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These 55 quotes from Zen Buddhism will open your mind

Zen Buddhism is a profound philosophy that counters much of what we’re taught in the west.

In western society, we tend to think that we’ll find happiness once we reach certain goals. However, Zen Buddhism says that happiness doesn’t come from any outside achievements. True inner peace comes from within.

The key, according to Zen, is to let go of attachments and embrace living fully in the present moment.

It’s certainly an outlook on life that we all could benefit from, no matter your religion or race.

Below we’ve found 25 pieces of concise Zen Buddhist wisdom that summarize the wisdom of life. I hope they shift your perspective as much as they have mine. Enjoy!
Zen quotes perspective quotes

1) The temptation to give up is strongest just before victory.

2) The goal in life is to die young, but to do as late as possible.

3) Don’t speak if it doesn’t improve on silence.

4) A thousand-mile journey begins with just one step.

Zen quotes perspective quotes

5) A strong man overcomes an obstacle, a wise man goes the whole way.

6) Don’t be afraid to go slowly. Be afraid of stopping.

7) Even the happiness of a fool is a stupid kind of happiness.

8) Even if you stumble and fall down, it doesn’t mean you’ve chosen the wrong path.

9) A hut full of laughter is richer than a palace full of sadness.

Zen quotes perspective quotes

10) Always look on the bright side of things. If you can’t comprehend this, polish that which has become dull until it begins to shine.

11) Whatever happens always happens on time.

12) Someone who points out your flaws to you is not necessarily your enemy. Someone who speaks of your virtues is not necessarily your friend.

13) Don’t be afraid that you do not know something. Be afraid of not learning about it.

14) A good teacher opens the door for you, but you must enter the room by yourself.

Zen quotes perspective quotes

15) A mountain never yields to the wind no matter how strong it is.

16) Live calmly. The time will come when the flowers bloom by themselves.

17) There’s no such thing as a friend who doesn’t have any flaws. But if you try to look for all their flaws, you will remain with no friends.

18) Unhappiness enters through a door that has been left open.

19) No one returns from a long journey the same person they were before.

Zen quotes perspective quotes

20) A person who is capable of blushing cannot have a bad heart.

21) It’s better be a person for a day than to be a shadow for a 1,000 days.

22) Your home is where your thoughts find peace.

23) The man who moved the mountain was the one who began carrying away the smallest stones.

24) If you’ve made a mistake, it’s better just to laugh at it.

Zen quotes perspective quotes

25) The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

26) The world is its own magic.


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

28) Awareness is the greatest agent for change.

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

30) The intuitive recognition of the instant, thus reality… is the highest act of wisdom.

31) 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.

32) Heaven & earth & I are of the same root. Ten thousand things & I are of one substance.

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

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

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

36) Zen has no business with ideas.

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

38) Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.

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

40) When an ordinary man attains knowledge, he is a sage; when a sage attains understanding, he is an ordinary man.

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

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

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

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

45) To understand everything is to forgive everything.

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

47) 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.

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

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

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

51) No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place.

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

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

54) No thought, no reflection, no analysis, no cultivation, no intention; let it settle itself

55) The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass.

If you liked these quotes, you may want to check out The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation by Thich Nhat Hanh.

This article was originally published on Hack Spirit and has been expanded upon here on Ideapod.

RELATED ARTICLE: 101 Awesome Zen Proverbs and Sayings to Live Your Life By


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Written by Justin Brown

I'm the CEO and co-founder of Ideapod, a platform for people to connect around ideas. I'm passionate about people thinking for themselves, especially in an age of information overload.

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