Inspirational short stories
Optimistic, motivational or laugh out loud, these are a collection of stories attributed to Zen Buddhism, although the origin of many is Unkown. Each has a lesson to be learnt if we pay close enough attention
The Zen Master and the Thief
One evening, Zen master Shichiri Kojun was reciting sutras when a thief entered his house with a sharp sword, demanding “money or life”. Without any fear, Shichiri said, “Don’t disturb me! Help yourself with the money, it’s in that drawer”. And he resumed his recitation.
The thief was startled by this unexpected reaction, but he proceeded with his business anyway. While he was helping himself with the money, the master stopped and called, “Don’t take all of it. Leave some for me to pay my taxes tomorrow”. The thief left some money behind and prepared to leave. Just before he left, the master suddenly shouted at him, “You took my money and you didn’t even thank me?! That’s not polite!”. This time, the thief was really shocked at such fearlessness. He thanked the master and ran away. The thief later told his friends that he had never been so frightened in his life.
A few days later, the thief was caught and confessed, among many others, his thieft at Shichiri’s house. When the master was called as a witness, he said, “No, this man did not steal anything from me. I gave him the money. He even thanked me for it.”
The thief was so touched that he decided to repent. Upon his release from prison, he became a disciple of the master and many years later, he attained Enlightenment.
The Short Staff
Shuzan held out his short staff and exclaimed “If you call this a short staff, you oppose it’s true reality. If you do not call it a short staff, you ignore it’s very nature. Now what do you wish to call this?
Question of Heaven or Hell
A soldier named Horishmo came to Hakuin, a meditation master of old, and asked: “Is there really a paradise and a hell?”
“Who are you?” inquired Hakuin.
“I am a samurai,” the warrior replied.
“You, a soldier!” exclaimed Hakuin. “What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar.”
Horishmo became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued: “So you have a sword ! Your weapon is probably much too dull to cut off my head.”
As Nobushige drew his sword Hakuin remarked: “Here open the gates of hell!”
At these words the samurai, perceiving the master’s discipline, sheathed his sword and bowed. “Here open the gates of paradise,” said Hakuin
How long does it take to get Enlightened?
A young but earnest Zen student approached his teacher, and asked the Zen Master: “If I work very hard and diligent how long will it take for me to find Zen.”
The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years.”
The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast — How long then ?”
Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.”
“But, if I really, really work at it. How long then ?” asked the student.
“Thirty years,” replied the Master.
“But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that ?”
Replied the Master,” When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.
The Travelling Monk
In ancient times it was customary for a traveling monk seeking lodging at a Zen monastery to engage in dharma combat with the abbot or head monk. If the wayfarer won the debate, he could stay; if not, he had to seek quarters elsewhere.
Once a master assigned his attendant to engage in such an encounter with a traveling monk, who challenged him to a silent debate. It so happened that this attendant had but one eye.
Soon the wayfarer returned to the master, saying, “Your man is too good for me. I must journey on. I held up one finger to symbolize the Buddha. But he held up two fingers for the Buddha and the Dharma. So I held up three fingers for the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. But then he held up a clenched fist to indicate they were all one – so I ran to indicate I am no match for him.”
When the traveler who spoke these words left, the attendant arrived – angry and out of breath. “Where is that rascal?” he demanded. “First, he insulted me by holding up one finger to indicate I had only one eye. Determined to be polite in spite of that, I held up two fingers to indicate that, on the other hand, he was blessed with two eyes. But he just kept rubbing it in, for next he held up three fingers to indicate that all together there were only three eyes among us. So I went to hit him and he ran off! Where is he hiding?”
I really hoped you liked these tales from old, if you have then please help me grow by sharing with your friends
Sharing is caring after all. Many thanks