Zen masters used witty, humorous stories to impart knowledge and morals of Buddhism to their students. These Zen stories are still very much relevant in today’s society. Zen stories, often puzzling, reveal to us the (unseen) nature of human mind. Following is a compilation of my favorite Zen stories.
So kickback and enjoy a stroll along the path of Zen!
What Is Enlightenment?
A disciple of Chuang Tzu is talking to his friend, who is a disciple of another master. His friend claims that his teacher is capable of all sorts of magical acts, like he would move a brush in the air, and characters would appear on a piece of paper hundreds of feet away. “And what can YOUR master do?” he asks the other disciple. “My master can also perform amazing feats,” the other student replies. “When he’s tired, he sleeps. When hungry, he eats”
I Don’t Know
The emperor, who was a devout Buddhist, invited a great Zen master to the Palace in order to ask him questions about Buddhism. “What is the ultimate truth taught by Buddhism?” The emperor asked. “Vast emptiness… and not a trace of holiness,” the master replied. “If there is no holiness, then who or what are you?” The emperor said. “I do not know.” The master replied.
Working Very Hard
A martial arts student went to his teacher and said earnestly, “I am devoted to studying your martial system. How long will it take me to master it?” The teacher’s reply was casual. “Ten years.” Impatiently, the student answered, “But I want to master it faster than that. What if I work really hard and practice ten or more hours a day, every day. How long will it take then?” The teacher thought for a moment, “20 years.”
It Will Pass
A student went to his meditation master and complained, “My meditation is awful! I am constantly distracted, or my legs ache, or I’m constantly falling asleep. It’s just horrible!” “It will pass,” the teacher said matter-of-factly. A week later, the student came back to his teacher. “My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It’s just wonderful!” “It will pass,” the teacher replied matter-of-factly.
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