40 Powerful Alan Watts Quotes

On Love

“The first thing to discover is what indeed you do love, and you will find there is something.”
“Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command.”
“Love is not something that is a sort of rare commodity, everybody has it.”

On Emotions

“This is one of the peculiar problems of our culture, that we are terrified of our feelings.”
“We have frustration because we are fighting the changing of things.”
“Most problems that are solved in a rush are solved in the wrong way, especially emotional problems between people.”
“There are no wrong feelings.”

On Perception

“This whole world is a phantasmagoria, an amazing illusion.”
“Things and events have only a verbal reality.”
“The world is precisely the relationship between the world and its witnesses, and so if there are no eyes in this world, the sun doesn’t make any light, nor do the stars.”
“If you don’t remember anything you don’t know you’re there.”
“We notice only what we think noteworthy, and therefore our visions highly selective.”
“Memory creates the future as well as the past, you wouldn’t know that you were going to have anything happen tomorrow if you didn’t have something yesterday.”
“There is nothing except the eternal now.”

On Life and Death

“The meaning of being alive is just being alive.”
“Dying should be one of the great events of life.”

On the Universe

“Everything that happens, everything that I have ever done, everything that anybody else have ever done is part of a harmonious design, that there is no error at all.”
“You and I are as much continuous with the universe as a wave is continuous with the ocean.”
“Everything in this universe depends on everything else.”
“Through our eyes, the universe perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.”

On Balance

“Everybody has to be salted by a certain unrespectability.”
“To be implies not to be.”
“All insides have outsides.”
“You can only be on the in in relation to something that is out.”
“The positive cannot exist without the negative.”

On Art and Creativity

“Creative people can stimulate creativity in others, by osmosis.”
“An artist is a person who performs certain things skillfully, but doesn’t really know how he does it. You learn art by methods that you don’t know how you learnt, you can’t describe, because your brain is capable of absorbing all kinds of information that is much too subtle to be translated into words.”

On Choice and Misguidedness

“We have been literally hypnotized by social convention into feeling and sensing that we exist only inside our skins.”
“Choice is not a form of freedom in the sense of the word; choice is the act of hesitation that occurs before making a decision.”
“Every manifestation of life is impermanent. Our quest to make things permanent, to straighten everything out, to get it fixed is an impossible and insoluble problem.”

On You

“My image of me is not at all your image of me.”
“That, you see is the most difficult thing to do, is to accept oneself completely.”
“You have all eternity through which to live in various forms.”
“You are the animate sensitive being on the inside of the skin.”
“The ego is your symbol of yourself, just as the word ‘water’ is a noise that symbolizes a certain liquid reality. So the idea of the ego, the role you play, who you are is not the same as your living organism. Your ego has absolutely nothing to do with the way you color your eyes, shape your body, circulate your blood, that’s the real you, but its certainly not your ego.”
“[Our ego] is composed of our image of ourselves, as when we say to somebody, you must improve your image. Now, this image of ourselves is obviously not ourselves any more than the idea of a tree is a tree.”
“A lot of the current quest for identity among younger people is a search for an acceptable image.”
“Our image of ourselves is completely inaccurate and incomplete.”
“All people feel themselves in the middle, they feel central to their own experience.”


“The physical body is the body as examined by others; the subtle body is the way you feel yourself.”

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