170 Zen Quotes To Bring Stillness Into Your Life

By Maxime Lagacé Maxime is the founder and chief editor of WisdomQuotes. He has been writing and collecting quotes since 2004. He’s also into personal development and productivity. Most of all, he’s dedicated to help you live a simpler and more peaceful life. Learn more about him on his about page.Here are 170 of the best Zen quotes I could find. What’s my goal? To inspire you and make you feel more peaceful and relaxed. You’ll discover quotes by Buddha, Einstein, Lao Tzu, Bruce Lee, and more. Enjoy!

When you realize nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you. Lao Tzu

Let go, or be dragged. Zen proverb

What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others. Confucius

To seek is to suffer. To seek nothing is bliss. Bodhidharma

Mind is like a mad monkey. Sathya Sai Baba


Wise men don’t judge – they seek to understand. Wei Wu Wei

When thoughts arise, then do all things arise. When thoughts vanish, then do all things vanish. Huang Po

Wherever you are, it’s the place you need to be. Maxime Lagacé

The noble-minded are calm and steady. Little people are forever fussing and fretting. Confucius

Rest and be kind, you don’t have to prove anything. Jack Kerouac


Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. Pema Chödrön

Only the hand that erases can write the true thing. Meister Eckhart

Where can I find a man who has forgotten words so I can talk with him? Zhuangzi

When we discover that the truth is already in us, we are all at once our original selves. Dogen

Life is a balance of holding on and letting go. Rumi

Related: positive, silence, Buddha

The Best Zen Quotes

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Wherever you are, be there totally. Eckhart Tolle

I live by letting things happen. Dogen

Zen is not some fancy, special art of living. Our teaching is just to live, always in reality, in its exact sense. Shunryu Suzuki

Who you are is always right. Ming-Dao Deng Click to tweet

And when they played they really played. And when they worked they really worked. Dr. Seuss

Do not seek the truth, only cease to cherish your opinions. Seng-ts’an

One loses joy and happiness in the attempt to possess them. Masanobu Fukuoka

Forget the years, forget distinctions. Leap into the boundless and make it your home. Zhuangzi

Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. Buddha

Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace. Confucius


Relax. Nothing’s missing. Maxime Lagacé

Peace of mind is that mental condition in which you have accepted the worst. Lin Yutang

Learn to be comfortable in adversity but most importantly, learn to be comfortable when you’re bored. Maxime Lagacé

The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt, and open to all the possibilities. Shunryu Suzuki

Relax. Nothing is under control. Adi Da

The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands. Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Amazon book)

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. Bruce Lee

Everything that happens to you is a form of instruction if you pay attention. Robert Greene

I don’t mind what happens. That is the essence of inner freedom. Jiddu Krishnamurti

The less you try to impress, the more peaceful you can be. Maxime Lagacé

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

Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear? Lao Tzu

When one first seeks the truth, one separates oneself from it. Dogen

Still your waters. Josh Waitzkin

Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun. Alan Watts

Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone. Alan Watts

Every experience is a lesson. Every loss is a gain. Sathya Sai Baba

More related topics: mindfulness, prayerSee also: Tao Te Ching, The Definitive Edition (Amazon book)

Zen Quotes Video

Go to table of contentsRelax Music For Stress Relief (1 HOUR – With Beautiful Zen Quotes)

What Is Zen?

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Zen is an effort to become alert and awake. Osho

Zen teaches nothing; it merely enables us to wake up and become aware. It does not teach, it points. D.T. Suzuki

Zen in it’s essence is the art of seeing into the nature of one’s being, and it points the way from bondage to freedom. D.T. Suzuki

In Zen we have no gurus. Frederick Lenz Click to tweet

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

The true purpose [of Zen] is to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, and to let everything go as it goes. Shunryu Suzuki

Zen practice is to open up our small mind. Shunryu Suzuki

Want to get the Wisdom Quotes collection?You can buy it today by clicking below.Get The Quotes Collection

Zen is not a religion. There is no room for a cult. There is no dependence on a teacher. There is only learning how to use your own mind and making it strong. Frederick Lenz

Zen teaches that if we can open up to the inevitability of our demise, we can begin to transform and lighten up about it. Allen Klein

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, and that the past and the future are abstractions without any concrete reality. Alan Watts

Zen is a path of liberation. It liberates you. It is freedom from the first step to the last. You are not required to follow any rules; you are required to find out your own rules and your own life in the light of awareness. Osho

Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine. Shunryu Suzuki

Zen is not an art, it’s not a religion. It’s a realisation. Gene Clark

See also: What is Zen? (zen-buddhism.net)

Part 2. Zen Quotes That Are…

The Most Famous Zen Quotes

Go to table of contentsSearching for a famous Zen quote or author? Check out those sayings by Lao Tzu, Bruce Lee, Confucius, Buddha, etc.

To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it. Confucius Click to tweet

If you chase two rabbits, you catch none. Confucius

Do not think you will necessarily be aware of your own enlightenment. Dogen

To study Buddhism is to study ourselves. To study ourselves is to forget ourselves. Dogen

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is a miracle. Albert Einstein

Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else. Shunryu Suzuki (Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind)

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. Shunryu Suzuki

The only Zen you can find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there. Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. Lao Tzu

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito. 14th Dalai Lama

The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus. Bruce Lee

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. Buddha

The first and the best victory is to conquer self. Plato

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. 14th Dalai Lama

All know the way, but few actually walk it. Bodhidharma

Not engaging in ignorance is wisdom. Bodhidharma

The essence of the Way is detachment. Bodhidharma

See also: 12 Practical Steps for Learning to Go With the Flow (zenhabits.net)Want to become more peaceful?It’s simple: Get our daily quotes by email today!Subscribe!

Short Zen Quotes

Go to table of contentsOne-liners, short Zen quotes, sayings, thoughts and captions for your bio, social status, self-talk, motto, mantra, signs, posters, wallpapers, backgrounds.

Act without expectation. Lao Tzu

Not creating delusions is enlightenment. Bodhidharma

All things are difficult before they are easy. Thomas Fuller

Words diminish meanings; these words included. Unknown

The more you know, the less you need. Yvon Chouinard (Patagonia)

Life begins where fear ends. Osho Click to tweet

Don’t be afraid to just sit and watch. Anthony Bourdain

Your mind wants control. Life wants change. Maxime Lagacé

Do not be too interested in Zen. Shunryu Suzuki

Be present above all else. Naval Ravikant

Think with your whole body. Taisen Deshimaru

Love all. Serve all. Help ever. Hurt never. Sathya Sai Baba

Don’t try to steer the river. Deepak Chopra Click to tweet

To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short. Confucius

Roads were made for journeys not destinations. Confucius

Don’t curse the darkness, light a candle. Confucius

Body and mind dropped off. Dogen (on enlightenment)

Those who seek the easy way do not seek the true way. Dogen

Enlightenment is intimacy with all things. Dogen

A Zen master’s life is one continuous mistake. Dogen

Now I know what success is: living your truth, sharing it. Kamal Ravikant

To live – is that not enough? D.T. Suzuki

Zen has no business with ideas. D.T. Suzuki

I follow four dictates: face it, accept it, deal with it, then let it go. Sheng-yen

This will never come again. Steve Hagen

Movement is evil. Being still is good. Ben Caesar

In the highest level a man has the look of knowing nothing. Yamamoto Tsunetomo

Singlemindedness is all-powerful. Yamamoto Tsunetomo

Inspirational Zen Sayings

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If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. Sun Tzu

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps. Confucius

If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else. Confucius

Truth makes you rise to new heights, no matter where you are. Kamal Ravikant

These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb. Najwa Zebian

Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose. Lyndon B. Johnson

It is easy to believe we are each waves and forget we are also the ocean. Jon J. Muth

Little people overwhelmed by emotions. Zen people are calm and detached. Maxime Lagacé

Emptiness which is conceptually liable to be mistaken for sheer nothingness is in fact the reservoir of infinite possibilities. D.T. Suzuki

In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity. Sun Tzu

Related: Hard Times Quotes To Uplift And Inspire You

Even if it seems certain that you will lose, retaliate. Neither wisdom nor technique has a place in this. A real man does not think of victory or defeat. He plunges recklessly towards an irrational death. By doing this, you will awaken from your dreams. Yamamoto Tsunetomo (Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai)

Purity is something that cannot be attained except by piling effort upon effort. Yamamoto Tsunetomo (Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai)

The three elements of creativity are thus: loving, knowing, and doing – or heart, mind, and hands – or, as Zen Buddhist teaching has it; great faith, great question, and great courage. Eric Maisel

You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge. Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

A man is great not because he hasn’t failed; a man is great because failure hasn’t stopped him. Confucius

Have the fearless attitude of a hero and the loving heart of a child. Soyen Shaku

Confuse them with your silence and amaze them with your actions. Unknown

There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. 14th Dalai Lama

As a bee gathering nectar does not harm or disturb the color and fragrance of the flower; so do the wise move through the world. Buddha

My daily affairs are quite ordinary; but I’m in total harmony with them. Layman Pang

Unhappiness and rain just drift by and are gone, they are visitors. John Aske

I don’t hold on to anything, don’t reject anything; nowhere an obstacle or conflict. Layman Pang

We just let it happen… and that’s the beauty of this technique. Bob Ross

Just as parents care for their children, you should bear in mind the whole universe. Dogen

See also: Here’s How A Month Of Zen Meditation Changed My Life (fastcompany.com)

Deep Zen Sayings

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We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness. Thich Nhat Hanh Click to tweet

The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass. Dogen

Cease from practice based on intellectual understanding, pursuing words, and following after speech. Dogen

It is the nature of the wise to resist pleasures, but the foolish to be a slave to them. Epictetus

They call it ‘peace of mind’ but maybe it should be called ‘peace from mind’. Naval Ravikant

Your mind is a mad monkey trying to understand life which is unfair and crazy. Get used to it. Maxime Lagacé

To set up what you like against what you dislike, this is the disease of the mind. Sengcan

But as long as you think you are practicing zazen for the sake of something, that is not true practice. Shunryu Suzuki

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

The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence. Jiddu Krishnamurti

Pursue not the outer entanglements; dwell not in the inner void; be serene in the oneness of things; and dualism vanishes by itself. Sengcan

One thing, all things: move among and intermingle, without distinction. To live in this realization is to be without anxiety about non-perfection. To live in this faith is the road to non-duality, because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind. Sengcan

There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. Leonard Cohen

Why do you so earnestly seek the truth in distant places? Look for delusion and truth in the bottom of your own heart. Ryōkan

The thief left it behind: the moon at my window. Ryōkan

Matters of great concern should be treated lightly. Matters of small concern should be treated seriously. Yamamoto Tsunetomo (Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, Amazon book)

We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want. Lao Tzu

For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them. Thich Nhat Hanh

One has not understood until one has forgotten it. D.T. Suzuki

Wise Zen Sayings

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A great man is hard on himself; a small man is hard on others. Confucius Click to tweet

To be truly ignorant, be content with your own knowledge. Zhuangzi

It’s beautiful to be alone. To be alone does not mean to be lonely. It means the mind is not influenced and contaminated by society. Jiddu Krishnamurti

Related: The Beginner’s Guide to Zen Habits: A Guided Tour (zenhabits.net)

When you understand one thing through and through, you understand everything. When you try to understand everything, you will not understand anything. Shunryu Suzuki

When we start to feel anxious or depressed, instead of asking, “What do I need to get to be happy?” The question becomes, “What am I doing to disturb the inner peace that I already have?”. D.T. Suzuki

If you want something then you lose everything. If you don’t want anything then you already have everything. Seungsahn

To say one is revolutionary is a little like saying one is a Zen Buddhist – if you say you are, you probably aren’t. Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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

The foolish reject what they see, not what they think; the wise reject what they think, not what they see. Huang Po

A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. Plato Click to tweet

The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life. Confucius

Un-think. Un-learn. Un-know. Un-believe. Un-speculate. Un-seek. Un-strive. Un-fear. Lose your mind and effortlessly be. Brian Thompson

Knowledge is learning something everyday. Wisdom is letting go of something everyday. Unknown

Don’t be satisfied with your accomplishment, nor be dissatisfied with it. Unknown

Little people try to control everything. Thus, they control nothing. Wise people focus on one thing, the most important, and let go of the rest. Maxime Lagacé

You can have the mind or you can have the moment. Naval Ravikant

Obstacles don’t block the path, they are the path. Zen proverb

One must be deeply aware of the impermanence of the world. Dogen

Prefer to be defeated in the presence of the wise than to excel among fools. Dogen

Related: words of wisdom

Part 3. Conclusion

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Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing. Lao Tzu

Let’s recap:Want to be Zen? First understand your ego is a desires machine. If you don’t control your desires, they will control you.Letting go is the wisest path. The other one leads to misery.All your sufferings have the same cause: your thoughts.Fools seek happiness externally. The wise seek it in themselves.What the most Zen people seek? Nothing. Call to action: Read The Power Of Words – 3 Ways They Can Change Your Lifeor 73 Life Tips To Live Your Best Lifeor Simple Living: 30 Ways To Simplify Your Life Hope you enjoyed these beautiful Zen quotes. If you did, please share them with a friend today!What was your favorite quote? Please let us know in the comment section below!

Author Bio

Maxime Lagacé started collecting quotes in 2004 after he lost his girlfriend in a car accident.In search of meaning, he dived in the self-improvement world, psychology and trail running.Books, blogs, quotes and nature became his guide.He started journaling, reflecting, writing his thoughts, feelings and quotes.His goal was to understand his pain, his depression, his fears, his lack of motivation and inspiration.He finished his software engineering degree in 2007 at the École de Technologie Supérieure de Montréal. He also studied at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.A few years later, he started his first website to share his passion for quotes.Maxime is a father of two, INFJ and also loves running.Other notable interests of Maxime are health (mental and physical), meditation, nutrition, bananas, SEO, human potential, education, learning, productivity and minimalism.Finally, he is (very) far from being perfect.You can find him on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Quora, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube.

Last update

March 7, 2022

Originally published

March 15, 2018Disclaimer: This article may include affiliate links to books and products I love. If you choose to click through and make a purchase, I will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. In the end, this will help me make WisdomQuotes better. Thank you.

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