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 sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. […]
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Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. 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. “It is overfull. No more will go in!” “Like this […]
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“Suzuki Roshi, I’ve been listening to your lectures for years,” a student said during the question and answer time following a lecture, “but I just don’t understand. Could you just please put it in a nutshell? Can you reduce Buddhism to one phrase?” Everyone laughed. Suzuki laughed. “Everything changes,” he said. Then he asked for […]
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Seisetsu, master of Engaku in Kamakura (Japan), once felt the need for larger quarters, since those in which he was teaching were overcrowded. Umeza Seibei, a merchant of Edo, decided to donate five hundred pieces of gold called ryo, towards the construction of a more commodious school. He brought this money to the teacher. “All […]
Read more "The Giver should be Thankful"
Subhuthi was a disciple of Buddha. He was able to understand the potency of emptiness—the viewpoint that nothing exists except in its relationship of subjectivity and objectivity. One day, Subhuthi, in a mood of sublime emptiness, was sitting under a tree, when suddenly flowers began to fall on him. “We are praising you for your […]
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Zen students need to stay with their masters at least until two years before they can teach anyone. Tenno was a frequent visitor to Nan-in, who having passed his apprenticeship had become a teacher. Once, on a rainy day, Tenno, with his wooden clogs and umbrella visited Nan-in. After greeting Tenno, Nan-in remarked, “I suppose […]
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A great Japanese warrior, named Nobunaga, once decided to attack his enemy, even though he had only one-tenth the number of men as compared to his opposition. He knew he would win but his troop had their doubts. As he advanced towards the enemy camp, he could sense an air of uneasiness among his men. […]
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On visiting the Obaku temple in Kyoto (Japan), you are bound to notice these three words on its main gate: The First Principle. The letters are unusually large, and those who appreciate calligraphy always have something or the other to say about this masterpiece. These words were drawn by Kosen about two hundred years ago. […]
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