Alan Watts
Quotes

The only way to make sense of change is to plunge in and join the dance
 
WONDER & PLAY
 
 
“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.” Work as Play ~The Essence of Alan Watts
 
“As Aristotle says, the beginning of philosophy is wonder. Philosophy is man’s expression of curiosity about everything.”   Relevance of Oriental Philosophy
 
IDENTITY
 
“You are all Vishnu playing that you’re in this mess, which is part of the cosmic dance. So, if that’s the case, dig it! You see? I mean, get with it! Be that!” ~Zen And The West (audio)
 
“Everybody is ‘you’. Everybody is ‘I’. That’s our name. We all share that.” Audio?
 
“Your real self, the real you, is everything there is… but concentrated and expressing itself at the point called your physical organism.” ~Introduction to Zen (audio)
 
What you are in your in-most being escapes your examination in rather the same way that you can’t look directly into your own eyes without using a mirror, you can’t bite your own teeth, you can’t taste your own tongue, and you can’t touch the tip of this finger with the tip of this finger.” audio Myth of Myself or Ego
 
“When you look out of your eyes, at nature happening out there, you’re looking at you. That’s the real you. The you that goes on of itself.” ~A Conversation with Myself
 
 
TRUST & FAITH
 
Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.        On Yoga from The Ways of Liberation album
 
Of course, you can’t force your mind to be silent. That will be like trying to smooth ripples in water over the flat iron. Water becomes clear and calm only when left alone. Art of Mediation 4:20
 
The first rule is don’t try to, because if you do, you will be like someone trying to make rough water smooth with a flat iron. And all that will do will stir it up. On Yoga 20:00
 
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. Relevance of Oriental Philosophy ?
 
 
A rigid bridge will be blown down by the first hurricane (find original)
 
 
CONTINUITY
 
“Before you were born there was this same nothing-at-all-forever. And yet… you happened. And if you happened once, you can happen again.” ~AW Biography (audio) Illusion of the Self
 
“It’s one of the great wonders of life: What will it be like to go to sleep and never wake up? And if you think long enough about that, something will happen to you. You will find out, among other things, that it will pose the next question to you: What was it like to wake up after never having gone to sleep? That was when you were born. You see, you can’t have an experience of nothing. Nature abhors a vacuum.” Nothingness OR DEATH?
 
The More a thing
 
NOTHING & DUALITY
 
Something and nothing are two sides of the same coin.  The positive and the negative; the something and the nothing go together      Nothingness video
 
We say ‘you can’t get something for nothing.’  But I would say you can’t have something without nothing.To be or not to be is NOT the question. Because you can’t have a solid without space; therefore you can’t have an “is” without an “isn’t”; a something without a nothing; a figure without a background. And we can turn that right the way around.     Nothingness video
 
 
CONNECTION & UNIVERSE
 
We do not “come into” this world; grew out of it –  just as an apple tree apples, the earth peoples.  Myth of Myself? 
 
 
“There is no such thing as a single, solitary event. The only possible single event is all events whatsoever. That could be regarded as the only possible atom; the only possible single thing is everything.” ~Buddhism, The Religion of No Religion
 
“A baby has for a long time been part of its mother and has floated in the ocean of the womb. So it has the sense from the beginning of what is really to an enlightened person totally obvious—that the universe is one single organism.” ~The Philosophies of Asia
 
“Your skin does not separate you from the world. It’s a bridge through which the external world flows into you. And you flow into it.” Audio?
 
“We have been hypnotized—literally hypnotized—by social convention into feeling and sensing that we exist only inside of our skins… That we are not the original big bang, but just something out on the end of it. And therefore, everybody feels unhappy and miserable.” Nature of Consciousness Audio?  Missing: Curlique
 
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.
 
 
THE SELF
 
“If we came to our senses, we would be aware of ourselves not as only on the inside of our skins… But we would be aware that the outside is us too.” ~ Ecological Awareness (audio)
 
“This very moment, this very world, this very body is the point. Now. You see? But, if you’re seeking something beyond all the time, you never get with it. You’re never here.” ~Zen And The West (audio)
 
“What do we mean by ‘I’? We mean the symbol of ourselves. Now ourselves, in this case, is the whole psycho-physical organism—conscious and unconscious, plus its environment. That’s your real self. Your real self, in other words, is the universe as centered on your organism.” Audio
 
“When you are not getting in the way of yourself, you will begin to find out that all the great things you do are really happenings. All growth is something that happens. For growth to happen two things are important. You must have the technical ability to express what happens. And secondly, you must get out of your own way.” Audio?
 
 
“The word ‘person’ comes from the latin word ‘persona’ which referred to the masks worn by actors in which sound would come through. The ‘person’ is the mask—the role you’re playing. And all of your friends and relations and teachers are busy telling you who you are and what your role in life is.”
 
“What happens if you know that there is nothing you can do to be better? It’s kind of a relief isn’t it? You say ‘Well, now what do I do?’ When you are freed from being out to improve yourself, your own nature will begin to take over.” Audio?
 
 
SPONTANIETY AND MUSIC
 
“The physical world is diaphanous. It’s like music. When you play music, it simply disappears. There’s nothing left. And, for that very reason it is one of the highest and most spiritual of the arts, because it is the most transient.” ~Comparative Philosophy (audio)
 
 
“We love to see a child lost in the dance and not performing for an audience. To be happy and know that you are happy is really the overflowing cup of life. To dance as if there was no audience.”
 
 
ANXIETY & THE MIND
 
To go out of your mind at least once a day is tremendously important, because by going out of your mind you come to your senses. 2-5-04 Mediation 27:45
 
And if you stay in your mind all the time, you are over rational. In other words, you’re like a very rigid bridge which because it has got no give, no craziness in it, is going to be blown down in the first hurricane      2-5-04 Mediation 28:00
 
No amount of anxiety makes any difference to anything that is going to happen.      Audio source?
 
“You are in relationships with the external world that are, on the whole, incredibly harmonious. But we have this rather myopic way of looking at things. And we screen out from attention anything that is not immediately important to a scanning system based on sensing danger.” Audio
 
RELATIVITY & PERCEPTION
 
“There is no such thing as ‘the truth’ that can be stated. In other words, ask the question: ‘What is the true position of the stars in the Big Dipper?’ Well it depends on where you’re looking at them from.” ~Comparative Philosophy (audio)
 
Not picking and choosing doesn’t mean that you have to cultivate being detached. You can try that, sure. But then you find you’re terribly attached to your non-attachment. Like you’re proud of your humility.” ~Zen And The West (audio)
 
“Consciousness is a radar that is scanning the environment to look out for trouble, in the same way that a ship’s radar is looking for rocks or other ships. The radar does not notice the vast amount of space where there are no rocks and other ships. By and large we scan things over but we pay attention only to what our set of values tells us we should pay attention to.”
 
“Light is a relationship between electrical energy and eyeballs. It is you, in other words, who evoke the world and you evoke the world in accordance with what kind of a ‘you’ you are.” ~Philosophy of Nature (audio)
 
“Let’s ask, ‘How big is the sun?’ Are we going to define the sun as limited by the extent of its fire? That’s one possible definition. But we could equally well define the sphere of the sun by the extent of its light.” ~Time  video Essentials
 
“The possibility of seeing down into something goes on forever and ever. When you work with mantras, you can learn to hear similar infinite depths in sound.” ~Buddhism The Religion of No Religion
 
“When you get to a deep ethical problem—where there is no easy decision on way or the other—you must look at the problem from the point of view of an artist. Which way of doing this is, in some sense, greater? It may be better to go off with a bang than a whimper.” Audio
 
 
THE PRESENT
 
“You can’t live at all unless you can live fully Now”  Time, Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life
 
“Reality itself is gorgeous. It is the plenum; the fullness of total joy.”  Nature of Consciousness
 
 
 
THE  FUTURE
 
“Supposing you knew the future and could control it perfectly, what would you do? You’d say: ‘Let’s shuffle the deck and have another deal.’” ~Image of Man (audio)
 
“Nirvana is right where you are, provided that you don’t object to it.” Audio?
 
 
 
 
EDUCATION
 
“Education, in the real sense, is not preparation for life, it is actually living. It is the child participating in adult concerns. And doing it now and realizing that the point of the process in which the child is engages, is not to prepare the child for the future, but to enjoy doing the thing today.” Audio?
 
 
THOUGHT
“Thought is a means of concealing truth, despite the fact that it’s an extraordinarily useful faculty.” ~Veil of Thoughts 1 (audio)
 
 
 
MONEY AND MATERIALISM
 
“Money is an abstraction. It cannot, of itself, buy any pleasure whatsoever. Because all pleasures involve skill and love.” Pursuit of Pleasure
 
“We’ve run into a cultural situation where we’ve confused the symbol with the physical reality; the money with the wealth; and the menu with the dinner. And we’re starving on eating menus.” audio? Art of Meditation
 
“Money is the same order of reality as inches, grams, or lines of longitude and latitude. It is an abstraction. It is a method of bookkeeping to obviate the cumbersome procedures of barter. But our culture, our civilization, is entirely hung up on the notion that money has an independent reality of its own.” audio Veil of Thoughts 1
 
“If you say making money is the most important thing, you will 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. Better to have a short life, which is full of what you like doing, than a long one spent in a miserable way.” audio Do You Do It…
 
USE OF TECHNOLOGY
 
“Man has to realize that he is an integral part of nature… that he is just as much a natural form as a seagull or a wave, or a mountain. And if he doesn’t recognize that, he uses his technical powers to destroy his environment… to foul his own nest.” ~Future of Communications (audio)
 
NATURE
 
“The physical world—clouds, mountains, humans—is wiggly. When you try to pick up a fish with your bare hands, it wiggles and slips out. What do you do? You use a net. And the net is the basic thing we have for getting hold of the wiggly world. And then somehow we think we understand when we have translated it into terms of straight lines and squares. But it doesn’t fit in nature.” A Conversation with Myself
 
“When you look out of your eyes, at nature happening out there, you’re looking at you. That’s the real you. The you that goes on of itself.” ~A Conversation with Myself
 
MYSTERY
 
“The more complete kind of mind, which can feel as well as think, remains to ‘indulge’ the odd sense of mystery which comes from contemplating the fact that everything is at base something which cannot be known.”audio?  ~Become What You Are
 
“I prefer not to translate the word Tao at all because to us Tao is a sort of nonsense syllable, indicating the mystery that we can never understand—the unity that underlies the opposites.” ~What is Tao? (audio)
 
“Absence speaks. Nothing is important. But, we are brought up… We are so brainwashed, we are so bamboozled, we are so hypnotized, that we don’t know that.” ~Comparative Philosophy (audio)
 
 
 CHANGE
 
The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless     Audio source?
 
“Transiency is a mark of spirituality. A lot of people think the opposite… that the spiritual things are the everlasting things. But, you see, the more a things tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.” ~Philosophy of Nature (audio)
 
“We’ve run into a cultural situation where we’ve confused the symbol with the physical reality; the money with the wealth; and the menu with the dinner. And we’re starving on eating menus.” audio? Art of Meditation
 
“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.” Audio?
 
LOVE
 
“People who exude love are apt to give things away. They are in every way like rivers; they stream. And so when they collect possessions, and things they like, they are apt to give them to other people. Because, have you ever noticed that when you start giving things away, you keep getting more?” ~Spectrum of Love (audio)
 
 
“Love is a spectrum. There is not, as it were, nice love and nasty love… spiritual love, and material love… mature affection on the one hand and infatuation on the other. These are all forms of the same energy, and you have to take it and let it grow where you find it. If you find that only one of these forms exist in you, if at least you will water it, the rest of the plant will blossom as well.” Spectrum of Love ~Comparative Philosophy (audio)
 
 
JOURNEY
 
Music differs from say travel —when you travel you are trying to get somewhere and of course we because being a very compulsive and purposeful culture are busy getting everywhere faster and faster and faster until we eliminate the distance between the places— with modern jet travel you can arrive almost instantaneously, and what happens as a result is that the two ends of your journey become the same place.
 
The Japanese have a phrase which is just like our phrase ‘follow your nose’ but they say ‘follow you feet’ because, unlike the United States, Japan is an easy place to wander in.  Here is a difficult place to wander in— it takes narrow streets and funny courtyards— you need curly kinds of places for effective wandering   Here you are not allowed to wander, and if you go wandering in a nice part of town the police will stop you to ask where you are going …  and everything is straightened out, the shortest distance between two points, no wandering allowed.  Pursuit of Pleasure 3@25:30
 
 
Real travel requires a maximum of unscheduled wandering, for there is no other way of discovering surprises and marvels, which, as I see it, is the only good reason for not staying at home.         Audio source?
 
 
WAY OF THE TAO / NIRVANA
 
“There’s no need to possess [the Tao]. 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?” ~Ecological Awareness (audio)
 
“When you know that this moment is the Tao, and this moment is considered by itself without past and without future—eternal, neither coming into being nor going out of being—there is nirvana.” ~The Philosophies of Asia
 
 
WATERCOURSE WISDOM
 
“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.” Audio Swimming Headless?
 
“When you know that you have to go with the river, suddenly you acquire—behind everything that you do—the power of the river.” Audio see ‘force of the river’ SH?
 
“You hear the sound of water… And that’s quite as important as anything I’ve got to say.” ~Ecological Awareness (audio)
 
 
THE BUDDHA
 
“Buddha is the man who woke up, who discovered who he really was.” ~Buddhism the Religion of No Religion
 
“A buddha would see you all as being exactly right; just where you are, all of you are buddhas. Even for those of you who do not know it, it is right for you not to know it at this moment.” Audio?
 
 
~Compiled by Annie Tichenor, with the help of Mark Watts, Nicolette Schumacher, and Allison Faust