121 Buddhist Proverbs To Share With Your Friends

Over the years, many beautiful minds have spoken or written about the Buddhist way of life. Eckhart Tolle. Thich Nhat Hanh, Jack Kornfield, Pema Chodron…

While I was beginning my own journey to Zen, I fell in love with these teachers and their inspiring Buddhist quotes.

It was a moment of great personal development. And like the roots of a plant that need water, my mind needed inspiration in order to grow.

I took myself to the library. And I took out virtually every inspiring book I could get my hands on.

I read:

  • Deepak Chopra
  • Bruce Lee
  • Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Jack Kornfield
  • Paulo Coelho
  • The Dalai Lama
  • Lama Surya Das
  • Osho
  • And some truly inspiring spiritual blogs.

And I attended lectures, meditation groups, and every other mindful event I could make it out to.

While I was reading those books I took note of all my favorite Zen proverbs. And they have stayed with me ever since. So let me share my favorite ones.

Meditate With Me

Join me for a private meditation session. Master meditation. Master your mind.

A Buddhist Quote For Every Life Event 

One thing that amazed me was the sheer amount of subjects that Buddhist proverbs cover. They range from the most famous Buddhist saying ever, “Om Mani Padme Hum“, to quotes about life in all its aspects. And many remind us of the important stories from Buddhism, like the story of Buddha and Mara.

I’ve organised the quotes below into categories. Though the best thing is to read them all and glean the full wisdom.


buddhist proverb quote about journeys

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh

“In our practice, we have no particular purpose or goal, nor any special object of worship.”

― Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

“Life is a journey. Time is a river. The door is ajar”

― Jim Butcher, Dead Beat

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

― Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

“The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is.”

– Eckhart Tolle

“Wherever you are, be there totally.”

– Eckhart Tolle

“I’m here to tell you that the path to peace is right there, when you want to get away.”

– Pema Chödrön

“Practice is this life, and realization is this life, and this life is revealed right here and now.”

– Maezumi Roshi

“If you want to change the world, start with the next person who comes to you in need.”

– B. D. Schiers

“My experience is that the teachers we need most are the people we’re living with right now.”

– Byron Katie

“When you are present, you can allow the mind to be as it is without getting entangled in it.”

– Eckhart Tolle

“If you miss the present moment, you miss your appointment with life. That is very serious!”

– Thich Nhat Hanh

“Throughout this life, you can never be certain of living long enough to take another breath.”

– Huang Po

“When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.”

– Shunryu Suzuki

“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.”

– Eckhart Tolle

“The intuitive recognition of the instant, thus reality… is the highest act of wisdom.”

– D.T. Suzuki

“The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.”

– Alan Watts

“And when they played they really played. And when they worked they really worked.”

– Dr. Seuss


buddhist proverb quote about forgiveness

“Let your mind wander in the pure and simple. Be one with the infinite. Let all things take their course.”

– Chuang Tzu

“People sleep, and when they die they wake.”

– Muhammad

“The Buddha talked about saving all beings from delusion, not converting them to a new religion.”

– Buddhism Now

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

– Zen Proverb

“Today, you can decide to walk in freedom. You can choose to walk differently. You can walk as a free person, enjoying every step.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh

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

– Chuang

“If we don’t occupy ourselves with everything, then peaceful mind will have nowhere to abide.”

– Shen-hui

“Let go over a cliff, die completely, and then come back to life — after that you cannot be deceived.”

– Zen Proverb

“The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself.”

– Anais Nin

“Each step along the Buddha’s path to happiness requires practising mindfulness until it becomes part of your daily life.”

– Henepola Gunaratana

“Only when you can be extremely pliable and soft can you be extremely hard and strong.”

– Buddhist Proverb

“It’s not about approving or liking, but just being able to allow the world to be the way it is without resenting, hating, or judging it.”

– Buddhism Now

“Body and mind dropped off.”

– Dogen on enlightenment

“Power over others is weakness disguised as strength. True power is within & available to you now.”

– Eckhart Tolle

“To understand everything is to forgive everything”

– Gautama Siddhartha

“It all depends on you. You can go on sleeping forever, you can wake up right this moment.”

– Osho

“Any enlightenment which requires to be authenticated, certified, recognized, congratulated, is false, or at least incomplete.”

– R.H. Blyth

“The aim of spiritual life is to awaken a joyful freedom, a benevolent and compassionate heart in spite of everything.”

– Jack Kornfield

“The real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth.”

– Thích Nhat Hanh

“The way out of life & death is not some special technique; essential thing is to penetrate to the root of life & death.”

– Bukko

“Not thinking about anything is Zen. Once you know this, walking, sitting, or lying down, everything you do is Zen.”

– Bodhidharma

“To follow the path, look to the master, follow the master, walk with the master, see through the master, become the master.”

– Zen Proverb

“Self-realization is effortless. What you are trying to find is what you already are.”

– Ramesh Balsekar

“When the mind is perfectly clear, what is is what we want.”

– Byron Katie

“Learning Zen is a phenomenon of gold & dung. Before you learn it, it’s like gold; after you learn it, it’s like dung.”

– Zen Proverb


buddhist proverb quote about oneness

“Nothing divides one so much as thought.”

― R.H. Blyth


“Things derive their being and nature by mutual dependence and are nothing in themselves”

– Nagarjuna

“It is easy to believe we are each wave and forget we are also the ocean.”

― Jon J. Muth

Nothing ever exists entirely alone. Everything is always in relation to everything else.


“Preparing food is not just about yourself and others. It is about everything!”

– Shunryu Suzuki

“Heaven and earth and I are of the same root, The ten-thousand things and I are of one substance.”

– Seng-chao

“It really boils down to this: that 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.

“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”

– Thích Nhat Hanh

Buddhist Proverbs About Change And Impermanence

buddhist proverb quote about change and impermanence

“One must be deeply aware of the impermanence of the world.”

– Dogen

“Subject and object are not separate—so-called objective reality is projected by our subjective Consciousness.”

― Joseph P. Kauffman, The Answer Is YOU: A Guide to Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Freedom

“This moment will never come again”

― Steve Hagen

“Like vanishing dew,

a passing apparition

or the sudden flash

of lightning — already gone —

thus should one regard one’s self.”

― Ikkyu

  Living in the Moment

buddhist proverb quote about mindfulness

Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.

― Thich Nhat Hanh, The Path Of Mindfulness In Everyday Life



“My finger can point to the moon, but my finger is not the moon. You don’t have to become my finger, nor do you have to worship my finger. You have to forget my finger, and look at where it is pointing.”

– Osho

“To accept some idea of truth without experiencing it is like a painting of a cake on paper which you cannot eat.”

– Suzuki Roshi

“Zen has no business with ideas.”

– D.T. Suzuki

“What is important is not the right doctrine but the attainment of the true experience. It is giving up believing in belief.”

– Alan Keightley

“Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.”

– Alan Watts

“The menu is not the meal.

– Alan Watts


buddhist proverb quote about life

“No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place.”

– Zen Proverb

“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.”

– Alan Watts

“All the things that truly matter, beauty, love, creativity, joy and inner peace arise from beyond the mind.”

– Eckhart Tolle

“Where there are humans,

You’ll find flies,

And Buddhas.”

― Kobayashi Issa

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

– Rumi

“As a bee gathering nectar does not harm or disturb the color & fragrance of the flower; so do the wise move through the world.”

– Buddha

“No thought, no reflection, no analysis, no cultivation, no intention; let it settle itself.”

– Tilopa

“Do not seek the truth, only cease to cherish your opinions.”

– Seng-ts’an

“Any experience of reality is indescribable!”

– R. D. Laing

“Why is the tao so valuable? Because it is everywhere, and everyone can use it. This is why those who seek will find.”

– Lao Tzu

“Zazen is an activity that is an extension of the universe. Zazen is not the life of an individual, it’s the universe that’s breathing.”

– Dogen

“You’re never given more pain than you can handle. You never, ever get more than you can take.”

– Byron Katie

“Try to imagine what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up… now try to imagine what it was like to wake up having never gone to sleep.”

– Alan Watts

“You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.”

– Alan Watts

“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.”

– Alan Watts

“Who would then deny that when I am sipping tea in my tearoom I am swallowing the whole universe with it and that this very moment of my lifting the bowl to my lips is eternity itself transcending time and space?”

– D.T. Suzuki

“Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.”

– Alan Watts

“Tao in the world is like a river flowing home to the sea.”

– Lao Tzu

 The Way and Non-Striving

eckhart Tolle quote about cats (1)

“I have lived with several Zen masters — all of them cats.”

– Eckhart Tolle

“Every being is in search of truth, but small fears go on preventing you.”

– Osho

“The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering.”

– Ram Dass

“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”

– Thích Nhat Hanh

“The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.”

– Eric Hoffer

“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”

– Alan Watts

“Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be.”

– Eckhart Tolle

“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”

– Alan Watts

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

– Dogen

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”

– Alan Watts

“When I feel like dancing, I dance. I don’t care if anyone else is dancing or if everyone else is laughing at me. I dance.”

– Rachel Danson

“The greatest effort is not concerned with results.”

– Atisha

“All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.”

– Eckhart Tolle

“I cannot tell you any spiritual truth that you don’t know already. All I can do is remind you of what you have forgotten.”

– Eckhart Tolle

“A follower of the way has neither form nor shape, neither root nor trunk; nor dwelling place; like a fish leaping in the water.”

– Rinzai Zen proverb

 Letting Go

buddhist quote about letting go (2)

“Letting go is the lesson. Letting go is always the lesson. Have you ever noticed how much of our agony is all tied up with craving and loss?”

― Susan Gordon Lydon, The Knitting Sutra: Craft as a Spiritual Practice

“A student, filled with emotion and crying, implored, “Why is there so much suffering?”

Suzuki Roshi replied, “No reason.”

“Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it.”

― Ray Bradbury


“It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable.”

― Seneca, The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters

“Not being tense but ready.

Not thinking but not dreaming.

Not being set but flexible.

Liberation from the uneasy sense of confinement.

It is being wholly and quietly alive, aware and alert, ready for whatever may come.”

― Bruce Lee, Tao of Jeet Kune Do

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few”

― Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

“But people of the deepest understanding look within, distracted by nothing. Since a clear mind is the Buddha, they attain the understanding of a Buddha without using the mind.”

― Bodhidharma, The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma

“When the mind is exhausted of images, it invents its own.”

― Gary Snyder, Earth House Hold


“The practice of Zen is forgetting the self in the act of uniting with something.”

– Koun Yamada

“When you hear that all beings are Buddha, don’t fall into the error of thinking there’s more than one Buddha.”

– Zen Graffiti

“I don’t let go of concepts – I meet them with understanding. Then they let go of me.”

– Byron Katie

“The self divides into ten billion distinct illuminating spirits. Distinguish these without falling into names and classifications.”

– Hongzhi

“The Zen expression “Kill the Buddha!” means to kill any concept of the Buddha as something apart from oneself.”

– Peter Matthiessen

“Melting our attachment to self is the most powerful medication for bringing mental and emotional imbalances in check.”

– Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

“To study Buddhism is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be awakened by all things.”

– Dogen

“Have good trust in yourself … not in the One that you think you should be, but in the One that you are.”

– Maezumi Roshi

“The importance and unimportance of the self cannot be exaggerated.”

― R.H. Blyth

“Preoccupied with a single leaf you won’t see the tree.”

― Zen saying

“How much does he lack himself who must have many things?”

― Sen no Rikyū

“Doffing the ego’s

safe glory, he finds

his naked reality.”

― Dag Hammarskjöld, Markings


buddhist quote about emotions and feelings

― Donna Quesada, Buddha in the Classroom: Zen Wisdom to Inspire Teachers

“Forgiveness is a transformative act because it asks you to be a more empathetic and compassionate person.”

― Kamand Kojouri

“Hard to restrain, unstable is this mind; it flits wherever it lists. Good it is to control the mind. A controlled mind brings happiness.”

― Gautama Buddha

“Guilt, regret, resentment, sadness & all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past & not enough presence.”

– Eckhart Tolle


buddhist quote about life and nature

“At the still-point in the center of the circle one can see the infinite in all things.”

– Chuang Tzu

“In the scenery of spring, nothing is better, nothing worse; the flowering branches are; some long, some short.”

– Eicho

“There is no mistake in nature.”

– Byron Katie

“Still water has no mind to receive the image of the migrating geese.”

– Zen Proverb

“The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in one dewdrop on the grasks.”

– Dogen

By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion's Roar. Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul's biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield. "My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation" - Paul Harrison

1 comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get My Newsletter

Plus, receive our exclusive meditation coaching videos for free.