Six Great Quotes From Alan Watts
Author of Buddhist bestseller The Way of Zen, Alan Watts was a British-born philosopher and writer who hugely popularised Eastern philosophy in the west. He trained in Zen in New York and studied theology at master’s level. He bridged the divide between Eastern philosophy and western living, and his writings still heavily influence modern culture.
“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, realise it is play.” – If you don’t enjoy whatever you’re doing now, or don’t consider your enjoyment of its results worthy of a little labour, don’t do it. Your time on this world is much shorter than it feels and the sad fact is that people often don’t realise that until they’re on their deathbed. Make every moment you live a happy one.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join in the dance.” – If you can’t move with the flow of the world, you’ll get left behind. Change happens and you have to be prepared to embrace it, even if at first it seems scary or difficult or counter-productive.
“The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.” – Nothing lasts forever. It often seems like the things we wish would stay the longest are those that are the briefest. Be aware of this impermanence and, rather than fear or hate it, let it remind you to cherish every moment of joy you experience.
“Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.” – A student and teacher of Zen his whole life, Watts was a man who could claim some authority on it. He reminds us that spirituality is what you make of it, but to follow the Zen method is not, like religion, to have all the answers to the secrets of the universe. Rather, it is to try to find the truth of your own, personal, individual experience of this world by taking every moment into consideration so you can experience it to its fullest extent.
“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.” – This rather beautiful sentiment not only dispels a lot of the existential stress people often inflict upon themselves, but it also reminds you that you are special, you have the ability and the right to control your own destiny and that whatever you do with it is and forever will be uniquely yours.
“It’s better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way.” – If you deny yourself all your favourite pleasures so that you might live a little longer, what is the point in having that extra time? What will you do with it but continue to deny yourself? Don’t let your fear of death ruin what little time you do have on this world. Do what fulfils you. Do the things that make your life one that you are happy to have led.
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