Monday, August 24, 2015

Three Stories


Like most traditions and ideals, Zen is loaded with stories that illustrate a certain point. Here are three such tales.


Zen Story 1: The Pointer

A Zen master had a favorite dog that loved an evening romp. The master would throw a stick, and the dog would bound ahead to fetch it, then run back, wag its tail, and wait for the next game.

One evening, the roshi invited one of his brightest students to join him.  The novice was an intelligent pupil, but he was often troubled by the contradictions in Zen teachings.

 "You must understand," said the teacher, "that words are only guideposts. Never let words or symbols get in the way of truth.”

With that the teacher called his dog.

"Fetch me the moon," the master said to the dog, as he pointed to the full moon.

The dog sat still.

 "Where is my dog looking?" the teacher asked the pupil.

 "He's staring at your finger," the monk said.

"Exactly,” the master said. “Don't be like the dog. Don't confuse the pointing finger with the thing being pointed at. All Zen words are only guideposts. Every person must fight his way through words to discover his own truth."

Zen Story 2: Flow like a Stream

A young martial arts student was being coached by a famous master. One day the master was watching a practice session in the courtyard. He realized that the presence of the other students was interfering with the young man's attempts to concentrate and perfect his technique.

The master went up and tapped the lad on a shoulder.

"What's the problem?" he asked.

"I don't know,” the student said. "No matter how much I try, I am unable to concentrate enough to execute the moves properly.”

The teacher smiled. "Before you can master technique, you must understand harmony. Come with me, I will explain,” he replied.

The two of them left the courtyard and walked some distance until they came upon a stream. The master stood silently for several moments, then he spoke.

"Look at the water," he said. "There are rocks in its way. Does it slam into them out of frustration? It simply flows over and around them and moves on. Be like the water and you will know what harmony is."

The young man took the master's advice to heart. Soon, he was barely noticing the other students. Nothing could come in his way of executing the perfect moves.

Zen Story 3: No Objective

Once there was a monk who rigorously kept the Buddhist principles. He was proud of his detachment from the world. One evening when he was out walking he stepped on something. It made a squishing sound, and the monk imagined he had stepped on an egg-bearing frog. This caused him no end of sorrow, in view of the precept against taking life, and when he finally went to sleep that night he dreamed that hundreds of frogs came demanding his death.

The monk was terribly upset, but when morning arrived he discovered that what he stepped on was an overripe eggplant. At that moment his feeling of uncertainty stopped, and he realized the meaning of the saying that "there is no world undisturbed by emotion."


Post a Comment

<< Home