Potent Quotes

Here are a number of quotes I’ve collected over the years that I considered “potent” — very significant or simply clarified some finer point of the Dharma.


Putting the Buddha’s discovery into practice is no quick fix. It can take years. The most important qualification at the beginning is a strong desire to change your life by adopting new habits and learning to see the world anew.
Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
Tricycle Fall 2001

Right now we have the ability to receive teachings and practice the Dharma. Isn’t this the right time? Wouldn’t that be better than continuing to act like an animal, concentrating only on eating and sleeping and letting time run out? Why not take your future into your own hands?
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
Tricycle, Fall 2001

“If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” conveys the message that no teacher can do our work for us and that extreme reverence for a teacher or a set of beliefs may keep us from reaching our own truth.
Sandy Boucher
Opening The Lotus, pg 9

Offering your body and mind to emptiness, or in other words, to the pure sense of human action.
Dainin Katagiri, Roshi
Returning To Silence (pg 9)

If you study Buddhism thinking that it will help you, that means that you use Buddhism for your ego, for selfishness. No matter how long you do this, it is egocentric practice. If you continue to practice like this you will never be satisfied, because desire is endless.
Dainin Katagiri, Roshi
Returning To Silence (pg 9)

…Do not use Buddhism for yourself. Offer your body and mind to the Buddha-dharma. Buddha is not divine. Buddha is your daily life.
Dainin Katagiri, Roshi
Returning To Silence (pg 9)

Certainty is our lens to interpret what’s going on, and, as long as our explanations work, we feel a sense of stability and security. But in a changing world, certainty doesn’t give us stability; it actually creates more chaos. As we stay locked in our position and refuse to adapt, the things we’d hoped would stay together fall apart. …By holding on, we destroy what we hope to preserve; by letting go, we feel secure in accepting what is.
Margaret Wheatley
Shambhala Sun, Nov. 2001, pg 17

The nature of ignorance is to lack deep communication with nature or with the universe. It is to separate, to isolate, to create discrimination and differences, so that finally we cannot communicate as a harmonious whole. These differences we create appear as fighting, anger, hatred, and war.
Dainin Katagiri, Roshi
Returning To Silence (pg 17)


An education isn’t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don’t. It’s knowing where to go to find out what you need to know; and it’s knowing how to use the information once you get it.
William Feather


Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Good Earth tea

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967

The bombs in Vietnam explode at home; they destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967.

Renunciation does not have to be regarded as negative. I was taught that it has to do with letting go of holding back. What one is renouncing is closing down and shutting off from life. You could say that renunciation is the same thing as opening to the teachings of the present moment.
Pema Chodron
Tricycle Fall ’91 (pg 50)

Renunciation is realizing that our nostalgia for wanting to stay in a protected, limited, petty world is insane.
Pema Chodron
Tricycle Fall ’91 (pg 50)

“When I am accused of something that I didn’t do, I bow in acknowledgement of all the things that I did do.”
–quote attributed to R. H. Blythe
Tricycle, Fall ’91, (pg. 69)

….Evil is just deep unconsciousness–a terrible inability of people to comprehend the oneness of humanity. The willingness to war against other people is a consequence of this.
Bruce Joel Rubin
Tricycle Fall ’91 (pg. 79)

Three axioms arising from practice:

  1. The situation is not other than your mind;
  2. You don’t choose the situation, but can choose how to practice it;
  3. Any situation can take the form of wisdom and compassion.

Bonnie Myotai Treace, Sensei
Zen Mountain Monastery

…If we don’t see the end we don’t know what to do, or if the end is far away we become upset. When we think of how to master zazen or attain enlightenment or try to understand zazen as taught by the Buddha, we become exhausted. We can’t practice. Sometimes, when we feel lazy, we should think of those questions.
Dainin Katagiri, Roshi
Returning To Silence (pg 116)

They do not lament over the past, they yearn not for what is to come, they maintain themselves in the present, thus their complexion is serene
Samyutta Nikaya I, 5

To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to purify one’s mind-this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
Dhammapada 183

Look not to the faults of others, nor to their omissions and commissions. But rather look to your own acts, to what you have done and left undone.
Dhammapada 50

Buddhism teaches absolute equality which stemmed from Buddha’s recognition that all sentient beings possess this innate wisdom and nature. Therefore, there is no inherent difference among beings.
Rev. Chun Kin
“Buddhism Education”

A person’s true character is revealed by what he does when no one is watching.
Anonymous
Good Earth tea

When people say they are bored, often they mean that they don’t want to experience the sense of emptiness, which is also an expression of openness and vulnerability. … Fearlessness is a question of learning how to be. Be there all along…
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche<
Shambhala Sun, (pg 30)

I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.
Jack London

Contentment, unlike happlness, is not dependent upon our circumstancs. It is an inner perspective from which we are aware of the difficulties or problems of our lives without being emotionally controlled by them. Contentment is an experience of inner peace.
Matthew Flickstein
“Journey to the Center”, (pg 15)

I’ve learned that it’s better not to wait for a crisis to discover what’s important in your life.
unknown
“Live & Learn Pass It On”

You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.
Colette
Good Earth tea bag

Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person-to-person.
Mother Teresa

Make an island of yourself, make yourself your refuge; there is no other refuge. Make truth your island, make truth your refuge; there is no other refuge.
Digha Nikaya, 16

The devil often cites Scripture for his purpose.
William Shakespeare
Rules For Writers, pg 475

May all creatures, all living things,
all beings one and all,
experience good fortune only.
May they not fall into harm.
Anguttara Nikaya II, 72

With good will for the entire cosmos,
cultivate a limitless heart:
Above, below, & all around,
unobstructed, without hostility or hate.
Sutta Nipata I, 8

“As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I.”
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.
Sutta Nipata 705

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