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  Buddhism - Zen Quotations

Why do you come here?
I come seeking enlightenment.
Why should you leave your home and wander about and neglect your own precious treasure?
There is nothing I can give you. Why do you seek enlightenment from me?
But what is my treasure?
It is he who has just asked the question. It contains everything and lacks nothing.
There is no need to seek it outside yourself.


A boy broke a rare teacup that belonged to his master.
When he saw the master, he asked "Why does death happen?".
The master said "It is natural. Everything lives and dies."
The boy showed the broken cup and said "It was time for your cup to die".


Joshu asked Nansen: `What is the path?'
Nansen said: `Everyday life is the path.'
Joshu asked: `Can it be studied?'
Nansen said: `If you try to study, you will be far away from it.' 
Joshu asked: `If I do not study, how can I know it is the path?'
Nansen said: `The path does not belong to the perception world, neither does it belong to the nonperception world.  Cognition is a delusion and noncognition is senseless.
If you want to reach the true path beyond doubt, place yourself in the same freedom as sky.
You name it neither good nor not-good.'
At these words Joshu was enlightened. 


A huge, rough samurai once went to see a little monk, hoping to acquire the secrets of the universe. "Monk," he said, in a voice accustomed to instant obedience. "teach me about heaven and hell."
The little monk looked up at the mighty warrior in silence. Then, after a moment, he said to the samurai with utter disdain, "Teach you about heaven and hell? I couldn't teach you about anything. You are dirty. You smell. Your blade is rusty. You are a disgrace, an embarrassment to the samurai class.
Get out of my sight at once. I can't stand you!"
The samurai was furious. He began to shake all over from the anger that raced through him. A red flush spread over his face; he was speechless with rage. Quickly, menacingly, he pulled out his sword and raised it above his head, preparing to slay the monk.
"That's hell." said the little monk quietly. The samurai was overwhelmed. Stunned. 
The compassion and surrender of this little man who had offered his life to give this teaching about hell! He slowly lowered his sword, filled with gratitude, and for reasons he could not explain his heart became suddenly peaceful. 
"And that's heaven," said the monk softly. 


Two traveling monks reached a river where they met a young woman. Wary of the current, 
she asked if they could carry her across. One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly 
picked her up onto his shoulders, transported her across the water, and put her down on 
the other bank. She thanked him and departed. As the monks continued on their way, the 
one was brooding and preoccupied.
Unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. "Brother, our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women, but you picked that one up on your shoulders and carried her!" 
"Brother," the second monk replied, "I set her down on the other side, while you are still 
carrying her." 


Ryokan, a Zen master, lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. 
One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing to steal. Ryokan returned and caught him. "You have come a long way to visit me," he told the prowler, "and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift." The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away. Ryoken sat naked, watching the moon. 
"Poor fellow," he mused, "I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon." 


The great Taoist master Chuang Tzu once dreamt that he was a butterfly fluttering here and there.
In the dream he had no awareness of his individuality as a person. He was only a butterfly.
Suddenly, he awoke and found himself laying there, a person once again. But then he thought to himself, "Was I before a man who dreamt about being a butterfly, or am I now a butterfly who dreams about being a man?" 


(Extracts from The Dhammapada - version by Thomas Byrom)

Choices 
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts. 
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you 
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts. 
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.
"Look how he abused me and hurt me,
How he threw me down and robbed me."
Live with such thoughts and you live in hate.
"Look how he abused me and hurt me,
How he threw me down and robbed me."
Abandon such thoughts, and live in love.
In this world
Hate never yet dispelled hate. 
Only love dispels hate.
This is the law,
Ancient and inexhaustible.
You too shall pass away.
Knowing this, how can you quarrel?
How easily the wind overturns a frail tree.
Seek happiness in the senses,
Indulge in food and sleep,
And you too will be uprooted.
The wind cannot overturn a mountain.
Temptation cannot touch the man 
Who is awake, strong and humble,
Who masters himself and minds the dharma.
If a man's thoughts are muddy,
If he is reckless and full of deceit,
How can he wear the yellow robe?
Whoever is master of his own nature,
Bright, clear and true,
He may indeed wear the yellow robe.
Mistaking the false for the true,
And the true for the false, 
You overlook the heart 
And fill yourself with desire.
See the false as false,
The true as true.
Look into your heart.
Follow your nature.
An unreflecting mind is a poor roof.
Passion, like the rain, floods the house.
But if the roof is strong, there is shelter.
Whoever follows impure thoughts
Suffers in this world and the next.
In both worlds he suffers
And how greatly
When he sees the wrong he has done.
But whoever follows the dharma
Is joyful here and joyful there.
In both worlds he rejoices
And how greatly 
When he sees the good he has done.
For great is the harvest in this world,
And greater still in the next.
However many holy words you read,
However many you speak,
What good will they do you 
If you do not act upon them?
Are you a shepherd
Who counts another man's sheep,
Never sharing the way?
Read as few words as you like,
And speak fewer.
But act upon the dharma.
Give up the old ways - 
Passion, enmity, folly.
Know the truth and find peace.
Share the way.

The Wise Man
The wise man tells you
Where you have fallen
And where you yet may fall - 
Invaluable secrets!
Follow him, follow the way.
Let him chasten and teach you
and keep you from mischief.
The world may hate him.
But good men love him.
Do not look for bad company
Or live with men who do not care.
Find friends who love the truth.
Drink deeply.
Live in serenity and joy.
The wise man delights in the truth 
And follows the law of the awakened.
The farmer channels water to his land.
The fletcher whittles his arrows.
And the carpenter turns his wood.
So the wise man directs his mind.
The wind cannot shake a mountain.
Neither praise nor blame moves the wise man.
He is clarity.
Hearing the truth,
He is like a lake,
Pure and tranquil and deep.
Want nothing.
Where there is desire,
Say nothing.
Happiness or sorrow - 
Whatever befalls you,
Walk on
Untouched, unattached.
Do not ask for family or power or wealth,
Either for yourself or for another.
Can a wise man wish to rise unjustly?
Few cross over the river.
Most are stranded on this side.
On the riverbank they run up and down.
But the wise man, following the way,
Crosses over, beyond the reach of death.
He leaves the dark way
For the way of light.
He leaves his home, seeking
Happiness on the hard road.
Free from desire,
Free from possessions,
Free from the dark places of the heart.
Free from attachment and appetite,
Following the seven lights of awakening,
And rejoicing greatly in his freedom,
In this world the wise man
Becomes himself a light, 
Pure, shining, free.

The Master
At the end of the way
The master finds freedom 
From desire and sorrow - 
Freedom without bounds.
Those who awaken 
Never rest in one place.
Like swans, they rise
And leave the lake.
On the air they rise
And fly an invisible course,
Gathering nothing, storing nothing.
Their food is knowledge.
They live upon emptiness.
They have seen how to break free.
Who can follow them?
Only the master,
Such is his purity.
Like a bird,
He rises on the limitless air 
And flies an invisible course.
He wishes for nothing.
His food is knowledge.
He lives upon emptiness.
He has broken free.
He is the charioteer.
He has tamed his horses,
Pride and the senses.
Even the gods admire him.
Yielding like the earth,
Joyous and clear like the lake,
Still as the stone at the door, 
He is free from life and death.
His thoughts are still. 
His words are still.
His work is stillness.
He sees his freedom and is free.
The master surrenders his beliefs.
He sees beyond the end and the beginning. 
He cuts all ties.
He gives up all desires.
He resists all temptations.
And he rises.
And wherever he lives, 
In the city or the country,
In the valley or in the hills,
There is great joy.
Even in the empty forest
He finds joy
Because he wants nothing.

Violence
All beings tremble before violence.
All fear death.
All love life.
See yourself in other.
Then whom can you hurt?
What harm can you do?
He who seeks happiness 
By hurting those who seek happiness
Will never find happiness.
For your brother is like you.
He wants to be happy.
Never harm him 
And when you leave this life
You too will find happiness.
Never speak harsh words
For they will rebound upon you.
Angry words hurt
And the hurt rebounds.
Like a broken gong
Be still, and silent.
Know the stillness of freedom
Where there is no more striving.
Like herdsmen driving their cows into the fields,
Old age and death will drive you before them.
But the fool in his mischief forgets
And he lights the fire
Wherein one day he must burn.
He who harms the harmless
Or hurts the innocent,
Ten times shall he fall - 
Into torment or infirmity,
Injury or disease or madness,
Persecution or fearful accusation,
Loss of family, loss of fortune.
Fire from heaven shall strike his house
And when his body has been struck down,
He shall rise in hell.
He who goes naked,
With matted hair, mud bespattered,
Who fasts and sleeps on the ground
And smears his body with ashes
And sits in endless meditation -
So long as he is not free from doubts,
He will not find freedom.
But he who lives purely and self-assured,
In quietness and virtue,
Who is without harm or hurt or blame,
Even if he wears fine clothes,
So long as he also has faith,
He is a true seeker.
A noble horse rarely
Feels the touch of the whip.
Who is there in this world as blameless?
Then like a noble horse
Smart under the whip.
Burn and be swift.
Believe, meditate, see.
Be harmless, be blameless.
Awake to the dharma.
And from all sorrows free yourself.
The farmer channels water to his land.
The fletcher whittles his arrows.
The carpenter turns his wood.
And the wise man masters himself.

Yourself
Love yourself and watch - 
Today, tomorrow, always.
First establish yourself in the way,
Then teach,
And so defeat sorrow.
To straighten the crooked 
You must first do a harder thing - 
Straighten yourself.
You are your only master.
Who else?
Subdue yourself,
And discover your master.
Willfully you have fed
Your own mischief.
Soon it will crush you
As the diamond crushes stone. 
By your own folly
You will be brought as low
As you worst enemy wishes.
So the creeper chokes the tree.
How hard it is to serve yourself,
How easy to lose yourself
In mischief and folly.
The kashta reed dies when it bears fruit.
So the fool,
Scorning the teachings of the awakened,
Spurning those who follow the dharma,
Perishes when his folly flowers.
Mischief is yours.
Sorrow is yours.
But virtue is also yours,
And purity.
You are the source 
Of all purity and impurity.
No one purifies another.
Never neglect your work
For another's,
However great his need.
Your work is to discover your work
And then with all your heart 
To give yourself to it.

The World
Do not live in the world,
In distraction and false dreams.
Outside the dharma.
Arise and watch.
Follow the way joyfully
Through this world and beyond.
Follow the way of virtue.
Follow the way joyfully 
Through this world and on beyond!
For consider the world -
A bubble, a mirage.
See the world as it is, 
And death shall overlook you.
Come, consider the world,
A painted chariot for kings,
A trap for fools.
But he who sees goes free.
As the moon slips from behind a cloud 
And shines,
So the master comes out from behind his ignorance
And shines. 
The world is in darkness. 
How few have eyes to see!
How few the birds
Who escape the net and fly to heaven!
Swans rise and fly toward the sun.
What magic!
So do the pure conquer the armies of illusion
And rise and fly.
If you scoff at heaven
And violate the dharma,
If your words are lies,
Where will your mischief end?
The fool laughs at generosity.
The miser cannot enter heaven.
But the master finds joy in giving
And happiness is his reward.
And more - 
For greater than all the joys 
Of heaven and earth,
Greater still and than dominion 
Over all the worlds,
Is the joy of reaching the stream.

Joy
Live in joy,
In love,
Even among those who hate.
Live in joy, 
In health, 
Even among the afflicted.
Live in joy, 
In peace,
Even among the troubled.
Live in joy, 
Without possessions.
Like the shining ones.
The winner sows hatred 
Because the loser suffers.
Let go of winning and losing 
And find joy.
There is no fire like passion,
No crime like hatred, 
No sorrow like separation,
No sickness like hunger,
And no joy like the joy of freedom.
Health, contentment and trust
Are your greatest possessions,
And freedom your greatest joy.
Look within.
Be still.
Free from fear and attachment,
Know the sweet joy of the way.
How joyful to look upon the awakened
And to keep company with the wise.
How long the road to the man 
Who travels the road with the fool.
But whoever follows those who follow the way
Discovers his family, and is filled with joy.
Follow then the shining ones,
The wise, the awakened, the loving,
For they know how to work and forbear.
Follow them
As the moon follows the path of the stars.

The Seeker
Master your senses,
What you taste and smell,
What you see, what you hear.
In all things be a master 
Of what you do and say and think.
Be free.
You are a seeker.
Delight in the mastery 
Of your hands and your feet,
Of your words and your thoughts.
Delight in meditation 
And in solitude.
Compose yourself, be happy.
You are a seeker.
Hold your tongue.
Do not exalt yourself
But lighten the way 
For your words are sweet.
Follow the truth of the way.
Reflect upon it.
Make it your own.
Live it. 
It will always sustain you.
Do not turn away what is given you
Not reach out for what is given to others,
Lest you disturb your quietness.
Give thanks 
For what had been given to you,
However little.
Be pure, never falter.
You have no name and no form.
Why miss what you do not have?
The seeker is not sorry.
Love and joyfully
Follow the way,
The quiet way to the happy country.
Seeker!
Empty the boat,
Lighten the load,
Passion and desire and hatred.
And sail swiftly.
There are five at the door
To turn away, and five more,
And there are five to welcome in.
And when fivež have been left 
Stranded on the shore,
The seeker is called oghatinnoti - 
"He who has crossed over."
Seeker!
Do not be restless.
Meditate constantly.
Or you will swallow fire 
And cry out: "No more!"
If you are not wise,
How can you steady the mind?
If you cannot quieten yourself,
What will you ever learn?
How will you become free?
With a quiet mind
Come into that empty house, your heart,
And feel the joy of the way
Beyond the world. 
Look within -
The rising and the falling.
What happiness!
How sweet to be free!
It is the beginning of life,
Of mastery and patience,
Of good friends along the way,
Of a pure and active life.
So life in love.
Do your work.
Make an end of sorrow.
For see how the jasmine
Releases and lets fall
Its withered flowers.
Let fall willfulness and hatred.
Are you quiet?
Quieten your body.
Quieten your mind.
You want nothing.
Your words are still.
You are still.
By your own efforts
Waken yourself, watch yourself.
And live joyfully.
You are the master,
You are the refuge.
As a merchant breaks in a fine horse, 
Master yourself.
How gladly you follow
The words of the awakened.
How quietly, how surely
You approach the happy country,
The heart of stillness.
However young,
The seeker who sets out upon the way
Shines bright over the world.
Like the moon,
Come out from behind the clouds!
Shine.
 


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