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Thread: 11 Zen Stories

  1. #1
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    11 Zen Stories

    I particularly like #1 and 8, although I will admit I don't understand the point to some of them they were quite amusing/interesting.

    1. A Cup of Tea

    Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

    Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

    The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!"

    "Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"


    2. The Burden

    Two monks were returning to the monastery in the evening. It had rained and there were puddles of water on the road sides. At one place a beautiful young woman was standing unable to walk accross because of a puddle of water. The elder of the two monks went up to a her lifted her in his alms and left her on the other side of the road, and continued his way to the monastery.

    In the evening the younger monk came to the elder monk and said, "Sir, as monks, we cannot touch a woman ?"

    The elder monk answered "yes, brother".

    Then the younger monk asks again, "but then Sir, how is that you lifted that woman on the roadside ?"

    The elder monk smiled at him and told him " I left her on the other side of the road, but you are still carrying her."

    3. Finding a Piece of the Truth

    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."

    4. The Other Side

    One day a young Buddhist on his journey home came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier. Just as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river. The young Buddhist yells over to the teacher, "Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river"?

    The teacher ponders for a moment looks up and down the river and yells back, "My son, you are on the other side".


    5. Is That So?

    The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors 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 very angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.

    In great anger the parents 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 neighbors and everything else the little one needed.

    A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth - that 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 his forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back again.

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


    6. Maybe

    Once upon a time a peasant had a horse. This horse ran away,so the peasant’s neighbours came to console him for his bad luck. He answered: "Maybe".

    The day after the horse came back, leading 6 wild horses with it. The neighbours came to congratulate him on such good luck. The peasant said: "Maybe".

    The day after, his son tried to saddle and ride on one of the wild horses, but he fell down and broke his leg. Once again the neighbours came to share that misfortune. The peasant said: "Maybe".

    The day after, soldiers came to conscript the youth of the village, but the peasant’s son was not chosen because of his broken leg. When the neighbours came to congratulate, the peasant said again: "Maybe".

    7. Cliffhanger

    One day while walking through the wilderness a man stumbled upon a vicious tiger. He ran but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Desperate to save himself, he climbed down a vine and dangled over the fatal precipice.

    As he hung there, two mice appeared from a hole in the cliff and began gnawing on the vine.

    Suddenly, he noticed on the vine a plump wild strawberry. He plucked it and popped it in his mouth. It was incredibly delicious!

    8. The Blind Men and the Elephant

    Several citizens ran into a hot argument about God and different religions, and each one could not agree to a common answer. So they came to the Lord Buddha to find out what exactly God looks like.

    The Buddha asked his disciples to get a large magnificent elephant and four blind men. He then brought the four blind to the elephant and told them to find out what the elephant would "look" like.

    The first blind men touched the elephant leg and reported that it "looked" like a pillar. The second blind man touched the elephant tummy and said that an elephant was a wall. The third blind man touched the elephant ear and said that it was a piece of cloth. The fourth blind man hold on to the tail and described the elephant as a piece of rope. And all of them ran into a hot argument about the "appearance" of an elephant.

    The Buddha asked the citizens: "Each blind man had touched the elephant but each of them gives a different description of the animal. Which answer is right?"

    9. Right and Wrong

    When Bankei held his seclusion-weeks of meditation, pupils from many parts of Japan came to attend. During one of these gatherings a pupil was caught stealing. The matter was reported to Bankei with the request that the culprit be expelled. Bankei ignored the case.

    Later the pupil was caught in a similar act, and again Bankei disregarded the matter. This angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would leave in a body.

    When Bankei had read the petition he called everyone before him. "You are wise brothers," he told them. "You know what is right and what is not right. You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor brother does not even know right from wrong. Who will teach him if I do not? I am going to keep him here even if all the rest of you leave."

    A torrent of tears cleansed the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished.


    10. Nothing Exists

    Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku.

    Desiring to show his attainment, he said: "The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is emptiness. There is no realization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received."

    Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry.

    "If nothing exists," inquired Dokuon, "where did this anger come from?"

    11. Teaching the Ultimate

    In early times in Japan, bamboo-and-paper lanterns were used with candles inside. A blind man, visiting a friend one night, was offered a lantern to carry home with him.

    "I do not need a lantern," he said. "Darkness or light is all the same to me."

    "I know you do not need a lantern to find your way," his friend replied, "but if you don’t have one, someone else may run into you. So you must take it."

    The blind man started off with the lantern and before he had walked very far someone ran squarely into him. "Look out where you are going!" he exclaimed to the stranger. "Can’t you see this lantern?"

    "Your candle has burned out, brother," replied the stranger.

    Source

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    I will admit that I have little understanding of Eastern philosophy and religion. Not for want of trying, of course, but I have found it an insecure road with many half truths and latent shortfalls in purpose.

    My Father attempted to teach me his beliefs in this and especially I Ching, but I thought it a load of baloney and hogwash.

    My apologies, Ulf, but your Zen quotes have left me with even more derision of the Eastern mind.

    As with all things man tries to convey from his soul, it ultimately becomes lost in translation and sets about marching its core to the front of man's mind where it does not belong nor welcome.

    With that said, I do have one parable which I truly believe to be beautiful.

    Wise Cherokee moral.

    One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
    He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.
    One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
    The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

    The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"
    The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
    Now, I do not know if it is a Cherokee parable, nor does it matter. I thought it very beautiful in today's world climate.
    "The only way to get smarter is to play a smarter opponent."

    _________________

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