50+ Zen Quotes That Will Change Your Perspective on Life Forever

check our collection of the best Zen Quotes about Love and Life, Best Zen Buddhism quotes.


Zen Quotes on Life


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Just as parents care for their children, you should bear in mind the whole universe.

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We just let it happen… and that’s the beauty of this technique.

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Confuse them with your silence and amaze them with your actions.

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A man is great not because he hasn’t failed; a man is great because failure hasn’t stopped him.

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Have the fearless attitude of a hero and the loving heart of a child.

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Unhappiness and rain just drift by and are gone, they are visitors.

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If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.

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In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.

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

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Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.

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These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.

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Truth makes you rise to new heights, no matter where you are.

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If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else.

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When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.

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

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In the highest level a man has the look of knowing nothing.

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Life is a second-by-second miracle.

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Movement is evil. Being still is good.

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Don’t seek the truth; just drop your opinions.

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Sleep is the best meditation.


Zen Quotes on Life and Happiness


  • To see things for what they are is to see with the eyes of the vastness itself. Suzanne Segal

  • Throughout this life, you can never be certain of living long enough to take another breath. Huang Po

  • There is one thing in life that you can always rely on: life being as it is. Joko Beck

  • 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

  • I am not devaluing thoughts. Just do not mix up what we think with what actually is. Taizan Maezumi

  • Where you stand, where you are, that’s what your life is right there, regardless of how painful it is or how enjoyable it is. That’s what it is. Taizan Maezumi

  • So if you do something, you should be observant, and careful, and alert. Shunryu Suzuki

  • When there is no gaining idea in what you do, then you do something. Shunryu Suzuki

  • When you bow, you should just bow; when you sit, you should just sit; when you eat, you should just eat. Shunryu Suzuki

  • People of this world are deluded. They’re always longing for something – always, in a word, seeking. Bodhidharma

  • Live the life in front of you, be the life you are, and see what you find out for yourself. Karen Maezen Miller


  • Your life is your practice. Your spiritual practice does not occur someplace other than in your life right now, and your life is nowhere other than where you are. Karen Maezen Miller


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


  • If we are always demanding something out of life, then we will never be content. But if we accept life as it is, then we will know contentment. Thich Thien-An


  • 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 single thought. Yamamoto Tsunetomo.


  • 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.


  • Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free. Thich Nhat Hanh


  • Letting go takes a lot of courage sometimes. But once you let go, happiness comes very quickly. You won’t have to go around search for it. Thich Nhat Hanh


  • All I can guarantee you is that as long as you are searching for happiness, you will remain unhappy. U.G. Krishnamurti


  • Happiness only comes when you let go of who you think you are. If you think you’re wealthy and powerful and noble and truthful or horrible and demonic, whatever it may be, it’s all a waste of time. Frederick Lenz


  • Children are natural Zen masters; their world is brand new in each and every moment. John Bradshaw


  • Here it is – right now. Start thinking about it and you miss it. Huang Po


  • Throughout this life, you can never be certain of living long enough to take another breath. Huang Po


  • To be in harmony with the wholeness of things is not to have anxiety over imperfections. Dogen


  • Life is more or less a lie, but then again, that’s exactly the way we want it to be. Bob Dylan


  • Do not look for a sanctuary in anyone except your self. Buddha


  • The greatest effort is not concerned with results. Atisa


Zen Quotes on Letting Go


  • A Buddha is an idle person. He doesn’t run around after fortune and fame. Bodhidharma


  • Think of patience as an act of being open to whatever comes your way. Lodro Rinzler


  • Do not be trapped by the need to achieve anything. This way, you achieve everything. Frank Herbert


  • Our way is not to sit to acquire something; it is to express our true nature. That is our practice. Shunryu Suzuki


  • The true purpose is to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, and to let everything go as it goes. Shunryu Suzuki


  • Let go. Let Be. See through everything and be free, complete, luminous, at home — at ease. Lama Surya Das


  • With no set idea of how something is supposed to be, it is hard to get stuck on things not happening in the time frame you desired. Instead, you are just being there, open to the possibilities of your life. Lodro Rinzler


  • Drop the craving for self, for permanence, for particular circumstances, and go straight ahead with the movement of life. Alan Watts


  • Just let things be in their own way and there will be neither coming nor going. Sengcan


  • You have to learn how to sit without fighting. If you know how to sit like that, sitting is very pleasant. Thich Nhat Hanh


  • Do not become caught in the teaching. You must be able to let it go. Thich Nhat Hanh


  • Obey the nature of things (your own nature), and you will walk freely and undisturbed. Sengcan


  • You are here to learn something. Don’t try to figure out what it is. This can be frustrating and unproductive. Steven L. Peck


  • Once you stop clinging and let things be, you’ll be free, even of birth and death. You’ll transform everything. Bodhidharma


  • 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


  • Lose yourself in nothing to become everything; Relax into an infinite deep sea of coherent energy; Keep unfolding deeper and deeper into oneness; Continuously let go of control; Feel greater and greater degrees of wholeness. Joe Dispenza


  • To escape from the world means that one’s mind is not concerned with the opinions of the world. Dogen


  • If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing. Dogen


  • It is a timeless spiritual truth: release attachment to outcomes, deep inside yourself, you’ll feel good no matter what. Jiddu Krishnamurti


  • 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


  • If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars. Rabindranath Tagore


  • The phrase that I use the most to myself in my head is one word: accept. Naval Ravikant


  • Detachment is necessary for peace, and peace is necessary for happiness. Naval Ravikant


  • If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Bruce Lee


  • Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. Bruce Lee


  • When we do not expect anything we can be ourselves. Shunryu Suzuki


Zen Quotes On Change


  • Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values. Dalai Lama


  • There is only one thing in life which never changes, and it is change. Confucius


  • Don’t waste your time chasing butterflies. Mend your garden, and the butterflies will come. Mario Quintana


  • Whether we like it or not, change comes, and the greater the resistance, the greater the pain. Alan Watts


  • Awareness is the greatest agent for change. Eckhart Tolle Click to tweet


  • Time is the coin of life. Only you can determine how it will be spent. Carl Sandburg


  • Time’s the king of men; he’s both their parent, and he is their grave, and gives them what he will, not what they crave. William Shakespeare


  • When we realize the everlasting truth of “everything changes” and find our composure in it, we find ourselves in Nirvana. Shunryu Suzuki


  • We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get much chance to talk. The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness, a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later where all the time went and sorry that it’s all gone. Robert M. Pirsig


  • Unless we die to ourselves, we can never be alive again. D.T. Suzuki


  • Every day passes whether you participate or not. Ming Dao Deng


  • See and realize that this world is not permanent. Neither late nor early flowers will remain. Ryōkan


  • The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless. Alan Watts


  • Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well. Jack Kornfield


  • Our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away. Zhuangzi


  • Time is the fire in which we burn. Gene Roddenberry


  • The memory of everything is very soon overwhelmed in time. Marcus Aurelius


  • I never think of the future – it comes soon enough. Albert Einstein


  • Time does not change us. It just unfolds us. Max Frisch


Zen Quotes about Truth


  • If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it? Dogen


  • Do not seek for the truth, only stop having an opinion. Seng-ts’an


  • A mind full of preconceived ideas, subjective intentions, or habits is not open to things as they are. Shunryu Suzuki


  • I feel cut off only because I am split within myself, because I try to be divided from my own feelings and sensations. What I feel and sense therefore seems foreign to me. And on being aware of the unreality of this division, the universe does not seem foreign any more. Alan Watts


  • The more you talk and think about it, the further astray you wander from the truth. Stop talking and thinking and there is nothing you will not be able to know. Sengcan


  • Reality has no inside, outside, or middle part. Bodhidharma


  • The ultimate Truth is beyond words. Doctrines are words. They’re not the Way. Bodhidharma


  • The farther away you are from the truth, the more the hateful and pleasurable states will arise. Bodhidharma


  • 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


  • If you are under control, you lose the danger of glimpsing an unknown realm. Kazuaki Tanahashi


  • 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


  • 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


  • The way of Zen is to become independent and strong. Don’t rely on others for perceptions of life and truth. Do it individually. Frederick Lenz


  • It is easier for the world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth. Alexis de Tocqueville


  • Not knowing how near the truth is, we seek it far away. Hakuin Ekaku


  • No word matters. But man forgets reality and remembers words. Roger Zelazny


  • If you forget yourself, you become the universe. Hakuin Ekaku


  • But opinions, judgments, memories, dreaming about the future—ninety percent of the thoughts spinning around in our heads have no essential reality. Joko Beck


  • The Truth is realized in an instant; the Act is practiced step by step. Seungsahn


  • Unless it grows out of yourself no knowledge is really yours, it is only borrowed plumage. D.T. Suzuki


  • Realisation is a matter of becoming conscious of that which is already realised. Wei Wu Wei


  • In order to be effective truth must penetrate like an arrow – and that is likely to hurt. Wei Wu Wei


  • The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth. Lao Tzu


  • Reality is created by the mind, we can change our reality by changing our mind. Plato


  • We teach ourselves; Zen merely points the way. D.T. Suzuki


Zen Buddhism Quotes


  • Buddhism may be summed up in two phrases: “Let go!” and “Walk on!”. Alan Watts


  • Buddhism teaches that joy and happiness arise from letting go. Please sit down and take an inventory of your life. There are things you’ve 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


  • Patience from a Buddhist perspective is not a “wait and see” attitude, but rather one of “just be there”. Lodro Rinzler


  • 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


  • He who is in harmony with the Tao is like a newborn child. Its bones are soft, its muscles are weak, but its grip is powerful. Lao Tzu


  • If you try to change it, you will ruin it. Try to hold it, and you will lose it. Lao Tzu


  • The flame that burns Twice as bright burns half as long. Lao Tzu


  • Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world. Miyamoto Musashi


  • Accept everything just the way it is. Miyamoto Musashi


  • Taoism is simply the complete acceptance of yourself as you are right in this moment. Sheila M. Burke


  • Taoism is the way of water. The most frequent element or symbol referred to in Lao Tzu’s wrtings is the symbol of water. Frederick Lenz


  • Taoism is the gentle way. The path of least resistance. Frederick Lenz


  • Taoism has no rules. It’s a suggestion for preceiving life in its wholeness, without unnessary categorization, yet enjoying the beauty of categorization. Frederick Lenz


  • Taoism is the profoundest nonconformism that has ever been evolved anywhere in the world, at any time in history; essentially it is rebellion. Osho


  • You must let what happens happen. Everything must be equal in your eyes, good and evil, beautiful and ugly, foolish and wise. Michael Ende


  • You should rather be grateful for the weeds, because eventually they will enrich your practice. Shunryu Suzuki


  • Taoism is a way of liberation, which never comes by means of revolution, since it is notorious that most revolutions establish worse tyrannies than they destroy. Alan Watts


  • Countless words count less than the silent balance between yin and yang. Lao Tzu


  • When there is no desire, all things are at peace. Lao Tzu


  • He who knows, does not speak. He who speaks, does not know. Lao Tzu


Zen Quotes on Death


  • Breath by breath, let go of fear, expectation, anger, regret, cravings, frustration, fatigue. Let go of the need for approval. Let go of old judgments and opinions. Die to all that, and fly free. Soar in the freedom of desirelessness. Lama Surya Das


  • Life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken. Awaken! Take heed, do not squander your life. Dogen


  • We are not disturbed by what happens to us, but by our thoughts about what happens to us. Epictetus