25 Zen Quotes and Proverbs to Live By

Since arriving in the U.S., Zen has had an unmistakable, albeit subtle, impact on the way many of us think and act.

Zen has unintentionally become synonymous with words like “calm”, “peace”, and “balance”. However, more than just learning to chill out, Zen wisdom has much to say on human efficiency, creativity, and realizing our potential as well. This is, primarily, why Steve Jobs was so fascinated with Zen.

To learn about Zen is to practice Zen. However, the wisdom of Zen isn’t something foreign to us and it can be found in other ways than just sitting in meditation. Zen is about our life now, and how we can experience what this life is about (and live better) by applying ourselves fully in each moment.

Years ago, Zen made me question the way that I was living and allowed me to not only adopt a healthier lifestyle with less stress and anxiety, but also helped me realize what it meant to live fully in each moment. I hope these quotes help you realize the same (and much more) in your own life.

Zen quotes and proverbs to live by

25 Zen Quotes and Proverbs to Live By

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

– Shunryu Suzuki

And when they played they really played. And when they worked they really worked.

– Dr. Seuss

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


All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.

– Eckhart Tolle

Have good trust in yourself … not in the One that you think you should be, but in the One that you are.

– Maezumi Roshi

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

– Soyen Shaku

Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be.

– Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle quote - Life is not as serious as the mind makes it out to be

Let go over a cliff, die completely, and then come back to life — after that you cannot be deceived.

– Zen Proverb

When I feel like dancing, I dance. I don’t care if anyone else is dancing or if everyone else is laughing at me. I dance.

– Rachel Danson

Only when you can be extremely pliable and soft can you be extremely hard and strong.

– Zen Proverb

Upon retiring, sleep as if you had entered your last sleep. Upon awakening, leave your bed behind you instantly as if you had cast away a pair of old shoes.

– Soyen Shaku

Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.

– Alan Watts

If you are unable to find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?

– Dogen

Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.

– Alan Watts

As a bee gathering nectar does not harm or disturb the color and fragrance of the flower; so do the wise move through the world.

– Buddha

Zen quotes and proverbs - Buddha - so do the wise move through the world

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

– Suzuki Roshi

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

– Martin Luther King, Jr. (more quotes)

To follow the path, look to the master, follow the master, walk with the master, see through the master, become the master.

– Zen Proverb

The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering.

– Ram Dass


For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.

– Thích Nhat Hanh

Watch what you say, and whatever you say, practice it.

– Soyen Shaku

Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.

– Shunryu Suzuki

 

Nothing ever exists entirely alone. Everything is in relation to everything else.

– Buddha

Think with your whole body.

– Taisen Deshimar

 


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