Alan Watts: The Ocean of the Universe

Often we feel small and insignificant in the big game of the universe, but Alan Watts explains why our actions are nevertheless connected with everything that happens. I will explain this connection with the help of a quote.

In fact, the quote I will discuss in this post is one of the first I had heard from Alan Watts. Yet, over the years, it has not lost its meaning for me in the slightest.

“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.”

Alan Watts

Have you ever sat on a beach and watched the waves as they inevitably wash over it? How one wave comes after another? If the answer is yes, you may have also thought about the fact that even long before you sat there, waves were already coming. That even long after you were on the beach, the waves will still keep coming.

The individual waves can be viewed separately, but also as an overall picture. Just as you can look at individual notes in a song or the song as a whole. Likewise one can see the waves as play of the ocean. The eternally continuing making of the ocean.

Just as the waves are a small part of the ocean, we are small parts of the universe. Just as the waves are functions, notes of the ocean, you are a function of the universe. A part in an eternal song. Even though your time is not eternal, like the time of a note in a piece, it is your time and you should enjoy it while it lasts.

It is also important to note that not only were the waves there before you came, and will still be there after you leave. But also before you already other people have lived, and after you also some will come.

Now the question is still open whether the ocean "controls" all waves at all beaches at the same time or whether the sum of all waves, which act individually, are the making of the ocean. As a result, the next question would be whether your actions are controlled by the universe or your actions control the universe.

To explain the previous paragraph in a not so abstract formulation, let's take an example to help us. Do you hold your hand over your eyes to cover the sun that blinds you. Or does the sun blind you so that you hold your hand over your eyes. Here it is really difficult to say what is action and what is reaction.

So the next time you feel small and insignificant, remember that you are still part of the process that began with the Big Bang. You are not a sad result that was born into existence, you are part of existence that came into being in and of itself.

Oh, how many good quotes I never found again. So that this does not happen to you: just pin 🙂

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