Monday, July 7, 2014

Zen Stories

The goal of this post is to capture insightful, interesting, inspiring, and uplifting stories. None are composed by the author himself. He simply recounts from memory and past readings, sources long forgotten. Apologies on missing attribution. All errors in the story-telling remain mine alone. I will add more as I find time.

1. "Before I studied Zen, the mountains were just mountains, and the rivers were just rivers. After the first taste of Zen, the mountains were no longer just mountains, and the rivers were no longer just rivers. Now that I understand more of Zen, the mountains are once again mountains, and the rivers are once again rivers."
                                                                                                                                             -- Unknown

2. A traveler approached a monk seated, eyes closed in meditation, prostrated before him, and asked him how long it would take him to get to the next village. "Walk", the monk replied. "That's what I am asking you", the impatient man countered, "how long till the next village?". "Without seeing how you carry yourself, how can I answer?" was the wise reply.

3. Two monks were traveling on a pilgrimage when they came to a small river to be crossed on stepping stones. On their bank, they noticed a shoddily dressed lame woman who appeared to be wanting to cross but unable because of her difficulty. One monk ignored her and crossed the river himself. The other, with some difficulty, carried the woman across and put her down on the other side. The monks then resumed their journey. After going a distance, the first monk asked, "given your vow of celibacy and never to touch a woman, why did you carry her across over there?". The second monk replied, "yes, I did touch her, and yes again, I carried her. But I left her there, while you are carrying her still."

4. As I walked up a beach I saw a girl in the distance doing an odd kind of dance. As I got closer I saw she was picking things up and tossing them back into the sea. Then I noticed that several thousand starfish had beached and she was tossing them one by one into the sea. I asked her what she was doing - "they'll die if they don't get back into the water" she said, "I'm only doing my bit".  I asked her what possible difference it could make when there were so many lying around. "To this one it does" she said, tossing yet another into the sea.

5. A little girl was lost in a small but busy marketplace. When a stranger tried to help her find her mother, she said "my mother is the most beautiful woman in the world". The stranger then took her towards all the beautiful women present, and each time the girl said it wasn't her mother. They then find a rather plain looking woman searching desperately for her child. The girl runs to the woman and hugs her. "We do not love people because they are beautiful. People are beautiful to us because we love them".

6. God promised me he would be with me always. In a dream he showed me my footsteps through my past life, and there were always two pairs of feet walking, except for the most difficult times when there were only one set of footprints visible on the sands of time. I asked Him about this. "My son, these were the times you were not able to go on and I carried you".

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