Do you experience a racing mind, where thoughts are overpowering you and you’re having trouble finding peace in the present moment?
This happens to me all the time. That’s why I love immersing myself in Zen thinking.
Put simply, Zen is about living a life of simplicity, tranquility and mindfulness in the present moment. It’s not any more complicated than this.
Zen emphasizes experiencing the truth rather than being able to explain it.
That’s why I love these quotes by Zen spiritual masters. They don’t tell you how to experience clarity of mind, but rather point the way.
I hope you find them as useful as I did.
“When composing a verse let there not be a hair’s breath separating your mind from what you write; composition of a poem must be done in an instant, like a woodcutter felling a huge tree or a swordsman leaping at a dangerous enemy.”
― Bashō Matsuo
“When it is understood that one loses joy and happiness in the attempt to possess them, the essence of natural farming will be realized. The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
― Masanobu Fukuoka
“Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.”
― Huang Po
“To preserve the silence within–amid all the noise. To remain open and quiet, a moist humus in the fertile darkness where the rain falls and the grain ripens–no matter how many tramp across the parade ground in whirling dust under an arid sky.”
― Dag Hammarskjöld
“Your life is your practice. Your spiritual practice does not occur someplace other than in your life right now, and your life is nowhere other than where you are. You are looking for answers, insight, and wisdom that you already possess. Live the life in front of you, be the life you are, and see what you find out for yourself.”
― Karen Maezen Miller
“What is first seen as a loss is now seen as a gain. For he finds solitude, not in far off, quite places; he creates it out of himself, spreads it around him, wherever he may be, because he loves it and slowly he ripens in this tranquility. For the inner process is beginning to unfold, stillness is extraordinarily important.”
― Janwillem van de Wetering
“To deny the reality of things is to miss their reality; to assert the emptiness of things is to miss their reality. The more you talk and think about it, the further astray you wander from the truth. Stop talking and thinking and there is nothing you will not be able to know.”
― Sengcan, Hsin Hsin Ming
“Zen is not some fancy, special art of living. Our teaching is just to live, always in reality, in its exact sense. To make our effort, moment after moment, is our way. In an exact sense, the only thing we actually can study in our life is that on which we are working in each moment. We cannot even study Buddha’s words.”
― Shunryu Suzuki
“The baby looks at things all day without winking; that is because his eyes are not focused on any particular object. He goes without knowing where he is going, and stops without knowing what he is doing. He merges himself within the surroundings and moves along with it. These are the principles of mental hygiene.”
“So we should be concentrated with our full mind and body on what we do; and we should be faithful, subjectively and objectively, to ourselves, and especially to our feelings. Even when you do not feel so well, it is better to express how you feel without any particular attachment or intention. So you may say, “Oh, I am sorry, I do not feel well.”
― Shunryu Suzuki
“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 W. Watts
“For the unified mind in accord with the Way all self-centered striving ceases. Doubts and irresolutions vanish and life in true faith is possible. With a single stroke we are freed from bondage; nothing clings to us and we hold nothing. All is empty, clear, self-illuminating, with no exertion of the mind’s power.”
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