20 Alan Watts Quotes That Will Shift Your Perspective On Life


Yet another beautiful mind of the 20th Century; Alan Watts, has inspired the minds of millions with his genius, intellectual crispness and thought-provoking lines. In his early life he discovered his great passion for Eastern thought and made it his life work to study and write about Eastern philosophy,

Particularly Zen Buddhism but also Taoism, Hinduism and Confucianism, sometimes blended with perspectives in cybernetics and the latest scientific views of his time.

He wrote extensively with some of his books becoming extremely popular such as “The Way of Zen” (1957), “The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are” (1966), and his first publication “The Spirit of Zen” (1936). Where Alan Watts quotes directly from his books, lectures or on radio broadcasts, these remain some of the most iconic—especially in the area of spirituality, Eastern thought and free-spirited philosophy.

Here are some of the most thought-provoking and mind-opening Alan Watts Quotes I have hand picked for you:

 Our hand-picked, Alan Watts quotes list

~ About Life ~

Here are a few Alan Watts Quotes about life. The biggest questions in philosophy have to do with the purpose and meaning of life. Having acquired great insight through studying Zen and reading scholarly text about Eastern philosophy, Watts often refers to these deep questions with piercing simplicity and beautiful metaphors.

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. (Tweet this)

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. (Tweet this)

Paradoxical as it may seem, the purposeful life has no content, no point. It hurries on and on, and misses everything. Not hurrying, the purposeless life misses nothing, for it is only when there is no goal and no rush that the human senses are fully open to receive the world. (Tweet this)

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. (Tweet this)

~ About Trusting and Being Part Of The Universe ~

Through his own work and study, Watts became increasingly convinced of the idea that we are an integral function of the Universe and that the Universe is exploring itself through our consciousness which is ultimately connected to the One consciousness. Here are some remarkable Alan Watts quotes reflecting this idea.

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. (Tweet this)

You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself. (Tweet this)

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. (Tweet this)

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. (Tweet this)

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. (Tweet this)

Technology is destructive only in the hands of people who do not realize that they are one and the same process as the universe. (Tweet this)

If we cling to belief in God, we cannot likewise have faith, since faith is not clinging but letting go. (Tweet this)

~ About Zen and The Art Of Living ~

Watt’s views on life are considered to be ‘Zennist’, obviously owing to the influence of Zen in his life’s work. These Alan Watts quotes below are exemplary pearls of wisdom that give us insight into life issues such as morality, dealing with change, and our view about money.

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. (Tweet this)

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. (Tweet this)

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. (Tweet this)

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. (Tweet this)

A scholar tries to learn something everyday; a student of Buddhism tries to unlearn something daily. (Tweet this)

Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone. (Tweet this)

Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun. (Tweet this)

Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth. (Tweet this)

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. (Tweet this)

Final Thoughts

I hope you have enjoyed these Alan Watts Quotes—but more, that perhaps they can impact your life the way they’ve impacted mine. There are more things to say, of course, than can be covered in just one post, but you may find this article on balancing your inner relationships to be a good place to start.

About the Author

Gilbert Ross is a researcher, blogger, philosopher and online media expert. He teaches personal development topics through workshops and the online media, particularly about positive life transformations and unfolding the human potential.

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