The Way of Zen by Alan Watts Quotes
12 October, 2016
#alanwatts #zen #philosophy


"For He is the Knower, and the Knower can know other things, but cannot make Himself the object of his own knowledge, in the same way that fire can burn other things but cannot burn itself."

"There is no ego, no enduring entity which is the constant subject of our changing experience."

"But in Zen and in other schools of the Mahayana, it is often taken in a more figurative way, as that the process of rebirth 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."

"The Buddha's precepts of conduct - abstinence from taking life, taking what is not given, exploitation of the passions, lying, and intoxication - are voluntarily assumed rules of expediency, the intent of which is to remove the hindrances to clarity of awareness."

"But the anxiety-laden problem of what will happen to me when I die is, after all, like asking what happens to my fist when I open my hand, or where my lap goes when I stand up."

"Thus ignorance(avidya) gives rise to motivation(samskara) and this in series to consciousness(vijnana), name-and-form(namarupa), the six senses(shadayatana), sense stimulation(sparsa), sense experience(vedana), grasping(trishna), possessiveness(upadana), coming-to-be(bhava), birth(jati), and old-age-and-death(jaramarana), which again gives rise to avidya."

"There is nothing to understand, there is nothing to understand. For nothing in particular has been indicated, nothing in particular has been explained...No one will grasp this perfection of wisdom as here explained. For no Dharma(doctrine) at all has been indicated, lit up, or communicated. So there will be no one who can grasp it."

"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."

"The wise person does not strive(wu-wei); The ignorant man ties himself up... If you work on your mind with your mind, How can you avoid an immense confusion?"

"Without calling it a pitcher, tell me what it is."

"The head monk said, "You couldn't call it a piece of wood." At this the monastery cook kicked the pitcher over and walked away. The cook was put in charge of the new monastery."

"Only when you have no thing in your mind and no mind in things are you vacant and spiritual, empty and marvelous."

"Professor Irving Lee, of Northwestern University, used to hold up a matchbox before his class, asking "What's this?" The students would usually drop squarely into the trap and say, "A matchbox!" At this Professor Lee would say, "No, no! It's this -" throwing the matchbox at the class, and adding, "Matchbox is a noise. Is this a noise?"

"Sitting quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself."

"In the end, the only alternative to a shuddering paralysis is to leap into action regardless of the consequences."

"For feeling blocks action, and blocks itself as a form of action, when it gets caught in this same tendency to observe or feel itself indefinitely - as when, in the midst of enjoying myself, I examine myself to see if I am getting the utmost out of the occasion. Not content with tasting the food, I am also trying to taste my tongue. Not content with feeling happy, I want to feel myself feeling happy - so as to be sure not to miss anything."

"One must not forget the social context of Zen. It is primarily a way of liberation for those who have mastered the disciplines of social convention, of the conditioning of the individual by the group. Zen is a medicine for the ill effects of this conditioning, for the mental paralysis and anxiety which come from excessive self-consciousness."

"For the practice of Zen is not the true practice so long as it has an end in view, and when it has no end in view it is awakening - the aimless, self-sufficient life of the "eternal now"."

"it should be obvious that action without wisdom, without clear awareness of the world as it really is, can never improve anything."

"One seeks and seeks, but cannot find. One then gives up, and the answer comes by itself."

"We eat, excrete, sleep, and get up; This is our world. All we have to do after that - is to die."

"He walks or sits all day in a "vivid-daze", conscious of everything going on around him, responding mechanically to circumstances, but totally baffled by everything."

"Over the river, the shining moon; in the pine trees, sighing wind; All night long so tranquil - why? And for whom?"

"Even when robbed he is still rich, for The thief left it behind - The moon at the window. And when there is no money, The wind brings fallen leaves enough to make a fire."

"In this moment there is nothing which comes to be. In this moment there is nothing which ceases to be. Thus there is no birth-and-death to be brought to an end. Wherefore the absolute tranquility(of nirvana) is this present moment. Though it is at this moment, there is no limit to this moment, and herein is eternal delight."

""It's just this", he said, "and nothing else"."