Buddhist Quotes - Sayings of
Buddhist, Zen, & Dzogchen


Sayings of Shakyamuni Buddha

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

The no-mind not-thinks no-thoughts about no-things - The Buddah

Those who really seek the path to enlightenment dictate terms to their mind. They then proceed with strong determination. Buddha.

The Secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, nor to anticipate troubles, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.- Buddha

"Better than a thousand pointless words is one saying to the point on hearing
which one finds peace. - Gautama Buddha"

"Though one were to live a hundred years without wisdom and with a mind
unstilled by meditation, the life of a single day is better if one is wise and
practises meditation. - Gautama Buddha"

"Be urgent in good; hold your thoughts off evil. When one is slack in doing good
the mind delights in evil. - Gautama Buddha"

"Do not think lightly of evil that not the least consequence will come of it. A
whole waterpot will fill up from dripping drops of water. A fool fills himself
with evil, just a little at a time. - Gautama Buddha"

"One should avoid evil like a merchant with much goods and only a small escort
avoids a dangerous road, and like a man who loves life avoids poison. - Gautama

"If there is no wound on one's hand, one can handle poison. Poison has no effect
where there is no wound. There is no evil for the non-doer. - Gautama Buddha"

"All fear violence, all are afraid of death. Seeing the similarity to oneself,
one should not use violence or have it used. - Gautama Buddha"

"If you don't disturb yourself, like a broken gong does not vibrate, then you
have achieved nirvana. Irritability no longer exists for you. - Gautama Buddha"

"Like a cowherd driving cows off to the fields, so old age and death take away
the years from the living. - Gautama Buddha"

"Neither naked asceticism, matted hair, dirt, fasting, sleeping on the ground,
dust and mud, nor prolonged sitting on one's heels can purify a man who is not
free of doubts. - Gautama Buddha"

"What is this laughter, what is this delight, forever burning (with desires) as
you are? Enveloped in darkness as you are, will you not look for a lamp? -
Gautama Buddha"

"Look at the decorated puppet, a mass of wounds and of composite parts, full of
disease and always in need of attention. It has no enduring stability. - Gautama

"An ignorant man ages like an ox. His flesh may increase, but not his
understanding. - Gautama Buddha"

"Those who have not lived the holy life, and have not acquired wealth in their
youth, grow old like withered cranes beside a fishless pool. - Gautama Buddha"

"The Tempter masters the lazy and irresolute man who dwells on the attractive
side of things, ungoverned in his senses, and unrestrained in his food, like the
wind overcomes a rotten tree. - Gautama Buddha"

"The Tempter cannot master a man who dwells on the distasteful side of things,
self-controlled in his senses, moderate in eating, resolute and full of faith,
like the wind cannot move a mountain crag. - Gautama Buddha"

"The man who wears the yellow-dyed robe but is not free from stains himself,
without self-restraint and integrity, is unworthy of the robe. - Gautama Buddha"

"In the same way that rain breaks into a house with a bad roof, desire breaks
into the mind that has not been practising meditation. - Gautama Buddha"

"Attention leads to immortality. Carelessness leads to death. Those who pay
attention will not die, while the careless are as good as dead already. -
Gautama Buddha"

"Foolish, ignorant people indulge in careless lives, whereas a clever man guards
his attention as his most precious possession. - Gautama Buddha"

"Don't indulge in careless behaviour. Don't be the friend of sensual pleasures.
He who meditates attentively attains abundant joy. - Gautama Buddha"

"Careful amidst the careless, amongst the sleeping wide-awake, the intelligent
man leaves them all behind, like a race-horse does a mere hack. - Gautama

"With his mind free from the inflow of thoughts and from restlessness, by
abandoning both good and evil, an alert man knows no fear. - Gautama Buddha"

"Seeing your body as no better than an earthen pot, make war on Mara with the
sword of wisdom, and setting up your mind as a fortress, defend what you have
won, remaining free from attachment. - Gautama Buddha"

"Death carries off a man busy picking flowers with an besotted mind, like a
great flood does a sleeping village. - Gautama Buddha"

"Like a fine flower, beautiful to look at but without scent, fine words are
fruitless in a man who does not act in accordance with them. - Gautama Buddha"

"Just as one can make a lot of garlands from a heap of flowers, so man, subject
to birth and death as he is, should make himself a lot of good karma. - Gautama

"Sandalwood, tagara, lotus, jasmine -- the fragrance of virtue is unrivalled by
such kinds of perfume. - Gautama Buddha"

"Long is the night for the sleepless. Long is the road for the weary. Long is
samsara (the cycle of continued rebirth) for the foolish, who have not
recognised the true teaching. - Gautama Buddha"

"'I've got children', 'I've got wealth.' This is the way a fool brings suffering
on himself. He does not even own himself, so how can he have children or wealth?
- Gautama Buddha"

"A fool who recognises his own ignorance is thereby in fact a wise man, but a
fool who considers himself wise -- that is what one really calls a fool. -
Gautama Buddha"

"Even if a fool lived with a wise man all his life, he would still not recognise
the truth, like a wooden spoon cannot recognise the flavour of the soup. -
Gautama Buddha"

"A fool thinks it like honey so long as the bad deed does not bear fruit, but
when it does bear fruit he experiences suffering. - Gautama Buddha"

"Like fresh milk a bad deed does not turn at once. It follows a fool scorching
him like a smouldering fire. - Gautama Buddha"

"One may desire a spurious respect and precedence among one's fellow monks, and
the veneration of outsiders. "Both monks and laity should think it was my doing.
They should accept my authority in all matters great or small." This is a fool's
way of thinking. His self-seeking and conceit just increase. - Gautama Buddha"

"Navvies channel water, fletchers fashion arrows, and carpenters work on wood,
but the wise disciple themselves. - Gautama Buddha"

"Few are those among men who have crossed over to the other shore, while the
rest of mankind runs along the bank. However those who follow the principles of
the well-taught Truth will cross over to the other shore, out of the dominion of
Death, hard though it is to escape. - Gautama Buddha"

"Journey over, sorrowless, freed in every way, and with all bonds broken -- for
such a man there is no more distress. - Gautama Buddha"

"The recollected go forth to lives of renunciation. They take no pleasure in a
fixed abode. Like wild swans abandoning a pool, they leave one resting place
after another. - Gautama Buddha"

"He whose inflowing thoughts are dried up, who is unattached to food, whose
dwelling place is an empty and imageless release -- the way of such a person is
hard to follow, like the path of birds through the sky. - Gautama Buddha"


Know all things to be like this:
A mirage, a cloud castle,
A dream, an apparition,
Without essence, but with qualities that can be seen.

Know all things to be like this:
As the moon in a bright sky
In some clear lake reflected,
Though to that lake the moon has never moved.

Know all things to be like this:
As an echo that derives
From music, sounds, and weeping,
Yet in that echo is no melody.

Know all things to be like this:
As a magician makes illusions
Of horses, oxen, carts and other things,
Nothing is as it appears.



"Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: it transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural and spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity" ---- Albert Einstein

"The Buddha was often referred to as the Awakened One. Awakened to all the illusions and freed from them. The analogy that is often used is that the non-enlightened state is like being asleep. This is because your Buddha-nature, your enlightened awareness, is masked by a the sleep of ignorance, greed, and hatred. When you awake to the fact that that all is part of the illusion of egocentricity, you are free from that illusion. So you are awakened from the ego-illusion and all that goes with it." Rob Nairn

"In general the teaching of the Buddha is very vast and profound, it is not so simple as to grasp it in one time. If we had to summarise the complete teaching of Buddha we would see that all is included in two main points, that is:

or, if we are not able to benefit others we should at least avoid all harmful thoughts and actions.

Buddha Himself summarised in a few lines the essence of His teachings: abandon all harming actions and all negative actions, practice all positive actions completely and control your own mind. This is the teaching of Buddha. "

His Holiness Trijang Dorje Chang.

Interview with Dalai Lama, by Robert Thurman - May 2001

R.T. Now for a really simple question: What is the essence of Buddhism?

Respect all forms of life, and then compassion and affection toward all sentient beings, with the understanding that everything is interdependent - so my happiness and suffering, my well-being, very much have to do with others'.


HH 14th Dalai Lama:

"Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion." His Holiness The XIV Dalai Lama

Human Nature

"I am convinced that human nature is basically gentle, not aggressive. And every one of us has a responsibility to act as if all our thoughts, words, and deeds matter. For, really, they do. Our lives have both purpose and meaning."


"Compassion is what makes our lives meaningful. It is the source of all lasting happiness and joy. And it is the foundation of a good heart, the heart of one who acts out of a desire to help others. Through kindness, through affection, through honesty, through truth and justice toward all others we ensure our own benefit. This is not a matter for complicated theorizing. It is a matter of common sense.

There is no denying that consideration of others is worthwhile. There is no denying that our happiness is inextricably bound up with the happiness of others. There is no denying that if society suffers we ourselves suffer. Nor is there any denying that the more our hearts and minds are afflicted with ill-will, the more miserable we become. Thus we can reject everything else: religion, ideology, all received wisdom. But we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion."

From: Ethics for the New Millenium His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Riverhead Books, 1999

Lama Zopa Sound Bites

Real happiness in life starts when you begin to cherish others.

The thought of liking problems should arise as naturally as the thought of liking ice cream.

If one does not remember death, one does not remember Dharma.

In Arizona Rinpoche was asked if he would like to visit Grand Canyon. "A whole in the ground? What for!" he replied.

Less desire means less pain

The best way to cure ourselves of disease is through meditation, through using our own mind. We then become our own doctor, or own psychologist, our own guru.

Like moulding dough in your hand you can definitely turn your mind whichever way you want.

Since you don't like problems there is no choice: you have to practice Dharma.

Everything has to do with your own attitude, your own way of thinking - your motivation.

A sick body with a good heart is more beneficial to future lives than a fit, healthy body that is used for self-cherishing.

The best thing to do is recite every morning, "I am going to die today." Since the I that exists is merely imputed, there is nothing to cherish, nothing to cling to.

Lama Zopa

"When the iron bird flies, when horses run on wheels,
the king will come to the land of the red man"
Padmasambhava (eighth century)

"What is presented here is like a map; it is an entirely different experience to actually make this journey. It requires a guide to make this journey, and as well, we must make the proper preparations; our minds must be tamed and trained through the practice of meditation. Only then can we see the vajra world." Chogyam Trunpa, Journey Without Goal

Teachings of His Holiness Gyalwang Drukgpa

"We tend to have a very selfish, impure motivation. We want to get the teachings for our own sakes and this is not respected in terms of spiritual development. We need to have at least a motivation to help others as a result of the practice or listening to the teachings. Even if that motivation is not there right away, we need to work on th teachings from that time and eventually be able to benefit beings. This must be the true motivation."

"Whatever your practice, this is a path. The path is the mind, the motivation the mental state. The spiritual path actually means one's mental state. So, wherever and whatever your motivation is, that is the path - path is motivation always has to be there continuously. When the motivation stops, the path stops. There is no path other than motivation; there is no motivation other than the path"

Above - Some quotes from The Precious Teachings of His Holiness Gyalwang Drukgpa - Drukpa Kargyud Trust Summer Newsletter


The Root delusions

From Vasubhandu's Treasury of Metaphysics

The six subtle and extensive delusions
Of [samsaric] existence are:
Attachment, anger, pride
ignorance, wrong views, and doubt

That is there are six root delusions

Anger - highly disturbed aspect of mind that arises when we see something unpleasant - enemies, and so forth

Attachment - attachment to ego / self / others / things causes suffering (see attachment page)

Pride - is your inflated opinion of yourslef and can manifest in relation to some good or bad object: your power, wealth, good qualities, family, wisdom, pure ethics - even your pleasant voice or physical prowess

Ignorance - not knowing, not seeing, not understanding, being unclear, and so forth. Ignorance is like blindness - not seeing the nature or mode of existence of something. Ignorance is the root of all delusions.

Doubt - directed towards the four truths, the Three Jewels, cause and effect

Deluded Views - there are 5

The Causes of Delusion

Their Foundation
Their Object
Unrealistic Thinking

The Drawbacks of the Delusions

From An Ornament to the Sutras

Delusions destroy you,
Destroy sentient beings,
And destroy your ethics.
You hold your equals as inferiors.
Guardians and teachers criticize you,
And you don't heed opponents.
You will be born in conducive states.
Your acquisitions and non-acquisitions
Will decline, and you will have great suffering

Above extract from 'Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand ' by Kyabje Pabonka Rinpoche

"Lust at the sight of a young woman springs from ignorance and delusion. Reason points out inwardly time and again, that bodies are only the combination of flesh, blood and fat." Sri Sankara

The Eight Verses on Transforming the Mind
by Geshe Langri Tangpa Dorjey Sengey

With a determination to accomplish
The highest welfare for all sentient beings,
Who surpass even a wish-granting jewel
I will learn to hold them supremely dear.

Whenever I associate with others I will learn,
To think of myself as the lowest among all,
And respectfully hold others to be supreme,
From the very depths of my heart.

In all actions I will learn to search into my mind
And as soon as an afflictive emotion arises
Endangering myself and others,
Will firmly face and avert it.

I will learn to cherish all beings of bad nature
And those oppressed by strong sins and sufferings,
As if I had found a precious
Treasury very difficult to find.

When others out of jealousy treat me badly
With abuse, slander, and so on,
I will learn to take all loss
And offer the victory to them.

When one whom I have benefited with great hope
Unreasonably hurts me very badly,
I will learn to view that person
As an excellent spiritual guide.

In short, I will learn to offer to everyone without exception,
All help and happiness directly and indirectly,
And respectfully take upon myself,
All harm and suffering of my mothers.

I will learn to keep these practices,
Undefiled by the stains of the eight worldly conceptions,
And by understanding all phenomena as like illusion,
Be released from the bondage of attachment.

The Eight Verses on Transforming the Mind
by Geshe Langri Tangpa Dorjey Sengey

VIDEO AVAILABLE - DALAI LAMA - Lojong: Transforming the Mind (4 tapes) VHS -ID# 76446 Time: 5.5 hrs. mysticfire.com

Zen Buddhism

Limiting Activity

When we practice zazen we limit our activity to the smallest extent. Just keeping the right posture and being concentrated on sitting is how we express the universal nature. Then we become Buddha, and we express Buddha nature. So instead of having some object of worship, we just concentrate on the activity which we do in each moment.

When you bow, you should just bow; when you sit, you should just sit; when you eat, you should just eat.If you do this, the universal nature is there. In Japanese we call it ichigyo-zammai, or "one-act samadhi." Sammai (or samadhi) is "concentration." Ichigyo is "one practice"

Zen Mind, Beginner's mind, Informal talks on Zen Meditation and Practice by Shunryu Suzuki

Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky.
Conscious breathing is my anchor.
Thich That Nan

Be master OF mind rather than mastered BY mind - Zen Saying

Quotes from Zen Essence, The Science of Freedom, Translated by Thomas Cleary:

The Purpose of Zen

Over the course of centuries, Zen has branched out into different schools with individual methods, but the purpose is still the same- to point directly to the human mind. Once the ground of mind is clarifiedm there is no obstruction at all - you shed views and interpretations that are based on concepts such as victory and defeatm self and others, right and wrong. Thus you pass through all that and reach a realm of great rest and tranquility. Zen Master Yuanwu


Zen enlightenment is as if you have been away from home for many years, when you suddenly see your father in town. you know him right away without a doubt. There is no need to ask anyone else whether he is your father or not. Zen Master Foyan

The Aim of Zen

When enlightened Zen masters set up teaching for a spiritual path, the only concern is to clarify the mind to arrive at its source. It is complete in everyone, yet people turn away from this basic mind because of their illusions.

Bad Habits

In the root and stem of your own psyche there is an accumulation of bad habits, If you cannot see through them and act independently of them, you will unavoidablty get bogged down along the way. Zen Master Yuansou

Summary of Zen Practice

When you're settled in Zen, your mind is serene, unaffected by worldly distractions. You enter the realm of enlightenment, and transcend the ordinary world, leaving the world while in the midst of society. Zen Master Fenyang

Zen Stories (1)

Crossing the river

The monk Tanzan and a younger monk were travelling, when they saw a beautiful young women unable to cross the river. Tanzan immediately offered and helped the woman by carrying her across the river. Tanzan and the young monk continued on their journey, but after some time the young monk could not stand it anymore. He said "as monks we must abstain from desires of the flesh, yet you were so physically close to that young woman. Why did you do that?" Tanzan replied, "I already put her down at the river. Are you still carrying her?"

Small waves and large waves

A small wave in the ocean laments "Poor me. Other waves are so great in size, yet I am so small. Other waves can travel so fast, yet I am so inferior." Another wave replies "This is because you do not know your true being, so you think you are suffering. A wave is your temporary phenomenon. In actual fact, you are water. When you realize that your true being is water, you will no longer be troubled by your physical form, and therefore will no longer suffer."

What is the sea?

A small fish asked a great fish "I often hear others speak of the sea. But what exactly is it?" The great fish replied "Your environment is the sea. The sea is inside of you, and it is outside of you. You live in the sea, and belong to the sea. The sea surrounds you, just like your body."

A three-year old knows

Baiju asked the monk Niaoke "How should people cultivate in their daily life to be in accordance with the Way?" Niaoke replied "Do not do any bad deeds. As for good deeds, pursue all of them and do not turn your back on any of them." Baiju was puzzled and said "but this is something even a three year old child already knows". Niaoke replied "A three year old child knows, but a hundred year old person may not be able to do it".

Too rushed to learn

A young man went into the deep mountains to ask a master to teach him swordsmanship. He asked the master how long it would take to learn, to which the master replied "ten years". The young man said "my father is getting old, and I need to take care of him. If I am very diligent in learning, how long will it take?"The master replied "That way will take thirty years". The young man was even more anxious. "First you said ten years, now you say thirty years. I don't care how much hardship I have to bear, I must learn it in the shortest amount of time." The master replied "In that case, it will take seventy years".

Too full to learn

A scholar visited the monk Nanyin to ask him about Zen. Nanyin offered some tea to his guest, but he continued pouring even after the cup was full. After a short while, the scholar could not stand it any longer and said "the cup is already full! Stop pouring!". Nanyin replied "You are just like this cup, full of your views and opinions. If you do not empty your cup first, how can I tell you about Zen?"

Attachment and loss

A mighty general was holding and admiring one of his antique cups. Suddenly, the cup slipped from his hands and fell. Although in shock, he quickly caught the cup before it hit the ground. Somewhat breathless from this incident, he thought to himself "I have led tens of thousands of soldiers into battle without fear. Why did a cup cause me to become so frightened?" He then realized that it was his mind of attachment and loss that caused him such fright. With this comprehension, he casually threw the cup to the ground and let it break.

Chatting About Roots (1) Editor's note: "Chatting About Roots" (Cai Gen Tan - literally "vegetable root chat") is written by Zicheng Hong, and integrates ideas from Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. The material here are translated from "Cartoon Guide to Chatting About Roots" by Zhizhong Cai.

More Zen sayings, koan's, Stories & masters



Dzog-Chen, or the great perfection, is the essence of all the spiritual traditions of Tibet. Although it is not a religious or philosophical system, it has been incorporated into Tibetan Buddhism and is considered to be a complete and realistic means of achieving "internal awakening".

The Innermost Essence of the Mind
Discovering the Natural Freedom of the Mind
through the Practice of Dzogchen Rigpa

"Dzogchen is the primordial state, that state of total awakening that is the heart-essence of all the buddhas and all spiritual paths, and the summit of an individual's spiritual evolution. It is the final, ultimate and heart of the teaching of all the buddhas, and brings precise experiences of the awakened state." Sogyal Rinpoche

Profound and tranquil, free from complexity,
Uncompounded luminous clarity,
Beyond the mind of conceptual ideas;
This is the depth of the mind of the buddhas.
In this, there is not a thing to be removed,
Nor anything that needs to be added.
It is merely the immaculate,
Looking naturally at itself.

Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche

In his 'Guide to the Bodhisattvas' Way of Life', Shantideva wrote:

It is the supreme elixir
That overcomes the sovereignty of death.
It is the inexhaustible treasure
That eliminates poverty in the world.
It is the supreme medicine
That quells the world's disease.
It is the tree that shelters all beings
Wandering and tired on the path of conditioned existence.
It is the universal bridge
That leads to freedom from unhappy states of birth.
It is the dawning moon of the mind
That dispels the torment of disturbing conceptions.
It is the great sun that finally removes
The misty ignorance of the world.

The great Dzogchen master Patrul Rinpoche would explain the entire path of training in bodhicitta with this famous verse:

O sublime, precious bodhicitta,
May it arise in those in whom it has not arisen.
May it never decline where it has arisen,
But go on increasing further and further!


The Four Faults:

Why is it that people should find it so difficult even to conceive the depth and glory of the nature of mind? Why does it seem to many such an outlandish and improbable idea?

The teachings speak of four faults, which prevent us from realizing the nature of mind right now

1. The nature of minds is too close to be recognized. Just as we are unable to see our own face, mind finds it difficult to look into it's own nature.

2. It is too profound for us to fathom. We have no idea how deep it could be; if we did, we would have already, ta a certain extent, realized it.

3. It is too easy for us to believe. In reality all, we need do is simply to rest in the naked, pure awareness of the nature of mind, which is always present.

4. It is too wonderful for us to accomadate, The sheer immensity of it is too vast to fit into our narrow way of thinking. We just can't believe it. Nor can we possibly imagine that enlightenment is the real nature of our minds

The essence of meditation practice in Dzogchen is encapsualted by these four points:


In Buddhism we establish whether a teacher is authentic by whether or not the guidance he or she is giving accords with the teachings of the Buddha. It cannot be stressed too often that it is truth of the teaching which is all-important, and never the personality of the teacher. This is why Buddha reminded us in the "Four reliances":

Rely on the message of the teacher, not on his personality;
Rely on the meaning, not just on the words;
Rely on the real meaning, not just the provisional one;
rely on your wisdom mind, not on your ordianry, judgmental mind.

So it is important to remember that the true teacher, as we shall see, is the spokesman of the truth: its compassionate "wisdom display." All the buddhas, masters, and prophets, in fact are the emanation of this truth, appearing in countless skillful, compassionate guises in order to guide us through their teachin, back to our true nature. At first then, more important than finding the teacher is through making a connection with the truth of the teaching, for it is through making a connection with the truth of the teaching that you will discover your living connection with a master.


Remember the example of an old cow:
She's content to sleep in a barn.
You have to eat, sleep and shit-
That's unavoidable-anything
Beyond that is none of your business.
Do what you have to do

And keep yourself to yourself.


( MUDRA, Chogyam Trungpa, Shambhala, Berkeley and London, 1972.)

Dzogchen page


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