More from and about
Alan Watts
(biographical info lower on page)

  

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.

   

No one imagines that a symphony is supposed to improve in quality as it goes along, or that the whole object of playing it is to reach the finale.  The point of music is discovered in every moment of playing and listening to it.  It is the same, I feel, with the greater part of our lives, and if we are unduly absorbed in improving them we may forget altogether to live them.

      
Faith is a state of openness or trust. To have faith is like when you trust yourself to the water. You don't grab hold of the water when you swim, because if you do you will become stiff and tight in the water, and sink. You have to relax, and the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging, and holding on. 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. Instead they are holding tight. But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.
  
Tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live.  There is no other reality than present reality, so that, even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly.
   

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.

     

Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night,
we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars,
nor between well and badly arranged constellations.

   

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

   

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.

   

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.

   
    
For more than forty years, Alan Watts earned a reputation as a foremost interpreter of Eastern philosophies for the West. Beginning at age sixteen, when he wrote essays for the journal of the Buddhist Lodge in London, he developed an audience of millions who were enriched through his books, tape recordings, radio, television, and public lectures. In all, Watts wrote more than twenty-five books and recorded hundreds of lectures and seminars, all building toward a personal philosophy that he shared in complete candor and joy with his readers and listeners throughout the world. His overall works have presented a model of individuality and self-expression that can be matched by few philosophers.

His life and work reflects an astonishing adventure: he was an editor, Anglican priest, graduate dean, broadcaster, author, lecturer, and entertainer. He had fascinations for archery, calligraphy, cooking, chanting, and dancing, and still was completely comfortable hiking alone in the wilderness.

He held a Master's Degree in Theology from Sudbury-Western Theological Seminary and an Honorary DD from the University of Vermont in recognition of his work in the field of comparative religions.

He held fellowships from Harvard University and the Bollingen Foundation, and was Episcopal Chaplain at Northwestern University during the Second World War. He became professor and dean of the American Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco, made the television series "Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life" for National Educational Television, and served as a visiting consultant for psychiatric institutions and hospitals, and for the United States Air Force. In the mid-sixties he traveled widely with his students in Japan, and visited Burma, Ceylon, and India.

  

  

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