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11 Alan Watts Inspirational Quotes that May Change Your Life

Alan Watts died in 1973, the year I was born. His thoughts about the Universe will always speak to you, specifically the 11 Alan Watts inspirational quotes that may change your life you can find at the end of this article. These 11 quotes are representative of his view of the world, of what he called IT, the Dao, the system, the way it all works, all being part of it while it is part of everything.

In case you haven’t had the chance to come across his work and lectures, before you read his amazing thoughts, allow me to introduce you to Alan Watts’ view of the world. This is a beginner’s guide to Alan Watts thoughts of the Universe, of the world as he knew it.

Who was Alan Watts?

Alan Watts, early 1970s (Image courtesy of Everett Collection)

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

He was a philosopher whose writings influenced the beat and hippie generations and helped popularize Zen Buddhism in the United States.

How did Alan Watts characterize himself?

Mr. Watts characterized himself as a “spiritual entertainer” whose function was to enliven the theory and practice of all religions. He was not, he emphasized, concerned with dogma. (New York Times, 1973 archives)

How many wives and children did Alan Watts have?

He had 3 wives and 7 children.

What did Alan Watts think of drugs?

Alan Watts said about psychedelic drug use:

“If you get the message, hang up the phone. For psychedelic drugs are simply instruments, like microscopes, telescopes, and telephones. The biologist does not sit with eye permanently glued to the microscope, he goes away and works on what he has seen.”

Alan Watts’ influence in the 21st century

I have devoured his books and lectures over the past few years. At a certain point, a few years ago, I literally became obsessed with his voice, his humor, his innocence. Although most of his lectures were delivered while he was drunk, it made no difference to me, as his ideas were always perfectly expressed, and his mind was always clear. Alan Watts inspirational quotes and wit changed my life and I am grateful for having the chance to learn so much from him.

Who was Alan Watts influenced by?

The Buddha, Jesus Christ, Lao Tzu, Bodhidharma, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Carl Jung, D. T. Suzuki, Ruth Fuller Sasaki, Jean Burden, Joseph Campbell, Haridas Chaudhuri were among Alan Watts’ teachers and role models.

Alan Watts’ view of the world

In some of his publications, especially Beyond Theology and The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Alan Watts advanced a worldview drawing on Hinduism, Daoism, pantheism, and modern science.

He argued that the universe consists of a cosmic Self playing hide-and-seek (Lila) while hiding from itself (Maya) embodying itself into all living and non-living things and forgetting what it really is. Thus, we are all IT in disguise. Alan Watts asserted that our view of ourselves as an “ego in a bag of skin”, or “skin-encapsulated ego” is a myth; the entities we call the separate “things” are features of the whole.

His books also reflect his keen interest in patterns that occur in nature. Patterns are repeated in various ways and at a wide range of scales, including those pertaining to the history of civilizations.

Alan Watts inspirational quotes on the role of philosophy

Living in the flow, living a Wu Wei life was Alan Watts’ sole purpose. Thus, he saw beyond the inopportune efforts of scholars, preachers, philosophers, etc. to organize the Universe according to their ideas instead of accepting that thinking too much can lead only to disaster. Nevertheless, he acknowledged that “wonder” is acceptable in arts and poetry as it distinguishes humans from animals. Here are some quotes from The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are:

“Most philosophical problems are to be solved by getting rid of them, by coming to the point where you see that such questions as “Why this universe?” are a kind of intellectual neurosis, a misuse of words in that the question sounds sensible but is actually as meaningless as asking “Where is this universe?” when the only things that are anywhere must be somewhere inside the universe. The task of philosophy is to cure people of such nonsense. . . . Nevertheless, wonder is not a disease. Wonder, and its expression in poetry and the arts, are among the most important things which seem to distinguish men from other animals, and intelligent and sensitive people from morons.”

11 Alan Watts inspirational quotes that may change your life

Alan Watts
Alan Watts

1 – Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.

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

3 – 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.

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

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

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

7 – 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.

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

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

10 – You don’t look out there for God, something in the sky, you look in you.

11 – We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.” Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.

Before you go to the conclusion, please check 2 other articles inspired by Alan Watts’ view of the world:

For daily inspirational quotes to live by, follow me on Instagram: the_vivi_1111.

For stories about spiritual life in Bucharest, Romania and inspirational quotes follow me on Facebook: thevivi1111.

Alan Watts quotes
Alan Watts quotes

Conclusion

To sum up, I will give you another quote reflecting Alan Watts’ view of the world, from Become What You Are :

“To know that you can do nothing is the beginning. Lesson One is: “I Give Up”… What happens now? You find yourself in what is perhaps a rather unfamiliar state of mind.” Just watching. Not trying to get anything. Not expecting anything. Not seeking. Just trying to relax. Just watching, without purpose.”

About the author:

Vivi has been writing about the process of self-realization through mindfulness and compassion since the age of six. She has dedicated her last years to helping people know themselves and live their best life. In addition, Vivi has taught around 10,000 students since 1990, and she blogs about the role of cooking at the intersection of food and self-mastery using simple recipes and copyright food photos. Subscribe to this site to stay updated with new posts on living the best life.

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11 Alan Watts Inspirational Quotes that May Change Your Life
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11 Alan Watts Inspirational Quotes that May Change Your Life
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11 Alan Watts Inspirational Quotes that May Change Your Life is a short article about the great work and life of the famous British writer, speaker and philosopher who popularized Zen Buddhism, Taoism and Hinduism for a Western audience.
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