You’ll find the philosopher, writer and speaker’s lessons all over the internet. A simple YouTube search returns more than 200,000 videos. His quotes are scattered across Pinterest. Van Morrison wrote a song about him. Spike Jonze scripted him into a movie.
Yep, we devour the wisdom of Alan Watts and continue to perpetuate his teachings on Zen, Eastern and Western philosophies.
Because the very questions and complexities that gripped his audiences in the 60s and 70s still captivate so many of us today.
We’re still ‘seeking’. Still trying to figure out how to live in the moment. Still making sense of our existence.
More than ever, we’re stressed out, burned out and a little lost.
Alan, who called himself a ‘philosophical entertainer’, addresses these modern perplexities with masterful prose, brilliant clarity and the most simple of explanations.
He inspires us to rethink our way of life.
Alan wrote more than 20 books and recorded dozens of lectures and talks during his lifetime and today, we’re going to countdown through 10 of his most profound and captivating ideas.
“Why don’t you really know what you want? Two reasons that you don’t really know what you want: Number one — you have it. Number two — you don’t know yourself. Because you never can.”
“By replacing fear of the unknown with curiosity we open ourselves up to an infinite stream of possibility.”
“All that you see out in front of you is how you feel inside your head.”
“(This discipline) abolishes anxiety because you discover that no amount of anxiety makes any difference to anything that’s going to happen. In other words, from the first standpoint, the worst is going to happen. You’re all going to die. And don’t just put it in the back of your mind and say I’ll consider that later. It’s the most important thing to consider now, because it’s going to enable to you to let go.”
“So many people of wealth understand much more about making and saving money than about using and enjoying it. They fail to live because they are always preparing to live.”
“Can you allow your mind to be quiet?”
“In order to have something to think about, there are times when you simply must stop thinking. How do you do that? The first rule is, ‘don’t try to’. Because if you do, you will be like someone trying to make rough water smooth with a flat iron. And all that will do is stir it up. So in the same way as a muddy turbulent pool quiets itself when left alone, you have to know how to leave your mind alone. It will quiet itself.”
“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.”
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance.”
“Billions of years ago you were a big bang; now you’re a complicated human being. And then we cut ourselves off, and don’t feel that we’re still the big bang. But you are. It depends how you define yourself. You are actually – if this is the way things started — if there was a big bang in the beginning, you’re not something that’s a result of the big bang. You’re not something that is a sort of puppet on the end of the process. You are still the process. You are the big bang — the original force of the universe, coming on as whoever you are.”
“There is never anything but the present, and if one cannot live there, one cannot live
In our most favourite lesson of all, Alan’s shares his wisdom on how to find your purpose and do what you love, by asking,
“What would you do if money were no object?”
What do you desire?
What makes you itch?
“If you say that 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, in order to go on doing things you don’t like doing — which is stupid! Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.”
Are you a fan of Alan Watts and his teachings? Are there any you’d like to add to our list? Share with us in the comments below!