Zen quotes can offer us a different perspective on life, ease our suffering and may even lead to sudden, life-changing enlightenment.

Quotes can help us to learn from the wisdom of others. They can inspire us to be our best and happiest selves. I love to read quotes from successful and inspiring people, but my favorites are those of a spiritual nature, such as Zen quotes, that help me to get a bigger perspective on my life.

Zen Buddhism is a way of life.

It’s teaching helps us to gain perspective and clarity on life. Zen Buddhism can answer the big questions of existence and help us make sense of our experiences. It can lead us to a healthier view of the world and a deep understanding of what it means to be human at this moment. Zen Buddhism also helps us when we experience loss and suffering and can be a comfort when we are in need.

The following Zen proverbs might switch your perspective on life. Meditate on the ones that resonate with you. You might also like to copy or print the quotes out and stick them above your desk, on your mirror or another place you will see them often.

Zen sayings have levels of meaning; therefore don’t just skim through the quotes but take the time to think about them. You might like to sit in meditation, focusing on a Zen quote to find its deeper meaning for you.

Some people even experience enlightenment when meditating on Zen sayings.

The following quotes are not necessarily from Buddha, or even from Buddhists. In fact, one is actually from Yoda! However, they do embody the spirit of Zen.

Zen quotes on the mind

The following quotes can help us to quiet our racing minds and reflect more deeply on our place in the world.

‘Health for both mind and body comes from not mourning over the past, not worrying about the future, but to live the present moment wisely.’

― Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai

‘All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.’

– Buddha

Zen sayings on action

Some quotes can also help us think about the actions we take more mindfully. Mindfulness is a big part of Buddhist philosophy, but many studies have found that they really do reduce stress and ease depression, helping people to live happier lives.

‘The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.’

― Lily Tomlin

‘Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.’

– Alan Watts

‘Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.’

– Thich Nhat Hanh

Zen quotes on emotions

These quotes can help us when we experience negative emotions. Buddhism suggests that our suffering is caused by the way we think and feel about events rather than the events themselves.

‘You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger’.

– Buddha

‘Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.’

– Yoda

Zen proverbs on oneness

These quotes can help us to remember that everything in the universe is one. These philosophies are ancient. However, modern science suggests a similar idea. We are all made of stardust!

‘Heaven and earth and I are of the same root. The ten-thousand things and I are of one substance.’

– Seng-chao

‘Nothing ever exists entirely alone. Everything is in relation to everything else.’

– Buddha

‘To pierce through the illusion of separateness, to realize that which lies beyond duality — that is a goal worthy of a lifetime.’

– Unknown

Zen quotes on suffering

When we are suffering, it sometimes helps us to meditate on quotes that offer us some solace. Buddhists believe that it is our clinging to things that cause us to suffer. We gain freedom from suffering when we let go of our expectations and accept life as it is.

‘Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass…It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.’

– Vivian Greene

‘Guilt, regret, resentment, sadness & all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past & not enough presence.’

– Eckhart Tolle

Zen quotes on enlightenment

Zen Buddhism offers a simple and practical approach to spirituality. The point is not to become removed from our earthly existence but to embrace it and accept it for what it is.

‘Before enlightenment – chop wood, carry water.

After enlightenment – chop wood, carry water.’

– Zen Buddhist Proverb

Zen Buddhism offers a profound way of looking at the world.  It can help us be happier and more content with our lives. These quotes cover all areas of life and offer wisdom that can be a comfort.

Learning from the wisdom of those who have gone before helps us get some perspective on our own lives. I hope these quotes made you feel calmer and a little more in touch with the oneness of the universe.

Please share with us your enlightening quotes in the comments.


  1. https://plato.stanford.edu

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