Alan Watts

Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) English writer, speaker and self-styled "philosophical entertainer", known for interpreting and popularising Japanese, Chinese and Indian traditions of Buddhist, Taoist, and Hindu philosophy for a Western audience.

The basic assumption of unionism was not the dignity but the drudgery of labor, and the strategy was, therefore, to do as little as possible for as much pay as possible. Thus, as automation eliminates drudgery, it eliminates the necessity for the unions, a truth that is already extending up to such "high-class" unions as the musicians'. The piper who hates to play is replaced by a tape, which does not object when the payer calls the tune. If, then, the unions are to have any further usefulness, they must use their political pressure, not for a greater share of profits (based on rising prices to pay for rising wages) but for total revision of the concept and function of money.
This may sound feckless and undisciplined, as if young people (especially hippies) had become incapable of postponing gratification. Thus, it might seem that the worldwide rebellions of students are a sign that the adolescent is no longer willing to work through the period of training that it takes to become an adult. "Elders and betters" do not understand that today's students do not want to become their kind of adult, which is what the available training is intended to produce.
If we seek the meaning in the past, the chain of cause and effect vanishes like the wake of a ship. If we seek it in the future, it fades out like the beam of a searchlight in the night sky. If we seek it in the present, it is as elusive as flying spray, and there is nothing to grasp. But when only the seeking remains and we seek to know what this is, it suddenly turns into the mountains and waters, the sky and the stars, sufficient to themselves with no one left to seek anything from them.
You can, indeed, refuse to admit this, but only at the cost of the immense and futile effort of spending your whole life resisting the inevitable.
All this will involve a curious reversal of the Protestant ethic, which, at least in the United States, is one of the big obstacles to a future of wealth and leisure for all. The Devil, it is said, finds work for idle hands to do, and human energy cannot be trusted unless most of it is absorbed in hard, productive work—so that, on coming home, we are too tired to get into mischief. It is feared that affluence plus leisure will, as in times past, lead to routs and orgies and all the perversities that flow therefrom, and then on to satiation, debilitation, and decay—as in Hogarth's depiction of A Rake's Progress.
When you get the message, it's time to hang up the phone.
The meaning of being alive is just being alive.
When you die, you're not going to have to put up with everlasting non-existance, because that's not an experience. A lot of people are afraid that when they die, they're going to be locked up in a dark room forever, - Try and imagine what it would be like to go to sleep and never wake up. And if you think long enough about will pose the next question. What was it like to wake up after never having gone to sleep? That was when you were can't have an experience of nothing so after you're dead the only thing that can happen is the same experience or the same sort of experience as when you were born.
What you are basically, deep, deep down, far, far inn, is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself.
Peace can be made only by those who are peaceful, and love can be shown only by those who love.
Conscious attention is not really the effective controlling force in your life, it’s merely the lookout. It's merely an information source which warns the organism as a whole of unusual features of the environment. […] It is the trouble-shooter - and if you identify yourself with your trouble-shooter, well then, you become one-sided and you become a perpetually anxious person.
As an apple tree apples the solar system in which we live peoples and therefore we are an expression of its energy and of its nature.
The startling truth is that our best efforts for civil rights, international peace, population control, conservation of natural resources, and assistance to the starving of the earth—urgent as they are—will destroy rather than help if made in the present spirit. For, as things stand, we have nothing to give. If our own riches and our own way of life are not enjoyed here, they will not be enjoyed anywhere else.
There may be wrong actions in the sense of actions contrary to the rules of human communication. But the way you feel towards other people: loving, hating, et cetera, et cetera; there aren’t any wrong feelings. And so, to try and force one’s feelings to be other than what they are is absurd. And furthermore: dishonest. But you see: the idea that there are no wrong feelings is an immensely threatening one to people who are afraid to feel. This is one of the peculiar problems of our culture: we are terrified of our feelings. We think that if we give them any scope and if we don’t immediately beat them down, they will lead us down into all kinds of chaotic and destructive actions. But if, for a change, we would allow our feelings and look upon their comings and goings as something as beautiful and necessary as changes in the weather, the going of night and day and the four seasons, we would be at peace with ourselves.
I had a long talk with Jung back in 1958 and I was enormously impressed with a man who was obviously very great but, at the same time, with whom everybody could be completely at ease. There are so many great people, great in knowledge or great in what is called holiness with whom the ordinary individual feels rather embarrassed. He feels inclined to sit on the edge of his chair and to feel immediately judged by this person’s wisdom or sanctity. Jung managed to have wisdom and I think also sanctity in such a way that when other people came into its presence they didn’t feel judged, they felt enhanced, encouraged and invited to share in a common life. And there was a sort of twinkle in Jung’s eye that gave me the impression that he knew himself to be just as much a villain as everybody else. There’s a nice German word - ‘hintergedanke’, which means a thought in the very far far back of your mind. Jung had a hintergedanke in the back of his mind which showed, it showed in the twinkle in his eyes, it showed that he knew and recognized what i have sometimes called ‘the element of irreducible rascality’ in himself.
He comes back because he sees the two worlds are the same, the transcendental world and the every day world.
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.
The free man walks straight ahead; he has no hesitations and never looks behind, for he knows that there is nothing in the future and nothing in the past that can shake his freedom.
Omul perfect folosește mintea ca pe o oglindă. Nu apucă nimic; nu refuză nimic. Primește, dar nu păstrează.
Everyone has a religion, whether admitted or not, because it is impossible to be human without having some basic assumptions (or intuitions) about existence and the good life.
Earth is in heaven. It spins, falls, and floats in a spiral nebula. Earth is not opposed to heaven: it belongs in it as a member of the whole company of the stars.
Thus in using myth one must take care not to confuse image with fact, which would be like climbing up the signpost instead of following the road.
Nature appears to be a hierarchy of many grades, corresponding to what the scientist calls ''levels of magnification." Thus when we adjust our lenses to watch the individual cells of an organism we see only particular successes and failures, victories and defeats in what appears to be a ruthless ''dog-eat-dog'' battle. But when we change the level of magnification to observe the organism as a whole, we see that what was conflict at the lower level is harmony at the higher: that the health, the ongoing life of the organism is precisely the outcome of this microscopic turmoil.
As is so often the way, what we have suppressed and overlooked is something startlingly obvious. The difficulty is that it is so obvious and basic that one can hardly find the words for it. The Germans call it a Hintergedanke, an apprehension lying tacitly in the back of our minds which we cannot easily admit, even to ourselves. The sensation of "I" as a lonely and isolated center of being is so powerful and commonsensical, and so fundamental to our modes of speech and thought, to our laws and social institutions, that we cannot experience selfhood except as something superficial in the scheme of the universe. I seem to be a brief light that flashes but once in all the aeons of time — a rare, complicated, and all-too-delicate organism on the fringe of biological evolution, where the wave of life bursts into individual, sparkling, and multicolored drops that gleam for a moment only to vanish forever. Under such conditioning it seems impossible and even absurd to realize that myself does not reside in the drop alone, but in the whole surge of energy which ranges from the galaxies to the nuclear fields in my body. At this level of existence "I" am immeasurably old; my forms are infinite and their comings and goings are simply the pulses or vibrations of a single and eternal flow of energy.
Taoism, Confucianism, and Zen are expressions of a mentality which feels completely at home in this universe, and which sees man as an integral part of his environment. Human intelligence is not an imprisoned spirit from afar but an aspect of the whole intricately balanced organism of the natural world [...].
Sanctity or sagehood as an exclusive vocation is [...] symptomatic of an exclusive mode of consciousness in particular. Its basic assumption is that God and nature are in competition and that man must choose between them. Its standpoint is radically dualistic.
To succeed is always to fail-in the sense that the more one succeeds in anything, the greater is the need to go on succeeding. To eat is to survive to be hungry.
When I leave the Church and the city behind and go out under the sky, when I am with the birds, [...] with the clouds, [...] and with the oceans, [...] I cannot feel Christianity because I am in a world which grows from within. I am simply incapable of feeling its life as coming from above. More exactly, I cannot feel that its life comes from Another, from one who is qualitatively and spiritually external to all that lives and grows. On the contrary, I feel this whole world to be moved from the inside, and from an inside so deep that it is my inside as well, more truly I than my surface consciousness.
Listen, there’s something I must tell. I’ve never, never seen it so clearly. But it doesn’t matter a bit if you don’t understand, because each one of you is quite perfect as you are, even if you don’t know it. Life is basically a gesture, but no one, no thing, is making it. There is no necessity for it to happen, and none for it to go on happening. For it isn’t being driven by anything; it just happens freely of itself. It’s a gesture of motion, of sound, of color, and just as no one is making it, it isn’t happening to anyone. There is simply no problem of life; it is completely purposeless play – exuberance which is its own end. Basically there is the gesture. Time, space, and multiplicity are complications of it. There is no reason whatever to explain it, for explanations are just another form of complexity, a new manifestation of life on top of life, of gestures gesturing. Pain and suffering are simply extreme forms of play, and there isn’t anything in the whole universe to be afraid of because it doesn’t happen to anyone! There isn’t any substantial ego at all. The ego is a kind of flip, a knowing of knowing, a fearing of fearing. It’s a curlicue, an extra jazz to experience, a sort of double-take or reverberation, a dithering of consciousness which is the same as anxiety.
To begin with, this world has a different kind of time. It is the time of biological rhythm, not of the clock and all that goes with the clock. There is no hurry. Our sense of time is notoriously subjective and thus dependent upon the quality of our attention, whether of interest or boredom, and upon the alignment of our behavior in terms of routines, goals, and deadlines. Here the present is self-sufficient, but it is not a static present. It is a dancing presentóthe 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. There is therefore time to perceive every detail of the movement with infinitely greater richness of articulation. Normally we do not so much look at things as overlook them.