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Collection of Zen Stories Part 4

Zen Story 107

The other person is merely an empty boat. The anger is within me.

A monk decides to meditate alone, away from his monastery. He takes his boat out to the middle of the lake, moors it there, closes his eyes and begins his meditation.

After a few hours of undisturbed silence, he suddenly feels the bump of another boat colliding with his own. With his eyes still closed, he senses his anger rising, and by the time he opens his eyes, he is ready to scream at the boatman who dared disturb his meditation.

But when he opens his eyes, he sees it’s an empty boat that had probably got untethered and floated to the middle of the lake. At that moment, the monk achieves self-realization, and understands that the anger is within him; it merely needs the bump of an external object to provoke it out of him.

From then on, whenever he comes across someone who irritates him or provokes him to anger, he reminds himself, “The other person is merely an empty boat. The anger is within me.”



Zen Story 108


The disciple, visiting the master, exclaimed, "Wow, wow, wow! This is a beautiful patch of land you live on!"

And the master, looking at the disciple, with a hint of a smile, responded saying, "When you have a beautiful mind everything, and everyone, and everywhere is beautiful."



Zen Story 109


"Observe things as they are and don’t pay attention to other people. There are some people just like mad dogs barking at everything that moves, even barking when the wind stirs among the grass and leaves."

"If you would spend all your time—walking, standing, sitting or lying down—learning to halt the concept-forming activities of your own mind, you could be sure of ultimately attaining the goal."



Zen Story 110

The only Zen you find at the top of the mountain is the Zen you bring with you.



Zen Story 111

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 Story 112



Zen Story 113



Zen Story 114



Zen Story 115



Zen Story 116



Zen Story 117



Zen Story 118


"To see nothing is to perceive the Way, and to understand nothing is to know the Dharma, because seeing is neither seeing nor not seeing and because understanding is neither understanding nor not understanding. Seeing without seeing is true vision. Understanding without understanding is true understanding."




Zen Story 119



Zen Story 120



Zen Story 121



Zen Story 122



Zen Story 123

Paul Beard
INITIAL RESPONSE: The difference between friendship and friendliness is subtle but distinguishable.

REASONING: During our lifetime, we may be on friendly terms with many other human beings because we are, by nature, a sociable and cooperative species. But within that nature, our sociability and co-operation is based on an aspect of it being transactionial. There’s something in it for us. We want to benefit from the relationship. Within this context, friendliness has some dependence on a shared interest, we are mutual acquaintances who are on friendly terms. But friendship is non-transactional, it exists even when both parties do not agree or do not share mutual interests. Friendship is a much deeper level of human connection that is akin to love and as such is rare.

DHARMA PHILOSOPHY: If you ever find yourself saying “we used to be friends” then, in this context, you were never friends in the first place. ----!!!!----


Zen Story 124



Zen Story 125

Three Scholars

Once three scholars on the way to the civil service examination stopped to buy refreshments from a woman who sold pastries by the wayside. One man was calm and quiet, while the other two argued over literature. The woman asked where they were going. The latter two told her they were going to take the civil service examination. She said, “You two scholars won’t pass the exam; that other man will.” The two men swore at her and left.

When the results of the examination turned out as the woman had predicted, the two scholars who had failed went back to find out how she had known they would not pass, while the third man would. They asked her if she knew physiognomy. “No,” she said, “all I know is that when a pastry is thoroughly cooked, it sits there quietly, but before it’s finished it keeps on making noise.”

~ Wu-men ~
~ Book: Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 2, tr. Thomas Cleary ~



Zen Story 126



Zen Story 127



Zen Story 128

-- Sacrilege --

One winter day, a masterless samurai came to Eisai's temple and made an appeal: 'I'm poor and sick,' he said, 'and my family is dying of hunger. Please help us, master.'

Dependent as he was on widows' mites, Eisai's life was very austere, and he had nothing to give.

He was about to send the samurai off when he remembered the image of Yakushi-Buddha in the hall. Going up to it he tore off its halo and gave it to the samurai. 'Sell this,' said Eisai, 'it should tide you over.' The bewildered but desperate samurai took the halo and left.

'Master!' cried one of Eisai's disciples, 'that's sacrilege! How could you do such a thing?'

'Sacrilege? Bah! I have merely put the buddha's mind, which is full of love and mercy, to use, so to speak. Indeed, if he himself had heard that poor samurai he'd have cut off a limb for him.'



Zen Story 129

The master was leaving the main hall when he saw a monk bowing to him.

The master struck him with his stick.

The monk said “But bowing is a good thing!”

The master said, “A good thing is not as good as nothing.”


Liberaration from social constructed habits is essential. Habits are unreal, even the good ones. Acting spontaneously is a reflection of true reality. Cut social roles and their frozen habits.

With his struck Zhaozhou points to liberation. When Buddhist rituals and conventions become routinized, stiff unreal worlds arise. Reality is not “Buddhist”, it is empty and spontaneous. Bowing is not just bowing, bowing only to obey monastic rules is habit. Zen is liberation from mechanical activity and bowing must come from the heart.



Zen Story 130


"It is often thought that the Buddha's doctrine teaches us that suffering will disappear if one has meditated long enough, or if one sees everything differently. It is not that at all. Suffering isn't going to go away; the one who suffers is going to go away."



Zen Story 131



Zen Story 132

Bodhidharma, stone carving in Shaolin Buddhist Vihara, China.



Zen Story 133



Zen Story 134



Zen Story 135



Zen Story 136

"Pluck out
Shakyamuni's nose!
Wrench open
Bodhidharma's eyes!"

~ From 'A Zen Forest: Zen Sayings' ~



Zen Story 137

Enlightenment is when the wave realizes it is the ocean.

Thich Nhat Hanh.



Zen Story 138

One man declared to the emperor of China, Now you have to announce it and recognize me as the greatest archer in China. I am ready for any challenge. And he was absolutely perfect, one hundred percent successful.

But the king said, Have you heard about an old archer who lives deep in the mountains?

He said, I have heard about him, but I am ready to contest.

The king laughed. He said, You should go and meet that old man. If he recognizes you, I will recognize you, because I don’t know archery.... But he is a great archer, perhaps the greatest, so you should go. Bring his recognition, and my recognition is available. But without asking him I cannot do it. It is not a question of a challenge.

So the man had to travel to the high mountains, where he found a very old man whose back was bent, who could not stand straight. He asked, Are you the archer?

The man said, I used to be. But perhaps half a century has passed, and when I became a perfect archer, according to my master, I had to throw away my bows and arrows. You think you are a perfect master; have you come for recognition? The king had sent information to him that he was sending somebody.

The man said, Yes.

The old man said, Then why are you carrying the bow and the arrows?

The man said, Strange... That’s what my mastery is.

The old man laughed. He brought him out of his small cottage to a mountain cliff. The old man was so old, maybe one hundred and forty years old, and the cliff went so deep underneath, thousands of feet into the valley. If you just missed a single step or trembled or hesitated, you were gone. The old man walked to the very edge of the cliff, half his feet hanging off the cliff, half his feet on the cliff.

The young man could not believe his eyes. The old man said, Now you also come. There is enough space here for one more! The young man tried just two steps and sat down, trembling, seeing the situation.

The old man laughed and he said, What kind of archer are you? How many birds can you kill with a single arrow?

The young man said, Of course one bird.

The old man said, You have to learn under a Zen master. It is a sheer wastage of one arrow, just one bird. My master never allowed anybody the certificate unless he was able with one arrow to bring down the whole flock.

The young man said, How many can you bring down?

He said, You say the number.

Just then a flock of birds flew over. The old man just looked, and seven birds fell down.

The young man said, My God!

The old man said, When you can look with totality, your very eyes become arrows. But you are a novice; you could not come to the edge of the cliff. If you are trembling inside, then your archery cannot be perfect. You may manage to hit the targets, but that is not the point. The point is that you have an untrembling total presence. Then your total presence becomes as sharp as any arrow.

The master said, You go back and learn from this point. The target is not the target; you are the target. Become total – and if I am alive, I will visit you after five years to see whether I can give you the recognition. Or if I am gone, my son will come after five years. He is as great an adept as I am, and you will be able to recognize him, because whatever I can do with my eyes, he can also do.

After five years the old man came. These five years the archer tried his best to be total, and he succeeded. The old man asked, Where are your bows and arrows?

He said, It must be two years by now, but it seems like centuries have passed and I have not seen the arrows and the bow. Now I can do what you were able to do.

The old man did not ask for a test, he simply gave the recognition. He said, I can see in your eyes the unwavering totality. I can see in your body the spontaneous relaxedness. You can go to the king and tell him that the old man gives the recognition, and just for your recognition I have come down from the hills.

Zen brings a new valuation into everything. It is not a life-renouncing religion, it is a life-transforming religion. It transforms everything, it negates nothing. But one thing has to be remembered: unconditionality, totality, spontaneity – strange values and they are the authentic values that will give you the alchemy to change your being.

This a beautiful anecdote, and Kyozan is saying, WHEN ONE WINS, ONE WINS UNCONDITIONALLY. There was no desire to win, one was simply playful, enjoying the very art and enjoying the meditativeness and spontaneity. Now whatever happens, that is not the concern.

Ofcourse when two persons will be fighting, one will be defeated, one will be victorious. What does it matter who is victorious and who is defeated? All that matters is whether both are at the same degree of concentration, at the same degree of unconditionality. Whoever is higher in unconditionality – he may be the defeated one, but according to Zen he is at a higher point of consciousness, and that is real victory. The formal victory is another thing.



Zen Story 139

The Chinese emperor Wu came to receive Bodhidharma; his fame had reached before him. But the emperor could not understand the ways of Zen.

The emperor Wu had come from far away, from his capital to the border of China, to receive Bodhidharma. He was shocked at what he saw, because Bodhidharma was carrying one shoe on his head and one shoe was on his foot.

The emperor was a very sophisticated man; he had a great court of very cultured people. This kind of behaviour... but just because of his sophistication and culture he could not say anything about it. He was not yet even introduced. He avoided seeing the shoe sitting on Bodhidharma's head.

The emperor asked because he was the man who had made thousands of Buddha statues in China, had brought one thousand scholars from India to translate in combination with Chinese scholars all the Buddhist scriptures into Chinese. He had done much and converted the whole country into a land of Buddha. Obviously the monks used to say to him, ”You have accumulated too much virtue. All these virtuous acts... immense is going to be your reward in the other world. So he asked Bodhidharma, I have done all these things; what is going to be my reward?

Bodhidharma said, You idiot! You will fall directly into hell. You are asking for a reward? The very idea of reward is of greed. The very idea of achieving something is not a reflection of your wisdom.

The emperor was shocked, his court was shocked but how to get away now? This man is not the right man to bring into the country. Still he asked another question, did not take any note of the insulting language that Bodhidharma had used. He said, Your Holiness... and he could not complete his sentence.

Bodhidharma said, There is nothing holy, nothing unholy. All is empty, just pure nothingness. These divisions of the mind, the sacred and the profane, the holy and the unholy, the saint and the sinner, do not exist as you enter into deeper meditations. All divisions disappear. So don't call me 'your holiness'; I have left behind that kind of childish language of being holy, of being unholy. Be straightforward.

The king said, My mind continuously remains cluttered with thoughts. I have been reading the Buddhist scriptures, and they all say that unless you are thoughtless and yet perfectly aware you will not find the truth.

Bodhidharma said unexpectedly he was a very unexpected man, you could not have predicted his behavior he said, If that is the problem, come early in the morning. I am not entering China, I am going to live outside in this small temple. You can come early in the morning, at three o’clock. But come alone no courtiers, no guards, no arms. Just come alone, and I will put all your thoughts aside from your mind. I will bring silence to your mind.

The emperor was very much afraid. This man seems to be almost insane. The whole night he could not sleep, was hanging between whether to go or not to go, alone and that man is so mad, keeping one shoe on his head, calling me 'idiot,' and he has a big staff and he has told me not to bring any arms. He can do anything: he may hit me, he may throw a rock” – he thought all kinds of things.

But by the time of going he felt a great pull: Whatever he said, however he behaved, he has a tremendous presence and a great magnetic pull. I will risk it.

He went to the temple, and Bodhidharma was waiting for him. Bodhidharma said, It is a very simple matter. You just sit here and I am sitting in front of you. You see my staff if I feel that some thought is stubborn and is not leaving you, I will hit your head. Your work is only to watch your thoughts without any judgment. Just be a witness.

The emperor thought, Perhaps I have taken a wrong step. This man can hit any moment, because my mind is full of thoughts. But let us try, now that I have come. It will look very cowardly to go away. So he sat before Bodhidharma, just watching his thoughts.

The watching of the thoughts implies no judgment, no appreciation, no identification. Just watch as you watch the crowd passing on the road, or you watch the clouds moving in the sky – with no judgment. Your mind is only a screen. A few clouds are moving; you simply watch. You are the watcher, and everything else in the world is the watched.

As the morning sun was rising the whole aura of the emperor changed. Just within two hours there was no thought left. Witnessing is such a fire, the only fire that can bring you to your truth, that can burn all your falsity, all your phoniness. Bodhidharma saw the changing face, a new grace arising. He shook the emperor and asked him, Is there any thought anymore?

The emperor fell at his feet and told him, You certainly did it! I pray you, don’t leave China. All those scholars and monks and priests are simply parrots. They go on talking about witnessing and watching, but you have given me the experience. Without teaching me about witnessing you have simply made me a witness. I don’t need anything anymore.

The moment you find your witness, you have found your ultimate eternal being. That is your purest consciousness. That makes you a buddha, and it is everybody's potential.



Zen Story 140

Bodhidharma was born fourteen centuries ago as a son of a king in the south of India. There was a big empire, the empire of Pallavas. He was the third son of his father, but seeing everything -- he was a man of tremendous intelligence -- he renounced the kingdom. He was not against the world, but he was not ready to waste his time in mundane affairs, in trivia. His whole concern was to know his self-nature, because without knowing it you have to accept death as the end.

Bodhidharma got initiated by a woman who was enlightened. Her name was Pragyatara. She told him to go to China because the people who had reached there before him had made a great impact, although none of them were enlightened.

In China, Bodhidharma sat before a temple wall, facing the wall. He made it a great meditation. He would just simply go on looking at the wall. Now, looking at the wall for a long time, you cannot think. Slowly, slowly, just like the wall, your mind screen also becomes empty.

And there was a second reason. He declared, "Unless somebody who deserves to be my disciple comes, I will not look at the audience."

Nine years passed. People could not find what to do -- what action would satisfy him. They could not figure it out. Then came this young man, Hui Ko. He cut off one of his hands with the sword, and threw the hand before Bodhidharma and said, "This is the beginning. Either you turn, or my head will be falling before you. I am going to cut my head too."

Bodhidharma turned and said, "You are really a man worthy of me. No need to cut the head, we have to use it." This man, Hui Ko, was his first disciple.

Finally when he left China, or intended to leave China, he called his four disciples -- three more he had gathered after Hui Ko. He asked them, "In simple words, in small sentences, telegraphic, tell me the essence of my teachings. I intend to leave tomorrow morning to go back to the Himalayas, and I want to choose from you four, one as my successor."

The first man said, "Your teaching is of going beyond mind, of being absolutely silent, and then everything starts happening of its own accord."

Bodhidharma said, "You are not wrong, but you don't satisfy me. You just have my skin."

The second one said, "To know that I am not, and only existence is, is your fundamental teaching."

Bodhidharma said, "A little better, but not up to my standard. You have my bones; sit down."

And the third one said, "Nothing can be said about it. No word is capable of saying anything about it."

Bodhidharma said, "Good, but you have said already something about it. You have contradicted yourself. Just sit down; you have my marrow."

And the fourth was his first disciple, Hui Ko, who simply fell at Bodhidharma's feet, without saying a word, tears rolling down from his eyes. Bodhidharma said, "You have said it. You are going to be my successor."

Bodhidharma was poisoned by some disciple as a revenge, because he had not been chosen as the successor. So they buried him, and the strangest legend is that after three years he was found by a government official, walking out of China towards the Himalayas with his staff in his hand and one of his sandals hanging from the staff -- and he was barefoot.

The official had known him, had been to him many times, had fallen in love with the man, although he was a little eccentric. He asked, "What is the meaning of this staff, and one sandal hanging from it?" Bodhidharma said, "Soon you will know. If you meet my people just tell them that I'm going into the Himalayas forever."

The official reached immediately, as fast as he could, the monastery on the mountain where Bodhidharma had been living. And there he heard that he had been poisoned and he had died... and there was the tomb. The official had not heard about it, because he was posted on the boundary lines of the empire. He said, "My God, but I have seen him, and I cannot be deceived because I have seen him many times before. He was the same man, those same ferocious eyes, the same fiery and wild outlook, and on top of it, he was carrying on his staff one sandal."

nobody has talked much of the resurrection of Bodhidharma. Perhaps he was only in a coma when they buried him, and then he came to his senses, slipped out of the tomb, left one sandal there and put another sandal on his staff, and according to the plan, he left.

He wanted to die in the eternal snows of the Himalayas. He wanted that there should be no tomb, no temple, no statue of him. He did not want to leave any footprints behind him to be worshiped; those who love him should enter into their own being -- "I am not going to be worshiped." And he disappeared almost in thin air. Nobody heard anything about him -- what happened, where he died. He must be buried in the eternal snows of the Himalayas somewhere.



Zen Story 141



Zen Story 142

Give up the sense that you have rights in life and that Life owes you something.

Live as if life owes you nothing .

Feel the Space that remains.

~ Mooji ~



Zen Story 143

One evening two monks arrived at their hut. For four months they had been away travelling but now, as it was the rainy season, they had returned to their hut. But when they reached their hut, the younger monk who was walking ahead suddenly became angry and sad. The winds of the rains had carried away half of the hut; only half of it was left. They had come back after four months in the hope that they would be able to rest in the hut and be safe from the rain. But now it was difficult. Half of the hut had fallen down and half of its roof had been carried away by the winds.

The young monk said to his old companion, This is too much! These are the things which create doubt about the existence of god. The sinners have palaces in the cities, nothing has happened to them, but the hut of poor people like us, who spend day and night in prayer, is in ruins. I doubt whether god exists! Is this prayer real! Or are we making a mistake? Maybe there is truth in sin – because the palaces of the sinful stand safe and the huts of the people who pray are carried away by the winds.

The young monk was full of anger and condemnation and he felt that all his prayers were futile. But his old companion raised his folded hands towards the sky and tears of joy started flowing from his eyes. The young man was surprised. He said,What are you doing?

The old man said, I am thanking god, because who knows what the winds might have done? They could have blown away the whole hut, but god must have created some obstacles for the wind and in that way saved half our hut for us. God is concerned about us poor people also, so we should thank him. Our prayers have been heard, our prayers have not been futile – otherwise the whole roof might have been blown away.

That night both of them slept – but as you can imagine, both slept in different ways. The one who was full of anger and rage, and who thought that all his prayers were futile, kept on changing his position all night, and all kinds of nightmares and worries were racing around in his mind. He was worried. There were clouds in the sky; it was about to rain. Half of the roof had been blown away by the winds and they could see the sky. Tomorrow the rain would start, then what would happen?

The other slept a very deep sleep. Who else can sleep so peacefully except one whose being is filled with gratitude and thankfulness? He got up in the morning and started dancing, and singing a song. In the song he said, O God! We didn't know that there could be so much bliss in a broken-down hut. If we had known it before, then we would not have even bothered your winds, we ourselves would have taken away half of the roof. I never slept so blissfully. Because half of the roof was not there, I saw the stars and the gathering clouds in your sky whenever I opened my eyes during the night. And now that the rains are about to start it will be even more beautiful because, with half the roof gone, we will be able to hear the music of your rain-drops much more clearly. We have been idiots! We have spent so many rainy seasons sheltering inside the hut. We had no idea what joy it could be to be exposed to the sky and the wind and the rain. If we had realized it we would not have bothered your winds, we ourselves would have got rid of half the roof.

The young man asked, What is this I am hearing? What is all this nonsense? What is this madness? What are you saying?

The old man said, ”I have looked at things deeply and my experience is that whatever makes us more happy, that is the right direction in life for us, and whatever makes us suffer more, that is the wrong direction. I thanked god and my bliss increased. You became angry at god and your anguish increased. You were restless last night, I slept peacefully. Now I am able to sing a song and you are burning with anger. Very early I came to understand that the direction in which life becomes more blissful is the right direction. And I have directed my whole consciousness towards that direction. I don’t know whether god exists or not, I don’t know whether he has heard our prayers or not, but my proof is that I am happy and dancing, and you are crying and angry and worried. My bliss proves that my way of living is right; your anguish proves that the way you are living is wrong.”



Zen Story 144

There is a Tibetan story about Marpa. His Master told him to make a house, alone, with nobody's help. It was difficult to bring the stones and bricks from the village to the monastery. It was four or five miles distant. Marpa carried everything alone; it had to be done. And it was to be a three storey house, the biggest that was possible in Tibet in those days. He worked hard, day and night. Alone he had to do everything. Years passed, the house was ready, and Marpa came back happy. He bowed down to the Master's feet and said, 'The house is ready.' The Master said, 'Now set it on fire.' Marpa went and burned the house.

The whole night and the whole next day the house burned. By the evening there was nothing left. Marpa went, bowed down and said, 'As you ordered, the house has been burned.' The Master looked at him and said, 'Start tomorrow morning again. A new house has to be built.'

And it is said that it happened seven times. Marpa became old, just doing the same thing again and again. He would build the house - and he became very, very efficient, by and by. He started building the house sooner, in less time. Every time the house was ready, the Master would say, 'Burn it!' When the house was burned the seventh time, the Master said, 'Now there is no need.'

This is a parable. It may not have happened, but this is what I am doing to you. The moment you listen to me you start creating a house inside: a structure of theories, a consistent whole, a philosophy to live by, a dogma to follow, a blueprint. The moment I see that the house is ready I start demolishing it. And this I will do seven times, and if it is needed, seventy times. I am waiting for the moment when you will listen and you will not gather words. You will listen, but you will listen to me, not what I say. You will listen to the content, not the container; not the words but the wordless message. By and by, this is going to happen. How long can you carry on building a house knowing well that it is going to be demolished? That's the meaning of all my contradictions.

I want you to be absolutely empty of words. This is the whole purpose of my talking to you. One day you will realize that I am talking and you are not creating a structure. Knowing well that I am going to deny whatsoever I am saying, you don't cling. If you don't cling, if you remain empty, you will be able to listen to me, not to what I say. And it is totally different to listen to the being that I am, to listen to the existence that is happening right now, in this moment.

I am just a window: you can look through me and the beyond opens. Don't look at the window, look through it. Don't look at the frame of the window. All my words are frames: just look through them. Forget the words and the frame... and the beyond, the sky is there.

If you cling to the frame, how, how are you going to take wing? That's why I go on demolishing the words, so that you don't cling to the frame. You have to take wing; you have to go through me, but you have to go away from me. You have to go through me but you have to forget me completely. You have to go through me, but you need not look back.

A vast sky is there. I give you just a taste of that vastness when I contradict. It would have been very much easier for you if I were a consistent man saying the same thing again and again, conditioning you to the same theory again and again. You would be vastly happier, but that happiness would be stupid because then you would never be ready to take wing in the sky.

I won't allow you to cling to the frame; I will go on demolishing the frame. This is how I push you towards the unknown. All words are from the known and all theories are from the known.

The truth is unknown, and the truth cannot be said. And whatsoever can be said cannot be true.



Zen Story 145

Manjushri and Samantabhadra are two of the great disciples of Gautam Buddha, who became enlightened while he was alive. Manjushri used to sit under a tree to meditate, for years. And one day the night was over suddenly, out of season, the tree blossomed and flowers started falling like rain.

The tree -madhukamini- blossoms in the rainy season; it blossoms in thousands of flowers all together, and in the night. And by the morning you will find almost a carpet of flowers underneath it, thousands of flowers of such beautiful fragrance.

Ten thousand disciples of Buddha looked at the tree, looked at Manjushri... could not believe it. It was not the time what happened to the tree? Buddha said, You are seeing only the tree and its flowers. You should look at Manjushri, what has happened to Manjushri. The tree has simply heard it happening to Manjushri. The tree has simply synchronized. If Manjushri can blossom so suddenly, why cannot the tree do the same? Look at Manjushri.

And Manjushri was sitting in silence for seven days continuously, until Buddha himself came to him and told him, Manjushri, seven days have passed. It is time to get up and tell your fellow travelers what has happened in your being. Samantabhadra just became enlightened as he looked when Buddha said, Don't look at the tree, look at Manjushri. Out of ten thousand disciples only one, Samantabhadra, looked into Manjushri and became enlightened himself.

Enlightenment can be a chain effect.



Zen Story 146



Zen Story 147

A Zen master Hakuin lived in a village in Japan. He was very famous, and had great reputation. The whole village worshipped and respected him. Songs were sung all over the village in his honor. But one day everything changed. A young girl in the village became pregnant and gave birth to a child. When her family asked her whose child it was she said it was the child of the young Hakuin.

How long does it take for admirers to become enemies? How long? It does not take even a short while because inside the mind of an admirer condemnation is always hidden. The mind just waits for a chance, and the day admiration ends, condemnation begins. Those people who show respect can change in one minute to being disrespectful. The people who are touching a person's feet can within a moment start cutting the same person's head off. There is no difference between respect and disrespect - they are two faces of the same coin.

The people of the whole village attacked the Hakuin's hut. For a long time they had been showing respect to the Hakuin but now all the anger that they had suppressed came out. Now they had the chance to be disrespectful, so they all ran to the Hakuin's hut and set it on fire and threw the tiny baby at him.

The Hakuin asked, "What is the matter?"

The people shouted, "You are asking us what the matter is? This child is yours! Do we have to tell you what the matter is? Look at your burning house, look within your heart, look at this child and look at this girl. There is no need for us to tell you that this child is yours."

The Hakuin said, "Is it so? Is this child mine?"

The child started crying so he started singing a song to make the child silent, and the people left him sitting by his burnt-out hut. Then he went to beg at his usual time, in the afternoon - but who would give him food today? Today every door he stood in front of was slammed shut. Today a crowd of children and people started walking behind him, teasing him, throwing stones. He reached the house of the girl whose child it was. He said, "I may not get food for myself, but at least give some milk for this child ! I may be at fault, but what is the fault of this poor baby?"

The child was crying, the crowd was standing there - and it became unbearable for the girl. She fell at the feet of her father and said, "Forgive me, I lied when I gave the name of the Hakuin. I wanted to save the real father of the child, so I thought of using the name of this Hakuin. I don't even have any acquaintance with him."

The father became nervous. This was a great mistake. He ran out of his house, fell at the feet of the Hakuin and tried to take the baby from him.

The Hakuin asked, "What is the matter?"

The girl's father said," Forgive me, there has been a mistake. The child is not yours."

The Hakuin replied, "Is this so? Is the child really not mine?"

Then the people of the village said to him, "You are mad! Why didn't you deny it this morning?"

The Hakuin said, "What difference would it have made? The child must belong to somebody. And you had already burnt one hut - you would have just burnt one more. You had enjoyed defaming one person, you would have enjoyed defaming one more. What difference would it make? The child must belong to someone - it could also be mine. So what is the problem? What difference does it make?"

The people said, "Don't you understand that everybody condemned you, insulted you, humiliated you very much?"

The Hakuin answered, "If I had been concerned with your condemnation, I would have been concerned about your respect also. I do as I feel right; you do whatever you feel to be right. Until yesterday you felt it right to respect me so you did. Today you felt it right not to respect me so you didn't. But I am not concerned with either your respect or your disrespect.

The people said to him, "Gentleman, you should have realized that you would lose your good reputation."

He replied, "I am neither bad nor good. I am simply myself. I have dropped this idea of good and bad. I became absolutely indifferent. And the day I became indifferent, I found that neither goodness nor badness remained inside."

Hakuin does not say yes or no, he does not protest. He simply accepts. He says, ”Oh, is that so?”. This is acceptance – tathata – this is suchness. Whatsoever life brings is okay, absolutely okay. Nothing is good, nothing is bad – all is divine. This is Buddha’s message. A Master reflects in his each act.



Zen Story 148

A young monk was staying in a monastery. He had come to sit in the presence of an old sage but within a few days he felt that the old man did not know anything at all. Listening to the same things every day he got fed up. He thought that he should leave this monastery and search somewhere else for another master. This was not the place for him.

But on the day he was to leave, another monk visited the monastery. That night the inmates of the monastery gathered and they talked about many things. The new monk was very knowledgeable about so many things, very subtle and perceptive, very deep and very intense, and the young monk thought that this was how a master should be. Within two hours the new monk had mesmerized everyone. The young monk thought that the old master must be feeling a lot of pain and very depressed that he was so old and yet had not learnt anything, while this newcomer knew so much.

After two hours, when the talks were over, the guest monk looked at the old master and asked, ”How did you like my talks?”

The old man said, ”My talks? You were talking, but none of it was your own. I was listening very intently for you to say something but you did not say anything at all!”

The guest monk replied, ”If it was not me talking then who has been talking for the past two hours?”

The old man said, ”If you ask for my truthful and authentic opinion, then books and scriptures were talking from inside you, but you were not talking at all. You did not even say a single word. You were throwing out, vomiting out, whatever you have gathered. And because of your vomiting I became afraid that you are a very sick person. For two hours you went on vomiting whatever was collected in your stomach and you filled the whole room with dirt and stink. I did not smell even a little fragrance of knowledge because anything which is taken in from the outside and again thrown out is certain to have the stink of vomiting. You did not say anything yourself; not a single word was your own.”

After listening to the old sage, the young monk who had wanted to leave the monastery decided to stay. That day, for the first time, he came to know that there are different kinds of knowing. One kind of knowing is that which we collect from outside and another kind of knowing is that which arises from within. Whatever we collect from the outside becomes a bondage, it does not liberate us – we are liberated by that which comes from the inside.



Zen Story 149

A Zen master was making a painting, and he had his chief disciple sit by his side to tell him when the painting was perfect. The disciple was worried and the master was also worried, because the disciple had never seen the master do anything imperfect. But that day things started going wrong. The master tried, and the more he tried, the more it was a mess.

In Japan or in China, the whole art of calligraphy is done on rice-paper, on a certain paper, a very sensitive paper, very fragile. If you hesitate a little, for centuries it can be known where the calligrapher hesitated -- because more ink spreads into the rice-paper and makes it a mess. It is very difficult to deceive on rice-paper. You have to go on flowing; you are not to hesitate. Even for a single moment. split moment, if you hesitate -- what to do? -- missed, already missed. And one who has a keen eye will immediately say, "It is not a Zen painting at all" -- because a Zen painting has to be a spontaneous painting, flowing.

The master tried and tried and the more he tried -- he started perspiring. And the disciple was sitting there and shaking his head again and again negatively: 'No, this is not perfect.' And more and more mistakes were being made by the master.

Then the ink was running out so the master said, "You go out and prepare more ink." While the disciple was outside preparing the ink, the master did his masterpiece. When he came in he said, "Master, but this is perfect! What happened?"

The master laughed; he said, "I became aware of one thing: your presence. The very idea that somebody is there to appreciate or to condemn, to say no or yes, disturbed my inner tranquility. Now I will never be disturbed. I have come to know that I was trying to make it perfect and that was the only reason for its not being perfect."

Try to make something perfect and it will remain imperfect. Do it naturally and it is always perfect. Nature is perfect; effort is imperfect. So whenever you are doing something too much, you are destroying.

Listen carefully: whenever you try to perform something, you are searching food for the ego. Whenever you are natural and let things happen, they are perfect, and then there is no problem. When you are natural and let things happen, God is at the back with you. When you are afraid, trembling, trying to prove something, you have lost God. In your fear, you have forgotten Him. You are looking more at the people and you have forgotten your source. Self-consciousness becomes a weakness. A person who is unself-conscious is strong, but his strength has nothing to do with himself -- it comes from the beyond.

WHEN YOU ARE SELF-CONSCIOUS, you are in trouble. When you are self-conscious, you are really showing symptoms that you don't know who you are. Your very self-consciousness indicates that you have not come home yet.



Zen Story 150

One day Buddha came into his assembly of the monks. It must have been just a morning like this. His sannyasins were sitting and waiting for him. They were puzzled because this was for the first time that Buddha had come with something in his hand – a handkerchief. They all looked at the handkerchief What was the matter? There must be something special in it. And Buddha sat on the platform and rather than starting speaking to the assembly he looked at the handkerchief, started tying a few knots in it, five knots in all. The whole assembly watched – what is going on?

And then he asked the assembly, ”Can anybody tell me: is this handkerchief the same as it was before the knots were tied?”

Sariputta said, ”This is a tricky question. In a way the handkerchief is the same because nothing has changed, in a way it is not the same because these five knots have appeared which were not there before. But as far as the inner nature of the handkerchief is concerned – its nature is concerned – it is the same; but as far as its form is concerned it is no more the same. The form has changed: the substance is the same.”

Buddha said, ”Right. Now I want to open these knots.” And he started stretching both ends of the handkerchief farther away from each other. He asked Sariputta. ”What do you think? By stretching farther will I be able to open the knots?”

He said, ”You will be making knots even more difficult to open because they will become smaller, more tighter. ’

Buddha said, ”Right. Then I want to ask the last question: what should I do so that I can open the knots, the tied knots? How I can untie them again?”

Sariputta said, ”Bhagwan, I would like first to come close and see how in the first place the knots have been tied. Unless I know how they have been tied it is difficult for me to suggest any solution.”

Buddha said, ”Right, Sariputta. You are blessed, because that is the most fundamental question to ask. If you are in a certain fix, the first thing is how you got into it rather than trying to get out of it. Without asking the most fundamental and the primary question, you will make things worse.”

Buddha’s whole approach is, first see how you get into trouble. If you can see the entrance, the same door is the exit; no other door is needed. But without knowing the entrance if you try to find out the exit you are not going to find; you will get more and more desperate. And that’s what people go on doing.



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