Shunryu Suzuki:

Shunryu Suzuki

By Embracing Nirvana

32 Zen Quotes by Shunryu Suzuki.

Shunryu Suzuki was born Toshitaka Suzuki on May 18, 1904 in Tokyo Japan. His father was the abbot of the village Soto Zen temple named Butsumon Sogaku Suzuki.

Being the abbot of a temple was hardly a lucrative position, and Mr. Suzuki struggled to provide subsistence for his family.

When Suzuki was only 12 years old, he undertook Zen practice and become a disciple of his step-brother Gyokujun So-on. At first his parents thought that he was too young to leave home and study Zen, but eventually they allowed it.

On May 18, 1917 at the age of 13 years, he was anointed as a Soto Zen monk and was awarded the Dharma name of Shogaku. Shunryu Suzuki continued to study Zen in Japan, until he decided to teach Zen in America.

Suzuki arrived in San Francisco, California on May 23, 1959 at the age of 55.

Embracing Nirvana is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Affiliate Disclosure

He eventually established the very first Buddhist monastery in San Francisco called the San Francisco Zen Center. He also wrote a book called, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice, that has become one of the most respected book of Zen literature.

Here are 32 Mindful Zen Quotes by Shunryu Suzuki

1: “When we realize the everlasting truth of “everything changes” and find our composure in it, we find ourselves in Nirvana.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

2: “The goal of our life’s effort is to reach the other shore, Nirvana. Prajna paramita, the true wisdom of life, is that in each step of the way, the other shore is actually reached.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

3: “When you bow, you should just bow; when you sit, you should just sit; when you eat, you should just eat.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

4: “Calmness of mind does not mean you should stop your activity. Real calmness should be found in activity itself. We say, "It is easy to have calmness in inactivity, it is hard to have calmness in activity, but calmness in activity is true calmness.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

5: “But the purpose of studying Buddhism is to study ourselves and to forget ourselves. When we forget ourselves, we actually are the true activity of the big existence, or reality itself.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

6: “When you accept everything, everything is beyond dimensions. The earth is not great nor a grain of sand small. In the realm of Great Activity picking up a grain of sand is the same as taking up the whole universe. To save one sentient being is to save all sentient beings. Your efforts of this moment to save one person is the same as the eternal merit of Buddha.” ~ Shunryu Suzuki

Check Price On Amazon

Embrace Nirvana Buddha Shirt

7: “Buddha was not interested in the elements comprising human beings, nor in metaphysical theories of existence. He was more concerned about how he himself existed in this moment.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

8: “In your big mind, everything has the same value. In your practice you should accept everything as it is, giving to each thing the same respect given to a Buddha. Here there is Buddhahood” ~Shunryu Suzuki

9: “In Hinayana Buddhism, practice is classified in four ways. The best way is just to do it without having any joy in it, not even spiritual joy. This way is just to do it, forgetting your physical and mental feeling, forgetting all about yourself in your practice.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

10: “If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few. ” ~Shunryu Suzuki

11: “The practice of Zen mind is beginner’s mind. The innocence of the first inquiry—what am I?—is needed throughout Zen practice. The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt, and open to all the possibilities. It is the kind of mind which can see things as they are, which step by step and in a flash can realize the original nature of everything.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

12: “A mind full of preconceived ideas, subjective intentions, or habits is not open to things as they are.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

13: “When we have our body and mind in order, everything else will exist in the right place, in the right way.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

14: “Not to be attached to something is to be aware of its absolute value. Everything you do should be based on such an awareness, and not on material or self-centered ideas of value.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

15: “To cook is not just to prepare food for someone or for yourself; it is to express your sincerity. So when you cook you should express yourself in your activity in the kitchen. You should allow yourself plenty of time; you should work on it with nothing in your mind, and without expecting anything. You should just cook!” ~Shunryu Suzuki

16: “The result is not the point; it is the effort to improve ourselves that is valuable. There is no end to this practice.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

17: “When you do something, you should do it with your whole body and mind; you should be concentrated on what you do. You should do it completely, like a good bonfire. You should not be a smoky fire. You should burn yourself completely. If you do not burn yourself completely, a trace of yourself will be left in what you do.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

Shunryu Suzuki Quote

18: “There is no connection between I myself yesterday and I myself in this moment” ~Shunryu Suzuki

19: “The Zen way of calligraphy is to write in the most straightforward, simple way as if you were a beginner, not trying to make something skillful or beautiful, but simply writing with full attention as if you were discovering what you were writing for the first time; then your full nature will be in your writing. This is the way of practice moment after moment.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

20: “The true purpose [of Zen] is to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, and to let everything go as it goes... Zen practice is to open up our small mind.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

21: “The trying to do something is in itself enlightenment. When we are in difficulty or distress, there we have enlightenment.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

22: “No matter what god or doctrine you believe in, if you become attached to it, your belief will be based more or less on a self-centered idea.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

23: “It is necessary to remember what we have done, but we should not become attached to what we have done in some special sense.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

24: “Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

25: “If you want to discover the true meaning of Zen in your everyday life, you have to understand the meaning of keeping your mind on your breathing and your body in the right posture in zazen.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

26: “When you are practicing zazen, do not try to stop your thinking. Let it stop by itself. If something comes into your mind, let it come in, and let it go out. It will not stay long. When you try to stop your thinking, it means you are bothered by it. Do not be bothered by anything... if you are not bothered by the waves, gradually they will become calmer and calmer.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

27: “In the zazen posture, your mind and body have, great power to accept things as they are, whether agreeable or disagreeable. In our scriptures (Samyuktagama Sutra, volume 33), it is said that there are four kinds of horses: excellent ones, good ones, poor ones, and bad ones.

The best horse will run slow and fast, right and left, at the driver's will, before it sees the shadow of the whip; the second best will run as well as the first one does, just before the whip reaches its skin; the third one will run when it feels pain on its body; the fourth will run after the pain penetrates to the marrow of its bones.

You can imagine how difficult it is for the fourth one to learn how to run!” ~Shunryu Suzuki

28: “In zazen, leave your front door and your back door open. Let thoughts come and go. Just don't serve them tea.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

29: “Even when you practice zazen alone, without a teacher, I think you will find some way to tell whether your practice is adequate or not.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

30: “Concentration is not to try hard to watch something. Concentration means freedom. In zazen practice we say your mind should be concentrated on your breathing, but the way to keep your mind on your breathing is to forget all about yourself and just to sit and feel your breathing.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

31: “Now it is raining, but we don't know what will happen in the next moment. By the time we go out it may be a beautiful day, or a stormy day. Since we don't know, let's appreciate the sound of the rain now.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

32: “When you believe in your way, enlightenment is there. But when you cannot believe in the meaning of the practice which you are doing in this moment, you cannot do anything. You are just wandering around the goal with your monkey mind. You are always looking for something without knowing what you are doing.

If you want to see something, you should open your eyes. When you do not understand Bodhidharma’s Zen, you are trying to look at something with your eyes closed. We do not slight the idea of attaining enlightenment, but the most important thing is this moment, not some day in the future. We have to make our effort in this moment. This is the most important thing for our practice.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

You Might Also Like:

The Ten Fetters


What ia a Sotapanna?

Ajahn Chah Quotes

What is Nirvana

Enlightened T-Shirts

Recommended Reading:

Embracing Nirvana copyright date