Thursday, March 31, 2011

Zen Stories # 31 - Obedience

The master Bankei's talks were attended not only by Zen students but by persons of all ranks and sects. He never quoted sutras nor indulged in scholastic dissertations.

Instead, his words were spoken directly from his heart to the hearts of his listeners. His large audiences angered a priest of the Nichiren sect because the adherents had left to hear about Zen.

The self-centered Nichiren priest came to the temple, determined to debate with Bankei.

"Hey, Zen teacher!" he called out. "Wait a minute. Whoever respects you will obey what you say, but a man like myself does not respect you. Can you make me obey you?"

"Come up beside me and I will show you," said Bankei.

Proudly the priest pushed his way through the crowd to the teacher.

Bankei smiled. "Come over to my left side."

The priest obeyed.

"No," said Bankei, "we may talk better if you are on the right side. Step over here."

The priest proudly stepped over to the right.

"You see," observed Bankei, "you are obeying me and I think you are a very gentle person. Now sit down and listen."

Zen Principle: It does not take too long for a real wise man to put idiots to rest. And for that to happen, he need not tread the tough path of being violent.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Zen Stories # 30 - Wanting God

A hermit was meditating by a river when a young man interrupted him.

"Master, I wish to become your disciple," said the man. "Why?" replied the hermit.

The young man thought for a moment. "Because I want to find God."

The master jumped up, grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, dragged him into the river, and plunged his head under water.

After holding him there for a minute, with him kicking and struggling to free himself, the master finally pulled him up out of the river.

The young man coughed up water and gasped to get his breath. When he eventually quieted down, the master spoke. "Tell me, what did you want most of all when you were under water."

"Air!" answered the man.

"Very well," said the master.

"Go home and come back to me when you want God as much as you just wanted air."

Zen Principle: If you want to find God bad enough, you don't need someone else's help.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Zen Stories # 29 - Conquering Fear

During the civil wars in feudal Japan, an invading army would quickly sweep into a town and take control.

In one particular village, everyone fled just before the army arrived - everyone except the Zen master.

Curious about this old fellow, the general went to the temple to see for himself what kind of man this master was.

When he wasn't treated with the deference and submissiveness to which he was accustomed, the general burst into anger.

"You fool," he shouted as he reached for his sword, "don't you realize you are standing before a man who could run you through without blinking an eye!"

But despite the threat, the master seemed unmoved.

"And do you realize," the master replied calmly, "that you are standing before a man who can be run through without blinking an eye?"

Zen Principle: Happy are those who do not fear death. They know no fear and therefore cannot be controlled. And it takes a lot more strength and courage to be a non-violent person.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Zen Stories # 28 - Useless Life

A farmer got so old that he couldn't work the fields anymore. So he would spend the day just sitting on the porch.

His son, still working the farm, would look up from time to time and see his father sitting there.

"He's of no use any more," the son thought to himself, "he doesn't do anything!".

One day the son got so frustrated by this, that he built a wood coffin, dragged it over to the porch, and told his father to get in. Without saying anything, the father climbed inside.

After closing the lid, the son dragged the coffin to the edge of the farm where there was a high cliff. As he approached the drop, he heard a light tapping on the lid from inside the coffin.

He opened it up. Still lying there peacefully, the father looked up at his son. "I know you are going to throw me over the cliff, but before you do, may I suggest something?"

"What is it?" replied the son.

"Throw me over the cliff, if you like," said the father, "but save this good wood coffin. Your children might need to use it."

Zen Principle: What goes around, comes around. The wise man always wins in the end, even in the worst of circumstances.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Zen Stories # 27 - Self Control

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."

It is history that the roles of the monk and teacher were immediately reversed.

Zen Principle: You do not derive power from your position, it should rather emanate from yourself and flow to the position you occupy.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Zen Stories # 26 - Practice makes perfect

A dramatic ballad singer studied under a strict teacher who insisted that he rehearse day after day, month after month the same passage from the same song, without being permitted to go any further.

Finally, overwhelmed by frustration and despair, the young man ran off to find another profession.

One night, stopping at an inn, he stumbled upon a recitation contest.

Having nothing to lose, he entered the competition and, of course, sang the one passage that he knew so well.

When he had finished, the sponsor of the contest highly praised his performance.

Despite the student's embarrassed objections, the sponsor refused to believe that he had just heard a beginner perform.

"Tell me," the sponsor said, "who is your instructor? He must be a great master."

The student later became known as the great performer Koshiji.

Zen Principle: To really master something, it has to become part of you. Hard work will always pay off sometime in the future.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Zen Stories # 25 - Nature's Beauty

A priest was in charge of the garden within a famous Zen temple. He had been given the job because he loved the flowers, shrubs, and trees.

Next to the temple there was another, smaller temple where there lived a very old Zen master.

One day, when the priest was expecting some special guests, he took extra care in tending to the garden. He pulled the weeds, trimmed the shrubs, combed the moss, and spent a long time meticulously raking up and carefully arranging all the dry autumn leaves.

As he worked, the old master watched him with interest from across the wall that separated the temples. When he had finished, the priest stood back to admire his work.

"Isn't it beautiful," he called out to the old master. "Yes," replied the old man, "but there is something missing. Help me over this wall and I'll put it right for you."

After hesitating, the priest lifted the old fellow over and set him down. Slowly, the master walked to the tree near the center of the garden, grabbed it by the trunk, and shook it.

Leaves showered down all over the garden. "There," said the old man, "you can put me back now."

Zen Principle: Nature is more perfect than anything man can create. To disrupt that beauty for the sake of making something beautiful is an absurdity.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Zen Stories # 24 - Obsessed

Two traveling monks reached a river where they met a young woman.

Wary of the current, she asked if they could carry her across.

One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up onto his shoulders, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other bank.

She thanked him and departed.

As the monks continued on their way, the one was brooding and preoccupied.

Unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. "Brother, our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women, but you picked that one up on your shoulders and carried her!"

"Brother," the second monk replied, "I set her down on the other side, while you are still carrying her."

Zen Principle: If you are clearly in control of your mind, nothing that meets you in the way can obstruct your progress.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Zen Stories # 23 - The Gates of Paradise

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.

Zen Principle: It is not that being brave and aggressive alone would lead to success. It is the surrender that shall lead you to the path of bliss.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Zen Stories # 22 - The subjugation of a ghost

A young wife fell sick and was about to die. "I love you so much," she told her husband, "I do not want to leave you. Do not go from me to any other woman. If you do, I will return as a ghost and cause you endless trouble."

Soon the wife passed away. The husband respected her last wish for the first three months, but then he met another woman and fell in love with her. They became engaged to be married.

Immediately after the engagement a ghost appeared every night to the man, blaming him for not keeping his promise. The ghost was clever too.

She told him exactly what has transpired between himself and his new sweetheart. Whenever he gave his fiancee a present, the ghost would describe it in detail. She would even repeat conversations, and it so annoyed the man that he could not sleep.

Someone advised him to take his problem to a Zen master who lived close to the village. At length, in despair, the poor man went to him for help.

"Your former wife became a ghost and knows everything you do," commented the master.

"Whatever you do or say, whatever you give you beloved, she knows. She must be a very wise ghost. Really you should admire such a ghost. The next time she appears, bargain with her. Tell her that she knows so much you can hide nothing from her, and that if she will answer you one question, you promise to break your engagement and remain single."

"What is the question I must ask her?" inquired the man.

The master replied: "Take a large handful of soy beans and ask her exactly how many beans you hold in your hand. If she cannot tell you, you will know she is only a figment of your imagination and will trouble you no longer."

The next night, when the ghost appeared the man flattered her and told her that she knew everything.

"Indeed," replied the ghost, "and I know you went to see that Zen master today."

"And since you know so much," demanded the man, "tell me how many beans I hold in this hand!"

There was no longer any ghost to answer the question.

Zen Principle: Sometimes, it is the mind which creates magic and makes us think about multiple, non-existent things around us. Once the mind is arrested from its wilful wandering ways, everything shall come to rest.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Zen Stories # 21 - May be

There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years.

One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit.

"Such bad luck," they said sympathetically.

"May be," the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses.

"How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed.

"May be," replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg.

The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

"May be," answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by.

The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

"May be," said the farmer.

Zen Principle: Life is a mystery. Don't take it for granted. Accept it, and try to enjoy the ride.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Zen Stories # 20 - Is that so?

A beautiful girl in the village was pregnant. Her angry parents demanded to know who was the father.

At first resistant to confess, the anxious and embarrassed girl finally pointed to Hakuin, the Zen master whom everyone previously revered for living such a pure life.

When the outraged parents confronted Hakuin with their daughter's accusation, he simply replied "Is that so?"

When the child was born, the parents brought it to the Hakuin, who now was viewed as a pariah by the whole village. They demanded that he take care of the child since it was his responsibility.

"Is that so?" Hakuin said calmly as he accepted the child.

For many months he took very good care of the child until the daughter could no longer withstand the lie she had told. She confessed that the real father was a young man in the village whom she had tried to protect.

The parents immediately went to Hakuin to see if he would return the baby. With profuse apologies they explained what had happened.

"Is that so?" Hakuin said as he handed them the child.

Zen Principle: People saying something does not make it true. Knowing yourself is the most important thing.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Zen Stories # 19 - The gift of insults

There once lived a great warrior. Though quite old, he still was able to defeat any challenger. His reputation extended far and wide throughout the land and many students gathered to study under him.

One day an infamous young warrior arrived at the village. He was determined to be the first man to defeat the great master.

Along with his strength, he had an uncanny ability to spot and exploit any weakness in an opponent. He would wait for his opponent to make the first move, thus revealing a weakness, and then would strike with merciless force and lightning speed. No one had ever lasted with him in a match beyond the first move.

Much against the advice of his concerned students, the old master gladly accepted the young warrior's challenge.

As the two squared off for battle, the young warrior began to hurl insults at the old master. He threw dirt and spit in his face. For hours he verbally assaulted him with every curse and insult known to mankind. But the old warrior merely stood there motionless and calm. Finally, the young warrior exhausted himself.

Knowing he was defeated, he left feeling shamed.

Somewhat disappointed that he did not fight the insolent youth, the students gathered around the old master and questioned him. "How could you endure such an indignity? How did you drive him away?"

"If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it," the master replied, "to whom does the gift belong?"

Zen Principle: Reacting to insulting behavior only serves to give the insulting party exactly what they want. By not responding to them in the way they want, you deny them the victory.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Zen Stories # 18 - Midnight excursion

Many pupils were studying meditation under the Zen master Sengai.

One of them used to arise at night, climb over the temple wall, and go to town on a pleasure jaunt.

Sengai, inspecting the dormitory quarters, found this pupil missing one night and also discovered the high stool he had used to scale the wall.

Sengai removed the stool and stood there in its place.

When the wanderer returned, not knowing that Sengai was the stool, he put his feet on the master's head and jumped down into the grounds.

Discovering what he had done, he was aghast.

Sengai said: "It is very chilly in the early morning. Do be careful not to catch cold yourself."

The pupil never went out at night again.

Zen Principle: Sometimes, the teaching may require to be done in a completely different way. If it is handled appropriately, any student can be turned wise.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Zen Stories # 17 - Zen dialogue

Zen teachers train their young pupils to express themselves. Two Zen temples each had a child protégé. One child, going to obtain vegetables each morning, would meet the other on the way.

"Where are you going?" asked the one.

"I am going wherever my feet go," the other responded.

This reply puzzled the first child who went to his teacher for help. "Tomorrow morning," the teacher told him, "when you meet that little fellow, ask him the same question. He will give you the same answer, and then you ask him: 'Suppose you have no feet, then where are you going?' That will fix him."

The children met again the following morning.

"Where are you going?" asked the first child.

"I am going wherever the wind blows," answered the other.

This again nonplussed the youngster, who took his defeat to his teacher.

"Ask him where he is going if there is no wind," suggested the teacher.

The next day the children met a third time.

"Where are you going?" asked the first child.

"I am going to the market to buy vegetables," the other replied.

Zen Principle: You can never train someone for every possible incident or event. Only way to train is to build complete character and unbridled wisdom, which will handle every situation automatically.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Zen Stories # 16 - No work, no food

Hyakujo, the Chinese Zen master, used to labor with his pupils even at the age of eighty, trimming the gardens, cleaning the grounds, and pruning the trees.

The pupils felt sorry to see the old teacher working so hard, but they knew he would not listen to their advice to stop, so they hid away his tools.

That day the master did not eat. The next day he did not eat, nor the next.

"He may be angry because we have hidden his tools," the pupils surmised. "We had better put them back."

The day they did, the teacher worked and ate the same as before.

In the evening he instructed them: "No work, no food."

Zen Principle: Every action around us is triggered by another action or reason. Nothing remains constant, and constant action is the way of nature.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Zen Stories # 15 - 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?"

Zen Principle: It is quite easy to talk philosophy having read from the books. But to really experience it and practice is a completely different game. It has to be earned.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Zen Stories # 14 - The vow of silence

The pupils of the Tendai school used to study meditation before Zen entered Japan.

Four of them who were intimate friends promised one another to observe seven days of silence.

On the first day all were silent. Their meditation had begun auspiciously, but when night came and the oil lamps were growing dim one of the pupils could not help exclaiming to a servant: "Fix those lamps."

The second pupil was surprised to hear the first one talk.

"We are not supposed to say a word," he remarked.

"You two are stupid. Why did you talk?" asked the third.

"I am the only one who has not talked," concluded the fourth pupil.

Zen Principle: It is easier to make a promise, but it is much more easier to break it. You must thoroughly think through all views before taking a resolution.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Zen Stories # 13 - It will pass

A student went to his meditation teacher and said:

"My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted, or my legs ache, or I'm constantly falling asleep.

It's just horrible!"

"It will pass," the teacher said matter-of-factly.

A week later, the student came back to his teacher.

"My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It's just wonderful!'

"It will pass," the teacher replied matter-of-factly.

Zen principle: Everything is transitory. Change is the only constant.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Zen Stories # 12 - Rewarding the thief

A Zen Master lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain.

One evening, while he was away, a thief sneaked into the hut.

The thief, to his amusement, could only find that there was nothing in it to steal.

The Zen Master returned and found him.

"You 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, but he took the clothes and ran away.

The Master sat naked, watching the moon.

"Poor fellow," he mused, " I wish I could give him this beautiful moon."

Zen Principle: If you have taken up simplicity as life-time goal and practice the same, you would not have any suffering in life, and everything in your life will go around smoothly, with no enmity or pain.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Zen Stories # 11 - Eating the Blame

Circumstances arose one day which delayed preperation of the dinner of a Soto Zen master, Fukai, and his followers.

In haste the cook went to the garden with his curved knife and cut off the tops of green vegetables, chopped them together and made soup, unaware that in his haste he had included a part of a snake in the vegetables.

The followers of Fugai thought they never tasted such good soup.

But when the master himself found the snake’s head in his bowl, he summoned the cook.

“What is this?” he demanded, holding up the head of the snake.

“Oh, thank you, master,” replied the cook, taking the morsel and eating it quickly.

Zen Principle: If you have unintentionally made a mistake and it has caused a blame, you must be ready at all times to eat up the blame (the negative outcome of your mistake).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Zen Stories # 10 - Concentration

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.”

Zen Principle: More than the acquisition of the skills, mastery of the mind is more important.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Zen Stories # 9 - Three kinds of disciples

A Zen master named Gettan lived in the latter part of the Tokugawa era.

He used to say that there are three kinds of disciples:

  • those who impart Zen to others
  • those who maintain the temples and shrines and
  • then there are the rice bags and the clothes-hangers.

Gasan expressed the same idea.

When he was studying under Tekisui, his teacher was very severe.

Sometimes he even beat him. Other pupils would not stand this kind of teaching and quit.

Gasan remained, saying:

  • A poor disciple utilizes a teacher's influence.
  • A fair disciple admires a teacher's kindness.
  • A good disciple grows strong under a teacher's discipline.

Zen Principle: Even under the same teacher, different kind of disciples get only what they are worthy of. So, it is important to cultivate the strong urge and desire to gain complete wisdom.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Zen Stories # 8 - Full Awareness

After ten years of apprenticeship, Tenno achieved the rank of Zen teacher.

One rainy day, he went to visit the famous master Nan-in.

When he walked in, the master greeted him with a question, “Did you leave your wooden clogs and umbrella on the porch?”

“Yes,” Tenno replied.

“Tell me,” the master continued, “did you place your umbrella to the left of your shoes, or to the right?”

Tenno did not know the answer, and realized that he had not yet attained full awareness.

So he became Nan-in’s apprentice and studied under him for ten more years.

Zen principle: Zen is all about the state of being always aware and complete wisdom. The same thing that is talked about in Hinduism as state of Always-awake-consciousness.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Zen Stories # 7 - True realization

Jiun, a Shingon master, was a well-known Sanskrit scholar of the Tokugawa era.

When he was young he used to deliver lectures to his brother students.

His mother heard about this and wrote him a letter:

“Son, I do not think you became a devotee of the Buddha because you desire to turn into a walking dictionary for others.

There is no end to information and commentation, glory and honour.

I wish you would stop this lecture business.

Shut yourself up in a little temple in a remote part of the mountain.

Devote your time to meditation and in this way attain true realization.”

Jiun followed the advice seriously and won over life.

Zen principle: Success, Honor and Pride can easily misdirect anyone from their pursuit of true bliss or happiness.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Zen Stories # 6 - The real miracle

When Bankei was preaching at Ryumon temple, a Shinshu priest, who believed in salvation through repetition of the name of the Buddha of Love, was jealous of his large audience and wanted to debate with him.

Bankei was in the midst of a talk when the priest appeared, but the fellow made such a disturbance that Bankei stopped his discourse and asked about the noise.

"The founder of our sect," boasted the priest, "had such miraculous powers that he held a brush in his hand on one bank of the river, his attendant held up a paper on the other bank, and the teacher wrote the holy name of Amida through the air. Can you do such a wonderful thing?"

Bankei replied lightly: "Perhaps your fox can perform that trick, but that is not the manner of Zen. My miracle is that when I feel hungry I eat, and when I feel thirsty I drink."

Zen principle: Every thing that moves around is a creation of the mind, and if we firmly have our feet on the ground, we will see that every moment we live life itself is a miracle of nature. The way our organs work, the way we breathe without any sound, the way the earth spins without we spinning - all are perfect examples of miracles at work.

We do not realize the miracles already around us, and instead, are searching for new miracles - which are transient in nature. Learn to identify the temporary from the permanent ones, and focus on gaining wisdom for life.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Zen Stories # 5 - More is not enough

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.

Zen principle: It is in the human nature to never be satisfied with whatever we get. Once we understand that more is not enough, we will stop running around material things, and realize what we are born for.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Zen Stories # 4 - The nature of things

Two monks were washing their bowls in the river when they noticed a scorpion that was drowning.

One monk immediately scooped it up and set it upon the bank.

In the process he was stung by the scorpion.

He went back to washing his bowl and again the scorpion fell in.

The monk saved the scorpion and was again stung.

The other monk asked him, "Friend, why do you continue to save the scorpion when you know it's nature is to sting?"

"Because," the monk replied, "to sting is the scorpion's nature, but to save it is my nature."

Zen principle: Whatever happens around you, never lose your own nature and character.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Zen Stories # 3 - The Holy Man

Once upon a time, in a countryside, word spread across about the wise Holy Man who lived in a small house atop the mountain.

A man from the village decided to make the long and difficult journey to visit him.

When he arrived at the house, he saw an old servant inside who greeted him at the door.

"I would like to see the wise Holy Man," he said to the servant.

The servant smiled and led him inside.

As they walked through the house, the man from the village looked eagerly around the house, anticipating his encounter with the Holy Man.

Before he knew it, he had been led to the back door and escorted outside.

He stopped and turned to the servant, "But I want to see the Holy Man!"

"You already have," said the old man.

"Everyone you may meet in life, even if they appear plain and insignificant... see each of them as a wise Holy Man. If you do this, then whatever problem you brought here today will be solved."

Zen principle: If you feel love and respect for all people that you meet, you will receive inward peace automatically.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Zen Stories # 2 - Just two words

There once was a monastery that was very strict. Following a vow of silence, no one was allowed to speak at all. But there was one exception to this rule.

Every ten years, the monks were permitted to speak just two words.

After spending his first ten years at the monastery, one monk went to the head monk. "It has been ten years," said the head monk. "What are the two words you would like to speak?"

"Bed... hard..." said the monk.

"I see," replied the head monk.

Ten years later, the monk returned to the head monk's office. "It has been ten more years," said the head monk. "What are the two words you would like to speak?"

"Food... stinks..." said the monk.

"I see," replied the head monk.

Yet another ten years passed and the monk once again met with the head monk who asked, "What are your two words now, after these ten years?"

"I... quit!" said the monk.

"Well, I can see why," replied the head monk. "All you ever do is complain."

Zen principle: If you want to really improve upon something, just act, and not complain.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Zen Stories # 1 - Learning the Hard Way

The month of March, as everyone in India are about to be worried about their tax, and many companies release their Bonus, I thought it would be wise to start knowing the Zen Philosophy through some short Zen Stories, as it fundamentally gets you to stay firmly on the ground, and not get carried away.

Zen philosophy is originally drawn from our own Indian Vedic Philosophy of dhyaan (meditative state) - which went to China as Chan, and finally got translated to Japan as Zen. It fundamentally helps one understand about the transient nature of material things, and how to really derive wisdom, rather than just from bookish knowledge.

Zen emphasizes experiential Wisdom in the attainment of enlightenment. As such, it de-emphasizes theoretical knowledge in favor of direct realization through meditation and dharma practice. The teachings of Zen include various sources of Mahāyāna thought, including the Prajñāpāramitā literature and the teachings of the Yogācāra and Tathāgatagarbha schools.

More details on Zen Philosophy can be had from here:


Now on to our first story of this month - Learning the Hard Way

The son of a master thief asked his father to teach him the secrets of the trade.

The old thief agreed and that night took his son to burglarize a large house.

While the family was asleep, he silently led his young apprentice into a room that contained a clothes closet. The father told his son to go into the closet to pick out some clothes. When he did, his father quickly shut the door and locked him in.

Then he went back outside, knocked loudly on the front door, thereby waking the family, and quickly slipped away before anyone saw him.

Hours later, his son returned home, bedraggled and exhausted.

"Father," he cried angrily, "Why did you lock me in that closet? If I hadn't been made desperate by my fear of getting caught, I never would have escaped. It took all my ingenuity to get out!"

The old thief smiled. "Son, you have had your first lesson in the art of burglary."

Zen principle: Learning it the Hard way is the only way, bookish knowledge is of no help.