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Quotes About Surfing, Zen & Recovery

Updated on October 4, 2008

Is There a Connection?

One of the greatest things about the sport of surfing is that you need only three things: your body, a surf-board, and a wave.

-Naima Green

A Zen master used to say, "It is clear and so it is hard to see. A dunce once searched for a fire with a lighted lantern. Had he known what fire was, he could have cooked his rice much sooner.


Just as we get rid our bodies of physical wastes and toxins-so too-rid yourself of emotional wastes by finishing unfinished business-by not going to bed when consumed by negative emotions. A key skill is learning how to take time to settle disagreements and make any needed amends. Following this process each day produces mental, emotional and physical well-being.

There's nothing quite like surfing by yourself in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but unpredictable weather patterns, below deck accomodation, sea snakes, coral cuts and packs of reef sharks make it a trip for the committed seadog.

-Mark Thornley

All that is great cannot be possessed - and that is one of the most foolish things man goes on doing. We want to possess.


The 12-step groups help a person learn how to do this through the use of program tools. The tools are: the fellowship (going to meetings), following a healthy plan, literature, writing, using the telephone to contact members, contacting a sponsor (a person who knows the program and helps you apply it), anonymity, and providing service and support to other members.

Surfing is very much like making love. It always feels good, no matter how many times you've done it.

-Paul Strauch

All that's visible springs from causes intimate to you. While walking, sitting, lying down, the body itself is complete truth. If someone asks the inner meaning of this: "Inside the treasury of dharma eye a single grain of dust.


The 12-step programs are like the "hub" of a wheel of change and the "spokes" are the additional information, suggestions, and self-management skills that are mentioned in all of the other sections of this Web site. Both are needed to have our lives roll-on with health, balance, and self-respect. 12-Step programs can promote wisdom and growth when practiced in an authentic, conscious manner. When used as dogma they can become simplistic, rigid, and interfere with true healing. You will notice that I have included MANY different kinds of resources to support your healing journey.

Surfing, alone among sports, generates laughter at its very suggestion, and this is because it turns not a skill into an art, but an inexplicable and useless urge into a vital way of life.

-Matt Warshaw

And the more you become aware of the unknown self - if you become aware of it - the more you realize that it is inseparably connected with everything else that is.

-Allan Watts

I have found that NO ONE approach, book, resource, or process provides the COMPLETE answer to personal transformation. So, take what you like (what works for you) and leave the rest (what doesn't work for you).

The balance and patience factors are much more critical in surfing than they are in snowboarding ... if you're out surfing serious waves and you wipe out, you don't land on soft snow. It's usually either very sharp coral, or you get raked across the beach gravel and sand while you're tumbling underwater.

-Frederick Lenz

Calm in quietude is not real calm. When you can be calm in the midst of activity, this is the true state of nature. Happiness in comfort is not real happiness. When you can be happy in the midst of hardship, then you see the true potential of the mind.

-Huanchu Daoren

On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.

Every now and then, we would hear reports through the grapevine of big-wave riders on the North Shore [of Oahu] drowning, and for the first time I began to understand why so many of the great California surfers never gave the North Shore a try, or if they did, they came back home and never tried it again.

-Mike Doyle

Do not seek the truth. Only cease to cherish opinions.

-Zen Wisdom

In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don't struggle,

In surfing, coming to terms with death -- or at least the possibility -- is an ongoing crisis in big waves. The set is building outside, and it's so beautiful, aesthetically. People are watching in awe from the beach: the blue water, the stiff offshore winds, the 40-foot walls charging in from the open ocean. If you're out there with nothing but your body, your wits and a surfboard, that set can be your coffin.

-Bruce Jenkins

Don't seek, don't search, don't ask, don't knock, don't demand - relax. If you relax, it comes. If you relax, it is there. If you relax, you start vibrating with it.


As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day, "Thy will be done."

As for my own surfing, let's just say that when the waves start pushing 10 feet, I get this tremendous urge to make a sandwich.

-Bruce Jenkins

For Zen, man is the goal; man is the end unto himself. God is not something above humanity, God is something hidden within humanity. Man is carrying God in himself as a potentiality.


When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life? But, we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others. After making our review we ask God's forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken.

Surfing expresses ... a pure yearning for visceral, physical contact with the natural world.

-Matt Warshaw

God is a synergetic experience. Science can never reveal it, philosophy can never come to it - only a poetic approach, a very passive, very loving approach, can.


It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol (and food) is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism (and compulsive overeating). What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our activities. "How can I best serve Thee-Thy will (not mine) be done."

Surfing is for life.

-Bruce Jenkins

How can you think and hit at the same time?

-Yogi Berra

In the 12th step, from a place of gratitude, a person carries the message of personal transformation and freedom that the program has empowered them to experience, and shares it with others. The result of experiencing a spiritual transformation and changes in attitudes and behaviors doesn't just benefit the person, but all of the interconnected relationships with whom the person interacts.

Go strip off your clothes that are a nuisance in this mellow clime. Get in and wrestle with the sea; wing your heels with the skill and power that reside in you, hit the sea's breakers, master them, and ride upon their backs as a king should.

-Jack London

I come to realize that mind is no other than mountains and rivers and the great wide earth, the sun and the moon and stars.


Everyone has life challenges, but you want to see that members are using the tools and 12 steps to provide guidance for increasing levels of success and self mastery. Are they focusing on the solution rather than the problem? Does the meeting inspire you and help provide insights to you about how to live your life more successfully? If it does, then that might be the meeting for you.

Waves are not measured in feet and inches, they are measured in increments of fear.

-Buzzy Trent.

In autumn even though I may see it again, how can I sleep with the moon this evening?


Successful life changes involve the understanding that our behaviors result from an interaction of emotions, genetics, time pressures, financial pressures, family, work and social stresses, and access to family, work, and social support systems. Viewing damaging behaviors as learned responses to life stress is helpful in offering someone the insight and permission to successfully alter health-related behaviors, such as eating and exercise. For sustained success in the management of disordered eating, behaviors and stressors need to be altered, healed, and resolved--but not controlled

-Jannette Travali

I've tried body surfing. It's nice.

-Ziggy Marley.

It is by teaching that we teach ourselves, by relating that we observe, by affirming that we examine, by showing that we look, by writing that we think, by pumping that we draw water into the well.

-Henri Frederic Amiel

Some people may become overly reliant on the program and its people and meetings. This type of rigid participation enables people to avoid addressing the pain and issues that lie beneath the addiction.

Surf now, apocalypse later.

-Beachside graffiti in California.

Meaning is man-created. And because you constantly look for meaning, you start to feel meaninglessness.


A benefits of attending a 12 Step Program is exposure to other people's experiences, wisdom, strength and hope.

Not to sound too deep or weird, but I think that the times when you really appreciate surfing are the times you're really sort of becoming one with nature.

-Kelly Slater

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

-Zen Wisdom

It costs no money but is priceless

When the day came to an end, he walked away from the beach. One thing Mickey taught me as an ethos was that at the end of the day, you just walk away.

-John Milius, Apocalypse Now script-writer, on ‘da cat that walked by himself,' Malibu legend Mickey Dora.

Refraining from all evil, not clinging to birth and death, working in deep compassion for all sentient beings, respecting those over you and pitying those below you, without any detesting or desiring, worrying or lamentation - this is what is called Buddha. Do not search beyond it.


An opportunity to develop the skills and habits of emotional awareness, integrity, and honest self-introspection through group sharing and reading the help people see the truth about their lives and their relationships with others.

The best surfer in the world is the one having the most fun.

-Attributed to just about everyone at some time or another.

Sit quietly doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.

-Zen Wisdom

Gives tools that can facilitate the process of change: a plan of eating, sponsorship (a caring member who knows the program and who helps another member along the path), meetings, the telephone, writing things down, literature, anonymity and service.

The legions of the unjazzed

-Phil Edwards, on non-surfers.

The disciple is not hankering for knowledge; he wants to see, not to know. He wants to be. He is no longer interested in having more knowledge; he wants to have more being.


It breaks down emotional walls within an individual and between oneself and family members and between oneself and one's personal interpretation of a Higher Power.

For a surfer, the fluidity of the ocean - of being in it - is what matters.

-Alan ‘Fuz' Bleakley

The ego is nothing other than the focus of conscious attention.

-Allan Watts

Guide people towards more selfless, joyous lives-ones that share their gifts to the benefit of others.

This wave wasn't going to break, it was going to occur. And there wasn't a damn thing any one of us could do about it.

-Matt George

The feminine is more powerful than the masculine, the soft is more powerful than the hard, the water is more powerful than the rock.


An Offer of a practical program for release from compulsion and for the opportunity to practice a new life.

Surfing is the most blissful experience you can have on this planet, a taste of heaven.

-John McCarthy.

The future of humanity will move closer and closer toward the approach of Zen, because the meeting of the East and West is possible only through something like Zen, which is earthly and yet unearthly.


The hope: we ask that we strive for progress, not perfection.

The biggest sin in the world would be if I lost my love for the ocean.

-Laird Hamilton.

The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.

-Zen Wisdom

Through the ongoing application of the program, members receive a daily reprieve from compulsive overeating that is contingent on the maintenance of their spiritual condition.


Submit a Comment
  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Home is were the heart is and in my case that's the ocean on my board :)

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    I do like hub becus it is realy good.

  • St.James profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Lurking Around Florida

    Check out Greg Gutierrez's website. His artwork and writings... less not forget surfing.

  • profile image

    greg gutierrez 

    8 years ago

    Might I recommend, Greg Gutierrez's Zen and the Art of Surfing.

    some gritty words...

  • SEM Pro profile image

    SEM Pro 

    9 years ago from North America

    awesome dude - like i'll be back more than once :)

  • Jenny30 profile image


    9 years ago from Canada

    great hub! Very interesting.

  • tushar09 profile image


    10 years ago

    sir are you there please reply..

  • nancydodds1 profile image


    10 years ago from Houston, Texas

    About surfing zen recovery is very nice information. I had gone through your hub its very informative.


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