A Bowl and A Stick

 

Zen Stories told by Master Taisen Deshimaru

Translated into French by Albin Michel: Le Bol et le Bâton

Translated into English by Sister Thich nöő Minh Tâm and Thaůi Mô:


Preface

            These Zen stories are told by Master Taisen Daishimaru and translated into French by Albin Michel, a famous French writer who is very fond of Zen Buddhism.

            Some of these tales are related to the Lord Buddha’s life, about two thousand six hundreds years ago, and through which we could find out the formidable sense of Zen humour and all power of the Buddha’s spirit.  Hence, we should not confuse that  each of these stories can help to open the doors of Truth and show different ways to see the reality.

            The history and the legend unblock themselves the very profound truth and bring an eternal sense.

            One Zen proverb says “If they show you the moon, you should look at the moon and not the finger.” 

That is the great significance of these Zen stories.


A Real Treasure

Bodhidharma, born in India about 500 years after Jesus Christ, was the third prince of the Indian royal region’s King.  When Bodhidharma reached the age of eight, it was affirmed that he already attained enlightenment.  And here was the reason why:

“One day, Bodhidharma’s Master, Hannya Tara, received from the King a very precious pearl.

Hannya Tara asked his disciples, the three princes: “Do you know anything in the world  more valuable than this pearl?”

The eldest prince answered:

-“That is you, Master, only you who receives this worthy gift from our Royal Father, you are the most venerable and valuable person in the world.”

The second prince also said:

-“Even if we spend all our lives looking for something else more precious than the pearl, we won’t be able to find anything more valuable to compare with it.”

Then, in his turn, Bodhidharma, at the age of eight, slowly replied:

-“Yes, it is a definitely unestimated treasure, but that is a worldly and vulgar treasure.  In my opinion, our veritable wisdom is of an immense and unlimited value.  Understanding the value of that treasure is equal to a form of wisdom, furthermore, that wisdom has no depth; understanding that the diamond is more precious and valuable than a piece of stone is social wisdom.”

And Bodhidharma continued: “A true treasure is to understand ourselves.”


Finish A Meal, Wash Dishes!

A very famous story of Zen Master Josshu:

“A  disciple of Josshu once insisted:

-“Master, please teach me the true doctrine of Buddhism.”

Josshu asked him:

-“Have you finished your meal yet?”

-“Of course, Master, I have already finished it.”

-“Then, wash your dishes!”

That was all of Josshu’s teaching.

Personally, we find the middle way: his teaching is so severe and profound for the higher and intelligent disciples; but it is so gentle for the beginners and ordinary ones.


Life Is Only A Dream!

A man wished to become rich and, everyday, he continuously prayed and prayed God in order to realize his dream.

One winter evening, coming back home from church, he accidentally saw, stuck in the icy road, was a  wallet full of money.  Immediately, he tried all his forces to pull it out.  However, due to hard ice, the wallet resisted against his efforts.  Finally, he decided to urinate on it to make the ice melt.  And, then . . . he woke up suddenly in his bed . . . completely wet . . .

There, our life is exactly like that!

Enlightenment is neither a special condition of consciousness nor a transcendental state of mind, it is only the true realization of our life.


Under A Bridge, No Thieves!

Under a bridge lived a family of beggars, a husband, a wife and their son.

One day, the wife, coming back home after a long day wandering for begging, told to her husband:

-“Today, I cannot get even a cent.  The night before, lots of thieves intruded into people’s houses and took most of everything.  So, now people are afraid of opening doors for charity!”

Knowing that, the son expressed himself:

-“Dad, we are so happy, a thief never enters into our house.”

-“Of course, we should thank to our poverty, that is your parents’ merit.  Nobody comes under the bridge.”


The Head and The Tail

Once upon a time,  there was a snake whose head and tail always disputed with each other.  The tail said:

-“I am always behind you, you are before me and I have to follow you, that was not fair.”

Finally, the tail decided not to go behind anymore. She coiled up around a tree and refused to advance.  The head saw a big and delicious frog but he could not catch it. Ok, the head had to agree that the tail would go first.  But the tail had no eyes, and ouf! she fell down into a big hole and the head was smashed against a big hard rock.

The snake died instantly!

Among us,, who is head, who is tail?


Who Is Responsible?

Two spouses dispute and fight against each other all the time.  In the end, they have to go to court.

The judge has to solve their stupid problem.  Who is reasonable?  The husband or his wife?  Who offenses the other?

No answer.

Then, the judge comes and asks their son:

-“Can you tell me who has started to fight?  Is that your father or your mother?”

The kid replies:

-“I cannot affirm that only my Mom or only my Dad does it.”

 

Absolutely right!  Both of them have problems, both of them start to fight against each other.


Nothing To Do

Yakusan was deeply practising meditation alone  in his cottage; his Master came and asked him:

-“What are you doing?”

-“Nothing.”

-“Nonsense, I see clearly that you are doing meditation!”

Yakusan said:

-“If I say I am doing meditation, it might be understood that I am doing meditation.”

The master tried to question again:

-“But you are doing something . . . how can you say “nothing” . . .?”

Yakusan answered:

-“Even thousand Buddhas cannot understand.”


The Carrot

            Long, long time ago, farmers in Japan used to have  horses  turn a millstone to grind wheat.  Everyday, the horses, exciting and untiresomely, tried their best to pull the millstone round and round in order to catch a carrot hanging in front of them.  Still, all their efforts were in vain.  Eventually, then came an evening, after a long day pulling such a heavy grindstone, those foolish horses only received that old and dry carrot.

            Is that a miserable picture of our life?  We, indefatigably run after and indulge ourselves with sensual pleasures, cannot realize that Death is waiting for us at the end.

            That are suffering and sorrowfulness!


Don’t Try To Escape!  

            Sariputra, a great disciple of the Buddha, was sitting in meditation by the edge of a lake.  Still, on the water surface, fish, shrimps . . . jumped over and over, in and out and that caused much noise.     

            Sariputra changed the place and found a very remote corner in a forest.  But this time, he was terribly annoyed by birds singing over his head.  Ideas flooded in, illusions raised continuously in his mind . . . As a matter of fact,  such foolish birds and fish caused him much trouble, Sariputra suddenly decided to catch and eat them all.  But, that indigestion made him have severe stomatch pains.

            This anecdote is a fact of Sariputra’s life, when he was young.

            Surely, it is useless to escape from the noise of birds or water creatures because that trouble really comes from our inner mind, not from outside!


Absolute Silence

            In a very small temple on a remote mountain, there were four monks practising meditation.  They had decided to practice a special meditation called “Meditation in Absolute Silence.”

            The first evening, during the “silent session,” a candle was suddenly blown off by the wind, the meditation hall sank into obscurity.

            The youngest monk whispered:

            -“The candle has just been extinguished.”

            The second monk replied:

            -“ Shiiiii! You cannot speak, this is a session of absolute silent meditation!”

            The third one added:

            -“How dare you  talk?  We have to keep quiet and be silent!”

            The fourth monk, who was also the responsible for this “special event,” concluded:

            -“Three of you are stupid and bad, there is “only me” who does not speak!” 

            “Focus on meditation right now ! In fact, only me who is the best!”


The Ball Runs

            Seppo Gisen had an interesting discussion with his disciple Gessha:  the global round of a ball.

            When the old master was playing with his ball, Gessha asked him:

            -“How can the ball run by itself?”

            Seppo replied:

            -“The ball is free.  It is the real freedom.”

            -“Why?”

            -“Because it is round.  It can run everywhere, to any direction it wants to go, freely, no obstacle.”

            Naturally, automatically, and unconsciously.


On The Branch of Pine Tree

          In China, there was a Zen monk called “Master Dori”.  He always meditated on a branch of pine and people called him “Master Bird’s Nest.”

            One day, a very famous poet, Sakuraten, came to see him, and when Sakuraten saw Dori meditating on the pine branch, he said:

            -“Be careful, Master, it is so dangerous, you could fall down.”

            Dori answered:

            -“Not at all.  It was you who were in danger.  Here and Now, I was doing meditation, my mind was completely fixed.  You, you did not practice meditation at all, and were always full of passions.  You wrote poems and your mind was continuously moving, sensible, anxious, and tormented.”

            Sakuraten kept on thinking: “Oh yes, I had always been a prey of passions, it looked like to play with fire,” and he asked Dori:

            -“Master Dori, what is the essence of Buddhism?”

            Master Dori replied:

            -“Don’t do evil deeds,

    Do only good deeds,

               Purify your mind,

               Meditate on compassion,

              That is the essence of Buddhism.”

            The poet smiled. 

Everyone, even a child, can understand it but it is not easy to realize it.


Come! Come!       

Master Tokusan (724 – 865) was in meditation by the edge of a river.  One of his disciples arrived and, approaching near the edge, he shouted:

-“Good morning, Master!  How are you?”

Tokusan, whose session was interrupted, with his hand-made fan, waved the disciple:

-“Come, come . . .!”

And Tokusan got up, turned round and went along the river, following the flowing stream of water . . . The disciple, at that moment, attained enlightenment.

That is Zen Buddhism!

 


Autumn Wind Scattered Fallen Leaves

There was a young man fell in love with a rich and beautiful girl.  During two years, he wrote to her so many love letters, but he did not receive anything even one single word.

Then, one day, that young man renounced his family, became a monk and sought for a very remote hermitage in the mountain.

Years later, one evening of autumn, the monk saw that beautiful girl coming up to his retreat.  Kneeling down in front of him, she cried bitterly:

-“I was so confused.  Now, I understand your love, and here I am for you.”

However the monk gently answered:

-“Is is too late.  Now, I am a monk, I dropped my love for you.  Please go, please go, come back home!”

She burnst out into tears and turned round, sadly departed.  No more word uttered from her mouth.

Days later, the monk descended from the mountain into the village to beg food.  He heard people telling the lastest news that they found a very beautiful lady with a noble face, in rich costumes, drowned into a river.  People concluded: “Surely it is the unhappy ending of a love story.  So pitiful!”

The villagers buried her right at that site and carved on her grave stone: “The Tomb of Love.”

The monk understood.  That evening, he went to her tomb.  He meditated for a long time and then, full of compassion, he read a poem to her:

            “When you came to see me at my hermitage,

              The old leaves of autumn,

              Yellow, red, spread over the cold ground.

              Then, after your leaving,

             The wind of autumn

             Scattered those fallen leaves.

             Everything is impermanent

             And my poor hermitage

             Is more valuable than a palace.

             Why our destinies

             Cannot join together?

              Before I suffered

             And you were in peace.

             Now, I have engaged

            Into the path of serenity,

            And you are in suffering.

            All those years have passed

            As a dream.

            When we die,

            Nobody follow us till the grave.

            Nothing is left in our illusions:

            Suffering, distress or sorrowfulness

            Will serve for nothing.

            Now, you passed away,

            So, please, do something like me,

             Simply listen to the wind,

 Softly whispering in those branches of pine,

            “The Eternal Song of Enlightenment and Freedom.”

 


Wonderful Evening

Baso and his three disciples, Hyakujo, Nansen and Chizu, together admired the full moon in autumn.

Baso said:

-“This evening is so ideal to do a Buddhist ceremony.”

Hyakujo added: “Tonight is perfect to practice meditation.”

Nansen did not utter a word.  He only looked at the moon, silently and peacefully.

Baso then said: “The Sutra has entered into a storage of sage and wisdom, then it comes back to the ocean, the universal.”


Wandering In The Mountain

A Zen master often wandered in a splendid mountain.  One evening, when he came back from his daily journey, one disciple asked him:

-“Where did you go, Master?’

-“To the mountain,” he replied.

The disciple insisted:

-“But which way did you . . . take, and what did you . . . see?”

The Master answered:

-“I followed the fragrance of flowers and I strolled in accordance with the fresh growth.”

It should be guided by Buddha’s Teachings, think deeply about grass and flowers which grow without goal, without ego, naturally, unconsciously.”

The answer comes from the source of wisdom.

The real wisdom has to be created beyond intelligence and memory.

 


Big Head

Every morning, a man always admired his head in a mirror. One day, looking at the mirror that is accidentally putting upside down, he did not see his head anymore, he thought that he had lost it somewhere, and so panic, he ran looking for it.

A friend came across him and said: “Why did you look for your head?  It was so big that I saw it only, nothing else!”

So, the man began to think that his head was bigger than other peoples’ heads.  He felt so proud of it and started to look for his extrordinary head again.

That story is very interesting.

Losing the head means losing illusions.  But the pride of a big head is obtaining of egoism and stupidity.


Life, Death . . .

During a conversation, King Milinda asked Bodhisattva Nagasena:

-“ What is Samsara?” (the cycle of rebirths and deaths)

Nagasena answered:

-“Oh!  His Majesty, that is here people are born and die, there they die and reborn, then again they are born and die, die and reborn, reborn and die . . .”

Oh, Great King, that is Samsara.”

King Milinda said:

-“I cannot understand, please explain more clearly.”

Nagasena replied:

-“It looks like a seed of mango which people plant to eat ripe fruit.  When the mango tree  grows up and  gives fruits, people eat mangoes, then they plant again the seeds.  From these seeds, mango trees begin to grow again, they give fruits.Like that, His Majesty, one is born here, dies there, or one dies here and reborns there.  Great King, that is Samsara.”

In another sutra, King Milinda asked again:

-“After death,  what is reborn the next life?”

Nagasena answered:

-“After death, a name, a spirit, and a body are reborn.”

The King asked:

-“Are the same name, same spirit, and same body reborn after death?”

-“There are not the same name, the same spirit, and the same body which are reborn after death.  This name, this spirit, and this body have created action.  Due to the action or Karma, another name, another spirit, and another body take form.”

Through this sutra, we understand what Samsara means.


Right Shoulder, Left Shoulder

One day, two men introduced themselves together to a young beautiful lady.  They really wanted to marry her.  Her parents could not decide, so they asked their daughter about her final decision.

The father said:

-“If you want to marry the man who comes from East, remove the left shoulder of your dress.  If you like the one who comes from West, remove the right shoulder of your dress.”

The young girl took off both the shoulders of her dress.

Her parents were so astonished and refused immediately.

-“No, no, you cannot marry both men like that!  You have to choose only one!”

-“But I cannot decide!”

-“Why not?”

-“The reason is so simple.  The man from East is very rich but he is so ugly that I cannot look at him face to face while the other who comes from West is very handsome and gentle, but he is so poor . . .  Therefore, I want to live in a rich house but spend romantic nights with the good-looking guy.”

How greedy she was! 

That is human character: greed, anger, and ignorance.

 


Worms In A Corpse

A sutra related to one conversation between Sariputra and one of his disciples.  The latter looked at one skull bone that was in decomposition in a cemetry.  Worms and insects crawled in every hole of the skull.  The disciple asked his master, Sariputra:

-“ What is this?  It is so horrible to look at!”

Sariputra answered:

-“The bones that you see were the head of a very beautiful young lady.  Until her death, she only thought about her beauty and she had a lot of lovers.  Her attachment of beautifulness was immense.  Even after her passing away, she could not release from her beauty; her consciousness perpetuated itself in a desire to possess a very rich man!  Her bad karma made her become worms crawling in a decaying corpse.”


An Indian Legend

An Indian legend told us a story of a king contemporary with the Buddha.

The King, accompanied with his ravissant and beautiful spouse, went to the mountain.  When he fell asleep, she escaped for a while to see an ascetic who practiced meditation in a very small hermitage next to their place.  In fact, not only the Queen but also lots of women had come to visit this monk.

The King, finally knowing the truth, angrily thought: “Why those stupid women want to see that ascetic and not me?”

Full of anger and jealousy, the King planned to revenge.  He went to see the monk.

This ascetic really had an immense patience.

The King asked him: “What are you doing?’

The monk replied:

-“I practice patience.”

-“Will you be angry if I am always spying on you?”

-“No, never.”

-“Even if I cut you into small pieces?” The King insisted.

-“Surely not.” The hermit answered with a very nice attitude and compassion.

Then the King had him cut into small pieces: fingers, hands, ears, legs . . .  No words escaped from the monk’s lips.

In a sutra relating to this story, people later called the King “The Cutter.” However,  there revealed an extraordinary thing; which is the hermit was not even wounded and he continued to practice patience in the realm of Non- Egoism.


A Precious Stone

The Lotus sutra related to this story:

“Two old friends met each other again after a long absence.  One was millionnaire and the other was a tramp.

Together, they drank the sake (a kind of Japanese wine) to celebrate this reunion.  The tramp, a little bit souled, slept happily in a corner of the pub, and his rich friend, full of compassion, before his leaving, gently slipped into the poor’s pocket a very big diamond.

The rich thought that: “If my friend has difficulties, he can sell it to get a huge amount of money.”  Then he left for business.

However, waking up, the tramp did not realize that he had just got a treasure.  He continued his poor life.

A year later, accidentally, these two friends met once again.

The rich one asked:

-“How’s about . . .? Why are you so poor . . .?”

-“Oh, my God, I am really unable to find enough money . . .”

-“You are so stupid, don’t you find out a diamond that I disposed into your pocket last year?”

The poor realized at that time and from that day, he became rich and lived a happy and wonderful life.

Are we the poor who do not realize our Buddha nature?


Respect!

In the Lotus Sutra, we read a chapter as below:

“A bodhisattva, everyday continuously practiced meditation during years.  This monk was not very intelligent, he did not know either how to write or to read scriptures.  However, anytime he saw someone even a slave, he showed a lot of respect.  He did join hands and sometimes he bowed people at their feet.  He told them:

-“I dare not to disrespect you, you all are future Buddhas!”

But one day, some people were so rude and did not want to listen such words of “respect.”  They talked angrily and were ready to fight against the bodhisattva:

-“You are stupid or you make fun about us.  We never believe in such certification!”

Then, they chased him and beat him with a stick or threw stones to him.  He ran to escape but while running, he repeated loudly: “I respect all of you, you are great bodhisattvas.  I have to respect you!  You are great future Buddhas!”

When the bodhisattva came about to die, he had a supervision of a magnificient Buddha.  At that moment, he obtained a wonderful enlightenment and lived forever in a realm of thousands and thousands Buddhas.”

If we respect and follow this precept: “Do not criticize, do not speak ill to anyone,” we will leave forever in real happiness.”


An Ember Under Ashes

The fourth koan of Mumonkan related to Isan’s story.

Isan became disciple of Hyakujo at the age of twenty three.

When Hyakujo saw this young man, he allowed Isan to enter into his room and became his secretary.

One day, Hyakujo asked Isan:

-“Is there a little bit of fire in the chimney’s ashes now?”

Isan looked thoroughly but he could not find anything.  Then Hyakujo came and found, profoundly  buried into ashes, a very small, tiny ember; he took it by pokers, and reset a fire.

-“Is it a fire?” Hyakujo asked the disciple.

-“Oh, yes, yes, sure, it is a fire,” Isan answered.

Hyakujo said:

-“This fire is not important to me, but if you wish to realize your Buddha nature, it is very important to find out an occasion, a chance, an opportunity as much as you can.

The non-spirit or the spirit of non-duality and the spirit of non-profit are very important.  If you are able to transform yourself into those two kinds of spirit: non-duality and non-profit, you can understand my spirit.”


A Small Voice Under The Balluchon

This is a story of a monk whose love to a young boy made him crazy.  One day, that young boy died because of a serious illness, and the monk cried on his corpse for days; finally that monk finished his grieve by devoring the young boy’s corpse.

Since then, the crazy monk created a panic and horrible fear in the valley village by descending to the village every night to look for corpses.

A Zen Master, Kwaian, who passed by the village, decided to try of liberating that monk from his evil.  Kwaian came to the temple, met the abbot and asked him to sleep over there.

During Kwaian’s sleep at night, the evil monk wandered everywhere, searching around the temple to eat Kwaian, but the evil could not find out where was Kwaian.  Tomorrow morning, full of respect, the evil talked to the Zen Master:

-“Master, you are a real Buddha.  You have given me capable principles to liberate me from demon.”

And Kwaian ordered him to meditate on these following poems:

                        “On the river, the moon shines,

                         In the pine trees, the wind blows.

                         Fresh and pure morning,  long and tranquil night,

                        What is a reason about all to you?”

Next year, Kwaian returned to that temple that he found invaded by grass and reeds.  However, during that autumn night, Kwaian heard a tiny voice that whispered the poem that he had given to the evil.  He approached to the monk’s shadow, but at the moment he touched it, the silhouette collapsed in debris.  It rested only small pieces of bones and the old balluchon of the evil monk.

Later, Kwaian had the temple restored and rebuilt it to be a big Zen temple.


A Public of Dolls

This is a story of a Zen monk named Hotan.

Hotan assisted a lecture of a master.  The first time, a lot of people attended his lecture but day after day, the meditation hall was gradually emptied; and finally one day, Hotan found himself alone in the room with the master.  The master said: “I cannot organize a conference only for you.  Moreover, I am tired, very tired.”

Hotan promised to come back the following morning with lots of people.  Hence tomorrow, he came back alone.  Furthermore, he told the master: “Today, you can make a conference, I have brought a big companion.”

Hotan brought a lot of small dolls that he displayed every corner of the meditation hall.  The master, so astonished, exclaimed:

-“But these are just dolls!”

Hotan quietly answered:

-“Absolutely right, however all of people who come here are not worthier than these tiny dolls, they do not understand anything about your lecture or advice.  Only me, I understand the depth of reality.  Therefore, if a lot of people come here, their presence is only a decoration, emptiness, and no foundation.”


Nothing, Non – Nothing

Master Joshu asked one of his disciples about this koan:

-“What is the condition of the consciousness: nothing, non-nothing?”

The disciple answered:

-“I am nothing, in Zen Buddhism, I am in a state of nothing, now I am nothing.”

Master Joshu said:

-“You have to abandon the idea that you are nothing, leave your thoughts!”

There are so many people who talk like parrots about Emptiness, about Prajnaparamita, but they are never able to perform even one of the Six Perfections.


Where Is A Disabled?

One night, two men walked on a road that passed through a very dark jungle inside an isolated mountain.  One of these two was blind, and his companion led him.  In the dark and thick forest, suddenly a horrible ghost appeared on the road.  The blind did not express any fear while his friend was too terrified that he could not walk.  Ironically, at that moment, the blind was just the one who led his companion out of the jungle . . .

This short story might advise us something, right?


Reflection of The Moon In Water

Monk Yuse was a very handsome man, and a woman fell in love with him.  This woman was married, so she was tortured by this kind of forbidden love.  Although her mother’s advice, that woman could not prevent herself from loving the monk, and finally, she fell into serious lovesickness.

She came back to take refuge at her mother’s house, who begged Monk Yuse to come by to her home and try to help her daughter recover herself by teaching her Buddhist’s doctrine.  Yuse agreed to see the ill woman everyday to teach her some sutras.  Gradually, that lady recovered her health.  Unfortunately, one day, both of them realized that they fell in love to each other crazily and could not live separately anymore.  And that was the big mistake that Yuse committed of two serious precepts: he was in relationship with a married woman, and because of that blind and evil passion, he committed to kill her husband.

Yuse was so sorrowful and suffered a lot about his bad deed and he went to confess to the Buddha.  Buddha reassured him and told Yuse that He would give Yuse a power of no fear.  And Buddha took various postures of meditation, He made multi - forms:  all of phenomena are like shadows in a mirror or like a reflection of the moon on the river.

Stupid people suffer because their minds are full of illusion, fooliness and fear; but all of these are only images in a mirror, reflection of the moon in water.  They are illusions of consciousness, they are not real existence.  And with the help of Buddha’s advice, Yuse reached enlightenment.  Yuse understood that until that day, his life was like a dream, and there was always an authentic and profound life beyond that dream.  After his enlightenment, Yuse discovered life as people discover images of a film.  He understood it and got the wisdom of immortality, no birth, no decay, no illness . . . Yuse “saw,” “realized,” “understood,” what is before birth, he “knew” the origin of life.  He reached the state of a Buddha, and of awakening.  Then, he “exists.”


Five Hundred Volumes of Books,

Only Three Words

It was said that in the ancient Persian kingdom there lived a king named Zemir.  Enthroned at very young age, Zemir wanted to study everything himself: he gathered around him lots of scholars coming from different corners of the world and ordered them to edit out to him the history of humanity.

All of those scholars began to concentrate profoundly in that study.

Twenty years passed for the preparation of edition.  Finally, those scholars met together at Zemir palace with five hundred volumes loaded on twelve camels.

King Zemir, at that time, had already passed the age of forty.

-“I am old now,” he said, “I do not have time to read all of these books before my death, so please shorten them more, more . . .”

Twenty years later, the scholars, after their hard work on those books, returned to the palace with books loaded on three camels.  But the King was too old now.  He was almost sixty years old and very weak:

-“It is impossible for me to read all these books.  Please reduce again and make a very short version.”

Those old scholars were working more than ten more years, and returned to the King with only one elephant and books on it.  But the King now was blind, he really could not read even one word.

King Zemir asked consciously a very short, very short version.  The scholars were old, too.  They gathered together five more years and just before the King’s death, they returned with only one volume of work.

King Zemir whispered:

-“I am dying and still do not have knowledge of human’s history.”

Kneeling near his throne, the eldest scholar said:

-“I will explain to you human’s history only in three words: Birth, Suffering, and Death.”

At that moment, King Zemir, very satisfied, exhaled a long breath and passed away.


Anger and Jealousy

What Karma!

This story happened in an ancient Indian tribe in a family where the mother-in-law was jealous of her daughter-in-law and was always looking for something to dispute with her.

       One day, while the daughter-in-law was cooking rice, the mother-in-law got angry without any reason and started to fight but the daughter-in-law pretended not to pay any attention to her; but suddenly she took a piece of burning firewood and violently threw it onto the back of a sheep that was standing next to the kitchen.  The sheep, which further was caught on fire, tried to escape and bleatied horribly, then it jumped rightly on a millstone of wheat which burnst out of fire immediately.  As the wind blew strongly, the fire rose higher and higher up to the elephants’ stable of the King; those animals, too panic-striken, broke the roof and ran away to the neighbor country.  However, people of this country were so angry that they attacked the elephants. Finally, the war blew up between these two countries and lasted about ten years.
            Thus, because of the anger of a jealous and vicious woman, ten years of aggressive and violent Karma (volitional actions) destroyed almost all of those two countries’ population.


Who Loves The Other?

In one sutra, King Hashinoku asked the Queen:

-“The world is immense, but who do you love the most other than yourself?”

She answered:

-“I would like to say that I love you more than myself, but in reality, it is me who I love the most.”

Then the King replied:

-“It is exactly right, me too.  I am more important than anyone else.”

And they started to discuss.  Their words were correct but due to their ego, they did not come to the harmony.  Then they decided to see the Buddha Sakyamuni and told Him about their conversation.

The Buddha said:

-“Of course, your opinions are not wrong.  Finally, man loves himself and everyone is important just for himself.  But do not cause trouble to the others!  However, because of loving himself man bothers others and causes them suffering.”

So, what is egoism?

That is a big Zen koan.


Alive or Dead?

Master Dogo and his disciple Zangei organized a very celebratory funeral.  They prepared the altar, candles, incent . . . in the coffin.  Suddenly Zangei tapped the coffin and talked to his master:

-“This, is living or dead?”

-“I cannot say anything about it,” answered Master Dogo.

Zangei, then, said:

-“If you don’t answer me, Master, I will beat you . . .”

The disciple is robuste, but the master is old, short, and gentle.

-“Okay, Zangei, beat me! But whatever, living or dead, I cannot say anything about it.”

So, Dogo was severely beaten by Zangei.  Dogo, who was a great master, still did not offer any resistance. . . It was the behavior of a big master who was full of kindness and compassion.  In this late evening, Dogo returned to his temple, reunited all of his disciples, and simply said:

-“Zangei, today you have severely beaten me, I suffered a lot.  I could myself forgive you, however according to monastic rule, you must leave the temple due to your nasty deed.  You should leave now before the others kicked you out.”

Zangei left and tried to take refuge at another big Zen master, Sekito, who was very famous at that time.  Zangei told him about the story and asked Sekito:

-“What do you think then?”

Sekityo nodded his head:

-“Your master has given you a perfect answer.  His response is so correct that I cannot affirm “Living or Dead?” either.  Nobody can exactly give the correct and clear answer to that issue.”

At that moment, Zangei reached the satori (enlightenment).

That story is a big koan.

“Alive or Dead?”  Nobody can decide.

Neither right nor left.


A Bowl and A Stick

Long time ago, there was an extremely severe and terrible drought in China.  Rivers were completely dried and people suffered from hunger.  Therefore, the survivors tried to find Master Shoko to beg him for using his powers against the Evil Dragon that held the rain.

With incantations, Shoko invited the King of Dragons, then all celestial dragons, and he locked all of them into his begging bowl. Right after that, it rained abundantly.

The bowl of the monk has boundless cosmic power.

During a trip crossing China’s border, Master Chu came across two furious tigers that were fighting violently against each other in the mountain.  Master Chu interposed his stick between these two tigers and as the bells on the stick kept ringing, the combat stopped immediately.

The stick symbolizes mystical and potential power.

In reality, of course, these objects do not have such material power, dragons cannot enter into the small bowl, and a simple wood stick cannot cause fear to tigers.  These two objects do not have magical powers either; but “A Bowl and A Stick’ symbolize the power of the Buddha, the essence of meditation.


Conclusion:

            Through these short and interesting Buddhist stories, we wish and hope they will somehow help you realize the Truth, the Goodness, the Beauty and reveal the true Buddha nature within you as well.