Alan Watts on the Most Important Realization You Can Come to About Life

Alan Watts was an en eminent writer, speaker, and philosopher, most known as populariser and interpreter of Eastern philosophy for Western spectators. In fact, he was one of the first pioneers to interpret Eastern teachings for a Western audience.

He explores various core inquiries that religions have tried to address, such as problems of love, sorrow, death, the universe, and what it means to have an “I” at the core of our experience.  In one of his lectures, he says:

“[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…”

He believes that the key to having a good life lies in living in the present moment. This means being engaged with whatever you are doing now. He also points out to the fact that the Western society has become pretty much obsessed with putting labels 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 infintesimal 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,” he explains.

The key to overcoming this lies in seeing life as music.  He emphasizes the fact that people have to learn to stop blaming the past for any kind of bad situation they are in the present moment. He looks at this as forgiving someone for doing something bad in the past and coming to terms with it.  He strongly believes that the present is always changing the past as the present moment is the creative point of life.