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9th January 2014

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Alan Watts on the speed of travel

A world which increasingly consists of destinations without journeys between them, a world which values only ‘getting somewhere’ as fast as possible, becomes a world without substance. One can get anywhere and everywhere, and yet the more this is possible, the less is anywhere and everywhere worth getting to. For points of arrival are too abstract, too Euclidean to be enjoyed, and it is all very much like eating the precise ends of a banana without getting what lies in between.

Alan Watts, The Way of Zen (1957)

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22nd November 2012

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Alan Watts on the fear of death

Suppressing the fear of death makes it all the stronger. The point is only to know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that “I” and all other “things” now present will vanish, until this knowledge compels you to release them — to know it now as surely as if you had just fallen off the rim of the Grand Canyon. Indeed, you were kicked off the edge of a precipice when you were born, and it’s no help to cling to the rocks falling with you. 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.

Alan Watts, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are


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9th July 2012

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Alan Watts on our idea of ourselves

Our problem is that the power of thoughts enables us to construct symbols of things apart from the things themselves. This includes the ability to make a symbol, an idea of ourselves apart from ourselves. Because the idea is so much more comprehensible than the reality, the symbol so much more stable than the fact, we learn to identify ourselves with our idea of ourselves. Hence the subjective feeling of a ‘self’ which ‘has’ a mind, of an inwardly isolated subject to whom experiences involuntarily happen. With its characteristic emphasis on the concrete, Zen points out that our precious ‘self’ is just an idea, useful and legitimate enough if seen for what it is, but disastrous if identified with our real nature.

Alan Watts, The Way of Zen, 1957

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22nd May 2012

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As it is not Achilles but the method of measurement which fails to catch up with the tortoise, so it is not man but his method of thought which fails to find fulfilment in experience.
— Alan Watts, Nature, Man and Woman

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