Zen Poems

golden buddha


The Zen Masters teach that the pure mind is the eternal Buddha – nature. To attain enlightenment, to be aware of one’s own Buddha – nature, it is necessary to go beyond our ordinary thoughts. When we are free from our own projections and ideas, we can be aware of the Buddha Reality which is all pervading.

” Confused by thoughts,
we experience duality in life.
Unencumbered by ideas,
the enlightened see the one Reality.”

– Hui – Neng

Zen quotes are inherently paradoxical, because the goal of Zen cannot adequately be described in words. Great Zen Masters often appeared to be talking in riddles as they tried to point their students towards their Buddha nature – A consciouness that is all pervading yet eludes our grasp.

” It is present everywhere.
There is nothing it does not contain.
However only those who have previously
planted wisdom – seeds will be able
to continuously see it.”


Zen teachings are noted for their compact and terse nature. This is because enlightenment cannot be attained by studying complex scriptures, enlightenment comes through inner practise.

” I have not heard of a sinlge Buddha, past or present,
who has been enlightened by sacred prayers
and scriptures.”

– Bassui

Zen Stories

Zen Poets

Further Reading

  • The Wisdom of the Zen Masters by Timothy Freke
  • Zen Poems (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets)  Edited: Peter Harris
  • Zen Poems of China and Japan: the Crane’s Bill
    Translated by: Takashai Ikemoto, Taigan Takayama

Zen Poems at Amazon.com

  • Daily Zen – Well presented list of daily Zen quotes
  • About Zen– Good introduction to Zen. Also with interesting section on Zen gardens with complentary photos.
  • Poetry Chaikhana – Further selection of  Zen Poets
  • Zen Poems