be aware of the parable and be aware of the thoughts that it
invokes in you.
They are not
your thoughts, they are just
thoughts. Try instead to to detach from them and observe.
The essence of
Zen is on not identifying with one thought or its
opposite, it is about getting to the awareness that is
behind the thought."
The Essence of Zen ●
Empty Your Cup
A university professor
went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master
quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The
master poured the visitor's cup to the brim, and then
The professor watched the
overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain
"It's overfull! No more
will go in!" the professor blurted.
"You are like this cup,"
the master replied, "How can I show you Zen unless you
first empty your cup."
The emperor, who was a
devout Buddhist, invited a great Zen master to the
Palace in order to ask him questions about
"What is the highest truth of the holy Buddhist
doctrine?" the emperor inquired.
"Vast emptiness... and not
a trace of holiness," the master replied.
"If there is no holiness,"
the emperor said, "then who or what are you?"
"I do not know," the
What is missing in this
What is wrong with this
moment, if you don't think about it?
If a tree falls in a
forest, and there is no one there to hear it, will it
make a sound?
A martial arts student
went to his teacher and said earnestly, "I am devoted to
studying your martial system. How long will it take me
to master it."
The teacher's reply was
casual, "Ten years."
Impatiently, the student
answered, "But I want to master it faster than that. I
will work very hard. I will practice everyday, ten or
more hours a day if I have to. How long will it take
The teacher thought for a
moment, "20 years."
Once there was a well
known philosopher and scholar who devoted himself to the
study of Zen for many years. On the day that he finally
attained enlightenment, he took all of his books out
into the yard, and burned them all.
A man walking across a
field encounters a tiger. He fled, the tiger chasing
after him. Coming to a cliff, he caught hold of a wild
vine and swung himself over the edge. The tiger sniffed
at him from above. Terrified, the man looked down to
where, far below, another tiger had come, waiting to eat
him. Two mice, one white and one black, little by little
began to gnaw away at the vine. The man saw a luscious
strawberry near him. Grasping the vine in one hand, he
plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it
A Japanese warrior was
captured by his enemies and thrown into prison. That
night he was unable to sleep because he feared that the
next day he would be interrogated, tortured, and
executed. Then the words of his Zen master came to him,
"Tomorrow is not real. It is an illusion. The only
reality is now." Heeding these words, the warrior became
peaceful and fell asleep.
A new student approached
the Zen master and asked how he should prepare himself
for his training. "Think of me a bell," the master
explained. "Give me a soft tap, and you will get a tiny
ping. Strike hard, and you'll receive a loud, resounding
Hyakujo wished to send a
monk to open a new monastery. He told his pupils that
whoever answered a question most ably would be
appointed. Placing a water vase on the ground, he asked:
"Who can say what this is without calling its name?"
The chief monk said: "No
one can call it a wooden shoe."
Isan, the cooking monk,
tipped over the vase with his shoe and went out.
Hyakujo smiled and said:
"The chief monk loses." And Isan became the master of
the new monastery.
The Moving Flag
Two Buddhist monks were
arguing about a flag flapping in the wind. "It's the
wind that is really moving," stated the first one. "No,
it is the flag that is moving," contended the second. A
third interrupted them.
"Neither the flag nor the
wind is moving," he said, "It is MIND that is moving."
The Prime Minister of the
Tang Dynasty was a national hero for his success as both
a statesman and military leader. But despite his fame,
power, and wealth, he considered himself a humble and
devout Buddhist. Often he visited his favorite Zen
master to study under him, and they seemed to get along
very well. The fact that he was prime minister
apparently had no effect on their relationship, which
seemed to be simply one of a revered master and
One day, during his usual
visit, the Prime Minister asked the master, "Your
Reverence, what is egotism according to
master's face turned red, and in a very condescending
and insulting tone of voice, he shot back, "What kind of
stupid question is that?"
This unexpected response
so shocked the Prime Minister that he became sullen and
angry. The Zen master then smiled and said, "THIS, Your
Excellency, is egotism.
and the Thief
A Zen Master lived the
simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a
mountain. One evening, while he was away, a thief
sneaked into the hut only to find there was nothing in
it to steal.
The Zen Master returned
and found him. "You have come a long way to visit me,"
he told the prowler, "and you should not return empty
handed. Please take my clothes as a gift." The thief was
bewildered, but he took the clothes and ran away.
The Master sat naked,
watching the moon. "Poor fellow," he mused, " I wish I
could give him this beautiful moon."
One day Tokusan told his
student Ganto, "I have two monks who have been here for
many years. Go and examine them." Ganto picked up an ax
and went to the hut where the two monks were
meditating. He raised the ax, saying, "If you say a
word I will cut off your heads; and if you do not say a
word, I will also cut off your heads."
continued their meditation as if he had not spoken.
Ganto dropped the ax and said, "You are true Zen
students." He returned to Tokusan and related the
"I see your side well," Tokusan agreed, "but
tell me, how is their side?"
"Tozan may admit them,"
replied Ganto, "but they should not be admitted under
Zen-style Wise Answers
One day Chuang Tzu and a
friend were walking by a river. "Look at the fish
swimming about," said Chuang Tzu, "They are really
"You are not a fish,"
replied the friend, "So you can't truly know that they
are enjoying themselves."
"You are not me," said
Chuang Tzu. "So how do you know that I do not know that
the fish are enjoying themselves?"...