Many teachings from Zen-Buddhism are told in short and delightful stories. They are usually designed to develop the mind and to free it from distortions and so to connect with our spirit. It is helpful to the mind to think about them and feel the deeper meaning. Even if it is not possible to grasp them fully, the beauty and simplicity of the message usually gets through to us one way or the other.
Story # 1 : The Cup of Tea : Zen Master 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. Professor : "It is overfull. No more will go in!" Zen Master : "Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"
Life Lesson 1 : Keep an open mind. You have to be willing to throw out what you already know and have a curiosity to explore new paths. If you’re cup is already full, you can’t learn new things.
Story # 2 : The Burden Two monks were returning to the monastery in the evening. It had rained and there were puddles of water on the road sides. At one place a beautiful young woman was standing unable to walk across because of a puddle of water. The elder of the two monks went up to a her lifted her and left her on the other side of the road, and continued his way to the monastery. Young monk : "Sir, as monks, we cannot touch a woman ?" The elder monk : "yes, brother". Young monk : "but then Sir, how is that you lifted that woman on the roadside ?" The elder monk : " I left her on the other side of the road, but you are still carrying her.”
Life Lesson 2 : Focus on the present In order to live in the present and focus on enjoying the moment, you must learn to relax and to keep your mind fully captivated on each task that you are engaged in.Although this can prove to be difficult at first, it can be done. The problem is that most of us tend to do one thing but we have our minds elsewhere trying to solve some other problem.
Story # 3 : Is That So? The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors as one living a pure life. A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child. This made her parents very angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin. Zen master. "Is that so?” When the child was born, the parents brought it to the Hakuin, who now was viewed as a pariah by the whole village. They demanded that he take care of the child since it was his responsibility. Zen master. "Is that so?” A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth – that the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fish market. The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask his forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back again. Zen master. "Is that so?”
Life Lesson 3 : Non-resistance Suffering is the inability to embody a given moment due to the self and its reason, ideas and concepts. No Self is the shedding of these reasons, ideas and concepts which throw us into an automatic emergence with the present moment, thus freeing us from the suffering of our inflexibility. No Self is definitely something though you cannot put your finger on it and suffering is that which points the finger.
Story # 4 : Maybe Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said. The farmer : “Maybe,” The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. The farmer : “Maybe,” The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. The farmer : “Maybe,” The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. The farmer : “Maybe,”
Life Lesson 4 : Non-attachment Non-attachment is a way to rid your life of unnecessary unhappiness. It's a way to become happier. Human beings get attached to ideas - ideas about who they are, what's the best way to live, ideas about what other people should be like, and so on - and our attachment to those ideas causes most of our day-to-day suffering. It is our ideas about reality that causes the suffering, not the reality itself.
Story # 5 : The Blind Men and the Elephant Several citizens ran into a hot argument about God and different religions, and each one could not agree to a common answer. So they came to the Lord Buddha to find out what exactly God looks like. The Buddha asked his disciples to get a large magnificent elephant and four blind men. He then brought the four blind to the elephant and told them to find out what the elephant would "look" like. The first blind men touched the elephant leg : “It ‘looked’ like a pillar.” The second blind man touched the elephant tummy : “It was a wall.” The third blind man touched the elephant ear : “It was a piece of cloth.” The fourth blind man hold on to the tail : “It was a piece of rope.” The Buddha: "Each blind man had touched the elephant but each of them gives a different description of the animal. Which answer is right?”
Lesson # 5 : Judgment Knowledge and judgment come from experience. Experience comes from good or bad judgment regarding life situations, which leads to evolution over time.Sometimes we do things and we don’t know the real reason we are doing it for. We just copy martial arts moves but do not understand them. If we don’t look for the reasons behind it all, we will not keep going forward .
Story # 6 : Nothing exits Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Dokuonof Shokoku. Desiring to show his attainment, Young student :"The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is emptiness. There is no realization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received." Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry. Zen Master : "If nothing exists, where did this anger come from?”
Life Lesson # 6 : Consciousness When you take conscious control of all your decisions, you are actually activating certain neural pathways in your brain that help promote self-control, calmness, and inner peace. Every time you allow others to dictate your decisions or you don’t take full conscious responsibility for your decisions, you become slightly conditioned to be less conscious when making choices.
Story # 7 : A Drop of Water A Zen master named Gisan asked a young student to bring him a pail of water to cool his bath. The student brought the water and, after cooling the bath, threw on to the ground the little that was left over. Zen Master : "You dunce! Why didn't you give the rest of the water to the plants? What right have you to waste even one drop of water in this temple?" The young student attained Zen in that instant. He changed his name to Tekisui, which means a drop of water.
Life Lesson # 7 : Don’t forget to enjoy the little things No matter where you are in your life journey at this moment, there are things around you that you should be enjoying and celebrating. If you were to sit down today and marvel at how far you have come, appreciate the people who are currently in your life, and be amazed by how much you actually have, you would be in awe. One of the keys to enjoying your life is to take time to enjoy all the little things.
Take your time in reading them. Inwardly digest them. Chew on them. Be challenged by them. Don’t discard them, but simply ask yourself ‘what are the inspiring lessons I have just learned’ once you have read them. Read them more than once. Seek to understand and take action. I believe you can succeed in your life!!!
“Do not follow the ideas of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself.” - Zen Master Dogen Thank You Very Much Sompong Yusoontorn