28 Existential Lessons from Alan Watts

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

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.

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.

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

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.

Faith is a state of openness or trust.

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

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

I owe my solitude to other people.

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

In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe, becomes a person who has no faith at all.

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

But we try to pretend, you see, that the external world exists altogether independently of us.

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.

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.

And although our bodies are bounded with skin, and we can differentiate between outside and inside, they cannot exist except in a certain kind of natural environment.

To me nothing – the negative, the empty – is exceedingly powerful.

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

What is discord at one level of your being, is harmony at another level.

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