/tao|zen quotes

You have said it, but you have not understood.(Jesus of Nazareth)

“This is my child, this is my wealth”: such thoughts are the preoccupations of fools. If we are unable to own even ourselves, why make such claims?


The samurai must maintain his faith in his beliefs, even as the social or political climate shifts and alters. He must be patient, must act in a manner that may at times seem irrational or illogical, must resist the temptations of instant gratification, and must work towards fulfilling what may seem to be an impossible idea.

As a result, the samurai is often something of an outsider, a rebellious figure because he refuses to conform to the habits of the day.

(Takahiro Kitamura)

Why is the tao so valuable?
Because it is everywhere,
and everyone can use it.

This is why those who seek
will find,
And those who reform
will be forgiven;
Why the good
will be rewarded,
And the thief who is cunning
will escape.

(Lao Tzu)

When facing a single tree, if you look at a single one of its red leaves, you will not see all the others. When the eye is not set on one leaf, and you face the tree with nothing at all in mind, any number of leaves are visible to the eye without limit. But if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the remaining leaves were not there.

(Takuan Soto)

She did not consciously think, “Ah, today I learned this and that; I gained this much.” You do not do it step by step that way, by adding on coatings of varnish, or new paint. When learning becomes you, then it appears as you need it, when you are being you. Sometimes true learning surprises you when it emerges.

(Chungliang Al Huang)

The art of teaching is clarity and the art of learning is to listen.

(Vanda Scaravelli)

The tao is both singular and universal. It is open to all with the resolve and inclination to walk it. Those who do, however, take a variety of disciplines in approaching it, for the tao extrapolates from the specific to the general.

(Dave Lowry)

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them.
But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.
And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

(Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn)

Without the tao,
Kindness and compassion are replaced by law and justice;
Faith and trust are supplanted by ritual and ceremony.

(Lao Tzu)

In the history of Chinese civilisation, no significant scientific advances came as a result of Confucian studies. They were scholastics, and a scholastic in those times was one who went by the book, who believed what the ancient text or the ancient scriptures said, and who studied them and became proficient in them like a rabbi or a Christian theologian.

But mystics have never been very interested in theology. Mystics are interested in direct experience, and therefore – although you may laugh at them and say they are not scientific – they are empirical in their approach. And the taoists, being mystics, were the only great group of ancient Chinese people who seriously studied nature. They were interested in its principles from the beginning, and their books are full of analogies between the taoist way of life and the behaviour of natural forces seen in water, wind, or plants and rocks.

(Alan Watts)

Simplicity before understanding is simplistic; simplicity after understanding is simple.

(Edward De Bono)

Kindness should become the natural way of life,
not the exception.


After a heavy snowfall the more rigid branches
of the pine break under the weight of the snow,
but the more supple willow branches bend,
thus allowing the snow to fall to the ground.

(Tao: Sacred Symbols)

The judgements of particular times, places and people depend on subjective standpoints and therefore are not the same thing as objective truths in themselves.


Taoism is neither formal religion or structured philosophy.

(Tao: Sacred Symbols)

A good rest is half the work.

(Yugoslav proverb)

Remembering a wrong is like carrying a burden on the mind.


When something has happened,
Do not talk about it.
it is hard to collect spilled water.


However young,
The seeker who sets out upon the way
Shines bright over the world.


Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.

(Martin Luther King)

Great knowledge is broad, small knowledge is petty.
Great talk is powerful, small talk is loquacious.

(Chuang Tzu)

People will not compete with you if you don’t make much of your own cleverness.


The clouded mind sees nothing.

(The Shadow)

As a warrior you take responsibility for holding the balance
between light and dark within you and, by extension,
the world around you, and ultimately when you go deep enough,
the universe.

(Barefoot Doctor)

The things we touch have no permanence.
My master would say: there is nothing we can hold onto in this world.
Only by letting go can we truly possess what is real.

(Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)

There is seldom any rational reason for having regrets about past deeds or events.
Because the past does not exist in any way other than in your memory.

(Paul Wilson)

Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.

Krishnamurti spoke a great deal about being choicelessly aware.
He said, “Freedom is precisely the state of not having to choose.”
Now, that sounds quite paradoxical, because we are always talking about freedom of choice.
But choice in this sense of the word is not a form of freedom.

What is choice in Krishnamurti’s sense of the word?
It is the act of hesitation that comes before making a decision.
It is a mental wobbling, much like when some people take up a pen to write but don’t just start writing; they jiggle the pen around indecisively for a while and then start.
When a person comes into a room and hesitates and wonders who to talk to,
in that moment he is choosing.
Whereas when a person comes into a room and goes up to someone without waiting to choose,
we say he is decisive.
But that is a funny thing to say, because it really means that he hadn’t stopped to decide.

(Alan Watts)

As a bee gathering nectar does not harm or disturb the colour and fragrance of the flower; so do the wise move through the world.


The sage works anonymously,
But does not wait around for praise.

(Lao Tzu)

There are no beginnings or endings.

(Chungliang Al Huang)

One of the keys to silent power is to control your need to talk.
Make it a discipline not to discuss your personal details with others.
Develop mystery, silence and secrecy in your life.
Don’t allow people to know your deep, innermost self.

(Stuart Wilde)

In order to free ourselves from the constraints of what is now being done, we can start with a very broad approach to the whole purpose of the operation.

(Edward De Bono)

She alone does not compete,
And so the world can never overcome her.

(Lao Tzu)

There is no place in Buddhism for using effort.
Just be ordinary and nothing special.
Relieve your bowels, pass water, put on your clothes, and eat your food.
When you’re tired, go and lie down.
Ignorant people will laugh at me, but the wise will understand.

(Lin Chi)

From a person
comes a family,
And from a family
comes a community;
From a community
comes a nation,
And from a nation
comes the world

(Lao Tzu)

Dwell not on the faults and shortcomings of others; instead, seek clarity about your own.


If this elephant of mind is bound on all sides by the cord of mindfulness,
All fear disappears and complete happiness comes.
All enemies: all the tigers, lions, elephants, bears, serpents(of our emotions);
And all the keepers of hell; the demons and the horrors,
All of these are bound by the mastery of your mind,
And by the taming of that one mind, all are subdued,
Because from the mind are derived all fears and immeasurable sorrows.


Zen opens a man’s eyes to the greatest mystery as it is daily and hourly performed;
it enlarges the heart to embrace eternity of time and infinity of space in its every palpitation;
it makes us live in the world as if walking in the garden of Eden.

(D. T. Suzuki)

Happiness does not lie in wealth but in the hearts of men.


Taoism is unique in that it is probably the only major religion in the world whose practitioners as a rule have not sought great secular power. In the past, taoists took on such power only out of necessity to correct specific abuses. After these excesses had been corrected, they were always ready to relinquish the power and fade away, or “leave no footprints” as they put it.

(Bruce Frantzis)

Take the relationship of love. I may be in love and my girlfriend may be a flawlessly beautiful and wonderful person, but if I can control her completely and become immersed in her perfection, I might as well fall in love with a mannequin. However, if she has a little mole on her cheek, or some kind of unpredictability of character, then the accidental has been introduced into the domain of the orderly, and I can enjoy her humanity more easily.

(Alan Watts)

Observe what is with undivided attention.

(Bruce Lee)

Mother is the name for god on the lips and hearts of all children.

(The Crow)

Their minds aren’t filled with all questions and answers, they just have one thought and they concentrate on that.

(A nine year old Irish girl talking about dolphins)

Do not focus on anything in particular;
instead, turn back into yourself slightly,
and let your gaze expand and become more and more spacious and expansive.

(Sogyal Rinpoche)

Heaven and earth are impartial,
They allow things to die.

(Lao Tzu)

Don’t give yourself away.
Work quietly on your weaknesses,
develop a reserve and mystery,
be organised and self-sufficient,
and keep your life to yourself.

Consume less, stay in control,
be at one with your inner self and nature.
Purifying your life, constantly skimming, cleaning,
throwing things out, simplifying.

(Stuart Wilde)

The root of ignorance itself is our mind’s habitual tendency to distraction.

(Sogyal Rinpoche)

Eating – simply eat, be with it.
Walking – simply walk, be there.
Don’t go ahead, don’t jump here and there.
Mind always goes ahead or lags behind.
Remain with the moment.


Look with soft eyes.
See the place where the tides and the seasons and the turning of the earth
all come together and everything that is becomes one.
You’ve got to seek that place with your soul.

(The Legend of Bagger Vance)

By comparing, you detach yourself from the flow of what’s happening in you and around you and become preoccupied with evaluating and judging, thinking and worrying.

(Chungliang Al Huang)
If you are always busy doing something,
you cannot enjoy the world.

(Lao Tzu)

By comparing, you detach yourself from the flow of what’s happening in you and around you and become preoccupied with evaluating and judging, thinking and worrying.

(Chungliang Al Huang)

Yin and yang are not in competition or conflict with each other
but are complements of each other.
Balance is not a state but a process.
The tao is a process, a dynamic condition of balanced moving.

(Ray Grigg)

The less obvious values are sometimes just as important as the more obvious values.

(Edward De Bono)

After a session my students sometimes say that they are relaxed in their bodies and tired in their heads. This is a good sign.

(Vanda Scaravelli)

True te is the uncontrived unforced naturalness with which the wise man will handle practical affairs,
putting his own wishes and desires in line with the flow of outside events and phenomena.

(Tao: Sacred Symbols)

Experience pain to the full.
Do not try to run away from it,
do not resist it by thinking of something else or by cursing fate.
Open your arms to it, embrace it, ask it to do its worst to you.

To go with it requires a moment’s plucking up of courage;
it seems to invite disaster,
yet oddly enough it is the only salvation.

(Alan Watts)

Instead of filling with questions, empty of questions. Continue to empty. Questions confine answers. When there are no longer questions, answers are no longer bound by them.

(Lao Tzu)

When you meet a master swordsman,
show him your sword.

When you meet a man who is not a poet,
do not show him your poem.


You are eight years old. It is Sunday evening. You have been granted an extra hour before bed.

The family is playing Monopoly. You have been told that you are big enough to join them.

You lose.
You are losing continuously.
Your stomach cramps with fear.
Nearly all your possessions are gone.
The money pile in front of you is almost gone.
Your brothers are snatching all the houses from your streets.
The last street is being sold.
You have to give in.
You have lost.

And suddenly you know that it is only a game.

You jump up with joy and you knock the big lamp over.
It falls on the floor and drags the teapot with it.
The others are angry with you, but you laugh when you go upstairs. You know you are nothing and you know you have nothing.

And you know that not-to-be and not-to-have give an immeasurable freedom.

(Janwillem Van de Wetering)

Without gazing out a window,
the way of the world can be seen.

Without stepping beyond a door,
the way of the tao can be followed.

The way does not get closer
by searching farther.

(Lao Tzu)

Do not overlook the truth that is right before you.


One need not necessarily seek success in the world;
avoiding mistakes is itself a success.
Do not seek gratitude from other people;
it is a favour not to be resented.

(Huanchu Daoren)

Zen is the unsymbolisation of the world.

(R H Blyth)

The sagely person is like water.
Water benefits all things and does not compete with them.

(Lao Tzu)

Treading lightly as a warrior means being prepared to let go freely of your possessions.
On the other hand, value whatever you have and caretake it to the best of your ability.

(Barefoot Doctor)

If you work on your mind with your mind,
How can you avoid an immense confusion?

(Seng t’san)

Good walking leaves no track behind it;
Good speech leaves no mark to be picked at.

(Lao Tzu)

To meditate is to make a complete break
with how we ‘normally’ operate,
for it is a state free of all cares and concerns,
in which there is no competition,
no desire to possess or grasp anything,
no intense and anxious struggle,
and no hunger to achieve:
an ambitionless state where there is
neither acceptance nor rejection,
neither hope nor fear,
a state in which we slowly begin to release
all those emotions and concepts
that have imprisoned us
into the space of natural simplicity.

(Sogyal Rinpoche)

Anyone who thoughtfully uses language should realise that words are not a replication of experience but a representation.
Between every words and every thought,
the reader meets a space and emptiness to be bridged.
With insights the reader leaps the emptiness between each thought.
The connecting leaps are the dynamics of understanding
but not the understanding itself.
The leaping interconnects and deepens awareness without confirming understanding. What has been defined as apart comes together yet is not put together.
It might be called ‘returning to the beginning’.
This leaping interconnects the apparent parts of thinking;
the separateness of things meld into a whole.
Things are responded to holistically rather than individually

(Ray Grigg)

Do not ask the world to change.
Change yourself.


The contented man, even though poor, is happy.
The discontented man, even though rich, is sad.


As an idea develops it may go from simple to complex and then back to simple.
Growth may be excluded if complexity is excluded.

(Edward De Bono)

When it is time to be still, then stop;
When it is time to act, go ahead.

(I Ching)

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