The only Zen you find
on the tops of mountains
is the Zen
you bring up there.

Robert M. Pirsig


Before one studies Zen, mountains are mountains and waters are waters;
after a first glimpse into the truth of Zen, mountains are no longer
mountains and waters are no longer waters; after enlightenment,
mountains are once again mountains and waters once again waters.

Zen saying


Master Tanzan, on the day of his death, called upon his assistant
to send a batch of identical postcards.  Each one said simply:
"I am departing this world.  There will be no further messages.  Tanzan."

traditional Zen Buddhist story


One moon shows in every pool; in every pool, the one moon.

Q:  What does a Zen monk say to
a hot dog stand vendor?
A:  Make me one with everything.

Q:  What does the vendor say when the monk
asks for change for his twenty-dollar bill?
A:  Change comes from within.


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Just think of the trees:  they let the birds perch and fly, with no
intention to call them when they come and no longing for their
return when they fly away.  If people's hearts can be
like the trees, they will not be off the Way.

If you understand, things are just as they are;
if you do not understand, things are just as they are.

If you seek, how is that different from pursuing sound and form?
If you don't seek, how are you different from earth, wood, or stone?
You must seek without seeking.



The great way is not difficult for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.



Begin to see what is in front of you, rather than
what you learned is there.

Stephen C. Paul


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

Yasutani Roshi


If you cannot find the truth right where you are,
where else do you expect to find it?


Life is like stepping onto a boat that is about to sail out to sea and sink.

Shunryu Suzuki

Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.

Where there is great doubt, there will be great awakening;
small doubt, small awakening, no doubt, no awakening.


Do not permit the events of your daily life to bind you,
but never withdraw yourself from them.


Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water.  The moon
does not get wet, nor is the water broken.  Although its light is
wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch
wide.  The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected
in one dewdrop on the grass.




Most people who come to the Zen Center don't think a Cadillac will do it,
but they think that enlightenment will.  Now they've got a new cookie, a new
"if only."  "If only I could understand what realization is all about, I would
be happy."  "If only I could have at least a little enlightenment experience,
I would be happy."  Coming into a practice like Zen, we bring our usual
notions that we are going to get somewhere--become enlightened--and get all
the cookies that have eluded us in the past.

Our whole life consists of this little subject looking outside itself for an object.
But if you take something that is limited, like body and mind, and look for
something outside it, that something becomes an object and must be limited too.
So you have something limited looking for something limited and you just end up
with more of the same folly that has made you miserable.

Charlotte Joko Beck

A monk asked Ts'ui-wei about the meaning of Buddhism.  Ts'ui-wei answered:
"Wait until there is no one around, and I will tell you."  Some time later the monk
approached Ts'ui-wei again, saying, "There is nobody here now.  Please answer
me."  Ts'ui-wei led him out into the garden and went over to the bamboo grove,
saying nothing.  Still the monk did not understand, so at last Ts'ui-wei said,
"Here is a tall bamboo; there is a short one!"

Two monks were arguing about the temple flag waving in the 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.



Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind.


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.

the Buddha


When an ordinary person attains knowledge, that person is a sage;
when a sage attains understanding, that person is an ordinary person.


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When you are deluded and full of doubt, even a thousand books
of scripture are not enough.  When you have realized
understanding, even one word is too much.



The masters in the art of living make little distinction between
their work and their play, their labor and their leisure, their minds
and their bodies, their education and their recreation, their love
and their religion.  They hardly know which is which.  They simply
pursue their vision of excellence in whatever they do, leaving others
to decide whether they are working or playing.
To them they are always doing both.

Zen Buddhist text


A carpenter and his apprentice were walking together through a large forest.
And when they came across a tall, huge, gnarled, old, beautiful oak tree,
the carpenter asked his apprentice:  "Do you know why this tree
is so tall, so huge, so gnarled, so old and beautiful?"  The apprentice
looked at his master and said:  "No. . . why?"  "Well," the carpenter said,
"because it is useless.  If it had been useful it would have been cut
long ago and made into tables and chairs, but because it is useless it
could grow so tall and so beautiful that you can sit in its shade and relax."

Tao Story


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There once were two monks who lived in a woods.  One was committed to sitting under a particular tree forever until he achieved enlightenment.  He sat there under the tree eating only the bugs and spiders and lizards that happened to wander close enough.  He drank only the water that fell when it rained.  There were cob-webs hanging off of him and he was dirty and smelly and not a pleasant, aesthetic experience.

There was a second monk who lived in that same woods, who traveled around the woods and had a lot of fun, who occasionally went into town and got himself in a little bit of difficulty now and then—he did have a weakness for the rice wine.

As chance would have it, a messenger of Brahma happened to be passing through.  Now the tradition was that, if you recognized the messenger of Brahma, you got to ask the messenger a question.  The old man under the tree recognized the messenger, and he said, “Hah there.  I see you, messenger of Brahma.  I claim the answer to my question.”

The messenger said, “Oh, all right.  What's your question?”

“How many more life-times must I sit under this tree, meditating, before I experience enlightenment?”

“Well,” said the messenger, “I'll go ask Brahma and come back when I'm next this way and give you the answer.”

Overhearing this, the second monk said, “Hey, I'd kind of like the answer to that, too.  That'd be interesting to know.”

Years passed.  As chance would have it, the messenger again came back through and the old man recognized him.  The old man said, “Hah, I recognize you, messenger.  Have you brought my answer from Brahma.”

The messenger says, “Yes, Brahma says you've got four more lifetimes before you finally achieve enlightenment.”  The old man under the tree said, “Ah, dung.  Four more lifetimes of sitting under this damn tree, amongst the spiders and the lizards and the muck and the rain.  Yuck!  Phew!”

The second monk said, “How about me?”

The messenger said, “Brahma said you have ten thousand more lifetimes before you finally 'get it.'”

The monk said, “Ten thousand more lifetimes?  Incredible!  Ten thousand more lifetimes enjoying this incredible world we live in?  Enjoying these woods, enjoying being alive!”

The messenger said, “No, no, you're there already.”

related by Mike Young

After ecstasy, the laundry.

Put down your opinion, your condition, your situation, then you will
not be stuck.  Always stay open.  Working in a gas station will be
no problem, or cleaning someone's house.  If you are holding your
idea, "I want a high-class job, or a house, or a car," then you
will have a problem.  Zen means put everything down.
Then you can control any situation or condition.

Seung Sahn

The man to whom Tao
Acts without impediment
Does not bother with his own interests
And does not despise
Others who do.
He does not struggle to make money
And does not make a virtue of poverty.
He goes his way
Without relying on others
And does not pride himself
On walking alone.
While he does not follow the crowd
He won't complain of those who do.
Rank and reward
Make no appeal to him;
Disgrace and shame
Do not deter him.
He is not always looking
For right and wrong
Always deciding "Yes" or "No."

Thomas Merton
Drinking tea, eating rice,
I pass my time as it comes,
Looking down at the stream,
Looking up at the mountain,
How serene and relaxed I feel indeed!

Pao-tzu Wen-ch'I

To Zen, time and eternity are one.

D.T. Suzuki



Found online:

(Found online images come from a variety of unattributed
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not to share!)


Alone in his car heading west, it's easy for Jason
to feel sorry for himself and mad at the world.  But
then he gives a ride to Hector and learns that life
isn't nearly as negative as we sometimes see it,
and that the prejudice and discrimination that
he's experiencing aren't unique to him--and aren't
impossible to overcome.  The friendship between
this young man and his 70-year-old passenger is
an inspiring story of love and dealing with
obstacles in our lives.    
Book - Kindle