Soyen Shaku is noted as one of the first Master Zen Buddhists to have traveled to the United States to teach the way of the Zen.
At the time, most of Shaku’s followers believed it was beneath a Zen master to go to a country such as the US, which Japan saw at the time as barbaric.
Despite this opposition, Shaku would eventually become the most significant figure in bringing Zen to the West. Below are a list of quotes that offer a much needed and unique perspective for all of us.
On receiving guests
“Receive a guest with the same attitude you have when alone. When alone, maintain the same attitude you have in receiving guests.”
“Have the fearless attitude of a hero and the loving heart of a child.”
“Watch what you say, and whatever you say, practice it.”
“When an opportunity comes do not let it pass by, yet always think twice before acting.”
“Upon retiring, sleep as if you had entered your last sleep. Upon awakening, leave your bed behind you instantly as if you had cast away a pair of old shoes.”
“Do not regret the past. Look to the future.”
Perfect morning routine
“In the morning before dressing, light incense and meditate.”
On becoming Buddha
“Zen is the way of complete self-realization; a living human being who follows the way of Zen can attain satori and then live a new life as a Buddha”
“All beings by nature are Buddhas, as ice by nature is water. Apart from water there is no ice; apart from beings, no Buddhas.”
On the real you
“Live the Self that fills the whole Universe.”
“We live in group stupidity and confuse this insanity with true experience. It is essential that you become transparent to yourself and wake up from this madness. Zazen means taking leave of the group and walking on your own two feet.”
“Man makes a clever face and talks about being lord on Earth. And at the same time he doesn’t even know where to begin with his own body: he watches sports on television and defends himself saying that everyone else does it too.”
“Human happiness and unhappiness doesn’t only depend on money. If the balance in your savings account were a measure of your happiness, it would be a simple matter. Yet it really isn’t so.”
Aren’t we all the same?
“We often wonder who here is really better? But aren’t we all made out of the same lump of clay?”
“You cry out, “Peace, peace!” , but if you would only be quiet, it would be so much more peaceful. You say, “In my opinion…”, but it’s precisely when opinions and theories come into the picture that the bickering starts.”