22 Zen Quotes On Spiritual Awakening

Buddha Zen Quotes

A few of my favorite Zen quotes which capture the depth of spiritual awakening. If you have any favorite quotes, please feel free to share in the comments section.

“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.” Zenrin Kushû

”I have not heard of a single Buddha, past or present,who has been enlightened by sacred prayers and scriptures.”- Bassui

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

Before I had studied Zen for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains, and waters as waters. When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and waters are not waters. 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 waters once again as water.- Ch’uan Teng Lu

What is this mind?
Who is hearing these sounds?
Do not mistake any state for
Self-realization, but continue
To ask yourself even more intensely,
What is it that hears?- Bassui

However deep your Knowledge of the scriptures,
It is no more than a strand of hair In the vastness of space;
However important appears Your worldly experience,
It is but a drop of water in a deep ravine. –Tokusan

All sentient beings are essentially Buddhas.
As with water and ice, there is no ice without water;
apart from sentient beings, there are no Buddhas.
Not knowing how close the truth is,
we seek it far away –what a pity! Hakuin

Although gold dust is precious, when it gets in your eyes, it obstructs your vision. Hsi-Tan

I would rather sink to the bottom of the sea for endless eons than seek liberation through all the saints of the universe. Shih-t’ou

It is as though you have an eye
That sees all forms But does not see itself.
This is how your mind is.
Its light penetrates everywhere And engulfs everything,
So why does it not know itself?

“It is present everywhere.
There is nothing it does not contain.
However only those who have previously
planted wisdom – seeds will be able
to continuously see it.”
– Dogen

Enlightenment is intimacy with all things.- Dogen

Peace isn’t luck. For six years stand facing a silent wall,
Until the ‘you’ of your face, Melts like a candle.

I’m in it, everywhere. What a miracle!
Trees, lakes, clouds, Even dust. – Ikkyu

When mortals are alive, they worry about death.
When they’re full, they worry about hunger. Theirs is the Great Uncertainty.

But sages don’t consider the past. And they don’t worry about the future.

Nor do they cling to the present.
And from moment to moment they follow the Way.

My legacy- What will it be?
Flowers in spring, The cuckoo in summer,
And the crimson maples Of autumn …

In this way and that I have tried to save the old pail
Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break
Until at last the bottom fell out.
No more water in the pail!
No more moon in the water!
Chiyono’s enlightenment poem

“Well versed in the Buddha Way, I go the non-Way. Without abandoning my ordinary person’s affairs.
The conditioned and name-and-form, all are flowers in the sky.
Nameless and formless, I leave birth-and death.” Pang Yun, Two Zen Classics

“Clambering up the Cold Mountain path,
The Cold Mountain trail goes on and on:
The long gorge choked with scree and boulders,
The wide creek, the mist-blurred grass.
The moss is slippery, though there’s been no rain
The pine sings, but there’s no wind.
Who can leap the world’s ties
And sit with me among the white clouds?”
Cold Mountain Poems, by Han Shan

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

Those who are awake, live in a state of constant amazement. ― Buddha

“Men of the world who value the Way all turn to books. But books are nothing more than words. Words have value; what is of value in words is meaning. Meaning has something it is pursuing, but the thing that it is pursuing cannot be put into words and handed down. The world values words and hands down books but, though the world values them, I do not think them worth valuing. What the world takes to be values is not real value.” 
― Chuang Tzu, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

20 Responses

  1. It was really awakening to go through your readings ,I’m also into spirituality and I am deeply interested in it.

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

    Alan Watts

  3. Why do you run around looking for the truth? Be still, and there it is – in the mountain, in the pine, in yourself.

    Lao Tzu

  4. You have no need to travel anywhere. Journey within yourself, enter a mine of rubies and bathe in the splendor of your own light.


  5. The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are, the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage, not to be disappointed with what we encounter.

    Paulo Coelho

  6. To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.

    Thich Nhat Hanh

  7. Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly without rushing towards the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.

    Thich Nhat Hanh

  8. I wish i could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.


  9. Love says ”I am everything.”
    Wisdom says “I am nothing.”
    Between the two my life flows

    Nisargadatta Maharaj

  10. Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.


  11. I looked for my self,
    but my self was gone.
    The boundaries of my being
    had disappeared in the sea.
    Waves broke.
    Awareness rose again.
    And a voice returned
    me to myself.
    It always
    happens like this.
    Sea turns on itself and foams,
    and with every foaming bit
    another body,
    another being takes form.
    And when the sea sends word,
    each foaming body
    melts back
    to ocean-breath.


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