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95+ Zen Quotes on Life, Love, Death, and Happiness

Zen is a school of thought that originated in China’s Mahayana Buddhist tradition, which also teaches Taoist philosophy and Chinese spirituality. To achieve inner serenity, Zen places a strong emphasis on self-awareness, restraint, and regular meditation practice.

In this collection, you will find various quotes from Zen masters that offer profound insights into life and its many challenges. We hope that these quotes will bring you greater understanding and clarity in how you approach life.

95+ Zen Quotes on Life

The Zen masters assert that everyone can practice Zen, regardless of religion, and that it is more of a way of life than a specific belief system. Here are some of my favorite Zen sayings to help you relax.

20 Zen Life Quotes

1. “When you realize nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” – Lao Tzu

Zen quotes for life

2. “Rest and be kind, you don’t have to prove anything.” – Jack Kerouac

3. “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” – Pema Chödrön

4. “The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt, and open to all the possibilities.” – Shunryu Suzuki

5. “Wherever you are, it’s the place you need to be.” – Maxime Lagacé

6. “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” – Bruce Lee

7. “Nature is full of chaos and conflict. Don’t resist these things. Invite them in.” – Charlie Ambler

8. “Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else.” – Shunryu Suzuki

9. “Learn to be comfortable in adversity but most importantly, learn to be comfortable when you’re bored.” – Maxime Lagacé

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10. “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

11. “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” – Sun Tzu

12. “A man is great not because he hasn’t failed; a man is great because failure hasn’t stopped him.” – Confucius

13. “Respect life, revere life. There is nothing more holy than life, nothing more divine than life.” – Osho

14. “When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits or by using the challenge to find our inner strength. Thanks to the teachings of Buddha, I have been able to take this second way.” – Dalai Lama

15. “Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion.” – Buddha

16. “The good life can be as simple as just paying attention.” – Charlie Ambler

17. “Realize that life will never be how you want it to be. Jump in regardless. The jump itself is living; its whole spectrum, its entire beauty.” – Mr. Mircea

Zen quotes for life

18. “If we do not know how to take care of ourselves and to love ourselves, we cannot take care of the people we love. Loving oneself is the foundation for loving another person.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh

19. “If you truly loved yourself, you could never hurt another.” – Buddha

20. “Silence is the language of Om. We need silence to be able to reach ourselves. Both internal and external silence is very important to feel the presence of that supreme Love.” – Amit Ray

15 Zen Quotes on Love

21. “Love is a gift of one’s innermost soul to another so both can be whole.” – Buddha

22. “Just as a mother would protect her only child with her life, even so, let one cultivate a boundless love towards all beings.” – Buddha

23. “The words of the Buddha offer this truth: Hatred never ceases by hatred but by love alone is healed.” – Jack Kornfield

24. “Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh

25. “Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.” – Dalai Lama

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26. “Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment.” – Morihei Ueshiba

27. “Friendship is the purest love. It is the highest form of Love where nothing is asked for, no condition, where one simply enjoys giving.” – Osho

28. “To know yourself as the Being underneath the thinker, the stillness underneath the mental noise, the love, and joy underneath the pain is freedom, salvation, enlightenment.” – Eckhart Tolle

29. “Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love.” – Buddha

30. “Love is of all passions the strongest, for it attacks simultaneously the head, the heart, and the senses.” – Lao Tzu

31. “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha

32. “Nirvana or lasting enlightenment or true spiritual growth can be achieved only through persistent exercise of real love.” – M. Scott Peck

33. “You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.” – Swami Vivekananda.

34. “If a warrior is not unattached to life and death, he will be of no use whatsoever.” – Yamamoto Tsunetomo

Zen quotes for life

35. “Forget the years, forget distinctions. Leap into the boundless and make it your home.” – Zhuangzi

15 Zen Quotes on Death

36. “Peace of mind is that mental condition in which you have accepted the worst.” – Lin Yutang

37. “The true miracle is not walking on water or walking in air, but simply walking on this earth.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh

38. “Roads were made for journeys, not destinations.” – Confucius

39. “The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself.” – Anais Nin

40. “You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.” – Robert M. Pirsig

41. “Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, and a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.” – Dalai Lama

42. “When you accept what is, every moment is the best moment. That is enlightenment.” – Eckhardt Tolle

43. “Not everything happens for a reason. Nature is not rational. Just make peace with whatever happens.”  – Charlie Ambler

44. “The way to free yourself of pain and suffering is to accept it.” – Charlie Ambler

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45. “Neither fire, nor wind, birth, nor death, can erase our good deeds.” – Buddha

46. “The world is afflicted by death and decay. But the wise do not grieve, having realized the nature of the world.” – Buddha

47. “We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” – Chuck Palahniuk

48. “Live your life, do your work, then take your hat.” – Henry David Thoreau

49. “A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.” – Lao Tzu

50. “I don’t want to die without any scars.” – Chuck Palahniuk

45 Zen Quotes on Happiness

51. “Tell your friend that in his death, a part of you dies and goes with him. Wherever he goes, you also go. He will not be alone.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

52. “The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.” – Eric Hoffer

53. “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha

54. “Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” – Dalai Lama

Zen quotes for life

55. “There is no path to happiness: happiness is the path.” – Buddha

56.“ If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else.” – Confucius

57. “It is possible to live happily in the here and now. So many conditions of happiness are available – more than enough for you to be happy right now. You don’t have to run into the future in order to get more.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

58. “The three elements of creativity are thus: loving, knowing, and doing – or heart, mind, and hands – or, as Zen Buddhist teaching has it; great faith, great question, and great courage.” – Eric Maisel

59. “There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” – Dalai Lama

60. “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” – Buddha

61. “Happiness is the default state. It’s what’s there when you remove the sense that something is missing in life. People believe mistakenly that happiness is about positive thoughts and positive action but every positive thought essentially holds within itself a negative thought.” – Naval Ravikant

62. “You can be happy if you are willing to let go of your past and leave yourself unencumbered so you can fly freely.” – Chris Prentiss

Zen quotes for life

63 “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” – Dalai Lama

64. “Flow with whatever may happen, and let your mind be free: Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.” – Chuang-Tzu

65. “We do not exist for the sake of something else. We exist for the sake of ourselves.” – Shunryu Suzuki

66. “To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh

67. “Do not follow the idea of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself.” – Dōgen Zenji

68. “When it is understood that one loses joy and happiness in the attempt to possess them, the essence of natural farming will be realized. The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” – Masanobu Fukuoka

69. “Happiness lies even in little tiny butterflies. You just have to open up your eyes and see where beauty flies to beautify your world lengthwise.” – Ana Claudia Antunes

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

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

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72. “Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.” – Confucius

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

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

75. “Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.” – Meister Eckhart

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

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

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

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

80. “It really boils down to this: 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.

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

Zen quotes for life

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

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

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

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

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

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

88. “It is easy to believe we are each wave and forget we are also the ocean.” – Jon J. Muth

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

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

91. “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha

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

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

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

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

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

End Words

Zen training is thought to have a relaxing impact on the body and mind, promoting a healthy lifestyle and effective problem-solving. We hope these zen quotes on life might have helped you in many ways, get inspired by them and live happily.


Hello Readers, I'm Aditya! A Blogger and SEO expert with an MBA Degree in Marketing and Operations. I love sharing content that develops the mindset of people and makes life better.

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