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Collection of Zen Stories Part 3

Zen Story 81



Zen Story 82



Zen Story 83

Zen is a matter of character,

not a matter of intellect

~ D T Suzuki



Zen Story 84



Zen Story 85

Every Path, Every Street,

is your Walking Meditation Path.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh



Zen Story 86


Many bullies have low self-esteem. They try to compensate for their own lack of self-worth by dominating another. It makes them feel higher when they intimidate someone else.

The Buddha revealed that there are three forms of conceit.

1. Thinking that one is better than someone else.
2. Thinking that one is worse than someone else.
3. Thinking that one is the same as someone else.

The second form of conceit, often unrecognized as a "conceit," is the main cause of bullying. If we could only stop judging each other, then we might stop judging ourselves. As a result, the need to bully, verbally or physically, would be much reduced.

At a reception, a well-dressed guest proudly introduced himself to the host as a doctor.

"I'm a doctor too," said the host warmly. "I'm in general practice."
"Only a GP? I am a brain surgeon," said the guest, raising his nose. "Being a GP is hardly brain surgery!"
"I too am a doctor," said the host's wife. "I work for Medicins Sans Frontieres and have just returned from six months treating injured children in a war-torn region of the Middle East. It was extremely dangerous work, but someone has to help those poor kids."

"It must be difficult doing charity work," replied the self -important guest, holding his nose even higher, "but you must admit, it is hardly as difficult as being a brain surgeon!"

"I am a doctor as well," interrupted the host's son. "I have a PhD in physics, and I work for Nasa building rockets. You must admit, Doctor, brain surgery is hardly rocket - science!"

Then the well-dressed guest's nose fell down, together with his self-satisfaction.

If you find joy thinking that you are better than someone else, then you will find suffering in equal proportions when you meet someone better than you. It is better not to compare yourself at all.



Zen Story 87


"We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away"



Zen Story 88

The Japanese Master Ekido was a severe teacher and his pupils feared him. One day, as one of his pupils was striking the time of day on the temple gong, he missed a beat because he was watching a beautiful girl who was passing the gates. Unknown to the pupil, Ekido was standing behind him. Ekido struck the pupil with his staff, and the shock stopped the heart of the pupil, and he died. Because the old custom of the pupil signing his life over to the master had sunk to a mere formality, Ekido was discredited by the general public. But after this incident, Ekido produced ten enlightened successors, an unusually high number.

[Osho: A Bird On The Wing]



Zen Story 89



Zen Story 90

Not thinking about anything is Zen.
Once you know this, walking, sitting,
or lying down, everything you do is Zen.




Zen Story 91


[In Japanese culture] The tengu, "heavenly-dogs", are considered to be long-nosed goblins or demi-demons; they can also come in a form known as karasu-tengu that is half man and half crow.

One story of a tengu is as follows. Some boys were tormenting a bird and an old man passed by and saved the bird from dying. As he went on his way a mountain hermit came to him and thanked him, declaring that he was the bird he had saved. The traveller knew that instant that he was talking to a tengu. The tengu offered him supernatural powers in reward but the man said he had no need of them and his only wish was to see the original Buddha giving a

sermon. The tengu said he could transport him through time and space and show him such a thing, but that the man must say nothing and remain silent at all times. The man agreed, and the tengu took him to Vulture Mountain back in the time of the Buddha. There he saw hosts of spirits and demons and holy men listening to the Buddha. Unable to control himself, he cried out in reverence and that instant was transported back to his original position and to face a very angry tengu, who had his wings broken as punishment. The tengu scolded the man and was never seen again.

~ The Dark Side of Japan ~

~ Antony Cummins ~



Zen Story 92

One Zen monk, Bokuju, was passing through a street in a village. Somebody came and struck him with a stick. He fell down, and with him, the stick also. He got up and picked up the stick. The man who had hit him was running away. Bokuju ran after him, calling, "Wait, take your stick with you!"

He followed after him and gave him the stick. A crowd had gathered to see what was happening, and somebody asked Bokuju, "That man struck you hard, and you have not said anything!"

Bokuju is reported to have said, "A fact is a fact. He has hit, that’s all. It happened that he was the hitter and I was the hit. It is just as if I am passing under a tree, or sitting under a tree, and a branch falls down. What will I do? What can I do?"

But the crowd said, "But a branch is a branch, this is a man. We cannot say anything to the branch, we cannot punish it. We cannot say to the tree that it is bad, because a tree is a tree, it has no mind."

Bokuju said, "This man to me is also just a branch. And if I cannot say anything to the tree, why should I bother to say anything to this man? It happened. I am not going to interpret what has happened. And it has already happened. Why get worried about it? It is finished, over."

This is the mind of a sage , not choosing, not asking, not saying this should be and this should not be. Whatsoever happens, he accepts it in its totality. This acceptance gives him freedom, this acceptance gives him the capacity to see. These are eye diseases: shoulds, should nots, divisions, judgments, condemnations, appreciations.



Zen Story 93


"There is a Zen story about living in the moment. Two monks were returning home in the evening to their temple. It had been raining and the road was very muddy. They came to an intersection where a beautiful girl was standing, unable to cross the street because of the mud. Just in the moment, the first monk picked her up in his arms and carried her across. The monks then continued on their way. Later that night the second monk, unable to restrain himself any longer, said to the first, “How could you do that?! We monks should not even look at females, much less touch them. Especially young and beautiful ones." “I left the girl there," the first monk said, "are you still carrying her?" As the quality of bare attention develops, noticing what's happening in and around us, we begin to experience and respond to the present with greater spontaneity and freedom."

The Experience of Insight
Goldstein, Joseph



Zen Story 94

A king had come to see a Zen master. The Zen master had a beautiful garden and just in front of the gate, an old man was chopping wood. The king asked him, ”Can I ask, who are you?”

He said, "Who am I? You can see – a woodcutter."

He said, "That's true, that I can see, but I have come to see your master."

He said, "My master? I don’t have any master."

The king thought, this man seems to be mad. But just to complete the conversation he said, "But is this a Zen monastery?"

The man said, "Maybe."

So the king moved ahead. When he reached the house deep inside the forest, he entered the house, and he saw the same woodcutter, wearing the robe of a Zen monk, sitting in a Zen posture, looking really beautiful and graceful. The king looked at his face. He said, "What is going on? Do you have a twin brother?"

He said, "Perhaps."

The king said, "Who is cutting wood in front of the gate?"

He said, "Whoever is cutting wood, he is a woodcutter. What business is it to talk about a woodcutter? I am a master."

The king was very much puzzled, but the master said, "Don't feel puzzled. When I am cutting wood, I am a woodcutter – I don't leave any space for anything else. And when I am a master, I am a master. You have not met two persons, you have met one person who is always total. Next time you may find me fishing in the pond, then you will meet a fisherman. Whatever I do, I am my action – in my totality."

Moment to moment, living life in totality, is my whole teaching. Those who have known life and its mysteries are agreed upon one point: that you should be full of heart, whatever you are doing.

When your action is total and the witness is silently watching it, you will not only find the song of pleasure; you will also find something far greater, which we have been calling blissfulness.

Blissfulness comes with the witness.



Zen Story 95



Zen Story 96



Zen Story 97

Q. What does Zen say about coping with the passing of your wife, or husband?

A. There is a scripture that Buddha said on his deathbed so that he might teach his students how to see death. He said, "Take a close look at me. Those who think that I perish are not my students, but those who think that I don’t perish are not students as well."

In Zen, Buddhism, we see everything as empty. When everything is empty, not only death but also birth is empty. This means that death is not death and birth is not birth. In other words, everything is to Emptiness as winds are to air. Birth is compared to a wind coming into being and death is to the wind stopping. What is certain is that air, the essence of wind, is still where it was, not disappearing, although the wind stops. The disappearance of a wind never means the disappearance of air that is the essence of wind.



Zen Story 98



Zen Story 99

I will tell you one Zen anecdote. Three friends were walking along a road. Evening was just falling and the sun was setting when they become aware of a monk standing on a nearby hill. They started talking about the monk, wondering what he was doing there. One of them said, `He must be waiting for his friends. He must have gone for a walk from his hermitage and his friends are left behind, so he is waiting for them to come.’

The other denied that and said, `This is not right, because if a person waits for someone, sometimes he will look backwards. But he is not looking backwards at all. So my assumption is this — that he is not waiting for anyone. Rather, he must have lost his cow. Evening is coming near, and the sun is setting, and soon it will be dark, so he is looking for his cow. He is standing there on the hilltop, and looking for where the cow is in the forest.’

The third one said, `This cannot be right, because he is standing so silently, not moving at all, and it seems that he is not looking at all; his eyes are closed. He must be in prayer. He is not looking for any lost cow or waiting for some friends who have been left behind.;’

They couldn’t decide. They argued and argued and then they said, `We must go to the top of the hill and ask the man himself what he is doing.’

So they reached the monk. The first one said, `Are you waiting for your friends who are left behind to come?’

The monk opened his eyes and said, `I am not waiting for anyone. And I have neither friends nor enemies to wait for.’ He closed his eyes again.

The other one said, `Then I must be right. Are you looking for your cow which is lost in the forest?’

He said, `No, I am not looking for anyone — for any cow or anyone. I am not interested in anything except myself.’

So the third one said, `Then certainly, definitely, you are doing some prayer or some meditation.’

The monk opened his eyes and said, `I am not doing anything at all. I am just being here. I am just being here, not doing anything at all. I am just being here.’

This is what Buddhists say meditation is. If you do something, it is not meditation — you have moved far away. If you pray, it is not meditation — you have started chattering. If you use some word, it is not prayer, it is not meditation — the mind has entered in. That man said the right thing. He said, `I am just being here, not doing anything.’



Zen Story 100



Zen Story 101



Zen Story 102

After Bankei (Zen Master) had passed away, a blind man who lived near the master's temple told a friend:

"Since I am blind, I cannot watch a person's face, so I must judge his character by the sound of his voice. Ordinarily when I hear someone congratulate another upon his happiness or success, I also hear a secret tone of envy. When condolence is expressed for the misfortune of another, I hear pleasure and satisfaction, as if the one condoling was really glad there was something left to gain in his own world."

"In all my experience, however, Bankei's voice was always sincere. Whenever he expressed happiness, I heard nothing but happiness, and whenever he expressed sorrow, sorrow was all I heard."



Zen Story 103



Zen Story 104


Another story told about this is the story of the woodcutter and the animal, whose name was Satori. There was once a woodcutter working in a clearing in a forest, when he saw a strange animal peeking at him from behind a bush. And, thinking to have this animal for dinner, he rushed at it with his axe. And the animal laughed from the opposite side of the clearing. Because this animal had the power to read thoughts. And therefore, wherever the woodsman intended to go, the animal read his thought first. And so the animal began to talk, and mocked him and said, "You think I'm going to be [in] this place next," because the woodsman naturally thought, "When I see him next, instead of going to where he is, I'll go to the opposite side of the clearing." And so this went on until the woodsman got absolutely furious, and he returned to chopping the wood. And the animal laughed and said, "So you've given up!" And just at that moment, as he whanged the axe against the tree, the head flew off and struck the animal dead. That's the way you have to attain Zen.

~ Alan Watts ~




Zen Part 1 | Zen Part 2 | Zen Part 3 | Zen Part 4

Zen Story 105



Zen Story 106

I remember a friend of mine who went to Yamazaki Roshi, who used to be at Shokoku-ji. He said—when he got in there—he said, "You know, I feel so silly." He said, "I haven't got any questions to ask you. I just feel like laughing." And Yamazaki said, "Good! Let's laugh!" And he broke into a great bellow.

~ Alan Watts ~



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