Improve on Silence with These Zen Proverbs and Stories

Zen Stories or Koans are short tales designed to open the mind to new ways of thinking. They often do not follow what we would consider rational thought, but that’s the point. By removing yourself from what you would call normal or rational, you can see the world from a new perspective.

Here are a few shorter proverbs as well as some links at the end to longer stories:

Do not speak unless it improves on silence


After enlightenment, the laundry.


When walking, walk. When eating, eat.


Those who know don’t tell and those who tell don’t know.

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A Little Bit Country, a Little Bit…Zen?

Garth Brooks - Zen Master?

So the whole idea with the Zen story I posted yesterday is that we can’t ever know what the future holds. Sometimes what we think we want, turns out not to be for the best…or vice versa…

And while this is a very Zen concept, the same basic idea is at the heart of some good old mainstream American sayings as well.

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The Zen of It All

Sōtō Zen crest

If you’ve been hanging around here much at all, you know that we we’re usually all over the map—quite literally. Every week, we pick a new topic (from all corners of the world) and each one—usually—has just a thread of a connection to the one before (e.g., a decadent dessert we named “Chocolate Nirvana” one week leads us to a discussion of the Buddhist festival of Nirvana Day the next). This week, though, I’d like to stay with some of the Buddhist ideas a little longer. The reason is that while I was working with last week’s posts, I was reminded of a story a friend once told me and I wanted to share it with you. We’ll get to that in a minute. Specifically, I thought it might be interesting to delve a little deeper into what is known as Zen, short for Zen Buddhism.

Now, Zen—by very definition—is indefinable, so that makes this somewhat difficult, but here we go…

Bodhidharma by Blockdruck von Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

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