Monday, August 29

Top Ten Zen Buddhist Quotes Of Taisen Deshimaru

I find Zen and Buddhism fascinating. As I've written previously I have three Buddhas on the mantelpiece in our living room. One day, just before she died, my mum said words to the effect, "It's strange that you have a Buddha on the mantelpiece as my father always had one on his as well." I never knew this as my grandfather died long before I was born.

Buddhist Koans also interest to me. You probably know the sort of thing: "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" They are questions than cannot be answered by normal rational thinking.

The following sayings aren't, however, koans but are attributed to Taisen Deshimaru (1914 – April 30, 1982) who was a Japanese Sōtō Zen Buddhist teacher. See what you think of them. I've classed them as his 'Top Ten Sayings'

1) To receive everything, one must open one's hands and give.

2) You must concentrate upon and consecrate yourself wholly to each day, as though a fire were raging in your hair.

3) If you have a glass full of liquid you can discourse forever on its qualities, discuss whether it is cold, warm, whether it is really and truly composed of H-2-O, or even mineral water, or saki. Meditation is Drinking it!

4) You are the strongest and the others keep their distance. It is no longer necessary to win victories over them.

5) If you are not happy here and now, you never will be.

6) Harmonizing opposites by going back to their source is the distinctive quality of the Zen attitude, the Middle Way: embracing contradictions, making a synthesis of them, achieving balance.

7) We feel our shell keeps us safe, but it crushes us and others, and keeps out light and sun.

8) We feel our shell keeps us safe, but it crushes us and others, and keeps out light and sun.

9) Train the body and develop stamina and endurance. But the spirit of competition and power that presides over them is not good, it reflects a distorted vision of life. The root of the martial arts is not there.

10) You have to practice until you die.

... and a bonus one for good luck ...

Think with your whole body.

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  1. Love these. They really reflect a wholeness. I especially like the bonus. Think with your whole body.

  2. I particularly like number 5 and 10,but I find 7 and 8 quite good as well,if not very much alike in their meaning.-)

    I'm in the middle of a book called "Dharma Road" about comparing driving a cab/taxi to the practice of Zen Buddhism.I'm finding it a very interesting read.My father was a taxi driver for most of his life,so I can relate to this very well,but even people not familiar with the life of driving a cab will find this interesting as well,I think.
    Here's the blurb about the book;

    "Brian Haycock was a cabdriver - who happened to be a Buddhist. During the course of his career as a cabdriver, he learned that each fare provided an opportunity to learn the life lessons of the Buddha. So, hop in and buckle up; we'll be making several stops on this trip. We're off on our journey to self-discovery, passing through the precepts, the four noble truths, taking a hard left to stop and get coffee - where we'll learn a few breathing techniques to bolster our patience - all the while watching for ambulances and bikers, focusing our attention and awareness so that we can arrive at our destination in good time and in one piece. Here are stories from everyday life that demonstrate how we can all benefit from a little Buddhist philosophy or practice. With each chapter focusing on a specific topic, readers will learn to coast their way to building a life routine, focusing the mind, calming themselves with breathing exercises, and much much more."


  3. "Practicing zazen is like getting into your coffin."-Deshimaru