Zen Essays

Zen and other Sayings

-Han Shan Te Ching- Maxim No 11.

Put a fish on land and he will remember the ocean until he dies. Put a bird in a cage, yet he will not forget the sky. Each remains homesick for his true home, the place where his nature has decreed that he should be.

Man is born in the state of innocence. His original nature is love and grace and purity. Yet he emigrates so casually without even a thought of his old home. Is this not sadder than the fishes and the birds?


 - The Buddha

Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think. Suffering follows an evil thought as the wheels of a cart follow the oxen that draws it. Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think. Joy follows a pure thought like a shadow that never leaves.

 - Linji

Trying to label anything is like tying to drive a nail into the empty sky.



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.

 Ts'ai Ken T'an

Water which is too pure has no fish.

 Folk Zen Saying

A heavy snowfall disappears into the sea. What silence!

Zen Saying

Knock on the sky and listen to the sound!

 Zen Koan

What is your face before your mother and father were born?

 Zen Koan

When you can do nothing, what can you do?

 Zen Mondo

A monk asked Chao-chou, "I have just entered the monastery: please give me some guidance."
Chao-chou said, "Have you eaten your rice gruel?"
The monk said,"Yes, I've eaten."
Chao-chou said, "Then go wash your bowl."

 Robert M. Pirsig

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. 

 Zen Koan

What is the colour of wind?

 Zen Koan

Two monks were arguing about the temple flag waving in the wind. One said, "The flag moves." The other said, "The wind moves." They argued back and forth but could not agree. Hui-neng, the sixth Patriarch,said: "Gentlemen! It is not the flag that moves. It is not the wind that moves. It is your mind that moves." The two monks were struck with awe.

Zen Saying

Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind.

 Zen Saying

When an ordinary man attains knowledge, he is a sage; when a sage attains understanding, he is an ordinary man.

- Taizan Maezumi

Emptiness is infact form when we forget the self. There's nothing in the universe *other* than ourself. Nothing to compare, name, or identify. When it's the only thing there is, how can we talk about it??

- Yaunwu

If you put your conditioned intellect to rest for a long time, suddenly it will be like the bottom falling out of a bucket -- then you will naturally be happy and at peace.

- Milarepa

Do not entertain hopes for realization, but practice all your life

- Zen Saying

If you understand, things are just as they are... If you do not understand, things are just as they are....

- Hui-Neng

As one lamp serves to dispel a thousand years of darkness, so one flash of wisdom destroys ten thousand years of ignorance

- Shunryu Suzuki

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

 - Buddha's last words

All conditioned things are impermanent. Work out your own salvation with diligence.

- Dogen Zenji

A flower falls, even though we love it; and a weed grows, even though we do not love it

- Buddha

We do not learn by experience, but by our capacity for experience

- Lao-Tzu

The world is ruled by letting things take their course.

- Jesus

If your eye is pure, there will be sunshine in your soul. But if your eye is clouded with evil thoughts and desires, you are in deep spiritual darkness. And oh, how deep that darkness can be!

- Anonymous

To get rid of your passions is not Nirvana; to look upon them as no matter of yours, that is nirvana.

Yasutani Roshi

The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there

Dogen Zenji

If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?

Heart Sutra

Beyond, beyond, totally beyond, perfectly beyond: Awakening ..Yes!

Maezumi Roshi

Have good trust in yourself -- not in the One that you think you should be, but in the One that you are


I'd like to offer something to help you but in the zen school we don't have a single thing!

The Buddha

I gained nothing at all from supreme enlightenment, and for that very reason it is called supreme enlightenment

Shunryu Suzuki

Real Practice has orientation or direction, but it has no purpose or gaining idea, so it can include everything that comes

The Buddha

One who conquers himself is greater than another who conquers a thousand times a thousand on the battlefield.

Taizan Maezumi

Just live that life. It doesn't matter whether it is life or hell, life of the hungry ghost, life of the animal, it's okay; just live that life, see. And as a matter of fact no other way. Where you stand, where you are, that's what your life is right there, regardless of how painful it is or how enjoyable it is. That's what it is.

Yasutani Roshi

The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there.






The following is a selection essays about ZenBuddhism

This section is currently being updated   



On Suffering

Within our own nature we can allow the duality of the internal "subjective" and the external "objective" to dissolve into "the homogeneous" and "the unanimous". We may only remember the faintest of sound, as the noises of the world and our own true nature become one, and suffering becomes a remnant of a thought we once knew. 

-- Jishin Hoka

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