These quotes by Alan Watts lead to deep reflection. They shake up your understanding of the world, life and relationships and give you a window into the fertile depths of being human.
Alan Watts (1915-1973) was a British writer and philosopher known for his interpretation of Eastern philosophy. He was also famous for his efforts to bring it to the Western world.
He was ironic and humorous. He wanted people to reflect on life and ask ourselves questions that could deconstruct our reality and break out of our framework.
Watts wrote over 25 books and many articles on things like identity, happiness, consciousness, Zen, the nature and love of reality in its broadest, deepest sense. Some of his most famous works are The Wisdom of Insecurity (1951), The Way of Zen (1957) and Tao: The Watercourse Way (1975), just to name a few.
In this article we will give you a small selection of the best quotes by Alan Watts. They are also a gift that can help you feel more alive and connected to reality.
Nine Amazing Quotes By Alan Watts
The trap of thought
We can either be masters or slaves of our thoughts. It does not depend on anyone but ourselves. Thinking is not bad in itself, but it can become dangerous if you cling to it and get caught in the vicious circle of belief.
To be infallible, perfect, and slip into a single understanding of the world (and the truth) and believe that other people cannot fail you and push them away if they do. These are just some examples of the most common ways we distance ourselves from reality and feed our own suffering.
Thoughts are powerful and you need to know how to use them properly. It means moderation, as well as knowing when to prune if they are trying to grow into a state of confusion and self-deception. Alan Watts believed that the best way to control them was to accept the present, to connect with who you are at the moment.
The limitation of the words
Language is a social tool that we invented to shape reality into a more comprehensible form. But in some cases it also makes reality difficult to understand.
The richness of language allows us to describe some amazing things, but it has its limitations. What has been said or written is not always enough to really express what we feel or see around us.
The problem is when you accept that language has boundaries and assume you can go no further. It would be like being myopic towards the world of the senses, the experiences. That would mean living half as much as we really can, or maybe less. That’s why Alan Watts was so interested in the language.
The secret behind life’s path
This quote from Alan Watts can bear some wonderful fruit if you plant it in your mind. Enjoying the path of life is much more enriching than achieving any kind of goal. The experience of every single moment, building a connection with the present… this makes you aware of reality.
Some of us have a bad habit of being obsessed with the end of something. We want to taste victory without having to worry about the road to get there. This also has a negative side that you may not have thought of. If you have not been aware of the path to your goal, you will also not be aware of all the effort you have put into it.
The importance of the present
The present is a recurring theme in the story and not its main focus. Therefore, we can not just let it slip past us. When people with completely different ideologies all talk about one thing, it is probably worth paying attention to. That should make it one of the items on your to-do list.
We find ourselves in a maze that connects the past and the future without realizing that we have the key to the end: the present. We do a good job of telling ourselves stories full of fear, worry and guilt.
We walk around exhausted, with our heads bowed, thinking about what once was and what will come. But you can only experience the reality of your life if you focus on the present.
The value of detachment
Sticking to things, situations and people is like building walls that prevent life from flowing. All you get in return is suffering. You are fed with concepts of belonging, control and power. What it does is push you away from your true essence and hold on to the material world in the satisfaction-dissatisfaction dynamic.
This quote shows the influence that Eastern philosophy had on Alan Watts. You need to drop the idea that things and people belong to you. Otherwise, you just become a victim of fear and loss, and it only leads to more and more suffering.
Knowing how to give up things is the key to getting away from the traps of expectation and desire. Once you have done that, it is much easier to reach a state of fulfillment and harmony.
The value of perishability
This is another of our favorite quotes by Alan Watts, and it’s worth writing behind the ear. Perishability is the law of transience. It is the law that says that nothing remains because everything is constantly changing. Things may seem the same as yesterday, but there is always a difference, whether they are inside or outside of you.
Accepting transience and making it part of your life philosophy is the first step to getting away from the traps of lust, ego, ignorance and uncontrolled passion for sensory experiences. Here is another quote by Alan Watts that explains it in a different way:
The meaninglessness of security
We hate insecurity and not having control. But what you are not aware of, or sometimes just ignore, is that there is nothing safe in life. Everything we believe brings with it a certain illusion. When you begin to believe in security, you open yourself up to suffering and being caught in the web of fear and need.
A lot of quotes by Alan Watts in The Wisdom of Insecurity are reflections on this. He also said: “If we are to enjoy ourselves an enjoyable gift, we must be sure of a happy future, we cry out for the moon.” “Why? Because as mentioned above, it is impossible to be sure of anything. What it does is open the door for you to enjoy insecurity.
It is impossible to avoid pain, disappointment and suffering in life. To try to protect yourself behind security is nothing but an illusion. It is a short-term solution that only creates problems in the long run. The more security you seek, the more you suffer. Nothing is static, everything changes. In other words: Nothing can stay the same forever.
The concept of interdependence
This quote has a strong connection to Buddhist philosophy and one of its most basic concepts: interdependence. According to this religion , all elements of the world are dependent on one another. In other words, things depend on each other for reasons that are in constant motion and that always interact with each other.
It also means they are empty inside. That things exist somehow and that we can interact with them just means that they are largely non-existent.
This may at first be difficult to understand because it says that change and interaction are the basic conditions of our consciousness of existence. It is by accepting this duality and separating things that you begin to believe in individual identity. That is what makes suffering possible in our lives.
As you can see, these quotes by Alan Watts are a wonderful tool for reflection and awaken your consciousness. They can help you expand your mental and visual understanding of the world. They are also small lumps of wisdom that you should always keep in mind on your journey to personal growth.
Before we go, we’ll give you a video of one of Alan Watts’ most famous lectures. It’s about the spectrum of love. We are sure you will love it!