Alan Watts on the Ocean

Alan Watts has a way of explaining the mysteries of the universe with a practical simplicity and humour that defies the scale of the concepts he presents. Instead of preaching a religion or doctrine, he reveals insights and philosophies from Zen, Hinduism, and even Christianity, broaching the big questions with grace and kindness. Alan often uses the ocean as a metaphor for the underlying unity of the universe, and to explain the interconnectedness of all things.

We attach some of his quotes to a few images from another sunny Saturday at the beach. The bees were buzzing and the dune flowers open wide. Waves were spilling, building and reforming. The scene inspired deep appreciation for things that we surfers might sometimes take for granted.

Alan Watts is no longer with us in body, but his words and his energy ripple outwards, resonating his truth, every time someone reads them. So enjoy:

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.

blur surfer

To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.

surfer and wave

You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.

surfer black and white

You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.

perfect wave

This feeling of being lonely and very temporary visitors in the universe is in flat contradiction to everything known about man (and all other living organisms) in the sciences. We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.”


There is an interdependence of flowers and bees. Where there are no flowers there are no bees, and where there are no bees there are no flowers. They’re really one organism. And so in the same way, everything in nature depends on everything else. So it’s interconnected! And so the many many patterns of interconnections lock it in together into a unity, which is, however, much too complicated for us to think about.

bee on the flower