101 Zen Stories

Discussion in 'Eastern Philosophy' started by EvilPoet, Oct 17, 2002.

  1. EvilPoet I am what I am Registered Senior Member

    Yes, it makes sense. Hmmm ... that reminds me of a
    quote about the way. If I can find it I will post it.

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  3. EvilPoet I am what I am Registered Senior Member

    The Great Way

    "People who study the path today do not understand the great way --- they only strive to fufill greed and ambition. At the very outset of their inspiration to study the way, their initial understanding is already mistaken.

    The way is the path of fundamental purity: for immense aeons, and even up to the present day, it has no gain or loss, no new or old, no light or dark, no form or name. It is not more in the buddhas and not less in ordinary people. To insist on calling it the way is already defiling; to say something is accomplished by methods of learning the way is what I have called mistaken. It was for lack of choice that the ancients referred to people heading for transcendence as students of the way. The study is that there is nothing to study; the way is that there is nothing to be a way. Since there is nothing to study, there is no clinging; since there is nothing to be a way, there is no following. If one idly slips and says the word Buddha, one must simply wash one's mouth for three years --- only thus can one be called a real student of the way.

    Nan-ch'uan said, "The way is not the province of knowing, nor is it the province of unknowing. Knowing is false consciousness, unknowing is is indifference. If you truly arrive at the way without doubt, it is like cosmic space --- how can you insist on affirmation and denial?"

    -Suh-chung (d. 1386), Teachings of Zen
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  5. EvilPoet I am what I am Registered Senior Member

    6 Buddha Twirls a Flower

    When Buddha was in Grdhrakuta mountain he turned a flower in his fingers and held it before his listeners. Every one was silent. Only Maha-Kashapa smiled at this revelation, although he tried to control the lines of his face.

    Buddha said: "I have the eye of the true teaching, the heart of Nirvana, the true aspect of non-form, and the ineffable stride of Dharma. It is not expressed by words, but especially transmitted beyond teaching. This teaching I have given to Maha-Kashapa.'

    Mumon's Comment: Golden-faced Guatama thought he could cheat anyone. He made the good listeners as bad, and sold dog meat under the sign of mutton. And he himself thought it was wonderful. What if all the audience had laughed together? How could he have transmitted the teaching? And again, if Maha Kashapa had not smiled, how could he have transmitted the teaching? If he says that realization can be transmitted, he is like the city slicker that cheats the country dub, and if he says it cannot be transmitted, why does he approve of Maha-Kashapa?

    At the turning of a flower
    His diguise was exposed.
    No one is heaven or earth can surpass
    Maha-Kashapa's wrinkled face.

    Source: The Gateless Gate
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  7. Lykan Golden Sparkler Registered Senior Member

    Remember the words of the musician who was asked which was greater, knowledge or wisdom. "Without knowledge," he answered, "I could not play the violin. Without wisdom, I could not play the music."
  8. EvilPoet I am what I am Registered Senior Member

    "Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom.
    One can find it, live it, be fortified by it, do wonders
    through it, but one cannot communicate and teach
    it." -Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

    When Knowledge Went North

    Knowledge wandered north
    Looking for Tao, over the Dark Sea,
    And up the Invisible Mountain.
    There on the mountain he met
    Non-Doing, the Speechless One.

    He inquired:
    "Please inform me, Sir,
    By what system of thought
    And what technique of meditation
    I can apprehend Tao?
    By what renunciation
    Or what solitary retirement
    May I rest in Tao?
    Where must I start,
    What road must I follow
    To reach Tao?"

    Such were his three questions.
    Non-doing, the Speechless One,
    Made no reply.
    Not only that,
    He did not even know
    How to reply!

    Knowledge swung south
    To the Bright Sea
    And climbed the Luminous Mountain
    Called "Doubt's End."
    Here he met
    Act-on-Impulse, the Inspired Prophet,
    And asked the same questions.

    "Ah." cried the Inspiried One,
    "I have the answers, and I will reveal them!"
    But just as he was about to tell everything,
    He forgot all he had in mind.
    Knowledge got no reply.

    So knowledge went at last
    To the palace of Emperor Ti.
    And asked his questions of Ti.
    Ti replied:
    "To exercise no-thought
    And follow no-way of meditation
    Is the first step toward understanding Tao.
    To dwell nowhere
    And rest in nothing
    Is the first step toward resting in Tao.
    To start from nowhere
    And follow no road
    Is the first step toward attaining Tao."

    Knowledge replied: "You know this
    And now I know it. But the other two,
    They did not know it.
    What about that?
    Who is right?"

    Ti replied:
    Only Non-Doing, the Speechless One,
    Was perfectly right. He did not know.
    Act-on-Impulse, the Inspired Prophet,
    Only seemed right
    Because he had forgotten.
    As for us,
    We come nowhere near being right,
    Since we have the answers.
    "For he who knows does not speak,
    He who speaks does not know"
    And "The Wise Man gives instruction
    Without the use of speech."

    The story got back
    To Act-on-Impulse
    Who agreed with Ti's
    Way of putting it.

    It is not reported
    That Non-Doing ever heard of the matter
    Or made any comment.

    [xxii. i.]

    Source: The Way Of Chuang Tzu
  9. EvilPoet I am what I am Registered Senior Member

    Tao Te Ching

    [Translation by Gia Fu Feng and Jane English]

    Chapter Forty-Eight

    In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired.
    In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.

    Less and less is done
    Until non-action is achieved.
    When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.

    The world is ruled by letting things take their course.
    It cannot be ruled by interfering.

    Source: Daily Tao
  10. Dave the Druid Registered Senior Member

    It either is or isn't.
    The way is like a deep river
    Calm, flowing and unfathomable
    Yet is unlike a river
    It is like a Mountain
    Strong, solid and formidible

    Is it either, both or neither?

    How can it be so?
  11. EvilPoet I am what I am Registered Senior Member

    "Be still like a mountain and flow like a great river."

    "When Confucius asked him about the Way, Lao-tzu said: Straighten your body, unify your vision, and the harmony of heaven will arrive. Concentrate your knowledge, rectify your assessment, and the spirit will come to abide. Virtue will be receptive to you, the Way will be there for you. Gaze straight ahead like a newborn calf, without seeking the wherefore, let your body be like a withered tree and your mind like dead ashes. Realize genuine knowledge, and don't use twisted reasoning. Keep yourself open, unminding, and you may attain clarity and all-around mastery. How could this be unknowing?" -Wen-tzu
  12. EvilPoet I am what I am Registered Senior Member

    Ordinary Mind Is The Way

    The Koan

    Joshu once asked Nansen, "What is the Way?" Nansen answered, "Ordinary mind is the Way." "Then should we direct ourselves toward it or not?" asked Joshu. "If you direct yourself toward it, you go away from it," answered Nansen. Joshu continued, "If we do not try, how can we know that it is the Way?" Nansen replied, "The Way does not belong to knowing or not knowing. Knowing is illusion, not-knowing is blankness. If you really attain to the Way of no-doubt, it is like the great void, so vast and boundless. How, then, can there be right and wrong in the Tao?" At these words, Joshu was suddenly enlightened.

    Mumon's poem

    Hundreds of flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
    A cool breeze in summer, and snow in winter;
    if there is no vain cloud in your mind
    For you it is a good season.

    from the MUMONKAN, translated by Sumiko Kudo

    Source: Teachings Of The Buddha by Jack Kornfield
  13. Lykan Golden Sparkler Registered Senior Member

    Notere Bisera journeyed to see the sage Ishu at his remote hermitage in the mountains. Upon arriving, he said to Ishu, "I seek enlightenment."

    Ishu nodded and reached out his hand, saying "Pull my finger."

    Notere raised an eyebrow, but went ahead and pulled his finger. Ishu farted, and Notere was suddenly enlightened.
  14. Dave the Druid Registered Senior Member

    Make me LOL

    I hadn't heard that one before. Perhaps that is the essence of the ordinary mind.
    Dave the Druid
  15. EvilPoet I am what I am Registered Senior Member

    Tao and the Ocean

    Once upon a time, a young fish asked an old fish: "Everyone talks about this thing they call 'ocean.' What the heck is it?"

    The older and wiser fish answered: "The ocean is this thing that surrounds you on all sides."

    The younger fish didn't understand: "There's nothing around me! Why can I not see this 'ocean?'"

    "Of course you cannot," the old fish was patient. "The ocean is both inside and outside of you. You were born in the ocean and chances are you will die in it. The ocean flows around you, just as your own skin does."

    Confucius once said, "Fish forget they live in water; people forget they live in the Tao." We all live in the ocean of Tao. It flows over us; it is within us and all around us. It enfolds us like our own skin, and yet we cannot perceive it... indeed, most of us have no idea what it is. Let us think of Tao as the universal flow of reality. This will take us another step toward true understanding of Tao.

    Source: Tao Stories
  16. EvilPoet I am what I am Registered Senior Member

    Mind Is Buddha

    The Koan

    Taibai once asked Baso, "What is Buddha?"
    Baso answered, "Mind is Buddha."

    Mumon's poem

    A fine day under the blue sky!
    Don't foolishly look here and there.
    If you still ask, "What is buddha?"
    It is like pleading your innocense while clutching stolen

    from the MUMONKAN, translated by Sumiko Kudo

    Source: Teachings Of The Buddha by Jack Kornfield
  17. EvilPoet I am what I am Registered Senior Member


    A monk asked Zen master Bankei, "Is it not harmless
    to joke around in spontaneous moments of levity?"

    Bankei said, "Its all right if you want to lose trust."

    Source: Zen Antics
  18. EvilPoet I am what I am Registered Senior Member


    The Prime Minister of the Tang Dynasty was a national hero for his success as both a statesman and military leader. But despite his fame, power, and wealth, he considered himself a humble and devout Buddhist. Often he visited his favorite Zen master to study under him, and they seemed to get along very well. The fact that he was prime minister apparently had no effect on their relationship, which seemed to be simply one of a revered master and respectful student.

    One day, during his usual visit, the Prime Minister asked the master, "Your Reverence, what is egotism according to Buddhism?" The master's face turned red, and in a very condescending and insulting tone of voice, he shot back, "What kind of stupid question is that!?"

    This unexpected response so shocked the Prime Minister that he became sullen and angry. The Zen master then smiled and said, "THIS, Your Excellency, is egotism."

    Source: Zen Stories To Tell Your Neighbors
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2003
  19. EvilPoet I am what I am Registered Senior Member

    Elephant and Flea

    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."

    Source: Zen Stories To Tell Your Neighbors
  20. EvilPoet I am what I am Registered Senior Member

    Monkey Mountain

    The Prince of Wu took a boat to Monkey Mountain. As soon as the monkey's saw him they all fled in panic and hid in the treetops. One monkey, however, remained, completely unconcerned, swinging from branch to branch---an extraordinary display!

    The Prince shot an arrow at the monkey, but the monkey dexterously caught the arrow in mid-flight. At this the Prince ordered his attendants to make a concerted attack. In an instant the monkey was shot full of arrows and fell dead.

    Then the King turned to his companion Yen Pu'i: "You see what happened?" he said. "This animal advertised his cleverness. He trusted in his own skill. He thought no one could touch him. Remember that! Do not rely on distinction and talent when you deal with men!"

    When they returned home, Yen Pu'i became the disciple of a sage to get rid of everything that made him outstanding. He renounced every pleasure. He learned to hide every "distinction." Soon no one in the Kingdom knew what to make of him. Thus they held him in awe.

    [xxiv. 8.]

    Source: The Way Of Chuang Tzu
  21. EvilPoet I am what I am Registered Senior Member

    The Dancing Peacock

    Once upon a time, a very long time ago, the four-footed animals made the lion their king. There was a gigantic fish that roamed the oceans, and the fish made him their king. The birds were attracted to beauty, so they chose the Golden Swan as their king.

    King Golden Swan had a beautiful golden daughter. While she was still young, he granted her one wish. She wished that, when she was old enough, she could pick her own husband.

    When his daughter was old enough, King Golden Swan called all the birds living in the vast Himalayan Mountains of central Asia to a gathering. The purpose was to find a worthy husband for his golden daughter. Birds came from far away, even from high Tibet. There were geese, swans, eagles, sparrows, humming birds, cuckoos, owls and many other kinds of birds.

    The gathering was held on a high rock slab, in the beautiful green land of Nepal. King Golden Swan told his lovely daughter to select whichever husband she wished.

    She looked over the many birds. Her eye was attracted by a shining emerald-green long-necked peacock, with gorgeous flowing tail feathers. She told her father, "This bird, the peacock, will be my husband."

    Hearing that he was the lucky one, all the other birds crowded around the peacock to congratulate him. They said, "Even among so many beautiful birds, the golden swan princess has chosen you. We congratulate you on your good fortune."

    The peacock became so puffed up with pride, that he began to show off his colorful feathers in a fantastic strutting dance. He fanned out his spectacular tail feathers and danced in a circle to show off his beautiful tail. Being so conceited, he pointed his head at the sky and forgot all modesty, so that he also, showed his most private parts for all to see!

    The other birds, especially the young ones, giggled. But King Golden Swan was not amused. He was embarrassed to see his daughter's choice behave in this way. He thought, "This peacock has no inner shame to give him proper modesty. Nor does he have the outer fear to prevent indecent behavior. So why should my daughter be shamed by such a mindless mate?"

    Standing in the midst of the great assembly of birds, the king said, "Sir peacock, your voice is sweet, your feathers are beautiful, your neck shines like an emerald, and your tail is like a splendid fan. But you have danced here like one who has no proper shame or fear. I will not permit my innocent daughter to marry such an ignorant fool!"

    Then King Golden Swan married his golden daughter to a royal nephew. The silly strutting peacock flew away, having lost a beautiful wife.

    The moral is: If you let pride go to your head, you'll wind up acting like a fool.

    Source: Buddhist Tales
  22. Weiser_Dub Registered Senior Member

    The tao that can be told
    is not the eternal Tao.
    The name that can be named
    is not the eternal Name.

    The unnameable is the eternally real.
    Naming is the origin
    of all particular things.

    Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
    Caught in desire, you see
    only the manifestations.
  23. Weiser_Dub Registered Senior Member

    When people see some things as beautiful,
    other things become ugly.
    When people see some things as good,
    other things become bad.

    Being and non-being create each other.
    Difficult and easy support each other.
    Long and short define each other.
    High and low depend on each other.
    Before and after follow each other.

    Therefore the Master
    acts without doing anything
    and teaches without saying anything.

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