All quotes from Alan Watts’

You are what you are only because of your relationships to everything else, and therefore the whole universe is a system of interdependence. It’s just as if, for example, you were to stand two sticks on the ground and lean them against each other, and they will stand up and form an inverted V: because they lean on each other. And this is an old thing that they teach children in Japan. That these sticks leaning against each other form the Chinese character for “man” [人]. And they say, therefore: “Man cannot exist unless we support each other.” This is the basis, therefore, of brotherhood and of good social relationships.

The universe coheres by everything depending on everything else. And therefore, nothing exists alone, nothing exists in its own right.

Every human being is a process: just as the flame is the conversion of wax into gas, so you and I are the conversion of air and water and light and beefsteak and milk into shit—and which again converts into something else, you see? We are the flowing vibration through which all this goes. And not for one moment are we the same.

Every being in this world is torn between going on and goofing off.

When you have this terrifying urgency to go on—and feel you must, this is important, this matters—we screen out of our consciousness the fact that this is our own volition and our own game. Because we are captivated by the illusion of the necessity and the importance of going on, to keep other people going on, to keep children going on, to keep this thing up. And the difficulty is that, as we become disturbed and anxious about this, it’s more difficult to keep the game going. In proportion, as we are frightfully concerned to survive, we start fighting other people. We start clobbering our neighbors who are stealing our crops and whatever it is. All the old fights start. And it is these fights which (more than anything else at the moment, you see) are endangering the entire human project—but all based fundamentally on the illusion that it’s utterly important that we survive.

If you could see that the whole thing is an illusion, you’d be happy as a lark, and life would be lived much more joyously by everybody. We would dance together and give things away and stop fighting, see? If we really saw it was an illusion we’d all be happy in our big dream.

The human organism is a stream of energy. It’s never the same for two seconds. Only, we’ve been taught to watch that thing, and to cherish it, and value it, and it matters, dammit! And yet, it’s going to wear out. And yet, it’s going to get sick. And yet, it’s going to die. So everybody is involved in playing the game of life in a way that goes beyond play and becomes deadly serious. And as a result, the whole of existence is lived in a state of constant frustration. Because you are trying all the time to hold together and to preserve something which (in the long run) can’t be preserved at all.

Look, now. Cool it. Wake up! See what the scene is. This is the kind of thing that’s going on. And you are not a captive in a trap. You’re not just some mere little measly being that somehow or other was brought into an insane universe, but you are what the thing is. You are not the victim, you are the system. Only, you have identified yourself with one wave in it, and have forgotten that you are one with the whole energy that’s going on.

Every person, every sentient being whatsoever, is “I.” “I” is simply the universe aware of itself at a particular place and time.

The feeling that we call “I” is how everything feels on the inside. But it is always in a particular place at a particular time. And these particular places and particular times, they keep going on and on and on and on and on. Myriads of them, all over—not only on this globe, but probably in worlds scattered throughout the whole cosmos—the “I”-feeling arises. And you feel that you are “I” just as much as I feel that I am “I.” And your “I”-feeling and my “I”-feeling are essentially the same—only, we’re looking from different places. But it’s all one “I.”

Supposing you watched the human race from a very different point of view: you were watching us—you didn’t know anything about human beings, never seen them before—and you were observing what’s going on in this planet from some other point of culture in space and time. And you would say, “Well, this world is peopleing. This planet peoples just like a tree bears fruit. And year after year the apples that come off an apple tree all look very much the same.” And you would say, “Yeah, the apples come and go, but they’re always the same apples coming back.” It’s only if you look very minutely at the apples, and studied the details of coloration and formation, that you would say that one apple was different from another. Now, we’re all so used to each other, and we know each other so well, that we see and emphasize the differences between us. But somebody who knew nothing about humanity would see the coming and going of human beings as a repetition of the same process.

In all probability, throughout this galaxy, and throughout other galaxies, there are human or comparable populations that arise and go, arise and go, just as we do individually. So don’t get too worried about the thought that this whole human system on this planet may go away and disappear. Because if you get too worried about it, it’s going to happen faster than if you don’t worry about it.

We notice what is a relatively small enclosed space and ignore the more dispersed. We notice what moves against what is relatively still, and what is relatively still is ignored. So, likewise, when we get a constant stimulus of consciousness: we begin to ignore it and not to notice it. Consciousness tends always to notice novel things, novel changes in the environment. So that the most unnoticed things in life are those which are the most constant and the most regular. And because, you see, you lose touch with the most constant and the most regular things, you screen them out of your your general thought as insignificant: they don’t matter, they’re not there.

Wherever you fly across the world in a plane, and the landscape suddenly begins to look rectangular, where there are straight lines and clear triangles, or clear circles, you know human beings have been around. Where they haven’t been around, the outlines of everything are wiggly. Like the courses of rivers, the shapes of mountains and forests. Because human beings are always trying to straighten things out. But we ourselves are not straightened out. We are wiggles! And we’re interminably wiggling. But we’re trying to regulate our wiggling by setting ourselves up in houses, and going along streets with traffic lights, and regulations, and so on. But we are wiggling. And we’re trying to straighten out this wiggling. But wiggling is basic.

It isn’t that things are meaningless, it isn’t that they’re meaningful, it’s just that they are so happened to be spread this way, and so there is no fixed way you should look at it.

You will be miserable to the degree that you are hung up on the notion that things should, must, go a certain way—that is to say, to have a fixed view. If you have no fixed view, you remain elastic.