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79 Zen Quotes that Will Help You Choose the Right Path

“What are you” is the simple question that defines what Zen is.

To practice the faith with strength as evidenced by such catchphrases as “No dependence on words and letters” as well as “A special transmission outside the classified teachings,” Zen practices center on living every moment to the fullest, transcending dualism and using it freely, respecting the physical, enlarging awareness, releasing natural altruistic action and increasing serenity and effectiveness in daily life.

Zen quotes are not all about convictions or ideas but are about the discovery of universal wisdom in your own daily life. In this article, I will share some Zen quotes that will surely brighten up your life.

79 Zen Quotes

1. “Each morning, we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” – Buddha

2. “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

3. “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wrote down ‘Happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon

4. “Flow with whatever may happen. And let your mind be free: stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.” – Zhuangzi

5. “The truth of Zen, just a little bit of it is what turns one’s humdrum life, a life of monotonous, uninspiring commonplaceness, into one of art, full of genuine inner creativity.” – D.T Suzuki

6. “Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.” – Sonia Ricotti

7. “The way of Zen is to become independent and strong. Don’t rely on others for perceptions of life and truth. Do it individually.” – Frederick Lenz

8. “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating you.”- George Bernard Shaw

9. “I believe that the only true religion consists of having a good heart.” – Dalai Lama

10. “These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.” – Najwa Zebian

11. “One day some people came to the master and asked: “How can you be happy in a world of such impermanence, where you cannot protect your loved ones from harm, illness or death?” The master held up a glass and said: “Someone gave me this glass; it holds my water admirably and it glistens in the sunlight. I touch it and it rings! One day the wind may blow it off the shelf, or my elbow may knock it from the table. I know this glass is already broken, so I enjoy it incredibly.” – Ajahn Chah

12. “When you try to control everything, you enjoy nothing, sometimes, you just need to relax, breathe, let go and live in the moment.” – Buddha

13. “True love does not just choose one person. When true love is there, you shine like a lamp. You don’t just shine on one person in the room. That light you emit is for everyone in the room. If you really have love in you, everyone around you will profit – not only humans, but animals, plants, and minerals. Love, true love, is that. True love is equanimity.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

14. “Quiet the mind and the soul will speak.” – Ma Jaya Sati

15. “When there are thoughts, it is a distraction: when there are no thoughts, it is meditation.” – Ramana Maharshi

16. “The wind blows through the sky and flies over continents without settling anywhere. It traverses space and leaves no trace. Thus should thoughts pass through our minds, leaving no karmic residues and not altering our realization of fundamental simplicity.” – H.H. DilgoKhyentse Rinpoche

17. “Coming, going, the water birds don’t leave a trace, don’t follow a path.” – Dogen

18. “Whatever our individual troubles and challenges may be, it’s important to pause every now and then to appreciate all that we have, on every level.” – Shakti Gawain

19. “Without others, we would have no chance at all to develop beyond ego. So, the idea here is to feel grateful that others are presenting us with tremendous obstacle, even threats and challenges. The point is to appreciate that. Without them, we could not follow the path at all.” – Chogyam Trungpa

20. “Nothing outside yourself can cause any trouble. You yourself make the waves in your mind, if you leave your mind as it is, it will become calm. This mind is called big mind.” – Shunryu Suzuki

21. “What if rather than being disheartened by the ambiguity, the uncertainty of life, we accepted it and relaxed into it?” – Pema Chodron

22. “Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

23. “I feel that the essence of spiritual practice is your attitude toward others. When you have a pure, sincere motivation, then you have the right attitude toward others based on kindness, compassion, love, and respect. Practice brings clear realization of the oneness of all human beings and the importance of others benefiting by your actions.” – Dalai Lama

24. “If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.” – Lao Tzu

25. “We must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools.” – Martin Luther King

26. “Somehow, we pattern life in a way that never allows us enough time to actually taste its flavor. There is continual busyness, continual searching for the next moment, a continual grasping quality to life. That is the first noble truth. Understanding and confronting suffering is the first step.” – Chogyam Trungpa

27. “What I know for sure is that when you de-clutter, whether it’s on your home, your head, or your heart. It is astounding what will flow into that space that will enrich you, your life and your family.” – Peter Walsh

28. “Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” – Dalai Lama

29. “Difficult things provoke all your irritations and bring your habitual patterns to the surface. And that becomes the moment of truth. You have the choice to launch into your lousy habitual patterns, or to stay with the rawness and discomfort of the situation and let it transform you.” – Pema Chodron

30. “To make the right choices in life, you have to get in touch with your soul. To do this, you need to experience solitude, which most people are afraid of because in the silence you hear the truth and know the solutions.” – Deepak Chopra

31. “Just what future the designer of the universe had provided for the souls of men I do not know, I cannot prove. But I find that the whole order of nature confirms my confidence that, if it is not like our noblest hopes and dreams, it will transcend them.” – Henry Norris Russell

32. “What comes, will go. What is found, will be lost again. But what you are, is beyond coming and going and beyond description, you are it.” – Rumi

33. “When we do not expect anything, we can be ourselves.”- Shunryu Suzuki

34. “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius

35. “The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” – Aristotle

36. “Even the worst losses become workable over time. They become part of your life story and destiny, they become an important part of who you have become. Through surviving our difficulties, tenderness and compassion naturally arise. Our hardship is not only something intensely personal and intimate but also something we share with the entire world. Everything you have survived is responsible for who you are today. They strengthen you. They are part of your heritage and cannot be taken away from you, the same mysterious way that everything and everyone you have ever lost remains alive and present in your heart.” – Jack Kornfield

37. “Don’t judge others, because you are not perfect.” – Buddha

38. “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt

39. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” – Steve Jobs

40. “You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” – Eckhart Tolle

41. “There’s no such thing as what you ‘should’ be doing with your life. If you’re not hurting anyone, you’re not holding yourself back from something you really want to try, and you enjoy the way you spend your days, then you’re a smashing success.” – Lori Deschene

42. “Miracles are retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.” – C.S Lewis

43. “People tell you the world looks a certain way. Parents tell you how to think. Schools tell you how to think. TV. Religion. And then at a certain point, if you’re lucky, you realize you can make up your own mind. Nobody sets the rules but you. You can Design your own life.” – Carrie-Anne Moss

44. “In oneself lies the whole world and if you know how to look and learn, the door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give you either the key or the door to open, except yourself.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

45. “Eventually, all things fall into place. Until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moments, and know everything happens for a reason.” – Albert Schweitzer

46. “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu

47. “To escape from the world means that one’s mind is not concerned with the opinions of the world.” – DogenZenji

48. “Let go or be dragged.” – Zen Proverbs

49. “On the recollection of so many and great favors and blessings, I now, with a high sense of gratitude, presume to offer up my sincere thanks to the almighty, the creator and preserver.” – William Bartman

50. “It’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong.” – Richard Feynman

51. “Every situation in life is temporary. So, when life is good, make sure you enjoy and receive it fully. And when life is not so good, remember that it will not last forever and better days are on the way.” – Jenni Young

52. “If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” – Roald Dahl

53. “Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen, that stillness becomes a radiance.” – Morgan Freeman

54. “The future depends on what we do in the present.” – Mahatma Gandhi

55. “I am so fresh in soul and spirit that life gushes and bubbles around me in a thousand springs.” – Robert Schumann

56. “The mind is like a water. When it is turbulent, it is difficult to see, when it’s calm, everything becomes clear.” – Prasad Mahes

57. “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

58. “If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a lot of time dealing with a life you don’t want.” – Kevin Ngo

59. “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” – Confucius

60. “Whether we’re seeking inner peace or global peace or a combination of the two, the way to experience it is to build on the foundation of unconditional openness to all that arises. Peace isn’t an experience free of challenges, free of rough and smooth, it’s an experience that’s expansive enough to include all that arises without feeling threatened.” – Pema Chodron

61. “We can’t let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us, and make us kinder. You always have a choice.”  – Dalai Lama

62. “To be in harmony with the oneness of life is to be without anxiety about imperfection.” – Zen master Dogen

63. “The only way to get in touch with reality is to pay attention without making conclusions.” – Sadhguru

64. “Life is the most difficult exam. Many people fail because they try to copy others, not realizing that everyone has different question papers.” – Unknown

65. “Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace.” – Robert J. Sawyer

66. “Life is all about balance. You don’t always need to be getting stuff done. Sometimes it’s perfectly okay, and absolutely necessary, to shut down, kick back and do nothing.” – Lori Deschene

67. “In this world, everything changes except good deeds and bad deeds; these follow you as the shadow follows the body.” – Bhikkhu Bodhi

68. “Have good trust in yourself, not in the one that you think you should be, but in the one that you are.” – MaezumiRoshi

69. “When I feel like dancing, I dance. I don’t care if anyone else is dancing or if everyone else is laughing at me. I dance.” – Rachel Danson

70. “Upon retiring, sleep as if you had entered your last sleep. Upon awakening, leave your bed behind you instantly as if you had cast away a pair of old shoes.” – SoyenShaku

71. “Each of us has something to do in this lifetime. We all have negative emotions to be purified and positive emotions to be cultivated. All of us need to reconnect to our source and drop our personal stories, don’t we? Men, women, old, young, from here, from there – it is the same. All you can do is your practice. There is nothing else. Don’t get caught up. Don’t stop. We have to learn how to get out of our own way. Because ultimately, the only thing standing in our way is ourselves.” – Tenzin Palmo

72. “If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.” – C.G. Jung

73. “The term egoless-ness just means freedom from clinging to identity. But this has nothing to do with being a doormat. It has a great sense of freedom and integrity. We are not trying to be anything to anyone or prove ourselves in any way. It doesn’t mean we become stupid and can’t respond to life, it just means that we can respond directly free of some static identity that prevents us from feeling the fullness of being.” – Elizabeth MattisNamgyel

74. “Zen pretty much comes down to three things – everything changes; everything is connected; pay attention.” –Jane Hirshfield

75. “Find peace within yourself and you will find peace in the world.” – Raphael Hudson

76. “There is no path to happiness; happiness is the path.” – Buddha

77. “We suffer, then that suffering passes and we feel relieved of it, until suffering returns again, and we suffer, not having learned from the suffering. We’re always thinking, ‘if this changes, if that changes…’, then something will be different inside, in other words, we’re always thinking the outside shapes the inside. But we’d have much greater joy, satisfaction, and deeper meaning if we understand that on the inside, with the mind, we can shape our happiness.” – DzigarKongtrul Rinpoche

78. “Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s a part of success.” – Buddha

79. “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” – Dalai Lama


Zen teaches that all human beings can have the ability to attain self-enlightenment.

Common people tend to search for happiness, prosperity, and peace of mind outside, but only some will understand that bliss and our true self can be found on the inside.

Live your life to the fullest. Take time to explore new things and enjoy every moment of it!