Alan Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) was a British philosopher, writer, and speaker. He is well known for interpreting and popularizing Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism for the Western world.
Alan was born in Chislehurst, England. In 1938 he moved to the United States, where he learned Zen in New York.
He received a master’s degree in theology and became a priest in 1945. In 1950 he moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies.
Alan wrote over 25 books and countless essays, and is one of the most influential philosophers in modern history.
Here are some of the best of Alan Watts quotes. Read the quotes, and think about them, and you will find a wealth of wisdom and inspiration that will let you see life from a broader perspective.
Inspirational Alan Watts Quotes
“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”
“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.”
“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.”
“The 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.”
“Fire cannot burn fire. Water cannot get itself wet. The thing cannot define the thing. It will always be extremely difficult for us to define ourselves, since we are always changing, learning, experiencing and growing.”
“Philosophy is man’s expression of curiosity about everything and his attempt to make sense of the world primarily through his intellect.”
“To have faith is to trust yourself.”
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“Many of our thoughts, habits and behaviors are passed down from our family, society and culture. Before we take ownership of certain traits and thoughts, let’s be mindful of what is really ‘ours’.”
“If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid.”
“Without a guiding belief of how things work, it becomes difficult to put meaning to things. The meaning we put to things is much more important than the thing itself.”
“Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way.”
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
“If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.”
“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.”
“When we attempt to exercise power or control over someone else, we cannot avoid giving that person the very same power or control over us.”
“Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.”
“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.”
“There is always something taboo, something repressed, un-admitted, or just glimpsed quickly out of the corner of one’s eye because a direct look is too unsettling. Taboos lie within taboos, like the skin of an onion.”
“Words can be communicative only between those who share similar experiences.”
“It is hard indeed to notice anything for which the languages available to us have no description.”
“To be free from convention is not to spurn it but not to be deceived by it.”
“We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree.”
“We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain.”
“Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command.
“Don’t hurry anything. Don’t worry about the future. Don’t worry about what progress you’re making. Just me entirely content to be aware of what is.
“We can see that the eternal is the transient, for the changing panorama of sense experience is not just a sum of appearing and disappearing things; it is a stable pattern or relationship manifested as, and by, transient forms.
“Your ego has about as much control over what goes on as a child sitting next to his father in a car with a plastic steering wheel.
“A scholar tries to learn something everyday; a student of Buddhism tries to unlearn something daily.”
“You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.”
“There was never a time when the world began, because it goes round and round like a circle, and there is no place on a circle where it begins. Look at my watch, which tells the time; it goes round, and so the world repeats itself again and again.”
“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.”
“Without birth and death, and without the perpetual transmutation of all the forms of life, the world would be static, rhythm-less, undancing, mummified.”
“Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.”
“Everything that happens, everything that I have ever done, everything that anybody else have ever done is part of a harmonious design, that there is no error at all.”
“Only words and conventions can isolate us from the entirely undefinable something which is everything.”
“We are all floating in a tremendous river and the river carries you along. Some of the people in the river are swimming against the current, but they are still being carried along. Others have learned that the art of the thing is to swim with it. You have to flow with the river. There is no other way. You can swim against it, and pretend not to be flowing with it. But you still flow with the river.
“Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Every effort to change what is being felt or seen predisposes and confirms the illusion of the independent knower or ego, and to try to get rid of what isn’t there is only to prolong confusion.”
“The physical universe is basically playful. There’s no necessity for it whatsoever. It isn’t going anywhere; that is to say, it doesn’t have a destination that it ought to arrive at. But it is best understood by analogy to music because music as an art form is essentially playful.”
About Alan Watts Quotes
Did you like these Alan Watts quotes? Did they make you think about life and its meaning? I hope they did.
Alan Watts wise words are still relevant in today’s modern world, inspiring people to live better and happier life.
Reading his words and thinking about their meaning, can open the mind to higher truths and enhance one’s understanding of life.
Alan Watts Quotes
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