105 Inspirational Alan Watts Quotes on the Meaning Of Life

In this post, we will explore Alan Watts quotes that makes us understand the meaning of life and encourage us to embrace the present moment, find inner peace, and seek a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us. 

Alan Watts, a British-American philosopher, writer, and speaker, remains an influential figure whose ideas have shaped the world of philosophy, spirituality, and self-awareness. Born in 1915 in England, Watts developed an early fascination with Eastern philosophies and embarked on a life-long journey to explore their wisdom and truth. He is one of the bridges that brought Eastern thought in the Western world.

Let’s read some of the most inspiring Alan Watts quotes about life, universe, faith, death and more.

Best Alan Watts Quotes


Alan Watts Quote on the meaning of life
(Alan Watts Quote on the meaning of life)
  • “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.”
  • “Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.”
  • “But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.”
  • “A scholar tries to learn something every day; a student of Buddhism tries to unlearn something daily.”
  • “Hospitals should be arranged in such a way as to make being sick an interesting experience. One learns a great deal sometimes from being sick.”
  • “The reason we want to go on and on is that we live in an impoverished present.”
  • “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.”
  • “What the devil is the point of surviving, going on living, when it’s a drag? But you see, that’s what people do.”
  • “Every individual is a unique manifestation of the Whole, as every branch is a particular outreaching of the tree.”
  • “All men suffer […], but not all are unhappy, for unhappiness is a reaction to suffering, not suffering itself.”

Famous Alan Watts Quotes

Famous Alan Watts Quote
(Famous Alan Watts Quote)
  • “We identify in our experience a differentiation between what we do and what happens to us.”
  • “Wars based on principle are far more destructive… the attacker will not destroy that which he is after.”
  • “Only words and conventions can isolate us from the entirely undefinable something which is everything.”
  •  “To put is still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath.” 
  • “One is a great deal less anxious if one feels perfectly free to be anxious, and the same may be said of guilt.”
  • “Tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present.”
  • “Words can be communicative only between those who share similar experiences.”
  • Total situations are, therefore, patterns in time as much as patterns in space.”
  • “Images sway our emotions more deeply than conceptions.”
  • “One obtains the knowledge of God by discarding concepts.”

Alan Watts Quotes on Life


Alan Watts Quote on Life
(Alan Watts Quote on Life)
  •  “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.”
  • “Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.”
  • “Life and love generate effort, but effort will not generate them. Faith in life, in other people, and in oneself, is the attitude of allowing the spontaneous to be spontaneous, in its own way and in its own time.”
  •  “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.”
  • “Religion is not a department of life; it is something that enters into the whole of it.”
  • “The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.”
  • “No one is more dangerously insane than one who is sane all the time: he is like a steel bridge without flexibility, and the order of his life is rigid and brittle.”
  • “It’s better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.”
  • “The more we struggle for life (as pleasure), the more we are actually killing what we love.”
  • “You can, indeed, refuse to admit this, but only at the cost of the immense and futile effort of spending your whole life resisting the inevitable.”
  •  “Life exists only at this very moment, and in this moment it is infinite and eternal, for the present moment is infinitely small; before we can measure it, it has gone, and yet it exists forever….”

Alan Watts Wisdom Quotes 

Alan Watts Wisdom Quote
(Alan Watts Wisdom Quote)
  • “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”
  • “Our pleasures are not material pleasures, but symbols of pleasure – attractively packaged but inferior in content.”
  • “Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way.”
  • “What we have to discover is that there is no safety, that seeking is painful, and that when we imagine that we have found it, we don’t like it.”
  • “You don’t listen to a song to get to the end of it, you listen to enjoy the song as a whole.”
  • “When we attempt to exercise power or control over someone else, we cannot avoid giving that person the very same power or control over us.”
  • “Most homes look as if they had been built by someone who has heard of a house but never seen one.”
  • “To succeed is always to fail, in the sense that the more one succeeds at anything, the greater is the need to go on succeeding. To eat is to survive to be hungry.”

Alan Watts Quotes on Self Love

Alan Watts Quote on Self Love
(Alan Watts Quote on Self Love)
  • “Everyone has love, but it can only come out when he is convinced of the impossibility and the frustration of trying to love himself.”
  • “But this is the most powerful thing that can be done: surrender. See. And love is an act of surrender to another person.”
  • “When you find out that there was never anything in the dark side to be afraid of… Nothing is left but to love.”
  • “To live, and to love, you have to take risks. There will be disappointments and failures and disasters as a result of taking these risks. But in the long run, it will work out.”
  • “The world is filled with love-play, from animal lust to sublime compassion.”
  • “Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command.”

Alan Watts Quotes on Present

Alan Watts Quote on Present
(Alan Watts Quote on Present)
  • “There is only this now. It does not come from anywhere; it is not going anywhere. It is not permanent, but it is not impermanent. Though moving, it is always still. When we try to catch it, it seems to run away, and yet it is always here and there is no escape from it.”
  • “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.”
  • “Unless one is able to live fully in the present, the future is a hoax.”
  • “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.”
  • “No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.”
  • “There is no other reality than present reality… even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly.”
  • “Yet, when it comes to it, this moment can be called “present” only in relation to past and future, or to someone to whom it is present. But when there is neither past nor future, and no one to whom this moment is present, what is it? When Fa-ch’ang was dying, a squirrel screeched on the roof. “It’s just this,” he said, “and nothing else.”

Alan Watts Quotes on Change & Death

Alan Watts Quote on Change & Death
(Alan Watts Quote on Change & Death)


  • “The greater part of human activity is designed to make permanent those experiences and joys which are only lovable because they are changing.”
  • “To hate death and change is trying to make life deathless and changeless, and this is rigid. moribund, living death.”
  • “So the bodhisattva saves all beings, not by preaching sermons to them, but by showing them that they are delivered, they are liberated, by the act of not being able to stop changing.”
  • “Life and death are not two opposed forces; they are simply two ways of looking at the same force, for the movement of change is as much the builder as the destroyer.”
  • “[N]othing that is isolated can live, since the two most important characteristics of life are circulation and change.”
  • “If, then, we are to be fully human and fully alive and aware, it seems that we must be willing to suffer for our pleasures.”
  • “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

Short Alan Watts Quotes 

Alan Watts Short Quote
(Alan Watts Short Quote)
  • “Society is our extended mind and body.”
  • “The menu is not the meal.”
  • “Stay in the center, and you will be ready to move in any direction.”
  • “Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”
  • “We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain.”
  • “Saints need sinners.”
  • “The real you is not a puppet which life pushes around.”
  • “Reality is only a Rorschach ink-blot, you know.”
  • “So what is discord at one level of your being is harmony at another level.”
  • “But to me, nothing – the negative, the empty – is exceedingly powerful.”
  • “You don’t look out there for God, something in the sky, you look in you.”
  • “The ego is nothing other than the focus of conscious attention.”
  • “Omnipotence is not knowing how everything is done; it’s just doing it.”
  • “There will always be suffering. But we must not suffer over the suffering.” 
  • “I owe my solitude to other people.”

Alan Watts Quotes on Self

Alan Watts Quote on Self
(Alan Watts Quote on Self)
  • “Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.”
  • “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.”
  • “How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself anything less than a god.”
  • “The moralist is the person who tells people that they ought to be unselfish, when they still feel like egos, and his efforts are always and invariably futile.”
  • “Every intelligent individual wants to know what makes him tick, and yet is at once fascinated and frustrated by the fact that oneself is the most difficult of all things to know.”
  •  “What you are basically, deep, deep down, far, far in, is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself.”
  • “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 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.”
  • “The only Zen you’ll find on mountain tops is the Zen you bring up there with you.”

Alan Watts Quotes on Faith

Alan Watts Quote on Faith
(Alan Watts Quote on Faith)
  • “Faith is a state of openness or trust.”
  • “But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.” 
  • “If you cannot trust yourself, you cannot even trust your mistrust of yourself – so that without this underlying trust in the whole system of nature you are simply paralyzed.”
  • “And the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging to belief, of 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.”
  • “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 Quotes on the World

Alan Watts Quote on the World
(Alan Watts Quote on the World)
  • “There was never a time when the world began, because it goes round and round like a circle, and there is no place on a circle where it begins. Look at my watch, which tells the time; it goes round, and so the world repeats itself again and again.”
  • “We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.”
  • “Philosophy is man’s expression of curiosity about everything and his attempt to make sense of the world primarily through his intellect.”
  •  “You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.” 
  • “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.”
  • “The difficulty for most of us in the modern world is that the old-fashioned idea of God has become incredible or implausible.”
  • “But we try to pretend, you see, that the external world exists altogether independently of us.”
  • “A myth is an image in terms of which we try to make sense of the world.”
  • “Parts exist only for purposes of figuring and describing, and as we figure the world out we become confused if we do not remember this all the time.”

Alan Watts Quotes on the Universe


Alan Watts Quote on the Universe
(Alan Watts Quote on the Universe)
  • “You are the big bang, the original force of the universe, coming on as whoever you are. 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.”
  • “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.”
  • “You and I are all as much continuous with the physical universe as a wave is continuous with the ocean.”
  • “Technology is destructive only in the hands of people who do not realize that they are one and the same process as the universe.”
  • “In known history, nobody has had such a capacity for altering the universe than the people of the United States of America. And nobody has gone about it in such an aggressive way.”
  • “The myths underlying our culture and underlying our common sense have not taught us to feel identical with the universe, but only parts of it, only in it, only confronting it – aliens.”
  • “You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.”
  • “You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.”

These Alan Watts quotes inspire us to live better lives by being present and understanding ourselves. His wisdom helps us find peace and meaning in life. Through his simple yet profound words, Alan Watts reminds us to appreciate the world around us and live in harmony with ourselves and others. 

His words encourage us to break free from limiting thought patterns, embrace our uniqueness, and live with greater joy and purpose. 

If you found these Alan Watts quotes helpful, share them with your friends and family on social media!

Scroll to Top