Part of the reason we love blogging so much is because it’s fulfilling for us, and part of keeping that sense of fun and enjoyment alive is having daily doses of inspiration.
One of our favorite authors and pop philosophers (and self-proclaimed entertainer) is Alan Watts. His books line our bookshelves and any time we need to reconnect, it’s great to have his words of wisdom within reach.
Here are a few of our favorite Alan Watts quotes that we’ve seen over the years. We’ll add more as we reread all the Watts books in our household!
Alan Watts on Life
“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.”
“Without birth and death, and without the perpetual transmutation of all the forms of life, the world would be static, rhythm-less, undancing, mummified.”
“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.”
“…life is like music for its own sake. We are living in an eternal now, and when we listen to music we are not listening to the past, we are not listening to the future, we are listening to an expanded present.”
Alan Watts on the Present
“We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infintesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience.”
“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.”
“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 on Self & Identity
“You are that vast thing that you see far, far off with great telescopes.”
“You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.”
“You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.”
“How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself anything less than a god.”
“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.”
“You don’t look out there for God, something in the sky, you look in you.”
“Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.”
Alan Watts on Faith
“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.”
“You have to relax, and the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging, and holding on. 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. Instead they are holding tight. But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.”
Alan Watts on Change
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
“The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.”
Alan Watts on the Universe
“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.”
Alan Watts on Suffering
“There will always be suffering. But we must not suffer over the suffering.”
“…the more we struggle for life (as pleasure), the more we are actually killing what we love.”
“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”
Alan Watts on Insecurity
“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.”
Alan Watts on Social Conventions
“What we have forgotten is that thoughts and words are conventions, and that it is fatal to take conventions too seriously. A convention is a social convenience, as, for example, money … but it is absurd to take money too seriously, to confuse it with real wealth … In somewhat the same way, thoughts, ideas and words are “coins” for real things.”
“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.”
“Only words and conventions can isolate us from the entirely undefinable something which is everything.”
What’s Your Favorite Alan Watts Quote?
Let us know what your favorite Watts quote or book is in the comments below! Sages unite!