Zen Quotes

The magic of moment

The Zen Path is a circle that brings us right back to where we already are - here and now. This moment is the only reality. the past and the future are abstractions. When we penetrate the present it becomes a doorway to eternity. Here it is - right now. Start thinking about it and you missed it.

"Zen made easy" by Timothy Freke

Yin and Yang

...yin and yang, black and white, you can get everything out of black and white if you provide for all of the permutations that are possible - just as you can get all numbers out of zero and one in the binary system. But whereas we think something is either/or - either black or white - both Indian and Chinese logic recognize that black and white are inseparable, that in fact they need each other, and so it isn't matter of making a choice between them."To be or not to be" is not the question - because you can't have one without the other! Not-being implies being, just being implies not- being. When the existentialist in the West, who trembles with anxiety before this choice, realizes suddenly one day that not-being implies being, the trembling of anxiety turns into the shaking of laughter.

"What is Zen?" by Alan Watts

Past, present, future

We think that the world is limited and explained by its past. We tend to think that what happened in the past determines what is going to happen next, and we do not see that it is exactly the other way around! What is always the source of the world is the present, the past doesn't explain a thing. The past trails behind present like the wake of the ship, and eventually disappears. The point is this: You will never find the mystery of the creation of the world in the past. It never was created in the past. Because truly there is nothing else - and never was anything - except the present! There never will be anything else except the present. (..) Now is origin of everything. Knowing that you stand a much better chance of being able to deal with the unforeseen then if you keep worring about it and considering past lessons and future possibilities. (...) If you make exact plans to deal with the future and things don't happen at all as you expected, you are apt to become thoroughly disappointed and disoriented. But if you're here when things happen, you always stay balanced.

""What is Zen?" by Alan Watts

Peace of mind

So the thing to do when working on a motorcycle, as in any other task, is to cultivate the peace of mind which does not separate one's self from one's surroundings. When that is done successfully then everything else follows naturally. Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts.Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see of the serenity at the center of it all. (...) a material reflection of a spiritual reality.

""Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance" by Robert M. Pirsig

What talking about Zen is like?

(..) anything written about Zen inevitably separates itself from Zen's "instantaneous" spirit. In using dead words to say that Zen is this or that, a separation is created, and the freshness of the Zen moment is lost.
The secret of the mountains is that the mountains simply exist, as I do myself: the mountain exists simply, which I do not. The mountains have no "meaning", they are meaning; the mountains are. The sun is round. I ring with life, and the mountains ring, and when I can hear it, there is ringing that we share. I understand all this, not in my mind but in my heart, knowing how meaningless it is to try to capture what cannot be expressed, knowing that mere words will remain when I read it all again, another day.
"Be more simple" Soen-roshi always said, and how I long to simplify myself. The secret of well-being is simplicity, which is here for the taking in this very breath, and also as elusive as the air.

""Nine-Headed Dragon river" by Peter Matthiessen

Nirvana, the Waterfall

The waterfall comes down like a curtain thrown from the top of the mountain. It doesn't come down swiftly, as you may expect. And the water doesn't come down as one stream, but it is separated into many tiny streams. And it takes a long time for the water to finally reach the bottom of the waterfall. And it seems that our human life may be like that.
The water was not originally separated, but was one whole river. The water does not have any feeling when it is one whole river. Only when separated into many drops can it begin to have, or to express some feeling. Before we were born we had no feeling; we were one with the universe. This is called 'big mind'.
After we are separated by birth from this oneness, as the river falling from the waterfall is separated by the wind and rocks, then we have feeling. You have difficulty because you have feeling. When you do not realize that you are one with the river, or one with the universe, you have fear. But whether it is separated into drops or not, water is water. When we realize this fact we have no fear of death anymore, and we have no actual difficulty in our life. We find the true meaning of life, and even though you may find difficulty falling from the top of the waterfall to the bottom of the mountain, you will enjoy your life. When the water returns to its original oneness with the river, it no longer has any individual feeling to it; it resumes its own nature, and finds composure.
How very glad the water must be to come back to the original river! For us, just now, we have some fear of death, but after we resume our true original nature, there is Nirvana.

""Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" by Shunryu Suzuki


Acts performed with a delusive mind produce painful results. This is karma.
We are the manifestation of our karmic relations at any given moment, and upon their modification we change accordingly. What we call life is no more than a procession of transformations. If we don't change, we are lifeless. We grow and age because we are alive. The evidence of our having lived is the fact that we die. We die because we are alive. Living means birth and death. Creation and destruction signify life.
When you truly understand this fundamental principle you will not be anxious about your life or your death. You will then attain a steadfast mind and be happy in your daily life. If you fall into poverty, live that way without grumbling - then your poverty will not be burden to you. Likewise, if you are rich, live with your riches. All this is functioning of Buddha-nature which has the quality of infinite adaptability.