Taisen Deshimaru

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Taisen Deshimaru

Taisen Deshimaru (1914 - April 30, 1982) was a Japanese Soto Zen Buddhist teacher. His experiences led him to Bangka Island, where he taught zazen to the Chinese, Indonesian, and European inhabitants of the island. The island was under the attack of the Japanese Occupational Army, who were executing large numbers of the inhabitants indiscriminately. Feeling a plight for the people of Bankga, Deshimaru eventually took up their cause and was quickly labeled a rebel by the Japanese Army and thrown in prison. Shortly before he was due for execution, high Japanese officials released him and the other prisoners waiting to be killed. Following this, he was placed in an American POW camp in Singapore until he was released months later. He died in 1982, after having solidly established Zen practice in the West.


  • You must not take out your sword because if you try to kill someone, you must die for it yourself. What you must do instead is kill yourself, kill your own mind.
    • Quoted in "A Galaxy Not So Far Away: Writers and Artists on Twenty-five Years of Star Wars" - Page 99 by Glenn Kenny - Performing Arts - 2002
  • You are the strongest and the others keep their distance. It is no longer necessary to win victories over them.
    • Quoted in "A Galaxy Not So Far Away: Writers and Artists on Twenty-five Years of Star Wars" - Page 99 by Glenn Kenny - Performing Arts - 2002
  • To receive everything, one must open one's hands and give.
    • Quoted in "Treasury of Spiritual Wisdom: A Collection of 10,000 Powerful Quotations" by Andy Zubko - 2003 - Page 184
  • If you are not happy here and now, you never will be.
    • Quoted in "The Book of Positive Quotations" - Page 279 by John Cook, Steve Deger, Leslie Ann Gibson - Self-Help - 2007
  • Keep your hands open, and all the sands of the desert can pass through them. Close them, and all you can feel is a bit of grit.
    • Quoted in "Zen to Go" by Jon Winokur - Religion - 1989 - Page 126
  • You must concentrate upon and consecrate yourself wholly to each day, as though a fire were raging in your hair.
    • Quoted in "Just Before Dark: collected nonfiction" - Page 39 by Jim Harrison - Literary Collections - 1999
  • Think with your whole body.
    • Quoted in "Wisdom of the Peaceful Warrior: A Companion to the Book That Changes Lives" - Page 19 by Dan Millman - Religion - 2007
  • Zen is not a particular state but the normal state: silent, peaceful, unagitated. In Zazen neither intention, analysis, specific effort nor imagination take place. It's enough just to be without hypocrisy, dogmatism, arrogance - embracing all opposites.
    • Quoted in "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Buddhist Wisdom" - Page 162 by Gill Farrer Halls - Religion - 2000
  • We should learn to think with our fingers.
    • Quoted in "Meditation" - Page 113 by Jose Lorenzo-Fuentes - Body, Mind & Spirit - 2003
  • Harmonizing opposites by going back to their source is the distinctive quality of the Zen attitude, the Middle Way: embracing contradictions, making a synthesis of them, achieving balance.
    • Quoted in "Zen and the Art of Systems Analysis: Meditations on Computer Systems Development" - Page xix by Patrick McDermott
  • You have to practice until you die.
    • Quoted in "Leading from Within: Martial Arts Skills for Dynamic Business and Management" - Page 223 by Robert Pater - Business & Economics - 1999
  • Train the body and develop stamina and endurance. But the spirit of competition and power that presides over them is not good, it reflects a distorted vision of life. The root of the martial arts is not there.
    • Quoted in " Armed Martial Arts of Japan: Swordsmanship and Archery" - Page 4 by G. Cameron Hurst, G. Cameron Hurst, 3rd, G. Hurst I - History - 1998
  • If you have a glass full of liquid you can discourse forever on its qualities, discuss whether it is cold, warm, whether it is really and truly composed of H-2-O, or even mineral water, or saki. Meditation is Drinking it.
    • Quoted in "Real Magic: Creating Miracles in Everyday Life" - Page 123 by Wayne W. Dyer - Self-Help - 2001
  • We feel our shell keeps us safe, but it crushes us and others, and keeps out light and sun.
    • Quoted in "Zen Miracles: Finding Peace in an Insane World" by Brenda Shoshanna - Self-Help - 2002 - Page 80

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