva 'returning to the world' means that they have discovered that you don't have to go anywhere to find nirvana—nirvana is where you are, provided you don't object to it.~Alan Watts page 166 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  41. "So let's try some new thinking: death is a healthy, natural event like being born. And a little change in social attitude about this will fortify everybody. We should congratulate those about to die, because the time just before you die is a wonderful opportunity for liberation. Death isn't terrible—it's just going to be the end of you as a system of memories. So you've got a great chance right before it happens to let go of everything, because you know it's all going to go, and knowing that will help you let go. [...] When the moment comes, the main thing is your attitude, and death could be as positive as birth and should be a matter for rejoicing." ~Alan Watts page 168 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  42. "In Hindu traditions, realizing who you really are is called sadhana, which means 'discipline.' Sadhana is the way of life that is necessary to follow in order to escape from the illusion that you are merely a skin-encapsulated ego. Sadhana comprises yoga, which has the Sanskrit root yuj, which means 'to join,' and it is from this root that we have the English words yoke, junction, and union. Strictly speaking, yoga means 'the state of union'—the state in which the individual self, the jivatman, finds that it is ultimately atman. So a yogi is someone who has realized that union. But normally, yoga as a word isn't used that way; it's normally used to describe a practice of meditation whereby one comes into the state of union, and in that sense, a yogi is a traveler or seeker who is on the way to that union. Of course, strictly speaking, there is no method to arrive at the place where you already are. No amount of searching will uncover the self, because all searching implies the absence of the self—the big self, the Self with a capital S. So to seek it is to thrust it away. And to practice a discipline to attain it is to postpone realization." ~Alan Watts page 140-1 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  43. "Since Buddhism is a dialogue, what you ordinarily understand as the teachings of Buddhism, are not the teachings of Buddhism. They are simply the opening gambit, or the opening process of this dialogue. The point being, that Buddhism is not a teaching. Its essence consists in a kind of experience... In a transformation of consciousness which is called awakening or enlightenment, which involves our seeing through or transcending the hoax of being a separate ego." ~Alan Watts, moment 0:55, "The Journey to India" Part 2, from "Religion of No Religion" Eastern Wisdom {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}. 
  44. "When you have an acorn, if it's a lively acorn, it grows into an oak. That's the way it should be. In other words, it should develop into something. Buddhism, as it has developed since the days of the Buddha, has gone a long way. It has become sometimes more complex, sometimes more simple. But it has changed radically, because the seed which the Buddha planted was alive." ~Alan Watts, moment 2:44, "The Journey to India" Part 2, from "Religion of No Religion" Eastern Wisdom {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}. 
  45. "The ideal person of Mahayana is called a bodhisattva. This originally meant: someone on the way to becoming a buddha. But in Mahayana it has a different meaning. It means somebody who has become a buddha, but has gone back into the world, in the spirit of compassion to help all other beings to become awakened. Well now, that's an endless task. It's like filling a well with snow. You put snow into a well; it never fills up. When, at the zen monastery, they've said their homage to the Buddha, the dharma (the Buddha's doctrine, or method), and the sangha (the order of followers of the Buddha), then they take five vows. One of them is: 'However innumerable sentient beings are, I vow to liberate them all.' There's no end to that. Never comes a time when all sentient beings are liberated. But, actually, from the standpoint of one who is a buddha, he sees everybody as liberated. In other words, if I were to be a buddha, I wouldn't say: 'Now look everybody, I'm a buddha, and I'm more experienced than you, and I know more than you, and you owe me respect on that account.' On the other hand, I would see you all as being exactly right, where you are. All of you buddhas—and even those of you who don't know it—it would be right for you not to know it at this moment." ~Alan Watts, moment 24:22, "The Journey to India" Part 1, from "Religion of No Religion" Eastern Wisdom {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}.
  46. "In Buddhist imagery, the void is often symbolized by a mirror. A mirror has no color in it— it merely reflects all colors that appear in it. Huineng also said that the void was like space. Space contains everything—mountains, oceans, stars, good people, bad people, plants, animals, everything. And the mind is like that. Space is your mind. It's difficult for us to see that because we think we're in space and that we look out at it. All space, all types of space—visual, dimensional, audible, temporal, musical, tangible— are the mind. They are dimensions of consciousness. And so the great space that every one of us apprehends from a slightly different point of view in which the universe moves—is the mind. ~Alan Watts page 174 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {}
  47. "See, the physical world is wiggly. Clouds, mountains, trees, people—everything is wiggly. It's only when human beings get working on things that they build buildings in straight lines and try to make the world unwisely. But here we are—sitting in rooms with all these straight lines—but each one of us is wiggly as all get-out. When you want control over something that wiggles, it's pretty difficult." ~Alan Watts page 9 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  48. "You are not something separate from nature. You are an aspect or a symptom of nature. You, as a human being, grow out of this physical universe in exactly the same way that an apple grows out of an apple tree.Y A tree that grows apples is a tree with apples, just as a universe in which human beings appear is a universe of human beings. The existence of people is symptomatic of the kind of universe we live in, but under the influence of our two great myths—the ceramic and fully automatic models of the universe—we feel that we do not belong in the world. In popular speech, we say, 'I came into the world,' but we didn't—we came out of the world." ~Alan Watts page 8 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  49. "We're creating the values of the past right now in the present—we're buying them all along [...] we must abandon completely the notion of blaming the past for any kind of situation we're in. We must reverse our thinking and see that the past always flows back from the present—now is the creative point of life. For example, when you forgive someone, you change the meaning of the past. Or when you're reading a sentence in German or Latin where the verb awaits you at the very end, it's only then that you find out what the sentence means. The present is always changing the past."  ~Alan Watts page 78 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  50. "If we can see that the ego is purely fictitious—that it is merely an image of ourselves coupled with a sensation of muscular strain occasioned by trying to make this image an effective agent to control emotion and direct the nervous operations of our organism—then it becomes clear that what we have called ourselves isn't able to do anything at all. If we realize that, a kind of silence follows in which there is nothing to do except watch what happens. But what is happening is watching itself. There is nobody apart from it watching it."  ~Alan Watts page 79 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  51. "It is in the essence of Buddhism to be a developing process, because it is a dialogue. So then, you can see the initial steps of the dialogue in our earliest—or presumed earliest—records of Buddhism. In the four noble truths, where you have it put out that the problem which Buddhism faces is suffering... This word 'dukha' which we translate 'suffering,' is the opposite of 'sukha.' Sukha means: what is sweet and delightful. Dukha means the opposite: what is bitter and frustrating. And, Mahayanists will explain that the Buddha always taught by a dialectic method. That is to say, when people were trying to make the goal of life the pursuit of sukha—that is to say, the pursuit of happiness, he counteracted this wrong view by teaching that life is essentially miserable. When people thought, for example, that there is a permanent and eternal self in each one of us, and clung to that self, the Buddha—in order to counteract this one sided view—taught the other extreme doctrine: that there is no fixed self in us... No ego. But a Mahayanist would always say: The truth is the middle way. Neither sukha nor dukha; neither atman nor anatman: self nor non-self." ~Alan Watts, moment 13:40, "The Journey to India" Part 2, from "Religion of No Religion" Eastern Wisdom {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}. 
  52. "This is the problem we're dealing with: We hurt. We, human beings, feel pretty unfairly treated, because we are born into a world so arranged that the price that we pay for enjoying it—that is to say: for having sensitive bodies—is that these bodies are at the same time (because they are sensitive) capable of the most excruciating agonies. Isn't that a nasty trick to play on us? What are we going to do about it? This is the problem. So then, when the Buddha says: 'The cause of suffering is desire.' 'Trishna' is our word 'thirst,' and may be translated 'desire' in a general sense, or perhaps better: 'craving' or 'clinging'... 'grasping.' Something like that. He is saying: 'Now, I'm going to make this suggestion: You suffer because you desire. Now supposing then, you try not to desire. And see then, by not desiring, you can cease from suffering.'" ~Alan Watts, moment 16:27, "The Journey to India" Part 2, from "Religion of No Religion" Eastern Wisdom {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}. 
  53. "A person who is escaping from reality will always feel the terror of it. It'll be like the hound of heaven that pursues him. And, he's escaping, in a way, even when he's trying not to escape. [...] In trying to control your mind, the reason... the motivation for which you were doing it, is still clinging and grasping... is still self-protection... is still lack of trust and love." ~Alan Watts, moment 19:51, "The Journey to India" Part 2, from "Religion of No Religion" Eastern Wisdom {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}. 
  54. For the selfishness of the self thrives on the notion that it can command itself, that it is the lord and master of its own processes, of its own motives and desires. Thus the one important result of any really serious attempt at self-renunciation or self-acceptance is the humiliating discovery that it is impossible. And this precisely is that death to oneself which his the improbable source of a way of life so new and so alive that it feels like having been born again. In this metaphorical sense, the ego dies on finding out its own incapacity, its inability to make any difference to itself that is really important. That is why, in Zen Buddhism, the task of self-transcendence is likened to a mosquito trying to bite an iron bull, and, in the words of one of the old masters, the transforming death comes about at the very moment when the iron hide of the bull finally and absolutely rejects the mosquito's frail proboscis." ~Alan Watts, page 4  "Become What You Are" {}
  55. "Centuries ago, both in the West and in the East, it was considered quite immoral to publish any book of wisdom under your own name. Because, you personally, were not entitled to the possession of this knowledge. And that is why you always put—on any book of wisdom—the name of the real author, that is to say: the person who inspired you. So, in the same way, for centuries, various Buddhist monks and scholars wrote all kinds of sutras... scriptures, and ascribed them to the Buddha. They were being properly modest. They were saying: 'These doctrines are not my doctrines. They are the doctrines that precede from the buddha in me, and therefore they should be ascribed to Buddha.'" ~Alan Watts, moment 8:33, "The Journey to India" Part 2, from "Religion of No Religion" Eastern Wisdom. To purchase any series you may use 30% off discount code: ALANWATTS30. All purchases support our archival project, working to make more of Watts audio library available in digital form {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}. 
  56. "A Zen master was once asked, 'What is the most valuable thing in the world?' He replied, 'The head of a dead cat.' Why? Because no one can put a price on it. So the self—Brahman—is like the head of a dead cat. But if you think that you need to go out and get a dead cat's head because there's something spiritual about it and it would be very good for you, you're putting the cart before the horse. And if you want to find the self because you'll be a better person or be better liked or be more constructive in society, that's trying to make the tail wag the dog. Knowing the self—Brahman—never does anybody any good if they're trying to make it do them any good. It's like when you relax and start to play and think, 'This is good for me—it's exercise. It's also a break from work, and that's good—it will help me work better.' Americans in particular are terrible at this. Everything you do is done for some serious reason—it's the Protestant conscience. But play is that which is done just for itself—for fun. And the self—atman, Brahman—exists for fun." ~Alan Watts page 126-7 of the most recent publication: "Out of Your Mind" (2017) {
  57. "If you're not a buddha in the first place, you can't become one, because you'd be the wrong man. You're using the right means, but because you're using them for a selfish intent, or a fearful intentーyou're afraid of suffering, and you don't like it, and want to get out of it, and you want to escapeーall these, you see, are the motivations which frustrate the right means. So one is meant to find that out." ~Alan Watts, Moment 22:20 part 2 "Journey to India" {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}. 
  58. "Buddhist philosophy speaks of the four invisibles: water to the fish, air to the bird, mind to mankind, and enlightenment to the ignorant. Because, you see, you never know your own element. It's impossible, therefore, to give a definition of consciousness, because we don't know anything outside it, just as the fish doesn't know anything outside water, and the bird doesn't know anything outside air. We don't know unconsciousness. We only know when we have been unconscious." ~Alan Watts, moment 0:00, "Transformation of Consciousness" Part 1 {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}.
  59. "What is the relationship between the piano and what you play on it? Any? You can play anything on a piano, and the structure of the piano doesn't make any difference. And yet without it you couldn't play. So, we've never seen anybody thinking without a brain. So, what is the relationship between them? Well, again you see, it's rather like warp and woof. The warp goes one way and the woof goes the other. But by the interlocking of the two you get something. So what you've got then, are spectra of different kinds. When you dial and you move the dial, what you are doing is you're changing the wavelength of your radio. That is to say: you're moving from one end of the spectrum of the waves slowly to the other. So, the spectrum of radio meshes with another spectrum which is being used in the production of music." ~Alan Watts, moment 15:27, "Transformation of Consciousness" Part 1 {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}.
  60. "When you consider what 'nice' people talk about when they sit around the dinner table, and have an opportunity to nurture their collective ego, you'll find that the most fascinating topic of conversation is the nasty people... How awful they are, what dreadful things they do, and 'what is it all coming to?' And this very satisfactory, condemnatory conversation nurtures your ego. But people who do that don't seem to realize that they thereby depend on the 'nasty' people in order to know that they're 'nice.' They are, as a matter of fact, highly indebted to them." ~Alan Watts moment 20:25 "Spectrum of Love" from "Comparative Philosophy" Seminar Series" {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}
  61. "Desire which is scorned for no other reason than that it cannot be satisfied is the greatest of man's enemies. One may pretend that it does not exist, that one has surrendered it, but one must sincerely answer the question, 'If I could satisfy that desire, would I?' If that is not answered, to make a show of giving up the world, to take up the acetic life not of desire but of necessity and to pride oneself upon it, that is to hide one's face from the enemy and so become doubly vulnerable. Thus the first step on the Path is to know what you want, not what you ought to want. Only in this way can the pilgrim set out upon his journey fully prepared. Otherwise he is like a general that leads a campaign into an unknown territory, who, instead of ascertaining his own strength and the strength and position of his foe, concerns himself only with what he imagines these things ought to be. And however good his imaginations, he will without doubt lead his army into hell." ~Alan Watts page 55-'6 Become What You Are" {}
  62. "Furthermore, the sensation of relationship simply wipes out those special anxieties of the intelligence which come about as a result of the exaggerated feeling of individual responsibility of choice and of working against time. For this is the sensation which, however garbled and perverted, is the impulse underlying the great religious traditions of the world—the sensation of basic inseparability from the total universe, of the identity of one's own self with the Great Self beneath all that exists. Why is the mutual interdependence between ourselves and the external world not the most obvious and dominant fact of consciousness? Why do we not see that the world we try to control, our whole inner and outer natural environment, is precisely that which gives us the power to control anything? It is because we look at things separately instead of simultaneously. When we are busy trying to control or change our circumstances, we ignore and are unconscious of the dependence of our consciousness and energy upon the outer world. When, on the other hand, we are oppressed by circumstances and feel controlled by the outer world, we forget that our very own consciousness is bringing that world into being. For, as I said, the sun is light because there are eyes to see it—noises because there are ears to hear them, hard facts because there is soft skin to feel them." ~Alan Watts, page 54-'5 "This Is It" {}
  63. "To be an effective scientist one must be more than a scientist, and a philosopher must be more than a thinker. For the analytic measurement of nature tells us nothing if we cannot see nature in any other way. Thus the scientist as scientist does not see nature at all—or rather he sees only by means of an instrument of measurement, as if trees became visible to the carpenter only as he sawed them into planks or marked them out with his ruler. More importantly, man as ego does not see nature at all. For man as ego is man identifying himself or his mind, his total awareness, with the narrowed and exclusive style of attention which we call consciousness. Thus the radical change which may yet overcome modern science will be the recognition of itself as a secondary form of perception, related to a primary and more basic form. This involves a good deal more than the scientist's recognition that there are other modes of knowledge than his own—for example, the religious—all of which are valid in their own spheres. For this merely puts the scientist as a man of religion in one compartment, and the scientist as scientist in another. But we have seen that the most important scientific insights, or intuitions, come precisely through the somewhat reluctant use of a nonthinking mode of awareness." ~Alan Watts, page 66-'7, "Nature, Man and Woman" {}
  64. "Strictly speaking, it is not quite true that one must wait for something to happen spontaneously. For the heart is beating, the breath is moving, and all the senses are perceiving. A whole world of experience is coming to the organism of itself, without the slightest forcing. The spontaneous arrival of experience is not actually passive; it is already spontaneous action. When it is watched and felt to be action in this sense, it flows naturally into further action. But blocking takes place if this action is ignored and its apparent passivity interpreted as 'nothing happening.' It is true that it may not be what was expected to happen, but then the expected is always liable to be forced rather than spontaneous. The constant action of spontaneous experiencing which, considered as an act, is the organism's creation of its world and the world's creation of the organism, is the basis and style of action from which love and its expressions arise. In this open and ungrasping mode of awareness the beloved, the other, is not possessed but is rather received into oneself with all the richness and splendor of the unpremeditated surprise." ~Alan Watts, page 181-'2, "Nature, Man and Woman" {}
  65. "For control is a degree of inhibition, and a system which is perfectly inhibited is completely frozen. Of course, when we say that a pianist or a dancer has perfect control we refer to a certain combination of control and spontaneity. The artist has established an area of control within which he can abandon himself to spontaneity without restraint. We should rather think of God as the one whose spontaneity is so perfect that it needs no control, whose inside is so harmonious that it requires no conscious scrutiny. But this is not the regal God of ecclesiastical imagery, presiding over a cosmos which is a beneficent despotism run by enlightened force." ~Alan Watts, page 43-'4, "Nature, Man and Woman" {}
  66. "For the sensitive organs of the body which we call most intimate and private are not, as might be supposed, the most central to the ego. On the contrary, they are those which most surpass the ego because their sensitivity brings the greatest contact with the outside world, the greatest intimacy with what is formally 'other.' The psychic counterpart of this bodily and sensuous intimacy is a similar openness of attention to each other's thoughts—a form of communion which can be as sexually 'charged' as physical contact. This is the feeling that one can express one's thoughts to the other just as they are, since there is not the slightest compulsion to assume a pretended character. This is perhaps the rarest and most difficult aspect of any human relationship, since in ordinary social converse the spontaneous arising of thought is more carefully hidden than anything else. Between unconscious and humorless people who do not know and accept their own limitations it is almost impossible, for the things which we criticize most readily in others are usually those of which we are least conscious in ourselves. Yet this is quite the most important part of a deep sexual relationship, and it is in some way understood even when thoughts are left unsaid." ~Alan Watts, page 200, "Nature, Man and Woman" {}
  67. While modern astronomy tells us of our insignificance beneath the stars, it also tells us that if we lift so much as a finger, we affect them. It is true that we are transient, that we have no abiding self, but the fabric of life is such that one broken thread may work immeasurable ruin. The magnitude of the world with whose destiny we are bound up increases rather than diminishes our importance. Nature may seem to have little regard for individuals; it may let them die in millions as if it mattered nothing. But value is in quality, not quantity. A pea may be as round as the world, but as far as roundness is concerned, neither is better than the other. And man is in himself a little universe; the ordering of his mind and body is as complex as the ordering of the stars. Can we say, then, that the governing of a man's universe is less important because it is different in size? ~Alan Watts page 20 "Become What You Are" {}
  68. "Life is basically a gesture, but no one, no thing, is making it. There is no necessity for it to happen, and none for it to go on happening. For it isn't being driven by anything; it just happens freely of itself. It's a gesture of motion, of sound, of color, and just as no one is making it, it isn't happening to anyone. There is simply no problem of life; it is completely purposeless play—exuberance which is its own end. Basically there is the gesture. Time, space, and multiplicity are complications of it. There is no reason whatever to explain it, for explanations are just another form of complexity, a new manifestation of life on top of life, of gestures gesturing. Pain and suffering are simply extreme forms of play, and there isn't anything in the whole universe to be afraid of because it doesn't happen to anyone! There isn't any substantial ego at all. The ego is a kind of flip, a knowing of knowing, a fearing of fearing. It's a curlicue, an extra jazz to experience, a sort of double-take or reverberation, a dithering of consciousness which is the same as anxiety." ~Alan Watts, page 72 "The Joyous Cosmology" {}
  69. "The fragility and frailty of our human bodies within the merciless and marvelous torrent of life evokes every emotion of this agonizingly sensitive organism—love, anger, sadness, terror, and fear of terror. And our attempts to stand above these emotions and control them are the emotions themselves at play, since love is also to be in love with love, and sadness to be sorry that one is sad. Our unwillingness to feel is the very measure of our ability to feel, for the more sensitive the instrument, the greater its capacity for pain, and so for reluctance to be hurt. [...] The extraordinary capacity to feel an event inwardly, as distinct from bursting into precipitate action to avoid the tension of feeling—this capacity is in fact a wonderful power of adaptation to life, not unlike the instant responses of flowing water to the contours of the ground over which it flows." ~Alan Watts, page 6-7 "Become What You Are" {}
  70. "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 to attain some spiritual experience, some exaltation of consciousness the desire for which is the very form of their self-interest. We are really stuck with ourselves, and out attempts to reject or to accept are equally fruitless, for they fail to reach that inaccessible center of our selfhood which is trying to do the accepting or the rejecting. The part of our self that wants to change our self is the very one that needs to be changed; but it is as inaccessible as a needle to the prick of its own point." ~Alan Wattspage 3-4 "Become What You Are" {}
  71. "Thus the realization of the Christ within, the Buddha within, the Tao within, or the Krishna within is in each instance the result of a process which Zen presents to us in this unique and almost startling manner. It is the understanding of the One which lies behind the Many; the bringing together of opposites, of subject and object, the ego and the universe, to create the Holy Child. And yet we must beware of that definition, of that convenient summary of religious endeavor. It so easily becomes a mere catchphrase, a truth so fastened in a nutshell that it ceases to be of the least use. In its prison it withers away and dies. Therefore Zen comes at this stage with a most inconvenient question, 'When the Many are reduced to the One, to what is the One to be reduced?' Only he who knows what that is understands Zen. It would be futile to try to explain any further, for to do so would be to defeat the very purpose of Zen, which is to make everyone find out for himself. It is like a detective story with the last chapter missing; it remains a mystery, a thing like a beam of light which can be seen and used, but never caught—loved, but never possessed. And by that we may know that Zen is life.~Alan Watts page 63 "Become What You Are" {}
  72. "To the fully enlightened man Samsara IS nirvana; ordinary, everyday experience of the world of opposites is for him transformed into the supreme spiritual experience of deliverance or freedom [...] From the thoroughgoing Mahayana standpoint, the Bodhisattva-ideal is the necessary consequence of a philosophy denying the duality of Nirvana and Samsara. The Bodhisattva has no need to escape from Samsara because he realizes that it is Nirvana." ~Alan Watts, page 100 "Become What You Are" {}
  73. "Egotism is a fierce holding on to oneself; it is building oneself up in a haughty stronghold, refusing to join in the play of life, refusing to accept the eternal laws of change of movement to which all are subject. But that refusal can only be illusion. Whether we like it or not, change comes, and the greater the resistance, the greater the pain. Buddhism perceives the beauty of change, for life is like music in this: if any note or phrase is held for longer than its appointed time, the melody is lost. Thus Buddhism may be summed up in two phrases: 'Let go!' and 'Walk on!' Drop the craving for self, for permanence, for particular circumstances, and go straight ahead with the movement of life. The state of mind thereby attained is called Nirvana. But this is a teaching easy to misunderstand, for it is so easy to represent the doctrine of 'letting go' as an utter denial of life and the world, and Nirvana as a state infinitely removed from all earthly concerns." ~Alan Watts page 59-60 "Become What You Are" {}
  74. "Thus what I have called the death of he ego transpires in the moment when it is discovered an admitted that these ultimate feelings are irresistible. They are ultimate in two senses: one, that they sometimes have to do with very fundamental and cataclysmic events and two, that they are sometimes our deepest, most radical feeling with respect to a given situation—such as the basic frustration provoked by a conflict between sorrow and shame. The point is that these ultimate feelings are as wise as all the rest, and their wisdom emerges when we give up resisting them—through the realization that we are simply unable to do so. When, for example, life compels us at last to give in, to surrender to the full play of what is ordinarily called the terror of the unknown, the suppressed feeling suddenly shoots upward as a fountain of the purest joy. What was formerly felt as the horror of our inevitable mortality becomes transformed by an inner alchemy into an almost ecstatic sense of freedom from the bonds of individuality. But ordinarily we do not discover the wisdom of our feelings because we do not let them complete their work; we try to suppress them or discharge them in premature action, not realizing that they are a process of creation which, like birth, begins as a pain and turns into a child." ~Alan Watts page 8 "Become What You Are" {}
  75. "The first step in Buddhism is Right Motive, and to attain Enlightenment it is said that we must do away with selfish desire. But if we have selfish desire in the beginning, surely the desire to get rid of it is also selfish. We desire to be rid of our selfishness for a selfish reason, and again we may easily have a selfish reason for getting rid of the selfish reason for wanting to be selfless. An even more fundamental illustration of the problem may be found in the simplest statement of Eastern philosophy, namely, that there is only one Reality and that all diversity is illusion. This is a statement which almost all students of Eastern wisdom take very much for granted: it is the first thing they learn but in fact it is about almost all there is to learn, for the rest is mere embroidery." ~Alan Watts page 86-'7 "Become What You Are" {}
  76. "As soon as you have understood the words in their plain and straightforward sense, you have already used the raft. You have reached the opposite bank of the river. All that remains now is to do what the words say—to drop the raft and go walking on the dry land. And to do this, you must drop the raft. In other words, you cannot, at this stage, think about religion and practice it at the same time. To see the moon, you must forget the pointing finger, and simply look at the moon." ~Alan Watts page 15 "Become What You Are" {}
  77. "The assumption that the task of philosophy, as of human life, is fulfilled only in predicting and ordering, and that the 'nonsensical' has no value, rests upon a sort of philosophical 'schizophrenia.' If man's work is entirely to go to war on chaos with logic, to determine the indeterminate; if the 'good' is the logical and the 'evil' the whimsical; then logic, consciousness, and the human brain is in conflict with the source of its own life and ability. We must never forget that the processes which form this brain are unconscious, and that beneath all the perceptible orders of the macroscopic world lies the indeterminate nonsense of the microscopic, the 'gyring' and 'gimbling' of a 'tove' called energy—about which we know nothing. Ex nihilo omnia fiunt. But this nothing is a very strange thing." ~Alan Watts page 51-'2 "Become What You Are" {}
  78. "The essence of Lao-tzu's philosophy is the difficult art of getting out of one's own way—of learning how to act without forcing conclusions, of living in skillful harmony with the processes of nature instead of trying to push them around. For Lao-tzu's Taosim is the philosophical equivalent of jujitsu, or judo, which means the way of gentleness. Its basis is the principle of Tao, which may be translated the Way of Nature. But in the Chinese language the word which we render as 'nature' has a special meaning not found in its English equivalent. Translated literally, it means 'self-so.' For to the Chinese, nature is what works and moves by itself without having to be shoved about, 'self-so,' and, if you would give it half a chance, your mind can function 'self-so'—thought most of us are much too afraid of ourselves to try the experiment. ~Alan Watts page 21 "Become What You Are" {}
  79. "So long as we think or feel that perhaps we can stop it, that there is some way, violent or subtle, difficult or easy, to make ourselves unselfish, the contradiction will continue or get worse. We have to see that there is no way. But in the state where we have realized that there is no way to be found, no result to be gained, the vicious circle breaks. Ouroboros, the snake eating his tail, has become conscious all the way round, and knows at last that that tail is the other end of his head. We find ourselves in these circles because of ignorance, because of unconsciousness of the nature of our minds, of our thought-processes, of ourselves. And the antidote to ignorance is not action but knowledge—not what to do, but what we know. Yet here again, the necessary knowledge does not seem, on the surface, to be anything very promising or hopeful. For the knowledge in this sphere which can be talked about is negative knowledge—knowledge of the trap, of our helpless imprisonment in useless seeking. Positive knowledge—of the Tao, of God, of the eternal Reality, is a matter of immediate, momentary experience. It can never be put into words, and any attempt to do so converts it into just another aspect of the trap." ~Alan Watts page 26 "Become What You Are" {}
  80. "The message of Eastern wisdom is that the forms of life are maya and therefore profoundly lacking in seriousness from the viewpoint of reality. For the world of form and illusion which the majority take to be the real world is none other than the play of the Spirit, or, as the Hindus have called it, the Dance of Shiva. He is enlightened who joins in this play knowing it as play, for man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun. Thus man only becomes man when he loses the gods' sense of levity. For the gods (or buddhas, or what you will) are simply our own innermost essence, and this could shatter the universe to nothingness in a moment if it willed. But it does not, and it keeps the worlds moving for the divine purpose of play, because, like a musician, it is a creator and delights in the fashioning of a rhythm and a melody. To play with it is therefore not a duty but a joy, and he who does not see it as a joy can neither do it nor understand it." ~Alan Watts page 28-'9 "Become What You Are" {}
  81. "A mind which will not melt—with sorrow or love—is a mind which will all too easily break. Now, the reason why I am talking of feeling rather than outward action is that I am considering the predicament of man in the face of events about which nothing can be done—events toward which our sole response is a response of feeling. I am thinking of the ultimate certainty of death, the overall helplessness of man within the vast tide of life, and, finally, of the very special feelings which arise when we are faced with a conflict of feelings which cannot be resolved. All these situations evoke feelings which, in the long run, are as irresistible as the situations themselves are insoluble. They are the ultimate feelings—and much of what is called philosophy is the fruitless attempt to talk oneself out of them. Thus what I have called the death of ego transpires in the moment when it is discovered and admitted that these ultimate feelings are irresistible. They are ultimate in two senses: one, that they sometimes have to do with very fundamental and cataclysmic events, and, two, that they are sometimes our deepest, most radical feeling with respect to a given situation—such as the basic frustration provoked by a conflict between sorrow and shame. The point is that these ultimate feelings are as wise as all the rest, and their wisdom emerges when we give up resisting them—through the realization that we are simply unable to do so." ~Alan Watts, page 7-8 "Become What You Are" {}
  82. "Now, consciousness, the ego, feels uprooted so long as it avoids and refuses to accept the fact that it does not and cannot know its own base or ground. But when this is recognized, the consciousness feels connected, rooted, even though it does not know to what it is connected, in what it is rooted. So long as it retains delusions of self-sufficiency, omni-competence, and individual free will, it ignores the unknown on which it rests. By the familiar 'law of reverse effort,' this refusal of the unknown brings the feeling of insecurity, and in its train all the frustrating and impossible problems, all the vicious circles of human life, from the exalted nonsense of ontology down to the vulgar realms of power politics, where individuals play at being God. The hideous contrivances of the police (the 100 percent safe and ordered) state for planning the planners and guarding the guards and investigating the investigators are simply the political and social equivalents of the quests of speculative metaphysics. Both alike have their psychological origin in the reluctance of consciousness, of the ego, to face its own limits, and to admit that the ground and essence of the known is the unknown.~Alan Watts, page 49 "Become What You Are" {}
  83. "One of the nicest things about our bodies is that we don't have to think about them all the time. If when you woke up in the morning you had to think about every detail of your circulation, you would never get through the day. It is well said: 'The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.' The song of birds, the voices of insects are all means of conveying the truth to the mind. In flowers and grasses we see messages of the Tao. The scholar, pure and clear of mind, serene and open of heart, should find in everything what nourishes him. But if you want to know where the flowers come from, even the god of spring doesn't know." ~Alan Watts, page 91-'2 "What Is Tao?"
  84. "When we say that we are trying to make sense out of life, that means that we are trying to treat the real world as if it were a collection of words. Words are symbols, and they mean something other signs formed out of letters, but actual people, mountains, rivers, and stars are neither symbols nor signs. And so the difficulty that we encounter in trying to make sense out of life is that we are trying to fit the very complex order of life itself into a very simple system that is not up to the task, and this gets us involved in all sorts of unforeseen difficulties." ~Alan Watts, page 60 "What Is Tao?"
  85. "Let's suppose now, that you follow the theory of those astronomers who maintain that the universe is not a steady state, but there was an enormous bang billions of years ago, and from this bang all the galaxies were thrown out into space. You look back at this as something which happened in the past, and which is—as it were—the cause of the present. But what I would say is: that bang is still going on. When you take a lovely bottle of black ink and throw it as hard as you can at a white wall and smash it, in the center it's dense but on the out-fringes it has all kinds of interesting curlicues... and that's all one splash. In the same way, we are at the moment sitting in this room, and talking, and thinking... we are all the little curlicues out on the end of the original cosmic bang. We ARE it. We are not effects of it. Because, to think that you are separate from the big bang is simply a matter of definition... it's a way of talking. We separate events from each other in order to measure them. That is to say: the notion that there are distinct things and distinct events in the physical world is a calculus. It is like pretending that a curve is a series of points." ~Alan Watts, moment 23:27, "Early Radio Talks": "Man is a Hoax" {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}
  86. "This is the secret that is never given away: That self and other are inseparable... Just in the same way that the front and back of a coin are different but identical. It is all one coin. So, in exactly the same way, the experience of self and the experience of other are mutually necessary. You wouldn't know what you meant by self unless you knew other; you wouldn't know other unless you knew what you meant by self. They are therefore polarities, like the north and south pole of a magnet; they're inseparable." ~Alan Watts, moment 18:28, "Early Radio Talks": "Man is a Hoax" {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}
  87. "We feel a very sharp distinction (in other words) between our consciousness—which is a kind of focused attention—together with all those actions that we are able to perform voluntarily, on the one hand... and on the other hand, everything (both within us and outside us) that seems merely to happen to us. Consider for a moment: breathing. Do you breathe, or are you breathed? You can feel it either way. If you become conscious of breathing, you get the sense that you are doing it in the same way as thinking or walking. But if you forget about it, it goes on, and you don't have to do it at all. That is why breathing exercises are fundamental in all meditation practices in the Orient. Because you can understand through breathing and through the experience of breathing that there really is no differentiation between the involuntary experience and the voluntary experience." ~Alan Watts, moment 17:10, "Early Radio Talks": "Man is a Hoax" {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}
  88. "You go into nursery school as preparation for kindergarten. You go into kindergarten as preparation for first grade. And then you go up the grades until you get to high school. And then comes a time when, maybe if we can get you fascinated enough with the system, you go to college! And then, when you go to college, if you're smart you get into graduate school and stay a perpetual student, and go back to be a professor and just go around and around in the system. But in the ordinary way, they don't encourage quite that. They want you, after graduate school, after graduation... commencement as it's called—beginning!—to get out into the World with a capital 'W'. And so, you've been trained for this and now you've arrived. But when you get out into the world at your first sales meeting they've got the same thing going again, because they want you to make that quota. And if you do make it, they give you a higher quota. Come along about 45 years of age, maybe you're Vice President. And suddenly it dawns on you that you've arrived... with a certain sense of having been cheated, because life feels the same as it always felt. And you are conditioned to be in a desperate need of a future. So the final goal that this culture prepares for us is called retirement, when you will be a senior citizen, and you will have the wealth and the leisure to do what you've always wanted, but you will at the same time have impotence, a rotten prostate and false teeth, and no energy. The whole thing from beginning to end is a hoax." ~Alan Watts, moment 2:08, "Early Radio Talks": "Man is a Hoax" {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}
  89. "The external world is just as much you as anything inside your skin. You are not something that comes into this world on probation and doesn't really belong—this is, you see, the attitude that we foster in the child. But, you are something not that comes into the world... but comes out of it, in the same way as a flower comes out of a plant, or a fruit comes out of a tree. You are an expression. You as a human being are a symptom of nature. Furthermore, your actual self—what is finally and fundamentally YOU—is not a separate and lonely part of the world. The real you is the world itself—everything that there is, expressing itself as this particular organism here and now.  And of course, as you look across the room at all the other organisms in their here and now, we're all tits on the same sow, if I may put it so crudely... or if you want to put it more poetically: rays from the same sun." ~Alan Watts, moment 14:18, "Early Radio Talks": "Man is a Hoax" {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}
  90. "Making plans for the future is of use only to the people who are capable of living completely in the present. Because, when you make plans for the future and they mature, if you can't live in the present you are not able to enjoy the future for which you have planned. Because, you will have in you a kind of syndrome, whereby happiness consists in promises and not in direct and immediate realizations." ~Alan Watts, moment 7:40, "Early Radio Talks": "Man is a Hoax" {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}
  91. "Work is something that everybody does, and you get paid to do it because nobody could care less about doing it. In other words, it is so abominable and boring, that you can get paid for doing it. And the object of doing this is to make money. And the object of making money is to go home and enjoy the money that you've made. When you've got it—you see—you can buy pleasure. This is a complete fallacy. Money never can buy pleasure, because all pleasures depend upon not putting down a symbol of power (money), but upon disciplines. In other words, in Sausalito (where I live) we have pier after pier full of fine boats—motor cruisers, sailing boats... all sorts of things, which nobody ever uses, because they've been bought falling for the ad line: 'If you buy this thing, you will have pleasure. You will have status. You will have [something or other].' But then they suddenly discover that having a boat requires the art of seamanship, which is difficult but rewarding. Therefore nobody has time for it. And all they do with the boats is have cocktail parties on them at the weekend. In myriads of ways, you see—the wealthiest people in the world—you think that, having earned your money, you'd go home, you'd have an orgy and a great banquet. But nobody does. They eat a tv dinner—which is just warmed over airline food—and then they spend the evening looking at an electronic reproduction of life which is divided from you by a glass screen. You can't touch it. You can't smell it. You look at this thing and you have a strange feeling that the whole procession of grades that was leading to something in the future—to that goodie; that gorgeous goodie that was lying at the end of the line—it never quite turns up." ~Alan Watts, moment 4:17, "Early Radio Talks": "Man is a Hoax" {Audio source:, discount code: ALANWATTS30}
  92. "But less obvious connections are no less real. There are, for example, no strings connecting the widely separated molecules in your own hand. There is no visible material joining the individual stars into the formation which we recognize as a galaxy. But civilized human beings are alarmingly ignorant of the fact that they are continuous with their natural surroundings. It is as necessary to have air, water, plants, insects, birds, fish, and mammals as it is to have brains, hearts, lungs, and stomachs. The former are our external organs in the same way that the latter are our internal organs. If then, we can no more live without the things outside than without those inside, the plain inference is that the words 'I' and 'myself' must include both sides. The sun, the earth, and the forests are just as much features of your own body as your brain. Erosion of the soil is as much a personal disease as leprosy, and many 'growing communities' are as disastrous as cancer." ~Alan Watts, pg 36-'7 "Does It Matter?" {}
  93. "The concluding statement in this passage has such powerful application today! ~"Many people believe that without anxiety there would be no motivation for a creative life. 'If I am to be good, someone must beat me.' But creation is not mere flight from punishment and fear, and no one wants the surgeon to be anxious, with his knife in a trembling hand. The problem is that we are now wielding the incredible surgical instrument of technology with trembling hands, and what concerned Huxley was that such power cannot be handled constructively by anxious and alienated men with a fundamentally hostile attitude to nature. Mahayana Buddhists never had our technology; but they had art, and practiced it to high perfection (in China and Japan) as a cooperation between man and nature—indeed, as a work of nature itself. What if the same realization—that science can be the work of nature, and that the individual is one body with his environment—could become the informing spirit of Western technology?" ~Alan Watts, pg 123 "Does It Matter?" (Originally published 1970) {}
  94. "The naked body is lustfully arousing, as it should be, just to the extent that it is usually veiled. Nudity must always be a revelation and a surprise for the simple reason that the universe itself is an energy system which vibrates: constantly it goes on and off. Now you see it; now you don't. It creeps up on itself and shouts 'Boo!'—and then laughs at itself for jumping, being a constant conversion of anxiety into laughter, dread into delight, and hatred into love. Human consciousness is the realization that this is the case, is the nature of reality, which is why it is said throughout Asia that it is only from the human state that one can become a Buddha—a fully liberated being. [...] Energy going on and off may be represented, mythologically, as God playing hide-and-seek with himself, remembering himself and dismembering himself into the myriad roles played by all sentient beings." ~Alan Watts, pg 63 "Does It Matter?" (Originally published 1970) {}
  95. "In many cultures people are brought up to mistrust their own organisms, and as children, are taught to control their thoughts, emotions, and appetites by muscular efforts such as clenching the teeth or fists, frowning to concentrate attention, scratching the head to think, staring to see, holding the breath or tightening the diaphragm or rectum to inhibit emotion. These trainings are largely futile because the nervous system is not muscle but electric circuitry, and one does not use a sledge hammer for tuning a radio. [...] The human organism has the same kind of innate intelligence as the ecosystems of nature, and the wisdom of the nerves and senses must be watched with patience and respect." ~Alan Watts, pg 118-'19 "Does It Matter?" (Originally published 1970) {}
  96. In the beginning—which was not long ago but now-ever—is the Self. Everyone knows the Self, but no one can describe it, just as the eye sees but does not see itself. Moreover, the Self is what there is and all that there is, so that no name can be given to it. It is neither old nor new, great nor small, shaped nor shapeless. Having no opposite, it is what all opposites have in common: it is the reason why there is no white without black and no form apart from emptiness." ~Alan Watts, pg 99 "Does It Matter?" (Originally published 1970) {}
  97. "Thus what we call the agent behind the action is simply the prior or relatively more constant state of the same action: when a man runs we have a 'manning-running' over and above a simple 'manning.' Furthermore, it is only a somewhat clumsy convenience to say that present events are moved or caused by past events, for we are actually talking about earlier and later stages of the same event. We can establish regularities of rhythm and pattern in the course of an event, and so predict its future configurations, but its past states do not 'push' its present and future states as if they were a row of dominoes stood on end so that knocking over the first collapses all the others in series. The fallen dominoes lie where they fall, but past events vanish into the present, which is just another way of saying that the world is a self-moving pattern which, when its successive states are remembered, can be shown to have a certain order. Its motion, its energy, issues from itself now, not from the past, which simply falls behind it in memory like the wake from a ship." ~Alan Watts, pg 142 "This Is It" {}
  98. {Watts' clever and hilarious description of our cultural epidemic} "But just exactly what is the 'good' to which we aspire through doing and eating things that are supposed to be good for us? This question is strictly taboo, for if it were seriously investigated the whole economy and social order would fall apart and have to be reorganized. It would be like the donkey finding out that the carrot dangled before him, to make him run, is hitched by a stick to his own collar. For the good to which we aspire exists only and always in the future. Because we cannot relate to the sensuous and material present we are most happy when good things are expected to happen, not when they are happening. We get such a kick out of looking forward to pleasures and rushing ahead to meet them that we can't slow down enough to enjoy them when they come. We are therefore a civilization which suffers from chronic disappointment—a formidable swarm of spoiled children smashing their toys.~Alan Watts, pg 31 "Does It Matter?" (Originally published 1970) {}
  99. "If we formulate ideas about our own nature, about how our own minds and emotions work, those ideas are always going to be qualitatively inferior—that is to say, far less complicated and far less alive—than the actual author of the ideas themselves, and that is us. So there is something about ourselves that we can never get at, that we can never define—and in just the same way you cannot bite your own teeth, you cannot hear your own ears, and you cannot make your own hand catch hold of itself. So therefore you must let go and trust the goings-on of your humanness." ~Alan Watts pg 31 "What Is Tao?"
  100. "I am not an anti-intellectual. After all, I make my living by various feats of verbalization. But there is no grist for the intellectual mill if we get into a situation where thought is all about thinking, and where books are about nothing except other books. It is for this reason that an enormous amount of current intellectual, philosophical, and even scientific discourse strikes me increasingly as absurd. It is an attempt to translate a non-linear and multidimensional system of vibrations into a linear (alphabetical or mathematical) system of symbols; and it just can't be done. It is like trying to transport the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific with a beer mug: however rapidly automated and cyberneticized the process may be, it is futile." ~Alan Watts, pg x in Foreword "Does It Matter?" (Originally published 1970) {}
  101. "There is nothing complex about walking, breathing, and circulating one's blood. Living organisms have developed these functions without thinking about them at all. The circulation of the blood becomes complex only when stated in physiological terms, that is, when understood by means of a conceptual model constructed of the kind of simple units which conscious attention requires. The natural world seems a marvel of complexity, requiring a vastly intricate intelligence to create and govern it, just because we have represented it to ourselves in the clumsy 'notation' of thought. [...] Understanding nature by means of thoughts is like trying to make out the contours of an enormous cave with the aid of a small flashlight casting a bright but very thin beam. The path of the light and the series of 'spots' over which it has passed must be retained in memory, and from this record the general appearance of the cave must laboriously be reconstructed." ~Alan Watts, page 62, "Nature, Man and Woman" {}
  102. "Thought, with its serial, one-at-a-time way of looking at things, is ever looking to the future to solve problems which can be handled only in the present—but not in the fragmentary present of fixed and pointed attention. The solution has to be found, as Krishnamurti has said, in the problem and not away from it. In other words, the 'bad' man's disturbing emotions and urgent desires have to be seen as they are—or, better, the moment in which they arise has to be seen as it is, without narrowing attention upon any aspect of it. And just here, instead of straining toward a future in which one hopes to be different, the mind opens and admits a whole experience in which and by which the problem of what is the 'good' of life is answered.~Alan Watts, page 68-'9, "Nature, Man and Woman"}
  103. "I have been realizing more and more that partisans to opposed philosophies share the same premises, which are usually unconscious. Furthermore, these premises are transmitted by such social institutions as the structure of language and the learning of roles, influencing us in ways of which we are hardly aware. Thus the conventional saint and the conventional sinner, the ascetic and the sensualist, the metaphysician and the materialist may have so much in common that their opposition is quite trivial. Like alternating heat and cold, they may be symptoms of the same fever.~Alan Watts, page x, "Nature, Man and Woman" {}


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