While a lot of people consider Buddhism to be a religion, most practitioners will tell you it is more ‘a way of life’. Unlike other religions, it de-emphasizes mere knowledge of sutras and doctrine and favors direct understanding and insight into daily life.
Central to Zen is the practice of dhyana or meditation and observing the mind without judgment. Meditation usually involves anchoring the mind to a particular object, such as the breath, while mindfulness involves living in and accepting the present moment.
It’s a powerful way to look at life, and one that can fundamentally change your perspective on happiness and suffering.
Here are my favorite Zen sayings and quotes. I hope they trigger your interest and even shift your perspective in some way.
And If you would like to give meditation a try, here are some relaxing meditation audios I’ve recently been using that will help get you started on your meditation journey.
- “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
- “Don’t worry about anything at all. You are not here by accident. This form is just a costume for a while. But the one who is behind the costume, this one is eternal. You must know this. If you know this and trust this, you don’t have to worry about anything. This world is so full of love. And your heart, your being, is so full of love, so full of peace. You don’t have to go to some place else to find peace. It is right where you are.” – Mooji
- “Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.” – Lao Tzu
- “Sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously. The bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots. In fact, it is always in proportion. That’s its balance.” – Osho
- “Guilt, regret, resentment, sadness & all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past & not enough presence.” – Eckhart Tolle
- “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
- “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
- “Things derive their being and nature by mutual dependence and are nothing in themselves” – Nagarjuna
- “Nothing ever exists entirely alone. Everything is in relation to everything else.” – Buddha
- “Heaven and earth and I are of the same root, The ten-thousand things and I are of one substance.” – Seng-chao
- “One thing: you have to walk, and create the way by your walking; you will not find a ready-made path. It is not so cheap, to reach to the ultimate realization of truth. You will have to create the path by walking yourself; the path is not ready-made, lying there and waiting for you. It is just like the sky: the birds fly, but they don’t leave any footprints. You cannot follow them; there are no footprints left behind.” – Osho
- “One must be deeply aware of the impermanence of the world.” – Dogen
- “The practice of Zen is forgetting the self in the act of uniting with something.” – Koun Yamada
- “Never assume that you have attained truth. Don’t make any claim to knowledge. Form no conclusion or evaluation concerning truth. The minute you do, your downfall is assured. Whenever you imagine you know something, you cease being open to the living exploration. You have closed a door and cut off the oxygen to the breathing truth.” – Mooji
- “Melting our attachment to self is the most powerful medication for bringing mental and emotional imbalances in check.” – Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche