Zen has all the answers – the famous proverb says. And you can easily relate to it while going through some Zen Quotes. Interesting, indeed! Besides, this does have a rational ground. In brief, Zen Quotes are actually the bits of Universal wisdom that all of us can embrace in our life.
And this makes it equally appealing for all irrespective of the belief, perspective, personality, or thought process one adore. So, let’s cover the gist of the beautiful Zen wisdom with some of the really meaningful Zen Quotes. Thus, here we go!
The term ‘Zen’ is a Japanese diction, derived from the Chinese word “Ch’an” of the Sanskrit root word “Dhyan”. It means ‘absorption’, ‘meditation’, or the ‘stillness of realization’. Thus, Zen refers to a state of calm consciousness that stems from the inner intuitions and realization.
Now, let’s not spare a moment and drown into the words of Zen Quotes to experience its beauty!
101 Zen Quotes for Self-Exploration and Growth
So here we have compiled some of the best Zen Quotes or Zen Sayings under various heads to make it easier for you to understand its crux. Thus, read these soothing words and who knows… you may find the answer to the question your soul is looking for!
Understanding ‘Zen’ with Zen Quotes
1. “Zen is not an art, it’s not a religion. It’s a realization.”– Gene Clark
So, you can embrace it no matter what your belief system is!
2. “The practice of Zen is forgetting the self in the act of uniting with something.”– Koun Yamada
Indeed, forget the minutiae and unite yourself to the inner stillness and eternal peace.
3. “Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.”– Shunryu Suzuki
Yes! Hence, even your smallest tasks done with utmost care is not less than meditation.
4. “Zen is a path of liberation. It liberates you. It is freedom from the first step to the last. You are not required to follow any rules; you are required to find out your own rules and your own life in the light of awareness.”– Osho
Thus, free yourself from the bonds of illusion. Indeed, your realization is enough!
5. “Zen in its essence is the art of seeing into the nature of one’s being, and it points to the way from bondage to freedom.”– D.T. Suzuki
Actually, all of us are free. It’s just the perspective that binds our minds.
Zen Buddhism Quotes
6. “Each morning, we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”– Buddha
So, forget your regrets. Now, you can bring change.
7. “The true purpose (of Zen) is to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, and to let everything go as it goes.”– Shunryu Suzuki
Hence, let it be and the change will come itself.
8. “Buddhism teaches that joy and happiness arise from letting go. Please sit down and take an inventory of your life. There are things you have been hanging on to that really are not useful and deprive you of your freedom. Find the courage to let them go.”-Thich Nhat Hanh
Often, we cling to the minutiae and leave the essential. And to reverse is what we need.
9. “These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.”– Najwa Zebian
So leave everything. And your path is laid.
10. “All that we are, is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.”― Buddha
Indeed, the power of the mindset is immense. And what do you think about yourself?
11. “To have some deep feeling about Buddhism is not the point; we just do what we should do – like eating supper and going to bed. This is Buddhism.”― Shunryu Suzuki
Indeed, Buddhism is in all our life roles. And all we need is the realization.
12. “It is easy to believe we are each waves and forget we are also the ocean.”– John J. Muth
Often, we fail to see the power of the Universe in us…
13. “Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.”– Dalai Lama
So, calm down. And take a deep breath.
Peace Zen Quotes OR Peace Zen Sayings
14. “[A] certain amount of “sitting just to sit” might well be the best thing in the world for the jittery minds and agitated bodies […].”― Alan W. Watts
So, no need to think, meditate, or look for a purpose. LIVING is a purpose itself!
15. “Calmness of mind does not mean you should stop your activity. Real calmness should be found in activity itself. We say, “It is easy to have calmness in inactivity, it is hard to have calmness in activity, but calmness in activity is true calmness.”― Shunryu Suzuki
Indeed! And Science also says that we are happier when we work.
16. “If you are depressed, you are living in the past, if you are anxious, you are living in the future, if you are at peace, you are living in the present.”– Lao Tzu
Thus, look into yourself. So, are you at perfect peace?
17. “Many people think excitement is happiness…. But when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace.”― Thich Nhat Hanh
So, leave the chaos. No, you don’t need excitement. Unlike, you need calming peace.
Positive Thinking Zen Quotes
18. “The most important point is to accept yourself and stand on your two feet.”― Shunryu Suzuki
Yes! No awakening is complete without this acceptance and self-belief.
19. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”― Lao Tzu
So, what are you waiting for? Take your step now!
20. “The three elements of creativity are thus: loving, knowing, and doing – or heart, mind, and hands – or, as Zen Buddhist teaching has it; great faith, great question, and great courage.”– Eric Maisel
So… with heart and mind, do you have hands to do it no matter what?
21. “Even if it seems certain that you will lose, retaliate. Neither wisdom nor technique has a place in this. A real man does not think of victory or defeat. He plunges recklessly towards an irrational death. By doing this, you will awaken from your dreams.”– Yamamoto Tsunetomo
So, don’t stop yourself. And this determination will take you to the realization.
22. “You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.”― Robert M. Pirsig
Thus, don’t get puzzled. Rest a bit. Look back. But don’t quit.
Zen Quotes on Life
23. “Life is more or less a lie, but then again, that’s exactly the way we want it to be.”– Bob Dylan
So, are you willing to accept the reality of life?
24. “There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man’s whole life is a succession of moment after moment. There will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue. Live being true to the single purpose of the moment.”― Yamamoto Tsunetomo
Thus, live this moment to the fullest. And the purpose is fulfilled!
25. “Your life is your practice. Your spiritual practice does not occur some place other than in your life right now, and your life is nowhere other than where you are.”– Karen Maezen Miller
So, why are you lost? LIVE! That’s all you need.
26. “Throughout this life, you can never be certain of living long enough to take another breath.”– Huang Po
Thus, only this moment is certain… and real.
27. “Life always gives us exactly the teacher we need at every moment. This includes every mosquito, every misfortune, every red light, every traffic jam, every obnoxious supervisor (or employee), every illness, every piece of garbage, every breath. Every moment is the guru.”– Joko Beck
And, have you discovered the ‘guru’, that life presented you?
Zen quotes about Confidence
28. “To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”― Thich Nhat Hanh
It’s just that simple. Repeat it every time you lose your self-belief.
29. “Have good trust in yourself … not in the One that you think you should be, but in the One that you are.”– Maezumi Roshi
Yes! You’re way better the way you are. And believe in it.
30. “Each of you is perfect the way you are … and you can use a little improvement.”― Shunryu Suzuki
… A little improvement in our thoughts of self-acceptance.
31. “What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.”– Confucius
So, let’s change the vision … and change everything!
Zen Quotes on Love
32. “If we do not know how to take care of ourselves and to love ourselves, we cannot take care of the people we love. Loving oneself is the foundation for loving another person.”– Thich Nhat Hanh
So, love yourself first. Indeed, you deserve it!
33. “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”– Buddha
Thus, you also need love and mindful self-compassion.
34. “You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.”― Thich Nhat Hanh
Indeed! Love is freedom. And it can not be otherwise.
Zen Quotes about Mind and Mindfulness
35. “Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.”– Huang Po
Stillness … your mind knows it already. It just needs the realization of what it knows.
36. “It is only with total humility, and in absolute stillness of mind that we can know what indeed we are.”– Wei Wu Wei
So, trying hard can’t complete the quest… letting it be can.
37. “You must only concentrate on the next step, the next breath, the next stroke of the broom, and the next, and the next. Nothing else.”– Michael Ende
In fact, the mindful living of the moment can be far more than the hours and years of survival.
38. “If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. ”― Shunryu Suzuki
And we thrive to capture all the knowledge we can. Irony!
39. “The word ‘innocence’ means a mind that is incapable of being hurt.”– Jiddu Krishnamurti
Indeed! Far from the chaos, none can disturb a free… an innocent mind.
Zen Quotes about Truth
40. “To accept some idea of truth without experiencing it is like a painting of a cake on paper which you cannot eat.”– Suzuki Roshi
So, don’t just accept it… even if the world says. Experience it first, acceptance will come later.
41. “If you want to get the plain truth, be not concerned with right and wrong. The conflict between right and wrong Is the sickness of the mind.”― Alan W. Watts
Thus, truth is above right or wrong.
42. “The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart. If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinion for or against.”– Sengcan
Indeed… just attain your composure.
43. “Truth is not far away. It is nearer than near. There is no need to attain it, since not one of your steps leads away from it.”– Dogen
So just let it flow!
44. “If you use your mind to study reality, you won’t understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you’ll understand both.”– Bodhidharma
Thus, make it simple…
Deep Zen Sayings
45. “Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?”― Lao Tzu
… Until the chaos settles and your mind is clear.
46. “What we call “I” is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale.”― Shunryu Suzuki
Indeed… our existence is just this stance between life and death.
47. “When we start to feel anxious or depressed, instead of asking, “What do I need to get to be happy?” The question becomes, “What am I doing to disturb the inner peace that I already have?”.”― D.T. Suzuki
So, do you ask the same?
48. . “Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”― Thich Nhat Hanh
Thus, repeat and reflect it.
49. “One has not understood until one has forgotten it.”– D. T. Suzuki
… Forgotten oneself to find the real self.
50. “Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”– Alan Watts
Hence, leave your mind and the chaos will be cleared.
Zen Quotes Happiness and Suffering
51. “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”― Thich Nhat Hanh
And you don’t need to try for this.
52. “A world which increasingly consists of destinations without journeys between them, a world which values only “getting somewhere” as fast as possible, becomes a world without substance.”― Alan W. Watts
Still, we run in the race …
53. “Happiness only comes when you let go of who you think you are. If you think you are wealthy and powerful and noble and truthful or horrible and demonic, whatever it may be, it is all a waste of time.”– Frederick Lenz
So leave all your thoughts and be happy.
54. “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”― Thich Nhat Hanh
But when you step outside your fear, you rise above your suffering.
55. “All I can guarantee you is that as long as you are searching for happiness, you will remain unhappy.”– U. G. Krishnamurti
So stop your quest and what you are searching for will meet you itself.
56. “The more you suffer, the deeper grows your character, and with the deepening of your character you read the more penetratingly into the secrets of life. All great artists, all great religious leaders, and all great social reformers have come out of the intensest struggles which they fought bravely, quite frequently in tears and with bleeding hearts.”― D.T. Suzuki
Indeed… so accept it.
Zen Quotes about Nature
57. “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”― Lao Tzu
And we forget this in the rush…
58. “As a bee gathering nectar does not harm or disturb the color and fragrance of the flower; so do the wise move through the world.”– Buddha
Yes! Feel it.
59. “Sitting quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.”– Matsuo Basho
Indeed. The things fall in place itself. So, don’t rush!
60. “Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”― Thich Nhat Hanh
Yes! Thus, pause and feel.
61. “Wherever you are, you are one with the clouds and one with the sun and the stars you see. You are one with everything. That is more true than I can say, and more true than you can hear.”― Shunryu Suzuki
Indeed, nature holds all the truth.
62. “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”― Thich Nhat Hanh
Yes, feel every moment!
Zen Quotes on Change
63. “Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.”– Max Frisch
Indeed, you have so much in you that is yet to be explored.
64. “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”― Lao Tzu
Indeed, just let it be…
65. “When we realize the everlasting truth of ‘everything changes’ and find our composure in it, we find ourselves in Nirvana.”– Shunryu Suzuki
Yes.. it’s just this realization. That’s simple!
66. “For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”– Thich Nhat Hanh
And only then we will be able to see things in the real light.
67. “Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely but striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”– Albert Einstein
Thus, the first step to the change is inner peace and compassion …and then to change the world.
68. “Whether we like it or not, change comes, and the greater the resistance, the greater the pain.”– Alan Watts
So leave it and let it be. Simply move on with the change.
69. “The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.”― Thich Nhat Hanh
And the change is good! Yes.
Balance Zen Quotes
70. “Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.”– Alan Watts
Indeed, there is no right and wrong. Things are just in the balance of the two.
71. “If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion.”– Robert M. Pirsig
And the mountain is life, we need this equilibrium.
72. “When I feel like dancing, I dance. I don’t care if anyone else is dancing or if everyone else is laughing at me. I dance.”– Rachel Danson
And can you say so?
73. “Nothing has ever existed except this moment. That’s all there is. That’s all we are. Yet most human beings spend 50 to 90 percent or more of their time in their imagination, living in fantasy. We think about what has happened to us, what might have happened, how we feel about it, how we should be different, how others should be different, how it’s all a shame, and on and on.”– Joko Beck
So create a balance in this particular moment… just that.
Zen Wisdom Quotes
74. “Don’t waste your time chasing butterflies. Mend your garden, and the butterflies will come.”– Mario Quintana
Attain the consciousness… all the knowledge, the awakening will come itself.
75. “Be true to the thought of the moment and avoid distraction. Other than continuing to exert yourself, enter into nothing else, but go to the extent of living single thought by a single thought. ”― Yamamoto Tsunetomo
Clearly, this is the gospel of life!
76. “Little people try to control everything. Thus, they control nothing. Wise people focus on one thing, the most important, and let go of the rest.”― Maxime Lagacé
Indeed, life is about finding the essence and leaving off the rest…
77. “When you understand one thing through and through, you understand everything. When you try to understand everything, you will not understand anything.”– Shunryu Suzuki
So don’t get lost in everything, embrace one and leave the others.
78. “This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”– Alan Watts
… The play of the Universe!
79. “Un-think, Un-learn, Un-know, Un-believe, Un-speculate, Un-seek, Un-strive, Un-fear. Lose your mind and effortlessly be.”– Brian Thompson
Thus, instead of holding things, you need to lose all.
Funny Zen Quotes
80. “Your mind is a mad monkey trying to understand life which is unfair and crazy. Get used to it.”– Maxime Lagace
So all the chaos and confusions are not in you … this is how life works.
81. “Craziness is good. Crazy people are happy, free, they have no hindrance. But since you have many attachments, you are only a little crazy. This is not crazy enough. You must become completely crazy. Then you will understand.”– Seungsahn
Thus, contrary to the world’s saying, be different, go crazy!
82. “When you have understood this scripture, throw it away. If you can’t understand this scripture, throw it away. I insist on your freedom.”– Jack Kerouac
So don’t bound yourself with the knowledge…rather freedom leads to awakening.
83. “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”– Dalai Lama
And have you ever thought in this way?
84. “I have lived with several Zen masters – all of them cats.”– Eckhart Tolle
Funny! Even a cat can be the Zen master… but are you able to learn?
Unique Zen Quotes
85. “The world is its own magic.”― Shunryu Suzuki
And we were looking for miracles to happen!
86. “If a man seeks the Buddha, that man loses the Buddha.”― Alan W. Watts
Yes, because when you seek it, you lose the ability to discover it.
87. “Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.”― Lao Tzu
So… your soul sings, the Universe listens and are you aware of this?
88. “The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass.”– Dogen
And the whole Universe reflects in your heart… your soul.
89. “Not being tense but ready, not thinking but not dreaming, not being set but flexible. Liberation from the uneasy sense of confinement. It is being wholly and quietly alive, aware and alert, ready for whatever may come.”― Bruce Lee
Indeed, this is what we need.
90. “As long as we remain within the confines of the thinking mind, we can’t experience the state of non-thinking. If we can’t experience non-thinking, we will not understand what our life truly is. Please realize this for yourself! Just sit.”– Taizan Maezumi
In fact, this realization, this moment of emptiness holds every thing…
Zen Quotes about Spiritual Awakening
91. “Being spiritual has nothing to do with what you believe and everything to do with your state of consciousness.”― Eckhart Tolle
Indeed! Are you able to attain this state of consciousness?
92. “My finger can point to the moon, but my finger is not the moon. You don’t have to become my finger, nor do you have to worship my finger. You have to forget my finger, and look at where it is pointing.”– Osho
Thus, forget the Zen, the religion, the path, just look at the realization.
93. “Enlightenment is not something you achieve. It is the absence of something. All your life you have been going forward after something, pursuing some goal. Enlightenment is dropping all that.”– Joko Beck
… Dropping all that loads of emotions that you always carry with you.
94. “It is simply sitting silently, witnessing the thoughts, passing before you. Just witnessing, not interfering, not even judging, because the moment you judge you have lost the pure witness.”– Osho
Ah! That’s what we need to understand.
95. “Follow the stream, have faith in its course. It will go on its own way, meandering here, trickling there. It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices. Just follow it. Never let it out of your sight. It will take you.”– Sheng-yen
Follow the stream… stream of life.
96. “If you would spend all your time – walking, standing, sitting or lying down – learning to halt the concept-forming activities of your own mind, you could be sure of ultimately attaining the goal.”– Huang Po
Seems paradox! But true indeed.
97. “Not thinking about anything is Zen. Once you know this, walking, sitting, or lying down, everything you do is Zen.”– Bodhidharma
Yes! And even when you read this, you are practicing Zen.
Famous Zen Proverbs
98. “Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it is dark.”– Zen Proverb
Indeed… you are under your own shadow of prejudice, fears and belief. So, step into the light.
99. “Let go over a cliff, die completely, and then come back to life — after that you cannot be deceived.”– Zen Proverb
Die… by letting go all your fear, anger, sorrow, prejudice, belief, and you are reborn.
100. “When an ordinary man attains knowledge, he is a sage; when a sage attains understanding, he is an ordinary man.”– Zen Proverb
And life is all about this understanding.
101. “Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”– Zen Proverb
Thus, enlightenment is just an inner perspective… embedded in our daily lives.
How Are These Zen Quotes Helpful?
Zen teaches us how to live. In fact, Zen wisdom is really effective in the various aspects of life, in real terms. So, be it creativity, mental peace, self-growth, or spiritual awakening – Zen Quotes are easy to strike the chord with them. To sum it up, reading these Zen Quotes may –
- Help you in the self-exploration.
- Provide a healthy perspective.
- Aid anxiety, stress, and negative thoughts.
- Helps you combat life-chaos and struggles.
- Gives way to a healthier, peaceful, content, and spiritual lifestyle.
And the list goes on…
How to actually get advantage of these Zen Quotes? So, you have two options. First, pick your favorite Zen Quotes or ones of the section you need to sort out in your life. Now, put up these on the walls or anywhere you can see these everyday. Another option is – pick a Zen Quote each day and write about it in your diary or journal while reflecting upon it. So, go ahead!
Now you may reflect …
How To Adopt Zen Wisdom in Life?
Zen is a thought process or way of living, rather than religion. So, you can easily adopt it with some simple ways –
- Firstly, meditation.
- Importantly, self-exploration or inner reflection.
- Also, consuming Zen ideas via quotes, literature, etc.
- Besides, maintaining positive journals like gratitude journals, quotes journals, etc.
Thus, the door is ajar. Move ahead and open it wide. So, smile, breathe and go slowly. But go!
“To live is enough.”― Shunryu Suzuki
In this vast Universe, we are just specks of life. And realizing this can solve most of our problems. To conclude, these Zen Quotes actually serve the same purpose. In fact, Zen is not abounding belief. Conversely, it aims to free every soul so that one can realize true fulfillment and inner peace.
Hence, you don’t have to abandon your present belief system or embrace a new one. In short, just let it be. Thus, take your first step. Indeed, you can begin with these quotes. Read. Pause. Reflect. And repeat. Simple!
Kirtika is a motivated soul, passionate about writing, speaking and creating. She has her hands in Literature, Psychology, Life Coaching, Spirituality, Wellness, Sciences and everything creative. As an entity of the vast Universe, she wants to expand her existence with self belief and self exploration. With TheMindFool, she wants to help others in finding their real self.