Zen Buddhism focuses on experiencing life just as it is, without the habitual mental structures that form a barrier between us and the direct experience of the present moment. The word ‘Zen’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘dyyana’, meaning “meditation.” The following quotes express the riches to be found within an awareness of the present moment.
“Every single thing is just the One Mind. When you have perceived this, you will have mounted the Chariot of the Buddhas.” (Huang Po)
“If you understand, things are just as they are. If you do not understand, things are just as they are.”
“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.” (Zen Saying)
“A flower falls, even though we love it; and a weed grows, even though we do not love it.” (Dogen Zenji)
“If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?” (Dogen)
“The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there.” (Yasutani Roshi)
“If you want to understand Zen easily, just be mindless, wherever you are, twenty-four hours a day, until you spontaneously merge with the Way. This is what an ancient worthy called ‘the mind not touching things, the steps not placed anywhere.’ ” (Ying-an)
“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.” (Basho)
“We all have a light inside, but trying to look at it makes it turn black.” (Master Ummon)
“Boundless wind and moon—the eye within eyes,
Inexhaustible heaven and earth—the light beyond light.”
(The Blue Cliff Record)
“The Further one breaks into the region of the origin, the deeper the region becomes.” (source unknown)
“How vast and free the Great Emptiness,
How boundless the universe,
Each thing containing within itself all things.”
“The vast flood
But yield yourself,
And it floats you upon it.”
“We must become what we were
Before we were born.”
“Each molecule preaches perfect law,
Each moment chants true sutra:
The most fleeting thought is timeless,
A single hair’s enough to stir the sea.”
“Awakening is where there is
No birth, no extinction;
It is seeing into the
State of Suchness,
All categories constructed by mind.”
“Like the empty sky,
It has no boundaries,
Yet it is right in this place,
Ever profound and clear.
When you seek to know it,
You cannot see it.
You cannot take hold of it.
But you cannot lose it.
In not being able to get it,
You get it.
When you are silent, it speaks.
The great gate is wide open
To bestow alms,
And no crowd is blocking the way.”
“In the pure morning, near the old temple
Where early sunlight lights the tree tops,
My path has wound, through a sheltered hollow
Of boughs and flowers, to a Buddhist retreat.
Here birds are alive with mountain light,
And the mind touches peace in a pool,
A thousand sounds are quieted
By the breathing of a temple bell.”
(Ch’ang Chien, “A Buddhist Retreat Behind Broken Mountain Temple”)
“In the stillness by the empty window
I sit in formal meditation wearing my monk’s surplice,
Navel and nose in alignment
Ears parallel with shoulders.
Moonlight floods the room;
The rain stops, but the eaves drip and drip.
Perfect this moment
In the vast emptiness, my understanding deepens.”
(Ryokan Taigu, 1758-1831)
“The murmuring of the spring as the night deepens,
The coloring of the hills as the sun goes down.”
(from A Zen Phrase Anthology)
“Now that I’ve shed my skin completely,
One true reality alone exists.”
(from A Zen Phrase Anthology)
“When the deep mystery of one Suchness is fathomed
All of a sudden we forget the external entanglements;
When the ten thousand things are viewed in their oneness,
We return to the origin and remain where we ever have been.”
(Seng-t’san, 6th Century Chinese Zen Master)
“To return to your original state of being,
You must become a master of stillness…
Close the gates of the senses.
Fix your mind upon one object or,
Even better, enter a state
Of objectless awareness…
Contemplate the inner radiance.”
“Beyond, beyond, totally beyond, perfectly beyond: Awakening … Yes!”
“Blend your spirit with the vastness.”
2. Thomas Cleary and J.C. Cleary, tr., The Blue Cliff Record (Boston, Shambhala Publications, 1977).
3. Frederick Franck / R.H. Blyth, Zen and Zen Classics, Selections from R.H. Blyth, compiled by Frederick Franck (New York, Random House Inc., 1978).
4. Isshu Miura and Ruth Fuller Sasaki, The Zen Koan (San Diego and New York, Harbort Brace & Company, 1965).
5. Huang Po, tr. John Blofeld, Zen Teaching of Huang Po (New York, Grove Weidenfeld, 1958).
6. David Schiller, ed., The Little Zen Companion (New York, Workman Publishing, 1994).
7. Imgard Schloegl, The Wisdom of the Zen Masters (New York, New Directions Books, 1975).