Zen Story

"Man Of Tao" — Author Unknown

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---“ZEN” by Catherine Thriver-Forestier

A student once asked, "What is the difference between a Man of Tao and a little man?"

The Zen Master replied, "It is simple. When the little man becomes a student, he can hardly wait to run home and shout at the top of his voice to tell everyone.
Upon hearing the words of the master, he will climb to the rooftops and shout to the people. Upon learning the ways of the master, he will parade through town telling one and all about his new knowledge”.

The Zen Master continues, "When the Man of Tao becomes a student, he will bow his head in gratitude. Upon hearing the words of the master, he will bow his head and his shoulders. Upon learning the ways of the master, he will bow to the waist and quietly walk alongside the wall so that people will not see him or notice him".

~ Unknown
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"Concentration" — Author Unknown

After winning several archery contests, the young and rather boastful champion challenged a Zen master who was renowned for his skill as an archer. The young man demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull's eye on his first try, and then split that arrow with his second shot. Read More...
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"Vanity" — Unknown

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There was a zen monk whose vanity was his poverty and humility. He lived in a cave outside his monastery, ate only food he could glean from what others threw away, and washed his robes only by walking in the rain. Once every week he would leave his cave and enter the monastery. There he would choose a young monk to walk with him that day so that he might give the younger man the benefit of is wisdom, which he was sure was both vast and deep. He delighted in tormenting the young students, and then lecturing the abbot about the poor quality of his teachings. One day while walking, the young man which he had chosen stopped to squat down and crap. When he finished, he looked up to the old monk and said, "Sensei, may I have a leaf to wipe my ass?'

The old monk smiled mockingly. "The buddah teaches us to respect life in all of its wondrous forms. Is it respectful to the leaf to do such a thing?"

The young man thought for a moment. "Then what about a stick?" he asked. A stick has no life, and surely the Buddah would not begrudge its use."

The monk shook his head with disdain. "My son, the Buddah cherishes all life. He cherishes life that was, life that is, and life that will be. Look around you and choose again."

The young man thought for a moment, then reached out and took the monk's sleeve and wiped his ass with it. The monk was utterly stunned. He looked at the shit on his sleeve, and then looked at the young man. "Why did you do that?" he shouted. "Why did you just smear your shit on my sleeve?"

The young man stood and smiled kindly. "Sensei, I looked all around me, and the only thing I could find that the Buddah would neither respect nor cherish was you."


Source: http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/2008/01/telling-your-fundamentalist-christian.html



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"Moon Cannot Be Stolen" – Zen Parable

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Ryokan, a Zen master, lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing in it to steal. 
Ryokan returned and caught him. “You may have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift.” 
The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away.  Ryokan sat naked, watching the moon. “Poor fellow,” he mused, “I wish I could give him this beautiful moon.” 
—Unknown
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The Book of Serenity - "Dizang’s Planting the Fields"

Two Planting Rice

Dizang asked Xiushan, “Where do you come from?” Xiushan said, “From the South.” Dizang said, “How is Buddhism in the South these days?” Xiushan said, “There is extensive discussion”” Dizang said, “How can that compare to me here planting the fields and making rice to eat?” Xiushan said, “What can you do about the world?” Dizang said, “What do you call the world?”


Time and again during question and answer sessions after a Zen lecture, someone will ask: ‘What is the use of just sitting in silent meditation when there is so much suffering in the world?’ This question is usually meant as a challenge to what seems a kind of passiveness. It is true that the world is full of suffering beings; humans, animals, plants, even the planet itself is deeply suffering. Shouldn’t we be having extensive discussions, protesting, implementing solutions? This koan does for me what I think is the intention of all koans – it stops my mind in mid stride. It brings my awareness to the importance of asking questions before acting. Questions like: What is the nature of suffering and what is its ultimate cause? How can I help a world that I see as separate from myself? Wouldn’t it be more beneficial for me to deeply understand how the world is not something ‘out there’ that needs saving? If I consider the way we are all constantly, every moment, making the world then each simple, ordinary action I am able to take right here is ‘doing something about the world.’ And when it is time for other kinds of action, less simple or potentially more widely impactful, it is my intention that these actions will be grounded in not knowing what the world is, or what helping is.

—Rev. Zesho Susan O’Connell (Zen priest, President of the San Francisco Zen Center)
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"The Pointer" — a Zen Story


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The Zen teacher’s dog loved his evening romp with his master.
The dog would bound ahead to fetch a stick, then run back, wag his tail, and wait for the next game.
On this particular evening, the teacher invited one of his brightest students to join him – a boy so intelligent that he became troubled by the contradictions in Buddhist doctrine.

“You must understand,” said the teacher, “that words are only guideposts. Never let the words or symbols get in the way of truth. Here, I’ll show you.”

With that the teacher called his happy dog.
“Fetch me the moon,” he said to his dog and pointed to the full moon.
“Where is my dog looking?” asked the teacher of the bright pupil.

“He’s looking at your finger.”

“Exactly. Don’t be like my dog.
Don’t confuse the pointing finger with the thing that is being pointed at.
All our Buddhist words are only guideposts.
Every man fights his way through other men’s words to find his own truth.
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"Moving to a New City" (a parable) —Unknown

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There was a person coming to a new village, re-locating, and he was wondering if he would like it there, so he went to the zen master and asked: do you think I will like it in this village?
Are the people nice?  

The master asked back: "How were the people on the town where you come from?"  

"They were nasty and greedy, they were angry and lived for cheating and stealing said the newcomer."  

"Those are exactly the type of people we have in this village", said the master.

Another newcomer to the village visited the master and asked the same question, to which the master asked, "How were the people in the town where you come from?"

“They were sweet and lived in harmony, they cared for one another and for the land, they respected each other and they were seekers of spirit,” he replied.

"Those are exactly the type of people we have in this village", said the master.'


SOURCE:
http://thepowerofideas.ideapod.com/zen-master-tells-powerful-story-thoughts-shape-reality/
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"If You Love, Love Openly" — Zen Story

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If You Love, Love Openly

Twenty monks and one nun, who was named Eshun, were practicing meditation with a certain Zen master.

Eshun was very pretty even though her head was shaved and her dress plain.
Several monks secretly fell in love with her.
One of them wrote her a love letter, insisting upon a private meeting.

Eshun did not reply.
The following day the master gave a lecture to the group, and when it was over, Eshun arose.

Addressing the one who had written her, she said: "If you really love me so much, come and embrace me now."


870160
From Zen Flesh Zen Bones


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"Taming the Mind" — Zen Parable

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---Photo Champ

After winning several archery contests, the young and rather boastful champion challenged a Zen master who was renowned for his skill as an archer. The young man demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull's eye on his first try, and then split that arrow with his second shot.

"There," he said to the old man, "see if you can match that!"

Undisturbed, the master did not draw his bow, but rather motioned for the young archer to follow him up the mountain.

Curious about the old fellow's intentions, the champion followed him high into the mountain until they reached a deep chasm spanned by a rather flimsy and shaky log. Calmly stepping out onto the middle of the unsteady and certainly perilous bridge, the old master picked a far away tree as a target, drew his bow, and fired a clean, direct hit.

"Now it is your turn," he said as he gracefully stepped back onto the safe ground.

Staring with terror into the seemingly bottomless and beckoning abyss, the young man could not force himself to step out onto the log, no less shoot at a target.

"You have much skill with your bow," the master said, sensing his challenger's predicament, "but you have little skill with the mind that lets loose the shot."

—Unknown
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"The Thinking Mind" (Zen Tale) by Charlie Badenhop

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Many years ago there was a young man living in a large city in Japan who felt his life was quite empty. With the hope of achieving a state of inner peace, he shaved his head and went to live in the mountains as a monk.

After studying diligently for ten years, the man realized he still didn't understand how to live with a sense of emotional fulfillment. Talking with other disciples, the young monk heard of a highly evolved Zen master living in China. He was drawn to study with this man with the hope of finally realizing his true self. He gathered his meager belongings, crossed the sea of Japan, and started a long and arduous journey across arid plains.

Every day he walked for many hours, and would stop for the evening only after finding a patch of land that had a natural source of water safe for drinking. After traveling in this manner for more than a month, he had the strange sensation of feeling both energized and empty.

One day was particularly hot and dry and the monk walked endlessly unable to find water. As the day turned into a moonless night he finally found an oasis. Totally exhausted, he collapsed onto the ground and began crawling around in the darkness in search of liquid sustenance. He came across a roughly made cup that had been left behind. The custom of leaving a cup with some water in it for the next traveler was quite common. He drank the meager amount of delicious tasting water and felt blessed and at peace with the world. He soon lay down and slept quite comfortably until awaking to the light of the early morning sun.

Upon sitting up, the first thing he noticed was what he had taken to be the roughly made cup the night before. Indeed it was not a manmade cup, but rather the shattered skull of a baby wolf! The moist skull was caked with blood, and a number of ants were crawling around inside scavenging for food to carry back to their colony.

The monk saw all this and immediately began to vomit! He was overcome by several waves of nausea, and as the fluid poured forth from his mouth and nose, he clearly experienced his thinking mind overwhelming his body and his emotions. With no choice but to submit to the moment, he understood that his thinking mind had been overwhelming him his entire life!

The night before the water tasted delicious and he felt refreshed. It was his misunderstanding of the circumstances that led him to feel fine. Upon seeing the skull and the ants in the light of the morning sun, it was his memory of his past actions and not the putrid water that brought about his nausea.

Regardless of whether or not he was understanding or misunderstanding, it was his thinking mind that created the way he felt. This was suddenly very clear to him. He realized that if his thinking was capable of creating suffering, it was also capable of creating peace of mind. He realized that what had occurred in the past was much less important than the way he reacted in the present. Upon understanding this, his journey was complete and he returned home to live his life with a sense of emotional fulfillment.


Trans4mind-sm
From “It's Your Thinking That Leads to Your Suffering”
By Charlie Badenhop
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"Lillies of the Field"

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---Painting — “Lillies of the Field” by aldussaunt


One of master Gasan's monks visited the university in Tokyo. When he returned,
he asked the master if he had ever read the Christian Bible. "No," Gasan
replied, "Please read some of it to me." The monk opened the Bible to the Sermon
on the Mount in St. Matthew, and began reading. After reading Christ's words
about the *lilies in the field, he paused. Master Gasan was silent for a long
time. "Yes," he finally said, "Whoever uttered these words is an enlightened
being. What you have read to me is the essence of everything I have been trying
to teach you here!"

Consider the lilies of the field,
how they grow;
They toil not, neither do they spin;
And yet I say unto you,
that even Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.

SOURCE:
http://www.lotustemple.us/mondo.html


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"Awareness" by Anthony de Mello

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---Painting: “Awareness” by Rebecca Rees
The student monk had spent seven years,
Learning how to comprehend awareness.
At the end of his study it was time for assessment,
To visit the master was his final assignment.

The master sat, at the young man he looked,
Was he ready to become a teacher monk?

The young monk, wet from his walk,
Had placed his umbrella in the hall
Master asked, 'to the left or right of your clogs,
Did you place your umbrella to dry at rest? '

The monk was taken by surprise,
Why such simple thing, when so wise?
Try as he might he couldn't recall;
Had to admit, no idea at all.

'Go back to your teacher for seven more years,
To learn once more the secret of awareness'.

To late the young monk remembered,
Awareness encompasses everything.
No chance of ever really seeing,
Unless every second has meaning.

SOURCE:
https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/from-the-heart-of-anthony-de-mello/



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"Vast Emptiness" — Author Unknown

Vast_Emptiness_by_freelancah
---Picture by Smattila


The emperor, who was a devout Buddhist, invited a great Zen master to the Palace in order to ask him questions about Buddhism. 

"What is the highest truth of the holy Buddhist doctrine?" the emperor inquired. 

"Vast emptiness... and not a trace of holiness," the master replied. 

"If there is no holiness," the emperor said, "then who or what are you?" 

"I do not know," the master replied.


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"Misfortune" Author Unknown

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A Chinese farmer's neighbors came over to offer him their sympathy after his horse ran away. "I'm not so sure it's a misfortune", said the farmer. The neighbors left, shaking their heads.

The next day, the farmer's horse returned, and three wild horses came home with him. The neighbors returned to congratulate the farmer on his good fortune. "I'm not certain that it is good fortune", replied the farmer. The neighbors left, more bemused than before.

Later that week, the farmer's son broke his leg trying to train one of the new horses, and the neighbors came by to offer condolences. "I'm not sure this is a misfortune", said the farmer again. The neighbors left, discussing the man's mental state among themselves.

The next day, the emperor came through, gathering up young men to be in his army. They bypassed the farmer's son, since he had a broken leg.
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'Worse than a Clown' — Unknown

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—“Painting: “The Happy Clown” by Deb Adams

There was a young monk in China who was a very serious practitioner of the Dharma.  Once, this monk came across something he did not understand, so he went to ask the master. When the master heard the question, he kept laughing. The master then stood up and walked away, still laughing. 

The young monk was very disturbed by the master's reaction. For the next 3 days, he could not eat, sleep nor think properly. At the end of 3 days, he went back to the master and told the master how disturbed he had felt. 

When the master heard this, he said, "Monk, do you know what your problem is? Your problem is that YOU ARE WORSE THAN A CLOWN!" 

The monk was shocked to hear that, "Venerable Sir, how can you say such a thing?! How can I be worse than a clown?" 

The master explained, "A clown enjoys seeing people laugh. You? You feel disturbed because another person laughed. Tell me, are you not worse than a clown?" 

When the monk heard this, he began to laugh. He was enlightened.

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The Gates of Paradise " by Japanese Zen teacher Muju

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A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin, and asked: "Is there really a paradise and a hell?"

"Who are you?" inquired Hakuin.

"I am a samurai," the warrior replied.

"You, a soldier!" exclaimed Hakuin. "What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar."

Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued: "So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably much too dull to cut off my head."

As Nobushige drew his sword Hakuin remarked: "Here open the gates of hell!"

At these words the samurai, perceiving the master's discipline, sheathed his sword and bowed.

"Here open the gates of paradise," said Hakuin.


(from Collection of Sand and Stone, 13th Century Japanese koans written by Japanese Zen teacher Muju)


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"Time To Learn " — Author Unknown

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A young but earnest Zen student approached his teacher, and asked the Zen Master:  "If I work very hard and diligent how long will it take for me to find Zen." 

The Master thought about this, then replied, "Ten years." 

The student then said, "But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast -- How long then ?" 

Replied the Master, "Well, twenty years." 

"But, if I really, really work at it. How long then ?" asked the student. 

"Thirty years," replied the Master. 

"But, I do not understand," said the disappointed student. "At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that ?" 

Replied the Master," When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path."


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"More Is Not Enough - The Stone Cutter " — by Benjamin Hoff

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---Painting: “The Stone Cutter” by Gillian Calvert
There was once a stone cutter who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life.  One day he passed a wealthy merchant's house. Through the open gateway, he saw many fine possessions and important visitors. "How powerful that merchant must be!" thought the stone cutter. He became very envious and wished that he could be like the merchant. 

To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever imagined, but envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. Soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. "How powerful that official is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a high official!" 

Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around. It was a hot summer day, so the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. "How powerful the sun is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the sun!" Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and laborers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. "How powerful that storm cloud is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a cloud!" 

Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. "How powerful it is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the wind!" 

Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, feared and hated by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it - a huge, towering rock. "How powerful that rock is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a rock!" 

Then he became the rock, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the hard surface, and felt himself being changed. "What could be more powerful than I, the rock?" he thought. 

He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stone cutter.
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"The Little Monk and the Samurai — Zen Parable

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The old monk sat by the side of the road, with his eyes closed, his legs crossed and his hands folded in his lap in deep meditation.
Suddenly his tranquility was interrupted by the harsh and demanding voice of a samurai warrior standing before him. “Old man! Teach me about heaven and hell!”

At first, as though he had not heard, there was no perceptible response from the monk. But slowly he began to open his eyes, the faintest hint of a smile playing around the corners of his mouth as the samurai stood there, waiting impatiently, growing more and more agitated with each passing moment.

“You wish to know the secrets of heaven and hell?” replied the monk at last. “You who are so unkempt, whose hands and feet are covered with dirt. You whose hair is uncombed, whose breath is foul, whose sword is rusty and neglected. You would ask me of heaven and hell?”

The samurai uttered a vile curse. He drew his sword and raised it high above his head. His face turned crimson and the veins on his neck stood out pulsing wildly as he prepared to sever the monk’s head from his shoulders.

“That,” said the old monk gently, just as the sword began its descent, “is hell.” In that fraction of a second, the samurai was overcome with amazement, awe, compassion and love for this gentle being who had dared risk his very life to give him such a teaching. He stopped his sword in mid-descent and his eyes filled with grateful tears.
________________________________


ANOTHER VERSION:

A big, tough samurai once went to see a little monk.
“Monk!"
He barked, in a voice accustomed to instant obedience.
"Teach me about heaven and hell!”


The monk looked up at the mighty warrior and replied with utter disdain,
"Teach you about heaven and hell? I couldn't teach you about anything. You're dumb. You're dirty. You're a disgrace, an embarrassment to the samurai class. Get out of my sight. I can't stand you.”

The samurai got furious. He shook, red in the face, speechless with rage. He pulled out his sword, and prepared to slay the monk.

Looking straight into the samurai's eyes, the monk said softly,
"That's hell.”

The samurai froze, realizing the compassion of the monk who had risked his life to show him hell! He put down his sword and fell to his knees, filled with gratitude.

The monk said softly,
"And that's heaven.

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"Heaven and Hell" — Zen Wisdom

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—-SKETCH: http://cheeseburgerbuddha.blogspot.com/2011/02/last-samurai.html


The old monk sat by the side of the road, with his eyes closed, his legs crossed and his hands folded in his lap in deep meditation.
Suddenly his tranquility was interrupted by the harsh and demanding voice of a samurai warrior standing before him. “Old man! Teach me about heaven and hell!”

At first, as though he had not heard, there was no perceptible response from the monk. But slowly he began to open his eyes, the faintest hint of a smile playing around the corners of his mouth as the samurai stood there, waiting impatiently, growing more and more agitated with each passing moment.

“You wish to know the secrets of heaven and hell?” replied the monk at last. “You who are so unkempt, whose hands and feet are covered with dirt. You whose hair is uncombed, whose breath is foul, whose sword is rusty and neglected. You would ask me of heaven and hell?”

The samurai uttered a vile curse. He drew his sword and raised it high above his head. His face turned crimson and the veins on his neck stood out pulsing wildly as he prepared to sever the monk’s head from his shoulders.

“That,” said the old monk gently, just as the sword began its descent, “is hell.” In that fraction of a second, the samurai was overcome with amazement, awe, compassion and love for this gentle being who had dared risk his very life to give him such a teaching. He stopped his sword in mid-descent and his eyes filled with grateful tears.

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"Tea Master"

2c2

A master of the tea ceremony in old Japan once accidentally slighted a soldier. He quickly apologized, but the rather impetuous soldier demanded that the matter be settled in a sword duel. The tea master, who had no experience with swords, asked the advice of a fellow Zen master who did possess such skill. As he was served by his friend, the Zen swordsman could not help but notice how the tea master performed his art with perfect concentration and tranquility. "Tomorrow," the Zen swordsman said, "when you duel the soldier, hold your weapon above your head, as if ready to strike, and face him with the same concentration and tranquility with which you perform the tea ceremony." The next day, at the appointed time and place for the duel, the tea master followed this advice. The soldier, readying himself to strike, stared for a long time into the fully attentive but calm face of the tea master. Finally, the soldier lowered his sword, apologized for his arrogance, and left without a blow being struck.

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"Self-Control" — Zen Story

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One day there was an earthquake that shook the entire Zen temple. Parts of it even collapsed. Many of the monks were terrified. When the earthquake stopped the teacher said, "Now you have had the opportunity to see how a Zen man behaves in a crisis situation. You may have noticed that I did not panic. I was quite aware of what was happening and what to do. I led you all to the kitchen, the strongest part of the temple. It was a good decision, because you see we have all survived without any injuries. However, despite my self-control and composure, I did feel a little bit tense - which you may have deduced from the fact that I drank a large glass of water, something I never do under ordinary circumstances."One of the monks smiled, but didn't say anything.
"What are you laughing at?" asked the teacher. "That wasn't water," the monk replied, "it was a large glass of soy sauce."
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"RITUAL" — Zen Story

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—Painting — “Blue Cat Painting” by Deb Harvey
When the spiritual teacher and his disciples began their evening meditation, a cat who lived in the monastery made such noise that it distracted them. One day the teacher ordered that the cat be tied up during the evening practice. Years later, when the teacher died, the cat continued to be tied up during the meditation session. And when the cat eventually died, another cat was brought to the monastery and tied up. Centuries later, learned descendants of the spiritual teacher wrote scholarly treatises about the religious significance of tying up a cat for meditation practice.




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"Ego" Unknown

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---Painting —“Alter Ego” by Jamie Adrover


The Prime Minister of the Tang Dynasty was a national hero for his success as both a statesman and military leader. But despite his fame, power, and wealth, he considered himself a humble and devout Buddhist. Often he visited his favorite Zen master to study under him, and they seemed to get along very well. The fact that he was prime minister apparently had no effect on their relationship, which seemed to be simply one of a revered master and respectful student.One day, during his usual visit, the Prime Minister asked the master, "Your Reverence, what is egotism according to Buddhism?"

The master's face turned red, and in a very condescending and insulting tone of voice, he shot back, "What kind of stupid question is that?"
This unexpected response so shocked the Prime Minister that he became sullen and angry. The Zen master then smiled and said, "THIS, Your Excellency, is egotism."


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Can You Hear The Mountain Stream?

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Can You Hear The Mountain Stream?
—Unknown


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 some rice and vegetables. After the meal, the disciple, a young monk who had not yet found the key to the mystery of Life, broke the silence by asking the Master, "Master, how do I enter Life?"
He was, of course, inquiring how to enter the state of consciousness which is Life.
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 Life. Now, as he began to listen for the sound, his noisy mind subsided. At first he heard nothing. Then, his thinking gave way to higher 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 Life from there."
The disciple was stunned. It was his first epiphany - a flash of enlightenment. He knew what Life 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 Life from there."
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Parable — A Man Encountered a Vicious Tiger

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One day, while walking through the wilderness, a man encountered a vicious tiger. He ran for his life, and the tiger gave chase.

The man came to the edge of a cliff, and the tiger was almost upon him. Having no choice, he held on to a vine with both hands and climbed down.

Halfway down the cliff, the man looked up and saw the tiger at the top, baring its fangs. He looked down and saw another tiger at the bottom, waiting for his arrival and roaring at him. He was caught between the two.

Two rats, one white and one black, showed up on the vine above him. As if he didn't have enough to worry about, they started gnawing on the vine.

He knew that as the rats kept gnawing, they would reach a point when the vine would no longer be able to support his weight. It would break and he would fall. He tried to shoo the rats away, but they kept coming back.

At that moment, he noticed a strawberry growing on the face of the cliff, not far away from him. It looked plump and ripe. Holding onto the vine with one hand and reaching out with the other, he plucked it.

With a tiger above, another below, and two rats continuing to gnaw on his vine, the man tasted the strawberry and found it absolutely delicious.
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"The Monk and the Spider"

Spider_Monk__Weavers_All_by_EarthHart

Once upon a time, there was a monk who had trouble meditating. Whenever he tried going into meditation, a giant spider would appear. No matter what he did, he could not get rid of it.

At his wit's end, the monk sought help from his master. The master instructed him to prepare a brush at his side for the next attempt. When the spider appeared again, he was to use the brush to draw a circle on it.

The monk followed these instructions and attempted meditation. Sure enough, the giant spider came back. The monk followed the plan and drew a circle on the monster. As soon as he did so, the spider disappeared, and he was able to resume meditation in peace.
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"Not Ready to Be a True Teacher — Unknown

zen-monk-meditation1
"Kasan, a Zen teacher and monk, was to officiate at a funeral of a famous nobleman.

As he stood there waiting for the governor of the province and other lords and ladies to arrive, he noticed that the palms of his hands were sweaty.

The next day he called his disciples together and confessed he was not yet ready to be a true teacher. He explained to them that he still lacked the sameness of bearing before all human beings, whether beggar or king. He was still unable to look through social roles and conceptual identities and see the sameness of being in every human. He then left and became the pupil of another master. He returned to his former disciples eight years later, enlightened."
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"I CHOP WOOD"

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When the Zen master attained enlightenment
he wrote the following lines to celebrate it:

"Oh wondrous marvel:
I chop wood!
I draw water from the well!”

After enlightenment nothing really changes. The tree is still a tree; people are just what they were before and so are you. You may continue to be as moody or even-tempered, as wise or foolish. The one difference is that you see things with a different eye. You are more detached from it all now. And your heart is full of wonder.


That is the essence of contemplation: the sense of wonder.
Contemplation is different from ecstasy in that ecstasy leads to withdrawal. The enlightened contemplative continues to chop wood and draw water from the well. Contemplation is different from the perception of beauty in that the perception of beauty (a painting or a sunset) produces aesthetic delight, whereas contemplation produces wonder—no matter what it observes, a sunset or a stone.

This is the prerogative of children. They are so often in a state of wonder. So they easily slip into the Kingdom.

(DeMello, Anthony, The Song of the Bird, p16)



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"PRIDE ANGER AND FEAR ARE THE INNER ENEMIES OF EVERY WARRIOR" — a Zen Story


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A young Japanese archer took great pride in the excellence of his marksmanship with a bow and arrow. Having read a lot of pithy Zen stories and received some basic training on mindfulness, he soon came to the conclusion that he was a true master of archery. So he decided to travel to a remote mountain monastery in order to challenge an old Zen master, who was reputed to have once possessed great skill with a bow and arrow.

After having arrived at this monastery he eventually managed to persuade the old Zen master to compete against him. The old man was reluctant to accept this challenge, as he had not touched his bow in many years. He first had to dust and wax his bow before testing its pliancy, then gently brush the cobwebs away from his quiver and arrows.

The young archer set up a straw target at eighty paces. He drew back the string of his lethal-looking bow, and released an arrow that sped straight into the central eye of the target. Then, notching and shooting a second arrow, he managed to split the shaft of his first arrow along its entire length. With great pride in his prowess he turned to the old man and said, "Now let me see what you can do."

Instead of notching an arrow the old master beckoned the youth to follow him. Leading the way up a steep and narrow path they eventually arrived at the top of a narrow gorge with sheer walls. A long and springy pine trunk bridged the top of this chasm, while far below two hundred feet of vertical cliff faces enclosed the turbulent roar of a mountain river, with sharp rocks protruding above the chaos of its thundering white waters. The old man stepped lightly onto the narrow pine trunk and walked briskly to its middle. He calmly strung his bow, drew an arrow from the quiver behind his shoulder, notched it, and then let it fly straight into the trunk of a tall and distant pine tree.

The young archer felt his heart rise to his throat when he saw how the pine trunk on which the old man stood was bouncing from the momentum of his bowshot. He could hardly even bear to look as he felt the paralyzing spasms of vertigo seizing control of his body. His stomach churned, his ears rang from dizziness, and the dark shadow of oblivion was threatening to eclipse his consciousness. The old man stepped lightly back from the narrow pine bridge and said, "Now let's see what you can do. Can you split my arrow from the middle of the pine bridge, or shall I do it for you?"

By now the young archer was on the verge of feinting, with a complete lack of control over every nerve and muscle in his body. He could not take one step towards that pine bridge, which was still quivering ominously. With trembling hands he grasped the old man's shoulders and pulled him back from the edge of the precipice. Then he fell limply to the ground, his trembling body hunched in a fetus posture, his heart and soul drained of all the strength, courage, pride and certainty that he always believed were his.

When the young archer had regained a bit more control and composure, the old man said to him: "You certainly have great skill with the bow and arrow. But you seem to have very little skill with the mind that controls these weapons. This is a dangerous predicament for an archer, especially when he has to face the reality of war, where violence can arise upon any kind of terrain and under any conditions. Pride, anger and fear are the inner enemies of every warrior. I have trained many young archers, and those who were afflicted with pride always tended to end up making me their target. When their arrow hit the mark they would always praise their own skill, but when the arrow went amiss they always blamed the straightness of the arrow."

The young man remained at the monastery for the rest of his days, though he no longer thought of himself as an archer or a master. In the course of time the old Zen master died and the younger man became his successor. Two unstrung bows and quivers of arrows still stand against the back wall of the monastery's storeroom, where the dust and cobwebs of many years have settled thickly upon them.


SOURCE:
http://www.tibetanart.com/Blog/Post.asp?ID=73
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Finding a Piece of the Truth — Parable

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One day Mara, the Evil One, was travelling through the villages of India with his attendants. He saw a man doing walking meditation whose face was lit up on wonder. The man had just discovered something on the ground in front of him. Mara’s attendant asked what that was and Mara replied, “A piece of truth.”

“Doesn’t this bother you when someone finds a piece of truth, O Evil One?” his attendant asked.
“No,” Mara replied. “Right after this, they usually make a belief out of it.”
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"Maybe" — a Zen Parable

Farmer - C
Once upon the time there was an old farmer who, for many many years, worked on his farm. One day it happened that his only horse ran away from him. When his neighbors heard the news, they immediately came to visit the farmer and called out:
“Such bad luck!”.
“Maybe,” the old farmer replied.

Not long, the horse returned again. Not only that, it even brought three other wild horses along.
“What a luck!” his neighbors exclaimed.
“Maybe” was the farmers response.

After a while the farmers son tried to ride one of the wild horses. He was thrown by the untamed horse and broke his leg. Again his neighbors came and started to spread the word about his misfortune.
“Maybe” was his answer again.

The day after that, some military officials visited the village to draft young and strong men into the army. But since his son’s leg was broken, the officials passed him by. The neighbors were surprised how nicely things had turned out and congratulated the farmer.
“Maybe” was all he said.
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An Old Buddhist Story

800px-Yamazaki_Ansai
An Old Buddhist Story

In ancient times there was a small village with a monastery nearby. One day, samurai warriors arrived and sacked the whole village. They took all the valuables, burned the homes, and killed all the people they met. Finally, they came to a monastery, and out in front of this monastery was an old Zen master. He is just sitting in the garden when a young samurai warrior comes up to him. The samurai pulls out his sword, holds it up over his head and says, “Old man, don’t you know that I have the power to kill you? I could lop off your head right now without even thinking of it.”

And the old man just looks up at him and replies, “Don’t you know that I could allow you to cut off my head right now without thinking of it?”

Now, at this the warrior drops his sword to his side for a moment. He’s never met someone who had no fear of his own death, and so this old man intrigues him. And the old man says, “Oh, look at how weak you are.” So once again the samurai lifts the sword over his head, and the old Zen master looks up at him and says, “That’s hell.” These words strike the samurai, and again he drops his sword; and the old man says, “And that’s heaven.” With that, the warrior bowed to the old Zen master and left him in peace.


SOURCE:
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"Coming to Life" - Zen Koan

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There’s a man way high up in a tree and he’s hanging from a branch by his teeth.
Holding on to the branch by his teeth. And of course if he lets go he’ll fall to his death,
and so he’s in quite a predicament, and his hands are tied behind him so he can’t
reach up and grab the branch. And so just imagine there you are, holding onto a
branch way high up in a tree by your teeth, and you’re weakening and you can
feel your impending death coming because you’re just about to have to let go of
this branch. And just about that time some little Zen master walks in, walks in the scene,
looks up at you and says ‘Say the one true thing that can save your life.’
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"Is That So?" — Japanese Zen teacher Muju

—Japanese Zen teacher Muju

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbours as one living a pure life.
A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child.
This made her parents angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.

In great anger the parent went to the master. "Is that so?" was all he would say.
After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbours and everything else he needed.

A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth - the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fishmarket.
The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back.

Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: "Is that so?"


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"More Precious Than a Gem" — Unknown

wisewoman
“Wise Woman” by Kristen Schwartz


-“A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime.

--But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. "I've been thinking," he said, "I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone." 
~Author Unknown
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BODHI-TREE —Author Unknown

empty-bowl-jeff-levitch
“Empty Bowl” by Jeff Levitch

BODHIDHARMA left his robe and bowl to his chosen successor; and each patriarch thereafter handed it down to the monk that, in his wisdom, he had chosen as the next successor. Gunin was the fifth such Zen patriarch. One day he announced that his successor would be he who wrote the best verse expressing the truth of their sect. The learned chief monk of Gunin's monastery thereupon took brush and ink, and wrote in elegant characters:

The body is a Bodhi-tree
The soul a shining mirror:
Polish it with study
Or dust will dull the image.


No other monk dared compete with the chief monk. But at twilight Yeno, a lowly disciple who had been working in the kitchen, passed through the hall where the poem was hanging. Having read it, he picked up a brush that was lying nearby, and below the other poem he wrote in his crude hand:

Bodhi is not a tree;
There is no shining mirror.
Since All begins with Nothing
Where can dust collect?


Later that night Gunin, the fifth patriarch, called Yeno to his room. "I have read your poem," said he, "and have chosen you as my successor. Here: take my robe and my bowl. But our chief monk and the others will be jealous of you and may do you harm. Therefore I want you to leave the monastery tonight, while the others are asleep."

In the morning the chief monk learned the news, and immediately rushed out, following the path Yeno had taken. At midday he overtook him, and without a word tried to pull the robe and bowl out of Yeno's hands.

Yeno put down the robe and the bowl on a rock by the path. "These are only things which are symbols," he said to the monk. "If you want the things so much, please take them."

The monk eagerly reached down and seized the objects. But he could not budge them. They had become heavy as a mountain.

"Forgive me," he said at last, "I really want the teaching, not the things. Will you teach me?"

Yeno replied, "Stop thinking this is mine and stop thinking this is not mine. Then tell me, where are you? Tell me also: what did your face look like, before your parents were born?"



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"Can You Hear The Mountain Stream?" —Unknown

alberta_falls
http://www.haikutimes.com/pen_colorado.html


  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 some rice and vegetables. After the meal, the disciple, a young monk who had not yet found the key to the mystery of Life, broke the silence by asking the Master, "Master, how do I enter Life (inner-freedom)?"

He was, of course, inquiring how to enter the state of consciousness which is Life.

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 Life. Now, as he began to listen for the sound, his noisy mind subsided. At first he heard nothing. Then, his thinking gave way to higher 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 Life from there."

The disciple was stunned. It was his first epiphany - a flash of enlightenment. He knew what Life 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 Life from there."


FROM:
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose
by Eckhart Tolle




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