Zen is the Japanese practice
of meditation and mindfulness. Here are some great, handpicked stories to bring
joy to your sense of enlightenment.
There once was two
instructors of the Buddha’s teachings. One, Tanzan, was strict in his life
style, never drinking intoxicants or eating after 11 o’clock in the morning. The
other, Unsho, was loose in his discipline, eating whenever and drinking
whatever he pleased.
“Hello, brother,” Tanzan
greeted him. “Won’t you have a drink?”
“I never drink!” exclaimed
“One who does not drink is
not even human,” said Tanzan.
“Do you mean to call me
inhuman just because I do not indulge in intoxicating liquids!” exclaimed Unsho
angrily. “Then if I am not human, what am I?”
“A Buddha,” answered Tanzan.
A Mother’s Advice
There was a Shogun master
that was also famous Sanskrit scholar known through the lands. He would often
give lectures to students and travelers. One day his mother wrote to him and
“Son, I do not think you
became a devotee of the Buddha because you desired to turn into a walking
dictionary for others. There is no end to information and commentation, glory
and honor. I wish you would stop this lecture business. Shut yourself up in a
little temple in a remote part of the mountain. Devote your time to meditation
and in this way attain true realization.”
How To Write A Chinese Poem
A famous Japanese poet was
once asked how to compose a Chinese poem.
“The usual Chinese poem is
four lines,” he explains. “The first line contains the initial phase; the
second line, the continuation of that phase; the third line turns from this
subject and begins a new one; and the fourth line brings the first three lines
together. A popular Japanese song illustrates this:
Two daughters of a silk
merchant live in Kyoto.
The elder is twenty, the
A soldier may kill with his
But these girls slay men with
How The Trees And Grass
One day a fifty year old
student of the Tendai school came to the master Shinken. The master rarely
received visitors and almost never answered their questions.
“I have studied the Tendai
school of thought since I was a little boy, but one thing in it I cannot
understand. Tendai claims that even the grass and trees will become enlightened.
To me this seems very strange.”
“Of what use is it to discuss
how grass and trees become enlightened?” asked Shinkan. “The question is how
you yourself can become so. Did you ever consider that?”
“I never thought of it in
that way,” marveled the old man.
“Then go home and think it
over,” finished Shinkan.
Every Minute Zen
Zen students must learn under
their masters for at least ten years before they may teach others. Tenno was
recently made a master and visited his friend Nan-in,
who was also a master. The day they greeted each other was rainy, and Tenno was
wearing wooden clogs and had an umbrella. Later, while taking tea Nan-in asked, “I suppose you left your wooden clogs in
the vestibule. I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or left side of
This confused Tenno and he
had no immediate answer. He realized in that moment he had lost his Zen. He
studied for sic more years to find and keep his Zen.
An old master used to tell
his students about an old woman that owned a teashop. He praised her deep
understanding of Zen. He encouraged them to seek her out. When she saw the
students coming, she could immediately tell if they had come for tea or not.
If they came for tea she
would serve them delicious tea with grace. If they came for teachings she would
take them around the back. There she would strike them with a red hot poker. Nine
out of ten could not escape her beatings.
Subhuti was a disciple of the
Buddha. He comprehended emptiness, the view point that nothing exists except in
its relationship of subjectivity and objectivity.
One day Subhuti, in a mood of
sublime emptiness, was sitting under a tree. Flowers began to fall about him.
“We are praising you for your
discourse on emptiness,” the gods whispered to him.
“But I have not spoken of
emptiness,” said Subhuti.
“You have not spoken of
emptiness, we have not heard emptiness,” responded the gods. “This is the true
emptiness.” And blossoms showered upon Subhuti as rain.
Everything Is Best
When Banzan was walking
through a market, he happened to hear a butcher talking with his customer.
“Give me the best piece of
meat you have,” said the customer.
“Everything in my shop is the
best,” replied the butcher. “You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not
At these words Banzan became
8 ZEN STORIES THAT WILL ENTERTAIN YOUR MIND AND GROW YOUR PERSPECTIVE 4.55SEEKER Friday, 26 February 2016 Zen is the Japanese practice of meditation and mindfulness. Here are some great, handpicked stories to bring joy to your sense of enlighten...