“Alan Watts had the rare gift of ‘writing beautifully the un-writable’. Watts begins with scholarship and intellect and proceeds with art and eloquence to the frontiers of the spirit. A fascinating entry into the deepest ways of knowing.”
— L.A. Times
Having most vividly introduced the complexities of Eastern wisdom to the contemporary ideas of the West, British philosopher Alan Watts is now considered a philosophic legend. He was an author, a poet, a radical thinker, an ex-priest, a mystic, a teacher, and a critic of society. He understood the concept of stepping back from all of the drama we create in life; he understood the cosmic humor of it all. He was devoted to play. For this, he (as well as many others) labeled himself as a spiritual/philosophical entertainer.
Alan Watts is one of the better-known philosophers in our world today. Admittedly, though, he was an unlikely philosopher. As opposed to many philosophers before and after him, he demonstrated to many wondering minds across the globe how to construct their own meaning out of life.
In Alan Watts’ 58 years, he was nothing short of prolific — he had written countless essays, over 25 books, and had recorded nearly 400 lectures… All of which are still in shockingly high demand. Since delving into the works of Alan Watts has understandably proven to be an overwhelming task for many seekers of knowledge, we are writing this article. It is our hope that, within this article, you get a good taste of where to begin on your Alan Watts expedition — we will cover his most favored (since the word “best” can be biased and quite arbitrary) quotes, lectures, and books.
7 Inspiring Alan Watts Quotes
To intrigue you in the quickest way possible, we will first share with you a few of the most memorable Alan Watts quotes. Now, for these Alan Watts quotes, we will not elaborate. Why? The beauty of Alan Watts quotes is that each is up for complete individual interpretation — and we wouldn’t want to risk you not interpreting each quote the way you were meant to.
“All that you see out in front of you is how you feel inside your head.”
“You are the Universe experiencing itself.”
“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It’s 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.”
“This is the real secret of life — To be completely engaged in what you are doing in the here and now.”
“No one is more dangerously insane than one who is sane all the time.”
“The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.”
4 Highly Adored Alan Watts YouTube Videos
Now, as opposed to dedicating hours listening to a single Alan Watts lecture, you can quickly get an idea of his philosophy by watching one of the thousands of Alan Watts YouTube videos out there. These are a better an option if you are just beginning to dive into his philosophies, for they are not only short and to the point, but many people have gone through the work of adding beautiful imagery and even background music to make them even more awe-inspiring.
Here are the top 4 adored Alan Watts YouTube Videos:
1.) The Real You
“You are something that the whole Universe is doing, in the same way that a wave is something that the whole ocean is doing.”
Who are you, really? This short lecture explores the very depths of who you are. You are everyone, everyone is you. You are the whole YOU-niverse. Yet, you are the whole Universe so effortlessly.
2.) Acceptance of Death
“If our death could be indefinitely postponed, we would not actually go on postponing it indefinitely.”
How do you feel about death? This is an uncomfortable topic for most people — fear of death is a terrible and all-too-common disease of our society. However, in this Alan Watts YouTube talk, he confronts death strangely beautifully (alongside tear-jerking movie scenes and music). We need to die so that we can be born again to experience life with the same awe-struck ecstasy in which a child does. Death makes room for others to experience this freshness of life.
3.) What If Money Was No Object?
“It is so important to answer this question: What do I desire?”
In life, we tend to get wrapped up and lose sight of what is most important. For that, many people spend their lives doing something they dislike and never get to truly explore their passions. What, then, is the whole purpose?
4.) The Mind
“You have to know how to leave your mind alone. It will quiet itself.”
Have you ever been in a vicious cycle of painful thought? Have you ever worried about worrying? Have you ever worried because you worried, because you worried? That is a vicious cycle.
We overcomplicate things. We dedicate our lives to avoiding silence — to getting away from ourselves. In this Alan Watts lecture, he states, “If I think all the time, I won’t have anything to think about except thoughts. So in order to have something to think about, there are times when you simply must stop thinking.” Now, you may be thinking, “That sounds quite impossible! Well, how would I do such a thing?” In this video, he explains just that.
The 3 Most Admired Alan Watts Books
1.) The Book: On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You are
Why are humans so often disconnected? Why do we experience so much conflict? Why do we so often misuse our potentially brilliant technology? Why do so many of us feel that humanity is doomed? In The Book, Alan Watts uses the Hindu philosophy of Vedanta to answer these questions. In doing so, he aims to dissolve our illusion of separateness and weld together what it means to be a soul in a human body — a ground-breaking manual of commencement into a new world of existence: a world of knowing who we really are.
For many world-altering reasons, this has been one of the most favored Alan Watts books of all time.
2.) The Wisdom of Insecurity
In our modern ways of living, we get caught up. We are addicted to distraction. We tend to always have one foot anticipating the future, and the other foot dwelling on the past — this causes us to poop on the present. Since the present is all that we really have (really), we should be treating it with far more kindness.
In this Alan Watts book, The Wisdom of Insecurity, he utilizes Eastern wisdom to teach us that all of this time spent worrying and bussing our minds with things that aren’t here and now, causes us loads of unprecedented anxiety. To free ourselves from this insecurity, we must learn to fully embrace the present moment.
3.) The Way of the Zen
“No one has given us such a concise . . . introduction to the whole history of this Far Eastern development of Buddhist thought as Alan Watts, in the present, highly readable work.” –Joseph Campbell
The Way of the Zen is a succinct yet thorough and lucid guide to the histories, principles, and practices of Zen Buddhism. As Alan Watts is most well-known for being a pioneer of Eastern thought in the Western world, this book is undoubtedly a masterful work of art. It is highly recommended to anyone, but especially those interested into delving into the worlds and the ways of Zen Buddhism.
Are you an Alan Watts fan? What is your favorite Alan Watts quote, lecture, or book? Please share with us in the comment section below — perhaps add what that quote, lecture, or book means to you; we would love to hear!