All quotes from Alan Watts’

We have a fixed notion of the separation between man and nature which is a barbarous superstition. You are not separate from the external world. Your skin does not divide you from what’s outside because your skin is what biologists call an osmotic membrane. In other words, it’s full of holes, pores, through which you breathe. It’s full of nerve ends through which you feel. And it’s therefore an envelope by means of which you communicate with the so-called outside world.

If you belong to an in-group of good or saved or elite people, you can only know that you’re in because someone else is out. You can’t live on the right side of the tracks without there being a wrong side of the tracks. So you ought to be grateful to the outside for having the privilege of being on the inside. And so it is in our fundamental relationship to what we call the external world of nature, to the planet, to the solar system, to the galaxy, and to the whole universe: we do not exist without them any more than our heads exist without our feet, or our front without our back, or our inside without our outside.

We’re always passing the buck over our shoulders. Like when God approached Adam in the Garden of Eden and said, “Hast thou eaten of the fruit of the tree whereof I told thee thou shouldst not eat?” And Adam said, “This woman thou gavest me—she tempted me and I did eat.” And God looked at Eve and said, “Hast thou eaten of the fruit of the tree whereof I told thee thou shouldst not eat?” And she said, “The serpent beguiled me and I did eat!” And God, out of the corner of his eye, looked at the serpent. The serpent said nothing.

But the truth of the matter is: it all begins here! This is where the creation begins! And you’re doing it and won’t admit it.

We are so fixated on the future. When we want to put something down we say it has no future. Well, do you? Much better to have a present. Because if you don’t, it’s useless to make plans. Because when they work out, you won’t be there to enjoy them. You’ll be thinking of something else.

You don’t think of the meaning of it, you see, because you can’t think of the meaning of God. What does God mean? What is God useful for? And so in the same way you can ask: what does a tree mean? What does a cloud mean? What does a fern mean? What’s it all about? Well, we’ve got all kinds of weird theories that ferns exist in a certain way in order to propagate themselves. Like, birds do all this thing in order to lay eggs, so that more birds come out. And the whole point of that is that there shall be more birds still. It is a purely engineering approach to life which is completely senseless. Things don’t mean anything. Birds don’t mean anything. Trees don’t mean anything. Words mean something, yes—because they point to something beyond themselves. They are signs. But if you take words too seriously, you’re like a person who climbs a signpost instead of going where it points.

Cause and effect is a defective way of describing nature. What happened was this: that when we separated events into separate bits, you see, we forgot that we had done that in order to talk about the event. It’s like when you separate a wiggle and you give names to different, say, bays or capes or mountains on a territory: that naming doesn’t actually separate them. So when you get motion—time is only a measure of motion—we begin to think about bits of motion and we forget we did that. Then we suddenly ask the question, “But how did this bit get there?” And then we say, “Oh, it was because of that bit that came before it.” We don’t see that it’s all one!

“It is raining.” What is this “it?” So how on Earth can one get a verb out of a noun? A process out of a thing? See, you just can’t do it. It’s the old problem, too, of spirit and matter: how can you get a spirit to influence matter? All good ghosts walk straight through brick walls without disturbing the bricks, so how can a ghost in your body lift an arm?

This is the sawn-off end of an oxygen cylinder, which serves very admirably as a gong. It says: “Non-shatterable. 3000 pounds per square inch.”