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10 Short Zen Stories

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10 Short Zen Stories
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull.

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Religions and storytelling

Religions from all over the world have used storytelling as a medium to convey their messages of wisdom.

One such religion is Buddhism, which for centuries has used parables, anecdot...

40 SAVES


Cliffhanger

One day a man stumbled upon a tiger. He ran but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Desperate to save himself, he climbed down a vine and dangled over the fatal precipice.

As he ...

45 SAVES


It Will Pass

A student went to his meditation teacher and said, “My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted, or my legs ache, or I’m constantly falling asleep. It’s just horrible!”

“It w...

74 SAVES


Moving Mind

2 men were arguing about a flag flapping in the wind. One thought the flag was moving the other thought the wind was moving.

A Zen master, who was walking by, overheard the debate a...

55 SAVES


Time to Die

Ikkyu, the Zen master, was very clever even as a boy.

Once, he broke his teacher's teacup. Hearing the footsteps of his teacher, he held the pieces of the cup behind him and asked t...

45 SAVES


The Other Side

A young Buddhist on a journey pondered for hours on how to cross a wide river he came upon. As he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great teacher on the other sid...

49 SAVES


The Gates of Paradise

A soldier named Nobushige asked Hakuin if heaven and hell were real. Hakuin answered with provocations until the soldier drew his sword. 

As Nobushige drew his sword Haku...

34 SAVES


A Cup of Tea

Nan-in, a Japanese master, received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.&n...

56 SAVES


The Moon Cannot Be Stolen

Ryokan, a Zen master, lived a simple life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing in it to steal. Ryok...

48 SAVES


Working Very Hard

A martial arts student went to his teacher and asked how long it would take to master his system. The teacher answered 10 years. The student got impatient and said he would work hard and practic...

47 SAVES


A Useless Life

An old farmer that couldn’t work anymore spent days sitting on the porch. His son, still working the farm, got so aggravated that his father was useless, that he built a wood coffin and told his...

43 SAVES


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Everything Changes

During a Q&A session a student said to master Roshi he’d been listening to his lectures for years but couldn't understand. So he asked Roshi to reduce Buddhism to one phrase. "Everything cha...

Empty Your Cup

A university professor researching Zen sought master Nan-in, who served him tea. Nan-in poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

Non-Judgment

A farmer was consoled by his neighbors who claimed it was bad luck his horse ran away. The farmer replied “Maybe.” The horse returned with more horses, so his neighbors said it was luck. The farmer said “Maybe.” Later a horse broke his son leg and the neighbors said it was a misfortune. The farmer said “Maybe.” The next day his son escaped conscription thanks to his broken leg and the neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. The farmer said “Maybe.”

Time goes on and good and bad are two sides of the same coin. Being aware of this allows us to find peace and happiness.

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Always Running

We all are in a hurry to go somewhere, hankering something greater, better, most substantial and more significant than our present.

Human beings have made it necessary to run towards somethi...

Being, Not Doing

Zen teachings tell us that we are perfect as we are, where we are. Life is perfect as it is, and there is no need to rush anywhere to find happiness.

People have this misconception that getting a better job, making more money, buying new fancy toys, will provide them with happiness, because true happiness can be attained right now, at this very moment.

Get Off The Hamster Wheel

Once we stop striving to get somewhere else, only then we get off the rat race, the hamster wheel of life thrust upon us by society, and find peace in this very moment, as this is all that we have.

Just being in this perfect moment, understanding that there is nowhere to go, and immersing yourself in love and gratitude is the key to happiness.

5 Zen Principles To Live By

  1. Whatever you do, practice being in the moment.
  2. Makes sure you enjoy most moments of your day.
  3. Don’t look for happiness in other places. Find it right where...