"A woman who practices reciting Buddha Amitabha's name,
is very tough and recites "NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA"
three times daily. Although she is doing this practice for
over 10 years, she is still quite mean, shouting at people
all the time. She starts her practice lighting incense and
hitting a little bell.
A friend wanted to teach her
a lesson, and just as she began her recitation, he came to
her door and called out: "miss Nuyen, miss Nuyen!".
As this was the time for her
practice she got annoyed, but she said to herself: "I
have to struggle against my anger, so I will just ignore
it." And she continued: "NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA,
NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA..."
But the man continued to shout her
name, and she became more and more oppressive.
She struggled against it and wondered if she should stop the
recitation to give the man a piece of her mind, but she
continued reciting: "NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA, NAMO
The man outside heard it and continued: "Miss Nuyen,
Then she could not stand it
anymore, jumped up, slammed the door and went to the gate
and shouted: "Why do you have to behave like that? I am
doing my practice and you keep on shouting my name over and
The gentleman smiled at her and
said: "I just called your name for ten minutes and you
are so angry. You have been calling Amitabha Buddha's name
for more then ten years now; just imagine how angry he must
be by now!"
A student confided in Suzuki Roshi that she had tremendous
feelings of love for him, and that it confused her.
"Don't worry," he said.
"You can let yourself have all the feelings you have
for your teacher. That's good. I have enough discipline for
both of us."
A student asked Suzuki Roshi why the Japanese make their
teacups so thin and delicate that they break easily.
"It's not that they're too delicate," he answered,
"but that you don't know how to handle them. You must
adjust yourself to the environment, and not vice
Shine One Corner of the World: Moments with Shunryu Suzuki:
Stories of a Zen Teacher Told by His Students"
(Edited by David Chadwick
On a visit to the East Coast, Suzuki Roshi arrived at the
meeting place of the Cambridge Buddhist Society to find
everyone scrubbing down the interior in anticipation of his
visit. They were surprised to see him, because he had
written that he would arrive on the following day. He tied
back the sleeves of his robe and insisted on joining the
preparations "for the grand day of my arrival."
Shine One Corner of the World: Moments with Shunryu Suzuki:
Stories of a Zen Teacher Told by His Students"
Two monks were returning to the monastery in the evening. It
had rained and there were puddles of water on the road
sides. At one place a beautiful young woman was standing
unable to walk accross because of a puddle of water. The
elder of the two monks went up to a her lifted her in his
alms and left her on the other side of the road, and
continued his way to the monastery.
In the evening the younger monk came to the elder monk and
said, "Sir, as monks, we cannot touch a woman ?"
The elder monk answered "yes,
Then the younger monk asks again, " but then Sir, how
is that you lifted that woman on the roadside ?"
The elder monk smiled at him and
told him " I left her on the other side of the road,
but you are still carrying her "
One day a young Buddhist on his journey home, came to the
banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great
obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how
to cross such a wide barrier. Just as he was about to give
up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great
teacher on the other side of the river. The young Buddhist
yells over to the teacher, "Oh wise one, can you tell
me how to get to the other side of this river"?
The teacher ponders for a moment
looks up and down the river and yells back, "My son,
you are on the other side".
ELEPHANT AND HIS OLD BLIND MOTHER
Long ago, in the hills of the Himalayas near a lotus pool,
the Buddha was once born as a baby elephant. He was a
magnificent elephant, pure white with feet and face the
color of coral. His trunk gleamed like a silver rope and his
ivory tusks curled up in a long arc.
He followed his mother everywhere. She plucked the tenderest
leaves and sweetest mangoes from the tall trees and gave
them to him. "First you, then me," she said. She
bathed him in the cool lotus pool among the fragrant
flowers. Drawing the sparkling water up in her trunk, she
sprayed him over the top of his head and back until he
shone. Then filling his trunk with water, he took careful
aim and squirted a perfect geyser right between his mother's
eyes. Without blinking, she squirted him back. And back and
forth, they gleefully squirted and splashed each other.
Then they rested in the soft muck
with their trunks curled together. In the deep shadows of
afternoon, the mother elephant rested in the shade of a
rose-apple tree and watched her son romp and frolic with the
other baby elephants.
The little elephant grew and grew
until he was the tallest and strongest young bull in the
herd. And while he grew taller and stronger, his mother grew
older and older. Her tusks were yellow and broken and in
time she became blind. The young elephant plucked the
tenderest leaves and sweetest mangoes from the tall trees
and gave them to his dear old blind mother. "First you,
then me," he said.
He bathed her in the cool lotus pool among the fragrant
flowers. Drawing the sparkling water up in his trunk, he
sprayed her over the top of her head and back until she
shone. Then they rested in the soft muck with their trunks
curled together. In the deep shadows of afternoon, the young
elephant guided his mother to the shade of a rose-apple
tree. Then he went roaming with the other elephants. One day
a king was hunting and spied the beautiful white
elephant. "What a splendid animal! I must have him to
ride upon!" So the king captured the elephant and put
him in the royal stable. He adorned him with silk and jewels
and garlands of lotus flowers. He gave him sweet grass and
juicy plums and filled his trough with pure water.
But the young elephant would not eat or drink. He wept and
wept, growing thinner each day. "Noble elephant,"
said the king, "I adorn you with silk and jewels. I
give you the finest food and the purest water, yet you do
not eat or drink. What will please you?" The young
elephant said, "Silk and jewels, food and drink do not
make me happy. My blind old mother is alone in the forest
with no one to care for her. Though I may die, I will take
no food or water until I give some to her first."
The king said, "Never have I seen such kindness, not
even among humans. It is not right to keep this young
elephant in chains." Free, the young elephant raced
through the hills looking for his mother. He found her by
the lotus pool. There she lay in the mud, too weak to move.
With tears in his eyes, he filled his trunk with water and
sprayed the top of her head and back until she shone.
"Is it raining?" she asked. "Or has my son
returned to me?" "It is your very own son!"
he cried. "The king has set me free!" As he washed
her eyes, a miracle happened. Her sight returned. "May
the king rejoice today as I rejoice at seeing my son
again!" she said.
The young elephant then plucked the tenderest leaves and
sweetest mangoes from a tree and gave them to her.
"First you, then me."
IRONY OF SAMSARA
Imagine this scene: a layman sits in front of his house,
eating a fish from the pond behind the house, holding his
son in his lap. The dog is eating the fishbones and the man
kicks the dog. Not an extraordinary scene one would think,
but ven. Shariputra commented:
eats his father's flesh and kicks his mother away,
The enemy he killed he dandles on his lap,
The wife is gnawing at her husband's bones,
Samsara can be such a farce."
What had happened?. The man's father died and was reborn as
a fish in the pool, the layman caught his father, the fish,
killed it, and was now eating it. . The layman's mother was
very attached to the house so she was reborn as the man's
dog. The man's enemy had been killed for raping the man's
wife; and because the enemy was so attached to her, he was
reborn as her son. While he ate his father's meat, the dog -
his mother - ate the fish bones, and so was beaten by her
son. His own little son, his enemy, was sitting on his knee.
SPIT, I BOW
The morning after Philip Kapleau and Professor Phillips
arrived at Ryutakuji Monastery they were given a tour of the
place by Abbot Soen Nakagawa. Both Americans had been
heavily influenced by tales of ancient Chinese masters who'd
destroyed sacred texts, and even images of the Buddha, in
order to free themselves from attachment to anything. They
were thus surprised and disturbed to find themselves being
led into a ceremonial hall, where the Roshi invited them to
pay respects to a statue of the temple's founder, Hakuin
Zenji, by bowing and offering incense.
On seeing Nakagawa bow before the image, Phillips couldn't
contain himself, and burst out: "The old Chinese
masters burned or spit on Buddha statues! Why do you bow
down before them?"
"If you want to spit, you spit," replied the Roshi.
"I prefer to bow."
Bird One Stone: 108 American Zen Stories by Sean Murphy
"Once I was staying with my mother in London. At the
time she was the housekeeper for a very wealthy Canadian who
lived in a luxury flat just off Hyde Park. They all went off
for a while, and I had the flat to myself. There I was in
London, living in this luxurious flat with two huge color
television sets and all the food I could possibly eat! I had
enough money for whatever I wanted, lots of records, lots of
everything. But I was so bored!
I told myself, "Please
remember this. If you are ever tempted to think that
physical comfort gives happiness, remember this."
But then, another time I was staying in a cave, not my cave
but another cave, which was very small. It was so small that
you couldn't stand up in it, with a tiny box you could only
just sit in, and that was the bed as well. It was full of
fleas, so I was covered in flea bites. You had to go half a
mile down a very steep track to bring up water. There was
also almost no food at all, and it was hot. But I was in
bliss. I was so happy. It was a very holy place, and the
people there were wonderful. Although from a physical point
of view the situation was difficult, so what! The mind was
happy. I remember that whole place as being bathed in golden
light. Do you see what I mean?"
Ani Tenzin Palmo, from "Reflections
on a Mountain Lake: Teachings on Practical Buddhism'
PROUD BEETLE IN A LUMP OF COW DUNG
"There once was a beetle which came upon a lump of cow
dung. He worked himself into it and liking what he saw, he
invited his friends to join him in building a city in it.
After working feverishly for a few days they built a
magnificent `city´ in the dung and feeling very proud of
their achievement they decided to elect the first beetle as
their king. Now to honour their new `king´ they organised a
grand parade through their `city´.
While these impressive proceedings
were taking place, An elephant happened to pass by and
seeing the lump of cow dung he lifted his foot to avoid
stepping on it. The king beetle saw the elephant and angrily
shouted at the huge beast. `Hey you! Don´t you have any
respect for royalty? Don´t you know it is rude to lift your
leg over my majestic head? Apologies at once or I´ll have
you punished.´ The elephant looked down and said, `Your
most gracious majesty, I humbly crave your pardon.´ Thus
saying he knelt down on the lump of cow dung and crushed
king, city, citizens and pride in one act of
Ven. K Sri Dhammananda
A PIECE OF THE TRUTH
One day Mara, the Evil One, was travelling through the
villages of India with his attendants. he saw a man doing
walking meditation whose face was lit up on wonder. The man
had just discovered something on the ground in front of him.
Mara's attendant asked what that was and Mara replied,
"A piece of truth." "Doesn't this bother you
when someone finds a piece of truth, O Evil One?" his
attendant asked. "No," Mara replied. "Right
after this, they usually make a belief out of it."
From 108 Treasures for the Heart: A Guide for Daily Living
by Benny Liow
There is a story about a princess who had a small eye
problem that she felt was really bad. Being the king's
daughter, she was rather spoiled and kept crying all the
time. When the doctors wanted to apply medicine, she would
invariably refuse any medical treatment and kept touching
the sore spot on her eye. In this way it became worse and
worse, until finally the king proclaimed a large reward for
whoever could cure his daughter. After some time, a man
arrived who claimed to be a famous physician, but actually
was not even a doctor.
He declared that he could definitely cure the princess and
was admitted to her chamber. After he had examined her, he
exclaimed, "Oh, I'm so sorry!" "What is
it?" the princess inquired. The doctor said,
"There is nothing much wrong with your eye, but there
is something else that is really serious." The princess
was alarmed and asked, "What on earth is so
serious?" He hesitated and said, "It is really
bad. I shouldn't tell you about it." No matter how much
she insisted, he refused to tell her, saying that he could
not speak without the king's permission.
When the king arrived, the doctor was still reluctant to
reveal his findings. Finally the king commanded, "Tell
us what is wrong. Whatever it is, you have to tell us!"
At last the doctor said, "Well, the eye will get better
within a few days - that is no problem. The big problem is
that the princess will grow a tail, which will become at
least nine fathoms long. It may start growing very soon. If
she can detect the first moment it appears, I might be able
to prevent it from growing." At this news everyone was
deeply concerned. And the princess, what did she do? She
stayed in bed, day and night, directing all her attention to
detecting when the tail might appear. Thus, after a few
days, her eye got well.
This shows how we usually react. We focus on our little
problem and it becomes the center around which everything
else revolves. So far, we have done this repeatedly, life
after life. We think, "My wishes, my interests, my
likes and dislikes come first!" As long as we function
on this basis, we will remain unchanged. Driven by impulses
of desire and rejection, we will travel the roads of samsara
without finding a way out. As long as attachment and
aversion are our sources of living and drive us onward, we