Singapore DharmaNet Homepage

Collection of Zen Stories Part 6
and Other Stories

Zen Story 200

The Sidhartha’s horse, Kanthaka, and groom, Channa.
From Kanaganahalli, Karnataka, limestone, c. 1st century.
Photo from Christian Luczanits



Zen Story 201

Empty-handed I entered the world
Barefoot I leave it.
My coming, my going -
Two simple happenings
That got entangled.

- Kozan Ichikyo



Zen Story 202



Zen Story 203

I remember Socrates. His wife Xanthippe was very much worried about him, and any wife would have been in the same dilemma. To have a Socrates as a husband is one of the most difficult things to tolerate. Socrates is good as a teacher, but not as a husband.

One day it happened... and because of it his wife has been condemned for two thousand years continuously, but that is not just, I do not think she has done anything wrong. Socrates was sitting there, and he must have been doing something – it is not recorded, I am just assuming. His wife came with a tray, a teapot to give him tea. She must have found that he was not there, so it is reported that she poured the tea upon Socrates, over his face. Then suddenly he came back.

His face remained burned for his whole life. And because of this his wife has been condemned very much, but no one knows what Socrates was doing there – because no wife would do this suddenly, there is no need. He must have done something; something must have been happening there. That is why Xanthippe had to throw tea over him. He must have been in an inner trance, and the burning sensation of the tea must have brought him back, the consciousness must have returned.

I assume that this was the case because there are many other cases reported about Socrates which are similar. For forty-eight hours he was not found. He was sought all over, the whole Athens went in search of Socrates, but he was not to be found anywhere. Then he was found outside the city, miles away, standing under a tree. Half of his body was just under snow. Snow was falling, and he was just frozen, standing there with open eyes. But he was not looking at anyone.

When the crowd gathered around, they looked into his eyes and they thought that he was dead. His eyes were just like stones – looking, but not looking at anyone; just static, unmoving. They felt his heart: It was beating slowly; he was alive. They had to give him shocks, only then did he come back to look at them. Immediately he asked, ”What is the time now?” He had missed forty-eight hours completely, they never existed for him. He was not in this world of time and space.

So they asked, "What were you doing? We thought you were dead already... forty-eight hours!" He said, "I was staring at the stars, and just suddenly it happened that the stars disappeared. And then, I don’t know... then the whole world disappeared. But I remained in such a cool, calm, blissful state that if it is death it is worth thousands of lives. If it is death, then I would like to enter it again and again."

It may have happened without his knowledge, because Socrates was not a yogi, not a tantric. He was not in any way concerned consciously with any spiritual practice. But he was a great thinker, and it may have happened as an accident that he was staring at the stars in the night, and suddenly his look returned back, inwards. You can do it. And stars are really good objects.

Lie down on the ground, look at the black sky, and then fix yourself on one star. Concentrate on it, stare at it. Narrow down your consciousness to one star; forget other stars. By and by, concentrate, narrow down your gaze. Other stars will be there just on the fringe, on the boundary. But by and by they will disappear, and only one star will remain. Then go on staring, go on staring. A moment will come when that star will disappear. And when that star disappears, you will appear to yourself.



Zen Story 204

The Zen seed was born in India, in Gautam Buddha. It was carried as a flower by Mahakashyapa for six generations. Bodhidharma, who carried it as a full blown flower to China, was the seventh. Even the emperor came to receive Bodhidharma; his fame had reached before him. But the emperor could not understand the ways of Zen.

Zen has a certain way, a certain approach which is not available to any other religious tradition. It is unique, a category in itself.

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.

Now, the emperor was a very sophisticated man; he had a great court of very cultured people. This kind of behavior... 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 205

Above all, don’t wish
To become a future Buddha.
Your only concern should be,
As thought follows thought,
To avoid clinging to any of them.

~ Dogen



Zen Story 206

Is there a Buddhist Scripture like - Bible?

The collection of Buddha's teaching is called Tipitaka (Skt Tripitaka), which is also known as Pali canon. The Tipitaka is exclusive to the Theravada Buddhist Schools but also corresponds with other schools of Buddhism. The Buddha called his teachings 'Dhammavinaya', which means 'teachings and moral conduct'. The forty-five years of his teachings known as 'buddhadhamma', the teachings of the Buddha, thus -ism of the enlightened one.

His teachings were not written but memorised for few centuries. After his funeral at the age of eighty, in due course the five hundred well versed noble disciples assembled and collected his teachings and moral rules. They were collected and recited together by all monks as a form of acceptance and preserved with a consensus that 'what had been said will be included and preserved, and what had not been said will be excluded' from the collection.

This collection later known as the 'Tipitaka, which is the Buddhist Scripture. Tipitaka means a set of three baskets of collections, which consists of Vinaya pitaka-the Basket of discipline, which contains monastic rules and regulations, Sutta pitaka the Basket of discourses, a records of Buddha's sermons and discussions and Abhidhamma pitaka- the Basket of higher teachings, also known as Buddhist psychology or a Basket of systematised doctrine.

The Tipitaka is written in Pali language, a language that preserves the teachings of the Buddha. There are much scholarly discussion on whether the Buddha had spoken in this language but believed that the language was used by the people of Magadhi.

This language is a scriptural language and has not got own alphabets, thus rely on other language. Almost all the scriptures are translated into English depending on their understanding of Pali language and their insight into the teachings of the Buddha. The Scripture, furthermore, is not there for veneration nor worship but to study, practice according to instructions and finally liberate. It is just a road map to walk on the path to liberation.


'Ananda, what does the order of the Sangha expect from me? I have taught the dhamma (truth) without making any distinction as exoteric and esoteric. with regard to the truth, the Tathagata has nothing like the closed fist of a teacher.'(D.II:100)

Source: Your Questions, My Answers on Buddhism & Experience

by Ven. S.M. Sujano



Zen Story 207

Why can't women be ordained as a monk in Buddhist?

The teachings of the Buddha is equal to all sexes. Both genders have similar qualities to attain the liberation depending their perfection and dedication. Men has not got special place but equal. It is a matter of tradition and recognition that appeared different. There were many females ordained into Buddha's dispensation. They were venerated and also liberated. Even in present day, every Buddhist countries, there are female ordained nuns. The status may different according to the society they are living. A female ordained woman on the same status with a monk is called aBhikkhuni. This Buddhist term will be adopted throughout this writing.

During the Buddha's time there was the order of Bhikkhuni and widely practiced. According to the disciplinary rule a Bhikkuni, there is a rule that one must attend in two ordination procedures; assembly of Bhikkhunis and assembly of monks or Bhikkhus. It is believed that since the order of Bhikkuni in Theravada school had been extinct for more than a thousand years, it is therefore not possible to have for a female candidate to be fully ordained in an assembly of Bhikkunis. Subsequently, it also difficult to ordain into assembly of monks. As a result, most of Theravada traditions do not accept nor ready to act on behalf of the Buddha to fully ordain women, yet. As a result, female devotees who want to practice Buddhism in Theravada Buddhist school by ordaining as a fully ordained still appeared to be difficult. Nevertheless, there is an option of becoming a Maechee (in Thailand), Silamata (in Sri Lanka), Thilase (in Myanmar) and Anagarika (In Nepal) etc.

There are, on the other hand, many Buddhist scholars; monks, nuns and lay people, believe and support the possibility to revive the ordination. One of the famous arguments is that there is an unbroken Bhikkhuni link still being practice in China. Secondly, there have been a lot of canonical debate possibilities of such revival. There are few organisations that fully support the concept and gradually on the progress. It will take time to be accepted fully or may not last for long in the future. It is matter of choice and support they will acquire. There are few ordinations on two above reasons. Another possible way out for a women aspirant is to go to Mahayana School to be ordained under that Buddhist order of Bhikkhunis, which is also believed to have come down along the continuous line of Bhikkhunis since the Buddha's time.

Source: Your Questions, My Answers on Buddhism & Experience

by Ven. S.M. Sujano See less



Zen Story 208


"A monk decides to meditate alone. Away from his monastery, he takes a boat and goes to the middle of the lake, closes his eyes and begins to meditate. After a few hours of unperturbed silence, he suddenly feels the blow of another boat hitting his. With his eyes still closed, he feels his anger rising and, when he opens his eyes, he is ready to shout at the boatman who dared to disturb his meditation. But when he opened his eyes, saw that it was an empty boat, not tied up, floating in the middle of the lake. At that moment, the monk achieves self-realization and understands that anger is within him; it simply needs to hit an external object to provoke it. After that, whenever he meets someone who irritates or provokes his anger, he remembers; the other person is just an empty boat. Anger is inside me."

~ Thich Nhat Hanh



Zen Story 209

337. How can someone who has gone down
To a swift-flowing river,
And who gets carried away by the current
Help others to cross?

Similarly, how can one who has not learned Dhamma,
Not listened to the explanations of the wise,
And who is ignorant and filled with doubt
Help others to realize it?

Just as one who has embarked on a sturdy boat
Well-equipped with and rudder and oars
Could help many others to cross
Because of his skill, thoughtfulness and experience,

In the same way, one who is wise
And who has developed himself,
Who is learned and stable, understanding Dhamma,
Could make others realize it, if they listen carefully.

Therefore, one should consort with the good
Those who are wise and learned,
Who understanding the meaning and,
Following the path and knowing Dhamma,
One will then attain happiness.

337. Bagaimanakah seseorang yang telah terjatuh ke dalam sebuah sungai yang berarus deras, dan yang telah hanyut terbawa oleh arus dapat menolong makhluk lain untuk menyeberang?

Demikian pula, bagaimanakah seseorang yang belum mempelajari Dharma, tidak mendengarkan penjelasan dari para bijaksana, dan yang dirinya masih bodoh dan terisi dengan keraguan, dapat embantu makhluk lain untuk menyadarinya?

Bagaikan seseorang yang telah naik pada sebuah kapal yang kuat, yang dilengkapi dengan dayung dan kemudi, dapat menolong banyak makhluk lain untuk menyeberang karena keahlian, perhatian, dan pengalamannya.

Demikian pula, seseorang yang bijaksana dan telah mengembangkan dirinya, terpelajar dan tak tergoyahkan‎ karena memahami Dharma, dapat membuat makhluk lain menyadarinya, bila mereka mendengarkan dengan teliti.

Karenanya, seseorang seharusnya bergaul dengan orang-orang baik yang bijaksana dan terpelajar, dengan pemahaman makna, dengan penempuhan jalan dan pengetahuan Dharma, dan kemudian ia akan mencapai kebahagiaan.

Sutta Nipata 319-323



Zen Story 210

Hotei pointing with the finger to the moon

The nun Wu Jincang asked the Sixth Patriach Huineng, "I have studied the Mahaparinirvana sutra for many years, yet there are many areas I do not quite understand. Please enlighten me."

The patriach responded, "I am illiterate. Please read out the characters to me and perhaps I will be able to explain the meaning."

Said the nun, "You cannot even recognize the characters. How are you able then to understand the meaning?"

"Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon's location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger, right?"



Zen Story 211

In the Han dynasty, the family of Dong Yong was very poor. When his father died, he sold himself for money to bury his father. Then he worked for his creditor to repay his debt. On the way he met a woman, who asked to become his wife, and she went with him to his master’s house. The master ordered them to weave 300 bolts of silk, before they could return home. His wife wove for a month and completed the task. They left and travelled as far as the locust tree where they had met, where she bade Yong goodbye and vanished. There is a poem praising him, saying:

To bury his father he has to borrow money;
A fairy concubine appears upon the road and
Weaves the silk to repay his debt;
Filial love moves the heavens.

─ Excerpted from The Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety



Zen Story 212

The Story of Angulimala

The Buddhist scriptures relate that one day, after his meal, the Buddha went out from the monastery where he was staying and walked towards a great forest. Seeing him going in that direction various people working in their fields called out to him to warn him that in that forest dwelt the dreaded Angulimala.

Little is known for certain about Angulimala but the usual account of his life has him the son of a well-to-do family and at one time a brilliant student at the University of Taxila, then the Oxbridge of India.

At Taxila, other students were jealous of him and succeeded in poisoning their teacher’s mind against him, with the result that the teacher asked of him what he must have believed would be an impossible honorarium, a thousand human right-hand little fingers. Unbelievably, instead of giving up and quietly going home without graduating, the young man set out to collect the fingers and pay the fee. Presumably, he quickly discovered that people were reluctant to willingly give up their little fingers and so he was forced to resort to violence and killing in order to obtain them.

Then he found he had nowhere to store these fingers. He tried hanging them on a tree but the birds stole them so his solution was to string them around his neck. For this gruesome and growing garland of bloody fingers he was nicknamed Angulimala which means ‘finger garland’ or ‘finger necklace’.

This was the man who, peering out from his lair, spotted the Buddha coming towards him and who that day had round his neck nine hundred and ninety-nine little fingers. This powerful and athletic serial killer, who had already successfully resisted several attempts to apprehend him, grabbed his weapons and dashed out to murder the Buddha and complete his score.

He expected to easily overtake him and quickly finish the job but then a very strange thing happened – even though the Buddha was only walking, serene and unhurried, Angulimala, despite his formidable strength and speed, found he couldn’t catch up with him. Eventually, exhausted, angry, frustrated and soaked with sweat, Angulimala screamed at the Buddha to stop.

Then the Buddha turned and with neither anger or fear, speaking quietly and directly, he told Angulimala that he, the Buddha, had already stopped. He had stopped killing and harming and now it was time for him, Angulimala, to do likewise. Angulimala was so struck by these words that there and then he stopped; he threw away his weapons and followed the Buddha back to the monastery where he became a monk.

Later, the King, ignorant of what had happened, came by leading his troops out to arrest Angulimala. Being a very pious monarch, he called to pay his respects to the Buddha and to inform him of what he was up to. The Buddha asked the King what his reaction would be were he to discover that amongst this assembly of monks sat Angulimala.

To the King it was utterly unbelievable that such a foul and evil person could now be a Buddhist monk and seated amongst such exalted company, but were it the case, he answered, he would certainly pay his respects and make offerings. Then the Buddha stretched forth his right hand and, pointing, announced that there sat Angulimala.

When he’d mastered his fear and recovered from the shock, the King, having paid his respects, said to the Buddha how incredible it was that, “What we have tried to do by force and with weapons you have done with neither force nor weapons!” In the course of time, after a period of some trial to himself, Angulimala did eventually succeed in purging his mind of all greed, hatred and delusion and realised for himself the Buddhist goal of Enlightenment.

The story of Angulimala teaches us that the possibility of Enlightenment may be awakened in the most extreme of circumstances, that people can and do change and that people are best influenced by persuasion and above all, example.

Source: angulimala.



Zen Story 213

Once, in the Buddha’s time, He came across the village of the Kalamas. The Kalamas were among the smartest and most intellectual people in India. Together, they went to ask the Buddha, “How do we know what you teach is true? All the other spiritual teachers (there were more than 60 religious beliefs then) who came by claim that only what they alone teach is true, that what all others teach is untrue.”

To that, the Buddha smiled gently and replied, “

1. Do not simply believe what you hear just because you have heard it for a long time.

2. Do not follow tradition blindly merely because it has been practised in that way for many generations.

3. Do not be quick to listen to rumours.

4. Do not confirm anything just because it agrees with your scriptures.

5. Do not foolishly make assumptions.

6. Do not abruptly draw conclusions by what you see and hear.

7. Do not be fooled by outward appearances.

8. Do not hold on tightly to any views or ideas just because you are comfortable with it.

9. Do not accept as fact anything that you yourself find to be logical.

10. Do not be convinced of anything out of respect and reference to your spiritual teachers.

You should go beyond opinion and belief. You can rightly reject anything which when accepted and practised, leads to more anger (aversion), more greed (craving) and more delusion (ignorance). The knowledge that you are angry, greedy or deluded does not depend on either belief or opinion. Remember that anger, greed and delusion are things universally condemned. They are not beneficial and are to be avoided.

Conversely, you can accept anything which when accepted and practised leads to unconditional love, contentment and wisdom. These qualities allow you time and space to develop a happy and peaceful mind. Therefore, the wise praise unconditional love, contentment and wisdom.

This should be your criteria on what is and what is not the truth; on what should be and what should not be the spiritual practice.”

- Excerpted from Be A Lamp Upon Yourself



Zen Story 214

Once, there were thousands of honey bees, whose queen bee was a bodhisattva. Day in, day out, all the honey bees diligently gathered nectar from flower to flower and made a huge amount of honey. After some time a honey-hunter came to their hive and took the honey away. The bees suffered so much!

They lamented, “We worked so hard for many years, but can’t enjoy the fruits of our labour.
What should we do?”

They decided to move to another place.Once they settled down, they began to produce honey for several more years, enduring the heat and rain. Again, after some time, their honey was all taken away.

Finally the queen bee said, “Listen to me. Repeatedly, you work very hard to collect nectar and pollen from the flowers on different plants, bushes and trees. Yet, the honey is always taken away. This is the very nature of samsara. Even now, no matter how much effort we put into collecting nectar and producing honey, the same thing will happen. There is not a single day in this life when we will have only happiness and peace. What we should do from now on is to take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, renounce samsara and practise the precious Dharma teachings. This is the only way to really bring lasting peace and happiness.”

All the honey bees followed the queen bee’s advice and released their attachment to the production of honey. They sincerely practised the Dharma, and that was the beginning of peace and joy in their lives.

This story demonstrates that no matter how hard we chase after wealth, material things or financial stability in life, unexpected situations which disrupt our plans can and will occur, for this is the very nature of samsara, and the very nature of having a physical existence.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have any wealth. It means we should eliminate our attachment to wealth, develop contentment and make use of our wealth in a way that will benefit ourselves and others. This way, when disruptions happen they won’t become a source of suffering.

- Excerpted from Awaken Issue



Zen Story 215

What is a bodhisattva in Buddhism?

"A Bodhisatta is a being devoted to Enlightenment. As a Compassionate Being', a Bodhisatta is destined to attain Buddhahood, and become a future Buddha, through the cultiva tion of his mind."

In order to gain Supreme Enlightenment, he practises trans cendental virtues ( Parami ) to perfection. The virtues are generosity, morality, renunciation, wisdom, energy, patience, truthfulness, determination, loving - kindness, and even mindedness. He cultivates these Parami with compassion and wisdom, without being influenced by selfish motives or self conceit. He works for the welfare and happiness of all beings, seeking to lessen the suffering of others throughout the series of his countless lives. In his journey to perfection, he is prepared to practice these virtues, sometimes even at the expense of his own life.

In the Pali scriptures , the designation 'Bodhisatta' is given to Prince Siddhartha before His Enlightenment and to His former lives. The Buddha Himself used this term when speaking of His life prior to Enlightenment. According to the Pali texts there is no mention of Buddha Bodhi being the only way to attain the final goal of Nibbanic bliss. It was very rare for a disciple during the Buddha's time to forgo the opportunity to attain sainthood and instead declare bodhisattahood as his aspiration. However, there are some records that some followers of the Buddha did aspire to become Bodhisattas to gain 'Buddhahood'.

In the Mahayana school of thought , the Bodhisatta cult however, plays an important role. The Mahayana ideal regards the Bodhisatta as a being who, having brought himself to the brink of Nibbana, voluntarily delays the acquisition of his prize so that he may return to the world to make it accessible to others. He deliberately chooses to postpone his release from Samsara in order to show the path for others to attain Nibbana.

Although Theravada Buddhists respect Bodhisattas, they do not regard them as being in the position to enlighten or save others before their own enlightenment. Bodhisattas are, therefore, not regarded as saviours. In order to gain their final salvation, all beings must follow the method prescribed by the Buddha and follow the example set by Him. They must also personally eradicate their mental defilements and develop all the great virtues.

Theravada Buddhists do not subscribe to the belief that everyone must strive to become a Buddha in order to gain Nibbana. However, the word 'Bodhi' is used to refer to the qualities of a Buddha, or PaccekaBuddha and Arahant in expressions such as Samma Sambodhi, PaccekaBodhi and SavakaBodhi. In addition, many of the Buddhas mentioned in the Mahayana school are not historical Buddhas and are therefore not given much attention by Theravada Buddhists. The notion that certain Buddhas and Bodhisattas are waiting in Sukhawati ( Pure Abode ) for those who pray to them is a notion quite foreign to the fundamental Teachings of the Buddha . Certain Bodhisattas are said to voluntarily remain in Sukhawati, without gaining enlightenment themselves, until every living being is saved. Given the magnitude of the universe and the infinite number of beings who are enslaved by ignorance and selfish desire, this is clearly an impossible task, since there can be no end to the number of beings.

Must a Bodhisatta always be a Buddhist ? We may find among Buddhists some self - sacrificing and ever loving Bodhisattas. Sometimes they may not even be aware of their lofty aspiration, but they instinctively work hard to serve others and cultivate their pristine qualities. Nevertheless, Bodhisattas are not only found among Buddhists, but possibly among the other religionists as well. The Jataka stories, which relate the previous birth stories of the Buddha, describe the families and forms of existence taken by the Bodhisatta. Sometimes He was born as an animal. It is hard to believe that He could have been born in a Buddhist family in each and every life. But no matter what form He was born as or family he was born into, He invariably strived hard to develop certain virtues. His aspiration to gain perfection from life to life until His final birth when he emerged as a Buddha, is the quality which clearly distinguishes a Bodhisatta from other beings.

Source: What Buddhist believe.



Zen Story 216

-- Because I’m Here --

An old monk was sweeping the yard in a monastery under the scorching sun.
Another monk passed by and asked him, “How old are you?”
The old monk replied, “I’m seventy-seven.”
“You are so old! Why are you still working so hard here?”
“Well, because I’m here.”
“But why are you working under the scorching sun?”
“Because the sun is there.”



Zen Story 217


Zen Story 218


Zen Story 219


Zen Story 220


Zen Story 220

Why Did Bodhidharma Come to the East? --

A monk asked, "Why Did Bodhidharma come to the East?"

Zen Master Xuefeng said, “The sky is blue, the sun is shining, why are you sleep-talking?”


Zen Story 221

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 222

Zen Stories

Zen stories with all their seemingly irrelevant remarks is quite simple. It is all explained in the Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, when Hui-neng says,

“If somebody asks you a question about matters sacred, always answer in
terms of matters profane. If they ask you about ultimate reality, answer in
terms of everyday life. If they ask you about everyday life, answer in terms of
ultimate reality. “

Here’s an example: Someone says, “Master, please hand me the knife, ” and he hands them the knife, blade first. “Please give me the other end, ” he says. And the master replies, “What would you do with the other end?” This is answering an everyday matter in terms of the metaphysical.

When the question is, “Master, what is the fundamental principle of Buddhism?” then he replies, “There is enough breeze in this fan to keep me cool.” That is answering the metaphysical in terms of the everyday, and that is, more or less, the principle Zen works on. The mundane and the sacred are one and the same.

~ What is Zen? ~
~ Alan Watts


Zen Story 223


Zen Story 224


Zen Story 225

The wise ones, ever meditative
and steadfastly persevering,
alone experience Nibbana,
the in-comparable freedom from bondage.

Te jhāyino sātatikā
niccam dalhaparakkamā
Phusanti dhīrā nibbānam
yogakkhemam anuttaram

~~ Dhammapada Verse 23 ~~
~~ The Buddha ~~


Zen Story 226

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


Zen Story 227


Zen Story 228


"I am", ...... a vain thought;
"I am not".. a vain thought;
"I shall be".. a vain thought;
"I shall not be"......... is a vain thought.

***From the Collection of Suttas: Majjhima Nikaya Sutta.


Zen Story 229

With a deep bow of gratitude for all Thay brought to the world, sending much love to the Plum Village community... 🙏🏽🙏🏽

"This body is not me; I am not caught in this body, I am life without boundaries, I have never been born and I have never died. Over there, the wide ocean and the sky with many galaxies all manifests from the basis of consciousness. Since beginningless time I have always been free. Birth and death are only a door through which we go in and out. Birth and death are only a game of hide-and-seek. So smile to me and take my hand and wave good-bye. Tomorrow we shall meet again or even before. We shall always be meeting again at the true source. Always meeting again on the myriad paths of life."

-Thích Nhất Hạnh, No Death, No Fear


Zen Story 230


“As for being forgiven, you have to accept there are times when people will not forgive you for something you’ve done — but that doesn’t mean that what you did was so awful that nobody could ever forgive you. Again, it’s the other person’s individual choice. As the Buddha once said, there are two kinds of fools: one, the fool who never admits having done wrong; and two, the fool who, when presented with a righteous and sincere apology, refuses to accept it. Now, a sincere apology means not only that you really are sorry, but that you’re also sincere about trying not to do that again in the future, whatever it was. Some people are wise and they’ll accept that kind of apology. Other people are foolish. You can’t make your happiness depend on trying to get them to forgive you, to overcome their foolishness."


Zen Story 231


"Ordinary people look to their surroundings, while followers of the Way look to Mind, but the true Dharma is to forget them both. The former is easy enough, the latter very difficult. Men are afraid to forget their minds, fearing to fall through the Void with nothing to stay their fall. They do not know that the Void is not really void, but the realm of the real Dharma."

— with Nidup Tshonga Gyeltshen.


Zen Story 232


Zen Story 233


Zen Story 234

--Same or Different??--

Zen Master Haryō Kōkan was once asked by one of his monks, “Are the intent of our Ancestor Bodhidharma and the intent of the Teachings of Buddha the same or are they different?”

The Master replied, “When a hen is cold, it perches in a tree; when a duck is cold, it enters the water.”


Zen Story 235


Zen Story 236


Zen Story 237


Zen Story 238


Zen Story 230


Zen Part 1 | Zen Part 2 | Zen Part 3 | Zen Part 4 | Zen Part 5 |
Zen Part 6 | Zen Part 7 | Zen Part 8 | Zen Part 9 | Zen Part 10 |