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Zen Sayings

Sitting Quietly

兀然無事坐、春夾草自生

"Sitting quietly, doing nothing,

Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself." Zenrin Kushû (The Way of Zen 134, 222)

 

Suchness

青山自青山、白雲自白雲

"The blue mountains are of themselves blue mountains;

"The white clouds are of themselves white clouds." Zenrin Kushû (The Way of Zen 134, 222)

 

Zen Buddhism inspirational quotes

Mountains are Mountains

The famous saying of Ch'ing-yüan Wei-hsin (Seigen Ishin):

老僧三十年前未參禪時、見山是山、見水是水、及至後親見知識、有箇入處、見山不是山、見水不是水、而今得箇體歇處、依然見山山、見水是水 (The Way of Zen 220 k)

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 waters. 13

13 Ch'uan Teng Lu, 22. (The Way of Zen 126)

 

"Before a man studies Zen, to him mountains are mountains and waters are waters; after he gets an insight into the truth of Zen through the instruction of a good master, mountains to him are not mountains and waters are not waters; but after this when he really attains to the abode of rest, mountains are once more mountains and waters are waters." (Essays in Zen Buddhism – First Series 24)

 

Eternity in an hour

萬古長空      An eternity of endless space:

一朝風月      A day of wind and moon. (The Golden Age of Zen 246, 322 n.2)

"One of the most frequently reiterated couplets in Chinese Zen literature" (The Golden Age of Zen 246)

 

Oneness

天地同根      Heaven and earth and I are of the same root,

萬物一體      The ten-thousand things and I are of one substance.

Zen Master Sêng-chao/Sõjõ (僧肇 384-414)

 

"Nan-ch'uan and his lay disciple Lu Hsuan (). Lu was reciting Seng-chao's saying:

天地與我同根         Heaven and earth come from the same root as myself:

萬物與我         All things and I belong to one Whole.

However, he did not really understand the full purport of it. Nan-ch'uan pointed at the peonies in the courtyard, saying, 'The worldlings look at these bush of flowers as in a dream." Lu did not see the point." (The Golden Age of Zen 285)

陸大夫向師道、肇法師、也甚奇怪、解道"天地與我同根、萬物與我爲一"師指庭前牡丹花曰、大夫、時人見此一花株如夢相似 (The Golden Age of Zen 324 n.92)

"While Rikkõ, a high government official of the T'ang dynasty, had a talk with his Zen master Nansen, the official quoted a saying of Sõjõ, a noted monk scholar of an earlier dynasty:

Heaven and earth and I are of the same root,

The ten-thousand things and I are of one substance

and continued, 'Is not this a most remarkable statement?' / Nansen called the attention of the visitor to the flowering plant in the garden and said, 'People of the world look at these flowers as if they were in a dream.' " (The Essentials of Zen Buddhism 483-4)

 

Unity

Merge your mind with cosmic space, integrate your actions with myriad forms.

Ch'an master Hung-chih Cheng-chüeh (宏智正覺 Wanshi Shõkaku, 1091-1157)

(Transmission of Light xi)

 

Subtlety

入林不動草、入水不立波

"Entering the forest he moves not the grass;

Entering the water he makes not a ripple." Zenrin Kushû (The Way of Zen 152, 224)

 

Zen Buddhism inspirational quotes

Everyday Mind

争如著衣喫飲、此外更無佛祖 "There's nothing equal to wearing clothes and eating food. Outside this there are neither Buddhas nor Patriarchs." Zenrin Kushû (The Way of Zen 152, 224)

 

Seeking the Same Thing

From the K'un-lun mountains eastward the (Taoist) term "Great Oneness" is used. From Kashmir westward the (Buddhist) term sambodhi is used. Whether one looks longingly toward "non-being" (wu) or cultivates "emptiness" (sunyata), the principle involved is the same. 4

4 Quoted by Fung Yu-lan (1), vol. 2, p. 240, from Seng-yu, Ch'u San-tsang Chi-chi, 9. (The Way of Zen 82)

 

Ocean of Pure Reality

清淨眞如海 Ocean of pure Reality,

湛然體常住 Its substance, in fathomless quiescence, exists eternally.

Ch'an master Fo-kuang Ju-man (佛光如滿 Bukkõ Nyoman)

(The Development of Chinese Zen After the Sixth Patriarch 64)

 

Great Unity

有一物上天下地。黒似漆。常在動用中。

There is one thing: above, it supports Heaven; below, it upholds Earth. It is black like lacquer, always actively functioning.

Ch'an master Tung-shan Ling-chia (洞山良价 Tõsan Ryõkai, 807-869)

(The Development of Chinese Zen After the Sixth Patriarch 74)

 

Man of Tao

譬如秋水澄渟清浄無爲澹無礙。喚他作道人亦名無事人。

Like the clear stillness of autumn water—pure and without activity; in its tranquil depths are no obstructions. Such an one is called a man of Tao, also, a man who has nothing further to do.

Wei-shan Ling-yu (山靈祐 Isan Reiyû)

(The Development of Chinese Zen After the Sixth Patriarch 66)

 

Zen Buddhism inspirational quotes

Nondiscrimination

善與不善、世出世間、一切諸法莫記憶、莫念、放捨身心、今其自在。心如木石、無所辨別。

"When you forget the good and the non-good, the worldly life and the religious life, and all other dharmas, and permit no thoughts relating to them to arise, and you abandon body and mind—then there is complete freedom. When the mind is like wood or stone, there is nothing to be discriminated." Pai-chang Huai-hai (百丈懷海 Hyakujõ Ekai, 720-814)

(The Development of Chinese Zen After the Sixth Patriarch 63)

 

Speech and Silence

語是謗、寂是誑、語寂向上有路在

"Speech is blasphemy, silence a lie. Above speech and silence there is a way out."

I-tuan (義端) one of Nan-ch'uan's great disciples (The Golden Age of Zen 250, 322 n.13)

 

Inexpressible

説不處用無盡         What is inexpressible is inexhaustible in its use.

A Chinese Zen master (The Golden Age of Zen 253, 322 n.19)

 

Independent

寧可永刧受沈淪、不從諸聖求解脱

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 (石頭) (The Golden Age of Zen 270, 323 n.57)

 

Independent

丈夫自有衝天志    The full-grown man aspires to pierce through the heavens:

莫向如夾行處行    Let him not walk in the footsteps of the Buddha!

Ts'ui-yen (翠巖可眞) (The Golden Age of Zen 270, 323 n.59)

 

Zen Buddhism inspirational quotes

Bodhidharma's Definition of Zen

Four Sacred Verses of Bodhidharma (Daruma no Shiseiku 達磨四聖句)

教外別      Kyõge betsuden        A special transmission outside the scriptures;

不立文字      Furyû monji               No dependence upon words and letters;

直指人心      Jikishi ninshin                        Direct pointing at the soul of man;

見性成佛      Kenshõ jõbutsu        Seeing into one's nature and the attainment of Buddhahood.

Bodhidharma (Essays in Zen Buddhism – First Series 176)

 

Accomplishing Beforehand

"When the task is done beforehand, then it is easy." Zen master Yuan-tong

(The Tao of Abundance 100)

 

Begin at the Top

If you want to climb a mountain, begin at the top. Zen saying

 

Every Day is a Good Day

日日是好日

"Everyday is a good day." (Nichi nichi kore kõjitsu.)

Yün-men (Unmon) Hekiganroku case 6

 

No Work, No Eating

一日不作、一日不食

"A day without work, a day without eating."

"When there's no work for a day, there's no eating for a day." (The Development of Chinese Zen After the Sixth Patriarch 62)

Ichijitsu nasazareba, ichijitsu kuwarazu. (一日作さざれば、一日食わらず。)

Pai-chang Huai-hai (百丈懷海 Hyakujõ Ekai, 720-814)

 

Living Dead

許多死漢、送一個活漢 What a long procession of dead bodies follows the wake of a single living person! Chao-chou Ts'ung-shen (趙州從Jõshû Jûshin)

"At the funeral of one of his monks, as the Abbot joined the procession, he remarked, 'What a long procession of dead bodies follows the wake of a single living person!' " (The Golden Age of Zen 145, 309 n.47)

 

Mind is Buddha

Asked "What is buddha?" (如何[]) Ma-tsu replied "This very mind, this is Buddha." (即心即佛 or 即心是佛. Sokushin sokubutsu.)

Mumonkan case 30 (The Development of Chinese Zen After the Sixth Patriarch 53)

 

No Mind No Buddha

Asked "What is buddha?" (如何[]) Ma-tsu replied "Neither mind nor Buddha." (非心非佛. Hishin, hibutsu.)

Mumonkan case 33 (The Development of Chinese Zen After the Sixth Patriarch 53)

 

This Very Mind is Buddha

自心是佛 Jishin zebutsu. "Your own mind—this is Buddha." Ma-tsu

(The Development of Chinese Zen After the Sixth Patriarch 55)

 

Zen Buddhism inspirational quotes

No Mind No Buddha Not a Thing

不是是佛是物 "This is not mind, this is not Buddha, this is not a thing." (Fuzeshin, fuzebutsu, fuzemotsu.) Nan-chüan (The Development of Chinese Zen After the Sixth Patriarch 55)

 

No Clinging

不着不求 "No clinging, no seeking." (Fujaku, fugu.) Pai-chang (Hyakujõ)

(The Development of Chinese Zen After the Sixth Patriarch 62)

 

All Dharmas are Mind-Created

故三界唯心 "Therefore the Three Realms are only mind" (Yue ni sangai yuishin) Ma-tsu Tao-i (The Development of Chinese Zen After the Sixth Patriarch 54)

法界一相 Ultimate reality has a unified form. (Fa-chieh i-hsiang./Hokkai issõ.) Buddha

(Early Ch'an in China and Tibet 107)

 

Great Tao

不二大道 "The non-dual Great Tao." (Funi Daidõ) Chao-chou Ts'ung-shên (趙州 Jõshû Jûshin) (The Development of Chinese Zen After the Sixth Patriarch 61)

 

No Delusive Thoughts

幕妄想 "Away with your delusive thoughts!" "Don't be deluded!" (Maku mõzõ!)

Ch'an master Wu-ye (Mugõ, 760-821) (Zen Word, Zen Calligraphy 65)

Whatever the master was asked, he replied "Maku mõzõ!"

(I'm not sure about the first character , it may be incorrect.)

 

Who is This

不識 [I] know not. (Fushiki.) Bodhidharma

 

No Merit At All

廓然無聖 Vast emptiness, nothing holy! (Kakunen mushõ.) Bodhidharma

 

Dropped

身心脱落 "Body and mind dropped off." (Shen-hsin t'o-lo./Shinjin datsuraku.) Dõgen

Dõgen's words describing his enlightenment (This is not a saying)

(Zen Buddhism: A History vol. 2, 107 n.24)

身心脱落 "Body and mind dropped away." (Zen Master Dogen 32)

身心脱落 (Casting off [both] body and mind.)

 

Hui-neng's Enlightenment and Diamond Sutra

Fifth Patriarch Hung-jen (弘忍 Gunin or Kõnin, 601-674) signed Hui-neng to go to his chamber at the third watch in the evening.

"When the two were face to face in the stillness of the night, the Patriarch expounded the Diamond Sutra to his disciple. When he came to the sentence: "Keep your mind alive and free without abiding in anything or anywhere," Hui-neng was suddenly and thoroughly enlightened" (The Golden Age of Zen 62)

應無所住而生其心 "Keep your mind alive and free without abiding in anything or anywhere."

Diamond Sûtra (Vajracchedikâ [Prajña Paramita] Sûtra) (The Golden Age of Zen 300 n.6)

"To awaken the mind without fixing it anywhere" (Essays in Zen Buddhism – Second Series 32)

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 Zen Buddhism inspirational quotes

Note on Sources

1. Zenrin Kushû 禪林句集 "Ch'an lin lei chü in twenty fasciculi compiled in the year 1307. The title means 'Zen materials (literally, woods) classified and collected'. The book is now very rare." (Essays in Zen Buddhism – Second Series 253 n.1)

Also see Watts, The Way of Zen 117 n.4; Dumoulin, Zen Buddhism: A History vol. 2, 47 n.11

 

Zen Buddhism inspirational quotes

 

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