Zen or Not

*********************************************************** There is an old Zen story about a man riding a horse that is galloping very quickly. Seeing him, a woman asks, “Where are you going in such a hurry?” To which the man replies, “I have no idea. Ask the horse!” *********************************************************** "Keep your faith in beautiful things; in the sun when it is hidden, in the Spring when it is gone." - Roy R. Gibson *********************************************************** All moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. *********************************************************** Calmness comes after a storm in one's mind. The stronger the storm is, the more calm the mind is. Transition of super micro view to super macro view. After this transition, the terrible storm looks as if a drop of water. *********************************************************** With no Master, I have none to visit in Autumn, when wind blows six-petaled blossoms from the West. Under only clouds and stars, I lie on steps before the kitchen door, fart and scratch myself like any Buddha. *********************************************************** Once upon a time in China, there was an Army doctor. It was during a war & the doctor was kept very busy treating wounded soldiers. After a while, he became very depressed. He observed that "I'm here to save lives. These soldiers come here, I save their lives, and they go back to war and they die. If all these soldiers are fated to die, what am I doing? Why am I here?". As days went on, he kept being disturbed by that question, "WHY AM I HERE?". After a while, he broke down & ran away. He spent the next 3 months with a Zen master. At the end of the stay, he finally found the answer to the question, & he happily went back to be an Army doctor again. His answer was: "Because I am a doctor". *********************************************************** It is said that when Buddha was first Enlightened he was asked, "Are you a God?" "No," he replied. "Are you a saint?" "No." "Then what are you?" And he answered, "I am awake." *********************************************************** An elderly carpenter was ready to retire... One day, he told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife, enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he felt he needed to retire. They could get by, he thought. Upon hearing the news, the contractor was sorry to see his good worker go. He asked the carpenter if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work any longer. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career. When the carpenter finished his work and the builder came to inspect the house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you!" *********************************************************** Those who face that which is actually before them, Unburdened by the past, Undistracted by the future, These are they who live, Who make the best use of their lives; These are those who have found the secret of contentment. Alban Goodier *********************************************************** According to an ancient Indian fable, a mouse was in constant distress because of its fear of the cat. A magician took pity on it and turned it into a cat. But then it became afraid of the dog. So the magician turned it into a dog. Then it began to fear the panther. So the magician turned it into a panther. Whereupon it was full of fear for the hunter. At this point the magician gave up, and turned it into a mouse again saying, "Nothing I do for you is going to be of any help because you have the heart of a mouse." *********************************************************** A student once asked his teacher, "Master, what is enlightenment?" The master replied, "When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep." *********************************************************** "Complexity is not always needed to get the job done. Life is only as difficult as we make it out to be." *********************************************************** “The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.” *********************************************************** THE NUN Chiyono studied for years but was unable to find enlightenment. One moonlight night she was carrying an old pail, filled with water. She was watching the full moon reflected in this water, when the bamboo strip that held the pailstaves broke. The pail fell all apart; the water rushed out; the moon's reflection disappeared. And Chiyono found enlightenment. She wrote this verse: This way and that way I tried to keep the pail together Hoping the weak bamboo Would never break. Suddenly the bottom fell out: No more water: No more moon in the water: Emptiness in my hand! *********************************************************** “If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.” *********************************************************** SEKKYO said to one of his monks, "Can you get hold of Emptiness?" "I'll try" said the monk, and he cupped his hands in the air. "That's not very good," said Sekkyo. "You haven't got anything in there!" "Well, master," said the monk, "please show me a better way." Thereupon Sekkyo seized the monk's nose and gave it a great yank. "Ouch!" yelled the monk. "You hurt me!" "That's the way to get hold of Emptiness!" said Sekkyo. *********************************************************** Meeting is only the beginning of separation. *********************************************************** There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer. *********************************************************** A plant needs sunshine and rain in order to grow, just as all beings need love and suffering to grow. Therefore, when suffering comes, drink it in like water and allow it to make you more beautiful. *********************************************************** A STUDENT came before the master Bankei and asked to be helped in getting rid of his violent temper. "Show me this temper," said Bankei. "It sounds very fascinating." "I haven't got it right now, so I can't show it to you, said the student. "Well then," said Bankei,"bring it to me when you have it." "But I can't bring it just when I happen to have it," protested the student. "I'd surely lose it again before I got it to you. "In such a case," said Bankei, "it seems to me that this temper is not part of your true nature. If it is not part of you, it must come into you from outside. I suggest that whenever it gets into you, you beat yourself with a stick until the temper can't stand it, and runs away." *********************************************************** The bamboo rod is strong on the outside and hollow on the inside. The Zen way is to be strong on the inside and gentle on the outside. *********************************************************** A NEW monastery was to be opened, and the master Hyakujo had to decide which of his monks should be put in charge. So he called the monks together, filled a vase with water, and said to them: "Which one of you can say what this is without giving its name?" The chief monk, who expected to be given the new mastership, spoke first. "It stands upright, it is hollow inside, but it is not a wooden shoe," he said. Another monk said, "It is not a pond, because it can be carried." Then the cook, lowest of the monks, arose. He kicked over the vase with his foot, so the water ran out on to the floor. He had shown how to achieve emptiness. Hyakujo gave him the job. *********************************************************** LITTLE Toyo was only twelve years old. But since he was a pupil at the Kennin temple, he wanted to be given a koan to ponder, just like the more advanced students. So one evening, at the proper time, he went to the room of Mokurai, the master, struck the gong softly to announce his presence, bowed, and sat before the master in respectful silence. Finally the master said: "Toyo, show me the sound of two hands clapping." Toyo clapped his hands. "Good," said the master. "Now show me the sound of one hand clapping." Toyo was silent. Finally he bowed and left to consider this problem. The next night he returned, and struck the gong with one palm. "That is not right," said the master. The next night Toyo returned and played geisha music with one hand. "That is not right," said the master. The next night Toyo returned, and imitated the dripping of water. "That is not right," said the master. The next night Toyo returned, and imitated the cricket scraping his leg. "That is still not right," said the master. For ten nights Toyo tried new sounds. At last he stopped coming to the master. For a year he thought of every sound, and discarded them all, until finally he reached enlightenment. He returned respectfully to the master. Without striking the gong, he sat down and bowed. "I have heard sound without sound," he said. *********************************************************** Treat yourself with compassion. Nothing in the world is without blemish, so be gentle and kind to yourself when you stumble. *********************************************************** THE MASTER Ikkyu showed his wisdom even as a child. Once he broke the precious heirloom teacup of his teacher, and was greatly upset. While he was wondering what to do, he heard his teacher coming. Quickly he hid the pieces of the cup under his robe. "Master," he said, "why do things die?" "It is perfectly natural for things to die and for the matter gathered in them to separate and disintegrate," said the teacher. "When its time has come every person and every thing must go. "Master," said little Ikkyu, showing the pieces, "it was time for your cup to go. *********************************************************** Observe the sun. It doesn't rush to rise or hesitate to set, and it can't change a second of its cycle. Everything in life has its time and place. Follow the pace of nature: never rushed and never late. *********************************************************** THE STUDENT Tokusan used to come to the master Ryutan in the evenings to talk and to listen. One night it was very late before he was finished asking questions. "Why don't you go to bed?" asked Ryutan. Tokusan bowed, and lifted the screen to go out. "The hall is very dark," he said. "Here, take this candle," said Ryutan, lighting one for the student. Tokusan reached out his hand, and took the candle. Ryutan leaned forward, and blew it out. *********************************************************** We need to let go of everything that no longer serves us. How long must we carry the burden of mistakes of our past? *********************************************************** There is a wonderful little story about two monks who lived together in a monastery for many years; they were great friends. Then they died within a few months of one another. One of them got reborn in the heaven realms, the other monk got reborn as a worm in a dung pile. The one up in the heaven realms was having a wonderful time, enjoying all the heavenly pleasures. But he started thinking about his friend, "I wonder where my old mate has gone?" So he scanned all of the heaven realms, but could not find a trace of his friend. Then he scanned the realm of human beings, but he could not see any trace of his friend there, so he looked in the realm of animals and then of insects. Finally he found him, reborn as a worm in a dung pile... Wow! He thought: "I am going to help my friend. I am going to go down there to that dung pile and take him up to the heavenly realm so he too can enjoy the heavenly pleasures and bliss of living in these wonderful realms." So he went down to the dung pile and called his mate. And the little worm wriggled out and said: "Who are you?", "I am your friend. We used to be monks together in a past life, and I have come up to take you to the heaven realms where life is wonderful and blissful." But the worm said: "Go away, get lost!" "But I am your friend, and I live in the heaven realms," and he described the heaven realms to him. But the worm said: "No thank you, I am quite happy here in my dung pile. Please go away." Then the heavenly being thought: "Well if I could only just grab hold of him and take him up to the heaven realms, he could see for himself." So he grabbed hold of the worm and started tugging at him; and the harder he tugged, the harder that worm clung to his pile of dung. *********************************************************** When you take off your shoes, leave all the problems of the world there on the floor with them. Have no fear, they'll return to you when you put your shoes back on. *********************************************************** The great Taoist master Chuang Tzu once dreamt that he was a butterfly fluttering here and there. In the dream he had no awareness of his individuality as a person. He was only a butterfly. Suddenly, he awoke and found himself laying there, a person once again. But then he thought to himself, "Was I before a man who dreamt about being a butterfly, or am I now a butterfly who dreams about being a man?" *********************************************************** Do not follow the ideas of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself. Zen Master Dogen *********************************************************** One day Chuang Tzu and a friend were walking by a river. "Look at the fish swimming about," said Chuang Tzu, "They are really enjoying themselves." "You are not a fish," replied the friend, "So you can't truly know that they are enjoying themselves." "You are not me," said Chuang Tzu. "So how do you know that I do not know that the fish are enjoying themselves?" *********************************************************** Watch the clouds.... As they pass unruffled over peaks and valleys, they're not elated by the peaks, nor bored by the valleys. That is the Zen mind: neither elated nor bored, but rather always at peace. *********************************************************** A student approached his teacher with a question. "I'd like to improve my knowledge of the martial arts. In addition to learning from you, I'd like to study with another teacher in order to learn another style. What do you think of this idea?" "The hunter who chases two rabbits," answered the master, "catches neither one." *********************************************************** Summer, fall, winter, spring... the seasons change, it is the way of life. Everything changes, so when we hold on to what was, we feel loss, for nothing can ever be what it once was. *********************************************************** There was a young monk in China who was a very serious practitioner of the Dharma. Once, this monk came across something he did not understand, so he went to ask the master. When the master heard the question, he kept laughing. The master then stood up and walked away, still laughing. The young monk was very disturbed by the master's reaction. For the next 3 days, he could not eat, sleep nor think properly. At the end of 3 days, he went back to the master and told the master how disturbed he had felt. When the master heard this, he said, "Monk, do you know what your problem is? Your problem is that YOU ARE WORSE THAN A CLOWN!" The monk was shocked to hear that, "Venerable Sir, how can you say such a thing?! How can I be worse than a clown?" The master explained, "A clown enjoys seeing people laugh. You? You feel disturbed because another person laughed. Tell me, are you not worse than a clown?" When the monk heard this, he began to laugh. He was enlightened. *********************************************************** Relax. Everything will resolve itself in time-- this is the way of the world. This is also the way of Zen. Walk though life without stress or strain, and everything will return to its place. *********************************************************** Roshi Kapleau agreed to educate a group of psychoanalysts about Zen. After being introduced to the group by the director of the analytic institute, the Roshi quietly sat down upon a cushion placed on the floor. A student entered, prostrated before the master, and then seated himself on another cushion a few feet away, facing his teacher. "What is Zen?" the student asked. The Roshi produced a banana, peeled it, and started eating. "Is that all? Can't you show me anything else?" the student said. "Come closer, please," the master replied. The student moved in and the Roshi waved the remaining portion of the banana before the student's face. The student prostrated, and left. A second student rose to address the audience. "Do you all understand?" When there was no response, the student added, "You have just witnessed a first-rate demonstration of Zen. Are there any questions?" After a long silence, someone spoke up. "Roshi, I am not satisfied with your demonstration. You have shown us something that I am not sure I understand. It must be possible to TELL us what Zen is." "If you must insist on words," the Roshi replied, "then Zen is an elephant copulating with a flea." *********************************************************** Reactive patterns bring about precisely what you try to avoid. When things go wrong in your life, blaming circumstances doesn't help. Look at the role your own patterns play in bringing about the problem. *********************************************************** BODHIDHARMA sat facing a wall for nine years of meditation. At one time a Confucian monk came to him for teaching. But Bodhidharma sat unmoving and unspeaking for seven days and nights, while the monk pleaded for his attention. Finally the monk could stand no more, and to show his sincerity, he took a great sword, cut off his arm, and carried it to Bodhidharma. He said: "Here is a token of my sincerity. I have been seeking peace for my soul for many years, and I know that you can show me how to find it." Bodhidharma said, "Do not bring me your arm. Bring me your soul, so I can give it peace as you request. "But that is the very trouble," said the monk, "I cannot grasp my soul or find it, much less bring it to you. "You see," said Bodhidharma, "I have given you peace of soul." *********************************************************** A Hurried mind is sick. A Slow mind is sound. A Still mind is divine. *********************************************************** When Eshun, the Zen nun, was past sixty and about to leave this world, she asked some monks to pile up wood in the yard. Seating herself firmly in the center of the funeral pyre, she had it set fire around the edges. "O nun!" shouted one monk, "is it hot in there?" "Such a matter would concern only a stupid person like yourself," answered Eshun. The flames arose, and she passed away. *********************************************************** Happiness just is. It isn't something you have to earn, look for, or wait to receive--it's always there. To find it, simply stop looking and become it. *********************************************************** In a Zen Garden you cannot see *********************************************************** A student went to his meditation teacher and said, "My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted, or my legs ache, or I'm constantly falling asleep. It's just horrible!" "It will pass," the teacher said matter-of-factly. A week later, the student came back to his teacher. "My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It's just wonderful!' "It will pass," the teacher replied matter-of-factly. ***********************************************************

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