Master Li Quotes



“It is raining Master” said a student. “Brilliant deduction” said Master Li. “Now perhaps you can tell me what the raindrops are saying to us.”

 “Master, does the wind move or does the flag move?” asked a student. Master Li responded, “Shut up and do something useful!”

“What is gained in meditation?” asked a new student. “The idea is not to gain, but to lose.” responded Master Li.

A student asked, “Why do so many zen writings seem like nonsense?” Master Li answered, “Because they are.”


 “I have often wanted to visit the northern provinces” said Master Li. A student said, “Why haven’t you?” Master Li said “I have no need to.”


A priest asked Master Li, “I saw a new cook in the kitchen. Is he permanent?” Master Li replied “No one here is permanent.” 

A student once told Master Li, “I have reached a subtle awareness of the truth.” Master Li shrugged his shoulders and said, “Big deal.” 

A student asked Master Li, “How do I get rid of all my problems?” Master Li said, “I shall tell you when I stop the sun from rising.” 

Master Li once told some students, “How can you comprehend the infinite Dao when you have a finite mind?” 

“Master, when do we become complete?” asked a student. Master Li replied, “Complete what? Idiots? “ 

“Master, when you give us koans, why do you not give us answers?” a student asked. Master Li said, “What makes you think there are answers?” 

“Master, what is our aim?” a student asked. Master Li replied “To sit like a river, and walk like a mountain.” 

“Master, must there be quiet to meditate properly?” Master Li said, “Is a waterfall quiet? Yet, is it not at peace as it falls?”


“I have often wanted to visit the northern provinces” said Master Li. A student said, “Why haven’t you?” Master Li said “I have no need to.” 

A student told Master Li, “The new students are not cleaning the kitchen properly Master.” Master Li said, “I thought the rice has been especially delicious lately!”

“Master, they say all things return to one, but where does one return to?” asked a student. Master Li replied, "Sender."

A student asked Master Li; “Master, is meditation valuable? “Yes, it is” said Master Li. “How valuable” asked the student. “It is so valuable it is worthless” replied Master Li.

A student once asked master Li, “Where is Buddha?” Master Li farted loudly and said “Ah, there he is now!”

A student said “Master, if we see Buddha on the road, should we kill him?” Master Li said; “I am afraid it is a little too late for that. You should have gotten him before he got on the road.”

Master Li and several students were sitting around a fire on a cool evening. Master Li picked up some ashes and said to the students, “Someday this will be you.”

A new student told Master Li, “I have so many questions to ask you”. Master Li responded “And I have so few answers to give you.”

A student asked “I have heard that it is pointless to ask questions about Tao. Is this true?” Master Li said, “Why are you asking me?”

The student said what does enlightenment mean?” Master Li replied, “Nothing to the bird singing in the tree.”

Master Yu was visiting the temple and quiet proudly told Master Li “No students have ever broken a rule at my temple.” Master Li responded, “They must either be bad students or bad rules.”

“Master, do we become wiser with age?” asked a student. Master Li replied, “The evening is always wiser than the morning but some never live to see the stars.”

A student inquired of Master Li, “Master, every time we make a mistake, do we disrespect the Tao?” Master Li smiled and said, “The moon is not shamed by the barking of dogs.”

“Master, when we leave this temple, what will happen?” Master Li said, “The wolf is always out there waiting, and the wolf is always hungry.”

“Master, what is the key to understanding the Way?” asked a student. Master Li told him “Look in your cup of tea.”

“What is fear Master?” asked a student. Master Li answered, “Fear is when after dark, all cats become tigers.”

A student asked Master Li the best way to enlightenment. Master Li said “Do you see that mountain over there? Pick it up, sweep underneath it and then put it down.”

“Why is the Way so difficult” asked a student. Master Li responded, “Quite the contrary, the Way is easy, the followers are difficult.”

A student once asked, “What is the ultimate reality?” Master Li kicked the student in the shins and said “Pain.”

“Master, a thief stole a blanket and ran down the mountain” said a student. “Too bad” said Master Li, “I would have given him a bowl too.”

“Master, how should I deal with anger?” asked a student. “Throw” said Master Li. “Ah, throw it away?” said the student. “No, throw something!” said Master Li

“Is breath the most important thing, Master?” said a student. Master Li replied, “Only if you cling to living.”

A student asked, “Master, is it a sign of weakness to cry?” Master Li responded, “It is a sign of weakness to think so.”

“Master Chou! There is a deranged man at the gates!” said a priest. Master Chou said, “Ah yes, I am expecting Master Li. Show him in.”

“How do I avoid envy, Master?” asked a student. Master Li said, “Don’t give a damn.”

There was to be a festival at a local temple. “Are you going to the festival Master Li? It should be enjoyable.” Master Li said, “No, enjoyment is for sissies.”

“The silver cup is tarnished” said a student. Master Li said, “The Dao is everywhere, even in the dirt beneath your feet.”

“What is greatness, Master?” asked a student. “Doing something great and not caring if anyone notices” replied Master Li.

“Today is a historic day” a priest said. Master Li replied, “All days are historic fool! Some are just more memorable than others.” said Master Li.

A student asked Master Li, “Is ignorance bliss?” Master Li said, “I wouldn’t know.”

Master Li was asked, “How do you avoid jealousy?” Master Li said, “Are the oceans jealous of the mountains?” 

Master Li once said, “The greatest act of kindness is often a kick in the ass.”

“What will be your legacy Master?” a student asked. Master Li said, “He lived, he died, they threw him and his possessions in the river.”

A student asked “If I am eating, what should I do?” Master Li said, “Eat”. “And if I am drowning Master?” Master Li yelled “Drown!”


“Master, is it more important to be liked or respected?” inquired a student. “It is more important to clean the toilet” said Master Li. 

Master Li asked a student, “How was lunch?” The student said “Very good.” The master told a priest “Get rid of the cook. He is useless.” 


“Master, what is the key to understanding the Way?” asked a student. Master Li told him “C Sharp.”

“Master, how should I deal with anger?” asked a student. “Brush your teeth” said Master Li. 

“I had such a feeling of enlightenment!” gushed a student. Master Li said, “I’m sorry I didn’t see it. There was a pebble in my sandal.”

“What is the nature of this tree” asked a student. Master Li said, “Its nature is to fall and crush what stands beneath it.” 

A priest complained, “We have many poor students here!” Master Li said, “Under the sun, all are equal.”

“What is the greatest struggle we face” asked a student. Master Li responded, “Our greatest victory is defeating ourselves.”

“All the robes have been washed” a student declared. Master LI asked, “Did you wash your mind also?”

A student inquired, “How does one properly study Zen?” Master Li said, “One doesn’t.”

Master Li once proclaimed, “Nirvana is not the be all end all.”

“Master, what is compassion?” Master Li responded, “Ask someone who has some!”

“Is it necessary to understand the Dao?” asked a student. “A man on thin ice can ill afford to dance.” said Master Li.

A student inquired, “How do I know if I am making proper effort?” Master Li said, “You don’t, but I do!”

“What is failure Master?” asked a student. Master Li answered, “It is drinking bitter tea. Not tasty, but sometimes necessary.”

A student asked, “Master, is it wrong to want to be happy?” Master Li replied, “It is wrong to not be happy? What is wrong anyway?”

“What is the key to meditation?” asked a student. Master Li replied, “To sit like an iceberg with your mind on fire!”

“Those new students are lazy!” said a senior student. Master Li said, “Yes, they are! They are almost as bad as the students who judge others.”

Master Li once said, “There is no greater love than to be kissed by the sun in the morning and kissed by the moon in the evening.”

“Does a dog have Buddha-nature?” asked a student. “Did you ask a dog?” said Master Li. The student said, “Yes, he did not answer.” Master Li said, “Smart dog!”

Master Li once commented, “We must learn to let go of all things; anger, envy, joy, and eventually life.”

Master Li once said, “A man cannot avoid destiny any more that a man can avoid his shadow.”

Master Li said, “Nothing but the wind can pass the sun without casting a shadow.”

A new student clumsily dropped a vase of water on the temple floor. “I crossed the ocean for this!” said Master Li as he shook his head.

“I am seeking peace” said a new student. “I was in town seeking a piece last night, I hope you have better luck than I did” said a laughing Master Li.

“Master, is it essential to know all the answers?” said a student. Master Li said, “It is more important to know the questions.”

“Master, what is the true inner conscience?” Master Li shrugged and said, “What is the price of rice in Guangzhou?

After a large snowfall at the temple, Master Li said happily, “Look at all these snowflakes and they have all fallen in their perfect place!”

Master Li once asked some students, “If a tree falls on Master Li, will he make a sound?”

“Beware the smiling face. Every bridge has a troll that lives underneath it” Master Li once warned.

“Does following the path of the Dao mean hard work?” asked a new student. Master Li said, “One does not vanquish the dragon from the comfort of his living room.”

“Master, I have worked very hard studying the Dao” said a student. Master Li responded, “Well then, you have missed the point entirely haven’t you?”

“Master, the flowers in the meadow are yellow” said a priest. Master Li said, “What color are the winds on the mountain?”

“Master, a few of us students are going into town to see the zoo” said one student. “Why, isn’t this one good enough for you?” responded Master Li.

Master Li was once asked about his family. He said “They are either dead or in prison. I must admit I envy them sometimes.”
 

A priest complained, “We have many lazy students here!” Master Li said, “Is that so? I haven’t bothered to check lately.”

“Do you wish you were still young” asked a student. Master Li answered, “Children who wish are cute. Adults who wish are fools.”

Master Li was told there some wild bears roaming the temple grounds. “Wild? Get them in the meditation hall immediately.” 

“Master, what is compassion?” Master Li responded, “Ask someone who has some.”
 

“Does following the path of the Dao mean hard work?” asked a new student. Master Li said, “One does not vanquish the dragon from the comfort of his living room.”

“Master, I have worked very hard studying the Dao” said a student. Master Li responded, “Well then, you have missed the point entirely haven’t you?”
 

Master Li was once asked about his family. He said “They are either dead or in prison. I must admit I envy them sometimes.”

A student asked, “What is the correct path?” Master Li said, “Do the birds in the sky have a path or do they just go where they need to?”

“Master, how important is meditation?” Master Li responded, “It is important, but having a butt of concrete isn’t necessary either.”



‘Why are we not following the schedule for today?” asked a student. Master Li answered, “Today, the wind blows from the east, not the west.”

“Why are there so many paths to the Dao” asked a student. “Water rises and falls but always finds its own level.” said Master Li.

A senior student said, “I feel my study here is complete.” Master Li said, “If you eat green bananas, you get a terrible tummyache.”

One student was telling another about how much he knew about the Dao. Master Li overheard him and walked over and said, “The grass here needs cutting.”