"Know yourself as Nothing. Feel yourself as Everything."
"When you get free from certain fixed concepts of the way the world is, you find it is far more subtle, and far more miraculous, than you thought it was."
"If you think of this idea of nothingness as mere blankness, and you hold onto this idea of blankness, you haven’t understood it. Nothingness is really like the nothingness of space, which contains the whole universe. All the sun, moon and stars, and the mountains and rivers, and the good men and bad men, and the animals and the insects, the whole bit—all are contained in the void. So out of this void comes everything and you are it. What else could you be?"
When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate 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."
But in practice we are all bewitched by words. We confuse them with the real world, and try to live in the real world as if it were the world of words. As a consequence, we are dismayed and dumbfounded when they do not fit. The more we try to live in the world of words, the more we feel isolated and alone, the more all the joy and liveliness of things is exchanged for mere certainty and security. On the other hand, the more we are forced to admit that we actually live in the real world, the more we feel ignorant, uncertain, and insecure about everything.
But there can be no sanity unless the difference between these two worlds is recognized. The scope and purposes of science are woefully misunderstood when the universe which it describes is confused with the universe in which man lives. Science is talking about a symbol of the real universe. It is a convenient timesaver for making practical arrangements. But when money and wealth, reality and science are confused, the symbol becomes a burden.
Similarly, the universe described in formal, dogmatic religion is nothing more than a symbol of the real world, being likewise constructed out of verbal and conventional distinctions. To separate “this person” from the rest of the universe is to make a conventional separation. To want “this person” to be eternal is to want the words to be the reality, and to insist that a convention endure for ever and ever. We hunger for the perpetuity of something which never existed. Science has “destroyed” the religious symbol of the world because, when symbols are confused with reality, different ways of symbolizing reality will seem contradictory.
The scientific way of symbolizing the world is more suited to utilitarian purposes than the religious way, but this does not mean that it has any more “truth.” Is it truer to classify rabbits according to their meat or according to their fur? It depends on what you want to do with them. The clash between science and religion has not shown that religion is false and science is true. It has shown that all systems of definition are relative to various purposes, and that none of them actually “grasp” reality. And because religion was being misused as a means for actually grasping and possessing the mystery of life, a certain measure of “debunking” was highly necessary.
"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance."
"You are an aperture through which the universe is looking and exploring itself."
We have this hostility to the external world because of the superstition, the myth, the absolutely unfounded theory that you, yourself, exist only inside your skin. Now I want to propose another idea altogether. There are two great theories in astronomy going on right now about the origination of the universe. One is called the explosion theory, and the other is called the steady state theory. The steady state people say there never was a time when the world began, it’s always expanding, yes, but as a result of free hydrogen in space, the free hydrogen coagulates and makes new galaxies. But the other people say there was a primoridial explosion, an enormous bang billions of years ago which flung all the galazies into space. Well let’s take that just for the sake of argument and say that was the way it happened.
It’s like you took a bottle of ink and you threw it at a wall. Smash! And all that ink spread. And in the middle, it’s dense, isn’t it? And as it gets out on the edge, the little droplets get finer and finer and make more complicated patterns, see? So in the same way, there was a big bang at the beginning of things and it spread. And you and I, sitting here in this room, as complicated human beings, are way, way out on the fringe of that bang. We are the complicated little patterns on the end of it. Very interesting. But so we define ourselves as being only that. If you think that you are only inside your skin, you define yourself as one very complicated little curlique, way out on the edge of that explosion. Way out in space, and way out in time. Billions of years ago, you were a big bang, but now you’re a complicated human being. And then we cut ourselves off, and don’t feel that we’re still the big bang. But you are. Depends how you define yourself. You are actually - if this is the way things started, if there was a big bang in the beginning - you’re not something that’s a result of the big bang. You’re not something that is a sort of puppet on the end of the process. You are still the process. You are the big bang, the original force of the universe, coming on as whoever you are. When I meet you, I see not just what you define yourself as - Mr so-and-so, Ms so-and-so, Mrs so-and-so - I see every one of you as the primordial energy of the universe coming on at me in this particular way. I know I’m that, too. But we’ve learned to define ourselves as separate from it.
— Alan Watts: The Nature of Consciousness
"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."
"The meaning of the wonderful Zen saying “Every day is a good day” is that they come one after another, and yet there is only this one. You don’t link them. This, as I intimated just a moment ago, seems to be an atomization of life. Things just do what they do. The flower goes puff, and people go this way and that way, and so on, and that is what is happening. It has no meaning, no destination, no value. It is just like that. When you see that, you see it’s a great relief. That is all it is. Then, when you are firmly established in suchness, and it is just this moment, you can begin again to play with the connections, only you have seen through them. Now they don’t haunt you, because you know that there isn’t any continuous you running on from moment to moment who originated sometime in the past and will die sometime in the future. All that has disappeared. So, you can have enormous fun anticipating the future, remembering the past, and playing all kinds of continuities. This is the meaning of that famous Zen saying about mountains: “To the naive man, mountains are mountains, waters are waters. To the intermediate student, mountains are no longer mountains, waters are no longer waters.” In other words, they have dissolved into the point instant, the tshana. “But for the fully perfected student, mountains are again mountains and waters are again waters.”"
"We inherit a conception of ourselves as being artifacts, as being made, and it is perfectly natural in our culture for a child to ask its mother ‘How was I made?’ or ‘Who made me?’ And this is a very, very powerful idea, but for example, it is not shared by the Chinese, or by the Hindus. A Chinese child would not ask its mother ‘How was I made?’ A Chinese child might ask its mother ‘How did I grow?’ which is an entirely different procedure form making. You see, when you make something, you put it together, you arrange parts, or you work from the outside in, as a sculpture works on stone, or as a potter works on clay. But when you watch something growing, it works in exactly the opposite direction. It works from the inside to the outside. It expands. It burgeons. It blossoms."
"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."
"Let’s suppose that you were able every night to dream any dream that you wanted to dream, and that you could, for example, have the power within one night to dream 75 years of dreams, or any length of time you wanted to have. And you would, naturally as you began on this adventure of dreams, fulfill all your wishes. You would have every kind of pleasure you could conceive. And after several nights, of 75 years of total pleasure each, you would say ‘Well, that was pretty great. But now let’s have a surprise. Let’s have a dream which isn’t under control. Where something is gonna happen to me that I don’t know what it’s gonna be.’ And you would dig that and come out of that and say ‘Wow, that was a close shave, wasn’t it?’. And then you would get more and more adventurous, and you would make further and further out gambles as to what you would dream. And finally, you would dream where you are now. You would dream the dream of living the life that you are actually living today."
"You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing."