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How is it possible that I made it through 40 years of life without discovering Alan Watts?
I’ve been fascinated by spirituality all my life, and a devoted student of meditation for over a decade. Yet somehow I had never come across the words of Alan Watts. It wasn’t until I was sitting in a café in Costa Rica, listening to Soundcloud while I worked, and this set came on from DJ Noor that I was finally introduced to his words.
His voice, playing over faint, ambient music, transfixed me. I’ve read countless books on meditation and spirituality. Few resonate with me like Watts did—and does (at least where I am currently in my personal evolution).
I abandoned my work to track down the speaker of these words, who so eloquently explains these seemingly exceedingly difficult ideas.
I love to put on a recording of his and walk in nature. Hearing his voice express these esoteric concepts, while immersed in nature, really yanks me out of my head and disrupts any negative ruts I’m stuck in.
For a brief while, everything makes more sense: my place in this beautiful, messy, painful, evolving universe.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes. Some are slightly paraphrased, since I pulled these from two recordings: You’re It! and Just So.
“The project of controlling yourself is unnecessary, because you were yourself a buddha from the very beginning.”
“Ordinary people are buddhas, but they don’t know it. A buddha is one who knows he’s a buddha.”
“Trying to control your mind with your mind is like trying to bite your own teeth.”
“Real honesty is not pretending that your feelings are anything other than what they are.”
“We all have an element of irreducible rascality. It’s part of being human, you have to acknowledge that. There’s nothing more dangerous than a saint, someone who thinks they’re holy.”
“Don’t worry about whether you’re right or whether you’re wrong. Whether this is what you’re supposed to do or not supposed to do. There is no script. Realize that this spontaneous arisal is you. There isn’t any you besides this.”
“The object of Buddhist discipline is to bring about a state of affairs in which the individual feels himself to be everything that there is – the whole cosmos, focused, expressing itself here.”
“The universe around you is your outside just as much as the organs inside you are your inside.”
“The mystic feels everything that happens is in some way harmonious.”
“The intelligence of the universe grows as it grows you.”
“The material world is wonderful as long as you don’t lean on it, don’t cling to it. And if you don’t cling to it, you can have a marvelous time.”