Mind & BodyPhilosophy & Culture

15 Profound Zen Buddhism Quotes on Letting Go and Experiencing True Freedom and Happiness

Letting go is a painful part of life. But according to Buddhism, we must let go of attachment and desires if we are to experience happiness.

However, letting go doesn’t mean you don’t care about anyone and anything. It actually means you can experience life and love fully and openly without clinging to it for your survival.

According to Buddhism, this is the only way to experience true freedom and happiness.

So below, we’ve found 25 beautiful quotes from Zen masters that explain what letting go really entails. Get ready for some liberating Zen quotes that will blow your mind.

1) “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,

2) “Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.” – Dalai Lama

3) “You can only lose what you cling to.” – Buddha

4) “Nirvana means to extinguish the burning fires of the Three Poisons: greed, anger, and ignorance. This can be accomplished by letting go of dissatisfaction.” – Shinjo Ito

5) “The greatest loss of time is delay and expectation, which depend upon the future. We let go the present, which we have in our power, and look forward to that which depends upon chance, and so relinquish a certainty for an uncertainty.” – Seneca

6) “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.

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

8) “It is only when we begin to relax with ourselves that meditation becomes a transformative process. Only when we relate with ourselves without moralizing, without harshness, without deception, can we let go of harmful patterns. Without maitri (metta), renunciation of old habits becomes abusive. This is an important point.” –  Pema Chödrön

9) Patience from a Buddhist perspective is not a “wait and see” attitude, but rather one of “just be there”… Patience can also be based on not expecting anything.Think of patience as an act of being open to whatever comes your way. When you begin to solidify expectations, you get frustrated because they are not met in the way you had hoped… 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

10) “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

11) “The Buddha’s principal message that day was that holding on to anything blocks wisdom. Any conclusion that we draw must be let go. The only way to fully understand the bodhichitta teachings, the only way to practice them fully, is to abide in the unconditional openness of the prajna, patiently cutting through all our tendencies to hang on.” – Pema Chödrön

12) “Whether we like it or not, change comes, and the greater the resistance, the greater the pain. Buddhism perceives the beauty of change, for life is like music in this: if any note or phrase is held for longer than its appointed time, the melody is lost. Thus Buddhism may be summed up in two phrases: “Let go!” and “Walk on!” Drop the craving for self, for permanence, for particular circumstances, and go straight ahead with the movement of life.”  – Alan W. Watts

13) “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

14) “Bhikkhus, the teaching is merely a vehicle to describe the truth. Don’t mistake it for the truth itself. A finger pointing at the moon is not the moon. The finger is needed to know where to look for the moon, but if you mistake the finger for the moon itself, you will never know the real moon.The teaching is like a raft that carries you to the other shore. The raft is needed, but the raft is not the other shore. An intelligent person would not carry the raft around on his head after making it across to the other shore. Bhikkhus, my teaching is the raft which can help you cross to the other shore beyond birth and death. Use the raft to cross to the other shore, but don’t hang onto it as your property. Do not become caught in the teaching. You must be able to let it go.”  – Thich Nhat Hanh

If you want more from Thich Nhat Hanh, his book, Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm is highly recommended.

15) “One of the key paradoxes in Buddhism is that we need goals to be inspired, to grow, and to develop, even to become enlightened, but at the same time we must not get overly fixated or attached to these aspirations. If the goal is noble, your commitment to the goal should not be contingent on your ability to attain it, and in pursuit of our goal, we must release our rigid assumptions about how we must achieve it. Peace and equanimity come from letting go of our attachment to the goal and the method. That is the essence of acceptance. Reflecting”  – Dalai Lama

NOW READ:

25 Powerful Quotes From Zen Buddhism That Will Change Your Perspective on Life

101 Awesome Zen Proverbs and Sayings to Live Your Life By


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