A Little Zen

The following are taken from The Little Zen Companion by David Schiller. May they provide you some inspiration.

Yasutani Roshi

The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there.

Mark Twain

There ain't no way to find out why a snorer can't hear himself snore.


Our life is frittered away by detail ... Simplify, simplify.


The purpose of a fishtrap is to catch fish, and when the fish are caught, the trap is forgotten.
The purpose of a rabbit snare is to catch rabbits. When the rabbits are caught, the snare is forgotten.
The purpose of words is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten.
Where can I find a man who has forgotten words? He is the one I would like to talk to.

Bulgarian Proverb

If you wish to drown, do not torture yourself with shallow water.

Yaqui Mystic

To be a man of knowledge one needs to be light and fluid.

Buddhist Proverb

When the student is ready, the Master appears.

Chinese Proverb

Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.


Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.

Lew Welch

Someone showed it to me and I found it by myself.

Ts'ai Ken T'an

Water which is too pure has no fish.

Zen Saying

The one who is good at shooting does not hit the center of the target.

Tao Te Ching

In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don't try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.

Word carved on a stone on John Ruskin's desk


Zen Parable

A man walking across a field encounters a tiger. He fled, the tiger chasing after him. Coming to a cliff, he caught hold of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Terrified, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger had come, waiting to eat him. Two mice, one white and one black, little by little began to gnaw away at the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine in one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!


Thinking is more interesting that knowing, but less interesting than looking.

William Hazlitt

Whatever interests, is interesting.

Tao Te Ching

We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.

Artur Schnabel

The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes - ah, that is where the art resides.

John Cage

I have nothing to say, I am saying it, and that is poetry.

R.H. Blyth

We walk, and our religion is shown (even to the dullest and most insensitive person) in how we walk. Or to put it more accurately, living in this world means choosing, choosing to walk, and the way we choose to walk is infallibly and perfectly expressed in the walk itself. Nothing can disguise it. The walk of an ordinary man and of an enlightened man are as different as that of a snake and a giraffe.

Folk Zen Saying

A heavy snowfall disappears into the sea. What silence!

Zen Saying

Knock on the sky and listen to the sound!

Woody Allen

I'm astounded by people who want to "know" the universe when it's hard enough to find your way around Chinatown.

W.H. Auden

To ask the hard question is simple.

Zen Koan

What is your face before your mother and father were born?


It is as hard to see one's self as to look backwards without turning around.

Ludwig Wittgenstein

What is troubling us is the tendency to believe that the mind is like a little man within.

The three qualities necessary for training

Great faith. Great doubt. Great effort.

Albert Einstein

The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he has attained liberation from the self.

Carl Jung

The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Who is the Potter, pray, and who is the Pot?

Coco Chanel

How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone.

John Lennon

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.

Samuel Johnson

When making your choice in life, do not neglect to live.

Zen Mondo

A monk asked Chao-chou, "I have just entered the monastery: please give me some guidance."
Chao-chou said, "Have you eaten your rice gruel?"
The monk said,"Yes, I've eaten."
Chao-chou said, "Then go wash your bowl."

Albert Einstein, three rules of work

1. Out of clutter, find simplicity.
2. From discord, find harmony.
3. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

Kahlil Gigran

Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.

Robert M. Pirsig

So the thing to do when working on a motorcycle, as in any other task, is to cultivate the peace of mind which does not separate one's self from one's surroundings. When that is done successfully, then everything else follows naturally. Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts. Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see of the serenity at the center of it all.

Charles Dickens

He did each single thing as if he did nothing else.

Willa Cather

That is happiness: to be dissolved into something complete and great.

St. Anthony

The prayer of the monk is not perfect until he no longer recognizes himself or the fact that he is praying.


-Children, one earthly Thing truly experienced, even once, is enough for a lifetime.

Zen Koan

What is the color of wind?

Zen Koan

What is the color of wind?

Ludwig Wittgenstein

The mystical is not how the world is, but that it is.

Zen Story

Fa-yen, a Chinese Zen teacher, overheard four monks arguing about subjectivity and objectivity. He joined them and said: "There is a big stone. Do you consider it to be inside or outside your mind?"
One of the monks replied: "From the Buddhist viewpoint everything is an objectification of mind, so I would say that the stone is inside my mind."
"Your head must feel very heavy," observed Fa-yen, "if you are carrying around a stone like that in your mind."


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.

Wallace Stevens

The river is moving. The blackbird must be flying.

Zen Koan

Two monks were arguing about the temple flag waving in teh wind. One said, "The flag moves." The other said, "The wind moves." They argued back and forth but could not agree. Hui-neng, the sixth Patriarch, said: "Gentlemen! It is not the flag that moves. It is not the wind that moves. It is your mind that moves." The two monks were struck with awe.

Zen Saying

Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind.


There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.

The Buddha

Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a polluted mind, suffering will follow you, as the wheels of the oxcart follow the footsteps of the ox. Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a pure mind, happiness will follow you, as a shadow clings to a form.

Spanish Proverb

It is notthe same to talk of bulls as to be in the bullring.

G. K. Chesterton

You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it.

Simone Weil

Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached.

Zen Story

Two monks were once travelling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was falling. Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.
"Come on, girl," siad the first monk. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.
The second monk did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. "We monks don't go near females," he said. "It is dangerous. Why did you do that?"
"I left the girl there,: the first monk said. "Are you still carrying her?"

Zen Saying

When an ordinary man attains knowledge, he is a sage; when a sage attains understanding, he is an ordinary man.

Zen Story

Wealthy patrons invited Ikkyu to a banquet. Ikkyu arrived dressed in his beggar's robes. The host, not recognizing hin, chased him away. Ikkyu went home, chaged into his ceremonial robe of purple brocade, and returned. With great respect, he was received into the banquet room. There, he put his robe on the cushion, saying, "I expect you invited the robe since you showed me away a little while ago," and left.

Erich Fromm

Man's main task in life is to give birth to himself.


You should study not only that you become a mother when your child is born, but also that you become a child.

Taoist Mondo

One day Chuang-tzu and a friend were walking along a riverbank. "How delightfully the fishes are enjoying themselves in the water!" Chuang-tzu exclaimed.
"You are not a fish," his friend said. "How do you know whether or not the fishes are enjoying themselves?"
"You are not me," Chuang-tzu said. "How do you know that I do not know that the fishes are enjoying themselves?"

Kentucky Folklore

"My feet are cold," one says, and the legless man replies: "So are mine. So are mine."

Zen Koan

When you can do nothing, what can you do?

Pablo Picasso

Computer are useless. They can only give the answers.


Meditation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the end.

Tao te Ching

The more you know the less you understand.

Peter Matthiessen

In this very breath that we take now lies the secret that all great teachers try to tell us.