Title Image - Quotes by Author Alan Watts

Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Alan Watts. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.

Wikipedia Summary for Alan Watts

Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) was a British writer and speaker known for interpreting and popularising Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism for a Western audience.

Born in Chislehurst, England, he moved to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York. He received a master's degree in theology from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and became an Episcopal priest in 1945. He left the ministry in 1950 and moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies.

Watts gained a following while working as a volunteer programmer at the KPFA radio station in Berkeley. He wrote more than 25 books and articles on religion and philosophy, introducing the emerging hippie counterculture to The Way of Zen (1957), one of the first bestselling books on Buddhism. In Psychotherapy East and West (1961), he argued that Buddhism could be thought of as a form of psychotherapy. He considered Nature, Man and Woman (1958) to be, "from a literary point of view—the best book I have ever written." He also explored human consciousness and psychedelics in works such as The New Alchemy (1958) and The Joyous Cosmology (1962).

To be free from convention is not to spurn it but not to be deceived by it.

--Alan Watts

Basically, there is simply nothing to worry about, because you yourself are the eternal energy of the universe.

--Alan Watts

The state of nirvana means the blown-out state -- the relieved state - the sigh of relief. Nirvana may be translated into English as WHEW!

--Alan Watts

Cultural renewal comes about when highly differentiated cultures mix.

--Alan Watts

The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple.

--Alan Watts

Longer Version:

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.


One is a great deal less anxious if one feels perfectly free to be anxious.

--Alan Watts

To practice with an end in view is to have one eye on the practice and the other on the end, which is lack of concentration, lack of sincerity.

--Alan Watts

The brush must draw by itself. This cannot happen if one does not practice constantly. But neither can it happen if one makes an effort.

--Alan Watts

There was a young man who said though, it seems that I know that I know, but what I would like to see is the I that knows me when I know that I know that I know.

--Alan Watts

The source of all light is in the eye.

--Alan Watts

Other people teach us who we are. Their attitudes to us are the mirror in which we learn to see ourselves, but the mirror is distorted. We are, perhaps, rather dimly aware of the immense power of our social enviornment.

--Alan Watts

Our pleasures are not material pleasures, but symbols of pleasure -- attractively packaged but inferior in content.

--Alan Watts

And people get all fouled up because they want the world to have meaning as if it were words... As if you had a meaning, as if you were a mere word, as if you were something that could be looked up in a dictionary. You are meaning.

--Alan Watts

It is hard indeed to notice anything for which the languages available to us have no description.

--Alan Watts

Philosophers, for example, often fail to recognize that their remarks about the universe apply also to themselves and their remarks. If the universe is meaningless, so is the statement that it is so.

--Alan Watts

There is nothing at all that can be talked about adequately, and the whole art of poetry is to say what can't be said.

--Alan Watts

One is a great deal less anxious if one feels perfectly free to be anxious, and the same may be said of guilt.

--Alan Watts

So then, the relationship of self to other is the complete realization that loving yourself is impossible without loving everything defined as other than yourself.

--Alan Watts

For eternally and always there is only now, one and the same now; the present is the only thing that has no end.

--Alan Watts

To travel is to be alive, but to get somewhere is to be dead.

--Alan Watts

A priest once quoted to me the Roman saying that a religion is dead when the priests laugh at each other across the altar. I always laugh at the altar, be it Christian, Hindu, or Buddhist, because real religion is the transformation of anxiety into laughter.

--Alan Watts

Trust in human nature is acceptance of the good-and-bad of it, and it is hard to trust those who do not admit their own weakness.

--Alan Watts

Taoists do not look upon meditation as 'practice,' except in the sense that a doctor 'practices' medicine. They have no design to subjugate or alter the universe by force or willpower, for their art is entirely to go along with the flow of things in an intelligent way.

--Alan Watts

You cannot teach an ego to be anything but egotistic, even though egos have the subtlest ways of pretending to be reformed.

--Alan Watts

To know nature, the Tao, and the 'substance' of things. we must know it as, in the archaic sense, a man 'knows' a woman -- in the warm vagueness of immediate contact.

--Alan Watts

Cultures in which the individual feels isolated from nature are also cultures wherein men feel squeamish about the sexual relationship, often regarding it as degrading and evil -- especially for those dedicated to the life of the spirit.

--Alan Watts

To be forever looking beyond is to remain blind to what is here.

--Alan Watts

To give free rein to the course of feeling is therefore to observe it without interference, recognizing that because feeling is motion it is not to be understood in terms which imply not static states but judgments of good and bad.

--Alan Watts

Indeed, the world is not unlike a vast Rorschach blot which we read according to our inner disposition, in such a way that our interpretations say far more about ourselves than about the blot.

--Alan Watts

Growth in philosophical understanding, or just plain wisdom, is always a matter of being able to distinguish between levels of truth, and frames of reference, at the same time being able to see one's own life in its intimate relation to these differing and ever more universal levels.

--Alan Watts

Resistance disappears and the balancing process comes into full effect not by intention on the part of the subject, but only as it is seen that the feeling of being the subject, the ego, is itself part of the stream of experience and does not stand outside it in a controlling position.

--Alan Watts

For as the nonsense of the madman is a babble of words for its own fascination, the nonsense of nature and of the sage is the perception that the ultimate meaningless of the world contains the same hidden joy as its transience and emptiness.

--Alan Watts

An organic natural order has its proper correspondence in a mode of consciousness which is a total feeling or experiencing. Where feeling is broken up into the feeler and the feeling, the knower and the known, what lies in between the two is not relationship but mere juxtaposition.

--Alan Watts

The sense of the vast gulf between the ego and the world disappears and one's subjective inner life seems no longer to be separate from everything else, from one's total experience of the stream of nature.

--Alan Watts

Nature is ordered organically rather than politically, ... it is a field of relationships rather than a collection of things.

--Alan Watts

When our love for others is based simply on mutual need it becomes strangling -- a kind of vampirism in which we say, all too expressively, 'I love you so much I could eat you!' It is from such desiring that parental devotion becomes smother-love and marriage holy deadlock.

--Alan Watts

If God is universal, the knowledge of God should include all other knowledge as the sense of sight includes all the differing objects of vision. But if the eye should attempt to see sight, it will turn in upon itself and see nothing.

--Alan Watts

The more inward and central the form of activity, the less it partakes of the mask of the ego. To unveil the flow of thought can therefore be an even greater sexual intimacy than physical nakedness.

--Alan Watts

The full splendour of sexual experience does not reveal itself without a new mode of attention to the world in general.

--Alan Watts

The rift between God and nature would vanish if we knew how to experience nature, because what keeps them apart is not a difference of substance but a split in the mind.

--Alan Watts

Sexuality is not a separate compartment of human life; it is a radiance pervading every human relationship, but assuming a particular intensity at certain points.

--Alan Watts

The organism of man does not confront the world but is in the world.

--Alan Watts

To define means to fix, and, when you get down to it, real life isn't fixed.

--Alan Watts

Zen concentrates on the importance of seeing into one's own nature now at this moment -- not in five minutes when you have had time to accept yourself, nor ten years ahead when you have had time to retire to the mountains and meditate.

--Alan Watts

Great power is worry, and total power is boredom, such that even God renounces it and pretends, instead, that he is people and fish and insects and plants: the myth of the king who goes wandering among his subjects in disguise.

--Alan Watts

Nobody believes in God like an atheist: There is no God, and I am His prophet.

--Alan Watts


For if we open our eyes and see clearly, it becomes obvious that there is no other time than this instant, and that the past and the future are abstractions without any concrete reality.

--Alan Watts

Fast intercommunication between points is making all points the same point.

--Alan Watts

The less I preach, the more likely I am to be heard.

--Alan Watts

God is the Self of the world, but you can't see God for the same reason that, without a mirror, you can't see your own eyes, and you certainly can't bite your own teeth or look inside your head. Your self is that cleverly hidden because it is God hiding.

--Alan Watts

Unaccepted, the universe has no meaning; it is senseless fate and chaos, but acceptance is a way of discovering meaning, not of manufacturing it.

--Alan Watts

For God is the wholeness of life, which includes every possible aspect of man and is known in accepting the whole of our experience at each moment.

--Alan Watts

At each moment the mystic accepts the whole of his experience, including himself as he is, his circumstances as they are, and the relationship between them as it is. Wholeness is his keyword; his acceptance is total, and he excludes no part of his experience, however unsavory it may be.

--Alan Watts

For while scientist and logician dissect and analyze, the mystic looks for meaning in the whole.

--Alan Watts

Trying to explain Zen is like trying to catch wind in a box; the moment you the lid it ceases to be wind and in time becomes stagnant air.

--Alan Watts

But God is always found where He is least expected, and no one would have thought of looking for Him in the cowshed of a country inn.

--Alan Watts

When life is empty, with respect to the past, and aimless, with respect to the future, the vacuum is filled by the present -- normally reduced to a hairline, a split second in which there is no time for anything to happen.

--Alan Watts

A world which increasingly consists of destinations without journeys between them, a world which values only getting somewhere as fast as possible, becomes a world without substance.

--Alan Watts

Our progress has been almost exclusively technological, which means that we are able to manipulate the physical world ever more sensationally, to increase the speed, the span, and the powers of material existence without any clear idea of what to do with the time gained and the powers acquired.

--Alan Watts

True, the seed does not intend to move itself with the wind, but neither did I intend to have arms and legs.

--Alan Watts

Yet could anything be more obvious than that the past follows from the present like a comet's tail, and that if we are to be alive at all, here is the place to be?

--Alan Watts

No one wants to be loved out of a sense of duty.

--Alan Watts

I am not looking at the world, not confronting it; I am knowing it by a continuous process of transforming it into myself, so that everything around me, the whole globe of space, no longer feels away from me but in the middle.

--Alan Watts

The present is self-sufficient, but it is not a static present. It is a dancing present--the unfolding of a pattern which has no specific destination in the future but is simply its own point. It leaves and arrives simultaneously, and the seed is as much the goal as the flower.

--Alan Watts

For the task of the psychotherapist is to bring about a reconciliation between individual feeling and social norms without, however, sacrificing the integrity of the individual.

--Alan Watts

I have no other self than the totality of things of which I am aware.

--Alan Watts

I am basically an eternal existence
momentarily and perhaps needlessly
terrified by one half of itself.

--Alan Watts

Kindly let me help you or you will drown said the monkey putting the fish safely up a tree.

--Alan Watts

In a relativistic universe you don't cling to anything, you learn to swim. And you know what swimming is -- it's kind of a relaxed attitude with the water. In which you don't keep yourself afloat by holding the water, but by a certain giving to it.

--Alan Watts

Anxiety is the fear that one of a pair of opposites might cancel the other. Forever.

--Alan Watts

But to me nothing, the negative, the empty, is exceedingly powerful.

--Alan Watts

To have order, you must have randomness, because where you have no randomness order cannot manifest itself.

--Alan Watts

In known history, nobody has had such capacity for altering the universe than the people of the United States of America. And nobody has gone about it in such an aggressive way.

--Alan Watts

The secret of the enjoyment of pleasure is to know when to stop. Man doesn't learn this secret easily, but to shun pleasure altogether is cowardly avoidance of a difficult job. For we have to learn the art of enjoying things because they are impermanent.

--Alan Watts

Buddhism ... is not a culture but a critique of culture, an enduring nonviolent revolution or loyal opposition to the culture in which it is involved.

--Alan Watts

Courage is the goal of cowards.

--Alan Watts

Duality is always secretly unity.

--Alan Watts

No one is more dangerously insane than one who is sane all the time: he is like a steel bridge without flexibility, and the order of his life is rigid and brittle.

--Alan Watts

The animal tends to eat with his stomach, and the man with his brain. When the animal's stomach is full, he stops eating, but the man is never sure when to stop. When he has eaten as much as his belly can take, he still feels empty, he still feels an urge for further gratification.

--Alan Watts

Thanks for visiting. We hope you enjoyed this collection of quotes by Alan Watts. Please share widely. We wish you a purr-fect day!