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About Alan Watts



Alan Wilson Watts (1915 – 1973) was a British writer and speaker known for interpreting and popularising Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism for a Western audience. Born in Chislehurst, England, he moved to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York. Wikipedia

  

Quotes by Alan Watts

Alan Watts (quotes)

  • The menu is not the meal.
  • You can’t make love without art.
  • Duality is always secretly unity.
  • Religion is always falling apart.
  • I owe my solitude to other people.
  • We usually don’t look. We overlook.
  • Faith is a state of openness or trust.
  • Society is our extended mind and body.
  • The source of all light is in the eye.
  • Everything is perpetually becoming new.
  • Thought is a means of concealing Truth.
  • You can’t get wet from the word ‘water.’
  • What would you do if money was no object?
  • You are the universe experiencing itself.
  • You can’t have something without nothing.
  • But we must not suffer over the suffering.
  • Chaos is always losing, but never defeated
  • The sound of the rain needs no translation.
  • The world is a marvelous system of wiggles.
  • Every explicit duality is an implicit unity.
  • Beyond positive and negative, what is Reality?
  • Self-improvement is a dangerous form of vanity.
  • The ‘you’ who you think you are does not exist.
  • The destination of life is this eternal moment.
  • We see what we believe rather than what we see.
  • Everybody is fundamentally the ultimate reality.
  • Insecurity is the result of trying to be secure.
  • Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.
  • The mundane and the sacred are one and the same.
  • By going out of your mind, you come to your senses
  • Everyone is the fabric and structure of existence.
  • Everything in the world is gloriously meaningless.
  • You can’t live at all unless you can live fully now.
  • No one’s mouth is big enough to utter the whole thing.
  • Nothing satisfies an individual incapable of enjoyment.
  • Your soul isn’t in your body; your body is in your soul!
  • ..is letting go and trusting oneself to the unknown.
  • Increasingly, the world around us looks as if we hated it.
  • Nirvana is where you are, provided you don’t object to it.
  • Truly great companies are built on ideals, not just deals.
  • How did you know you’re alive, unless you’d once been dead?
  • If you can’t meditate in a boiler room, you can’t meditate.
  • There is a deep, peaceful calm in the dawning of a new day.
  • Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them.
  • Real religion is the transformation of anxiety into laughter.
  • Faith is, above all, openness; an act of trust in the unknown.
  • It’s so important to consider this question: What do I desire?
  • The ego is nothing other than the focus of conscious attention.
  • A person who thinks too much only ever thinks about his thoughts
  • But my dear man, reality is only a Rorschach ink-blot, you know.
  • Life and love generate effort but effort will not generate them.
  • Life is not a problem to be solved, but an experience to be had.
  • Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.
  • People become concerned with being more humble than other people.
  • The real Zen of the old Chinese masters was wu-shih, or “no fuss.”
  • Stay in the center, and you will be ready to move in any direction.
  • A paradox is only a truth standing on its head to attract attention.
  • Hurrying and delaying are alike ways of trying to resist the present.
  • All that you see out in front of you is how you feel inside your head.
  • But to me nothing – the negative, the empty – is exceedingly powerful.
  • I too realize that the less I preach the more likely I am to be heard.
  • Omnipotence is not knowing how everything is done; it’s just doing it.
  • The past and the future are abstractions without any concrete reality.
  • We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time
  • A myth is an image in terms of which we try to make sense of the world.
  • Do you have any control over being conscious? Do you know how you will?
  • Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.
  • People sometimes fail to live because they are always preparing to live.
  • You are that vast thing that you see far, far off with great telescopes.
  • You don’t look out there for God, something in the sky, you look in you.
  • I have no other self than the totality of the things of which I am aware.
  • The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.
  • If a flower had a God it would not be a transcendental flower but a field.
  • So what is discord at one level of your being is harmony at another level.
  • That society is strong and viable which recognizes its own provisionality.
  • There is no coming toward it or going away from it; it is, and you are it.
  • What keeps us from happiness is our inability to fully inhabit the present
  • The world is filled with love-play, from animal lust to sublime compassion.
  • To be free from convention is not to spurn it but not to be deceived by it.
  • We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree.
  • Words can be communicative only between those who share similar experiences.
  • The religious idea of God cannot do full duty for the metaphysical infinity.
  • We must be careful that the business we build does not become mere busyness.
  • If we are not totally blind, what we are seeking is already here. This is it.
  • In looking out upon the world, we forget that the world is looking at itself.
  • We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain.
  • No amount of anxiety makes any difference to anything that is going to happen.
  • Playing a violin is, after all, only scraping a cat’s entrails with horsehair.
  • Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be
  • Total situations are, therefore, patterns in time as much as patterns in space.
  • In a certain sense, Zen is feeling life instead of feeling something about life.
  • Inability to accept the mystic experience is more than an intellectual handicap.
  • The hallucination of being a separate ego will not stand up to biological tests.
  • The only serious side-effect of #‚Äé marijuana  is that you might get arrested.
  • Just as true humor is laughter at oneself, true humanity is knowledge of oneself.
  • The reason we want to go on and on is because we live in an impoverished present.
  • The Universe is the game of the self, which plays hide and seek forever and ever.
  • Do you see yourself as a victim of the world, or do you see yourself as the world?
  • I want … to consort with people whose emotions are not … cold and standoffish.
  • You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.
  • If you want to stay in a state of illusion, stay in it. But you can always wake up.
  • Where does my fist go when I open up my hand? Where does my lap go when I stand up?
  • You can’t figure out the Universe, especially if you’re using figures to figure it.
  • And the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging to belief, of holding on.
  • Anxiety is the fear that one of a pair of opposites might cancel the other. Forever.
  • Jesus was not the man he was as a result of making Jesus Christ his personal savior.
  • A holy person is someone who is whole; who has, as it were, reconciled his opposites.
  • A living body is not a fixed thing, but a flowing event, like a flame or a whirlpool.
  • Change is an illusion because we’re always at the place where any future can take us.
  • Sex is no longer a serious taboo. Teenagers sometimes know more about it than adults.
  • The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple.
  • There is no formula for generating the authentic warmth of love. It cannot be copied.
  • When you look out of your eyes at nature happening out there…You’re looking at you.
  • You are something that the whole world is doing just as when the sea has waves on it.
  • Any systems approaching perfect self-control also approaches perfect self-frustration.
  • The role of the Guru is to show the person that he already has what he is looking for.
  • If we are unduly absorbed in improving our lives we may forget altogether to live them.
  • Religion is not a department of life; it is something that enters into the whole of it.
  • You are the big bang, the original force of the universe, coming on as whoever you are.
  • You must not be afraid of playing wrong notes. Just forget it, play it wrong! But play!
  • Increasingly, we’re developing all kinds of systems for verifying reality by echoing it.
  • Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command.
  • Running away from fear is fear; fighting pain is pain; trying to be brave is being scared
  • The more we struggle for life as pleasure, the more we are actually killing what we love.
  • We identify in our exerience a differentiation between what we do and what happens to us.
  • What was it like to wake up after having never gone to sleep? That was when you were born.
  • A less ‘brainy-culture’ would learn to synchronise its body rhythms rather than its clocks.
  • In life as well as in art Zen never wastes energy in stopping to explain; it only indicates.
  • It takes time for an acorn to turn into an oak, but the oak is already implied in the acorn.
  • I find that the sensation of myself as an ego inside a bag of skin is really a hallucination.
  • I have suggested that behind almost all myth lies the mono-plot of the game of hide-and-seek.
  • To remain caught up in ideas and words about Zen is, as the old masters say, to stink of Zen.
  • But we try to pretend, you see, that the external world exists altogether independently of us.
  • Buddhism has in it no idea of there being a moral law laid down by somekind of cosmic lawgiver.
  • But at any rate, the point is that God is what nobody admits to being, and everybody really is.
  • Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.
  • Stop measuring days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence.
  • The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
  • It is hard indeed to notice anything for which the languages available to us have no description.
  • What would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?
  • Lack of love for the vegetative, subtle, cthonic, pagan, and sexy aspect of the world means death.
  • To know that you are God is another way of saying that you feel completely one with this universe.
  • But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.
  • The real you is not a puppet that life pushes around, the real deep down you is the whole universe.
  • You don’t need to try to be God, you are! But if you try to be God it means you don’t know you are.
  • A scholar tries to learn something everyday; a student of Buddhism tries to unlearn something daily.
  • For there is never anything but the present, and if one cannot live there, one cannot live anywhere.
  • How could you say the best form of government is a republic if you think the universe is a monarchy?
  • The best way to convince someone is by making him realize that what you speak came from his own mind.
  • For me, being literate and articulate is a form of judo, of overcoming the [system] by its own method.
  • No worthwhile life can be lived without risks, despite current American superstitions to the contrary.
  • Only words and conventions can isolate us from the entirely undefinable something which is everything.
  • Our view of reality is like a chart of the sea – the truer it is, the less likely we will become lost.
  • When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point.
  • …for since there is no real ‘way’ to sartori, the way you are following makes very little difference.
  • We tend to regard ourselves as puppets of the Past, driven along by something that is always behind us.
  • You and I are all as much continuous with the physical universe as a wave is continuous with the ocean.
  • A philosopher is a sort of intellectual yokel who gawks at things that sensible people take for granted.
  • If we cling to belief in God, we cannot likewise have faith, since faith is not clinging but letting go.
  • Wars based on principle are far more destructive… the attacker will not destroy that which he is after.
  • When we look for things there is nothing but mind, and when we look for mind there is nothing but things.
  • Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.
  • Lack of awareness of the basic unity of organism and environment is a serious and dangerous hallucination.
  • The Greek word for sinning means to ‚Äòmiss the point;‚Äô The point is eternal life which is here and now.
  • At times almost all of us envy the animals. They suffer and die, but do not seem to make a “problem” of it.
  • Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way.
  • The whole point of Zen is to suspend the rules we have superimposed on things and to see the world as it is
  • Many people think that the Bible is the authentic word of God and they worship the Bible, making it an idol.
  • Zen is a way of liberation, concerned not with discovering what is good or bad or advantageous, but what is.
  • “A chest of gold coins or a fat wallet of bills is of no use
  •  
  • whatsoever to a wrecked sailor alone on a raft.”
  • What you are basically, deep, deep down, far, far in, is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself.
  • For a decision-the freest of my actions just happens like hiccups inside me or like a bird singing outside me.
  • Just as the ocean is waving so each one of us is a waving of the whole cosmos, the entire works, all there is.
  • One is a great deal less anxious if one feels perfectly free to be anxious, and the same may be said of guilt.
  • You can make any human activity into meditation simply by being completely with it and doing it just to do it.
  • Basically, there is simply nothing to worry about, because you yourself are the eternal energy of the universe.
  • Enlightenment or awakening is not the creation of a new state of affairs but the recognition of what already is.
  • I would suggest that today, we know about as much concerning the human mind as we knew about the galaxy in 1300.
  • 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.
  • The biggest ego trip is getting rid of your ego, and of course the joke of it all is that your ego does not exist.
  • The morning glory which blooms for an hour differs not at heart from a giant pine that lives for a thousand years.
  • In Zen, poverty is voluntary, and considered not really as poverty so much as simplicity, freedom, unclutteredness.
  • Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone.
  • To resist change, to try to cling to life, is therefore like holding your breath: if you persist you kill yourself.
  • …the habitual dualist’s solution to the problem of dualism: to solve the dilemma by chopping off one of the horns.
  • Our pleasures are not material pleasures, but symbols of pleasure ‚Äì attractively packaged but inferior in content.
  • There is no way of making a hedge grow like pruning it. There is no way of making sex interesting like repressing it.
  • “We all need to go out of our minds at least once a day.
  •  
  • When we go out of our minds we quickly come to our senses.”
  • And it came to pass that in the hands of the ignorant, the words of the Bible were used to beat plowshares into swords
  • Do not let the rapidity with which these thoughts can change deceive you into feeling that you think them all at once.
  • If you insist on being determined by the past that’s your game, but the fact of the matter is it all starts right now.
  • Just as money is not real, consumable wealth, books are not life. To idolize scriptures is like eating paper currency.
  • There is nothing at all that can be talked about adequately, and the whole art of poetry is to say what can’t be said.
  • Our normal sense of the person as a lonely island of consciousness, is a dramatic illusion based on theological imagery.
  • To feel that life is meaningless unless ‚ÄúI‚Äù can be permanent is like having fallen desperately in love with an inch.
  • There is a peculiar contradiction in trying to be a member of a republic while believing that the universe is a monarchy.
  • To go out of your mind at least once a day is tremendously important. By going out of your mind, you come to your senses.
  • You find out that the universe is a system that creeps up on itself and says ‘Boo’ and then laughs at itself for jumping.
  • This-the immediate, everyday, and present experience-is IT, the entire and ultimate point for the existence of a universe.
  • The difficulty for most of us in the modern world is that the old-fashioned idea of God has become incredible or implausible.
  • You will begin to realize that if you contemplate long enough on the leaf of the flower, that it involves the whole universe.
  • The style of God venerated in church, mosque, and synagogue seems completely different from the style of the natural universe.
  • Technology is destructive only in the hands of people who do not realize that they are one and the same process as the universe.
  • Where do I begin and end in space? I have relations to the sun and air which are just as vital parts of my existence as my heart.
  • 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.
  • If you study the writings of the mystics, you will always find things in them that appear to be paradoxes, as in Zen, particularly.
  • LSD is simply an exploratory instrument like a microscope or telescope, except this one is inside of you instead of outside of you.
  • We know that from time to time there arise among human beings people who seem to exude love as naturally as the sun gives out heat.
  • Everyone has love, but it can only come out when he is convinced of the impossibility and the frustration of trying to love himself.
  • When a man no longer confuses himself with the definition of himself that others have given him, he is at once universal and unique.
  • 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.
  • If we live, we live; if we die, we die; if we suffer, we suffer; if we are terrified, we are terrified. There is no problem about it.
  • It is obvious that the only interesting people are interested people, and to be completely interested is to have forgotten about “I”.
  • …the whole universe is through and through the playing of love in every shade of the word’s use, from animal lust to divine charity.
  • To understand music, you must listen to it. But so long as you are thinking, ‚ÄúI am listening to this music,‚Äù you are not listening.
  • We have a strange anxiety in us; that if we don’t interfere then it won’t happen. Now that’s the root of an enormous amount of trouble.
  • We are at war between consciousness and nature, between the desire for permanence and the fact of flux. It is ourself against ourselves.
  • If you are ready to wake up, you are going to wake up. If you’re not you are going to stay pretending that you are just a poor little me.
  • To play so as to be relaxed and refreshed for work is not to play, and no work is well and finely done unless it, too, is a form of play.
  • Philosophy is man‚Äôs expression of curiosity about everything and his attempt to make sense of the world primarily through his intellect.
  • 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.
  • .. does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.
  • Meditation is the way in which we come to feel our basic inseparability from the whole universe, and what that requires is that we shut up.
  • When one speaks of awakening, it means de-hypnotizatio n; coming to your senses. But of course to do that, you have to go out of your mind.
  • It’s time to question a job or career move when it seems like most energy is devoted to making things appear other than what they really are.
  • Make a spurious division of one process into two, forget that you have done it, and then puzzle for centuries as to how the two get together.
  • The greater part of human activity is designed to make permanent those experiences and joys which are only lovable because they are changing.
  • A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts. So he loses touch with Reality, and lives in a world of illusion.
  • 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 trouble with many religions, accused of wishful thinking, is that they are not wishful enough. They show a deplorable lack of imagination.
  • They are enlightened who join in this play knowing it as play, for people suffer only because they take as serious what the gods made for fun.
  • “Enlightenment remains unrealized so long as it is considered as a specific
  •  
  • state to be attained, and for which there are standards of success.”
  • The question is not what I should do in the future to get it, but rather, what am I presently doing that prevents me from realizing it right now?
  • 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‚Äôt like it.
  • Try to imagine what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up… now try to imagine what it was like to wake up having never gone to sleep.
  • Don’t hurry anything. Don’t worry about the future. Don’t worry about what progress you’re making. Just be entirely content to be aware of what is.
  • Just as the highest and the lowest notes are equally inaudible, so perhaps, is the greatest sense and the greatest nonsense equally unintelligible.
  • 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.
  • The world is in an extremely dangerous situation, and serious diseases often require the risk of a dangerous cure like the Pasteur serum for rabies.
  • We get such a kick out of looking forward to pleasures and rushing ahead to meet them that we can‚Äôt slow down enough to enjoy them when they come.
  • You, yourself, are the eternal energy which appears as this Universe. You didn’t come into this world; you came out of it. Like a wave from the ocean.
  • We have somehow conned ourselves into the notion that this moment is ordinary. This now moment, in which I’m talking and you’re listening, is eternity.
  • Buddhism … is not a culture but a critique of culture, an enduring nonviolent revolution or “loyal opposition” to the culture in which it is involved.
  • If, then, my awareness of the past and future makes me less aware of the present, I must begin to wonder whether I am actually living in the real world.
  • 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.
  • Without birth and death, and without the perpetual transmutation of all the forms of life, the world would be static, rhythm-less, undancing, mummified.
  • The sense of wrong is simply failure to see where something fits into a pattern, to be confused as to the hierarchical level upon which an event belongs.
  • When you really understand that you are what you see and know, you do not run around the countryside thinking, “I am all this!” There is simply all this.
  • The power of memories and expectations is such that for most human beings, the past and the future are not as real, but rather more real than the present.
  • In reality there are no separate events. Life moves along like water, it’s all connected to the source of the river is connected to the mouth and the ocean.
  • Many people never grow up. They stay all their lives with a passionate need for external authority and guidance, pretending not to trust their own judgment.
  • Self-knowledge leads to wonder, and wonder to curiosity and investigation, so that nothing interests people more than people, even if only one’s own person.
  • 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.
  • But the disappearance of the effort to let go is precisely the disappearance of the separate thinker, of the ego trying to watch the mind without interfering.
  • 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.
  • If the universe is meaningless, so is the statement that it is so. If this world is a vicious trap, so is its accuser, and the pot is calling the kettle black.
  • 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.
  • The Art of Being: A state of wholeness in which the mind functions freely and easily, without the sensation of a second mind or ego standing over it with a club.
  • The truth is revealed by removing things that stand in its light, an art not unlike sculpture, in which the artist creates, not by building, but by hacking away.
  • There was a young man who said though, it seems that I know that I know, but what I would like to see is the I that knows me when I know that I know that I know.
  • Western religions are more concerned with behavior, doctrine, and belief than with any transformation of the way in which we are aware of ourselves and our world.
  • And the more you become aware of the unknown self – if you become aware of it – the more you realize that it is inseparably connected with everything else that is.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The anitya doctrine is, again, not quite the simple assertion that the world is impermanent, but rather that the more one grasps at the world, the more it changes.
  • What we need to realize is that there can be, shall we say, a movement, a stirring among people, which can be organically designed instead of politically designed.
  • All I’m saying is that minerals are just a rudimentary form of consciousness whereas the other people are saying that consciousness is a complicated form of minerals.
  • And although our bodies are bounded with skin, and we can differentiate between outside and inside, they cannot exist except in a certain kind of natural environment.
  • Like love, the light or guidance of truth that influences us exists only in living form, not in principles or rules or expectations or advice, however widely circulated
  • Where-so-ever beings exist throughout all galaxies, it doesn’t make any difference – you are all of them….and when they come into being, that’s you coming into being.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • So many people of wealth understand much more about making and saving money than about using and enjoying it. They fail to live because they are always preparing to live.
  • Once you’ve learned to think you can’t stop. And an enormous number of people devote their lives to keeping their minds busy and feel extremely uncomfortable with silence.
  • …mysticism and empiricism go together in opposition to scholasticism…they base themselves on the non-linear world of experience rather than the linear world of letters.
  • 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
  • Things are as they are. Looking out into it the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.
  • You will never get to the irreducible definition of anything because you will never be able to explain why you want to explain, and so on. The system will gobble itself up.
  • As a human being it is just my nature to enjoy and share philosophy. I do this in the same way that some birds are eagles and some doves, some flowers lilies and some roses.
  • Of course, you can‚Äôt force your mind to be silent. That would be like trying to smooth ripples in water with a flatiron. Water becomes clear and calm only when left alone.
  • Billions of years ago, you were a big bang, but now you’re a complicated human being. And then we cut ourselves off, and don’t feel that we’re still the big bang. But you are.
  • 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.
  • Life and Reality are not things you can have for yourself unless you accord them to all others. They do not belong to particular persons any more than the sun, moon and stars.
  • What are we saying when we say now, something is holy? That means you should take a different attitude to what you are doing than if you were, for example, doing it for kicks.
  • The difference between a baby and adult is that a baby believes in everything while the adult doubts everything. Babies also only tell the truth until they learn what a lie is.
  • In known history, nobody has had such 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.
  • These people, as far as I can see, do not congregate in the notorious centers of the movement, like the North Beach in San Francisco or Greenwich Village, or Venice, California.
  • this present moment never comes to be and it never ceases to be, it is simply our minds that construct the continuity of thoughts we call time. In the present moment is nirvana.
  • 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.
  • The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego.
  • We are all as much extraordinary phenomena 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.
  • 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.
  • Some believe all that parents, tutors, and kindred believe. They take their principles by inheritance, and defend them as they would their estates, because they are born heirs to them.
  • 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.
  • As muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone, it could be argued that those who sit quietly and do nothing are making one of the best possible contributions to a world in turmoil.
  • We are the eyes of the cosmos. So that in a way, when you look deeply into somebody’s eyes, you’re looking deep into yourself, and the other person is looking deeply into the same self.
  • Wonder, and its expression in poetry and the arts, are among the most important things which seem to distinguish men from other animals, and intelligent and sensitive people from morons.
  • To be alive spiritually man must have union with God and must be conscious of it. Apart from this union his religious life will be an empty drudgery, a mere imitation of true spirituality.
  • Real travel requires a maximum of unscheduled wandering, for there is no other way of discovering surprises and marvels, which, as I see it, is the only good reason for not staying at home.
  • The Godhead is never an object of its own knowledge. Just as a knife doesn’t cut itself, fire doesn’t burn itself, light doesn’t illuminate itself. It’s always an endless mystery to itself.
  • We live in a culture where it has been rubbed into us in every conceivable way that to die is a terrible thing. And that is a tremendous disease from which our culture in particular suffers.
  • If happiness always depends on something expected in the future, we are chasing a will-o’-the-wisp that ever eludes our grasp, until the future, and ourselves, vanish into the abyss of death.
  • 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.
  • For the price of intelligence as we now know it is chronic anxiety, anxiety which appears to increase‚Äîoddly enough‚Äîto the very degree that human life is subjected to intelligent organization.
  • For we have never actually understood the revolutionary sense beneath them ‚Äì the incredible truth that what religion calls the vision of God is found in giving up any belief in the idea of God.
  • It is the seeker, who understands there is more than what meets the eye, who is not afraid and makes the choice to go into the unknown. The process of awaking has begun, the discovery is underway.
  • Nothing fails like success‚Äîbecause the self-imposed task of our society and all its members is a contradiction: to force things to happen which are acceptable only when they happen without force.
  • The individual may be understood as one particular focal point at which the whole universe expresses itself – as an incarnation of the self, or of the Godhead, or whatever one may choose to call it.
  • Philosophers, for example, often fail to recognize that their remarks about the universe apply also to themselves and their remarks. If the universe is meaningless, so is the statement that it is so.
  • 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.
  • The problem is to overcome the ingrained disbelief in the power of winning nature by love, in the gentle (ju) way (do) of turning with the skid, of controlling ourselves by cooperating with ourselves.
  • The psychotherapist … tries to help the individual to be himself and to go it alone without giving unnecessary offense to his community, to be in the world (of social convention) but not of the world.
  • Buddha’s doctrine: Man suffers because of his craving to possess and keep forever things which are essentially impermanent…this frustration of the desire to possess is the immediate cause of suffering.
  • The self-styled practical man of affairs who pooh-poohs philosophy as a lot of windy notions is himself a pragmatist or a positivist, and a bad one at that, since he has given no thought to his position.
  • We must see that consciousness is neither an isolated soul nor the mere function of a single nervous system, but of that totality of interrelated stars and galaxies which makes a nervous system possible.
  • The soul is something which contains the body. The body doesn’t contain the soul. The soul, if we put it into modern language, is the entire complex of relationships in whose context this organism exists.
  • And so when the essential idea of love is lost there comes talk of fidelity. Actually, the only possible basis for two beings, male and female, to relate to each other is to grant each other total freedom.
  • However much I may be impressed by the difference between a star and the dark space around it, I must not forget that I can see the two only in relation to each other, and that this relation is inseparable.
  • The idea of the Universe being ruled by that marvelous old gentleman, is no longer plausible. It isn’t that anybody has disproved it, but it just somehow doesn’t go with the vast infinitude of the Universe.
  • Altough we all realize that monotony is boring, almost every form of industrial work- banking, accounting, mass-producing, service- is monotonous, and most people are paid for simply putting up with monotony
  • 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.
  • …the materialism of modern civilization is paradoxically founded on a hatred of materiality, a goal-oriented desire to obliterate all natural limits through technology, imposing an abstract grid over nature.
  • …for thousands of years human history has been a magnificently futile conflict, a wonderfully staged panorama of triumphs and tragedies based on the resolute taboo against admitting that black goes with white.
  • 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.
  • One’s life is an act with no actor, and thus it has always been recognized that the insane man that has lost his mind is a parody of the sage who has transcended his ego. If one is paranoid, the other is metanoid.
  • We are not clear as to the role in life of these chemicals; nor are we clear as to the role of the physician. You know, of course, that in ancient times there was no clear distinction between priest and physician.
  • You’re not something that’s a result of the big bang. You’re not something that is a sort of puppet on the end of the process. You are still the process. You are the big bang, the original force of the universe…
  • 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.
  • Sexual love is a troubled and problematic relationship in cultures where there is a strong sense of man’s separation from nature, especially when the realm of nature is felt to be inferior or contaminated with evil.
  • There is always something taboo, something repressed, unadmitted, 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.
  • 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.
  • The Tao belongs neither to knowing nor not knowing. Knowing is false understanding; not knowing is blind ignorance. If you really understand the Tao beyond doubt, it’s like the empty sky. Why drag in right and wrong?
  • Zen is a liberation from time. For if we open our eyes and see clearly, it becomes obvious that there is no other time than this instant, and that the past and the future are abstractions without any concrete reality.
  • 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.
  • Irrevocable commitment to any religion is not only intellectual suicide; it is positive unfaith because it closes the mind to any new vision of the world. Faith is, above all, openness – an act of trust in the unknown.
  • Other people teach us who we are. Their attitudes to us are the mirror in which we learn to see ourselves, but the mirror is distorted. We are, perhaps, rather dimly aware of the immense power of our social enviornment.
  • Think about a piece of music – some great symphony – we don’t expect it to get better as it develops, or that its whole purpose is to reach the final crescendo. The joy is found in listening to the music in each moment.
  • That’s a waste of time. If you really understand Zen… you can use any book. You could use the Bible. You could use Alice in Wonderland. You could use the dictionary, because… the sound of the rain needs no translation.
  • The Highest to which people can attain is wonder; and if the prime phenomenon makes them wonder, let them be content; nothing higher can it give them, and nothing further should they seek for behind it; there is the limit.
  • The life of Zen begins, therefore, in a disillusion with the pursuit of goals which do not really exist the good without the bad, the gratification of a self which is no more than an idea, and the morrow which never comes.
  • The reason we have poverty is that we have no imagination. There are a great many people accumulating what they think is vast wealth, but it’s only money… they don’t know how to enjoy it, because they have no imagination.
  • There is nothing wrong with meditating just to meditate, in the same way that you listen to music just for the music. If you go to concerts to “get culture” or to improve your mind, you will sit there as deaf as a doorpost.
  • 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.
  • Enjoyment is an art and a skill for which we have little talent or energy… your entire education has has deprived you of this capacity because it was preparing you for the future, instead of showing you how to be alive now.
  • The clash between science and religion has not shown that religion is false and science is true. It has shown that all systems of definition are relative to various purposes, and that none of them actually ‚Äúgrasp‚Äù reality.
  • The harder we try to catch hold of the moment, to seize a pleasant sensation…, the more elusive it becomes… It is like trying to clutch water in one’s hands – the harder one grips, the faster it slips through one’s fingers.
  • To perceive that form reveals the void, and to see that the void reveals form, is the secret for the overcoming of death. To the extent that one is unaware of space, one is unaware of one’s own eternity ‚Äî it’s the same thing!
  • For if you know what you want, and will be content with it, you can be trusted. But if you do not know, your desires are limitless and no one can tell how to deal with you. Nothing satisfies an individual incapable of enjoyment.
  • And people get all fouled up because they want the world to have meaning as if it were words… As if you had a meaning, as if you were a mere word, as if you were something that could be looked up in a dictionary. You are meaning.
  • To be silent is not to lose your tongue. On the contrary, it is only through silence that one can discover something new to talk about. One who talked incessantly, without stopping to look and listen, would repeat himself ad nauseam.
  • More and more we try to effect an adaptation to life by means of external gadgets, and attempt to solve our problems by conscious thinking rather than unconscious ‘know-how’. This is much less to our advantage than we like to suppose.
  • In Hindu philosophy the whole creation is regarded as the Vishnu Lila, the play of Vishnu. Lila means dance or play. Also in Hindu philosophy, they call the world illusion; and in Latin the root of the word illusion is ludere, to play.
  • This is what Zen means by being detached‚Äînot being without emotion or feeling, but being one in whom feeling is not sticky or blocked, and through whom the experiences of the world pass like the reflections of birds flying over water.
  • But when no risk is taken there is no freedom. It is thus that, in an industrial society, the plethora of laws made for our personal safety convert the land into a nursery, and policemen hired to protect us become selfserving busybodies.
  • Just what should a young man or woman know to be ‘in the know’? Is there, in other words, some inside information, some special taboo, some real lowdown on life and existence that most parents and teachers either don’t know or won’t tell?
  • The sound of the rain needs no translation. In music one doesn’t make the end of the composition the point of the composition… Same way in dancing, you don’t aim at one particular spot in the room… The whole point of dancing is the dance.
  • Spiritual awakening is the difficult process whereby the increasing realisation that everything is as wrong as it can be flips suddenly into the realisation that everything is as right is it can be. Or better, everything is as It as it can be.
  • Although profoundly “inconsequential,” the Zen experience has consequences in the sense that it may be applied in any direction, to any conceivable human activity, and that wherever it is so applied it lends an unmistakable quality to the work.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • I was talking to a Zen master the other day and he said, “You shall be my disciple.”I looked at him and said, “Who was Buddha’s teacher?” He looked at me in a very odd way for a moment and then he burst into laughter and handed me a piece of clover.
  • 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.
  • “Conscious attention is a designed function of the brain
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  • which scans the environment for any trouble making changes.
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  • If you identify yourself with your trouble shooter, then naturally you define yourself as being in a perpetual state of anxiety.”
  • People often say to me, ‘I understand what you are talking about intellectually, but I don’t really feel it, I don’t realize it,’ and I am apt to reply, ‘I wonder whether you do understand it intellectually, because if you did you would also feel it.’
  • There’s an interdependence between flowers and bees. Where there are no flowers there are no bees, and where there are no bees, there are no flowers. They are really one organism. And so in the same way, everything in nature depends on everything else.
  • Different Chinese philosophers, writing probably in 5-4 centuries B.C., presented some major ideas and a way of life that are nowadays known under the name of Taoism, the way of correspondence between man and the tendency or the course of natural world.
  • 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 thing you don’t like doing, which is stupid.
  • The secret of the enjoyment of pleasure is to know when to stop. Man doesn’t learn this secret easily, but to shun pleasure altogether is cowardly avoidance of a difficult job. For we have to learn the art of enjoying things BECAUSE they are impermanent.
  • A priest once quoted to me the Roman saying that a religion is dead when the priests laugh at each other across the altar. I always laugh at the altar, be it Christian, Hindu, or Buddhist, because real religion is the transformation of anxiety into laughter.
  • Our educational system in its entirety does nothing to give us any kind of material competence. In other words, we don’t learn how to cook, how to make clothes, how to build houses, how to make love, or to do any of the absolutely fundamental things of life.
  • As the fish doesn’t know water, people are ignorant of space. Consciousness is concerned only with changing and varying details; it ignores constants-especially constant backgrounds.  Thus only very exceptional people are aware of what is basic to everything.
  • You know that if you get in the water and have nothing to hold on to, but try to behave as you would on dry land, you will drown. But if, on the other hand, you trust yourself to the water and let go, you will float. And this is exactly the situation of faith.
  • The fools standpoint is that all social institutions are games. He sees the whole world as game playing. That’s why, when people take their games seriously and take on stern and pious expressions, the fool gets the giggles because he knows that it is all a game.
  • Your world is all these elements. Of light and sound, of taste, smell, and touch, woven together in many dimensions on the fabulous loom of your brain. Your brain; the most complicated thing in the world, which you yourself grew…without even thinking about it.
  • The meaning and purpose of dancing is the dance. Like music also, it is fulfilled in each moment of its course. You do not play a sonata in order to reach the final chord, and if the meaning of things were simply in ends, composers would write nothing but finales.
  • The further and further we look out with our telescopes and the further and further we look in with our microscopes, the larger and larger and smaller and smaller the universe becomes in order to escape the investigation because we are the universe looking at itself.
  • The future is a concept, it doesn’t exist. There is no such thing as tomorrow. There never will be, because time is always now. That’s one of the things we discover when we stop talking to ourselves and stop thinking. We find there is only present, only an eternal now.
  • Really, the fundamental, ultimate mystery — the only thing you need to know to understand the deepest metaphysical secrets — is this: that for every outside there is an inside and for every inside there is an outside, and although they are different, they go together.
  • If you are afraid of death, be afraid. The point is to get with it, to let it take over – fear, ghosts, pains, transience, dissolution, and all. And then comes the hitherto unbelievable surprise; you don’t die because you were never born. You had just forgotten who you are.
  • Someone once described ‚ÄúChristian Secularism‚Äù as the assumption that there is nothing at all to life except a pilgrimage between the maternity ward and the crematorium, and that it is within that span that Christian concern must be exercised because that is all there is.
  • What is the next step, the practical application? ‚ÄîI will answer that the absolutely vital thing is to consolidate your understanding, to become capable of enjoyment, of living in the present, and of the discipline which this involves. Without this you have nothing to give.
  • Paradoxical as it may seem, the purposeful life has no content, no point. It hurries on and on, and misses everything. Not hurrying, the purposeless life misses nothing, for it is only when there is no goal and no rush that the human senses are fully open to receive the world.
  • By replacing fear of the unknown with curiosity we open ourselves up to an infinite stream of possibility. We can let fear rule our lives or we can become childlike with curiosity, pushing our boundaries, leaping out of our comfort zones, and accepting what life puts before us.
  • But at any rate, the point is that God is what nobody admits to being, and everybody really is. If you awaken from this illusion, and you understand that black implies white, self implies other, life implies death – or shall I say, death implies life – you can conceive yourself.
  • I knew of a physicist at the University of Chicago who was rather crazy like some scientists, and the idea of the insolidity, the instability of the physical world impressed him so much that he used to go around in enormous padded slippers for fear he should fall through the floor.
  • The animal tends to eat with his stomach, and the man with his brain. When the animal’s stomach is full, he stops eating, but the man is never sure when to stop. When he has eaten as much as his belly can take, he still feels empty, he still feels an urge for further gratification.
  • The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events–that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies–and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.
  • 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.
  • We are sick with fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas. Meditation is therefore the art of suspending verbal and symbolic thinking for a time, somewhat as a courteous audience will stop talking when a concert is about to begin.
  • When you feel that you are a lonely, put-upon, isolated little stranger confronting all this, you are under the influence of an illusory feeling, because the truth is quite the reverse. You are the whole works, all that there is, and always was, and always has been, and always will be.
  • Like too much alcohol,self-consciousness makes us see ourselves double, and we make the double image for two selves – mental and material, controlling and controlled, reflective and spontaneous. Thus instead of suffering we suffer about suffering, and suffer about suffering about suffering.
  • There is an ineffable mystery that underlies ourselves and the world. It is the darkness from which the light shines. When you recognize the integrity of the universe and that death is as certain as birth, then you can relax and accept that this is the way it is. There is nothing else to do.
  • 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. 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.
  • I seem to be a brief light that flashes but once in all the aeons of time a rare, complicated, and all-too-delicate organism on the fringe of biological evolution , where the wave of life bursts into individual, sparkling, and multicolored drops that gleam for a moment… only to vanish forever.
  • If you love a person, you say to that person, “Look, I love you, whatever that may be. I’ve seen quite a bit of it and I know there’s lots that I haven’t seen, but still it’s you and I want you to be what you want to be. And I won’t be happy if I’ve got you in a cage. You’d be a bird without song.”
  • Ego is a social institution with no physical reality. The ego is simply your symbol of yourself. Just as the word ‚Äúwater‚Äù is a noise that symbolizes a certain liquid without being it, so too the idea of ego symbolizes the role you play, who you are, but it is not the same as your living organism.
  • The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity and it is really impossible to tell whether something that happens in it is good or bad. Because you never know what will be the consequences of the misfortune. Or, you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.
  • To the Taoist mentality, the aimless, empty life does not suggest anything depressing. On the contrary, it suggests the freedom of clouds and mountain streams, wandering nowhere, of flowers in impenetrable canyons, beautiful for no one to see, and of the ocean surf forever washing the sand, to no end.
  • The greater the scientist, the more he is impressed with his ignorance of reality, and the more he realizes that his laws and labels, descriptions and definitions, are the products of his own thought. They help him to use the world for purposes of his own devising rather than understand and explain it.
  • To define is to limit, to set boundaries, to compare and to contrast, and for this reason, the universe, the all, seems to defy definition….Just as no one in his senses would look for the morning news in a dictionary, no one should use speaking and thinking to find out what cannot be spoken or thought.
  • To remain stable is to refrain from trying to separate yourself from a pain because you know that you cannot. Running away from fear is fear, fighting pain is pain, trying to be brave is being scared. If the mind is in pain, the mind is pain. The thinker has no other form than his thought. There is no escape.
  • What you do is what the whole universe is doing at the place you call “here and now,” and you are something the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is something that the whole ocean is doing… The real you is not a puppet which life pushes around. The real deep-down you is the whole universe.
  • When death comes, it’s just like winter. We don’t say, “There ought not to be winter.” That the winter season, when the leaves fall and the snow comes, is some kind of defeat, something which we should hold out against. No. Winter is part of the natural course of events. No winter, no summer. No cold, no heat.
  • If you belong to an in-group of good, or saved, or elite people, you can only know that you‚Äôre in because someone else is out. You cannot live on the right side of the tracks without there being a wrong side of the tracks, so you ought to be grateful to the outside for having the privilege of being on the inside.
  • Yet again, the more you strive for some kind of perfection or mastery‚Äîin morals, in art or in spirituality‚Äîthe more you see that you are playing a rarified and lofty form of the old ego-game, and that your attainment of any height is apparent to yourself and to others only by contrast with someone else’s depth or failure.
  • The point is seeing that THIS – the immediate, everyday and present experience – is IT, the entire and ultimate point for the existence of a universe. I believe that if this state of consciousness could become more universal, the pretentious nonsense which passes for the serious business of the world would dissolve in laughter.
  • Breathing is important in the practice of meditation because it is the faculty in us that is simultaneously voluntary and involuntary. You can feel that you are breathing, and equally you can feel that it is breathing you. So it is a sort of bridge between the voluntary world and the involuntary world ‚Äî a place where they are one.
  • Imagine a multidimensiona l spider’s web in the early morning covered with dew drops. And every dew drop contains the reflection of all the other dew drops. And, in each reflected dew drop, the reflections of all the other dew drops in that reflection. And so ad infinitum. That is the Buddhist conception of the universe in an image.
  • Perhaps there is no other knowing than the mere competence of the act. If at the heart of one’s being, there is no self to which one ought to be true, then sincerity is simply nerve; it lies in the unabashed vigor of the pretense. But pretense is only pretense when it is assumed that the act is not true to the agent. Find the agent.
  • The agnostic, the skeptic, is neurotic, but this does not imply a false philosophy; it implies the discovery of facts to which he does not know how to adapt himself. The intellectual who tries to escape from neurosis by escaping from the facts is merely acting on the principle that ‚Äúwhere ignorance is bliss, ‚Äòtis folly to be wise.
  • The more we try to live in the world of words, the more we feel isolated and alone, the more all the joy and liveliness of things is exchanged for mere certainty and security. On the other hand, the more we are forced to admit that we actually live in the real world, the more we feel ignorant, uncertain, and insecure about everything.
  • To go out of your mind once a day is tremendously important, because by going out of your mind you come to your senses. And if you stay in your mind all of the time, you are over rational, in other words you are like a very rigid bridge which because it has no give; no craziness in it, is going to be blown down by the first hurricane.
  • I am amazed that Congressmen can pass a bill imposing severe penalties on anyone who burns the American flag, whereas they are responsible for burning that for which the flag stands: the United States as a territory, as a people, and as a biological manifestation. That is an example of our perennial confusion of symbols with realities.
  • Time is a social institution and not a physical reality. There is no such thing as time in the natural world – the world of stars and waters, clouds, mountains and living organisms. There is such a thing as rhythm – rhythm of tides, rhythm of biological processes… There is rhythm and there is motion. Time is a way of measuring motion.
  • It is interesting that Hindus, when they speak of the creation of the universe do not call it the work of God, they call it the play of God, the Vishnu lila, lila meaning play. And they look upon the whole manifestation of all the universes as a play, as a sport, as a kind of dance ‚Äî lila perhaps being somewhat related to our word lilt
  • We thought of life by analogy with a journey, a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end, and the thing was to get to that end, success or whatever it is, maybe heaven after you‚Äôre dead. But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.
  • If the earth is man’s extended body, to be loved and respected as one’s own body, those who do no greening of themselves will hardly bring about the greening of America. The idea of ‘greening’ involves color, flowering, freshness of spring, and, above all, respect for what is organic and vegetative as distinct from the mechanical and metallic.
  • Here is the vicious circle: if you feel separate from your organic life, you feel driven to survive; survival -going on living- thus becomes a duty and also a drag because you are not fully with it; because it does not quite come up to expectations, you continue to hope that it will, to crave for more time, to feel driven all the more to go on.
  • “We have allowed brain thinking to develop and dominate our lives.
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  • As a consequence, we are at war within ourselves.
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  • The brain desiring things which the body does not want, and the body desiring things which the brain does not allow; the brain giving directions which the body will not follow, and the body giving impulses which the brain cannot”
  • Nothing is more creative than death, since it has the whole secret of life. It means that the past must be abandoned, that the unknown cannot be avoided, that ‘I’ cannot continue, and that nothing can be ultimately fixed. When a man knows this, he lives for the first time in his life. By holding his breath, he loses it. By letting go he finds it.
  • What we have forgotten is that thoughts and words are conventions, and that it is fatal to take conventions too seriously. A convention is a social convenience, as, for example, money … but it is absurd to take money too seriously, to confuse it with real wealth … In somewhat the same way, thoughts, ideas and words are “coins” for real things.
  • Man is a little germ that lives on an unimportant rock ball that revolves about a small star at the outskirts of an ordinary galaxy. … I am absolutely amazed to discover myself on this rock ball rotating around a spherical fire. It’s a very odd situation. And the more I look at things I cannot get rid of the feeling that existence is quite weird.
  • The point, which can hardly be repeated too often, is that differentiation is not separation. The head and the feet are different, but not separate, and though man is not connected to the universe by exactly the same physical relation as branch to tree or feet to head, he is nonetheless connected – and by physical relations of fascinating complexity.
  • The Chinese word Li may therefore be understood as organic order, as distinct from mechanical or legal order, both of which go by the book. Li is the asymmetrical, nonrepetitive, and unregimented order which we find in the patterns of moving water, the form of trees and clouds, of frost crystals on the window, or the scattering of pebbles on beach sand.
  • Your body does not eliminate poisons by knowing their names. To try to control fear or depression or boredom by calling them names is to resort to superstition of trust in curses and invocations. It is so easy to see why this does not work. Obviously, we try to know, name, and define fear in order to make it ‚Äúobjective,‚Äù that is, separate from ‚ÄúI.
  • Now, you see, if you understand what I’m saying, with your intelligence, and then take the next step and say “But I understood it now, but I didn’t feel it.” Then, next I raise the question: Why do you want to feel it? You say: “I want something more”, because that’s again that spiritual greed. And you could only say that because you didn’t understand it.
  • We feel that our actions are voluntary when they follow a decision and involuntary when they happen without decision. But if a decision itself were voluntary every decision would have to be preceded by a decision to decide – An infinite regression which fortunately does not occur. Oddly enough, if we had to decide to decide, we would not be free to decide
  • 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.
  • No one imagines that a symphony is supposed to improve as it goes along, or that the whole object of playing 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.
  • When a man no longer confuses himself with the definition of himself that others have given him, he is at once universal and unique. He is universal by virtue of the inseparability of his organism from the cosmos. He is unique in that he is just this organism and not any stereotype of role, class, or identity assumed for the convenience of social communication.
  • What I am really saying is that you don‚Äôt 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.
  • If we want justice for minorities and cooled wars with our natural enemies, whether human or non-human, we must first come to terms with the minority and the enemy in ourselves and in our own hearts, for the rascal is there as much as anywhere in the “external” world – -especially when you realize that the world outside your skin is as much yourself as the world inside.
  • Essentially Satori is a sudden experience, and it is often described as a “turning over” of the mind, just as a pair of scales will suddenly turn over when a sufficient amount of material has been poured into one pan to overbalance the weight in the other. Hence it is an experience which generally occurs after a long and concentrated effort to discover the meaning of Zen.
  • But the transformation of consciousness undertaken in Taoism and Zen is more like the correction of faulty perception or the curing of a disease. It is not an acquisitive process of learning more and more facts or greater and greater skills, but rather an unlearning of wrong habits and opinions. As Lao-tzu said, “The scholar gains every day, but the Taoist loses every day.
  • But, as Douglas E Harding has pointed out, we tend to think of this planet as a life-infested rock, which is as absurd as thinking of the human body as a cell infested skeleton. Surely all forms of life, including man, must be understood as “symptoms” of the earth, the solar system, and the galaxy in which case we cannot escape the conclusion that the galaxy is intelligent.
  • 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. And when we turn around to find the self which knows this moment, we find that it has vanished like the past.
  • For the perfect accomplishment of any art, you must get this feeling of the eternal present into your bones – for it is the secret of proper timing. No rush. No dawdle. Just the sense of flowing with the course of events in the same way that you dance to music, neither trying to outpace it nor lagging behind. Hurrying and delaying are alike ways of trying to resist the present.
  • We think that the world is limited and explained by its past. We tend to think that what happened in the past determines what is going to happen next, and we do not see that it is exactly the other way around! What is always the source of the world is the present; the past doesn’t explain a thing. The past trails behind the present like the wake of a ship and eventually disappears.
  • So we down-to-earth, gutsy, tough, realistic, and practical types have just been squandering billions of dollars and unimaginable amounts of energy, nerve-work, and materials in whizzing off to the moon to discover, as astronomers knew before, that it was just a dreary slag heap. This is the true, original and scientifically etymological meaning of being lunatics.  Crying for the moon.
  • We suffer from a hallucination, from a false and distorted sensation of our own existence as living organisms. Most of us have the sensation that “I myself” is a seperate center of feeling and action, living inside and bounded by the physical body-a center which “confronts” an “external” world of people and things, making contact through the senses with a universe both alien and strange.
  • For there is a growing apprehension that existence is a rat-race in a trap: living organisms, including people, are merely tubes which put things in at one end and let them out at the other, which which both keeps them doing it and in the long run wears them out. So to keep the farce going, the tubes find ways of making new tubes, which also put things in at one end and let them out at the other.
  • Zen is really extraordinarily simple as long as one doesn’t try to be cute about it or beat around the bush! Zen is simply the sensation and the clear understanding … that there is behind the multiplicity of events and creatures in this universe simply one energy — and it appears as you, and everything is it. The practice of Zen is to understand that one energy so as to “feel it in your bones.
  • What are plants doing? What are plants all about? They serve human beings by being decorative, but what is it from its own point of view?  It’s using up air; it’s using up energy. It’s really not doing anything except being ornamental. And yet here’s this whole vegetable world, cactus plants, trees, roses, tulips, and edible vegetables, like cabbages, celery, lettuce – they’re all doing this dance.
  • The police have enough work to keep them busy regulating automobile traffic, preventing robberies and crimes of violence and helping lost children and little old ladies find their way home. As long as the police confine themselves to such activities they are respected friends of the public. But as soon as they begin inquiring into people’s private morals, they become nothing more than armed clergymen.
  • There are two specific objections to use of psychedelic drugs.First,use of these drugs may be dangerous.Howev er,every worth-while exploration is dangerous-climb ing mountains,testi ng aircraft,rocket ing into outer space,or collecting botanical specimens in jungles.But if you value knowledge & the actual delight of exploration more than mere duration of uneventful life,you are willing to take the risks.
  • It is also in despair of being able to understand or make any productive contribution to the highly organised chaos of our politico-economic system that large numbers of people simply abandon political and social committments. They just let society be taken over by a pattern of organisation which is as self-proliferative as a weed, and whose ends and values are neither human nor instinctive but mechanical.
  • For every individual is a unique manifestation of the Whole, as every branch is a particular outreaching of the tree. To manifest individuality, every branch must have a sensitive connection with the tree, just as our independently moving and differentiated fingers must have a sensitive connection with the whole body. The point, which can hardly be repeated too often, is that differentiation is not separation.
  • The question “What shall we do about it?” is only asked by those who do not understand the problem. If a problem can be solved at all, to understand it and to know what to do about it are the same thing. On the other hand, doing something about a problem which you do not understand is like trying to clear away darkness by thrusting it aside with your hands. When light is brought, the darkness vanishes at once.
  • 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. 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!
  • Belief, as I use the word here, is the insistence that the truth is what one would “lief” or wish it to be. The believer will open his mind to the truth on condition that it fits in with his preconceived ideas and wishes. Faith, on the other hand, is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be. Faith has no preconceptions; it is a plunge into the unknown. Belief clings, but faith lets go.
  • To the philosophers of India, however, Relativity is no new discovery, just as the concept of light years is no matter for astonishment to people used to thinking of time in millions of kalpas, (A kalpa is about 4,320,000 years). The fact that the wise men of India have not been concerned with technological applications of this knowledge arises from the circumstance that technology is but one of innumerable ways of applying it.
  • Inability to accept the mystic experience is more than an intellectual handicap. Lack of awareness of the basic unity of organism and environment is a serious and dangerous hallucination. For in a civilization equipped with immense technological power, the sense of alienation between man and nature leads to the use of technology in a hostile spirit‚Äî-to the ‚Äúconquest‚Äù of nature instead of intelligent co-operation with nature.
  • so, the whole idea, you see, is that everything’s falling apart, so don’t try and stop it. when you’re falling off a precipice, it doesn’t do you any good to hang onto a rock that’s falling with you. see? but everything is doing that. and so, again, this is another case of our completely wasting our energy in trying to prevent the world from falling apart. don’t do it. and then you’ll be able to do something interesting with the free energy.
  • You have seen that the universe is at root a magical illusion and a fabulous game, and that there is no separate “you” to get something out of it, as if life were a bank to be robbed. The only real “you” is the one that comes and goes, manifests and withdraws itself eternally in and as every conscious being. For “you” is the universe looking at itself from billions of points of view, points that come and go so that the vision is forever new.
  • Everybody should do in their lifetime, sometime, two things. One is to consider death…to observe skulls and skeletons and to wonder what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up-never. That is a most gloomy thing for contemplation; it’s like manure. Just as manure fertilizes the plants and so on, so the contemplation of death and the acceptance of death is very highly generative of creating life. You’ll get wonderful things out of that.
  • Psychedelic experience is only a glimpse of genuine mystical insight, but a glimpse which can be matured and deepened by the various ways of meditation in which drugs are no longer necessary or useful. If you get the message, hang up the phone. For psychedelic drugs are simply instruments, like microscopes, telescopes, and telephones. The biologist does not sit with eye permanently glued to the microscope, he goes away and works on what he has seen.
  • For when you see that the universe cannot be distinguished from how you act upon it, there is neither fate nor free will, self nor other. There is simply one all-inclusive Happening, in which your personal sensation of being alive occurs in just the same way as the river flowing and the stars shining far out in space. There is no question of submitting or accepting or going with it, for what happens in and as you is no different from what happens as it.
  • Jesus Christ knew he was God. So wake up and find out eventually who you really are. In our culture, of course, they‚Äôll say you‚Äôre crazy and you‚Äôre blasphemous, and they‚Äôll either put you in jail or in a nut house (which is pretty much the same thing). However if you wake up in India and tell your friends and relations, ‚ÄòMy goodness, I‚Äôve just discovered that I‚Äôm God,‚Äô they‚Äôll laugh and say, ‚ÄòOh, congratulations, at last you found out.
  • 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 a causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality.
  • If the human race develops an electronic nervous system, outside the bodies of individual people, thus giving us all one mind and one global body, this is almost precisely what has happened in the organization of cells which compose our own bodies. We have already done it. […] If all this ends with the human race leaving no more trace of itself in the universe than a system of electronic patterns, why should that trouble us? For that is exactly what we are now!
  • For the world is an ever-elusive and ever-disappointing mirage only from the standpoint of someone standing aside from it‚Äîas if it were quite other than himself‚Äîand then trying to grasp it. But a third response is possible. Not withdrawal, not stewardship on the hypothesis of a future reward, but the fullest collaboration with the world as a harmonious system of contained conflicts‚Äîbased on the realization that the only real “I” is the whole endless process.
  • What we see as death, empty space, or nothingness is only the trough between the crests of this endlessly waving ocean. It is all part of the illusion that there should seem to be something to be gained in the future, and that there is an urgent necessity to go on and on until we get it. Yet just as there is no time but the present, and no one except the all-and-everything, there is never anything to be gained – though the zest of the game is to pretend that there is.
  • It seems to be the special peculiarity of human beings that they reflect: they think about thinking and know that they know. This, like other feedback systems, may lead to vicious circles and confusions if improperly managed, but self-awareness makes human experience resonant. It imparts that simultaneous “echo” to all that we think and feel as the box of a violin reverberates with the sound of the strings. It gives depth and volume to what would otherwise be shallow and flat.
  • 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… within I don’t know how many years, but in not too long a time, it’s going to become basic common sense that you are not some alien being who confronts an external world that is not you, but that almost every intelligent person will have the feeling of being an activity of the entire universe.
  • I can only think seriously of trying to live up to an ideal, to improve myself, if I am split in two pieces. There must be a good ‚ÄúI‚Äù who is going to improve the bad ‚Äúme.‚Äù ‚ÄúI,‚Äù who has the best intentions, will go to work on wayward ‚Äúme,‚Äù and the tussle between the two will very much stress the difference between them. Consequently ‚ÄúI‚Äù will feel more separate than ever, and so merely increase the lonely and cut-off feelings which make ‚Äúme‚Äù behave so badly.
  • For unless one is able to live fully in the present, the future is a hoax. There is no point whatever in making plans for a future which you will never be able to enjoy. When your plans mature, you will still be living for some other future beyond. You will never, never be able to sit back with full contentment and say, “Now, I’ve arrived!” Your entire education has deprived you of this capacity because it was preparing you for the future, instead of showing you how to be alive now.
  • It is a special kind of enlightenment to have this feeling that the usual, the way things normally are, is odduncanny and highly improbable. G.K.Chesterton once said that it is one thing to be amazed at gorgon or a griffin, creatures which do not exist; but it is quite another and much higher thing to be amazed at a rhinoceros or a giraffe, creatures which do exist and look as if they don’t. This feeling of universal oddity includes a basic and intense wondering about the sense of things.
  • We accepted a definition of ourselves which confined the self to the source and to the limitations of conscious attention. This definition is miserably insufficient, for in fact we know how to grow brains and eyes, ears and fingers, hearts and bones, in just the same way that we know how to walk and breathe, talk and think – only we can’t put it into words. Words are too slow and too clumsy for describing such things, and conscious attention is too narrow for keeping track of all their details.
  • If to enjoy even an enjoyable present we must have the assurance of a happy future, we are ‚Äúcrying for the moon.‚Äù We have no such assurance. The best predictions are still matters of probability rather than certainty, and to the best of our knowledge every one of us is going to suffer and die. If, then, we cannot live happily without an assured future, we are certainly not adapted to living in a finite world where, despite the best plans, accidents will happen, and where death comes at the end.
  • But nirvana is a radical transformation of how it feels to be alive: it feels as if everything were myself, or as if everything—including “my” thoughts and actions—were happening of itself. There are still efforts, choices, and decisions, but not the sense that “I make them”; they arise of themselves in relation to circumstances. This is therefore to feel life, not as an encounter between subject and object, but as a polarized field where the contest of opposites has become the play of opposites.
  • There is no mission, nor interest to convert, and yet I believe that if this state of consciousness could become more universal, the pretentious nonsense which passes for the serious business of the world would dissolve in laughter. We should see at once that the high ideals for which we are killing and regimenting each other are empty and abstract substiutes for the unheeded miracles that surround us – not only in the obvious wonders of nature but also in the overwhelming uncanny fact of mere existence.
  • If my happiness at this moment consists largely in reviewing happy memories and expectations, I am but dimly aware of this present. I shall still be dimly aware of the present when the good things that I have been expecting come to pass. For I shall have formed a habit of looking behind and ahead, making it difficult for me to attend to the here and now. If, then , my awareness of the past and future makes me less aware of the present, I must begin to wonder whether I am actually living in the real world.
  • The problem comes up because we ask the question in the wrong way. We supposed that solids were one thing and space quite another, or just nothing whatever. Then it appeared that space was no mere nothing, because solids couldn’t do without it. But the mistake in the beginning was to think of solids and space as two different things, instead of as two aspects of the same thing. The point is that they are different but inseparable, like the front end and the rear end of a cat. Cut them apart, and the cat dies.
  • To know that you are God is another way of saying that you feel completely with this universe. You feel profoundly rooted in it and connected with it. You feel, in other words, that the whole energy, which expresses itself in the galaxies, is intimate. It is not something to which you are a stranger, but it is that with which you, whatever it is, are intimately bound up. That in your seeing, your hearing, your talking, your thinking, your moving, you express that which it is that moves the sun and other stars.
  • Since opposed principles, or ideologies, are irreconcilable, wars fought over principle will be wars of mutual annihilation. But wars fought for simple greed will be far less destructive, because the aggressor will be careful not to destroy what he is fighting to capture. Reasonable – that is, human – men will always be capable of compromise, but men who have dehumanized themselves by becoming the blind worshipers of an idea or an ideal are fanatics whose devotion to abstractions makes them the enemies of life.
  • A living body is not a fixed thing but a flowing event, like a flame or a whirlpool: the shape alone is stable, for the substance is a stream of energy going in at one end and out at the other. We are particularly and temporarily identifiable wiggles in a stream that enters us in the form of light, heat, air, water, milk, bread, fruit, beer, beef Stroganoff, caviar, and pate de foie gras. It goes out as gas and excrement – and also as semen, babies, talk, politics, commerce, war, poetry, and music. And philosophy.
  • Substances like LSD, which give away a secret about the nature of the social game – the human game and what underlies it – are potentially dangerous, of course, like any good thing is. Electricity is dangerous, fire is dangerous, cars are dangerous, planes are dangerous, but not so dangerous as driving on the freeway. The only way to handle danger is to face it. If you start getting frightened of it, then you make it worse. Because you project onto it all kinds of bogeys and threats which don’t exist in it at all.
  • How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such a fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself as anything less than a god? And, when you consider that this incalculably subtle organism is inseparable from the still more marvelous patterns of its environment – from the minutest electrical designs to the whole company of the galaxies – how is it conceivable that this incarnation of all eternity can be bored with being?
  • If you awaken from this illusion, and you understand that black implies white, self implies other, life implies death – or shall I say, death implies life – you can conceive yourself. Not conceive, but feel yourself, not as a stranger in the world, not as someone here on sufferance, on probation, not as something that has arrived here by fluke, but you can begin to feel your own existence as absolutely fundamental. What you are basically, deep, deep down, far, far in, is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself.
  • To look at life without words is not to lose the ability to form words- to think, remember, and plan. To be silent is not to lose your tongue. On the contrary, it is only through silence that one can discover something new to talk about. One who talked incessantly, without stopping to look and listen, would repeat himself ad nauseam. It is the same with thinking, which is really silent talking. It is not, by itself, open to the discovery of anything new, for its only novelties are simply arrangements of old words and ideas.
  • There is no formula for generating the authentic warmth of love. It cannot be copied. You cannot talk yourself into it or rouse it by straining at the emotions or by dedicating yourself solemnly to the service of mankind. Everyone has love, but it can only come out when he is convinced of the impossibility and the frustration of trying to love himself. This conviction will not come through condemnations, through hating oneself, through calling self love bad names in the universe. It comes only in the awareness that one has no self to love.
  • We must abandon completely the notion of blaming the past for any kind of situation we’re in and reverse our thinking and see that the past always flows back from the present. That now is the creative point of life. So you see it’s like the idea of forgiving somebody, you change the meaning of the past by doing that…Also, watch the flow of music. The melody as its expressed is changed by notes that come later. Just as the meaning of a sentence…you wait till later to find out what the sentence means…The present is always changing the past.
  • We are seeing, then, that our experience is altogether momentary. From one point of view, each moment is so elusive and so brief that we cannot even think about it before it has gone. From another point of view, this moment is always here, since we know no other moment than the present moment. It is always dying, always becoming past more rapidly than imagination can conceive. Yet at the same time it is always being born, always new, emerging just as rapidly from that complete unknown we call the future. Thinking about it almost makes you breathless.
  • We therefore work, not for the work’s sake, but for money‚Äîand money is supposed to get us what we really want in our hours of leisure and play. In the United States even poor people have lots of money compared with the wretched and skinny millions of India, Africa, and China, while our middle andupper classes (or should we say “income groups”) are as prosperous as princes. Yet, by and large, they have but slight taste for pleasure. Money alone cannot buy pleasure, though it can help. For enjoyment is an art and a skill for which we have little talent or energy.
  • When your eyes are functioning well you don’t see your eyes. If your eyes are imperfect you see spots in front of them.  That  means there are some lesions in the retina or wherever, and because your eyes aren’t working properly, you feel them.  In the same way, you don’t hear your ears.  If you have a ringing in your ears it means there’s something wrong with your ears.  Therefore, if you do feel yourself, there must be something wrong with you.  Whatever you have, the sensation of I is like spots in front of your eyes – it means something’s wrong with your functioning.
  • “It is essential to understand this point thoroughly: that the thing-in-itself, whether animal, vegetable, or mineral, is not only unknowable-it does not exist. This is important not only for sanity and peace of mind, but also for the most “practical” reasons of economics, politics, and technology.. This is not to say only that things exist in relation to one another, but that what we call “things” are no more than glimpses of a unified process. Certainly, this process has distinct features which catch our attention, but we must remember that distinction is not separation.”
  • Everybody is I, you all know you are you. And wheresoever’s beings exist throughout all galaxies it doesn’t any difference. You are all of them, and when they come into being that’s you coming into being, you know that very well. Only you don’t have to remember the past in the same way you don’t have to think about how you work your thyroid gland. You don’t have to know how to shine the sun, you just do it, like you breathe. Doesn’t it really astonish you that you are this fantastically complex thing, and that you’re doing all of this and you never had any education on how to do it.
  • We are at the moment looking at space as something to be entered by the tremendous thrust of a rocket because that is the attitude of attacking the unknown. And that causes us not to realize that we are already on the most magnificently equipped spaceship, which could hardly be improved upon. It has got a source of temperature and energy just at the right distance from it. It’s beautifully equipped with oxygen, with food supplies, with all kinds of delightful things to do while on the journey…. and it’s traveling through space at a colossal speed… and it’s called the planet Earth.
  • Of what use is the universe? What is the practical application of a million galaxies? Yet just because it has no use, it has a use – which may sound like a paradox, but is not. What, for instance, is the use of playing music? If you play to make money, to outdo some other artist, to be a person of culture, or to improve your mind, you are not really playing – for your mind is not on the music. You don’t swing. When you come to think of it, playing or listening to music is a pure luxury, an addiction, a waste of valuable time and money for nothing more than making elaborate patterns of sound.
  • “The real reason why human life can be so utterly exasperating and frustrating is not because there are facts called death, pain, fear, or hunger. The madness of the thing is that when such facts are present, we circle, buzz, writhe, and whirl, trying to get the I out of the experience…
  • Sanity, wholeness and integration lie in the realisation that we are not divided, that man and his present experience are one, and that no separate I or mind can be found …. [Life] is a dance, and when you are dancing, you are not intent on getting somewhere. The meaning and purpose of dancing is the dance.