12 Quotes From Alan Watts’ The Way Of Zen

These are some quotes I collected while reading Alan Watts’ book, The Way Of Zen

I highly suggest reading this book if you have any interest in Zen, meditation, or Eastern philosophy. Mr. Watts was one of the first Western scholars to present Eastern ideas to a mass audience. He did so intelligently and with a sense of humor that keeps readers engaged. Enjoy this little sampler:

“To be free from convention is not to spurn it but not to be deceived by it. It is to be able to use it as an instrument instead of being used by it.”

“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.”

“The perfect man employs his mind as a mirror. It grasps nothing; it refuses nothing. It receives, but does not keep.”

“In English the differences between things and actions are clearly, if not always logically, distinguished, but a great number of Chinese words do duty for both nouns and verbs–so that one who thinks in Chinese has little difficulty in seeing that objects are also events, that our world is a collection of processes rather than entities.”

“Taoism concerns itself with unconventional knowledge, with the understanding of life directly, instead of in the abstract, linear terms of representational thinking.”

“…superior work has the quality of an accident.”

“Transitoriness is depressing only to the mind which insists upon trying to grasp. But to the mind which lets go and moves with the flow of change, which becomes, in Zen Buddhist imagery, like a ball in a mountain stream, the sense of transience or emptiness becomes a kind of ecstasy.”

“…the process of rebirth is from moment to moment, so that one is being reborn so long as one identifies himself with a continuing ego which reincarnates itself afresh at each moment of time.”

“With the “eye of prajna” the human situation is seen for what it is–a quenching of thirst with salt water, a pursuit of goals which simply require the pursuit of other goals, a clutching of objects which the swift course of time renders as insubstantial as mist.”

“Yet however much za-zen may have been exaggerated in the Far East, a certain amount of “sitting just to sit” might well be the best thing in the world for the jittery minds and agitated bodies of Europeans and Americans–provided they do not use it as a method for turning themselves into Buddhas.”

“The point is not to make an effort to silence the feelings and cultivate bland indifference. It is to see through the universal illusion that what is pleasant or good may be wrested from what is painful or evil.”

“To succeed is always to fail–in the sense that the more one succeeds in anything, the greater is the need to go on succeeding.”

Share this:

Leave a Reply