91 Alan Watts Quotes: A Treasure Trove of Insights

By Maxime Lagacé

Maxime is the founder of WisdomQuotes. He has been collecting quotes since 2004. His goal? To help you develop a calm and peaceful mind. Learn more about him on his about page.

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alan watts quotes treasure trove of insights wisdom
I analyzed and collected 91 of the best Alan Watts quotes.

But before we go any further,

I must be honest with you:

The quotes you’re about to read can be hard to understand.

It’s better if you have some knowledge of spirituality, Zen, Taoism, and Buddhism.

But if you don’t, please hang on.

I highlighted the easiest and most practical quotes for you (and you’ll still enjoy the quotes).

So, who was Alan Watts?

  • A prolific British author (25 books), philosopher, and speaker (1915-1973)
  • An interpreter of Eastern wisdom for Western audiences
  • His ideas were influenced by Carl Jung, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Lao Tzu, and more

What will you learn from Alan Watts?

  • Why it’s useless to be scared
  • Why you are so much more than your ego
  • Why you must slow down and enjoy life more

Are you ready to discover the greatest quotes and insights from Alan Watts?

Let’s begin!

The Best Alan Watts Quotes

alan watts quotes muddy water cleared leaving alone wisdom

Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone. Alan Watts

You are that vast thing that you see far, far off with great telescopes. Alan Watts

No amount of anxiety makes any difference to anything that is going to happen. Alan Watts

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. Alan Watts

This is the real secret of life: to be completely engaged with what you’re doing in the here and now, and instead of calling it work, realize that this is play. Alan Watts

Don’t be afraid. You’re going to make it, but it’s always going to feel as if you’re not. That’s the fun, you see! Alan Watts

alan watts quotes hurry involves fatal wisdom

Hurry, and all that it involves, is fatal. Alan Watts

One is a great deal less anxious if one feels perfectly free to be anxious, and the same may be said of guilt. Alan Watts

There is no hurry, and in a way there is no future. It is all here — so take it easy, take your time, and get acquainted with it. Alan Watts

If you make where you are going more important than where you are, there may be no point in going. Alan Watts

Stay in the center, and you will be ready to move in any direction. Alan Watts

Faith is, above all, openness; an act of trust in the unknown. Alan Watts


Alan Watts Quotes On Life

alan watts quotes absorbed improves lives live wisdom

If we are unduly absorbed in improving our lives we may forget altogether to live them. Alan Watts

You are free to abandon yourself to actual life. Alan Watts

A man does not really begin to be alive until he has lost himself. Until he has released the anxious grasp which he normally holds upon his life, his property, his reputation and position. Alan Watts

The most important thing in human life for one’s sanity is to be able to be playful or to be able to do things which are sublimely useless. Alan Watts

We thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end, and the thing was to get to that end. […] But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing, or to dance, while the music was being played. Alan Watts

Poor humans, skillful beyond all other animals by being able to think in time. In knowing the future, they die before they’re dead, they shriek from the shark’s teeth before it has bitten, they dread the alien germ long long before its banquet begins. Alan Watts

If you happen to be sitting, just sit. If you are smoking a pipe, just smoke it. If you are thinking out a problem, just think. But don’t think and reflect unnecessarily, compulsively, from sheer force of nervous habit. In Zen, they call this having a leaky mind. Alan Watts

We must grab what we can while we can, and drown out the realization that the whole thing is futile and meaningless. Alan Watts

The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced. Alan Watts

Much of the secret of life consists in knowing how to laugh, and also how to breathe. Alan Watts

Related philosophers


Alan Watts Quotes On Time

alan watts quotes need slow down rush wisdom

We need, above all things, to slow down and get ourselves to amble through life instead of to rush through it. Alan Watts

Wherever the past is dropped away and safety abandoned, life is renewed. Alan Watts

We get such a kick out of looking forward to pleasures and rushing ahead to meet them that we can’t slow down enough to enjoy them when they come. Alan Watts

As soon as we free ourselves from the mirage of hurrying time, we are alive again, as in childhood, to the ecstasies of ordinary life. Alan Watts

We keep counting time. We have the sensation time is running out, and we bug ourselves with this. Time is nothing but an abstract measure of motion. We are living in an eternal Now. Alan Watts

I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is. Alan Watts

The miracles of technology cause us to live in a hectic, clockwork world that does violence to human biology. Alan Watts

The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless. Alan Watts


Alan Watts Quotes On Being Present

alan watts quotes live unless fully wisdom

You can’t live at all unless you can live fully now. Alan Watts

A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts. So he loses touch with reality and lives in a world of illusion. Alan Watts

Those who sit quietly and do nothing are making one of the best possible contributions to a world in turmoil. Alan Watts

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. Alan Watts

It is only when there is no goal and no rush that the human senses are fully open to receive the world. Alan Watts

This present moment never comes to be and it never ceases to be, it is simply our minds that construct the continuity of thoughts we call time. In the present moment is nirvana. Alan Watts

We need more light. Light, here, means awareness – to be aware of life, of experience as it is at this moment, without any judgments or ideas about it. Alan Watts

So long as the mind believes in the possibility of escape from what it is at this moment, there can be no freedom. Alan Watts

There is no method to arrive at the place where you are. Alan Watts

The only point of dancing is to dance. Alan Watts

Alan Watts Quotes On Self

alan watts quotes under obligation person five minutes wisdom

You are under no obligation to be the same person you were five minutes ago. Alan Watts

Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth. Alan Watts

The relationship of self to other is the complete realization that loving yourself is impossible without loving everything defined as other than yourself. Alan Watts

When a man no longer confuses himself with the definition of himself that others have given him, he is at once universal and unique. Alan Watts

It is obvious that the only interesting people are interested people, and to be completely interested is to have forgotten about ‘I’. Alan Watts

Lacking self-acceptance, we are always at odds with our point of departure, always doubting the ground on which we stand, always so divided against ourselves that we cannot act with sincerity. Alan Watts

Just as true humor is laughter at oneself, true humanity is knowledge of oneself. Alan Watts

Become what you are. Alan Watts


Alan Watts Quotes On Zen, Buddhism

alan watts quotes been said highest wisdom detachment

It has been said that the highest wisdom lies in detachment. Alan Watts

If a man seeks the Buddha, that man loses the Buddha. Alan Watts

Zen has no goal; it is a traveling without point, with nowhere to go. To travel is to be alive, but to get somewhere is to be dead. Alan Watts

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. Alan Watts

A certain amount of “sitting just to sit” might well be the best thing in the world for the jittery minds and agitated bodies. Alan Watts

Zen is a way of liberation, concerned not with discovering what is good or bad or advantageous, but what is. Alan Watts

A scholar tries to learn something everyday; a student of Buddhism tries to unlearn something daily. Alan Watts

Alan Watts Quotes On Anxiety, Suffering, Unhappiness

alan watts quotes man suffers takes seriously gods fun wisdom

Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun. Alan Watts

Human desire tends to be insatiable. Alan Watts

The frustration of the desire to possess is the immediate cause of suffering. Alan Watts

Running away from fear is fear, fighting pain is pain, trying to be brave is being scared. Alan Watts

To remain stable is to refrain from trying to separate yourself from a pain because you know that you cannot. Alan Watts

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 Watts

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. Alan Watts

There is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity. Alan Watts

To go out of your mind at least once a day is tremendously important. By going out of your mind, you come to your senses. Alan Watts

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. Alan Watts

The difficulty of describing things for Western ears is that people in a hurry cannot feel. Alan Watts

The principal thing is to understand that there is no safety or security. Alan Watts

Hurrying and delaying are alike ways of trying to resist the present. Alan Watts

Alan Watts Quotes On Happiness

alan watts quotes nirvana where you are object wisdom

Nirvana is where you are, provided you don’t object to it. Alan Watts

All that you see out in front of you is how you feel inside your head. Alan Watts

Stop measuring days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence. Alan Watts

Human beings appear to be happy just so long as they have a future to which they can look forward. Alan Watts

The undivided mind is free from this tension of trying always to stand outside oneself and to be elsewhere than here and now. Each moment is lived completely, and there is thus a sense of fulfillment and completeness. Alan Watts

We confuse happiness with status. Alan Watts

Don’t hurry anything. Don’t worry about the future. Don’t worry about what progress you’re making. Just be entirely content to be aware of what is. Alan Watts

Peace can be made only by those who are peaceful, and love can be shown only by those who love. Alan Watts

Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be. Alan Watts

Alan Watts Quotes On Spirituality (Deep Quotes)

alan watts quotes religion transformation anxiety laughter wisdom

Real religion is the transformation of anxiety into laughter. Alan Watts

Understanding comes through awareness. Alan Watts

Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment. Alan Watts

Bring me a wave separate from the ocean and I will show you a person separate from the universe. Alan Watts

Spirituality needs a beer and a loud burp. Sensuality needs a rough blanket and a hard bed and a cold night with the stars. Alan Watts

We are sick with fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas. Meditation is therefore the art of suspending verbal and symbolic thinking for a time, somewhat as a courteous audience will stop talking when a concert is about to begin. Alan Watts

Man seems to be unable to live without myth, without the belief that the routine and drudgery, the pain and fear of this life have some meaning and goal in the future. Alan Watts

Detachment means to have neither regrets for the past nor fears for the future; to let life take its course without attempting to interfere. Alan Watts

The truth is revealed by removing things that stand in its light, an art not unlike sculpture, in which the artist creates, not by building, but by hacking away. Alan Watts

No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now. Alan Watts

By holding his breath, he loses it. By letting it go he finds it. Alan Watts

The only way to get the truth is to not believe anything. Alan Watts

The real you is not a puppet which life pushes around; the real, deep down you is the whole universe. Alan Watts

What was Alan Watts’ main message?

Alan Watt’s main message was about the importance of understanding the interconnectedness of all things.

He believed each of us IS the universe and that the ego (the self) is basically an illusion. He also stressed the importance of embracing the present and ignoring societal expectations to live a more fulfilling life.

Overall, his message was about trusting life, existence, the universe, the “now”, you, and letting go of the past and future, since they are illusions.


alan watts quotes what you are deep down far fabric structure existence wisdom

What you are basically, deep, deep down, far, far in, is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself. Alan Watts

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Author Bio

maxime lagace

Maxime Lagacé started collecting quotes in 2004 after he lost his girlfriend in a car accident.

In search of meaning, he dived in the self-improvement world, psychology and trail running.

Books, blogs, quotes and nature became his guide.

He started journaling, reflecting, writing his thoughts, feelings and quotes.

His goal was to understand his pain, his depression, his fears, his lack of motivation and inspiration.

He finished his software engineering degree in 2007 at the École de Technologie Supérieure de Montréal.

A few years later, he started his first website to share his love of quotes.

Maxime is a father of two, husband, and INFJ.

Other notable interests of Maxime are health (mental and physical), meditation, bananas, SEO, human potential, and education.

You can find him on X, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube.

Last update

June 8, 2023

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