16 Life Lessons From Brilliant Philosopher Alan Watts

Wise man.
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Wise man.

Whether you agree with only some or all of what philosopher Alan Watts had to say, he did dish out some smart and practical advice over the years. Here's some of his best.

1.) “Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.” 

2.) “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.” 

3.) “Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.” 

4.) “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.” 

5.) “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.” 

6.) “The menu is not the meal.” 

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

8.) "Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.” 

9.) “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.” 

10.) “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.” 

11.) “The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.” 

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

13.) “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.” 

14.) “Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way.” 

15.) “Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command.” 

16.) “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.”