Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Alan Watts Quotes

"What we have forgotten is that thoughts and words are conventions, and that it is fatal to take conventions too seriously. A convention is a social convenience, as, for example, money ... but it is absurd to take money too seriously, to confuse it with real wealth ... In somewhat the same way, thoughts, ideas and words are "coins" for real things."
— Alan W. Watts (The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety)

"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."
— Alan W. Watts

"A priest once quoted to me the Roman saying that a religion is dead when the priests laugh at each other across the altar. I always laugh at the altar, be it Christian, Hindu, or Buddhist, because real religion is the transformation of anxiety into laughter."
— Alan W. Watts

"For unless one is able to live fully in the present, the future is a hoax. There is no point whatever in making plans for a future which you will never be able to enjoy. When your plans mature, you will still be living for some other future beyond. You will never, never be able to sit back with full contentment and say, "Now, I've arrived!" Your entire
education has deprived you of this capacity because it was preparing you for the future, instead of showing you how to be alive now."
— Alan W. Watts

"This state of affairs is known technically as the "double-bind." A person is put in a double-bind by a command or request which contains a concealed contradiction...This is a damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don't situation which arises constantly in human (and especially family) relations...

The social double-bind game can be phrased in several ways: The first rule of this game is that it is not a game.
Everyone must play. You must love us. You must go on living. Be yourself, but play a consistent and acceptable role.
Control yourself and be natural. Try to be sincere.
Essentially, this game is a demand for spontaneous behavior of certain kinds. Living, loving, being natural or sincere—all these are spontaneous forms of behavior: they happen "of themselves" like digesting food or growing hair. As soon as they are forced they acquire that unnatural, contrived, and phony atmosphere which everyone deplores—weak and scentless like forced flowers and tasteless like forced fruit. Life and love generate effort, but effort will not generate them. Faith—in life, in other people, and in oneself—is the attitude of allowing the spontaneous to be spontaneous, in its own way and in its own time."
— Alan W. Watts (The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are)

"We do not "come into" this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree."
— Alan W. Watts (The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are)

"You have seen that the universe is at root a magical illusion and a fabulous game, and that there is no separate "you" to get something out of it, as if life were a bank to be robbed. The only real "you" is the one that comes and goes, manifests and withdraws itself eternally in and as every conscious being. For "you" is the universe looking at itself from billions of points of view, points that come and go so that the vision is forever new."
— Alan W. Watts (The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are)

"This, then, is the human problem: there is a price to be paid for every increase in consciousness. We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain. By remembering the past we can plan for the future. But the ability to plan for the future is offset by the "ability" to dread pain and to fear of the unknown. Furthermore, the growth of an acute sense of the past and future gives us a corresponding dim sense of the present. In other words, we seem to reach a point where the advantages of being conscious are outweighed by its disadvantages, where extreme sensitivity makes us unadaptable."
— Alan W. Watts (The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety)

Robert Anton Wilson
"The Copenhagen Interpretation is sometimes called "model agnosticism" and holds that any grid we use to organize our experience of the world is a model of the world and should not be confused with the world itself. Alfred Korzybski, the semanticist, tried to popularize this outside physics with the slogan, "The map is not the territory." Alan Watts, a talented exegete of Oriental philosophy, restated it more vividly as "The menu is not the meal."
— Robert Anton Wilson (Cosmic Trigger: Die letzten Geheimnisse der Illuminaten oder An den Grenzen des erweiterten Bewusstseins)

"But the transformation of consciousness undertaken in Taoism and Zen is more like the correction of faulty perception or the curing of a disease. It is not an acquisitive process of learning more and more facts or greater and greater skills, but rather an unlearning of wrong habits and opinions. As Lao-tzu said, "The scholar gains every day, but the Taoist loses every day."
— Alan W. Watts (The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness)

"Suppressing the fear of death makes it all the stronger. The point is only to know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that "I" and all other "things" now present will vanish, until this knowledge compels you to release them - to know it now as surely as if you had just fallen off the rim of the Grand Canyon. Indeed you were kicked off the edge of a precipice when you were born, and it's no help to cling to the rocks falling with you. If you are afraid of death, be afraid. The point is to get with it, to let it take over - fear, ghosts, pains, transience, dissolution, and all. And then comes the hitherto unbelievable surprise; you don't die because you were never born. You had just forgotten who you are."
— Alan W. Watts (The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are)

"But nirvana is a radical transformation of how it feels to be alive: it feels as if everything were myself, or as if everything---including "my" thoughts and actions---were happening of itself. There are still efforts, choices, and decisions, but not the sense that "I make them"; they arise of themselves in relation to circumstances. This is therefore to feel life, not as an encounter between subject and object, but as a polarized field where the contest of opposites has become the play of opposites."
— Alan W. Watts (Psychotherapy East and West)

"We have made a problem for ourselves by confusing the intelligible with the fixed. We think that making sense out of life is impossible unless the flow of events can somehow be fitted into a framework of rigid forms. To be meaningful, life must be understandable in terms of fixed ideas and laws, and these in turn must correspond to unchanging and eternal realities behind the shifting scene. But if this what "making sense out of life" means, we have set ourselves the impossible task of making fixity out of flux."
— Alan W. Watts (The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety)

"Here's an example: someone says, "Master, please hand me the knife," and he hands them the knife, blade first. "Please give me the other end," he says. And the master replies, "What would you do with the other end?" This is answering an everyday matter in terms of the metaphysical.

When the question is, "Master, what is the fundamental principle of Buddhism?" Then he replies, "There is enough breeze in this fan to keep me cool." That is answering the metaphysical in terms of the everyday, and that is, more or less, the principle zen works on. The mundane and the sacred are one and the same."
— Alan W. Watts (What Is Zen?)

"We therefore work, not for the work's sake, but for money—and money is supposed to get us what we really want in our hours of leisure and play. In the United States even poor people have lots of money compared with the wretched
and skinny millions of India, Africa, and China, while our middle and upper classes (or should we say "income groups") are as prosperous as princes. Yet, by and large, they have but slight taste for pleasure. Money alone cannot buy pleasure, though it can help. For enjoyment is an art and a skill for which we have little talent or energy."
— Alan W. Watts (The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are)

"Look, here is a tree in the garden and every summer is produces apples, and we call it an apple tree because the tree "apples." That's what it does. Alright, now here is a solar system inside a galaxy, and one of the peculiarities of this solar system is that at least on the planet earth, the thing peoples! In just the same way that an apple tree apples!"
— Alan W. Watts

"For there is no joy in continuity, in the perpetual. We desire it only because the present is empty. A person who is trying to eat money is always hungry. When someone says, "Time to stop now!" he is in a panic because he has had nothing to eat yet, and wants more and more time to go on eating money, ever hopeful of satisfaction around the corner. We do not really want continuity, but rather a present experience of total happiness. The thought of wanting such an experience to go on and on is a result of being self-conscious in the experience, and thus incompletely aware of it. So long as there is the feeling of an "I" having this experience, the moment is not all. Eternal life is realized when the last trace of difference between "I" and "now" has vanished - when there is just this "now" and nothing else.
By contrast, hell or "everlasting damnation" is not the everlastingness of time going on forever, but of the unbroken circle, the continuity and frustration of going round and round in pursuit of something which can never be attained. Hell is the fatuity, the everlasting impossibility, of self-love, self-consciousness, and seld-possession. It is trying to see one´s own eyes, hear one´s own ears, and kiss one´s own lips."
— Alan W. Watts (The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety)

"As you make more and more powerful microscopic instruments, the universe has to get smaller and smaller in order to escape the investigation. Just as when the telescopes become more and more powerful, the galaxies have to recede in order to get away from the telescopes. Because what is happening in all these investigations is this: Through us and through our eyes and senses, the universe is looking at itself. And when you try to turn around to see your own head, what happens? It runs away. You can't get at it. This is the principle. Shankara explains it beautifully in his commentary on the Kenopanishad where he says 'That which is the Knower, the ground of all knowledge, is never itself an object of knowledge.'

[In this quote from 1973 Watts, remarkably, essentially anticipates the discovery (in the late 1990's) of the acceleration of the expansion of the universe.]"
— Alan W. Watts

"For the world is an ever-elusive and ever-disappointing mirage only from the standpoint of someone standing aside from it—as if it were quite other than himself—and then trying to grasp it.

But a third response is possible. Not withdrawal, not stewardship on the hypothesis of a future reward, but the fullest collaboration with the world as a harmonious system of contained conflicts—based on the realization that the only real "I" is the whole endless process."
— Alan W. Watts (The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are)

Eric Weiner:
"The late British-born philosopher Alan Watts, in one of his wonderful lectures on eastern philosophy, used this analogy: "If I draw a circle, most people, when asked what I have drawn, will say I have drawn a circle or a disc, or a ball. Very few people will say I've drawn a hole in the wall, because most people think of the inside first, rather than thinking of the outside. But actually these two sides go together--you cannot have what is 'in here' unless you have what is out there.' "
In other words, where we are is vital to who we are."
— Eric Weiner (The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World)