121 Zen Sayings And Proverb You’ll Probably Want To Share

Zen sayings and proverbs are truly inspiring.

Over the years, many beautiful minds have spoken or written about the Zen way of life. Eckhart Tolle. Thich Nhat Hanh, Jack Kornfield…

Who is your favorite Zen teacher? Leave a comment.

Take a look at this list of the best spiritual gurus for my own favorites.

While I was beginning my own journey to living Zen, I fell in love with these teachers and their inspiring quotes.

It was a moment of great personal development. And like the roots of a plant that need water, my mind needed inspiration in order to grow.

I took myself to the library. And I took out virtually every inspiring book I could get my hands on.

I read:

  • Deepak Chopra
  • Bruce Lee
  • Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Jack Kornfield
  • Paulo Coelho
  • The Dalai Lama
  • Lama Surya Das
  • Osho
  • And not to forget, these inspiring Zen bloggers.
  • And so many more.

And I attended lectures, meditation groups, and every other mindful event I could make it out to.

Speaking of meditation: you can learn Zen meditation here for absolutely free. Take a look.

I would later make use of that knowledge.

Read 31 Meditation Techniques For You To Learn, my main article on meditation, and you’ll see how much I learned (and you’ll also learn a ton about meditation too).

While I was reading those books I took note of all my favorite Zen sayings and proverbs. And they have stayed with me ever since.

What’s your favorite Zen proverb or saying? Leave a comment.

A Zen Saying For Every Life Event

Look at these beautiful animated Dalai Lama Quotes. I created that after readwalking The Art Of Happiness.

And I wrote lists of my favorite quotes while reading other books.

One thing that amazed me was the sheer amount of subjects that Zen proverbs cover.

Zen sayings and proverbs cover…everything.

My list of Zen proverbs and sayings includes all areas of life. There are Zen sayings about anger, stress, death, love, compassion, kindness, acceptance, age, weddings.… everything.

I’ve organised the quotes below into categories. Though the best thing is to read them all and glean the full wisdom of all these beautiful Zen sayings an proverbs.

 

121 Best Zen Sayings And Proverbs  

Zen Sayings About Journey

Life is a journey. The trick is to enjoy every step of that journey. No matter where our feet land, we should call it home. Then we can be ever travelling, but always home. (P.M Harrison, THEDAILYMEDITATION.COM)

Read Journey To The Buddha Within You and start your own journey to Zen.

Now here are the best Zen proverbs and sayings about the journey of life.

 

 

“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

 thich nhat hanh zen saying

“In our practice, we have no particular purpose or goal, nor any special object of worship.”

― Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

 

“Life is a journey. Time is a river. The door is ajar”

― Jim Butcher, Dead Beat

 

 

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

― Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

 

 

“The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is.”

– Eckhart Tolle

 

“Wherever you are, be there totally.”

– Eckhart Tolle

 

 

“I’m here to tell you that the path to peace is right there, when you want to get away.”

– Pema Chödrön

 

 

“Practice is this life, and realization is this life, and this life is revealed right here and now.”

– Maezumi Roshi

 

“If you want to change the world, start with the next person who comes to you in need.”

– B. D. Schiers

 

“My experience is that the teachers we need most are the people we’re living with right now.”

– Byron Katie

 

“When you are present, you can allow the mind to be as it is without getting entangled in it.”

– Eckhart Tolle

 

“If you miss the present moment, you miss your appointment with life. That is very serious!”

– Thich Nhat Hanh

 

“Throughout this life, you can never be certain of living long enough to take another breath.”

– Huang Po

 

 

“When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.”

– Shunryu Suzuki

zen saying about life shunryu suzuki

“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.”

– Eckhart Tolle quote about change

 

“The intuitive recognition of the instant, thus reality… is the highest act of wisdom.”

– D.T. Suzuki

 

“The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.”

– Alan Watts

 

“And when they played they really played. And when they worked they really worked.”

– Dr. Seuss

 

Zen Sayings And Proverbs About Oneness

Oneness is the state of interconnectedness with all things. And it is an imperative part of enlightenment.

Read this guide to how to achieve oneness. Try the techniques in that link today. You’ll find them…enlightening.

Now here are the best proverbs and Zen sayings about Oneness and interconnectedness.

 

 

“Nothing divides one so much as thought.”

― R.H. Blyth

 

 

“Things derive their being and nature by mutual dependence and are nothing in themselves”

– Nagarjuna

 

 

“It is easy to believe we are each waves and forget we are also the ocean.”

― Jon J. Muth

 

Nothing ever exists entirely alone. Everything is always in relation to everything else.

-Buddha

zen proverb buddha quote

“Preparing food is not just about yourself and others. It is about everything!”

– Shunryu Suzuki

 

 

“Heaven and earth and I are of the same root, The ten-thousand things and I are of one substance.”

– Seng-chao

 

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 

“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”

– Thích Nhat Hanh

zen saying thich nhat hanh

 

Zen Sayings About Change And Impermanence

Change is a vital part of Zen. And scientific research shows that when we recognise impermanence we help rid ourselves of stress.

Take a look at this introduction to Anapanasti meditation. It will help you to find the quality of impermanence.

Now here are the best proverbs and Zen sayings about impermanence.

zen saying aboutchange

“One must be deeply aware of the impermanence of the world.”

– Dogen

 

“Subject and object are not separate—so-called objective reality is projected by our subjective Consciousness.”

― Joseph P. Kauffman, The Answer Is YOU: A Guide to Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Freedom

 

“This will never come again”

― Steve Hagen

 

 

“Like vanishing dew,

a passing apparition

or the sudden flash

of lightning — already gone —

thus should one regard one’s self.”

― Ikkyu

zen proverbs and sayings ikkyu

Zen Sayings About Living in the Moment

Zen is about living in the moment with complete acceptance. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we should be mindful of it.

Practice these mindfulness habits and your mind will learn how to be mindful always.

Now here are the best Zen proverbs and Zen sayings about living in the moment.

 

zen saying thich nhat hanh on walking

Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.

― Thich Nhat Hanh, The Path Of Mindfulness In Everyday Life

 

 

“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

 

 

“To accept some idea of truth without experiencing it is like a painting of a cake on paper which you cannot eat.”

– Suzuki Roshi

 

“Zen has no business with ideas.”

– D.T. Suzuki

 

“What is important is not the right doctrine but the attainment of the true experience. It is giving up believing in belief.”

– Alan Keightley

 

“Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.”

– Alan Watts

 

“The menu is not the meal.

– Alan Watts

 

 

 

Proverbs And Zen Sayings About Enlightenment

The ultimate purpose of meditation is enlightenment, the state in which we achieve complete inner peace and oneness.

If you want to achieve enlightenment, read this guide. It provides a practical path to enlightenment

Now here are the best Zen proverbs and sayings about enlightenment.

 

“Let your mind wander in the pure and simple. Be one with the infinite. Let all things take their course.”

– Chuang Tzu

Chuang-Tzu zen proverb saying

“People sleep, and when they die they wake.”

– Muhammad

 

“The Buddha talked about saving all beings from delusion, not converting them to a new religion.”

– Buddhism Now

 

“When an ordinary man attains knowledge, he is a sage; when a sage attains understanding, he is an ordinary man.”

– Zen Proverb

 

“Today, you can decide to walk in freedom. You can choose to walk differently. You can walk as a free person, enjoying every step.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh

 

“Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free: Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.”

– Chuang

 

“If we don’t occupy ourselves with everything, then peaceful mind will have nowhere to abide.”

– Shen-hui

 

“Let go over a cliff, die completely, and then come back to life — after that you cannot be deceived.”

– Zen Proverb

 

“The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself.”

– Anais Nin

 

“Each step along the Buddha’s path to happiness requires practising mindfulness until it becomes part of your daily life.”

– Henepola Gunaratana

 

“Only when you can be extremely pliable and soft can you be extremely hard and strong.”

– Zen Proverb

 

“It’s not about approving or liking, but just being able to allow the world to be the way it is without resenting, hating, or judging it.”

– Buddhism Now

 

“Body and mind dropped off.”

– Dogen on enlightenment

 

“Power over others is weakness disguised as strength. True power is within & available to you now.”

– Eckhart Tolle

 

“To understand everything is to forgive everything”

– Gautama Siddhartha

zen saying about forgiveness buddhas

“It all depends on you. You can go on sleeping forever, you can wake up right this moment.”

– Osho

 

“Any enlightenment which requires to be authenticated, certified, recognized, congratulated, is false, or at least incomplete.”

– R.H. Blyth

 

 

“The aim of spiritual life is to awaken a joyful freedom, a benevolent and compassionate heart in spite of everything.”

– Jack Kornfield

 

“The real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth.”

– Thích Nhat Hanh

 

 

“The way out of life & death is not some special technique; essential thing is to penetrate to the root of life & death.”

– Bukko

 

“Not thinking about anything is Zen. Once you know this, walking, sitting, or lying down, everything you do is Zen.”

– Bodhidharma

 

 

“To follow the path, look to the master, follow the master, walk with the master, see through the master, become the master.”

– Zen Proverb

 

 

“Self-realization is effortless. What you are trying to find is what you already are.”

– Ramesh Balsekar

 

“When the mind is perfectly clear, what is is what we want.”

– Byron Katie

 

 

“Learning Zen is a phenomenon of gold & dung. Before you learn it, it’s like gold; after you learn it, it’s like dung.”

– Zen Proverb

 

 

Zen Sayings About Life

Zen is one of the most beautiful ways to live. And you can tell. You can tell in the way Zen masters talk about life itself.

Here are the best Zen sayings and proverbs about life itself.

 

zen proverb about snowflake

“No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place.”

– Zen Proverb

 

“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

 

“All the things that truly matter, beauty, love, creativity, joy and inner peace arise from beyond the mind.”

– Eckhart Tolle

 

“Where there are humans,

You’ll find flies,

And Buddhas.”

― Kobayashi Issa

 

 

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

– Rumi

 

“As a bee gathering nectar does not harm or disturb the color & fragrance of the flower; so do the wise move through the world.”

– Buddha

 

“No thought, no reflection, no analysis, no cultivation, no intention; let it settle itself.”

– Tilopa

 

“Do not seek the truth, only cease to cherish your opinions.”

– Seng-ts’an

 

“Any experience of reality is indescribable!”

– R. D. Laing

 

“Why is the tao so valuable? Because it is everywhere, and everyone can use it. This is why those who seek will find.”

– Lao Tzu

 

 

“Zazen is an activity that is an extension of the universe. Zazen is not the life of an individual, it’s the universe that’s breathing.”

– Dogen

 

“You’re never given more pain than you can handle. You never, ever get more than you can take.”

– Byron Katie

zen proverb about tao by lao tzu

“Try to imagine what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up… now try to imagine what it was like to wake up having never gone to sleep.”

– Alan Watts

 

“You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.”

 

– Alan Watts

 

“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

 

“Who would then deny that when I am sipping tea in my tearoom I am swallowing the whole universe with it and that this very moment of my lifting the bowl to my lips is eternity itself transcending time and space?”

– D.T. Suzuki

 

“Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.”

– Alan Watts

 

“Tao in the world is like a river flowing home to the sea.”

– Lao Tzu

 

 

The Way and Non-Striving

Doesn’t Zen feel amazing? So liberating. And one reason why is because Zen is about not striving.

When we accept things as we are, and stop fighting, we find inner peace and harmony.

Here are the best Zen sayings about non-striving.

 

 

“I have lived with several Zen masters — all of them cats.”

– Eckhart Tolle

zen saying about cats

“Every being is in search of truth, but small fears go on preventing you.”

– Osho

 

 

“The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering.”

– Ram Dass

 

“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”

– Thích Nhat Hanh

 

 

“The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.”

– Eric Hoffer

 

“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”

– Alan Watts

 

 

“Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be.”

– Eckhart Tolle

 

“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”

– Alan Watts

 

“If you are unable to find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?”

– Dogen

 

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”

– Alan Watts

 

“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

 

“The greatest effort is not concerned with results.”

– Atisha

 

“All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.”

– Eckhart Tolle

 

“I cannot tell you any spiritual truth that you don’t know already. All I can do is remind you of what you have forgotten.”

– Eckhart Tolle

 

“A follower of the way has neither form nor shape, neither root nor trunk; nor dwelling place; like a fish leaping in the water.”

– Rinzai Zen proverb

 

 

 

 

Zen Sayings About Letting Go

At the heart of Zen is the path of letting go. Detachment. Because when we learn to let go completely we find complete freedom.

Want to learn to let go? These meditations help. Have a read.

Now here are the best Zen sayings and proverbs about letting go.

 

“Letting go is the lesson. Letting go is always the lesson. Have you ever noticed how much of our agony is all tied up with craving and loss?”

― Susan Gordon Lydon, The Knitting Sutra: Craft as a Spiritual Practice

 

“A student, filled with emotion and crying, implored, “Why is there so much suffering?”

Suzuki Roshi replied, “No reason.”

 

 

“Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it.”

― Ray Bradbury

 

 

Zen Sayings About Mind

Zen is ultimately a way of training the mind to live in harmony with the universe. And the ultimate way Zen teaches this is through meditation.

You can learn Zen meditation for free in this article.

Now here are the best Zen sayings about the mind.

 

“It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable.”

― Seneca, The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters

 

“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, Tao of Jeet Kune Do

 

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few”

― Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

 

“But people of the deepest understanding look within, distracted by nothing. Since a clear mind is the Buddha, they attain the understanding of a Buddha without using the mind.”

― Bodhidharma, The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma

 

“When the mind is exhausted of images, it invents its own.”

― Gary Snyder, Earth House Hold

 

 

Zen Sayings About Self

 Living Zen means letting go of our preoccupation with the self. When we learn to let go of the self we can live in complete harmony with nature

Here are the best Zen sayings and proverbs about the self.

 

“The practice of Zen is forgetting the self in the act of uniting with something.”

– Koun Yamada

 

“When you hear that all beings are Buddha, don’t fall into the error of thinking there’s more than one Buddha.”

– Zen Graffiti

 

“I don’t let go of concepts – I meet them with understanding. Then they let go of me.”

– Byron Katie

 

 

“The self divides into ten billion distinct illuminating spirits. Distinguish these without falling into names and classifications.”

– Hongzhi

 

“The Zen expression “Kill the Buddha!” means to kill any concept of the Buddha as something apart from oneself.”

– Peter Matthiessen

 

 

“Melting our attachment to self is the most powerful medication for bringing mental and emotional imbalances in check.”

– Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

 

“To study Buddhism is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be awakened by all things.”

– Dogen

 

“Have good trust in yourself … not in the One that you think you should be, but in the One that you are.”

– Maezumi Roshi

 

“The importance and unimportance of the self cannot be exaggerated.”

― R.H. Blyth

 

 

“Preoccupied with a single leaf you won’t see the tree.”

― Zen saying

“How much does he lack himself who must have many things?”

― Sen no Rikyū

 

“Doffing the ego’s

safe glory, he finds

his naked reality.”

― Dag Hammarskjöld, Markings

 

 

Zen sayings about emotions

Zen is a way of calming the emotions so we can enjoy inner peace.

Want to control your emotions? These meditations help (click). Have a read.

Now here are the best Zen sayings about emotions.

 

“Courage is often associated with aggression, but instead should be seen as a willingness to act from the heart.”

― Donna Quesada, Buddha in the Classroom: Zen Wisdom to Inspire Teachers

 

“Forgiveness is a transformative act because it asks you to be a more empathetic and compassionate person.”

― Kamand Kojouri

 

“Hard to restrain, unstable is this mind; it flits wherever it lists. Good it is to control the mind. A controlled mind brings happiness.”

― Gautama Buddha

 

 

“Guilt, regret, resentment, sadness & all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past & not enough presence.”

– Eckhart Tolle

 

 

Zen Sayings About Nature

Let’s finish with some beautiful Zen sayings about nature.

Oh, and if you love nature read this:

Design Your Own Zen Garden With This Tutorial. 

 

“At the still-point in the center of the circle one can see the infinite in all things.”

– Chuang Tzu

 

“In the scenery of spring, nothing is better, nothing worse; the flowering branches are; some long, some short.”

– Eicho

 

“There is no mistake in nature.”

 

– Byron Katie

 

“Still water has no mind to receive the image of the migrating geese.”

– Zen Proverb

 

“The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass.”

– Dogen

 

 

What’s your favorite Zen saying or Zen proverb?

I’ve shared all my favorite Zen proverbs with you above. Now it’s your turn.

What is your favorite Zen proverb / saying? Leave a comment and let me know.

Or if you want to take your Zen up a notch, learn how to do Zazen here.

 

 

 

 

Paul Martin Harrison

Paul Harrison is a meditation teacher, author and journalist based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Paul has helped thousands of people to discovery their true potential. Don’t miss Paul’s inspirational and enlightening book Journey To The Buddha Within You.

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One thought on “121 Zen Sayings And Proverb You’ll Probably Want To Share

  • May 22, 2017 at 3:37 pm
    Permalink

    Hi everyone. I thought I would kick off the comments by sharing my number one Zen saying: “When sitting, sit”. It’s always reminds me to be more mindful.

    What’s your favorite?

    Reply

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