65 Of The Best Zen Quotes For Mindful Living

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How can a bunch of zen quotes on life help you with your mindfulness practice?

And what does zen mean, anyway? 

Though we could dive into the Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism and the value of intuition and meditation, the short answer is that zen means feeling peaceful and calm. 

Nice, right?

We could all use more of that.

And one way to bring more peace and calm into your life is to meditate on zen proverbs like the ones in this post.  

Get ready to write down or copy your favorites and check out our ideas at the end of the post on ways to use them in daily life. 

Zen Quotes to Inspire Inner Peace and Calm

1. “What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.” – Confucius

2. “To seek is to suffer. To seek nothing is bliss.” – Bodhidharma

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

4. “When thoughts arise, then do all things arise. When thoughts vanish, then do all things vanish.” – Huang Po

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

6. “Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.”- Meister Eckhart

7. “Where can I find a man who has forgotten words so I can talk with him?” – Zhuangzi

8. “Do not seek the truth, only cease to cherish your opinions.”- Seng-ts’an

9. “One loses joy and happiness in the attempt to possess them.”- Masanobu Fukuoka

10. “And when they played they really played. And when they worked they really worked.”- Dr. Seuss

11. “Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.” -Confucius

12. “The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands.”- Robert M. Pirsig

13. “I don’t mind what happens. That is the essence of inner freedom.” -Jiddu Krishnamurti

14. “Everything that happens to you is a form of instruction if you pay attention.”- Robert Greene

15. “The less you try to impress, the more peaceful you can be.”- Maxime Lagacé

16. “Give a bowl of rice to a man and you will feed him for a day. Teach him how to grow his own rice and you will save his life.” -Confucius

17. “Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?”- Lao Tzu

18. “Every experience is a lesson. Every loss is a gain.”- Sathya Sai Baba

19. “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.” -Shunryu Suzuki

20. “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”- Lao Tzu

21. “The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”- Bruce Lee

22. “The first and the best victory is to conquer self.”- Plato

23. “All things are difficult before they are easy.”- Thomas Fuller

24. “Your mind wants control. Life wants change.”- Maxime Lagacé

25. “Roads were made for journeys not destinations.” -Confucius

26. “Now I know what success is: living your truth, sharing it.” -Kamal Ravikant

27. “In the highest level a man has the look of knowing nothing.”- Yamamoto Tsunetomo

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

29. “Truth makes you rise to new heights, no matter where you are.”- Kamal Ravikant

30. “These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.”- Najwa Zebian

31. “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”- Lyndon B. Johnson

32. “It is easy to believe we are each waves and forget we are also the ocean.”- Jon J. Muth

33. “Emptiness which is conceptually liable to be mistaken for sheer nothingness is in fact the reservoir of infinite possibilities.”- D.T. Suzuki

34. “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”- Sun Tzu

35. “Life is more or less a lie, but then again, that’s exactly the way we want it to be.”― Bob Dylan

36. “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”― Thich Nhat Hanh


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37. “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” ― Shunryu Suzuki

38. “The world is filled with love-play, from animal lust to sublime compassion.”― Alan Watts

39. “The more you know, the less you need.” ― Yvon Chouinard

40. “One must be deeply aware of the impermanence of the world.” – Dogen

41. “If you are unable to find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?” ― Dogen

42. “When the mind is exhausted of images, it invents its own.” ― Gary Snyder

43. “Stay in the center, and you will be ready to move in any direction.” ― Alan W. Watts

44. “All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.” – Eckhart Tolle

45. “Unhappiness and rain just drift by and are gone, they are visitors.”- John Aske

46. “Have the fearless attitude of a hero and the loving heart of a child.” -Soyen Shaku

47. “Only when you can be extremely pliable and soft can you be extremely hard and strong.” – Zen Proverb

48. “Letting go is the lesson. Letting go is always the lesson. Have you ever noticed how much of our agony is all tied up with craving and loss?”― Susan Gordon Lydon

49. “I don’t hold on to anything, don’t reject anything; nowhere an obstacle or conflict.”- Layman Pang

50. “They call it ‘peace of mind’ but maybe it should be called ‘peace from mind’.”- Naval Ravikant

51. “Upon retiring, sleep as if you had entered your last sleep. Upon awakening, leave your bed behind you instantly as if you had cast away a pair of old shoes.”– Soyen Shaku

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

53. “Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be.”- Eckhart Tolle

54. “But as long as you think you are practicing zazen for the sake of something, that is not true practice.”- Shunryu Suzukiut evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”- Jiddu Krishnamurti

55. “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

56. “The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering.” – Ram Dass

57. “For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”– Thích Nhat Hanh

58. “Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.” – Shunryu Suzuki

59. “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”-Leonard Cohen

60. “To be truly ignorant, be content with your own knowledge.”-Zhuangz

61. “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” ― Alan Wilson Watts

62. “Life is a journey. Time is a river. The door is ajar.” ― Jim Butcher

63. “I have lived with several Zen masters — all of them cats.” ― Eckhart Tolle

64. “It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable.” ― Seneca

65. “The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?” ― Confucius

How to Use These Zen Quotes

Now that you’ve read through the zen sayings above, how do you make them a regular part of your everyday thinking? 

  • Write a weekly favorite on a whiteboard you’ll see every day.
  • Write them on sticky notes and put the notes in various places.
  • Use them as mindfulness journal prompts.
  • Use them as ideas for your daily meditation practice.
  • Create a mug with a favorite quote and use it. 
  • Create a “zen scarf” with quotes written on a soft solid-color fabric. 
  • Use an app like ThinkUp to remind you of your favorite quotes.

Better yet, use more than one of these tips to ensure you see at least one zen quote every day. When you see it, inhale deeply, hold for a few seconds, then exhale the stress away. 

Keep your heart calm and your mind in peace. Read these zen quotes and help the inner peace you've been wanting and protecting intact.
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