Zen Masters Quotes

Zen masters’ quotes are a tapestry of enigmatic wisdom, woven with the threads of simplicity and depth. These utterances, often paradoxical, cut through the cacophony of daily life and offer a glimpse into the profound tranquility of the awakened mind. Each quote is a koan in itself, challenging us to abandon conventional thinking and to embrace the spontaneity of enlightenment.

The potency of these quotes lies in their ability to strip away the superfluous, directing us toward the essence of being. A Zen master might say, “To study the Buddha way is to study the self.” Such a statement invites us to explore the landscape of our inner world, recognizing that the path to universal truth begins with self-inquiry.

In the realm of Zen, words are not merely tools for communication but instruments for transformation. A master’s quote can be as sharp as a sword, slicing through illusion, or as gentle as a breeze, dispelling the clouds of confusion. They beckon us to experience life beyond the confines of dualistic thought, to witness the unity of all things.

Zen quotes often reflect on the nature of the mind, the illusion of the ego, and the liberation that comes with non-attachment. They are not just philosophical musings but practical signposts guiding us toward a life of presence and authenticity.

Reflecting on the words of Zen masters can catalyze a shift in consciousness, prompting us to live with greater awareness and compassion. As we contemplate these teachings, we may find that the wisdom we seek has been within us all along, waiting to be realized in the fullness of our daily lives. These quotes are not just to be read—they are to be lived, creating ripples of enlightenment that touch the shores of our collective existence.


D T Suzuki says : “In the spiritual world there are no time divisions such as the past, present and future; for they have contracted themselves into a single moment of the present where life quivers in its true sense. The past and the future are both rolled up in this present moment of illumination, and this present moment is not something standing still with all its contents, for it ceaselessly moves on.”

D T Suzuki says : “Not to be bound by rules, but to be creating one’s own rules-this is the kind of life which Zen is trying to have us live.”

D T Suzuki says : “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 intense struggles which they fought bravely, quite frequently in tears and with bleeding hearts”

D T Suzuki says : “The rocks are where they are- and this is their will. The rivers flow- and this is their will. The birds fly- this is their will. Human beings talk- this is their will. The seasons change, heaven sends down rain or snow, the earth occasionally shakes, the waves roll, the stars shine- each of them follows its own will. To be is to will and so is to become.”

D T Suzuki says : “We have two eyes to see two sides of things, but there must be a third eye which will see everything at the same time and yet not see anything. That is to understand Zen.”

D T Suzuki says : “Zen abhors repetition or imitation of any kind, for it kills. For the same reason Zen never explains, but only affirms. Life is fact and no explanation is necessary or pertinent. To explain is to apologize, and why should we apologize for living? To live—is that not enough? Let us then live, let us affirm! Herein lies Zen in all its purity and in all its nudity as well.”

D T Suzuki says : “Zen teaches nothing; it merely enables us to wake up and become aware. It does not teach, it points.”

D T Suzuki says : “Zen wants us to acquire an entirely new point of view whereby to look into the mysteries of life and the secrets of nature. This is because Zen has come to the definite conclusion that the ordinary logical process of reasoning is powerless to give final satisfaction to our deepest spiritual needs.”

D T Suzuki says :  “Zen wants us to acquire an entirely new point of view whereby to look into the mysteries of life and the secrets of nature. This is because Zen has come to the definite conclusion that the ordinary logical process of reasoning is powerless to give final satisfaction to our deepest spiritual needs.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche says : “Day by day, be content with whatever you have and satisfied with whatever happens. Everything else will then fall naturally into place.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche says : “Do not encumber your mind with useless thoughts. What good does it do to brood on the past or anticipate the future? Remain in the simplicity of the present moment.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche says :  “Examine the nature of hatred; you will find that it is no more than a thought. When you see it as it is, it will dissolve like a cloud in the sky.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche says :  “If we allow our thoughts to arise and dissolve by themselves, they will pass through our mind as a bird flies through the sky, without leaving a trace.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche says : “Like a robe wears out over time and turns to rags, life wears out from day to day, from second to second.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche says : “Meditation could be said to be the Art of Simplicity: simply sitting, simply breathing and simply being.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche says : “Once you have the View, although the delusory perceptions of samsara may arise in your mind, you will be like the sky; when a rainbow appears in front of it, it’s not particularly flattered, and when the clouds appear, it’s not particularly disappointed either. There is a deep sense of contentment. You chuckle from inside as you see the facade of samsara and nirvana; the View will keep you constantly amused, with a little inner smile bubbling away all the time.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche says : “Sentient beings, self and others, enemies and dear ones-all are made by thoughts. It is like seeing a rope and mistaking it for a snake. When we think that the rope is a snake, we are scared, but once we see that we are looking at a rope, our fear dissipates. We have been deluded by our thoughts. Likewise, mentally fabricating self and others, we generate attachment and aversion.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche says : “The past is only an unreliable memory held in the present. The future is only a projection of our present conceptions. The present itself vanishes as soon as we try to grasp it. So why bother with attempting to establish an illusion of solid ground?”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche says : “The towns and countryside that the traveler sees through a train window do not slow down the train, nor does the train affect them. Neither disturbs the other. This is how you should see the thoughts that pass through your mind when you meditate.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche says : “To wish happiness for others, even for those who want to do us harm, is the source of consummate happiness.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche says : “When a rainbow appears vividly in the sky, you can see its beautiful colours, yet you could not wear as clothing or put it on as an ornament. It arises through the conjunction of various factors, but there is nothing about it that can be grasped. Likewise, thoughts that arise in the mind have no tangible existence or intrinsic solidity. There is no logical reason why thoughts, which have no substance, should have so much power over you, nor is there any reason why you should become their slave.”

Dogen says : “Do not be concerned with the faults of other persons. Do not see others’ faults with a hateful mind. There is an old saying that if you stop seeing others’ faults, then naturally seniors and venerated and juniors are revered. Do not imitate others’ faults; just cultivate virtue. Buddha prohibited unwholesome actions, but did not tell us to hate those who practice unwholesome actions.”

Dogen says : “Students, when you want to say something, think about it three times before you say it. Speak only if your words will benefit yourselves and others. Do not speak if it brings no benefit.”

Dogen says : “There is a simple way to become buddha: When you refrain from unwholesome actions, are not attached to birth and death, and are compassionate toward all sentient beings, respectful to seniors and kind to juniors, not excluding or desiring anything, with no designing thoughts or worries, you will be called a buddha. Do not seek anything else.”

Dogen says :  “When you ride in a boat and watch the shore, you might assume that the shore is moving. But when you keep your eyes closely on the boat, you can see that the boat moves. Similarly, if you examine many things with a confused mind, you might suppose that your mind and nature are permanent. But when you practice intimately and return to where you are, it will be clear that there is nothing that has unchanging self.”

John Daido Loori says : “just sitting does not involve reaching some understanding. It is the subtle activity of allowing all things to be completely at rest just as they are, not poking one’s head into the workings of the world.”

John Daido Loori says :  “serene illumination, or just sitting, is not a technique, or a means to some resulting higher state of consciousness, or any particular state of being. Just sitting, one simply meets the immediate present. Desiring some flashy experience, or anything more or other than ‘this’ is mere worldly vanity and craving.”

John Daido Loori says : “To be still means to empty yourself from the incessant flow of thoughts and create a state of consciousness that is open and receptive.”

Kosho Uchiyama says :  “Our life is whatever we are encountering right now, and our practice is shikantaza, which is literally ‘just sitting.’ More broadly it means to put our energy into settling everything in our world here and now, where we really live.”

Kosho Uchiyama says : “The first undeniable reality is that every living thing dies, and the second undeniable reality is that we suffer throughout our lives because we don’t understand death. The truth derived from these two points is the importance of clarifying the matter of birth and death. The third undeniable reality is that all of the thoughts and feelings that arise in my head simply arise haphazardly, by chance. And the conclusion we can derive from that is not to hold on to all that comes up in our head. That is what we are doing when we sit zazen.”