Alan Watts Quotes

The 50 Most Inspiring Alan Watts Quotes

Alan Watts, a British philosopher and theologian, remains to be one of the greatest thinkers the world has ever seen. His quest to digest eastern philosophies and merge the lessons to suit the western culture set a legacy that is still alive almost half a century after his death.

Alan Watts is known for many things, although you may only know one of his most famous books, The Way Of Zen.  Alan has actually  written more than 25 brilliant books. Moreover, he also has more than 200 recordings of his seminars, lectures, and talks famously known as The Works.

So, if you want to improve the quality of your life, what’s a better way than starting with the teachings of Alan Watts? But you don’t have to bury yourself in his extensive content yet; his quotes on various aspects of life are filled with profound teachings for you.

What Was Alan Watts Philosophy?

Alan Watts based his teachings on one central philosophy: that we are all part of a rhythm in the universe comprising different aspects of life in perfection. To him, there are no mistakes, no failures or successes, no good and bad — there are just different ways of viewing the universe.

So, Watts taught his students to unlearn what society teaches, to embrace the senselessness of the dance of life, and avoid taking it all seriously so they can experience the greatness of it all.

His advice tells you to stop forcing nature to do and be what you want but to synchronize with it. The following video can help you further understand Alan Watts philosophy:

The 50 Most Insightful Alan Watts Quotes

The quotes we’ve chosen are incredibly informed and touch significant aspects of your life. We have chosen quotes that directly touch on the subjects of life, love, identity, and societal influence.

Quotes About Life

The following quotes talk about general life principles and can help you live a successful and happy life of freedom in awareness.

  1. “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.”
  2. “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.”
  3. “The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.” (The Culture of Counter-Culture: The Edited Transcripts )
  4. “The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.”
  5. “Life is like music for its own sake. We are living in an eternal now, and when we listen to music we are not listening to the past, we are not listening to the future, we are listening to an expanded present.”
  6. “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.”
  7. “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.”
  8. “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 things you don’t like doing, which is stupid.”
  9. “Much of the secret of life consists in knowing how to laugh, and also how to breathe.”
  10. “Everything that happens, everything that I have ever done, everything that anybody else has ever done is part of a harmonious design, that there is no error at all.”
  11. “In the more intimate sphere of personal life, the problem is the pain of trying to avoid suffering and the fear of trying not to be afraid.”
  12. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.”
  13. “Dying should be one of the great events of life.”
  14. “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
  15. “Every manifestation of life is impermanent. Our quest to make things permanent, to straighten everything out, to get it fixed is an impossible and insoluble problem.”

Quotes About Love

Love is an intricate part of nature — it’s in us and around us. Read the following Alan Watts quotes to find a more profound knowledge of love.

  1. “Love is not something that is a sort of rare commodity, everybody has it.”
  2. “Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command.”
  3. “The first thing to discover is what indeed you do love, and you will find there is something.”
  4. “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.”
  5. “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.”
  6. “People who exude love are apt to give things away. They are in every way like rivers; they stream. And so when they collect possessions and things they like, they are apt to give them to other people. Because, have you ever noticed that when you start giving things away, you keep getting more?”
  7. “Money is an abstraction. It cannot, of itself, buy any pleasure whatsoever. Because all pleasures involve skill and love.”
  8. “Life and love generate effort, but effort will not generate them.”
  9. “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 an 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.”

Quotes About Identity

Today, many people struggle to identify themselves and where they belong. However, Alan Watts breaks identity down for anyone to understand so that they can spend life enjoying the many experiences the universe offers.

  1. “A lot of the current quest for identity among younger people is a search for an acceptable image.”
  2. “My image of me is not at all your image of me.”
  3. “We notice only what we think noteworthy, and therefore our vision is highly selective.”
  4. “Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.”
  5. “That, you see, is the most difficult thing to do, to accept oneself completely.”
  6. “Naturally, for a person who finds his identity in something other than his full organism is less than half a man. He is cut off from complete participation in nature. Instead of being a body, he ‘has’ a body. Instead of living and loving he ‘has’ instincts for survival and copulation.”
  7. “When a man no longer confuses himself with the definition of himself that others have given him, he is at once universal and unique.”
  8. “The hallucination of separateness prevents one from seeing that to cherish the ego is to cherish misery. We do not realize that our so-called love and concern for the individual is simply the other face of our own fear of death or rejection.”
  9. “In his exaggerated valuation of separate identity, the personal ego is sawing off the branch on which he is sitting, and then getting more and more anxious about the coming crash!”
  10. “Choice is not a form of freedom in the sense of the word; choice is the act of hesitation that occurs before making a decision.”
  11. “Our ego is composed of our image of ourselves, as when we say to somebody, you must improve your image. Now, this image of ourselves is obviously not ourselves any more than the idea of a tree is a tree.”
  12. “Our image of ourselves is completely inaccurate and incomplete.”
  13. “The physical body is the body as examined by others; the subtle body is the way you feel yourself.”
  14. “All people feel themselves in the middle; they feel central to their own experience.”
  15. “You are the animate sensitive being on the inside of the skin.”

Quotes About Societal Influence

Society is one of the most significant influences in our lives. However, Alan Watts kept teaching people to unlearn some retrogressive beliefs embedded in society to discover a life of true freedom and happiness.

  1. “The centipede was happy, quite, Until a toad in fun said, “Pray, which leg goes after which?” This worked his mind to such a pitch, He lay distracted in a ditch, Considering how to run.”
  2. “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.”
  3. “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.”
  4. “We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions, and ideas.”
  5. “It is hard indeed to notice anything for which the languages available to us have no description.”
  6. “Society is our extended mind and body.”
  7. “Only words and conventions can isolate us from the entirely undefinable something which is everything.”
  8. “Jesus Christ knew he was God. So wake up and find out eventually who you really are. In our culture, of course, they’ll say you’re crazy and you’re blasphemous, and they’ll either put you in jail or in a nut house (which is pretty much the same thing).”
  9. “When you get free from certain fixed concepts of the way the world is, you find it is far more subtle, and far more miraculous than you thought it was.”
  10. “There is always something taboo, something repressed, un-admitted, or just glimpsed quickly out of the corner of one’s eye because a direct look is too unsettling. Taboos lie within taboos, like the skin of an onion.”
  11. “To be free from convention is not to spurn it but not to be deceived by it.”
  12. 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.”
  13. “We have been literally hypnotized by social convention into feeling and sensing that we exist only inside our skins.”
  14. “ In reality, there is nothing in the universe which is completely perfect or completely still; it is only in the minds of men that such concepts exist.”

What Was Alan Watts Net Worth?

At the time of his death, Alan Watts’ net worth was unknown. He made money through his profession as a philosopher in various ways, like selling his books and paid talks. However, no recording of his net worth has been publicized in digital media yet.

Online sources like Trend Celebs Now  only show his recent net worth, which lies between $1 million and $5 million. The Alan Watts Organization keeps selling his books and other content, so his net worth after death keeps increasing.


Alan Watts’s teachings have changed many people’s lives. He has followers across the globe who agree with his philosophy with some who claim that he has helped them deal with life in ways that traditional religions failed to. We hope that some of these quotes change the way you think for the better.