All quotes from Alan Watts’

So long as you are trying to make progress, you will go up. But up always implies down. So while you are trying to get better and better and better, that means that when you get to the best you can only go on to the worst. And so you go round and round and round, ever chasing the illusion that there is something outside yourself—outside your here and now—to be attained that will make things better. And the thing is to recover from that illusion. So a Buddha means somebody who has woken up and discovered that running around this thing may be fun, and it may be good to run around, but if you think you’re going to get something out of it, you’re under illusion. Because you’re forever the donkey with a carrot suspended from his own halter.

The separate I which you thought yourself to be is an illusion.

It’s only in the moment, you see, when you fully understand that your situation as a human being is completely insoluble—that there is no answer, and that you give up looking for the answer—that’s whew! That’s nirvāṇa.

Buddhism has nothing to teach. Nothing whatever. All it has to do is to get rid of illusions, and then the experience happens when the illusions are gone, just like the sun comes out when the clouds go away. But if you try to manufacture the sun before the clouds have gone away—you see what I mean?—and you paint the sun on this side of the clouds, it’s not the real sun. So, in this way, the speculation as such, ideation as such, does not lead to the awakening experience.

It’s a transformation of one’s state of consciousness. That’s what “awakening” means. That is to say, it is a transformation of the way you see things—almost, I could say, the way you sense them. And in this respect I’ve often thought that the process of Buddhism is much more like ophthalmology than it’s like religion. An ophthalmologist is a person who corrects your vision so that you see clearly. And so, in exactly the same way, awakening is to see clearly: a transformation of consciousness.

You won’t find a bodhisattva sitting all day under a tree in a state of rapt absorption, so that anybody who comes up and knocks on him won’t get an answer. He’ll be like everybody else, or he will look like everybody else, because he will see that this everyday world, too, is it; this no special, nothing special world.

In the idea of “nothing special” (or buji) there is a way of saying: “But look at ordinariness! Look what you miss every moment!”

The older a religion gets, the more the distance of time lends such eminence to its original founders that they become superhumanized, and the practice of the religion that they founded becomes sort of derived of power. It just sinks into going through the motions.

There are all sorts of people who will want to say to you: “You see, a leaf is a very rational thing. It exists so that the tree can absorb moisture.” And they can go on describing it, and you see all the wonderful ways in which this little leaf works as a kind of moisture-absorbing, breathing thing. And you say, “Yes! By Jove, isn’t that great! That’s very rational. Marvelous thing a tree is.” And yet, when you consider that the object of the leaf is to absorb certain things that are necessary for the maintenance of the tree, then you must ask the next question—look at the tree as a whole, standing there, bushy and bright—and you say, “Well, what’s that for?”

I’ve sometimes suggested that all we are is an elaborate system of tubes, and the object of these tubes is to put things in at one end and let them out at the other, and enjoy that. Enjoy it so much that you like other tubes, and you make connections with those tubes in such a way that you get more tubes. Now, these tubes have ganglia at each end, the top end, called a brain. And the point of that ganglion is to be a very sensitive, cunning little thing that finds out where there are things to eat. So they keep reproducing each other. And so the whole of life becomes the flow of a stuff through a tube. Get that through, and get it going faster, get more of it going through. Get more of it. And don’t let it foul things up as it goes through. Everything, as it goes through a tube, tends to wear the tube out. So the tube tries not to be worn out by the stuff going through it so as to keep the sensation going on.

What started out looking like a kind of metallic object ends up looking like a vegetable, or some kind of wonderful, growing, alive thing. Beyond some mysterious point of complexity, it seems to become alive.

Whether you say that the inert is merely less alive, or whether you say that the alive is merely the maximum complexity of the inert all depends on whether you want to say yes to the world or whether you want to say no.

You don’t stand aside from it any longer. You admit that you, too, are part of the whole thing; that your ego, your self, is so inextricably involved with everything that you experience, that there really ultimately isn’t any difference between the kind of thing that’s going on and you.

When you see that things (the physical world) and consciousness are inseparable, it isn’t that the physical world is reflected in a mirror, but that it and consciousness are all one. But that consciousness seems to be something that is different from the world and looks at it, because it is done, focused, projected in so many different ways.

All points of view growing out of the center.

See it again—your heads, your nervous systems, your eyes, your senses, your bodies—not as something that encounters the external environment from outside. You all are the external environment. Rather, your heads and eyes and so on are points, you see, put out by the environment as a whole, as a totality, through which it feels all around: like many sensitive hairs, like a sea urchin with all those little spines coming out of it. And each one of us is one.

Fundamentally, there is no such thing as an artificial work. All that happens is nature, all that happens is—however apparently artificial—still within the one domain.

The person who wants to master this must first get the feeling of being able to drift—of seeing that suchness (in other words, that nature) is in all directions, and that you have really no alternative. Nothing you can do can hold it up, stop death, change anything else. You have, for a time, go with it completely. Let go everything. And then, as you do that, you see, just in the same way as the sailor finds that the wind blows him—if there is wind blowing and he’s got any kind of a thing to be blown, he’ll be blown by the wind. And after experimenting how it is for a while just to be blown along by the wind, he discovers: good heavens, you can do little things that will change the course!