Bringing the East to the West: 20 Eye Opening Quotes from Alan Watts

At an early age, Alan W. Watts was fascinated with the Far East. He dedicated his life to bringing the teachings of Vedanta and Buddhism to the Western World. Watts died quietly in his sleep in 1973, but his insights live on today through an extensive audio library of nearly 400 talks and more than 25 books, including his final volume, Tao: The Watercourse Way

Here is a collection of some of the most profound quotes from Alan Watts:

“Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.” ― Alan W. Watts

“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 W. Watts

“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” ― Alan W. Watts

“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.” ― Alan W. Watts

“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.” ― Alan W. Watts

“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 W. Watts, The Culture of Counter-Culture: Edited Transcripts

“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 W. Watts

“You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.” ― Alan W. Watts

“The menu is not the meal.” ― Alan W. Watts

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”― Alan W. Watts

“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. 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 W. Watts

“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.” ― Alan W. 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 W. Watts

“The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.” ― Alan W. Watts

“Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.” ― Alan W. Watts

“The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.” ― Alan W. Watts

“Try to imagine what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up… now try to imagine what it was like to wake up having never gone to sleep.” ― Alan W. Watts

“Every intelligent individual wants to know what makes him tick, and yet is at once fascinated and frustrated by the fact that oneself is the most difficult of all things to know.” ― Alan W. Watts

“A scholar tries to learn something everyday; a student of Buddhism tries to unlearn something daily.”― Alan W. Watts

“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 W. Watts

Image: lifehack.org

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