Do you live in the moment? Alan Watts strongly suggests living the present moment is the best way to live your life!
No valid plans for the
future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now – Alan Watts
The celebrated British philosopher Alan Watts has championed the idea that living in the present moment is the only way you can appreciate the value of your life and make the most of it!
“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.”
― Alan W. Watts
These are the words of Alan Wilson Watts, a British philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known as an interpreter and popularizer of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience.
Coming from Britain, Alan Watts was one of the first pioneers to popularize teachings on living the present moment, to a western audience.
In his eye-opening deep insightful speeches, Watts talks about how we cheat ourselves each day of the joys of the Present Moment by grasping and chasing after the potential rewards of the future.
“What will be the good of the conquest of leisure and health, if no one remembers how to use them?”
But what are these rewards? Is it a hope for a better future? What do we exactly aspire to accomplish by doing things that are supposed to be done; things that society and popular culture expect us to do?
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.
– Alan Watts
If we for once delve into these questions, the whole socio-economic strata will start collapsing around us! We will be finally able to see the carrot dangling in front of us can never be reached.
We will realize that the ideal state of happiness that we are pursuing so relentlessly exists only in the future. We’re so focused on our goals that we fail to enjoy the pleasures that exist in the present moment.
It is only when there is no goal and no rush that the human senses are fully open to receive the world – Alan Watts
And as we cannot find happiness and mindfully live in the present moment, we make ourselves content with the possibility of good things happening for us in the future.
The rush that we feel chasing happiness and pleasure is so great that we forget to slow down and appreciate them when they do eventually come into our lives.
What we do instead is after we get something we wanted, we check it off on our list and start running again onto the next target.
“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. . . .
You may believe yourself out of harmony with life and its eternal Now; but you cannot be, for you are life and exist Now.”—from Become What You Are”
― Alan W. Watts, Become What You Are
We are therefore reduced to a civilization that suffers from chronic disappointment — a formidable group of spoiled kids smashing their toys.
How To Be In The Present Moment?
Some more famous words of Alan Watts on the topic of living the present moment:
“[Successful meditation brings about realizations:] That we are no longer this poor little stranger and afraid in a world it never made. But that you are this universe, and you are creating it in every moment…
Because you see it starts now, it didn’t begin in the past, there was no past. See, if the universe began in the past when that happened it was now; see, but it’s still now — and the universe is still beginning now, and it’s trailing off like the wake of a ship from now, and that wake fades out so does the past.
You can look back there to explain things, but the explanation disappears. You’ll never find it there… Things are not explained by the past, they are explained by what Happens Now. That Creates the past, and it begins here… That’s the birth of responsibility…”
“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” – Alan Watts
Living The Present Moment Is The Real Secret Of Life
“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
However, according to Watts, our western society has become too focused on labeling and branding things and being stuck in the preconceived notions of “what could be”!
Alan Watts On The Present Moment:
“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 an all-powerfully 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.
We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions, and ideas.”
For living the present moment, we need to stop blaming the past for any kind of situation we’re in and see life as just like music:
“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.”
So, that was all about living the present moment according to Alan Watts.
We’re sure the Alan Watts wisdom we shared with you, gave you some food for thought regarding why the present moment counts the most in life and how to live in the present more consciously.
Let us know your views on living the present moment by commenting down below!
Frequently Asked Questions
What was Alan Watts’s main message?
The purpose of life is just to be alive and enjoy the small pleasures of every moment. Happiness is here and now, not in some distant future.
What is the meaning of life as per Alan Watts?
The meaning of life is very simple; just be mindful of your blessings and live in the present; not in the anticipation of a great future.
What’s the best Alan Watts book?
The Wisdom of Insecurity, The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, The Way of Zen, and Meditation are some of the best-known books by Alan Watts.