135+ Zen quotes for a worried friend

In this blog post, we are talking about what it means to be Zen. We are backed up by a beautiful collection of 135+ Zen quotes.

What does it mean to be Zen?

Zen is a meditation exercise through which all dualistic distinctions such as true or false, I or you, subject or object and so on are annihilated.

In other words, Zen is a sect of Mahayana Buddhism, and one of the best-known forms of Japanese Buddhism.

The word Zen designates a state of calm and inner peace.

The noun Zen originates from “chan” which can be translated as “intuition” or “meditation”.

In Japan, Chan Buddhism (in Zen Japanese) was introduced during the Kamakura (1185-1333) and Muromachi (1333-1573) periods, coming from China to the Song and Yuan dynasties.

In the twentieth century, Zen was introduced to America and Europe, where it gathered a significant number of followers.

A group of researchers at the University of Montreal have shown that Zen meditation has direct effects on the central nervous system by increasing the sensitivity to pain.

The Zen state is the information state in the subject’s mind is in line with the information around him.

In addition, the subject must not resist anything that comes from the outside, is open and sees things as they are. And not what he thinks.

We hope that our collection of Zen quotes will bring you peace of mind and a state of prolonged calm. 

5 Zen quotes

  1. “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing

and rightdoing there is a field.

I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass

the world is too full to talk about.” ― Rumi

  1. “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
  1. “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” ― Alan Wilson Watts
  1. “Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it.” ― Ray Bradbury
  1. “Life is a journey. Time is a river. The door is ajar” ― Jim Butcher

15 Zen quotes and images

20 Zen quotes

  1. “The truth knocks on the door and you say, “Go away, I’m looking for the truth,” and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig
  1.  “I have lived with several Zen masters — all of them cats.” ― Eckhart Tolle
  1. “Life is more or less a lie, but then again, that’s exactly the way we want it to be.” ― Bob Dylan
  1. “The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?” ― Confucius
  2. “It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable.” ― Seneca
  1. “Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.” ― Meister Eckhart
  1. “Letting go is the lesson. Letting go is always the lesson. Have you ever noticed how much of our agony is all tied up with craving and loss?” ― Susan Gordon Lydon
  2.  “But when you’re in front of an audience and you make them laugh at a new idea, you’re guiding the whole being for the moment. No one is ever more him/herself than when they really laugh. Their defenses are down. It’s very Zen-like, that moment. They are completely open, completely themselves when that message hits the brain and the laugh begins. That’s when new ideas can be implanted. If a new idea slips in at that moment, it has a chance to grow.” ― George Carlin
  1. “Many have died; you also will die. The drum of death is being beaten. The world has fallen in love with a dream. Only sayings of the wise will remain.” ― Kabir
  1. “If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things – that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline; you have to practice it.” ― Walter Isaacson
  1. “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few” ― Shunryu Suzuki
  1. “The world is filled with love-play, from animal lust to sublime compassion.” ― Alan Watts

13.“Where there are humans,

You’ll find flies,

And Buddhas.” ― Kobayashi Issa

14. “Like vanishing dew,

a passing apparition

or the sudden flash

of lightning — already gone —

thus should one regard one’s self.”

― Ikkyu

15. “A student, filled with emotion and crying, implored, “Why is there so much suffering?”

Suzuki Roshi replied, “No reason.”

Shunryu Suzuki

16.  “When you catch yourself slipping into a pool of negativity, notice how it derives from nothing other than resistance to the current situation.”

Donna Quesada

17. “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

Masanobu Fukuoka

18. “The more you know, the less you need.”

― Yvon Chouinard

19. “I discovered that it is necessary, absolutely necessary, to believe in nothing. That is, we have to believe in something which has no form and no colour–something which exists before all forms and colours appear… No matter what god or doctrine you believe in, if you become attached to it, your belief will be based more or less on a self-centred idea.” ― Shunryu Suzuki

20.  “Silence is the language of Om. We need silence to be able to reach our Self. Both internal and external silence is very important to feel the presence of that supreme Love.” ― Amit Ray

25 Zen quotes 

  1. “When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.” – Shunryu Suzuki
  1. “And when they played they really played. And when they worked they really worked.” – Dr Seuss
  1. “One must be deeply aware of the impermanence of the world.” – Dogen
  1. “The practice of Zen is forgetting the self in the act of uniting with something.” – Koun Yamada
  1. “All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.” – Eckhart Tolle
  1. “Have good trust in yourself … not in the One that you think you should be, but in the One that you are.” – Maezumi Roshi
  1. “Have the fearless attitude of a hero and the loving heart of a child.” – Soyen Shaku
  1. “Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be.” – Eckhart Tolle
  1. “Let go over a cliff, die completely, and then come back to life — after that, you cannot be deceived.” – Zen Proverb
  1. “When I feel like dancing, I dance. I don’t care if anyone else is dancing or if everyone else is laughing at me. I dance.”– Rachel Danson
  1. “Only when you can be extremely pliable and soft can you be extremely hard and strong.” – Zen Proverb
  1. “Upon retiring, sleep as if you had entered your last sleep. Upon awakening, leave your bed behind you instantly as if you had cast away a pair of old shoes.” – Soyen Shaku
  1. “Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts 
  2. “If you are unable to find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?” – Dogen
  1. “Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.” – Alan Watts
  1. “As a bee gathering nectar does not harm or disturb the colour and fragrance of the flower; so do the wise move through the world.” – Buddha
  1. “To accept some idea of truth without experiencing it is like a painting of a cake on paper which you cannot eat.” – Suzuki Roshi
  1. “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. 
  1. “To follow the path, look to the master, follow the master, walk with the master, see through the master, become the master.” – Zen Proverb
  1. “The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering.” – Ram Dass
  1. “For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.” – Thích Nhat Hanh
  1. “Watch what you say, and whatever you say, practice it.” – Soyen Shaku
  1. “Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.” – Shunryu Suzuki
  1. “Nothing ever exists entirely alone. Everything is in relation to everything else.” – Buddha
  1.  “Think with your whole body.” – Taisen Deshimar

30 Zen quotes

  1. “This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it to work, realize it is played.” – Alan Watts
  2. “The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is.” – Eckhart Tolle
  3. “Wherever you are, be there totally.”- Eckhart Tolle
  4. “I’m here to tell you that the path to peace is right there when you want to get away.”- Pema Chödrön
  5. “When you are present, you can allow the mind to be as it is without getting entangled in it.”- Eckhart Tolle
  6. “If you miss the present moment, you miss your appointment with life. That is very serious!” – Thich Nhat Hanh
  7. “Practice is this life, and realization is this life, and this life is revealed right here and now.”- Maezumi Roshi
  8. “If you want to change the world, start with the next person who comes to you in need.”- B. D. Schiers
  9. “My experience is that the teachers we need most are the people we’re living with right now.”- Byron Katie
  10. “Guilt, regret, resentment, sadness & all forms of unforgiveness are caused by too much past & not enough presence.”- Eckhart Tolle

11.”Throughout this life, you can never be certain of living long enough to take another breath.” – Huang Po

12.”Awareness is the greatest agent for change.”- Eckhart Tolle

13. “When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.”- Shunryu Suzuki

14. “The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.”   – Alan Watts

15. “The intuitive recognition of the instant, thus reality… is the highest act of wisdom.” – D.T. Suzuki

16. “Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”  – Thich Nhat Hanh

17. “And when they played they really played. And when they worked they really worked.”- Dr Seuss

18. “Preparing food is not just about yourself and others. It is about everything!” – Shunryu Suzuki

19. “Things derive their being and nature by mutual dependence and are nothing in themselves”- Nagarjuna

20. “Nothing ever exists entirely alone. Everything is in relation to everything else.”- Buddha

21. “Heaven and earth and I are of the same root, The ten-thousand things and I are of one substance.”- Seng-Chao

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

23. “We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.” – Thích Nhat Hanh

24. “Heaven & earth & I are of the same root. Ten thousand things & I are of one substance.” – Sêng-Chao

23. “One must be deeply aware of the impermanence of the world.” – Dogen

24. “The practice of Zen is forgetting the self in the act of uniting with something.” – Koun Yamada

25. “I don’t let go of concepts – I meet them with understanding. Then they let go of me.” – Byron Katie

26. “The Zen expression “Kill the Buddha!” means to kill any concept of the Buddha as something apart from oneself.” – Peter Matthiessen

27. “When you hear that all beings are Buddha, don’t fall into the error of thinking there’s more than one Buddha.” – Zen Graffiti

28. “The self divides into ten billion distinct illuminating spirits. Distinguish these without falling into names and classifications.” – Hongzhi

29. “To study Buddhism is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be awakened by all things.” – Dogen

30. “Melting our attachment to self is the most powerful medication for bringing mental and emotional imbalances in check.” – Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

35 Zen quotes 

  1. “Have good trust in yourself … not in the One that you think you should be, but in the One that you are.”- Maezumi Roshi
  2. “My finger can point to the moon, but my finger is not the moon. You don’t have to become my finger, nor do you have to worship my finger. You have to forget my finger, and look at where it is pointing.” – Osho
  3. “To accept some idea of truth without experiencing it is like a painting of a cake on paper which you cannot eat.” – Suzuki Roshi
  4. “Zen has no business with ideas.” – D.T. Suzuki
  5. “What is important is not the right doctrine but the attainment of the true experience. It is giving up believing in belief.” – Alan Keightley
  6. “The menu is not the meal.” – Alan Watts
  7. “Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.” – Alan Watts
  8. “People sleep, and when they die they wake.” – Muhammad
  9. “Today, you can decide to walk in freedom. You can choose to walk differently. You can walk as a free person, enjoying every step.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
  10. “When an ordinary man attains knowledge, he is a sage; when a sage attains understanding, he is an ordinary man.” – Zen Proverb
  11. If we don’t occupy ourself with everything, then a peaceful mind will have nowhere to abide.” – Shen-hui
  12. “Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free: Stay centred by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.” – Chuang
  13. “The Buddha talked about saving all beings from delusion, not converting them to a new religion.” – Buddhism Now
  14. “Let your mind wander in the pure and simple. Be one with the infinite. Let all things take their course.” – Chuang Tzu
  15. “Let go over a cliff, die completely, and then come back to life — after that, you cannot be deceived.” – Zen Proverb
  16. “The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself.” – Anais Nin
  17. “Each step along the Buddha’s path to happiness requires practising mindfulness until it becomes part of your daily life.” – Henepola Gunaratana
  18. “Power over others is weakness disguised as strength. True power is within & available to you now.” – Eckhart Tolle
  19. “Body and mind dropped off.” – Dogen describing enlightenment
  20. “It’s not about approving or liking, but just being able to allow the world to be the way it is without resenting, hating, or judging it.” – Buddhism Now
  21. “Only when you can be extremely pliable and soft can you be extremely hard and strong.” – Zen Proverb
  22. “It all depends on you. You can go on sleeping forever, you can wake up right this moment.” – Osho
  23. “To understand everything is to forgive everything” – Gautama Siddhartha
  24. “Any enlightenment which requires to be authenticated, certified, recognized, congratulated, is false, or at least incomplete.” – R.H. Blyth
  25. “Self-realization is effortless. What you are trying to find is what you already are.” – Ramesh Balsekar
  26. ” When the mind is perfectly clear, what is is what we want.” – Byron Katie
  27. “The way out of life & death is not some special technique; the essential thing is to enter to the root of life & death.”- Bucko
  28. “The aim of spiritual life is to awaken a joyful freedom, a benevolent and compassionate heart in spite of everything.” – Jack Kornfield
  29. “People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” – Thích Nhat Hanh
  30. “Not thinking about anything is Zen. Once you know this, walking, sitting, or lying down, everything you do is Zen.” – Bodhidharma
  31. “To follow the path, look to the master, follow the master, walk with the master, see through the master, become the master.” – Zen Proverb
  32. “Learning Zen is a phenomenon of gold & dung. Before you learn it, it’s like gold; after you learn it, it’s like dung.” – Zen Proverb
  33. “You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.” – Alan Watts
  34. “At the still-point in the centre of the circle one can see the infinite in all things.” – Chuang Tzu
  35. “In the scenery of spring, nothing is better, nothing worse; the flowering branches are; some long, some short.” – Eicho

40 Zen quotes

  1. “When you realize nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” Lao Tzu
  2. “When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.”– Shunryu Suzuki
  3. “And when they played they really played. And when they worked they really worked.”– Seuss
  4. “Only when you can be extremely pliable and soft can you be extremely hard and strong.”– Zen Proverb
  5. “Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.”– Shunryu Suzuki
  6. “Each morning, we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” ― Buddha
  7. Do not follow the idea of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself. ― Dōgen Zenji
  8. The basic principles of Zen teachings are to relax and be at utmost peace with oneself.  “Zen is not effort. The effort is tension, the effort is work, the effort is to achieve something. Zen is not something to achieve. You are already that. Just relax, relax so deeply that you become a revelation to yourself.”
  1. “Throughout this life, you can never be certain of living long enough to take another breath.”- Huang Po
  2. “Awareness is the greatest agent for change.”Eckhart Tolle
  3. “The practice of Zen is forgetting the self in the act of uniting with something.”Koun Yamada
  1. “Let go, or be dragged.” Zen Proverb
  2. “When thoughts arise, then do all things arise. When thoughts vanish, then do all things vanish.” Huang Po
  3. “The noble-minded are calm and steady. Little people are forever fussing and fretting.” Confucius
  1. “All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.” – Eckhart Tolle
  2. “To accept some idea of truth without experiencing it is like a painting of a cake on paper which you cannot eat.” – Suzuki Roshi
  3. “The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering.”– Ram Dass
  4. “Do not let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace.” ― Dalai Lama
  1. “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” ― Dalai Lama
  1. “Smile, breathe and go slowly.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh
  2. “What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.” Confucius
  3. “Have good trust in yourself … not in the One that you think you should be, but in the One that you are.” – Maezumi Roshi
  4. “When I feel like dancing, I dance. I don’t care if anyone else is dancing or if everyone else is laughing at me. I dance.”– Rachel Danson
  5. “All that we are, is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.” ― Buddha
  6. “If you realize you have enough, you are truly rich.” ― Lao Tzu
  7. “The most important point is to accept yourself and stand on your two feet.” ― Shunryu Suzuki
  8. “Act without expectation.” ― Lao Tzu
  9. “Love is the absence of judgment.” ― Dalai Lama
  10. “To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh
  11. “Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.”- Alan Watts
  12. “Self-realization is effortless. What you are trying to find is what you already are.”- Ramesh Balsekar
  13. “There is no mistake in nature.”- Byron Katie 
  14.  “Seek is to suffer. To seek nothing is bliss.” –Bodhidharma
  15. “Wise men don’t judge – they seek to understand.” –Wei Wu Wei
  16. “One must be deeply aware of the impermanence of the world.”– Dogen
  17. “Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.”– Alan Watts
  18. “As a bee gathering nectar does not harm or disturb the colour and fragrance of the flower; so do the wise move through the world.” – Buddha
  19. “Nothing ever exists entirely alone. Everything is in relation to everything else.”– Buddha
  20. “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” ― Lao Tzu
  21. “Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.” ― Dalai Lama

50  Zen Buddhist wisdom 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11) Whatever happens always happens on time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22) Your home is where your thoughts find peace.

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

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

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

26) The world is its own magic.

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

28) Awareness is the greatest agent for change.

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

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

31) Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.

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

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

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

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

36) Zen has no business with ideas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

45) To understand everything is to forgive everything.

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

47) You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.

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

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

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

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Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

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Which Zen quotes is your favourite?

Being zen means relaxation, calm, reconciliation, bliss, smile, etc.

A state in which everyone would like to be and which for some time is used as a joke.

You always hear a girl in the office say, “I’m Zen, I work now!” and you see her smile, put on her headphones, relax and work.

Which zen quotes is your favourite? Let us know!

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