Zen Master Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Zen Master. Here they are! All 200 of them:

I have lived with several Zen masters -- all of them cats.
Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment)
Zen masters say you cannot see your reflection in running water, only in still water.
Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)
Wild woman are an unexplainable spark of life. They ooze freedom and seek awareness, they belong to nobody but themselves yet give a piece of who they are to everyone they meet. If you have met one, hold on to her, she'll allow you into her chaos but she'll also show you her magic.
Nikki Rowe
The renowned seventh-century Zen master Seng-tsan taught that true freedom is being "without anxiety about imperfection.
Tara Brach (Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha)
If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing.
Dōgen
Until today, it really pissed me off that I'd become this totally centered Zen Master and nobody had noticed. Still, I'm doing the little FAX thing. I write little HAIKU things and FAX them around to everyone. When I pass people in the hall at work, I get totally ZEN right in everyone's hostile little FACE.
Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club)
The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there. -Yasutani Roshi, Zen master (1885-1973)
Yasutani Roshi
Do not be concerned with the faults of other persons. Do not see others' faults with a hateful mind. There is an old saying that if you stop seeing others' faults, then naturally seniors and venerated and juniors are revered. Do not imitate others' faults; just cultivate virtue. Buddha prohibited unwholesome actions, but did not tell us to hate those who practice unwholesome actions.
Dōgen
You may wonder which came first: the skill or the hard work. But that's a moot point. The Zen master cleans his own studio. So should you.
Twyla Tharp (The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life)
Children are natural Zen masters; their world is brand new in each and every moment.
John Bradshaw
At Patagonia, making a profit is not the goal because the Zen master would say profits happen 'when you do everything else right'.
Yvon Chouinard (Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman)
How many Zen masters does it take to screw in a light bulb? The plum tree in the garden!
Brad Warner (Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies and the Truth about Reality)
The story of the Zen Master whose only response was always "Is that so?" shows the good that comes through inner nonresistance to events, that is to say, being at one with what happens. The story of the man whose comment was invariably a laconic "Maybe" illustrates the wisdom of nonjudgment, and the story of the ring points to the fact of impermanence which, when recognized, leads to nonattachment. Nonresistance, nonjudgement, and nonattachment are the three aspects of true freedom and enlightened living.
Eckhart Tolle
Until today, it really pissed me off that I'd become this totally centered Zen Master, and nobody had noticed. Still, i'm doing the little FAX thing. I write little HAIKU things and FAX them around to everyone. When i pass people in the hall at work, I get toally ZEN right in everyone's hostile little FACE.
Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club)
A belligerent samurai, an old Japanese tale goes, once challenged a Zen master to explain the concept of heaven and hell. The monk replied with scorn, "You're nothing but a lout - I can't waste my time with the likes of you!" His very honor attacked, the samurai flew into a rage and, pulling his sword from its scabbard, yelled "I could kill you for your impertinence." "That," the monk calmly replied, "is hell." Startled at seeing the truth in what the master pointed out about the fury that had him in its grip, the samurai calmed down, sheathed his sword, and bowed, thanking the monk for the insight. "And that,"said the monk "is heaven." The sudden awakening of the samurai to his own agitated state illustrates the crucial difference between being caught up in a feeling and becoming aware that you are being swept away by it. Socrates's injunction "Know thyself" speaks to the keystone of emotional intelligence: awareness of one's own feelings as they occur.
Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ)
There is a simple way to become buddha: When you refrain from unwholesome actions, are not attached to birth and death, and are compassionate toward all sentient beings, respectful to seniors and kind to juniors, not excluding or desiring anything, with no designing thoughts or worries, you will be called a buddha. Do not seek anything else.
Dōgen (Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen)
fucking flattery, success, money. I just sit back and suck my thumb.
Ikkyu (Crow With No Mouth: Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master)
... I thought with all this freedom and self-discovery and expression of our love stuff that we could finally stop with the whole Zen master wisdom and practical advice crap.
Richelle Mead (Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy, #6))
He was, in his way, as close to a Zen master as I've ever had, and all of us who fell under his influence began with his style and eventually ended up with our own.
Nora Ephron (I Feel Bad About My Neck, And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman)
What are you, Zen Master Fang?
Charlaine Harris (Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse, #12))
Don’t be a storehouse of memories. Leave past, future and even present thoughts behind. Be a witness to life unfolding by itself. Be free of all attachments, fears and concerns by keeping your mind inside your own heart. Rest in being. Like this, your life is always fresh and imbued with pure joy and timeless presence. Be happy, wise and free.
Mooji (White Fire: Spiritual insights and teachings of advaita zen master Mooji)
See and realize that this world is not permanent. Neither late nor early flowers will remain.
Ryōkan (Sky Above, Great Wind: The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan)
Let me give you a wonderful Zen practice. Wake up in the morning...look in the mirror, and laugh at yourself.
Bernie Glassman (The Dude and the Zen Master)
People get stuck a lot because they're afraid to act; in the worst case,...we get so attached to some end result that we can't function. We need help just to move on, only life doesn't wait.
Bernie Glassman (The Dude and the Zen Master)
I've burnt all the holy pages I used to carry but poems flare in my heart
Ikkyu (Crow With No Mouth: Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master)
The Truth is realized in an instant; the Act is practiced step by step.
Seung Sahn
why is it all so beautiful this fake dream this craziness why?
Ikkyu (Crow With No Mouth: Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master)
the wise know nothing at all well maybe one song
Ikkyu (Crow With No Mouth: Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master)
When you look at a tree, se it for its leafs, its branches, its trunk and the roots, then and only then will you see the tree
Takuan Soho (The Unfettered Mind: Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master)
Once you begin to recognise the divine gifts in life, you come to see that there are so many. Your life is abundant.
Mooji (White Fire: Spiritual insights and teachings of advaita zen master Mooji)
Live by the light of your own heart... but make sure this heart is silent and empty.
Mooji (White Fire: Spiritual insights and teachings of advaita zen master Mooji)
pleasure pain are equal in a clear heart no mountain hides the moon
Ikkyu (Crow With No Mouth: Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master)
I stole this from Zen Master Suzuki Roshi: If it's not paradoxical it's not true!
C.B. Murphy
We will be entering the beautiful world of a Zen master's no-mind. Sosan is the third Zen Patriarch. Nothing much is known about him- this is as it should be, because history records only violence. History does not record silence- it cannot record it. All records are of disturbance. Whenever someone becomes really silent, he disappears from all records, he is no more a part of our madness. So it is as it should be. Ch. 1: The Great Way Is Not Difficult
Osho (Hsin Hsin Ming, the Book of Nothing: Discourses on the Faith Mind of Sosan)
this boat is and is not when it sinks both disappear
Ikkyu (Crow With No Mouth: Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master)
It takes courage to become authentic. So many talk about the light but not enough speak the truth about the struggles it takes to get there and the tools to overcome it all.
Nikki Rowe
When one of the emperors of China asked Bodhidharma (the Zen master who brought Zen from India to China) what enlightenment was, his answer was, “Lots of space, nothing holy.” Meditation is nothing holy. Therefore there’s nothing that you think or feel that somehow gets put in the category of “sin.” There’s nothing that you can think or feel that gets put in the category of “bad.” There’s nothing that you can think or feel that gets put in the category of “wrong.” It’s all good juicy stuff—the manure of waking up, the manure of achieving enlightenment, the art of living in the present moment.
Pema Chödrön (Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living)
The famous Zen parable about the master for whom, before his studies, mountains were only mountains, but during his studies mountains were no longer mountains, and afterward mountains were again mountains could be interpreted as an allegory about [the perpetual paradox that when one is closest to a destination one is also the farthest).
Rebecca Solnit (Wanderlust: A History of Walking)
The more you learn, the more you know that you're not so hot.
Bernie Glassman (The Dude and the Zen Master)
flowers are silent silence is silent the mind is a silent flower the silent flower of the world opens
Ikkyu (Crow With No Mouth: Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master)
The prospect of future lives in remote heavens as a compensation for the inadequacy of our present lives is a bad tradeoff for losing out on the present.
Francis Harold Cook (How to Raise an Ox: Zen Practice as Taught in Zen Master Dogen's Shobogenzo, Including Ten Newly Translated Essays)
don’t worry please please how many times do I have to say it there’s no way not to be who you are and where.
Ikkyu (Crow With No Mouth: Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master)
Until today, it really pissed me off that I'd become this totally centered Zen Master and nobody had noticed.
Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club)
What happens to the drop of wine That you pour into the sea? Does it remain itself, unchanged? It is as if it never existed. So it is with the soul: Love drinks it in, It is united with Truth, Its old nature fades away, It is no longer master of itself. The soul wills and yet does not will: Its will belongs to Another. It has eyes only for this beauty; It no longer seeks to possess, as was its wont-- It lacks the strength to possess such sweetness. The base of this highest of peaks Is founded on nichil, Shaped nothingness, made one with the Lord.
Jacopone da Todi (The God-Madness)
Hope's interesting, isn't it? I can't turn hope off, it's hopeless.
Jeff Bridges (The Dude and the Zen Master)
We just need to feel we know, or we can’t rest. And yet much of life is unknowable and will remain so. Lots
Brad Warner (Don't Be a Jerk: And Other Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan's Greatest Zen Master - A Radical but Reverent Paraphrasing of Dogen's Treasury of the True Dharma Eye)
One may explain water, but the mouth will not become wet. One may expound fully on the nature of fire, but the mouth will not become hot.
Takuan Soho (The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman)
Regarding the creative: never assume you're the master, only the student. Your audience will determine if you're masterful.
Don Roff
It does not matter what comes up. What matters is who you are, the one perceiving it.
Mooji (White Fire: Spiritual insights and teachings of advaita zen master Mooji)
A famous Japanese Zen master, Hakuun Yasutani Roshi, said that unless you can explain Zen in words that a fisherman will comprehend, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Some fifty years ago a UCLA professor told me the same thing about applied mathematics. We like to hide from the truth behind foreign-sounding words or mathematical lingo. There’s a saying: The truth is always encountered but rarely perceived. If we don’t perceive it, we can’t help ourselves and we can’t much help anyone else.
Jeff Bridges (The Dude and the Zen Master)
Doing one thing at a time” is how one Zen Master defined the essence of Zen. Doing one thing at a time means to be total in what you do, to give it your complete attention.This is surrendered action — empowered action.
Eckhart Tolle (Stillness Speaks)
Here's an example: someone says, "Master, please hand me the knife," and he hands them the knife, blade first. "Please give me the other end," he says. And the master replies, "What would you do with the other end?" This is answering an everyday matter in terms of the metaphysical. When the question is, "Master, what is the fundamental principle of Buddhism?" Then he replies, "There is enough breeze in this fan to keep me cool." That is answering the metaphysical in terms of the everyday, and that is, more or less, the principle zen works on. The mundane and the sacred are one and the same.
Alan W. Watts (What Is Zen?)
The right art," cried the Master, "is purposeless, aimless! The more obstinately you try to learn how to shoot the arrow for the sake of hitting the goal, the less you will succeed in the one and the further the other will recede. What stands in your way is that you have a much too willful will. You think that what you do not do yourself does not happen.
Eugen Herrigel
I was like an old leafless tree until we met green buds burst and blossom now that I have you I'll never forget what I owe you
Ikkyu (Crow With No Mouth: Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master)
If you follow the present-day world, you will turn your back on the Way; if you would not turn your back on the Way, do not follow the world.
Takuan Soho (The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman)
even before trees rocks I was nothing when I'm dead nowhere I'll be nothing
Ikkyu (Crow With No Mouth: Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master)
I don't tell the murky world to turn pure. I purify myself and check my reflection in the water of the valley brook.
Ryōkan (Sky Above, Great Wind: The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan)
I have lived with several Zen masters — all of them cats. Even ducks have taught me important spiritual lessons. Just watching them is a meditation.
Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment)
Every day Zuigan used to call out to himself, "Master!" and then he answered himself, "Yes, Sir!" And he added, "Awake, Awake!" and then answered, "Yes, Sir! Yes, Sir!" "From now onwards, do not be deceived by others!" "No, Sir! I will not, Sir!"
Wumen Huikai (The Gateless Gate)
1. A Cup of Tea Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), recieved a university professor who came to inqure about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he could no longer restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!" "Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your up?
Nyogen Senzaki
Those who regard worldly affairs as a hindrance to buddha dharma think only that there is no buddha dharma in the secular world; they do not understand that there is no secular world in buddha dharma.
Dōgen (Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen's Shobo Genzo)
You’ve got to take care of yourself on the path, not just when you cross the goal line, because don’t forget, wherever you are, that’s the goal line.
Jeff Bridges (The Dude and the Zen Master)
It is the very mind itself That leads the mind astray; Of the mind, Do not be mindless.
Takuan Soho (The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman)
The object of Zen is not to kill all feelings and become anesthetized to pain and fear. The object of Zen is to free us to scream loudly and fully when it is time to scream.
Francis Harold Cook (How to Raise an Ox: Zen Practice as Taught in Zen Master Dogen's Shobogenzo, Including Ten Newly Translated Essays)
You listen to people, you listen so deeply that you can hear their past lives, The crackle of their funeral pyres,
Dick Allen (Zen Master Poems)
How could we discuss this and that without knowing the whole world is reflected in a single pearl?
Ryōkan (Sky Above, Great Wind: The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan)
I don't regard my life as insufficient. Inside the brushwood gate there is a moon; there are flowers.
Ryōkan (Sky Above, Great Wind: The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan)
A recently deceased American Zen master and navy veteran, John Daido Loori, used to say that those who think Buddhism is just about stillness end up sitting very silently up to their necks in their own shit.
Mark Epstein (The Trauma of Everyday Life)
Taking it all in all, Zen is emphatically a matter of personal experience; if anything can be called radically empirical, it is Zen. No amount of reading, no amount of teaching, no amount of contemplation will ever make one a Zen master. Life itself must be grasped in the midst of its flow; to stop it for examination and analysis is to kill it, leaving its cold corpse to be embraced.
D.T. Suzuki (An Introduction to Zen Buddhism)
sometimes all I am is dark emptiness I can't hide in the sleeves of my own robes
Ikkyu (Crow With No Mouth: Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master)
all the bad things I do will go up in smoke and so will I
Ikkyu (Crow With No Mouth: Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master)
The sage sees only the Self. The person sees lots of persons. One sees from wholeness, one sees from fragmentation. Both are you.
Mooji (White Fire: Spiritual insights and teachings of advaita zen master Mooji)
As the Japanese Zen masters say, “Don’t seek the truth; just drop your opinions.
Anthony de Mello (Awareness)
9. The Moon Cannot Be Stolen Ryokan, a Zen master, lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of the mountain. One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing in it to steal. Ryokan returned and caught him. "You may have come a long way to visit me," he told the prowler, "and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift." Ryokan sat naked, watching the moon. "Poor fellow," he mused, "I wish I could give him this beautiful moon.
Nyogen Senzaki
A great Zen master said just before he died, "From the bathtub, to the bathtub, I have uttered stuff and nonsense." The bathtub in which the baby is washed at birth, the bathtub in which the corpse is washed before burial, all this time I have said much nonsense.
Alan W. Watts (The Tao of Philosophy: The Edited Transcripts (The Love of Wisdom Library))
We took a bus to the nearby monastery of one of the last great Tang dynasty Chan masters, Yun-men. Yun-men was known for his pithy “one word” Zen. When asked “What is the highest teaching of the Buddha?” he replied: “An appropriate statement.” On another occasion, he answered: “Cake.” I admired his directness.
Stephen Batchelor (Confession of a Buddhist Atheist)
Roy had communicated, days earlier, to the Zen master that I was a drunk - unreliable - either faint-hearted or vicious - therefore during the cerimony, don't ask Bukowski for the rings because Bukowski might not be there. or he might loose the rings, or vomit, or loose Bukowski
Charles Bukowski (Tales of Ordinary Madness)
Being alive, you have to do something. Not doing anything is also some kind of action.
Jeff Bridges (The Dude and the Zen Master)
If someone asks about the mind of this monk, say it is no more than a passage of wind in the vast sky.
Ryōkan (Sky Above, Great Wind: The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan)
Some people say you have to work with everything, but there’s a time and a place. If it feels like a knot, wait. It will come up again when you and the universe are ready.
Jeff Bridges (The Dude and the Zen Master)
Everything is true in some sense, false in some sense, and meaningless in another sense.
Camden Benares (Zen Without Zen Masters)
The Buddha is found in other people - even the ones we do not like very much.
Francis Harold Cook (How to Raise an Ox: Zen Practice as Taught in Zen Master Dogen's Shobogenzo, Including Ten Newly Translated Essays)
Sam Keen points out that Zen masters spend years to reach an enlightenment that every natural child already knows—the total incarnation of sleeping when you’re tired and eating when you’re hungry. What irony that this state of Zen-like bliss is programmatically and systematically destroyed.
John Bradshaw (Homecoming: Reclaiming and Healing Your Inner Child)
Thus a person can be a Buddha one minute and a jackass three minutes later. You don't just become Buddha at the moment of your first enlightenment experience and then stay Buddha forever.
Brad Warner (Don't Be a Jerk: And Other Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan's Greatest Zen Master)
One famous Zen master actually described spiritual practice as “one mistake after another,” which is to say, one opportunity after another to learn. It is from “difficulties, mistakes, and errors” that we actually learn. To live life is to make a succession of errors. Understanding this can bring us great ease and forgiveness for ourselves and others—we are at ease with the difficulties of life.
Jack Kornfield (A Path With Heart: The Classic Guide Through The Perils And Promises Of Spiritual Life)
If you would know a man’s good and evil points, you should know the underlings and retainers he loves and employs, and the friends with whom he mixes intimately. If the lord is not correct, none of his friends and retainers will be correct.
Takuan Soho (The Unfettered Mind: Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master)
One day a man of the people said to Zen Master Ikkyu: “Master, will you please write for me some maxims of the highest wisdom?” Ikkyu immediately took his brush and wrote the word “Attention.” “Is that all?” asked the man. “Will you not add something more?” Ikkyu then wrote twice running: “Attention. Attention.” “Well,” remarked the man rather irritably, “I really don’t see much depth or subtlety in what you have just written.” Then Ikkyu wrote the same word three times running: “Attention. Attention. Attention.” Half angered, the man demanded: “What does that word ‘Attention’ mean anyway?” And Ikkyu answered gently: “Attention means attention.”11
Roshi P. Kapleau (The Three Pillars of Zen)
Whatever the tasks, do them slowly and with ease, in mindfulness. Don’t do any task in order to get it over with. Resolve to do each job in a relaxed way, with all your attention. Enjoy and be one with your work. Without this, the day of mindfulness will be of no value at all. The feeling that any task is a nuisance will soon disappear if it is done in mindfulness. Take the example of the Zen Masters. No matter what task or motion they undertake, they do it slowly and evenly, without reluctance.
Thich Nhat Hanh (The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation)
Meditation begins now, right here. It can't begin someplace else or at some other time. To paraphrase the great Zen master Dogen, "If you want to practice awareness, then practice awareness without delay." If you wish to know a mind that is tranquil and clear, sane and peaceful, you must take it up now. If you wish to free yourself from the frantic television mind that runs our lives, begin with the intention to be present now. Nobody can bring awareness to your life but you. Meditation is not a self-help program--a way to better ourselves so we can get what we want. Nor is it a way to relax before jumping back into busyness. It's not something to do once in awhile, either, whenever you happen to feel like it. Instead, meditation is a practice that saturates your life and in time can be brought into every activity. It is the transformation of mind from bondage to freedom. In practicing meditation, we go nowhere other than right here where we now stand, where we now sit, where we now live and breathe. In meditation we return to where we already are--this shifting, changing ever-present now. If you wish to take up meditation, it must be now or never.
Steve Hagen (Meditation Now or Never)
if you’re going to wait to get all the information you think you need before you act, you’ll never act because there’s an infinite amount of information out there.
Jeff Bridges (The Dude and the Zen Master)
You can master tantric yogic poly-orgasmic Wonder Sex but you're still gonna die alone.
Brad Warner (Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies and the Truth about Reality)
To follow the path: look to the master, follow the master, walk with the master, see through the master, become the master.
Zen
A master who cannot bow to his disciple cannot bow to Buddha.
Shunryu Suzuki (Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind)
Emptiness is bound to bloom, like hundreds of grasses blossoming.
Eihei Dogen Sky Flowers (Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen)
here I am simply trying to get into your head you think you were born you die what a pity
Ikkyu (Crow With No Mouth: Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master)
for us no difference between reading eating singing making love not one thing or the other
Ikkyu (Crow With No Mouth: Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master)
ten dumb years I wanted things to be different furious proud I still feel it
Ikkyu (Crow With No Mouth: Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master)
Once upon a time, there was a Zen sign at every small railway crossing in America Stop. Look. And listen.
Dick Allen (Zen Master Poems)
Attempting to understand consciousness with your mind is like trying to illuminate the sun with a candle.
Mooji (White Fire: Spiritual Insights and Teachings of Advaita Zen Master Mooji)
No matter how compelling or beautiful they may be, words appeal in the main to the linear, thinking mind that thinks in words.
Dōgen (The Essential Dogen: Writings of the Great Zen Master)
One master defines Zen as the art of feeling the polar star in the southern sky. Truth can be reached only through the comprehension of opposites.
Kakuzō Okakura (The Book of Tea)
I slipped it into your papers to see if you would notice.” The Zen master Ikkyu was once asked to write a distillation of the highest wisdom. He wrote only one word: Attention.
Jenny Offill (Dept. of Speculation (Vintage Contemporaries))
Enlightenment is when a wave realizes it is the ocean.” THICH NHAT HANH, ZEN MASTER
A. Helwa (Secrets of Divine Love: A Spiritual Journey into the Heart of Islam)
little absent from everything in the way of a Zen Master actually who realizes that everything is indifferent anyway,
Jack Kerouac (Big Sur (Annotated))
As the Zen master Suzuki Roshi put it, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.
Pema Chödrön (The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times (Shambhala Classics))
And the question of Wester religion,” Flattery said, “is: What lies beyond death? But the question of the Zen master is: What lies beyond waking?
Frank Herbert (Destination: Void)
These belief systems have to be dropped. Then understanding arises; then readiness to explore, then innocence, arises. Then you are surrounded by a sense of mystery, awe, wonder. Then life is no longer a known thing, it is an adventure. It is so mysterious that you can go on exploring; there is no end to it. And you never create any belief, you remain in a state of not-knowing. On that not-knowing state Sufis insist very much, and so do Zen masters.
Osho (Intuition: Knowing Beyond Logic)
5. If You Love, Love Openly Twenty monks and one nun, who was named Eshun, were practicing meditation with a certain Zen master. Eshun was very pretty even though her head was shaved and her dress plain. Several monks secretly fell in love with her. One of them wrote her a love letter, insisting upon a private meeting. Eshun did not reply. The following day the master gave a lecture to the group, and when it was over, Eshun arose. Addressing the one who had written her, she said: "If you really love me so much, come and embrace me now.
Nyogen Senzaki
In Christianity we seem to be too conscious of God, though we say that in him we live and move and have our being. Zen wants to have this last trace of God-consciousness, if possible, obliterated. That is why Zen masters advise us not to linger where the Buddha is, and to pass quickly away where he is not.
D.T. Suzuki (An Introduction to Zen Buddhism)
Imagine two astronauts go to the moon, and while they’re there, there’s an accident and their ship can’t take them back to Earth. They have only enough oxygen for two days. There is no hope of someone coming from Earth in time to rescue them. They have only two days to live. If you were to ask them at that moment, “What is your deepest wish?” they would answer, “To be back home walking on our beautiful planet Earth.” That would be enough for them; they wouldn’t want anything else. They wouldn’t think of being the head of a large corporation, a famous celebrity, or the president of the United States. They wouldn’t want anything but to be back here—walking on Earth, enjoying every step, listening to the sounds of nature, or holding the hand of their beloved while contemplating the moon at night. We should live every day like people who have just been rescued from dying on the moon. We are on Earth now, and we need to enjoy walking on this precious, beautiful planet. Zen Master Linji said, “The miracle is not to walk on water or fire. The miracle is to walk on the earth.” I cherish that teaching. I enjoy just walking, even in busy places like airports and railway stations. Walking like that, with each step caressing our Mother Earth, we can inspire other people to do the same. We can enjoy every minute of our lives.
Thich Nhat Hanh (Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm)
Who can count how many lives we have tasted? Look at the stars. How old are they? And a star is not even sentient. You are sentient. How can you be less in age than a star? You don’t know at all. What you do know is that right now you exist and are here. All take this for granted. However, what should be known is what you are here as. And if what you are here as is clear, who knows this? You want to learn about so many things, but about yourself, you are not sure.
Mooji (White Fire: Spiritual insights and teachings of advaita zen master Mooji)
Absolute freedom comes when we make the choice to wake up and master our individual minds, bodies, hearts, and spirits. When we have this true freedom, we no longer act upon our impulsive thoughts or emotions. We gain the capability of controlling them within ourselves, which unlocks our greatest potential to create, transmute, and transcend the Mundane reality.
Alaric Hutchinson (Living Peace: Essential Teachings for Enriching Life)
Those who are extremely stupid think that women are merely the objects of sexual desire and treat women in this way. The Buddha’s children should not be like this. If we discriminate against women because we see them merely as objects of sexual desire, do we also discriminate against all men for the same reason?
Dōgen (The Essential Dogen: Writings of the Great Zen Master)
You imagine a didgeridoo vibrating on your stomach will heal all your bullshit. So we fancy all this stuff, but the Truth we don’t give a second glance—it’s far too simple and effortless for your complex mind.
Mooji (White Fire: Spiritual Insights and Teachings of Advaita Zen Master Mooji)
Each person is born with an unencumbered spot, free of expectation and regret, free of ambition and embarrassment, free of fear and worry; an umbilical spot of grace where we were each first touched by God. It is this spot of grace that issues peace. Psychologists call this spot the Psyche, Theologians call it the Soul, Jung calls it the Seat of the Unconscious, Hindu masters call it Atman, Buddhists call it Dharma, Rilke calls it Inwardness, Sufis call it Qalb, and Jesus calls it the Center of our Love. To know this spot of Inwardness is to know who we are, not by surface markers of identity, not by where we work or what we wear or how we like to be addressed, but by feeling our place in relation to the Infinite and by inhabiting it. This is a hard lifelong task, for the nature of becoming is a constant filming over of where we begin, while the nature of being is a constant erosion of what is not essential. Each of us lives in the midst of this ongoing tension, growing tarnished or covered over, only to be worn back to that incorruptible spot of grace at our core. When the film is worn through, we have moments of enlightenment, moments of wholeness, moments of Satori as the Zen sages term it, moments of clear living when inner meets outer, moments of full integrity of being, moments of complete Oneness. And whether the film is a veil of culture, of memory, of mental or religious training, of trauma or sophistication, the removal of that film and the restoration of that timeless spot of grace is the goal of all therapy and education. Regardless of subject matter, this is the only thing worth teaching: how to uncover that original center and how to live there once it is restored. We call the filming over a deadening of heart, and the process of return, whether brought about through suffering or love, is how we unlearn our way back to God
Mark Nepo (Unlearning Back To God: Essays On Inwardness, 1985 2005)
Don’t worry about anything in this world and your eyes shine bright again. Your heart becomes open, clear and pure. Trust. As you move, Grace goes ahead of you. Even before you take your first step, she is there with you and walks with you along the way. Therefore, lay down your arms. Lay down all your techniques and your efforts so that you may discover the effortless silence. Know that the whole universe is supporting your awakening. Neither doubt nor fear. All is well. Take rest. Find and feel your Heart again.
Mooji (White Fire: Spiritual Insights and Teachings of Advaita Zen Master Mooji)
In my hometown, there are two brothers with contrary characters. One is clever and eloquent, the other is foolish and silent. The foolish one seems to have all the time in the world. The clever one is always busy depleting his life.
Ryōkan (Sky Above, Great Wind: The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan)
Zen means putting it all down, cutting off all thinking, and returning to your pure and clear original nature.
Seung Sahn (Wanting Enlightenment Is a Big Mistake: Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn)
Appreciate the struggles as opportunities to wake up.
Jeff Bridges (The Dude and the Zen Master)
It’s like what Miles Davis says: “Don’t worry about mistakes, there aren’t any.
Jeff Bridges (The Dude and the Zen Master)
Our actions are part of who we are. It's not that we are inert things who do stuff. Rather, the stuff we do and who we are are inextricably woven together.
Brad Warner (Don't Be a Jerk: And Other Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan's Greatest Zen Master)
Like the sun illuminating and refreshing the world, this sitting removes obscurities from the mind and lightens the body so that exhaustion is set aside.
Dōgen (The Essential Dogen: Writings of the Great Zen Master)
The great master is within you.
Vernon Kitabu Turner (Soul Sword: The Way and Mind of a Zen Warrior)
... the Master's warning that we should not practice anything except self-detaching immersion.
Eugen Herrigel (Zen in the Art of Archery)
Not-being-a-jerk means this and that are done, and now you gotta do the other thing. It’s an ongoing process. Haku
Brad Warner (Don't Be a Jerk: And Other Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan's Greatest Zen Master - A Radical but Reverent Paraphrasing of Dogen's Treasury of the True Dharma Eye)
cut off everything from everything stand here the soles of your feet the ground your brain in the black nothing between
Ikkyu (Crow With No Mouth: Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master)
Although it does not mindfully keep guard, In the small mountain fields the scarecrow does not stand in vain.
Takuan Soho (The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman)
Consistent or inconsistent, no one is exempt from the mystery of the self. Probably we are all inconsistent. The world is just too complicated for a person to be able to afford the luxury of reconciling all of his beliefs with each other. Tension and confusion are important in a world where many decisions must be made quickly. Miguel de Unamuno once said, 'If a person never contradicts himself, it must be that he says nothing.' I would say that we all are in the same boast as the Zen master who, after contradicting himself several times in a row, said to the confused Doko, 'I cannot understand myself.'.
Douglas R. Hofstadter (Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid)
Many experts lose the creativity and imagination of the less informed. They are so intimately familiar with known patterns that they may fail to recognize or respect the importance of the new wrinkle. The process of applying expertise is, after all, the editing out of unimportant details in favor of those known to be relevant. Zen master, Shunryu Suzuki said, “The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt, and open to all the possibilities.
Gavin de Becker (The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence)
MY BOSS SENDS me home because of all the dried blood on my pants, and I am overjoyed. The hole punched through my cheek doesn’t ever heal. I’m going to work, and my punched-out eye sockets are two swollen-up black bagels around the little piss holes I have left to see through. Until today, it really pissed me off that I’d become this totally centered Zen Master and nobody had noticed. Still, I’m doing the little FAX thing. I write little HAIKU things and FAX them around to everyone. When I pass people in the hall at work, I get totally ZEN right in everyone’s hostile little FACE. Worker bees can leave Even drones can fly away The queen is their slave You give up all your worldly possessions and your car and go live in a rented house in the toxic waste part of town where late at night, you can hear Marla and Tyler in his room, calling each other hum; butt wipe. Take it, human butt wipe. Do it, butt wipe. Choke it down. Keep it down, baby. Just by contrast, this makes me the calm little center of the world. Me, with my punched-out eyes and dried blood in big black crusty stains on my pants, I’m saying HELLO to everybody at work. HELLO! Look at me. HELLO! I am so ZEN. This is BLOOD. This is NOTHING. Hello. Everything is nothing, and it’s so cool to be ENLIGHTENED. Like me. Sigh. Look. Outside the window. A bird. My boss asked if the blood was my blood. The bird flies downwind. I’m writing a little haiku in my head. Without just one nest A bird can call the world home Life is your career I’m counting on my fingers: five, seven, five. The blood, is it mine? Yeah, I say. Some of it. This is a wrong answer.
Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club)
nature. Take courage. Being free is neither difficult nor distant. I know it has often been conceived, perceived and presented to be rare, remote and difficult, but all that is delusion—a great seeming. I don’t know why awakening happens in one heart so completely and in another there is some delay or postponement. I am not deeply concerned about this. But I know that the voice that calls you is true, and where you are being called to is real and true. Heaven is inside your own heart. This is why I am here. I
Mooji (White Fire: Spiritual insights and teachings of advaita zen master Mooji)
We cannot replicate other people’s lives. We must each institute and broker a personalized meaning to our exclusive existence. We must each serve as our own Zen master, awaken to our inviolate personal truth, and strive to fulfill our sui generis (unique) nature.
Kilroy J. Oldster (Dead Toad Scrolls)
A student asked to his master: "You teach me fighting but you talk about peace. How do you reconcile the two?" The master replied: " It's better to be warrior in garden than to be a gardener in war.
zen master
The leprechaun, according to legend, can be forced to yield up its treasure if you can keep watching it without letting your attention wander for so much as a moment. This has so much in common with experiences in meditation that Zen masters in America use it as a metaphor for meditative practice. There’s an important lesson here: glamour is hardly limited to the realm of Faery. Most human beings live most of their lives under its spell, chasing after treasures that—like the golden coins in countless fairy tales—turn to dried leaves the moment one looks away.
John Michael Greer (Monsters: An Investigator's Guide to Magical Beings)
If you meet a fencing-master on the road, you may give him your sword, If you meet a poet, you may offer him your poem. When you meet others, say only a part of what you intend. Never give the whole thing at once.
Paul Reps (Writings from the Zen Masters (Penguin Great Ideas))
You have described only too well," replied the Master, "where the difficulty lies...The right shot at the right moment does not come because you do not let go of yourself. You...brace yourself for failure. So long as that is so, you have no choice but to call forth something yourself that ought to happen independently of you, and so long as you call it forth your hand will not open in the right way--like the hand of a child.
Eugen Herrigel
Whether pilgrim or wayfarer, while seeking to be taught the Truth (or something), the disciple learns only that there is nothing that anyone else can teach him. He learns, once he is willing to give up being taught, that he already knows how to live, that it is implied in his own tale. The secret is that there is no secret. Everything is just what it seems to be. This is it! There are no hidden meanings. Before he is enlightened, a man gets up each morning to spend the day tending his fields, returns home to eat his supper, goes to bed, makes love to his woman, and falls asleep. But once he has attained enlightenment, then a man gets up each morning to spend the day tending his fields, returns home to eat his supper, goes to bed, makes love to his woman, and falls asleep. The Zen way to see the truth is through your everyday eyes.2 It is only the heartless questioning of life-as-it-is that ties a man in knots. A man does not need an answer in order to find peace. He needs only to surrender to his existence, to cease the needless, empty questioning. The secret of enlightenment is when you are hungry, eat; and when you are tired, sleep. The Zen Master warns: “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!” This admonition points up that no meaning that comes from outside of ourselves is real. The Buddhahood of each of us has already been obtained. We need only recognize it. Philosophy, religion, patriotism, all are empty idols. The only meaning in our lives is what we each bring to them. Killing the Buddha on the road means destroying the hope that anything outside of ourselves can be our master. No one is any bigger than anyone else. There are no mothers or fathers for grown-ups, only sisters and brothers.
Sheldon B. Kopp (If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients)
We are all part of a universal game. Returning to our essence while living in the world is the object of the game. The earth is the game board, and we are the pieces on the board. We move around and around until we remember who we really are, and then we can be taken off the board. At that point, we are no longer the game-piece, but the player; we've won the game.
Kenny Werner (Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within)
Activities such as chanting, bowing, and sitting in zazen are not at all wasted, even when done merely formally, for even this superficial encounter with the Dharma will have some wholesome outcome at a later time. However, it must be said in the most unambiguous terms that this is not real Zen. To follow the Dharma involves a complete reorientation of one's life in such a way that one's activities are manifestations of, and are filled with, a deeper meaning. If it were not otherwise, and merely sitting in zazen were enough, every frog in the pond would be enlightened, as one Zen master said. Dōgen Zenji himself said that one must practice Zen with the attitude of a person trying to extinguish a fire in his hair. That is, Zen must be practiced with an attitude of single-minded urgency.
Francis Harold Cook (How to Raise an Ox: Zen Practice as Taught in Zen Master Dogen's Shobogenzo, Including Ten Newly Translated Essays)
Long ago a monk asked an old master, “When hundreds, thousands, or myriads of objects come all at once, what should be done?” The master replied, “Don’t try to control them” What he means is that in whatever way objects come, do not try to change them. Whatever comes is the buddha-dharma, not objects at all. Do not understand the master’s reply as merely a brilliant admonition, but realize that it is the truth. Even if you try to control what comes, it cannot be controlled.
Dōgen (Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen)
There is a simple way to become a buddha: When you refrain from unwholesome actions, are not attached to birth and death, and are compassionate toward all sentient beings, respectful to seniors and kind to juniors, not excluding or desiring anything, with no thoughts or worries, you will be called a buddha. Seek nothing else.
Dōgen (The Essential Dogen: Writings of the Great Zen Master)
To other scientists, the scientist who corrects a colleague’s error, or cites good reasons for seriously doubting his or her conclusions, performs a noble deed, like a Zen master who boxes the ears of a novice straying from the meditative path, although scientists correct one another more as equals than as master and student.
Neil deGrasse Tyson (Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution)
Dōgen Zenji said, “To look for the Buddha dharma outside of yourself is like putting a devil on top of yourself.” Master Rinzai said, “Place no head above your own.” That is, to look outside of ourselves for true peace and satisfaction is hopeless.
Charlotte Joko Beck (Everyday Zen)
Dogen’s teaching: We practice because we do not yet know who or what we are. But as a result of many causes, including the suffering we experience and the longing engendered by that suffering, we aspire to know. That aspiration leads many people to begin the practice of zazen. Dogen expressed this beautifully when he said, “Wisdom is seeking wisdom.” Perhaps we might paraphrase and say that wholeness is seeking wholeness, self is seeking self.
Dōgen (The Essential Dogen: Writings of the Great Zen Master)
One of the first requisites of a tea-master is the knowledge of how to sweep, clean, and wash, for there is an art in cleaning and dusting.
Kakuzō Okakura (The Book of Tea)
All this is nothing but space to be danced in. There's no need to feel harnessed or limited in any way . . . When the Dude is not in, life just blossoms.
Jeff Bridges (The Dude and the Zen Master)
Always maintain a joyful mind. Appreciate the struggles as opportunities to wake up.
Jeff Bridges (The Dude and the Zen Master)
unless you can explain Zen in words that a fisherman will comprehend, you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Jeff Bridges (The Dude and the Zen Master)
the word happiness comes from to happen.
Jeff Bridges (The Dude and the Zen Master)
In some way, my saying that I’m not here now feels sort of like an acknowledgment that I am here now, only feeling that I’m not.
Jeff Bridges (The Dude and the Zen Master)
We freeze up because we expect a certain result or because we want things to be perfect.
Bernie Glassman (The Dude and the Zen Master)
True wisdom is not borrowed knowledge it must be based on my own experience. That which I learn from others is memory, not wisdom
Beopjeong (Meditations of a Zen Master)
Ah, the toilet is through that first door on your right.
Zen Master Avatar Prem Anadi Bunny Rabbit The Third garden-variety (Zen Master Avatar Prem Anadi Bunny Rabbit The Third Gives Violin Lessons)
Golf can't be taught, it can only be learned.
Joseph Parent (Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game)
And that's what separates the pros from the hobbyists, the ability to create when you don't feel like creating. The ability to "master their disinclination".
Gavin Aung Than (Zen Pencils: Creative Struggle)
Mastering my mind one thought at a time.
Nikki Rowe
If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.
Sati Dhamma (Quotes & Sayings from Buddhist Masters: Buddha, Thich Nhat Hanh, Dalai-Lama, Bhikkhu Bodhi…: Buddhist Meditation for Inner Peace from The Tibetan, Zen ... Thich Nhat Hanh, Dalai Lama, Zen Book 1))
Once upon a time an academic scientist went to visit a Zen Master, famous for being very wise. After greeting the scholar, the master offered him tea. As they sat together, the monk began to pour the tea into the scholar's cup. He poured until the tea overflowed onto the saucer, then the table and finally onto the floor. When the scholar could not stand it any more, he blurted out: "Stop, stop, can't you see the cup is full?" To which the Zen Master replied: "Yes, I can, and until your mind is empty, you will not hear what I have to say.
Jeffrey Armstrong (God the Astrologer: Soul, Karma, and Reincarnation: How We Continually Create Our Own Destiny)
In the words of Chinese Zen master Layman P’ang (c. 740–808 A.D.): My daily affairs are quite ordinary; but I’m in total harmony with them. I don’t hold on to anything, don’t reject anything; nowhere an obstacle or conflict. Who cares about wealth and honor? Even the poorest thing shines. My miraculous power and spiritual activity: drawing water and carrying wood.
George Leonard (Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment)
I said that if you attain your true self, then if you die in one hour, in one day, or in one month, it is no problem. If you only do “fixing-your-body” meditation, you will mostly be concerned with your body. But some day, when it’s time for your body to die, this meditation will not help, so you will not believe in it. This means it is not correct meditation. If you do correct meditation, being sick sometimes is OK; suffering sometimes is OK; dying someday is OK. The Buddha said, “If you keep a clear mind moment to moment, then you will get happiness everywhere.
Seung Sahn (Only Don't Know: Selected Teaching Letters of Zen Master Seung Sahn)
Someone once asked me, “Soen Sa Nim, do you believe in God?” I said, “Of course!” The person was very shocked. “You are a Zen teacher. How can you possibly believe in God?” “I believe my eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind—why not believe everything? I believe this green tree, the blue sky, a barking dog, the smell of incense—why not believe in Buddha or God?” So, you can believe in everything. Believing in everything means realizing that you and everything are never separate.
Seung Sahn (The Compass of Zen (Shambhala Dragon Editions))
Once Seung Sahn Soen-sa and a student of his attended a talk at a Zen center in California. The Dharma teacher spoke about Bodhidharma. After the talk, someone asked him "What's the difference between Bodhidharma's sitting in Sorim for nine years and your sitting here now?" The Dharma teacher said, "About five thousand miles." The questioner said, "Is that all?" The Dharma teacher said, "Give or take a few miles." Later on, Soen-sa asked his student, "What do you think of these answers?" "Not bad, not good. But the dog runs after the bone." "How would you answer?" "I'd say, 'Why do you make a difference?' " Soen-sa said, "Not bad. Now you ask me." "What's the difference between Bodhidharma's sitting in Sorim for nine years and your sitting here now?" "Don't you know?" "I'm listening." "Bodhidharma sat in Sorim for nine years. I am sitting here now." The student smiled.
Seung Sahn (Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn)
In general, I call her every night, and we talk for an hour, which is forty-five minutes of me, and fifteen minutes of her stirring her tea, which she steeps with the kind of Zen patience that would make Buddhists sit up in envy and then breathe through their envy and then move past their envy.
Aimee Bender (The Color Master: Stories)
Consistent or inconsistent, no one is exempt from the mystery of the self. Probably we are all inconsistent. Te world is just too complicated for a person to be able to afford the luxury of reconciling all of his beliefs with each other. Tension and confusion are important in a world where many decisions must be made quickly. Miguel de Unamuno once said, 'If a person never contradicts himself, it must be that he says nothing.' I would say that we all are in the same boast as the Zen master who, after contradicting himself several times in a row, said to the confused Doko, 'I cannot understand myself.
Douglas R. Hofstadter (Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid)
The essence of your mind is not born, so it will never die. It is not an existence, which is perishable. It is not an emptiness, which is a mere void. It has neither colour nor form. It enjoys no pleasures and suffers no pains. I know you are very ill. Like a good Zen student, you are facing that sickness squarely. You may not know exactly who is suffering, but question yourself: What is the essence of this mind? Think only of this. You will need no more. Covet nothing. Your end which is endless is as a snowflake dissolving in pure air.
Bassui Takusho
We are the expression of millions of prior circumstances that have all come together to shape us in the present moment. Our economic and social background, our past associations and conversations, our culture, our family history, our genetics—they’ve all had a profound role in creating the person we are today. Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn calls this “interbeing.” If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud there will be no water; without water, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, you cannot make paper. So the cloud is in here. The existence of this page is dependent upon the existence of a cloud. Paper and cloud are so close.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
What is good, what is bad? Who makes good, who makes bad? They cling to their opinions with all their might. But everybody's opinion is different. How can you say that your opinion is correct and somebody else's is wrong? This is delusion.
Stephen Mitchell (Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn)
I am reminded of the story of the man who visits a Zen master. The man asks, “What truths can you teach me?” The master replies, “Do you like tea?” The man nods his head, and the master pours him a cup of tea. The cup fills and the tea spills. Still the master pours. The man, of course, protests, and the master responds, “Return to me when you are empty.” The lesson here is that we need to empty ourselves of our preconceived beliefs in order to be open to a broader, more complex reality.
Susan Scott (Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time)
When everything exists within your big mind, all dualistic relationships drop away. There is no distinction between heaven and earth, man and woman, teacher and disciple. Sometimes a man bows to a woman; sometimes a woman bows to a man. Sometimes the disciple bows to the master; sometimes the master bows to the disciple... In your big mind, everything has the same value.
Shunryu Suzuki (Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice)
When analytic thought, the knife, is applied to experience, something is always killed in the process. That is fairly well understood, at least in the arts. Mark Twain’s experience comes to mind, in which, after he had mastered the analytic knowledge needed to pilot the Mississippi River, he discovered the river had lost its beauty. Something is always killed. But what is less noticed in the arts—something is always created too. And instead of just dwelling on what is killed it’s important also to see what’s created and to see the process as a kind of death-birth continuity that is neither good nor bad, but just is.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
These six are equal to the following statement from the Avatamsaka Sutra: ‘If you wish to thoroughly understand all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future, then you should view the nature of the whole universe as being created by the mind alone.
Stephen Mitchell (Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn)
It’s like chopping down a huge tree of immense girth. You won’t accomplish it with one swing of your axe. If you keep chopping away at it, though, and do not let up, eventually, whether it wants to or not, it will suddenly topple down. When that time comes, you could round up everyone you could find and pay them to hold the tree up, but they wouldn’t be able to do it. It would still come crashing to the ground…. But if the woodcutter stopped after one or two strokes of his axe to ask the third son of Mr. Chang, “Why doesn’t this tree fall?” And after three or four more strokes stopped again to ask the fourth son of Mr. Li, “Why doesn’t this tree fall?” he would never succeed in felling the tree. It is no different for someone who is practicing the Way. —ZEN MASTER HAKUIN
Robert Greene (Mastery (The Robert Greene Collection))
Thomas Merton, of course, constitutes a special threat to Christians, because he presents himself as a contemplative Christian monk, and his work has already affected the vitals of Roman Catholicism, its monasticism. Shortly before his death, Father Merton wrote an appreciative introduction to a new translation of the Bhagavad Gita, which is the spiritual manual or “Bible” of all Hindus, and one of the foundation blocks of monism or Advaita Vedanta. The Gita, it must be remembered, opposes almost every important teaching of Christianity. His book on the Zen Masters, published posthumously, is also noteworthy, because the entire work is based on a treacherous mistake: the assumption that all the so-called “mystical experiences” in every religion are true. He should have known better.
Seraphim Rose (Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future)
But sitting is not something that we do for a year or two with the idea of mastering it. Sitting is something we do for a lifetime. There is no end to the opening up that is possible for a human being. Eventually we see that we are the limitless, boundless ground of the universe. Our job for the rest of our life is to open up into that immensity and to express it. Having more and more contact with this reality always brings compassion for others and changes our daily life. We live differently, work differently, relate to people differently. Zen is a lifelong study. It isn’t just sitting on a cushion for thirty or forty minutes a day. Our whole life becomes practice, twenty-four hours a day.
Charlotte Joko Beck (Everyday Zen)
Ordinary man to Zen Master Ikkyu: ‘‘Master, please write the maxims exemplifying the highest wisdom.’’ Ikkyu immediately writes the ideogram ‘‘Attention,’’ with his brush. The man asks, ‘‘Will you please add something more?’’ Ikkyu now writes, twice: ‘‘Attention. Attention.’’ The man remarks, with an edge, ‘‘There’s really not much depth or subtlety here.’’ Ikkyu then writes the same ideogram three times: ‘‘Attention. Attention. Attention.’’ The man now demands: ‘‘What does that word ‘Attention’ mean, anyway?’’ Ikkyu replies: ‘‘Attention means attention.
James H. Austin (On the Varieties of Attention: A BIT of Selfless Insight (MIT Press BITS))
Behind the cool mask of bravado, past the one-way mirror of his mind, underneath the rock-solid layers of self-control, in the Zen garden that was Master Sewer’s soul, a high-pitched anxiety fart rustled through the still leaves. If farts could talk, this one would have said, “Damn coppers!
Sorin Suciu (The Scriptlings)
You had to suffer shipwreck through your own efforts before you were ready to seize the lifebelt he threw you. Believe me, I know from my own experience that the Master knows you and each of his pupils much better than we know ourselves. He reads in the souls of his pupils more than they care to admit.
Eugen Herrigel (Zen in the Art of Archery)
We have much to beg forgiveness for,” Annys said. For once her expression was soft, her hawk-like eyes downcast.“We all do,” I said, “if not for this, than something else.”“That's very… Zen of you,” Master Dogan said. I laughed. “Don't get used to it. I'm pretty sure it's a near-death thing and will pass, but let's enjoy it while we can.
Christina Garner (Gateway (The Gateway Trilogy, #1))
I notice that when I’m generous, accepting, and loving toward myself, all that’s reflected out into the world. The more I cut myself slack, the more I don’t judge myself for not being other than I am, the more I’m aware of who I am, see it, honor it, and respect it, the more I do all those things for others. I push them less and I respect their different rhythms.
Jeff Bridges (The Dude and the Zen Master)
Zen master is not trying to give you ideas about life; he is trying to give you life itself, to make you realize life in and around you, to make you live it instead of being a mere spectator, a mere pedant absorbed in the dry bones of something which the life has long deserted. A symphony is not explained by a mathematical analysis of its notes; the mystery of a woman’s beauty is not revealed by a postmortem dissection; and no one ever understood the wonder of a bird on the wing by stuffing it and putting it in a glass case. To understand these things, you must live and move with them as they are alive. The same is true of the universe: no amount of intellectual analysis will explain it, for philosophy and science can only reveal its mechanism, never its meaning or, as the Chinese say, its Tao. “What is the Tao?” A Zen master answers, “Usual life is the very Tao.” “How does one bring oneself into accord with it?” “If you try to accord with it, you will get away from it.” For to imagine that there is a “you” separate from life which somehow has to accord with life is to fall straight into the trap.
Alan W. Watts (Become What You Are)
When we talk about the theology of 'God is Dead,' this means that the notion of God must be dead in order for God to reveal himself as a reality. The theologians, if they only use concepts, and not direct experience, are not very helpful. The same goes for nirvana, which is something to be touched and lived and not discussed and described. We have notions that distort truth, reality. A Zen master said the following to a large assembly: 'My friends, every time I use the word Buddha, I suffer. I am allergic to it. Every time I do it, I have to go to the bathroom and rinse my mouth three times in succession.' He said this in order to help his disciples not to get caught up in the notion of Buddha. The Buddha is one thing, but the notion of Buddha is another.
Thich Nhat Hanh (True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart)
We feel that our actions are voluntary when they follow a decision, and involuntary when they happen without decision. But if decision itself were voluntary, every decision would have to be preceded by a decision to decide–an infinite regression which fortunately does not occur. Oddly enough, if we had to decide to decide, we would not be free to decide. We are free to decide because decision “happens.” We just decide without having the faintest understanding of how we do it. In fact, it is neither voluntary nor involuntary. To “get the feel” of this relativity is to find another extraordinary transformation of our experience as a whole, which may be described in either of two ways. I feel that I am deciding everything that happens, or, I feel that everything, including my decisions, is just happening spontaneously. For a decision–the freest of my actions-just happens like hiccups inside me or like a bird singing outside me. Such a way of seeing things is vividly described by a modern Zen master, the late Sokei-an Sasaki: One day I wiped out all the notions from my mind. I gave up all desire. I discarded all the words with which I thought and stayed in quietude. I felt a little queer–as if I were being carried into something, or as if I were touching some power unknown to me … and Ztt! I entered. I lost the boundary of my physical body. I had my skin, of course, but I felt I was standing in the center of the cosmos. I spoke, but my words had lost their meaning. I saw people coming towards me, but all were the same man. All were myself! I had never known this world. I had believed that I was created, but now I must change my opinion: I was never created; I was the cosmos; no individual Mr. Sasaki existed.7 It would seem, then, that to get rid of the subjective distinction between “me” and “my experience”–through seeing that my idea of myself is not myself–is to discover the actual relationship between myself and the “outside” world. The individual, on the one hand, and the world, on the other, are simply the abstract limits or terms of a concrete reality which is “between” them, as the concrete coin is “between” the abstract, Euclidean surfaces of its two sides. Similarly, the reality of all “inseparable opposites”–life and death, good and evil, pleasure and pain, gain and loss–is that “between” for which we have no words.
Alan W. Watts (The Way of Zen)
Zen Buddhism, for example, as practiced by Suzuki, the excellent Japanese mystic, has nothing to do with the superstitious and predjudiced Buddhism that infested Asia for centuries. Sufism, as boasted by the subtle Gurdjeff, totally differs from the Islamism that shouts death to the “infidels.” The doctrine of Vivekananda, inspired by his master Ramakrishna, is nothing like the Hinduism that suffocated India for centures of superstious and stupid passivity; the noble mysticism of Martin Buber, the Jewish philosopher, is nothing like the bloody cultural narrowness and tribal elitism of the mosaic orthodoxy.
Marcelo Ramos Motta
[Once Ummon asked a lesser light Are you a gardener> Yes it replied Why have turnips no roots> Ummon asked the gardener who could not reply Because said Ummon rainwater is plentiful] I think about this for a moment. Ummon’s koan is not difficult now that I am regaining the knack of listening for the shadow of substance beneath the words. The little Zen parable is Ummon’s way of saying, with some sarcasm, that the answer lies within science and within the antilogic which scientific answers so often provide. The rainwater comment answers everything and nothing, as so much of science has for so long. As Ummon and the other Masters teach, it explains why the giraffe evolved a long neck but never why the other animals did not. It explains why humankind evolved to intelligence, but not why the tree near the front gate refused to.
Dan Simmons (The Fall of Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #2))
When Dae Ju first came to Zen Master Ma-jo, the Master asked him, “What do you want from me?” Dae Ju said, “I want you to teach me the Dharma.” “What a fool you are!” said Ma-jo. “You have the greatest treasure in the world within you, and yet you go around asking other people for help. What good is this? I have nothing to give you.” Dae Ju bowed and said, “Please, Master, tell me what this treasure is.” Ma-jo said, “Where is your question coming from? This is your treasure. It is precisely what is making you ask the question at this very moment. Everything is stored in this precious treasure-house of yours. It is there at your disposal, you can use it as you wish, nothing is lacking. You are the master of everything. Why, then, are you running away from yourself and seeking for things outside?” Upon hearing these words, Dae Ju attained enlightenment.
Stephen Mitchell (Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn)
Desire and aspiration are two different things. The idea that you want to achieve something in Zen meditation is basically selfish. ‘I want to get enlightened’ means ‘I want to get enlightened.’ But aspiration is not for myself, it is not a merely individual desire, it transcends the idea of self. It is desire without attachment. If enlightenment comes, good. If enlightenment does not come, good. Actually, this is enlightenment.
Stephen Mitchell (Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn)
The falling of the leaves is the truth. The sweeping is the truth. The wind's blowing them away is the truth. The people's anger also is the truth. If your mind is moving, you can't understand the truth. You must first understand that form is emptiness, emptiness is form. Next, no form, no emptiness. Then you will understand that form is form, emptiness is emptiness. Then all these actions are the truth. And then you will find your true home.
Stephen Mitchell (Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn)
Kasan, a Zen teacher and monk, was to officiate at a funeral of a famous nobleman. As he stood there waiting for the governor of the province and other lords and ladies to arrive, he noticed that the palms of his hands were sweaty. The next day he called his disciples together and confessed he was not yet ready to be a true teacher. He explained to them that he still lacked the sameness of bearing before all human beings, whether beggar or king. He was still unable to look through social roles and conceptual identities and see the sameness of being in every human. He then left and became the pupil of another master. He returned to his former disciples eight years later, enlightened.
Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose)
Virtuous man, contrived conceptualizations come from the existence of a mind, which is a conditioned [conglomeration of] the six sense objects. The conditioned impressions of deluded thoughts are not the true essence of mind; rather, they are like flowers in the sky. The discernment of the realm of Buddhahood with such conceptualization is comparable to the production of empty fruit by the empty flower. One merely revolves in this entanglement of deluded thoughts and gains no result.
Sheng Yen (Complete Enlightenment: Zen Comments on the Sutra of Complete Enlightenment)
Most people are like this. Something they have made in their minds over and over again strongly prevents them from having a complete life. They are desperately trying to get out of a suffering realm that they have made themselves by becoming blindly attached to sensations. But it doesn’t work that easily. The simple reason for their difficulties is that they don’t understand impermanence. This is the path of human beings’ suffering. Everything in this world happens by natural process. You make everything, so you get everything, which means you get some kind of suffering. “I don’t like getting old.” “Oh, my relationship with him ended. I feel so miserable.” “I hate being sick like this.” “I don’t like him.” “I can’t believe my grandmother died.” We all suffer. But if you correctly attain this insight into impermanence, then you can take away these Eight Sufferings. If you don’t understand that all things are impermanent, however, then you become easily attached to things that must eventually pass. As a result, you cannot take away your suffering, and you only continue to make more suffering for yourself and for this whole world.
Seung Sahn (The Compass of Zen (Shambhala Dragon Editions))
I love seeing somebody act real earnest and serious, like Jackie Gleason. He makes me laugh because he reflects back to me my own serious-mindedness and how ridiculous it all is. It’s always easier to see somebody else in that position than yourself, and you laugh. It’s like the classic slipping on the banana peel, or someone getting hit by a pie in the face. Why do those things make us laugh? Is it from relief, like: Thank God it wasn’t me? Or is it something else: I’m being very serious now. I’m pontificating earnestly and solemnly about—POW! PIE IN THE FACE! The bust-up of certainty.
Jeff Bridges (The Dude and the Zen Master)
Suppose two astronauts go to the moon. When they arrive, they have an accident and find out that they have only enough oxygen for two days. There is no hope of someone coming from Earth in time to rescue them. They have only two days to live. If you asked them at that moment, "What is your deepest wish?" they would answer, "To be back home walking on the beautiful planet Earth." That would be enough for them; they would not want anything else. They would not want to be the head of a large corporation, a big celebrity or president of the United States. They would not want anything except to be back on Earth - to be walking on Earth, enjoying every step, listening to the sounds of nature and holding the hand of their beloved while contemplating the moon. We should live every day like people who have just been rescued from the moon. We are on Earth now, and we need to enjoy walking on this precious beautiful planet. The Zen master Lin Chi said, "The miracle is not to walk on water but to walk on the Earth." I cherish that teaching. I enjoy just walking, even in busy places like airports and railway stations. In walking like that, with each step caressing our Mother Earth, we can inspire other people to do the same. We can enjoy every minute of our lives.
Thich Nhat Hanh
The empty-mindedness of chi sao applies to all activities we may perform, such as dancing. If the dancer has any idea at all of displaying his art well, he ceases to be a good dancer, for his mind stops with every movement he goes through. In all things, it is important to forget your mind and become one with the work at hand. When the mind is tied up, it feels inhibited in every move it makes and nothing will be accomplished with any sense of spontaneity. The wheel revolves when it is not too tightly attached to the axle. When it is too tight, it will never move on. As the Zen saying goes: “Into a soul absolutely free from thoughts and emotion, even the tiger finds no room to insert its fierce claws.” In chi sao the mind is devoid of all fear, inferiority complexes, viscous feeling, etc., and is free from all forms of attachment, and it is master of itself, it knows no hindrances, no inhibitions, no stoppages, no clogging, no stickiness. It then follows its own course like water; it is like the wind that blows where it lists.
Bruce Lee (Bruce Lee The Tao of Gung Fu: A Study in the Way of Chinese Martial Art (Bruce Lee Library Book 2))
When we sleep on someone else's pillow, we sometimes find ourselves having that person's dreams. If a married couple switches sides of the bed, for example, he will have her dreams for a while and she will have his. Nothing of the sort occurs in a hotel bed, naturally, for the simple reason that no one person has slept there long enough to leave a psychic imprint. Is the connection to the bedding place or to the space below it? Perhaps we draw up trans-neurological info-bits from the underworld to form dreams the way that exposed metal draws down oxygen molecules from the air to form rust. Dreams, the, may be a form of psychic oxidation. Each morning, the greasy rag of wakefulness wipes us clean. Sooner or later, however, we rust completely through, at which point we lose tensility, conductivity, and clear definition; turn senile or go bonkers; fade away. If we applied the rag more rigorously, this might not happen. which is why the message of Miho's Zen monks-the message of mystic masters everywhere-was and is, "Wake up! Wake up!
Tom Robbins (Villa Incognito)
The student was silent. Soen-sa said, “What color is this?” The student said, “You have eyes.” Soen-sa said, “Eyes? These are not eyes. They are holes in my face.” (Laughter.) “I ask you once again—what color is this door?” The student was silent. Soen-sa said, “It is brown.” “But if I'd said brown, you would've said I'm attached to color!” Soen-sa said, “Brown is only brown.” Then, pointing to a glass of water, “What is this?” “Water.” “Yah. Water is water. This is not thinking. When you said ‘water’—this mind. This mind is very important. It is a clear mirror. Red comes, the mirror is red. Yellow comes, the mirror is yellow. Water comes, there is water. A door comes, there is a door. If you are not thinking, your mind is the same as a mirror. It is only like this. So true emptiness is clear mind. In original clear mind there is no name and no form. Nothing appears or disappears. All things are just as they are. If you are thinking, you are in a dream. You must cut off all your thinking and wake up.
Stephen Mitchell (Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn)
Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Bodhidharma, Sosan – they are the Masters of this law of reverse effect. And this is the difference between Yoga and Zen. Yoga makes every effort and Zen makes no effort, and Zen is truer than any Yoga. But Yoga appeals, because as far as you are concerned doing is easy – howsoever hard, but doing is easy. Non-doing is difficult. If someone says, ”Don’t do anything,” you are at a loss. You again ask, ”What to do?” If someone says, ”Don’t do anything,” that is the most difficult thing for you. It should not be so if you understand. Non-doing does not require any qualification. Doing may require qualification, doing may require practice. Non-doing requires no practice. That’s why Zen says enlightenment can happen in a single moment – because it is not a question of how to bring it, it is a question of how to allow it. It is just like sleep: you relax and it is there, you relax and it pops up. It is struggling within your heart to come up. You are not allowing it because you have too much activity on the surface.
Osho (Hsin Hsin Ming, the Book of Nothing: Discourses on the Faith Mind of Sosan)
I'm profoundly attracted to classical Zen literature, I have the gall to lecture on it and the literature of Mahayana Buddhism one night a week at college, but my life itself couldn't very conceivably be less Zenful than it is, and what little I've been able to apprehend - I pick that verb with care - of the Zen experience has been a by-result of following my own rather natural path of extreme Zenlessness. Largely because Seymour himself literally begged me to do so, and I never knew him to be wrong in these matters.) Happily for me, and probably for everybody, I don't believe it's really necessary to bring Zen into this. The method of marble-shooting that Seymour, by sheer intuition, was recommending to me can be related, I'd say, legitimately and un-Easternly, to the fine art of snapping a cigarette end into a small wastebasket from across a room. An art, I believe, of which most male smokers are true masters only when either they don't care a hoot whether or not the butt goes into the basket or the room has been cleared of eyewitnesses, including, quite so to speak, the cigarette snapper himself. I'm going to try hard not to chew on that illustration, delectable as I find it, but I do think it proper to append - to revert momentarily to curb marbles - that after Seymour himself shot a marble, he would be all smiles when he heard a responsive click of glass striking glass, but it never appeared to be clear to him whose winning click it was. And it's also a fact that someone almost invariably had to pick up the marble he'd won and hand it to him.
J.D. Salinger (Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction)
The travelers A monk asked: “I have heard that the masters of old reached great enlightenment through difficult and painful practice, and that it was through various sorts of difficult practice that the masters of our own day too attained complete realization of the Dharma. I can’t quite accept the idea that someone like myself can realize the Unborn Buddha Mind just as I am without engaging in religious practice or attaining enlightenment.” The Master said: “Suppose there’s a group of travelers passing through tall mountain peaks. Arriving at a spot where there’s no water, they become thirsty, and one of them goes off to search for water in a distant valley. After strenuously searching all over, he finds some at last and returns to give it to his companions to drink. Without making any strenuous efforts themselves, the people who drink the water can satisfy their thirst just the same as the one who did make such efforts, can’t they? [On the other hand,] those who harbor doubts and refuse to drink the water will have no way to satisfy their thirst. Because I didn’t meet with any clear-eyed men, I went astray and engaged in strenuous efforts till finally I uncovered the buddha within my own mind. So when I tell all of you that, without painful practice, you [can uncover] the buddha in your own minds, it’s just like [the travelers] drinking the water and slaking their thirst without having gone in search of the water themselves. In this way, when you make use of the Buddha Mind that everyone has, just as it is, and attain peace of mind without delusory difficult practice, that’s the precious true teaching, isn’t it?” (zenshū, p. 126.)
Yoshito Hakeda (Bankei Zen: Translations from the Record of Bankei)
11. Let Go of your Idle Thoughts.[FN#263] [FN#263] A famous Zenist, Mu-go-koku-shi, is said to have replied to every questioner, saying: "Let go of your idle thoughts." A Brahmin, having troubled himself a long while with reference to the problem of life and of the world, went out to call on Shakya Muni that he might be instructed by the Master. He got some beautiful flowers to offer them as a present to the Muni, and proceeded to the place where He was addressing his disciples and believers. No sooner had he come in sight of the Master than he read in his mien the struggles going on within him. "Let go of that," said the Muni to the Brahmin, who was going to offer the flowers in both his hands. He dropped on the ground the flowers in his right hand, but still holding those in his left. "Let go of that," demanded the Master, and the Brahmin dropped the flowers in his left hand rather reluctantly. "Let go of that, I say," the Muni commanded again; but the Brahmin, having nothing to let go of, asked: "What shall I let go of, Reverend Sir? I have nothing in my hands, you know." "Let go of that, you have neither in your right nor in your left band, but in the middle." Upon these words of the Muni a light came into the sufferer's mind, and he went home satisfied and in joy.[FN#264] "Not to attach to all things is Dhyana," writes an ancient Zenist, "and if you understand this, going out, staying in, sitting, and lying are in Dhyana." Therefore allow not your mind to be a receptacle for the dust of society, or the ashes of life, or rags and waste paper of the world. You bear too much burden upon your shoulders with which you have nothing to do. [FN#264]
Kaiten Nukariya (The Religion of the Samurai A Study of Zen Philosophy and Discipline in China and Japan)
As a society we are only now getting close to where Dogen was eight hundred years ago. We are watching all our most basic assumptions about life, the universe, and everything come undone, just like Dogen saw his world fall apart when his parents died. Religions don’t seem to mean much anymore, except maybe to small groups of fanatics. You can hardly get a full-time job, and even if you do, there’s no stability. A college degree means very little. The Internet has leveled things so much that the opinions of the greatest scientists in the world about global climate change are presented as being equal to those of some dude who read part of the Bible and took it literally. The news industry has collapsed so that it’s hard to tell a fake headline from a real one. Money isn’t money anymore; it’s numbers stored in computers. Everything is changing so rapidly that none of us can hope to keep up. All this uncertainty has a lot of us scrambling for something certain to hang on to. But if you think I’m gonna tell you that Dogen provides us with that certainty, think again. He actually gives us something far more useful. Dogen gives us a way to be okay with uncertainty. This isn’t just something Buddhists need; it’s something we all need. We humans can be certainty junkies. We’ll believe in the most ridiculous nonsense to avoid the suffering that comes from not knowing something. It’s like part of our brain is dedicated to compulsive dot-connecting. I think we’re wired to want to be certain. You have to know if that’s a rope or a snake, if the guy with the chains all over his chest is a gangster or a fan of bad seventies movies. Being certain means being safe. The downfall is that we humans think about a lot of stuff that’s not actually real. We crave certainty in areas where there can never be any. That’s when we start in with believing the crazy stuff. Dogen is interesting because he tries to cut right to the heart of this. He gets into what is real and what is not. Probably the main reason he’s so difficult to read is that Dogen is trying to say things that can’t actually be said. So he has to bend language to the point where it almost breaks. He’s often using language itself to show the limitations of language. Even the very first readers of his writings must have found them difficult. Dogen understood both that words always ultimately fail to describe reality and that we human beings must rely on words anyway. So he tried to use words to write about that which is beyond words. This isn’t really a discrepancy. You use words, but you remain aware of their limitations. My teacher used to say, “People like explanations.” We do. They’re comforting. When the explanation is reasonably correct, it’s useful.
Brad Warner (It Came from Beyond Zen!: More Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan's Greatest Zen Master (Treasury of the True Dharma Eye))