Short Zen Stories: Working Harder

Short Zen Stories: Working Harder

A martial arts master was approached by a student, who asked him how long it would take him to master the martial arts system.

The master casually said “Ten years” to which the impatient student replied that he wants to master is faster and would work extremely hard for ten hours or more if required. He was expecting the teacher to provide a shorter time, but the teacher thought for a moment and said “Twenty years”.

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Short Zen Stories: Cliffhanger

A man, walking through the forest, finds a vicious tiger attacking him. As he runs, he is cornered and climbs a vine which is dangling above the tiger.

Two mice start gnawing the vine and it is clear that in a short while he will be food to the tiger. He notices a plump wild strawberry and eats it. It tastes divinely delicious to the dying man.

Short Zen Stories: Time To Die

When Ikkiyu, a Zen master, was a teenager, he accidently broke a precious cup which was a favourite antique of his master. When he heard the footsteps of his master from behind, he quickly asked him, ‘Dear master, why do people have to die?’

The old master replied, ‘Death is natural, everything has to die and has just so long to live’. Clever Ikkiyu produced the shattered cup and said to the master, ‘It was time for your cup to die.’

Short Zen Stories: The Gates Of Paradise

A soldier comes to a Zen Master and inquires if there is really a paradise and a hell. The Zen master asks the soldier who he is, and the soldier replies ‘I’m a Samurai’.

The Zen master then provokes the soldier till he loses his temper and draws his sword, ready to cut the head of the master: The master calmly says “Here open the gates of Hell!” and the samurai soldier instantly perceives the master’s discipline and bows to him. ‘Here open the gates of Paradise’, says the master.

Short Zen Stories: A Cup Of Tea

A university professor came to visit Nan-in, a japanese master, to enquire about Zen. As Nan-in served tea he deliberately overflowed the cup and kept spilling the tea, much to the surprise of the professor.

When the professor finally called out that the cup is already full, Nan-in said “just like this cup, you are also full of your own opinions and speculations, I cannot show you Zen unless you first empty your cup”.

Short Zen Stories: The Other Side

While on a long journey, a young Buddhist comes across the banks of a deep, wide river. He doesn’t know how to cross the big obstacle and ponders for hours. He sees a Zen master on the other side of the river. He yells to the master “Oh wise one, can you tell me how to cross this river and get to the other side?”

The Zen master replies “My son, you are on the other side”.

Short Zen Stories: The Moon Cannot Be Stolen

Ryokan, a Zen Master, was living a minimalist life in a hut on a mountain. A thief came and saw there is nothing to steal.

Ryokan caught the thief but gave him his clothes so that he did go away empty-handed. Once the bewildered thief was gone, Ryokan mused about how he wished he could have gifted him the beautiful moon in the sky.

Short Zen Stories: It Will Pass

A meditation teacher explained the similarity between happiness and sadness over this:

A student is feeling bad because the meditation experience was horrible. The teacher calmly replies ‘It will pass.’.

A week after, the student is delighted because the meditation experience was great. The teacher calmly replied again, ‘It will pass.’.

Short Zen Stories: An Old Farmer

A farmer, who got really old,was useless in the fields where his son worked. A frustrated son built a wooden coffin and told his father to get inside, planning to drop him off a high cliff.

As the son approached the cliff, his father tapped the lid, and said “Throw me over the cliff if you like my son, but save this good wood coffin, as your children might need to use it”.

Short Zen Stories: Moving Mind

Two men saw a flag flapping in the wind and were on loggerheads over whether it was the flag which is moving, or the wind which is moving.

A Zen master overheard the debate over the trivial matter and said, ‘It is neither the flag or the wind which is moving, and it is the MIND that moves.’

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