Bodhidharma Quotes

  • As long as you look for a Buddha somewhere else, you’ll never see that your own mind is the Buddha

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

  • . . . the fools of this world prefer to look for sages far away. They don’t believe that the wisdom of their own mind is the sage . . . the sutras say, “Mind is the teaching.” But people of no understanding don’t believe in their own mind or that by understanding this teaching they can become a sage. They prefer to look for distant knowledge and long for things in space, buddha-images, light, incense, and colors. They fall prey to falsehood and lose their minds to insanity.

  • Once you stop clinging and let things be, you’ll be free, even of birth and death. You’ll transform everything.

  • When you don’t understand, you depend on reality. When you do understand, reality depends on you.

  • Buddhas don’t practice nonsense.

  • When mortals are alive, they worry about death. When they’re full, they worry about hunger. Theirs is the Great Uncertainty. But sages don’t consider the past. And they don’t worry about the future. Nor do they cling to the present. And from moment to moment they follow the Way.

  • All know the way, but few actually walk it.

  • To seek is to suffer. To seek nothing is bliss.

  • The Way is basically perfect. It doesn’t require perfecting. The Way has no form or sound. It’s subtle and hard to perceive. It’s like when you drink water: you know how hot or cold it is, but you can’t tell others.

  • If you use your mind to study reality, you won’t understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you’ll understand both.

  • Still others commit all sorts of evil deeds, claiming karma doesn’t exist. They erroneously maintain that since everything is empty, committing evil isn’t wrong. Such persons fall into a hell of endless darkness with no hope of release. Those who are wise hold no such conception.

  • The essence of the Way is detachment. And the goal of those who practice is freedom from appearances.

  • Life and death are important. Don’t suffer them in vain.

  • The true Way is sublime. It can’t be expressed in language. Of what use are scriptures? But someone who sees his own nature finds the Way, even if he can’t read a word.

  • The mind’s capacity is limitless, and its manifestations are inexhaustible. Seeing forms with your eyes, hearing sounds with your ears, smelling odors with your nose, tasting flavors with your tongue, every movement or state is all your mind.

  • Once you see your nature, sex is basically immaterial.

  • The essence of the Way is detachment.

  • If you use your mind to study reality, you won’t understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you’ll understand both. . . . The mind and the world are opposites, and vision arises where they meet. When your mind doesn’t stir inside, the world doesn’t arise outside. When the world and the mind are both transparent, this is true vision. And such understanding is true understanding.

  • You can’t know your real mind as long as you deceive yourself.

  • Only one person in a million becomes enlightened without a teacher’s help.

  • But this mind isn’t somewhere outside the material body of the four elements. Without this mind we can’t move. The body has no awareness. Like a plant or a stone, the body has no nature. So how does it move? It’s the mind that moves.

  • Many roads lead to the Path, but basically there are only two: reason and practice.

  • Those who worship don’t know, and those who know don’t worship.

  • The awareness of mortals falls short. As long as they’re attached to appearances, they’re unaware that their minds are empty. And by mistakenly clinging to the appearance of things they lose the Way.