100 Zen Quotes To Bring Stillness Into Your Life

By Maxime Lagacé maxime lagace

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 100 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!

zen quotes when you realize nothing is lacking the whole world belongs to you lao tzu wisdom quotes

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

zen quotes let go or be dragged zen proverb wisdom quotes

Let go, or be dragged. Zen proverb

zen quotes what the superior man seeks is in himself what the small men seeks in in others confucius wisdom quotes

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

zen quotes to seek is to suffer to seek nothing is bliss bodhidharma wisdom quotes

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

zen quotes mind is life a mad monkey sathya sai baba wisdom quotes

Mind is like a mad monkey. Sathya Sai Baba

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zen quotes wise men dont judge they seek to understand wei wu wei wisdom quotes

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

zen quotes when thoughts arise then do all things arise when thoughts vanish then do all things vanish huang po wisdom quotes

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

zen quotes wherever you are place need maxime lagace wisdom

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

zen quotes noble minded are calm steady little people forever fussing fretting confucius wisdom

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

zen quotes rest kind you dont have prove anything jack kerouac wisdom

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

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zen quotes nothing ever goes away until has taught what need know pema chodron wisdom man water sea standing

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

zen quotes only hand that erases can write true thing meister eckhart wisdom path hiking

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

zen quotes where can find man who has forgotten words can talk him zhuangzi wisdom people sitting

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

zen quotes when discover that truth already once original selves dogen wisdom man smiling sitting

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

zen quotes life balance holding letting rumi wisdom mountain man standing top clouds

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

Related: positive, silence, Buddha

The Best Zen Quotes

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zen quotes wherever there totally eckhart tolle wisdom man city looking

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

zen quotes here awaken from out illusion separateness thich nhat hanh wisdom woman silhouette

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

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

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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

zen quotes relax nothing under control adi da wisdom man looking up sky

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

zen quotes ability observe without evaluating highest form intelligence jiddu krishnamurti wisdom woman port water

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

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

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

Related: mindfulness, prayer

Tao Te Ching, The Definitive Edition (Amazon book)

What Is Zen?

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zen quotes effort become alert awake osho wisdom beach water sea

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

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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

RelatedWhat is Zen? (zen-buddhism.net)

Part 2. Zen Quotes That Are…

The Most Famous Zen Quotes

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Searching for a famous Zen quote or author? Check out those sayings by Lao Tzu, Bruce Lee, Confucius, Buddha, etc.
zen quotes wronged nothing unless you continue remember confucius wisdom woman laughing

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

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)

zen quotes think you are too small make difference sleeping mosquito 14th dalai lama wisdom bed woman

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

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

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

zen quotes great man hard himself small others confucius wisdom

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

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

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

The essence of the Way is detachment. Bodhidharma

See also12 Practical Steps for Learning to Go With the Flow (zenhabits.net)

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Short Zen Quotes

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One-liners, short Zen quotes, sayings, thoughts and captions for your bio, social status, self-talk, motto, mantra, signs, posters, wallpapers, backgrounds.
zen quotes act without expectation lao tzu wisdom

Act without expectation. Lao Tzu

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

zen quotes dont try steer river deepak chopra wisdom man silhouette

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

Be present above all else. Naval Ravikant

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

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

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

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

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

zen quotes man who asks question fool minute does ask life confucius wisdom

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

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

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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zen quotes know enemy know yourself need not fear results hundred battles sun tzu wisdom woman looking

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

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

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

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

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

zen quotes great because hasnt failed failure hasnt stopped him confucius wisdom

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

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

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

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

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

Zen Quotes: The 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 Life

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Hope you enjoyed these beautiful Zen quotes. If you did, please share them with a friend today!

Are you Zen/relaxed? What’s your favorite Zen quote? Please let us know in the comment section below!

Zen Quotes Video

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Relax Music For Stress Relief (1 HOUR – With Beautiful Zen Quotes)

Author Bio

maxime lagace

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

July 11, 2022

Originally published

March 15, 2018

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22 comments

  1. Love what you have done here. Bravo!

    Another if you do not have it:

    Great doubt, great awakening.
    Little Doubt, little awakening.
    No doubt, no awakening.

    1. Thank you Dennis,
      it’s indeed a great quote you’ve found (or created?) here.
      The wise will ask questions forever.

      Best,
      Maxime

  2. Thanks Maxime for such a collection, it´s all a great companion. This one I like it: “The most important problem in your entire life is the one you are facing right now”.

    1. Thank you Bruno!
      I loved curating these Zen quotes. We can find so much practical wisdom with them.

      Best,
      Maxime

  3. We stand alone
    On an infinite sea of shifting sand.
    When the heart walks the lonly beaches
    Carrying distant memories,
    As if caressing the present with the past,
    Still learning how not to tie the knot in the first place.

  4. I think the quote that Arveen was referring to is, “First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.” At least that’s how Donovan sang it back in the 1960s!

    https://youtu.be/lkLp9d7HKuA

    I believe its original reference, though, was from Qingyuan Weixin who wrote, “Before I had studied Chan for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains, and rivers as rivers. When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and rivers are not rivers. But now that I have got its very substance I am at rest. For it’s just that I see mountains once again as mountains, and rivers once again as rivers.”

    Nice post, Maxime!

  5. There is one Zen saying which says… when I started Zen you could the mountain. Later it vanished and now I am content to see the mountain again. That saying should be featured on your page.

    What a lovely collection.. akin to the work of Confucius …

    1. Hi Arveen, thank you for your message.
      I’ve searched for the quote you’re referring to but can’t find it.
      Do you have the exact words?

  6. What’s my favorite Zen quote? “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

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