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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 changes," Roshi said. Then Roshi asked for another question.
Being aware of the ever-changing nature of reality and appreciating the present leads to peace in everyday life.
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?”
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.
A meditation pupil was caught stealing. Master Bankei ignored the case. It happened again and Bankei disregarded it. The other pupils, angered, said they would leave if the thief wasn’t expelled. Bankei said they could leave for they already knew right from wrong but he would keep the thief, as he was the one who really needed help. Hearing that brought the thief to tears and vanquished his desire to steal.
We are often too quick to punish, forgetting some just need to be shown the right path. Being compassionate is hard but the alternative is guaranteed to perpetuate negative behavior.
A man came on a horse galloping down the road. Another man asked him where he was going. The rider answered to ask the horse as he didn’t knew.
The horse symbolizes our habits, often established not by our intentional actions, but by our surroundings and mindless activity. The question is supposed to make us reflect on our actions and prompt us to be more proactive.
A master acrobat would walk around while balancing in his head a bamboo pole where his pupil stood on. One day, the teacher said they should watch each other to help maintain concentration and balance. The pupil answered :" I think it would be better for each of us to watch ourself. To look after oneself means to look after both of us."
Taking care of yourself is important in order to take care of others.
Mediation and midnfulness really do change your perspective on life, it did for me.
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