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Alan Watts

  • English philosopher
  • Born January 6, 1915
  • Died November 16, 1973

Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) was a British philosopher who interpreted and popularised Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. Born in Chislehurst, England, he moved to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York. Pursuing a career, he attended Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, where he received a master's degree in theology. Watts became an Episcopal priest in 1945, then left the ministry in 1950 and moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies.


We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain.

We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain.




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

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




A myth is an image in terms of which we try to make sense of the world.




Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.




Things are as they are. Looking out into it the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.




Buddhism has in it no idea of there being a moral law laid down by somekind of cosmic lawgiver.




We identify in our exerience a differentiation between what we do and what happens to us.




I owe my solitude to other people.




The religious idea of God cannot do full duty for the metaphysical infinity.




Wars based on principle are far more destructive... the attacker will not destroy that which he is after.




Reality is only a Rorschach ink-blot, you know.




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




You and I are all as much continuous with the physical universe as a wave is continuous with the ocean.




The style of God venerated in the church, mosque, or synagogue seems completely different from the style of the natural universe.




No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.




You are that vast thing that you see far, far off with great telescopes.




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.




The moralist is the person who tells people that they ought to be unselfish, when they still feel like egos, and his efforts are always and invariably futile.




Some believe all that parents, tutors, and kindred believe. They take their principles by inheritance, and defend them as they would their estates, because they are born heirs to them.




But 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.




Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command.




Saints need sinners.

Saints need sinners.




What the devil is the point of surviving, going on living, when it's a drag? But you see, that's what people do.




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.




So what is discord at one level of your being is harmony at another level.




The reason we have poverty is that we have no imagination. There are a great many people accumulating what they think is vast wealth, but it's only money... they don't know how to enjoy it, because they have no imagination.




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.




Omnipotence is not knowing how everything is done; it's just doing it.




You don't look out there for God, something in the sky, you look in you.




Faith is a state of openness or trust.




How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself anything less than a god.




The reason we want to go on and on is because we live in an impoverished present.

The reason we want to go on and on is because we live in an impoverished present.




So the bodhisattva saves all beings, not by preaching sermons to them, but by showing them that they are delivered, they are liberated, by the act of not being able to stop changing.




But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.

But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.




If you study the writings of the mystics, you will always find things in them that appear to be paradoxes, as in Zen, particularly.




The myths underlying our culture and underlying our common sense have not taught us to feel identical with the universe, but only parts of it, only in it, only confronting it - aliens.



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