1) “Our thoughts limit our experience. When you can let go of your thoughts, you can be fully alive in the present moment. The answers you seek lie beyond thought.”
2) “My name doesn’t matter; neither does yours. What is important is what lies beyond names and beyond questions.”
3) “The birth of the mind is the death of the senses”
4) “Satori is the warrior’s state of being; it occurs at the moment when the mind is free of thought, pure awareness; the body is active, sensitive, relaxed; and the emotions are open and free.”
5) “Remember, every-moment satori.”
6) “The warrior is Here, Now.”
7) “You have to ‘lose your mind’ before you can come to your senses.”
8) “Stay in the present. You can do nothing to change the past, and the future will never come exactly as you plan or hope for. The warrior is here, now. Your sorrow, your fear & anger, regret & guilt, your envy and plans and cravings live only in the past, or in the future.”
9) “Your business is not to ‘get somewhere’ — it is to be here.”
10) “You have been immortal since before you were born and will be long after the body dissolves. The body is Consciousness; never born; never dies; only changes. The mind — your ego, personal beliefs, history, and identity — is all that ends at death.”
Alan Watts has had a huge impact in my life and perspective. I hope these quotes bring you the same.
I’ll begin with what I believe to be some of Alan’s best quotes in a “Top 10” Section. You will also find the top 10 quotes throughout the different sections.
The succeeding sections are:
-Meaning of Life/Self-Discovery
-Having Faith/Trusting Life/Letting Go
-Our Limiting Languages
-Living in the present
“Life as it is should be enough of a reason to laugh. It is so absurd, it is so ridiculous. It is so beautiful, it is so wonderful. It is all sorts of things together. It is a great cosmic joke.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“The only Zen you’ll find on mountain tops is the Zen you bring up there with you.”
“If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing thing you don’t like doing, which is stupid.”
“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.”
“Hospitals should be arranged in such a way as to make being sick an interesting experience. One learns a great deal sometimes from being sick.”
“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”
69 Quotes Below
“I had a discussion with a great master in Japan… and we were talking about the various people who are working to translate the Zen books into English, and he said, ‘That’s a waste of time. If you really understand Zen… you can use any book. You could use the Bible. You could use Alice in Wonderland. You could use the dictionary, because… the sound of the rain needs no translation’.”
2) “The only Zen you’ll find on mountain tops is the Zen you bring up there with you.”
3) “The enlightened fool is the one who sees the ego trips of society and can still find joy and laughter in its midst. The fool is often the enlightened one, the one with crazy wisdom, with laughter and jokes as their weapon, they cut through mundane conformity and bring to light the latent child like bliss bubbling just beneath the surface of all seriousness. The fool possesses a wisdom that is out of reach of the conformist. A playful attitude in touch with enormous amounts of creativity.”
4) “Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.”
5) “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.”
6) “Just as true humor is laughter at oneself, true humanity is knowledge of oneself.”
7) “Zen is a liberation from time. For if we open our eyes and see clearly, it becomes obvious that there is no other time than this instant, and that the past and the future are abstractions without any concrete reality.”
8) “He who thinks that God is not comprehended, by him God is comprehended; but he who thinks that God is comprehended knows him not. God is unknown to those who know him, and is known to those who do not know him at all.”
9) “Life as it is should be enough of a reason to laugh. It is so absurd, it is so ridiculous. It is so beautiful, it is so wonderful. It is all sorts of things together. It is a great cosmic joke.”
10) “To travel is to be alive, but to get somewhere is to be dead, for as our own proverb says, ‘To travel well is better than to arrive.’”
11) “We could say that meditation doesn’t have a reason or doesn’t have a purpose. In this respect it’s unlike almost all other things we do except perhaps making music and dancing. When we make music we don’t do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.”
Meaning of Life/Self-Discovery
“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”
13) “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.”
14) “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, realize it is play.”
15) “If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing thing you don’t like doing, which is stupid.”
16) “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.”
17) “What you are basically, deep, deep down, far, far in, is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself.”
18) “There is no formula for generating the authentic warmth of love. It cannot be copied.”
19) “What the devil is the point on surviving, going on living, when it’s a drag? But you see, that’s what people do.”
20) “What I am really saying is that you don’t need to do anything, because if you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomenon of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that, and there is nothing wrong with you at all.”
Having Faith/Trusting Life/Letting Go
“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.”
22) “And the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging to belief, of holding on.”
23) “But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.”
24) “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.”
25) “…Man’s un-happiness is rooted in the feeling of anxiety which attends his sense of being an isolated individual or ego, separate from ‘life’ or ‘reality’ as a whole. On the other hand, happiness – a sense of harmony, completion, and wholeness – comes with the realization that the feeling of isolation is an illusion.”
26) “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.”
27) “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.”
28) “If you get the message, hang up the phone. For psychedelic drugs are simply instruments, like microscopes, telescopes, and telephones. The biologist does not sit with eye permanently glued to the microscope, he goes away and works on what he has seen.”
29) “If you cannot trust yourself, you cannot even trust your mistrust of yourself – so that without this underlying trust in the whole system of nature you are simply paralyzed.”
30) “When we attempt to exercise power or control over someone else, we cannot avoid giving that person the very same power or control over us.”
Our Limiting Languages
“We realize–often quite suddenly–that our sense of self, which has been formed and constructed out of our ideas, beliefs and images, is not really who we are. It doesn’t define us, it has no center.”
32) “Only words and conventions can isolate us from the entirely undefinable something which is everything.”
33) “We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.”
34) “The more we try to live in the world of words, the more we feel isolated and alone, the more all the joy and liveliness of things is exchanged for mere certainty and security. On the other hand, the more we are forced to admit that we actually live in the real world, the more we feel ignorant, uncertain, and insecure about everything.”
35) “When a man no longer confuses himself with the definition of himself that others have given him, he is at once universal and unique. He is universal by virtue of the inseparability of his organism from the cosmos. He is unique in that he is just this organism and not any stereotype of role, class, or identity assumed for the convenience of social communication.”
36) “It is hard indeed to notice anything for which the languages available to us have no description.”
37) “The Ego is a social institution with no physical reality. The ego is simply your symbol of yourself. Just as the word ‘water’ is a noise that symbolizes a certain liquid without being it, so too the idea of ego symbolizes the role you play, who you are, but it is not the same as your living organism.”
38) “But 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.”
Living in the Present
“No work or love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.”
40) “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
41) “We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas.”
42) “Indeed, one of the highest pleasures is to be more or less unconscious of one’s own existence, to be absorbed in interesting sights, sounds, places, and people. Conversely, one of the greatest pains is to be self-conscious, to feel unabsorbed and cut off from the community and the surrounding world.”
43) “Paradoxical as it may seem, the purposeful life has no content, no point. It hurries on and on, and misses everything. Not hurrying, the purposeless life misses nothing, for it is only when there is no goal and no rush that the human senses are fully open to receive the world.”
“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.”
45) “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.”
46) “To put is still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.”
47) “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.”
48) “What we have to discover is that there is no safety, that seeking is painful, and that when we imagine that we have found it, we don’t like it.”
49) “Hospitals should be arranged in such a way as to make being sick an interesting experience. One learns a great deal sometimes from being sick.”
50) “Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them.”
51) “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.”
52) “I laugh when I think how I once sought paradise as a realm outside of the world of birth. It is right in the world of birth and death that the miraculous truth is revealed. But this is not the laughter of someone who suddenly acquires a great fortune; neither is it the laughter of one who has won a victory. It is, rather, the laughter of one who; after having painfully searched for something for a long time, finds it one morning in the pocket of his coat.”
53) “The clash between science and religion has not shown that religion is false and science is true. It has shown that all systems of definition are relative to various purposes, and that none of them actually ‘grasp’ reality.”
54) “In looking out upon the world, we forget that the world is looking at itself.”
55) “It must be obvious… that there is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity.”
56) “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”
57) “Through our eyes, the universe is 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.”
58) “Since everything is but an apparition, having nothing to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection, one may as well burst out in laughter.”
59) “Really, the fundamental, ultimate mystery — the only thing you need to know to understand the deepest metaphysical secrets — is this: that for every outside there is an inside and for every inside there is an outside, and although they are different, they go together.”
60) “The state of ambiguity – that messy, greasy, mixed-up, confused, and awful situation you’re living through right now – is enlightenment itself.”
61) “I find that the sensation of myself as an ego inside a bag of skin is really a hallucination.”
62) “You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.”
“You’re under no obligation to be the same person you were 5 minutes ago.”
64) “Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way.”
65) “Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.” (On the Mind)
66) “Like too much alcohol, self-consciousness makes us see ourselves double, and we make the double image for two selves – mental and material, controlling and controlled, reflective and spontaneous. Thus instead of suffering we suffer about suffering, and suffer about suffering about suffering.”
67) “One is a great deal less anxious if one feels perfectly free to be anxious, and the same may be said of guilt.”
68) “Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.”
69) “So if humor can heal, relax, unite people, undo the ego and entertain all at the same time that sounds enlightening enough for me.”
My focus shifts from one task to another as my thoughts wander and I drift further and further away from the present moment.
This has happened to me many times and I’m sure will happen again in the future, but I have learned a few methods to finding and feeling joy in this moment right now.
Of course some people will say that to attain joy you need to exercise, eat healthy, don’t smoke, save money for retirement — to Do these things _________… and don’t do these things __________… Then you will be happy. And that’s just not true.
You either feel joy now or you don’t. It’s not something you will forever maintain once you accomplish this thing or that thing. It’s something to be had in this moment and to keep with you deep down as you journey through life. Even through the hard times that life brings to us all you will be able to remind yourself of the genuine joy you have.
Joy comes from a multitude of actions and it’s unique to everyone. One big source of joy comes from loving what you do.
This is difficult in societies that tell us to live for the future – to disregard your happiness for 30-40 years and then you can be happy in retirement. It’s a lie and it has made many CEO’s wealthy.
I do believe in hard work and I believe in doing what you need to do to provide for yourself and your family, but in this internet age it is possible to find joy today while working toward financial freedom and other long-term goals.
Once you accept some inalienable truths you can experience a deep joy. Things such as:
– Tomorrow isn’t promised.
– One day you are going to leave this planet forever (Memento Mori).
– This moment might be all you have.
Of course there are more inalienable truths, but these are a few that inspire me to find joy today, tomorrow, and throughout all the ups and downs of life.
Below are some exercises that have helped me and can help you. Each person is unique and will find joy in different ways so use what works for you.
-Remind yourself of a happy memory. Dwell in that memory for at least one minute.
-Remind yourself that the best times of your life haven’t happened yet. They are on their way.
-Think of someone you look up to as a role model. Remind yourself why you look up to them.
-Think of 3 accomplishments you are proud of that you have achieved in the past.
-Write down 3 things you enjoy doing – Can be anything – a sport, hanging out with people, going to a certain place, any hobby you have or would like to have.
-Try affirmations. Tell yourself “I am happy now. I am loved. I love life.”
-Think about what you would like to do if you didn’t have to worry about money. Remind yourself that it is possible to attain this in time. Don’t forget it.
-Observe your surroundings without thinking about them. Just see everything without labeling them for a few moments.
-Read something new.
-Surround yourself with a few objects that make you feel good.
TextCall someone you love.
Your joy is to be experienced today. Of course you won’t feel joy in every moment of your life, no one does, but you can take action toward living a more joyful life.
Two traveling monks reached a river with a strong current where they met a young woman. The woman asked them if they could help her across the river, and even though the monks had vowed to avoid contact with women, the older monk picked her up and carried her across the river.
The younger monk couldn’t believe what happened as they continued on their way.
Hours had passed and the younger monk, still wondering about the event, was unable to hold his silence and said, “Brother, our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women, but you picked that one up and carried her!”
“Brother,” the older monk replied, “I set her down hours ago, why are you still carrying her?”
This story shares a message about living in the present moment. So often we all carry around past hurts, holding grudges, or even carrying past joys that may be unattainable to reach again, when all this does is hurt ourselves. Maybe we even carry around a past pain of someone else, and try to remind them of past hurts, but what good does that do?
Do you invest your money into things that only bring you misery? Not purposefully, so why would you invest misery into your mind?
We all go through tough times. People betray us, they try to sabotage us sometimes and we can’t understand why. We can choose to hold onto the past but it will only weigh us down from experiencing a wonderful present moment. Let us choose to let go of what doesn’t help us and concentrate on the present moment. This moment, right now, is where happiness is to be had.