These parts really stood out for me:

“There cannot be winning without losing.

Right and left…right and wrong…these opposites get tricky. But the point is people are afraid of the negative one…’Don’t be negative. The power of positive thinking.’ That’s all nonsense.  The negative is the source of the positive.

And the whole of our life is geared to the thought that we might be able to make the Yang side win. And so in every sort of human enterprise, we are trying to have white without black. When you talk about improving the world, you are meaning, presumably, that you want it more white than black…or whichever one you call the good one. Maybe you think the black is the good…that’s alright in existence it doesn’t make the slightest difference.

We think, ‘Could we get rid of the other one?’ Now as you know, in all matters of practical living, it never works. You can have the temporary illusion of winning, but by compensation, you will every so often have the temporary illusion of losing.

When you go down a step from Yang to Yin, you’ll feel ‘I’ve lost something’. When you go up a step from Yin to Yang, you’ll feel ‘I’ve gained something’. How would you know gain without loss? How can can you have the sensation of more, unless in relation to the sensation of less? For sensation is simply awareness of contrast. That’s what life is. In trying to make it clear that so far as the improvement of ourselves and the world is concerned, there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it.

You cannot have more Yang than Yin. You cannot play a game which is win and no lose. Or a game in which everyone wins. The game is the story in which the villain might win. There is no vitality unless there’s that negative element. The villain, the devil, the nothing, the death…if that’s not there, then the other one isn’t there.

Nonexistence is the necessary condition for existence. You have to have a front before you can have a back…they come into being together…so do existence and non-existence. What are you afraid of in trying to get rid of nothing…which is already gotten rid of?

It goes up and down, up and down…see-saw…Must we play this game? You wanted the game where white only wins. There’s your problem, you made it up.

You have to have that problem. Otherwise, if you don’t have a problem, you wouldn’t know you were here.

How can you have self without other?

How can you have other without self?”


I love the wisdom of Alan Watts! This is a great video :)