Zen Philosophy Best Quotes

Zen philosophy is a prominent school of Buddhism, influenced by Laozi’s teachings. Developed within the Mahayana tradition, it flourished in China between the sixth and the eleventh century A.D. Today, Zen enjoys a great fame also in Western countries, specially thanks to its short, elliptical, yet intriguing proverbs and sayings. Here below I compiled a list of them; please send in more suggestions, I you happen to have them handy.



Han Shan: "Clear water sparkles like crystal, you can see through right to the bottom. Mind free from all thoughts."

Shunryu Suzuki: "Real practice has no purpose or direction, so it can include everything that comes."

Laozi: " A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Laozi: "A leader is best when people barely know that he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worst when they despise him. Fail to honor people, They fail to honor you. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aims fulfilled, they will all say, We did this ourselves."

Mazu Daoyi: " [L]et each of you see into his own mind [...] However eloquently I may talk about all kinds of things as innumerable as the sands of the Ganges, the Mind shows no increase […] You may talk ever so much about it, and it is still your Mind; you may not at all talk about it, and it is just the same your own Mind."

Linji Yixuan: "The Master [Linji] saw a monk coming and held his fly whisk straight up.

The monk made a low bow, whereupon the Master struck him a blow. The Master saw another monk coming and again held his fly whisk straight up. The monk paid no attention, whereupon the Master struck him a blow as well."

Linji Yixuan: "Be a master everywhere and wherever you stand is your true place."

Zenrin Kushû: "Sitting quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself."

Ch'uan Teng Lu: "Before I had studied Zen for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains, and waters as waters.

When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and waters are not waters. But now that I have got its very substance I am at rest. For it's just that I see mountains once again as mountains, and waters once again as waters."

Pai-chang Huai-hai: "When you forget the good and the non-good, the worldly life and the religious life, and all other dharmas, and permit no thoughts relating to them to arise, and you abandon body and mind—then there is complete freedom. When the mind is like wood or stone, there is nothing to be discriminated."

I-tuan: "Speech is blasphemy, silence a lie. Above speech and silence there is a way out."

Shih-t'ou: "I would rather sink to the bottom of the sea for endless eons than seek liberation through all the saints of the universe."

Chuan Tsu: "The purpose of a fishtrap is to catch fish, and when the fish are caught, the trap is forgotten. The purpose of a rabbit snare is to catch rabbits. When the rabbits are caught, the snare is forgotten. The purpose of words is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten. Where can I find a man who has forgotten words? He is the one I would like to talk to."

Thich Nhat Hanh: "Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy."

Steve Hagen: "There's nothing to prove, nothing to figure out, nothing to get, nothing to understand.

When we finally stop explaining everything to ourselves, we may discover that in silence, complete understanding is already there."