101 Zen Stories

How do you know when you are in love? It is the first thing you think of when you get up and before you go to bed. It is what you dream. It is that single minded intent where all things are love. It is the same as truth. The story posted by Lykan alluded to the singlmind intent that one must have to attain realization. If it is not like air, if it is not an essential part of your existance then why are you seeking truth?
Grasping at clouds

Look out of the corner your eye and you might just see it

Colors blind people’s eyes,
Sounds deafen their ears;
Flavors spoil people’s palates,
The chase and the hunt
Craze people’s minds;
Goods hard to get
Make people’s actions harmful.
Therefore sages work for the core
And not the eyes,
Leaving the latter and taking the former

- Lao-tzu

Dave the Druid

Originally posted by Firefly
I vaguely get it... Would be most interested in other people's interpretations though. :)

If you want complete Buddha Enlightenment / God-realization, you will attain it only when you want it so much more than anything else. And this can't be just an intellectual "Yeah i really want it," it has to be manifest on every level -- spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically -- every action in your life will consistently be centered around this strong desire.

And yet at the same time, though you desire it, you do not grasp for it. You approach it wisely -- using wisdom gained from your many lifetimes on earth. It is something that you will take hold of without taking hold of, which may seem a contradiction to you now but it will make sense to you when it happens. It is something that you enter into, and that enters into you -- and yet you realize that it was there all along.

Many people are so focused on "seeking truth" that even when they've found it, they're so used to thinking of themselves as seekers that they continue seeking elsewhere instead of just staying where they are and focusing on applying what they've learned. They don't release the self-perception of seeker and begin to think of themselves as a finder instead.

You can travel to the highest mountaintops seeking truth, into caves of the earth, throughout different societies and cultures and talk with many wise people... you can read thousands of parables and libraries of books that sages have written... and though you can potentially gain much knowledge and wisdom from these things, in the end, the Truth will be found within yourself, where it has been all along. It is something that will be realized and felt in a deeper way than anything else you have ever known. Your heart will blossom open and your eyes will open anew, as if all of your life you had been blind and sleepwalking up until that point. And you will weep tears of joy and laugh just because it feels so incredibly good to do so.

At the same time, i perceive that there are different levels of Enlightenment. Some may call only the highest level of Enlightenment by the name of Enlightenment, but to me, there are lesser states of Awakening that can be called Enlightenment as well. And, i see that it isn't "necessary" for a person to strive to attain a basic level of Enlightenment in order to achieve it... that eventually, in the course of your many lifetimes, as your soul gains more and more wisdom from experience, you will eventually attain a basic level of Enlightenment even without consciously striving towards this. Holes in the illusion of physicality become more and more apparent.

"As awareness expands, it cannot contract. It can be distorted, but it cannot contract." - Emmanuel

But if you want to attain the highest level of Awakening, what might be called Buddha Enlightenment or Buddha Awareness, it is necessary to seek it without seeking.

Just remember... "It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters, in the end." - Ursula K. Le Guin
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Interesting final quote.

If you want complete Buddha Enlightenment / God-realization, you will attain it only when you want it so much more than anything else. And this can't be just an intellectual "Yeah i really want it," it has to be manifest on every level -- spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically -- every action in your life will consistently be centered around this strong desire.
Isn't that craving?
Good read Firefly

Craving or obsession...
To want is in direct conflict with the path of Zen. All desires are extinguished...

Dave the Druid

Originally posted by Firefly
Interesting final quote.

Isn't that craving?

It depends on what your definition of the word is. I'll put it this way -- when it comes down to it, you have to want Buddha Awareness more than anything else, to where this is reflected in all of your daily actions in one way or another.

There is nothing wrong with desire in and of itself. It's being attached to what it is you desire that you end up tripping yourself up. Attachment is ultimately the cause of all suffering. People who desire to get rid of desire put themselves into quite a quandary, because the more they try to get rid of it, the greater it becomes in their life. It's like hating hate, or fearing fear.

By my own definition, to be attached to what it is you desire is "craving." Thus, i would say it's wisest to allow yourself to desire things, but to remain emotionally detached when it comes to whether or not you attain what it is you desire.

If Buddha hadn't desired Understanding more than anything else, do you think he would have went and meditated by the river for years as he did? Why do that when he could have just stayed at his luxurious palace with his family and friends, eaten good food, and just read books and talked with traveling sages that came to visit? He would have gained knowledge and wisdom that way, but he probably wouldn't have attained the level of Enlightenment that he did. That is why the hermit dunked the man's head under water in the parable -- to let him know in that moment what it was like to want something more than anything else -- a breath of air. He was saying, "If you want to attain God-realization / Buddha Awareness, then that is how much you must want it -- more than anything else."

If Buddha had been attached to what it was he desired, he might have gotten frustrated that he hadn't gained Understanding after a whole year of meditating beside the river, and returned home.

But at the same time, it isn't necessary to go and meditate by a river or in a cave and starve for a number of years as Buddha did. Yet from what i've learned here and there, you will probably become Enlightened in solitude. Buddha was by himself beside the river meditating when the Middle Path occurred to him, though he heard voices from people on the river. Jesus went out into the desert by himself "for forty days and nights" (which back then meant "an unknown period of time") where he faced his ego in the form of temptation.

"Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise: seek what they sought." - Basho

"In a place that is called alone, where you are not bombarded by Social Consciousness, when you least expect it, there shall come forth a magnificent Light. That Light will surround you, and in surrounding you, it will lift you in a state of pure love -- pure Superlove. In that state, which will seemingly be for all eternity, you will realize, not in words but in emotion, the value of yourself in relation to the Godsource." - Ramtha

Unchecked craving strangles the careless man,
Like a creeper growing in the jungle.
He leaps from lifetime to lifetime,
Like a monkey seeking fruit.

This craving, this clinging,
Overpowers the man caught in it,
And his sorrows multiply,
Like prairie grass fed by rain.

Although it is hard to gain this freedom,
Sorrow leaves the man who overcomes this
toxic craving.
This clinging to the world,
Just as drops of water fall from a lotus leaf.

Therefore, I admonish you all who are here
You have my blessings.
Eradicate craving at the root, as you would
Find the sweet root.
Do not succumb to temptation over and over

The tree may be cut down but the roots remain,
Uninjured and strong,
And it springs up again.
Likewise, suffering returns, again and again,
If the dormant craving is not completely

A man will be swept along
By the thirty-six streams of sensual pleasure,
Borne on the strong currents
Of his craving toward tempting objects.

The streams of craving flow everywhere.
The creeper of craving grows wild,
Through the six sense doors.
Being aware of this strangling vine,
Cut it off at the root through insight.

pgs 91-92 The Dhammapada
Ananda Maitreya translation
Finger Pointing

The Zen teacher's dog loved his evening romp with his master. The dog would bound ahead to fetch a stick, then run back, wag his tail, and wait for the next game.

On this particular evening, the teacher invited one of his brightest students to join him - a boy so intelligent that he became troubled by the contradictions in Buddhist doctrine.

"You must understand," said the teacher, "that words are only guideposts. Never let the words or symbols get in the way of truth. Here, I'll show you."

With that the teacher called his happy dog. "Fetch me the moon," he said to his dog and pointed to the full moon. "Where is my dog looking?" asked the teacher of the bright pupil.

"He's looking at your finger."

"Exactly. Don't be like my dog. Don't confuse the pointing finger with the thing that is being pointed at. "All our Buddhist words are only guideposts. Everyman fights his way through other men's words to find his own truth."

Source: No Zendo
Originally posted by EvilPoet
"All our Buddhist words are only guideposts."
A clear last line really helps in understanding these. :)

Thank for the craving/attachment thing as well, I hadn't seen it in that way. :)
Re: CV

Originally posted by Dave the Druid
Hi Lycan:)

If I might enquire, what is your expirence with Zen? Do subscribe to a specific school?

I studied Zen some 9-10 years ago.

I don't subscribe to any schools. I am rather eclectic in how i see things, as i've found that it helps me avoid dogma. I study different philosophies, read different quotations and parables and such, ponder things, and go with what makes sense to me and feels on-target. It's sorta like collecting vegetables and herbs from different fields in different areas instead of collecting them all from the same field, and making myself some delicious stew from the varied ingredients. Mmmm... :D
Hi Lycan

Nice response:)
I've been at it for more than 20 yrs. I like your take on eclecticism and avoiding dogma (rather one of the biggest pains in my philosphical back side).
Your stew metaphore put me in mind of a Zen quote.

"When walking, walk; when eating, eat"

Peace unto you in search

Dave the Druid

Got Zen?

Consulting Teachers

"Step back on your own to look into reality long enough to attain
an unequivocally true and real experience of enlightenment. Then
with every thought you are consulting infinite teachers."
-Zen Master Yuanwu, Zen Essence

Everyone's Zen

"Ever since the time of the Buddha and the founders of Zen, there
has never been any distinction between ordained and lay people,
in the sense that everyone who has accurate personal experience
of true realization is said to have entered the school of the
enlightened mind and penetrated the source of religion."
-Zen Master Hongzhi, Zen Essence
A man by the name of Jonas angered the shape-shifting wizard Oster one night when Oster appeared as an old man at Jonas' door, and Jonas refused to take him in. So Oster put this curse on him: that if the next stranger who came to Jonas' house did not give his name, then Jonas would die. And the first stranger who came after Oster left was a skilled harpist by the name of Deth. That harpist gave Jonas everything he asked for: songs, tales, the loan of his harp, the history of his travellings. But when Jonas asked him for his name, that name, as Jonas heard it, was Death. And every time Jonas despairingly asked him for his name again, the harpist could give him only one word -- Death. So in fear of Oster, and in despair of the curse, Jonas felt his heart stop as Deth was playing a sad melody on his harp, and he died.
Is this the one you mean?


A merchant in Baghdad sent his servant on an errand to the bazaar and the man came back white with fear and trembling. "Master," he said, "while I was in the marketplace, I walked into a stranger. When I looked him in the face, I found that it was Death. He made a threatening gesture at me and walked away. Now I am afraid. Please give me a horse so that I can ride at once to Samarra and put as great a distance as possible between Death and me."

The merchant -- in his anxiety for the man -- gave him his swiftest steed. The servant was on it and away in a trice.

Later in the day the merchant himself went down to the bazaar and saw Death loitering there in the crowd. So he went up to him and said, "You made a threatening gesture at my poor servant this morning. What did it mean?"

"That was no threatening gesture, sir," said Death. "It was a start of surprise at seeing him here in Baghdad."

"Why would he not be in Baghdad? This is where the man lives."

"Well, I had been given to understand that he would join me in Samarra tonight, you see."
There was a large puddle by the side of a road.

As a woman walked by on the sidewalk, a car drove by through the puddle, which splashed all over her. Shaking with rage, she glared at the car as it drove away. Then she looked around at the other people looking at her, and caring what others thought of her she stuffed the anger down inside of her, and walked on with an icy expression.

An hour later, as another woman walked by on the sidewalk, a truck drove by through the puddle, which splashed all over her. Shocked, she looked down at her drenched clothing for several seconds before bursting into laughter. And as she walked on down the sidewalk, she remembered all of those times as a child that she and her friends had played out in the rain, stomping puddles and laughing with delight.

An hour later, as another woman walked by on the sidewalk -- all dressed up and on her way to an important meeting -- a car drove by through the puddle, which splashed all over her. First she felt shock, then began shaking with rage. Not caring what anyone around her thought, she screamed at the top of her lungs, and people stopped and stared at her. Feeling better from having gotten that out of her, she took a deep breath, released it, and walked back the way she'd came so that she could do what she could to remedy the situation, chuckling at how ridiculously funny life can be sometimes.