A world-renowned philosopher, writer, and speaker, Alan Watts has left behind many works on personal identity, the true nature of reality, and the pursuit of happiness, relating his experience to scientific knowledge and to the teachings of Eastern and Western religions and philosophies. Having discovered his work has made a huge impact in my life and because I honestly believe there are so many valuable life lessons to learn from this wise and beautiful soul, today I am going to share,
25 Life Changing Lessons to Learn from Alan Watts
“Life exists only at this very moment, and in this moment it is infinite and eternal, for the present moment is infinitely small; before we can measure it, it has gone, and yet it exists forever….” ~ Alan Watts
“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.” ~ Alan Watts
“No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.” ~ Alan Watts
“…tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live.” ~ Alan Watts
2. Things are as they are.
“Things are as they are. Looking out into it the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” ~ Alan Watts
“When you get free from certain fixed concepts of the way the world is, you find it is far more subtle, and far more miraculous, than you thought it was.” ~ Alan Watts
“What I am really saying is that you don’t need to do anything, because if you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomenon of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that, and there is nothing wrong with you at all.” ~ Alan Watts
5. The desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing.
“To put is still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.” ~ Alan Watts
“Without birth and death, and without the perpetual transmutation of all the forms of life, the world would be static, rhythm-less, undancing, mummified.” ~ Alan Watts.
“The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.” ~ Alan Watts
“A priest once quoted to me the Roman saying that a religion is dead when the priests laugh at each other across the altar. I always laugh at the altar, be it Christian, Hindu, or Buddhist, because real religion is the transformation of anxiety into laughter.” ~ Alan Watts
8. Faith is the opposite of clinging to belief, of holding on.
“But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.” ~ Alan Watts
“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” – Alan Watts
“And the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging to belief, of holding on.” ~ Alan Watts
“In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe, becomes a person who has no faith at all.” ~ Alan Watts
9. We are all part of the same consciousness.
“When I meet you, I see not just what you define yourself as –Mr so-and- so, Ms so-and-so, Mrs so-and-so– I see every one of you as the primordial energy of the universe coming on at me in this particular way. I know I’m that, too. But we’ve learned to define ourselves as separate from it. ” ~ Alan Watts
“But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.”
“Your body does not eliminate poisons by knowing their names. To try to control fear or depression or boredom by calling them names is to resort to superstition of trust in curses and invocations. It is so easy to see why this does not work. Obviously, we try to know, name, and define fear in order to make it “objective,” that is, separate from “I.”
10. Believe nothing, no matter who said it unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.
“We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.” ~ Alan Watts
“Some believe all that parents, tutors, and kindred believe. They take their principles by inheritance, and defend them as they would their estates, because they are born heirs to them.” ~ Alan Watts
“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.” ~ Alan Watts.
“No work or love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.” ~ Alan Watts
13. We do not “come into” into this world; we come out of it.
“We do not “come into” into this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.” Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe. This fact is rarely, if ever, experienced by most individuals. Even those who know it to be true in theory do not sense or feel it, but continue to be aware of themselves as isolated “egos” inside bags of skin.” ~ Alan Watts
14. Life and love generate effort, but effort will not generate life and love.
“Life and love generate effort, but effort will not generate them.” ~ Alan Watts
“The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events—that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies—and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.” ~ Alan Watts
16. You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.
“Your soul isn’t in your body; your body is in your soul.” ~ Alan Watts
“You don’t look out there for God, something in the sky, you look in you.” ~ Alan Watts
“If you love a person, you say to that person, “Look, I love you, whatever that may be. I’ve seen quite a bit of it and I know there’s lots that I haven’t seen, but still it’s you and I want you to be what you want to be. And I won’t be happy if I’ve got you in a cage. You’d be a bird without song.”
19. Zen is a liberation from time.
“Zen is a liberation from time. For if we open our eyes and see clearly, it becomes obvious that there is no other time than this instant, and that the past and the future are abstractions without any concrete reality.” ~ Alan Watts
“I had a discussion with a great master in Japan… and we were talking about the various people who are working to translate the Zen books into English, and he said, “That’s a waste of time. If you really understand Zen… you can use any book. You could use the Bible. You could use Alice in Wonderland. You could use the dictionary, because… the sound of the rain needs no translation.” ~ Alan Watts
20. The meaning of life is just to be alive.
“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”~ Alan Watts
21. No one is more dangerously insane than one who is sane all the time.
“No one is more dangerously insane than one who is sane all the time: he is like a steel bridge without flexibility, and the order of his life is rigid and brittle.” ~ Alan Watts
22. Loving yourself is impossible without loving everything defined as other than yourself.
“So then, the relationship of self to other is the complete realization that loving yourself is impossible without loving everything defined as other than yourself.” ~ Alan Watts
23. Some people are so poor all they have is money.
“The reason we have poverty is that we have no imagination. There are a great many people accumulating what they think is vast wealth, but it’s only money… they don’t know how to enjoy it, because they have no imagination.” ~ Alan Watts
24. Stop aspiring and start writing.
“Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.” ~ Alan Watts
25. Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel.
“Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command.” ~ Alan Watts
Do you have a favorite quote from Alan Watts? If you do, you can share it in the comment section below 🙂