Zen quotes are an incredibly empowering you to inspire yourself!
And today, you’re in for some awe-inspiring Zen wisdom.
Some of these quotes have the power to transform your life – and totally open your mind.
So keep reading to discover more…
Table of Contents
1. “Where you are right now is where you are.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
We’re always looking forward to the future, whether than be in the next 24 hours or the next few years.
It’s often good to have a plan, but not only do we anticipate what the future holds, we deeply worry about it. We wish to control it.
Will we be successful?
Are all of our dreams and wishes going to come true?
Would if we fail?
Will we be able to redeem ourselves?
In Zen Buddhism, we can learn that our worries about the future are nothing but uncertainties that have not yet been understood.
This mantra may be simple, but it sends a great message.
It reminds us to not just think in the moment but be in the moment, to really relish in the present.
2. “The practice of Zen is forgetting the self in the act of uniting with something.”
– Koun Yamada
We all want to be aware of who we are and what we consist of.
To us, it’s intimidating to never be in the know: to not know who we are, how others feel about us, or what our life entails.
However, in the practice of Zen, you can’t know yourself until you forget yourself.
To understand who you are, you must be willing to let go of the parts of you that aren’t truly you.
Although we might find it self-centered to want to get to know ourselves, doing so can help break our barriers.
When we break down our barriers and become honest with ourselves, we can become more open.
In turn, we can become more connected with others. The positive connections we have with others is vital in Zen Buddhism.
3. “Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be.”
– Eckhart Tolle
Life is physical. It contains moments, events, and tragedies.
Although these physical things seem to automatically have thoughts, feelings, and emotions tied to them, they don’t.
We complexify the physical things in life. We tie certain emotional and mental stimuli to them.
A Zen mind knows that life is truly simple.
We have the power to turn our traumas into struggles. We also have the power to let the negative make us stronger.
In this quote, Eckhart Tolle makes a good point. We make life more complicated depending on the thoughts we choose to feed ourselves.
What you think and become is entirely up to you.
4. “Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong nor between well and badly arranged constellations.”
– Alan Watts
Each of us wishes we had the power to change things.
This is typically caused by black-and-white thinking. We see the bad, and we see the good.
Rarely do we appreciate things just as they are, seeing both their flaws and their perfections.
This mantra is a special one. It emphasizes the fact that things are merely just things.
From my own experience, I’ve found that we have two choices. We can compare, or we can accept.
When we accept something as it is, whether it be a person or a situation, we learn and grow. We become enlightened.
5. “The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering.”
– Ram Dass
At some point in life, we all deal with unpleasant situations.
Although we may want to lead a perfect, happy life, we have to take the bad with the good.
However, life really is what we make of it.
This mantra by Ram Dass discusses the true reason we suffer.
Suffering doesn’t stem from a negative situation. Rather, it’s root is the refusal for us to accept that negative situation.
When we struggle, we often think out-of-sight, out-off-mind. Other times, we become traumatized from the pain we’ve endured.
To gain the peace we deserve, however, we must learn to accept and be open to the pain of ourselves as well as the pain of others.
See Also: Zen Bedroom Ideas On a Budget
6. “Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.”
– Dalai Lama
Sometimes it’s difficult to accept that others don’t have the same intentions as we do.
Some people are cruel, dishonest, angry, negative, and bitter. Their behaviors and words cut us like knives.
Although the viciousness of others is uncalled for, it’s how we react that counts.
Gaining peace within ourselves, we can better tolerate the poor qualities of others and how they treat us.
When we’re able to work on our inner peace, we can learn to accept the differences of others, including their flaws.
7. “Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind.”
– Zen Proverb
The mind is powerful, so powerful that it rules not only our thoughts and feelings but also our actions towards ourselves and others.
Due to the complexity and power of the mind, it’s no surprise that we often let it take the lead.
In turn, we become mastered by our own mind. We allow it to let our ugly side take the wheel, even when we don’t intend to.
But what’s important to address is that the mind is a piece of us; we aren’t a piece of it.
Engaging in the practice of Zen can give you the potential to claim ownership of your mental state once and for all.
As a result, you can learn to own your thoughts, feelings, and emotions rather than let them supersede you.
8. “Zen is a liberation from time. For if we open our eyes and see clearly, it becomes obvious that there is no other time than this instant.”
– Alan Watts
We’re tied to time. We have a clock on our wrist, a clock on our phones and computers, and clocks are plastered in classrooms and offices.
It seems like we’re always checking the time to make sure we don’t get off schedule.
One of the best lessons you can learn while meditating is that time doesn’t exist.
Sure, we measure time. This unit of measurement is what ensures we all are at the same place at the exact moment when we need to be.
Meditation, however, is a process that involves “the now.” The past is gone, and the present has yet to exist.
As we learn to accept that time is now, a heavyweight will lift off our shoulders.
9. “To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.”
– Chuang Tzu
To me, this mantra speaks volumes.
The thoughts in our mind seem to constantly be running at a ridiculous pace. Our mind never gets a rest.
Due to the chaos of our thoughts, we may have a poor grip on our lives.
But according to Chuang Tzu, a still mind is a mind that’s in charge.
When our mind is still, the universe no longer has power over it.
When your mind learns to cling to nothing, the universe no longer has the authority to tell it how to think or feel.
With a still mind, we learn to turn off the stress response in our brain and accept what is and will be, whether we have power over it or not.
To have control over your mind is one of the greatest qualities anyone could ever have.
10. “Each morning, we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”
Anyone who practices Zen Buddhism knows that the act of mindfulness is key to living a life of gratitude, happiness, and peace.
But to be mindful, we must understand how to focus on today, right at this moment at this very second.
What we do tomorrow doesn’t matter just yet, and what we did yesterday is just a memory we can learn from.
As you wake up each morning, it’s important to think about how you’ll shape your day. Your chance for change and growth is now.
We all have the opportunity to make the most of each day or to instead be negative, unproductive, and resistant to change.
By focusing on the now, the latter becomes easier for us to understand. Then we can better see the value of the present.
11. “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
– Lao Tzu
Just about everyone has too much on their plates. We write long to-do lists and have more responsibilities than we can handle.
Regardless, we expect to have everything accomplished in a timely manner.
But a true Zen Buddhist understands the vitality in patience.
Unfortunately, patience is something that many of us lack. We’re eager to get what we want as soon as possible.
In this quote, Lao Tzu compares the timing of nature to the timing of our lives.
Just as nature does its thing patiently, we shouldn’t hurry the timing of our lives or anything in it.
In the end, while some things might come later than expected, we can learn to be content with the timing of things.
12. “Zen is not some kind of excitement but concentration on our usual everyday routine.”
– Shunryu Suzuki
Too many people want cheap thrills and easy entertainment.
Thus, some might become bored with the practice of Zen. Why? Because it’s calm, still, and present. Its characteristics don’t align with many of us.
After all, the majority of us are stressed, always on our toes, and constantly worried about what’s next.
Because of this, when we seek change in our lives, we go to the extreme. We want all or nothing.
Interestingly, sometimes the biggest change you can bring to your life is via Zen practices.
Instead of looking for more to fill the voids of our lives, sometimes we must learn to be content with everything as is.
Zen Buddhism stresses the importance of focusing on what’s right in front of us, right here, right now.
13. “Life begins where fear ends.”
Anxiety and fear are some of our biggest challenges in life.
At times, we may let these worries cloud our mind to the point where we become seemingly powerless.
As a result, we may make rash decisions. We may even give up opportunities, all because fear tells us we’re not good enough.
This quote reminds me of my own struggles with fear, anxiety, stress, panic attacks, and phobias. Many of us can relate in some form.
While we may have these toxic thoughts in our head that we think are “helping” us, they only hamper our quality of life.
When we’re struggling, others around us struggle too.
When practicing Zen, however, one of our goals should be to let our anxieties of the unknown go.
As we learn to clear our mind and let go, our internal healing can be of benefit to others.
14. “To understand everything is to fear everything.”
We think all knowledge is power. What we don’t know, though, is that some knowledge is toxic.
Sometimes when we know too much, we complexify things. When we complexify things, that’s when we develop fear.
As we engage in Zen meditation, we can learn to dissolve that constant chatter in our minds.
When we have power over our thoughts, that’s when we can gain control over our fears.
At times, “not knowing” is key. Although not knowing can trigger our panic too, nothingness can deliver a clear mind and, thus, peace.
15. “Live calmly. The time will come when the flowers bloom by themselves.”
– Zen Buddhist
None of us like playing the waiting game.
When we want something, we usually want it that instant. The longer we wait, the more we grow bored, tired, and impatient.
But patience is key in the practice of Zen.
One of the biggest lessons is Zen is learning that we can’t control time. Time happens at a fixed rate. It can’t be sped up nor slowed down.
This mantra uses flowers as a metaphorical way to describe life. Flowers bloom when they’re ready, not when outside forces are ready.
Some flowers may bloom later than others. Nevertheless, a flower opens up when the timing is just right.
We can learn from this Zen quote that each moment comes when it’s supposed to, not when we want it to. There’s beauty in waiting.