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22 Thought-Provoking Quotes from The Wisdom of Insecurity by Allan Watts

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In his book, ‘The Wisdom of Insecurity’ Allan Watts mainly discusses how we usually live in the future.

He also wonders why most people want to live a secure life in an uncertain world. Allan believes the best way to live is by living in the now, because ‘the now’ is the only moment we can truly experience. Besides this, he teaches that we suffer because we separate ourselves from our experiences.

I read the book thrice and noted down the following thought-provoking quotes.

  1. “To stand face to face with insecurity is still not to understand it. To understand it you must be it.” (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity)
  2. “It must be obvious, from the start, that there is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity.” (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).”
  3. “The question, “what shall we do about it? Is only asked by those who don’t understand the problem. If a problem can be solved at all, to understand it and to know what to do about it are the same thing.” (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).
  4. “Most of us believe in order to feel secure and make our individual lives seem valuable and meaningful. Belief has thus become an attempt to hang on to life, to grasp and keep it for one’s own.” (Allan Watts, the Wisdom of Insecurity).
  5. “If my happiness at this moment consists largely in reviewing happy memories and expectations, I am but dimly aware of this present moment. I shall still be dimly aware of the present when the good things that I have been expecting come to pass.” (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).
  6. “If happiness always depends on something expected in the future, we are chasing a will-o’-the-wisp that ever eludes our grasp.” (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).
  7. “Most atheists and agnostics are neurotic, whereas most simple Catholics are happy and at peace with themselves.” (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).
  8. “Religious ideas are like words – of little use, and often misleading, unless you know the concrete reality to which they refer.” (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).
  9. “If science cannot prove there is no God, we can try to live and act on the bare chance that he may exist after all.” (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).
  10. “The common error of ordinary religious practice is to mistake the symbol for the reality. (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity). ”
  11. “Because life is likewise a flowing process, change and death are its necessary parts. To work for their exclusion is to work against life.’ (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).
  12. ‘If I am so busy planning how to eat next week that I cannot fully enjoy what I am eating now, I will be in the same predicament when next week’s meals become “now.” (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).
  13. “The future is quite meaningless and unimportant unless, sooner or later, it’s going to become the present.” (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).
  14. “To resist change. To try to cling to life, is therefore like holding your breath: if you persist you kill yourself.” (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).
  15. “The miracles of technology cause us to live in a hectic, clockwork world that does violence to human biology, enabling us to do nothing but pursue the future faster and faster.’ (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).
  16. “The brain can only assume its proper behavior when consciousness is doing what it’s designed for: not writhing and whirling to get out of present experience, but being effortlessly aware of it.” (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).
  17. ‘Reality or, if you will, God cannot be comprehended by the finite mind.” (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).
  18. “You will cease to feel isolated when you recognize, for example, that you do not have a sensation of the sky, you are that sensation.” (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).
  19. “Because the future is everlastingly unattainable, and like the dangled carrot, always ahead of the donkey, the fulfillment of the divine purpose does not lie in the future. It is found in the present.” (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).
  20. “The working inhabitants of a modern city are people who live inside a machine to be batted around by its wheels. They spend their days in activities which largely boil down to counting and measuring, living in a world of rationalized abstraction which has little relation to or harmony with the great biological rhythms and processes.” (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).
  21. “The function of the brain is to serve the present and the real, not to send man chasing wildly after the phantom of the future.” (Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).
  22. “The desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing.”(Allan Watts; the Wisdom of Insecurity).

Which of the above thought-provoking thoughts did you like?

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