Book Excerpt: Famous Zen Proverbs


Move and the way will open.
—Zen Proverb

It is there, right where you are; If you seek it, obviously you do not see it.
—Muso Kokushi

It is everywhere.
—Chuang-tzy

Your enemy is your greatest teacher.
—Buddhist saying

If you don't see your nature and run around all day looking somewhere else, you'll never find a Buddha.
—Bodhidharma

Behold bliss everywhere, in all things.... Embrace bliss in every form and particle of creation.
—Paramahansa Yogananda

Zen is not a philosophy, it is poetry. It does not propose, it simply persuades. It does not argue, it simply sings its own song.
—Osho

Your daily life is your temple and your religion. Whenever you enter into it take with you your all.
—Kahlil Gibran

When we condemn or justify we cannot see clearly, nor can we when our minds are endlessly chattering.
—Krishnamurti

Only let the moving waters calm down, and the sun and moon will be reflected on the surface of your being.
—Djalal ad-Din Rumi

Religion is a realization, not talk, nor doctrine, nor theories, however beautiful all these may be.
—Swami Vivekananda

My greatest happiness consists precisely in doing nothing whatsoever that is calculated to obtain happiness.
—Chuang-tzu

It is there, right where you are; if you seek it, obviously you do not see it.
—Muso Kokushi

Since it is all too clear, it takes time to grasp it.
—Wumen

Hid your body in the Big Dipper.
—Zen proverb

We cross the infinite with every step, and encounter the eternal with every second.
—Rabindranath Tagore

If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, as a shadow that never leaves him.
—The Dhammapada Fallen leaves—Raking, yet not raking. —Taigi

Identifying ourselves with the body is putting the cart before the horse and is why we stumble in life.
—Ramana Maharishi

The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass.
—Dogen Zenji

The superior man seeks what is right; the inferior one, what is profitable.
—Confucius

My country and your country, my God and your God ll that is the fragmentation of thought.
—Krishnamurti

Zen makes use, to a great extent, of poetical expressions; Zen is wedded to poetry.
—D.T. Suzuki

Where you stand, where you are, that's what your life is right there, regardless of how painful it is or how enjoyable it is. That's what it is.
—Taizan Maezumi

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

Knock on the sky and listen to the sound.
—Zen saying

Zen is not a philosophy, it is poetry. It does not propose, it simply persuades. It does not argue, it simply sings its own song.
—Osho

Things that are done, it is needless to speak about... things that are past, it is needless to blame.
—Confucius

This is the Zen approach: Nothing is there to be done. There is nothing to do. One has just to be. Have a rest and be ordinary and be natural.
—Osho

When a man battles within his soul, the life and the soul of the whole world enter, and he is free.
—Rabindranath Tagore

The whole of the mass of the universe cannot crush this individuality that is mine... It is small in appearance, but great in reality.
—Rabindranath Tagore

Like the sound of fire crackling: River snow, melting.
—Keiki Ito

Calm and quietude is not real calm; when you can be calm in the midst of activity, this is the true state of nature.
—Huanchu Daoren

Above, below and around you, all is spontaneously existing, for there is nowhere which is outside Buddha-Mind.
—Huang Po

The whole universe is to us a writing of the infinite in the language of the finite.
—Swami Vivekananda

The infinite library of the universe is in your mind.
—Swami Vivekananda

There is no weapon more powerful in achieving the truth than acceptance of oneself.
—Swami Prajnanpad

It's only forms that change, not essence.
—Ram Dass

One moon shows in every pool; in every pool, the one moon.
—Zen saying

Don't seek, don't search, don't ask, don't knock, don't demand relax. If you relax, it comes. If you relax, it is there. If you don't relax, you start vibrating with it.
—Osho

As the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.
—Lao-tzu

The mind is everything,what you think, you become.
—Buddha

The ultimate path is without difficulty. just avoid picking and choosing.
—Sengtsan

I don't know others, others don't know me. By not-knowing we follow nature's course.
—Ryokan

Where there is great doubt, there will be great awakening; small doubt, small awakening, no doubt, no awakening.
—Zen saying

Where is Heaven? Let me ride on the sweet breeze and waft away thither.
—Lu Tung

The universe is like an ocean in perfect equilibrium. A wave cannot rise in one place without creating a hollow elsewhere.... If you take from one place, you must give elsewhere.
—Swami Vivekananda

Realization consists only in getting rid of the false idea that one is not realized. It is not anything new to be aquired.
—Ramana Maharishi

A man who knows his own nature will know heaven.
—Mencius

The way of the sage is to act but not to compete.
—Lao-tzu

When you get to the top of the mountain, keep climbing.
—Zen proverb

Hope and fear are both phantoms that arise from thinking of the self. When we don't see the self as self, what do we have to fear?
—Lau-Tzu

The absurd denial of the truth is natural to man.
—Swami Prajnanpad

The sole concern of learning is to seek one's original heart.
—Mencius

Hot and cold, light and darkness, movement and repose... opposites do not bring confusion to the world; they bring harmony.
—Rabindranath Tagore

All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.
—Swami Vivekananda

In truth, all things are inexpressible, empty, calm and pure.
—Nagarjuna

When all the desires that surge in the heart are renounced, the mortal becomes immortal.
—The Upanishads

A hurricane will not outlast the morning, a heavy rain will not outlast the day. Who has the power to hurry things? If Heaven and Earth do not hurry them, what shall a person do?
—Lao-tzu

Beyond, beyond, totally beyond, perfectly beyond: Awakening...Yes!
—The Heart Sutra

As one lamp serves to dispel a thousand years of darkness, so one flash of wisdom destroys ten thousand years of ignorance.
—Hui Neng

Man lives in confusion and fear until he discovers the uniformity of the law in nature; until then the world is a stranger to him.
—Rabindranath Tagore

Break free of limiting weaknesses and habits into an all-accomplishing expansion of your consciousness.
—Paramahansa Yogananda

We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended upon it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away.
—Chuang-tzu

Do not entertain hopes for realization, but practice all your life.
—Milarepa

Finally out of reach—no bondage, no dependency. How calm the ocean, towering the void.
—Tessho

Doubt everything. Find your own light.
—Buddha

I am the changeless, I am the infinite. I am not a little mortal being with bones to break, a body that will perish. I am the deathless, chnageless Infinite.
—Paramahansa Yogananda

The measure fo man's spiritual evolution is his acceptance of the unacceptable.
—Dalai Lama

The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.
—Lin Yutang

It's not just philosophy, not just words; it's knowing how the mind functions; only then can you develop loving-kindness; only then can you become a spiritual person.
—Lama Thubten Yeshe

There is nothing you can see tht is not a flower; there is nothing you can think that is not the moon.
—Basho

Inside you there's an artist you don't know about. He's not interested in how things are different in moonlight.
—Djalal ad-Din Rumi

He who has tasted the sweetness of solitude and tranquility becomes free from fear and free from sin.
—The Dhammapada

Freedom is a state of mind—not freedom from something.
—Krishnamurti

All search is vain, until we begin to perceive that wisdom is within ourselves... then we may know the sun is rising, that the morning is breaking for us.
—Swami Vivekananda

The Perfect Way knows no difficulties. Except that it refuses to make preferences; only when freed from hate and love, it reveals itself fully and without disguise.
—Sosan

The God who is in fire, who is in water, who has entered into the whole world, who is in plants, who is in trees to that God be adoration!
—The Upanishads

Never has a man who has bent himself been able to make others straight.
—Mencius

True words are often not beautiful, just as beautiful words are often not true.
—Japanese Proverb