Quotes inspire, motivate, and just plain fire salespeople up!
Whether they’re beneath an email signature, framed on the office wall, or on a billboard, motivational quotes can drive salespeople to “get after it.”
Here are 20 motivational quotes to consider as you close out the month, begin a new quarter, or approach the day. Just click here and download them from SlideShare. The deck was built in 2013, so shows it's age here and there.
Here are some more of my all-time favorite quotes. I hope they resonate!
Do everything with love.
If you’re losing your cool, you’re losing. - Dan Crenshaw
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer the negative elements in your life, don’t sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy! - Dale Carnegie
A workspace is not a place for storing things. It is a place for accomplishing things.
Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven't.
- Thomas Edison
Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets. - Edwards Deming
If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing. - Edwards Deming
Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances. - Abraham Lincoln
Alice reaches a crossroads where the Cheshire cat is sitting. Alice asks the cat: "Which road should I take?" In reply, the cat says: "Where are you going?" To that, Alice says: "I don't know." "Then it doesn't matter which road you take," the cat says in response.
If you talk to people in a language they understand, it goes to their head. If you talk to them in their language, it goes to their heart. - Nelson Mandela
Do whatever it takes…to make sure you are not fooled into thinking something is true that is not, or that something is not true when it is.
- Neil Degrasse Tyson
Confine yourself to the present. - Marcus Aurelius
Lesser men than you have come and done this. Why can’t you? - US Navy SEAL Master Chief
Never let anyone know you’re scared of anything. Just keep it to yourself. - Jocko Willink
In the information game, the race doesn’t go to the swift, it goes to the selective. - Tim Ferriss
Give people an opportunity to feel strong; and when they take it, bring the technique. - Ryron Gracie
Only through communication can human life hold meaning. - Paulo Freire
To evolve = to eliminate what no longer serves you. - Chip Conley
The standard pace is for chumps. - Kimo Williams (Derek Sivers’s music teacher)
Let the light that shines in you be brighter than the light that shines on you. - Dabo Swinney
We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training. - Archilochus
Writing is often the process by which you realize that you do not understand what you are talking about. - Shane Parrish
We need the discipline to think hard about the implications of our actions. We need to plan, to envision, to make trade-offs. It keeps us on track, doing work we’re proud of. - Seth Godin
I drive the ship. The ship does not drive me. - John Glenn
Torture the data enough and it will confess. - Ronald Coase
If you’re studying my game, then you’re entering my game, and I’ll be better at it than you. - Marcelo Garcia
Only those who go all the way and see things through until they’re done experience the rewards the workplace has to offer. - Grant Cardone
Truly believe that you are better than your opponent in knowledge of the game, in condition, and in fighting spirit and you will be mighty difficult to defeat. - John Wooden
Leaders get the behavior they exhibit and tolerate.
As a leader you’ve got to praise a lot. You’ve got to be a good listener. You’ve got to write notes and listen and then do something about it. You’ve got to inspire your team to believe in what you’re doing. If you can’t do that, you’re doing the wrong thing, I think. - Richard Branson
The smallest dog barks the loudest.
You are more persuasive when you are direct. - McKinsey
Motivation will get you to the starting line, but it won’t get you to the finish line. - Jeff Nichols (SEAL)
Quit acting poor and quit acting like you are a spectator. Boss up in everything. When the bill comes for dinner, boss up. - Grant Cardone
Preparation is grossly underrated. I over-prepare for everything I do.
- Barbara Corcoran
The actions of the few affect the many.
I would hate to die and never do the thing I was born to do. - TD Jakes
I don’t want to walk on stage until everyone’s fuckin’ dying laughing. - Dave Grohl
People who haven’t learned how to control their mind and emotions quit or get hurt. - Mark Divine
The only way to get hurt on a roller coaster is to jump off. - Dave Ramsey
Seek respect, not attention.
You become what you think about.
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. - African proverb
The room is a better place because you’re there. - Jimmy Iovine’s father
Nobody remembers the losses. - Gary Vaynerchuk
Winners consistently do what they don't want to do and don't feel like doing.
- Grant Cardone
Don’t major in minor things! - Jim Rohn
There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning. - Louis L’Amour
Ship it. - Seth Godin
If you don't do it, it won't get done. GET TO WORK. - Jocko Willink
It doesn't have to be fun. It has to be effective. - Navy SEALs
Once begun the job’s half-done.
Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work. - Stephen King
Never start a presentation with “How’s everyone doing?” You’ve just blown a precious opportunity to make an impact. - Steve Martin
People want to be celebrated not tolerated.
I often see those who embark on a path of dedication immerse themselves in seriousness, as if being serious would move them along faster. It won’t, trust me. - Mark Divine
Ideas are easy, execution is everything. - Casey Neistat
If you will change, everything will change for you. - Jim Rohn
Opportunities multiply as they are seized. - Sun Tzu
Do more. - Casey Neistat
Writing equals wealth. - Jeffrey Gitomer
Treat others the way you’d like to be treated. (They may not treat you the way you want to be treated, but it doesn’t matter.)
I have so many meetings where I know they’re disguises for an ask.
- Gary Vaynerchuk
If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset ("what can the world offer me?") and instead adopt the craftsman mindset ("what can I offer the world?"). - Cal Newport
Positive Mental Attitude. Got that PMA. - Bad Brains
See the problem as it is, not worse. - Tony Robbins
The key in a restaurant and any high-pressure situation is that 75% of success is staying calm and not losing your nerve. The rest you figure out, but once you lose your calm, everything else starts falling apart. - Sam Kass
Sell the cars on the lot.
Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you're in control, they're in control. - Tom Landry
The less human involvement required to create and deliver value, the more scalable the business. - Josh Kaufman
Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor. - Rumi
Losers have goals, winners have systems. - Scott Adams
No matter how altruistic your intentions, you are competing. - Onnit
When you add people to an inefficient process, you make things worse.
- Bill Gates
You better pray to God you put the work in, because I have. - Marcus Luttrell
If you’re in your head, you’re dead.
Poor people ask “How much down? or “How much a month?” Rich people ask “How much?”
You can’t reach your potential without haters. - Grant Cardone
There is no shortage of opportunity or success.
If you’re explaining yourself, you’re losing. - Chael Sonnen
People get confused by my energy, but it’s just optimism. The alternative just isn’t productive or attractive. - Gary Vaynerchuk
You’re all too soft to beat me. - Gary Vaynerchuk
Things don't happen to you, things happen because of you. - Grant Cardone
We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness. - Thich Nhat Hanh
Don't wish it was easier, wish you were better! - Jim Rohn
I came to work every day thinking about the people process. - Jack Welch
It’s all a mistake...until it works. - Seth Godin
Success is your duty, obligation, and responsibility. - Grant Cardone
We don't defeat our opponents, they defeat themselves. - Helio Gracie
Share your work online. If your work isn’t online, it basically doesn’t exist.
- Derek Sivers
Self-awareness means you know yourself. If you know yourself, you’ll bet on your strengths. If you bet on your strengths, you’ll win. - Gary Vaynerchuk
I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better. - Abraham Lincoln
Sales is like jazz. - Richard Harris
If it ain’t one thing, it’s a mothafuckin’ ‘notha. - Snoop Dogg
You are not a drop in the ocean, you are the entire ocean in one drop. - Rumi
Time is a created thing. To say, "I don't have time" is like saying, "I don't want to." - Lao Tzu
Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality. - Dalai Lama
If you don't know where you want to be in five years, you're already there.
No matter where you go, you are what you are, player. - Jay-Z
There's no such thing as a bad student, only a bad teacher.
- Gracie Academy Instructor Code
Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.
- Bruce Lee
Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character. - Albert Einstein
Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it's dark. - Zen proverb
Complaining about a problem without proposing a solution is called whining.
- Theodore Roosevelt
We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want. - Lao Tzu
Communicate effectively by giving people something to feel, something to remember, and something to do.
Put a "10" on everyone's forehead. Expect the best out of them first.
Vision without action is a daydream.
Action without vision is a nightmare. - Japanese proverb
Once you decide on your occupation, you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honorably. - Jiro Ono
You can't coach people who don't care. - Steve Richard
I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them. - Pablo Picasso
Just because it looks like I am in trouble, it doesn't mean I am. - Ryron Gracie
When you are content to be simply yourself, and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you. - Lao Tzu
Specificity wins. - The team at TOPO
If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.
- Bruce Lee
Your fuck-up's should fuel you. - Joe Rogan
The #1 reason people fail is also the #1 reason people win: Attitude. - Brad Lea
The cyclone derives its power from a calm center. So does a person.
- Norman Vincent Peale
Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don't.
- Steve Maraboli
Decide that no matter what is happening around you, the sun will always be shining in your world. - Russell Simmons
Your unhappiness ultimately arises, not from the circumstances in your life, but from the conditioning of your mind. - Eckhart Tolle
Zero fucks given. - Joe Rogan
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing to help others?’ - Martin Luther King, Jr.
I got a mil out the deal and I'm still on the grind. - 50 Cent
You can only lose what you cling to. - Buddha
Fitness is a state of readiness. - Tony Robbins
The best performers are focused on outcomes, not activities. - Tony Robbins
Anticipation is the ultimate power. Losers react; leaders anticipate. - Tony Robbins
I have no scene. I go everywhere. I adapt. - Karl Lagerfeld
There’s absolutely no reason to be rushed along with the rush. - Robert Frost
Preach at all times, and when necessary, use words. - St. Francis of Assisi
When you judge others, you do not define them; you define yourself.
- Dr. Wayne Dyer
Control your emotions. Discipline your mind. - Snape
You cannot forgive what you don’t understand. Adjust your expectations. Everyone has a different capacity. When you expect somebody to love on a gallon level, and they are a pint person, you’re going to be frustrated the rest of your life. - TD Jakes
You don't know the half of it.
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. ― Rumi
Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.
- Vince Lombardi
The player who has done their best has done everything, while the player who has done less than their best is a failure.- John Wooden
If a crowd is in my realm, I’m sayin’, “Mic please?” - Phife
What others think of you is none of your business.
Don’t major in minor things.
The greatest holiday feast is eaten one bite at a time. - John Wooden
It’s not how good your jiu-jitsu is, but how good jiu-jitsu is for you.
- Caio Terra
Doesn't mean that much to me, to mean that much to you. - Neil Young
You can only be beaten if you give up or die. - US Navy SEALs
It is not length of life, but depth of life. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sending out love to all corners of the land. I jump up on the stage and take the mic in my hand. I'm not playing a role, just being who I am; and if you try and dis me, I couldn't give a damn cuz I'm rockin'. -Beastie Boys
Discipline equals freedom. - Jocko Willink
I will get by. I will survive. - Grateful Dead
More revenue solves all known problems. - Eric Schmidt
Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world. - Miyamoto Musashi
I come as one, but I stand as 10,000 to the 10th power. - Maya Angelou
Go past the surface and begin to experience life at its depths.
- Russell Simmons
If you’re not comfortable on your back, you will give your back to your enemy. - Ryron Gracie
Silence is not the absence of something, but the presence of everything.
- John Grossmann
To the ego, the present moment hardly exists. Only past and future are considered important. - Eckhart Tolle
My life is better than your vacation.
Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. - Mike Tyson
Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation. - Kahlil Gibran
One day you will ask me which is more important? My life or yours? I will say mine and you will walk away not knowing that you are my life. - Kahlil Gibran
When you become a star, you don’t change...everyone else does. - Kirk Douglas
Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind. - Bruce Lee
You should be so busy, you don’t even know what day it is. - Grant Cardone
Don't anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Stay in the sunlight. -Benjamin Franklin
Forget about your life situation for a while and pay attention to your life.
- Eckhart Tolle
Pause for a few seconds and observe the flow of your breath. Become aware of a silent but powerful sense of presence. - Eckhart Tolle
You’ve got to win early and often. - Don Shula
Take care of your gear and your gear will take care of you.
Get busy living!
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
- Albert Einstein
If a man takes no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand. - Confucius
Move, and the way will open. - Zen saying
If you think training is hard, try losing.
With one breath, with one flow, you will know synchronicity. -The Police
Student says, “I’m very discouraged. What should I do?” Master says, “Encourage others.” - Zen proverb
Today I settled all family business, so don’t tell me you’re innocent, Carlo.
- Michael Corleone
We cannot see our reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see. -Taoist proverb
Do you realize that no one’s listening to you? - Groucho Marx
I hate to give away the ending, but it all works out.
If you want to go protest and complain, you better have a better idea.
- Kevin O’Leary
Progress equals happiness. If you’re not happy, it’s because you’re not growing. - Tony Robbins
Be aware of your breathing. Notice how this takes attention away from your thinking and creates space. - Eckhart Tolle
I’m not creative because I’m a WRITER, I’m creative because I’m WRITING.
- Brendon Burchard
Go with God, but back it up with data.
Done is better than perfect.
Pressure is something you feel when you don’t know what you’re doing.
- Peyton Manning
Measure twice, cut once.
Don’t beat the other guys. Beat the golf course. - Earl Woods
Don’t get tapped out today. - Nick Diaz
When you're young, you're supposed to be seen, not heard. And when you're old, you're supposed to be heard, not seen. - Grace Slick
You get what you put up with.
Big dance committee equals big dance.
If you're putting together a committee, make sure it has good looking people on it.
Work on your business, not in it.
Don't touch base. You're not playing baseball. - Dan Carrillo
I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day. - Frank Sinatra
The greatest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. - George Bernard Shaw
Don't solve problems; pursue opportunities. - Peter Drucker
There's nothing that can't be fixed.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few. - Shunryu Suzuki
(To college students) Your career is going to need to be deep first and broad second.
Positive attracts positive and negative attracts negative.
Raise your standards.
I could walk out my door right now and run a marathon. Right now. And that's what separates you from me. - Diddy
The team with the best players wins. - Jack Welch
The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said.
- Peter Drucker
Prospects are more fearful of losing their jobs than you are of losing the deal.
- Dan Carrillo
Your income is determined primarily by your philosophy, not by the economy. - Jim Rohn
Work on yourself harder than you work on your job. Success is something you attract by becoming an attractive person. - Jim Rohn
Life can be very comfortable. - Sammy Hagar
All you have to do is know where you're going. The answers will come to you of their own accord. - Earl Nightingale
We become what we think about.
I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. - Bruce Lee
The past does not equal the future. - Tony Robbins
(Life is) Just like skiing. The goal is not to get to the bottom of the hill. The goal is to have a bunch of good runs before the sun sets. - Seth Godin
Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.
- Chinese proverb
When two people meet, if there's rapport, the person who's most certain will always influence the other person. - Tony Robbins
Dana White: How do you think you'll finish this fight?
BJ Penn: With my hand raised.
There's no one you can't get to if you're determined. - Chet Holmes
It always seems impossible until it's done. - Mandela
Focus=Power Find one thing you desire and concentrate all your focus on the mastery of it & success will be inevitable. - Tony Robbins
If you act like a champion, you will become a champion. Georges St-Pierre
Control the process, not the buyer. - Michael T. Bosworth
Be beautiful inside, in your hearts, with the lasting charm of a gentle and quiet spirit. - Ka Pôhaku
Before I refuse to answer your questions, I have an opening statement.
- Ronald Reagan
Observe your reaction before reacting. - Deepak Chopra
A painter paints pictures on canvas. Musicians paint pictures on silence.
- Leopold Stokowski
You run and not grow weary. - U2, Drowning Man
A man that doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man. - Don Corleone
The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.
Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to him who endures that the final victory comes. - Buddha
Activity - to produce real results - must be organized and executed meticulously. Otherwise, it's no different from children running around the playground at recess. - John Wooden
You're not here to survive this, you're here to take charge of it.
- US Navy SEALS
Do is the first part of Done.
The drummer is the first on the gig and the last to leave.
- Alfred "Papa" French
Physical training is one of the most visible illustrations of leadership by example. - USMC DI School Manual
Make every day as productive as the day before you go on vacation.
- Jeffrey Gitomer
If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.
- Thomas Edison
Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Weak men wait for opportunities; strong men make them.
- Orison Swett Marden
Frustration is a function of our expectations. - Stephen Covey
It's not the daily increase but the daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential. - Bruce Lee
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.
- Henry David Thoreau
All day and night, music. A quiet, bright reed song. If it fades, we fade. - Rumi
"You can shower a child with presents or money, but what do they really mean, compared to the most valuable gift of all - your time? Vacations and special events are nice, but so often the best moments are the spontaneous ones. Being there. Every moment you spend with your child could be the one that really matters." - Tim Russert From Starbucks Cup, The Way I See It #198
If you want to be first, then you must be last, and a servant to everyone.
- Mark 9:35
Do not be impatient with your seemingly slow progress. Do not try to run faster than you presently can. If you are studying, reflecting and trying, you are making progress whether you are aware of it or not. A traveler walking the road in the darkness of night is still going forward. Someday, some way, everything will break open, like the natural unfolding of a rosebud.
- Vernon Howard
Luke: I don't believe it. Yoda: That is why you fail.
You cannot build success on what you're about to do.
A dog in desperation will leap over a wall. - Chinese proverb
Change your thoughts and you change your world. - Norman Vincent Peale
If you stay ready, you ain't got to GET ready. - Will Smith
When the pupil is ready, the master appears.
I put myself in front of people who can say 'yes' to me, and give them value first. - Jeffrey Gitomer
To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift. - Steve Prefontaine
Maintain a healthy disregard for the impossible. - Larry Page and Sergey Brin
Ain't no one that's 'bout to help, and I'll keep on, I tell myself.
- CCR, "Porterville"
But I'm gonna break, I'm gonna break my, I'm gonna break my rusty cage and run. - Soundgarden
Pound for p-p-p-pound, the best around, no way you can get up when I get down. - Jay-Z
There is no finish line. - Nike
And if they stare, just let them burn their eyes on you moving. - Argent
Without music, the world would B flat.
I got an idea that I want to share. You don't like it? So what, I don't care.
- Rob Base
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ah, people asking questions -- lost in confusion. Well, I tell them there's no problem -- only solutions. - John Lennon, Watching the Wheels
It is psychological law that whatever we desire to accomplish we must impress upon the subjective or subconscious mind. - Orison Swett Marden
Obstacles are like wild animals. They are cowards but they will bluff you if they can. If they see you are afraid of them... they are liable to spring upon you; but if you look them squarely in the eye, they will slink out of sight.
- Orison Swett Marden
In a race, everyone runs, but only one gets first place; so run your race to win.
- 1 Corinthians, 9:24
Relaxation is a prelude to awareness. - Deepak Chopra
The future comes one day at a time. - Dean Gooderham Acheson
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle
It pays to be a winner.
Never give in to pain, just adjust to it.
When you understand that life is a test, you realize that nothing is insignificant in your life. Even the smallest incident has significance for your character development. - Rick Warren
God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out. - 1 Corinthians 10:13
When the lion is chasing the antelope, he doesn't look back. He has to eat; so when I run, I don't stare at my time. - Robert Cheruiyot
I ain't scared of you mother fuckers. - Bernie Mac
You cannot always control the events in your life, but you can always control what they MEAN to you.
Outstanding proposals equal incoming sales.
Plan your work and work your plan.
A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough. - Bruce Lee
What you focus on is what you feel.
You can't win if you don't keep score.
The part where the drummer was playing was the least noticed out of the whole composition. - Grandmaster Flash
Stress is a code word for fear.
Kick your own ass. - Jeffrey Gitomer
Pain is weakness leaving the body. - USMC
How can you become the best version of yourself? - Matthew Kelly
You are what you believe.
Everyone you encounter is a mirror, reflecting all there is that is you.
Trees with deep roots can weather any storm.
All know the way, few actually walk it. - Bodhidharma
A rising tide lifts all boats.
Deal with it before it happens. Set things in order before there is confusion.
A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do. Nothing else.
It's not who you know, it's who knows you. - Jeffrey Gitomer
Every child should be taught to expect success.
Obstacles are what appear when you take your eyes off your goals.
My Heaven will be a big Heaven, and I will walk through the front door!
- Peter Gabriel
If you're not physically fit, you're not mentally fit. - Gary Player
Everything we do is right on time, the beat's so good it blows my mind. Don't stop the music, it's so satisfying. Feels so good to me, there is no denying.
- Yarbrough and Peoples
Keeping my mind active remains my first path to survival.
- Survivorman Les Stroud
I wish I was a headlight on a northbound train. I'd shine my light through the cool Colorado rain. - Grateful Dead
You get diamonds out of coal, with tremendous pressure.
Strong as an ox, fresh out the box, the crowd's so live, they're comin' in flocks. - Beastie Boys
Most of the customers you're selling to need to talk to their mommy or daddy to make a deal.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood. - Stephen Covey
Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. - John Wooden
Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing. - Vince Lombardi
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. - Dr. Suess
The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership. - Colin Powell
Nothing great can be accomplished without enthusiasm.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Weak men wait for opportunities; strong men make them.
- Orison Swett Marden
When you're in a hole, stop digging.
A Zen Parable
A Zen Master was walking in silence with one of his disciples along a mountain trail. When they came to an ancient cedar tree, they sat down under it for a simple meal of rice and vegetables. After the meal, the disciple, a young monk who had not yet found the key to the mystery of Zen, broke the silence by asking the Master, “Master, how do I enter Zen?”
He was, of course, inquiring how to enter the state of consciousness which is Zen.
The Master remained silent. Almost five minutes passed while the disciple anxiously waited for an answer. He was about to ask another question when the Master suddenly spoke. “Do you hear the sound of that mountain stream?” The disciple had not been aware of any mountain stream. He had been too busy thinking about the meaning of Zen.
Now, as he began to listen for the sound, his noisy mind subsided. At first he heard nothing. Then, his thinking gave way to heightened alertness, and suddenly he did hear the hardly perceptible murmur of a small stream in the far distance.
“Yes, I can hear it now,” he said.
The Master raised his finger and, with a look in his eyes that in some way was both fierce and gentle, said, “Enter Zen from there.”
The disciple was stunned. It was his first satori - a flash of enlightenment. He knew what Zen was without knowing what it was that he knew!
They continued on their journey in silence. The disciple was amazed at the aliveness of the world around him. He experienced everything as if for the first time. Gradually, however, he started thinking again. The alert stillness became covered up again by mental noise, and before long he had another question. “Master” he said, “I have been thinking. What would you have said if I hadn’t been able to hear the mountain stream?”
The Master stopped, looked at him, raised his finger and said,
“Enter Zen from there.”