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Buddhist Wisdom Quotes

A collection of sayings, quotes and wisdom reflecting Buddhism or Zen philosophy and teachings, including sayings of the Buddha and Dalai Lama.


On life's journey
Faith is nourishment,
Virtuous deeds are a shelter,
Wisdom is the light by day and
Right mindfulness is the protection by night.
If a man lives a pure life nothing can destroy him;
If he has conquered greed nothing can limit his freedom.


Believe nothing on the faith of traditions,
even though they have been held in honor
for many generations and in diverse places.
Do not believe a thing because many people speak of it.
Do not believe on the faith of the sages of the past.
Do not believe what you yourself have imagined,
persuading yourself that a God inspires you.
Believe nothing on the sole authority of your masters and priests.
After examination, believe what you yourself have tested
and found to be reasonable, and conform your conduct thereto.


One of his students asked Buddha, "Are you the messiah?"
"No", answered Buddha.
"Then are you a healer?"
"No", Buddha replied.
"Then are you a teacher?" the student persisted.
"No, I am not a teacher."
"Then what are you?" asked the student, exasperated.
"I am awake", Buddha replied.

Live in Joy

Live in Joy, In love,
Even among those who hate.

Live in joy, In health,
Even among the afflicted.

Live in joy, In peace,
Even among the troubled.

Look within. Be still.
Free from fear and attachment,
Know the sweet joy of living in the way.


There is no fire like greed,
No crime like hatred,
No sorrow like separation,
No sickness like hunger of heart,
And no joy like the joy of freedom.

Health, contentment and trust
Are your greatest possessions,
And freedom your greatest joy.

Look within. Be still.
Free from fear and attachment,
Know the sweet joy of living in the way.

from the Dhammapada, Words of the Buddha

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion

The Dalai Lama

Be a lamp unto Yourself

As the Buddha was dying,
Ananda asked
who would be their teacher after death.
He replied to his disciple -

"Be lamps unto yourselves.
Be refuges unto yourselves.
Take yourself no external refuge.
Hold fast to the truth as a lamp.
Hold fast to the truth as a refuge.
Look not for a refuge in anyone besides yourselves.
And those, Ananda, who either now or after I am dead,
Shall be a lamp unto themselves,
Shall betake themselves as no external refuge,
But holding fast to the truth as their lamp,
Holding fast to the truth as their refuge,
Shall not look for refuge to anyone else besides themselves,
It is they who shall reach to the very topmost height;
But they must be anxious to learn."

Quoted in Joseph Goldstein, The Experience of Insight

As human beings we all want to be happy and free from misery.
We have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace.
The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as
anger and attachment, fear and suspicion,
while love and compassion, a sense of universal responsibility
are the sources of peace and happiness.

Dalai Lama

Fill your mind with compassion.


Be awake

Love yourself and be awake -
today, tomorrow, always.
First establish yourself in the way,
then teach others,
and so defeat sorrow.
To straighten the crooked
you must first do a harder thing -
straighten yourself.
You are the only master. Who else?
Subdue yourself,
and discover your master.

The whole purpose of religion
is to facilitate love and compassion, patience,
tolerance, humility, forgiveness.

Dalai Lama

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts, we make our world.


The Four Reliances

First, rely on the spirit and meaning of the teachings,
not on the words;

Second, rely on the teachings,
not on the personality of the teacher;

Third, rely on real wisdom,
not superficial interpretation;

And fourth, rely on the essence of your pure Wisdom Mind,
not on judgmental perceptions.

Traditional Buddhist teaching

The Fragrance of the Rose

The disciples were absorbed in a discussion of Lao-tzu's dictum:
"Those who know, do not say;
Those who say, do not know."

When the master entered,
they asked him what the words meant.
Said the master, "Which of you knows the fragrance of a rose?"
All of them indicated that they knew.
Then he said, "Put it into words."
All of them were silent.

from One Minute Wisdom by Anthony DeMello

Daily Necessities
Tips & pointers for building a spiritual life from scratch

Be aware/Stay awake
Practise yoga
Chant and sing
Breathe and smile
Let Go/Forgive/Accept
Cultivate oneself/Enhance competencies
Cultivate contentment
Cultivate flexibility
Cultivate friendship and collaboration
Lighten up
Celebrate and appreciate
Give thanks
Walk softly/Live gently
Be born anew

from Awakening The Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das

Whether one believes in a religion or not,
and whether one believes in rebirth or not,
there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion.

Dalai Lama

Pay no attention to the faults of others,
things done or left undone by others.
Consider only what by oneself is done or left undone.

The secret of happiness lies
in the mind's release from worldly ties.

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle,
and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being shared.


Fools wait for a lucky day
but every day is a lucky day
for an industrious man

Believe nothing merely because you have been told it.
Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher.
But whatever, after due examination and analysis,
you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings -
that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.


Practice for the New Millennium by the Dalai Lama
The Practice:

1. Spend 5 minutes at the beginning of each day remembering
we all want the same things (to be happy and be loved)
and we are all connected to one another.

2. Spend 5 minutes breathing in, cherishing yourself; and, breathing out
cherishing others. If you think about people you have difficulty cherishing,
extend your cherishing to them anyway.

3. During the day extend that attitude to everyone you meet.
Practice cherishing the "simplest" person (clerks, attendants, etc)
or people you dislike.

4. Continue this practice no matter what happens or what anyone does to you.

These thoughts are very simple, inspiring and helpful.
The practice of cherishing can be taken very deeply if done wordlessly,
allowing yourself to feel the love and appreciation that
already exists in your heart.

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