10 Zen Quotes to help De-clutter the Mind

Zazen or Just Sitting meditation

Zazen or Just Sitting meditation

These quotes are from an inspiring book by a clinical neurologist, researcher and Zen practitioner James H. Austin called Meditating Selflessly. I am sharing below quotes by Zen Masters which I found inspiring to continue my meditation practice to clear the mind of unnecessary thoughts:

The most important thing is not to be self-centered. – Zen Master Bankei (1622-1693)

Taste as much of this as you can. Swallow what you need, and spit out the rest. – Zen Master Taizan Maezumi (1931-1995) (Advice to his disciples, with regard to importing Asian teachings into the West.)

Time flies like an arrow, so be careful not to waste energy on trivial matters. Be attentive! Be attentive! – Zen Master Daito Kokushi (1283-1337)

Early morning sitting is golden. Evening sitting is silver. – Nanrei Kobori-Roshi (1918-1992)

The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here (pointing to himself) and you are out there. – Zen Master Hakuun Yasutani (1885-1973)

Zen is not about being irresponsible and ignoring things; it is about being able to remain unattached, about seeing clearly, and beginning again, and letting go of the mind that hungers on something over and over again. – Shodo Harada-Roshi

If you don’t suffer hardship, you won’t arrive at deep realization. – Ch’an Master Yuan-wu Kequin (1063-1135)

Pay attention and quiet your mind as soon as you get up in the morning. – Ch’an Master Yuan-wu Kequin (1063-1135)

Meditation in the midst of action is infinitely superior to meditation in stillness. – Master Hakuin Ekaku (1689-1769)

All is empty, clear,
revealed effortlessly, naturally.
Neither thinking nor imagination
can ever reach this state.
— Master Seng-ts’an (died 606)


The origin of the word ‘Zen‘ can be traced back to the ancient practices of Yoga in an era when the old Sanskrit term for meditation was dhyana. Buddhist monks spread the Buddha’s enlightened teachings into China. In Chinese, the old word dhyana evolved into Ch’an. When this blended form of Buddhist meditation reached Japan during the 12th and 13th centuries, Zen became the way the Japanese pronounced Ch’an. The term zazen refers to its system of meditation. To learn more about how to do zazen meditation see:

How to Get Started Doing Zazen Style Zen Meditation


Meditating Selflessly: Practical Neural Zen by James H. Austin

This is not the usual kind of self-help book. Indeed, its major premise heeds a Zen master’s advice to be less self-centered. Yes, it is “one more book of words about Zen,” as the author concedes, yet this book explains meditative practices from the perspective of a ” neural Zen.” The latest findings in brain research inform its suggestions. In Meditating Selflessly, James Austin — Zen practitioner, neurologist, and author of three acclaimed books on Zen and neuroscience — guides readers toward that open awareness already awaiting them on the cushion and in the natural world.


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