The name of Alan Watts, the iconic British philosopher instantly brings to mind how life is and how you can 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 these teachings for 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?”
Just exactly what is the “good” to which we aspire through doing and eating things that are supposed to be good for us? This question is strictly taboo, for if it were seriously investigated the whole economy and social order would fall apart and have to be reorganized. It would be like the donkey finding out that the carrot dangled before him, to make him run, is hitched by a stick to his own collar.
For the good to which we aspire exists only and always in the future. Because we cannot relate to the sensuous and material present we are most happy when good things are expected to happen, not when they are happening. We get such a kick out of looking forward to pleasures and rushing ahead to meet them that we can’t slow down enough to enjoy them when they come. We are therefore a civilization that suffers from chronic disappointment — a formidable swarm of spoiled children smashing their toys.
“[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…”
Want to know more about life and it’s lessons? Read 100 Best Zen Sayings And Proverbs That Will Make You Feel Peaceful
Living in 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 Alan Watts, western society has become too engaged with putting labels and names on things and being stuck in our minds.
“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.”