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Category: ☯ Zen Stories

  • Zen Stories ☯

    Zenkai, the son of a samurai, journeyed to Edo and there became the retainer of a high official. He fell in love with the official’s wife and was discovered. In self-defense, he slew the official. Then he ran away with the wife. Both of them later became thieves. But the woman was so greedy that […]

  • Zen Stories ☯

    The pupils of the Tendai school used to study meditation before Zen entered Japan. Four of them who were intimate friends promised one another to observe seven days of silence. On the first day all were silent. Their meditation had begun auspiciously, but when night came and the oil lamps were growing dim one of […]

  • Zen Stories ☯

    “Tattoo inside your eyelids this reminder: ‘you are the messenger, not the message. You are just like everyone else.’ ” This was the advice given by a charismatic Zen teacher to a class of Zen teachers-in-training. “What do you mean?” they asked her. “I’ll begin with a story about a besieged town that was surrounded […]

  • Zen Stories ☯

    An old man walks down to the beach and sees it is covered with tens of thousands of starfish, as far as the eye can see. Far down the beach he sees a young girl who is picking the starfish up, one by one, and tossing them back in the ocean. Amused, he walks to […]

  • Zen Stories ☯

    Daiju visited the master Baso in China. Baso asked: “What do you seek?” “Enlightenment,” replied Daiju. “You have your own treasure house. Why do you search outside?” Baso asked. Daiju inquired: “Where is my treasure house?” Baso answered: “What you are asking is your treasure house.” Daiju was enlightened! Ever after he urged his friends: […]

  • Zen Stories

    Arresting the Stone Buddha A merchant bearing fifty rolls of cotton goods on his shoulders stopped to rest from the heat of the day beneath a shelter where a large stone Buddha was standing. There he fell asleep, and when he awoke his goods had disappeared. He immediately reported the matter to the police. A […]

  • Zen Stories ☯

    A university student while visiting Gasan asked him: “Have you even read the Christian Bible?” “No, read it to me,” said Gasan. The student opened the Bible and read from St. Matthew: “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin, […]

  • Zen Stories ☯

    Sen No Rikyu, a tea-master, wished to hang a flower basket on a column. He asked a carpenter to help him, directing the man to place it a little higher or lower, to the right or left, until he had found exactly the right spot. “That’s the place,” said Sen no Rikya finally. The carpenter, […]

  • Zen Stories ☯

    The Last Poem of Hoshin The Zen master Hoshin lived in China many years. Then he returned to the northeastern part of Japan, where he taught his disciples. When he was getting very old, he told them a story he had heard in China. This is the story: One year on the twenty-fifth of December, […]

  • Zen Stories ☯

     Zen teachers train their young pupils to express themselves. Two Zen temples each had a child protégé. One child, going to obtain vegetables each morning, would meet the other on the way. “Where are you going?” asked the one. “I am going wherever my feet go,” the other responded. This reply puzzled the first child […]