An Antidote to the Age of Anxiety: Alan Watts on Happiness & How to Live with Presence – Maria Popova

Useful article from Maria Popova at on Alan Watts and ‘The Wisdom of Insecurity’.

The writer especially liked Alan’s observations about awareness and thought:-

‘While you are watching this present experience, are you aware of someone watching it? Can you find, in addition to the experience itself, an experiencer? Can you, at the same time, read this sentence and think about yourself reading it? You will find that, to think about yourself reading it, you must for a brief second stop reading. The first experience is reading. The second experience is the thought, “I am reading.” Can you find any thinker, who is thinking the thought, I am reading?” In other words, when present experience is the thought, “I am reading,” can you think about yourself thinking this thought?

Once again, you must stop thinking just, “I am reading.” You pass to a third experience, which is the thought, “I am thinking that I am reading.” Do not let the rapidity with which these thoughts can change deceive you into the feeling that you think them all at once.


In each present experience you were only aware of that experience. You were never aware of being aware. You were never able to separate the thinker from the thought, the knower from the known. All you ever found was a new thought, a new experience.’

As Maria adds ‘What makes us unable to live with pure awareness, Watts points out, is the ball and chain of our memory and our warped relationship with time.’ 

For the writer, the central purpose of therapy is a movement into awareness, presence, embodied experiencing – organismic experiencing in Carl Rogers’ terms. If we can do that, the rest simply unfolds – healing, growth, becoming, or however you conceptualize it… Actualizing.

Here’s Alan’s book:-

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

This entry was posted in acceptance, Alan Watts, awakening, cognitive, consciousness, creativity, Disconnection, fear, flow, human condition, identity, interconnection & belonging, internal locus of evaluation, loneliness, Maria Popova, meaning, mindfulness, perception, presence, reality, sadness & pain, self, transformation and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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