Tuesday, August 03, 2010


Often I come across a Zen saying, or a Zen-related saying, that is worth noting down. Some are by renowned masters, such as Shunryu Suzuki. Some are by Asian poets, such as Basho. Some are anonymous. All are worth remembering, and even worthy of meditation. As my collection of these expressions grows, I will periodically post a new series.

A student went to see his meditation teacher, and said, “My situation is horrible! I feel distracted most of the time. My legs ache. I keep falling asleep. It’s terrible.”
The teacher said, “It will pass.”
Some time later the student went to his teacher, and said, “I feel wonderful! I think I’m enlightened!”
The teacher said, “It will pass.”

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

The Buddha may, or may not, have said:
“When seeing, just see;
“When hearing, just hear;
“When knowing, just know;
“When thinking, just think.”
I would add:
“When not thinking, just not think.”

“If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?”
-- Dogen Zenji

“A flower falls, even though we love it, and a weed grows, even though we do not love it.”
-- Dogen Zenji

“I’d like to offer some concepts to help you, but in the Zen school we don’t have such a thing.”
-- Ikkyu

Q. How do you describe a schizophrenic Zen Buddhist?
A. A person who is at two with the universe.

Shunryu Suzuki was asked, “How much ‘ego’ does one need?”
Suzuki answered, “Just enough so you don’t step in front of a bus.”

After a session of zazen, one monk said to another monk, “Were you not thinking what I was not thinking?”

Even a good thing isn’t as good as nothing.

Bodhidharma is attributed with a few sayings:

As long as you look for a Buddha somewhere else, you’ll never see that your own mind is the Buddha.

To find a Buddha, all you have to do is see your nature.

The essence of the Way is detachment.

It is not the sound of a stone hitting bamboo or the color of plum blossoms that makes people enlightened. It is their practice.

-- Shunryu Suzuki


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