STORIES & PARABLES AND KOANS

A MASTER who lived as a hermit on a mountain was asked by a monk, "What is the Way?" "What a fine mountain this is," the master said in reply. "I am not asking you about the mountain, but about the Way." "So long as you cannot go beyond the mountain, my son, you cannot reach the Way," replied the master. *** THE MASTER Kosen drew the words "The First Principle" which are carved over the gate of the Oaku Temple in Kyoto. He drew them with his brush on a sheet of paper later they were carved in wood. A pupil of the master had mixed the ink for him, and stood by, watching the master's calligraphy. This pupil said, "Not so good!" Kosen tried again. The pupil said: "That's worse than the first one!" and Kosen tried again. After the sixty-fourth try, the ink was running low, and the pupil went out to mix some more. Left alone, undistracted by any critical eye watching him, Kosen made one more quick drawing with the last of the ink. When the pupil returned, he took a good look at this latest effort. "A masterpiece!" he said. *** JOSHU asked a monk who appeared for the first time in the hall, "Have I ever seen you here before?" The monk answered, "No sir, you have not." "Then have a cup of tea," said Joshu. He turned to another monk. "Have I ever seen you here before?" he said. "Yes sir, of course you have," said the second monk. "Then have a cup of tea," said Joshu.

Later, the managing monk of the monastery asked Joshu, "How is it that you make the same offer of tea whatever the reply to your question?" At this Joshu shouted, "Manager, are you still here?" "Of course, master!" the manager answered. "Then have a cup of tea," said Joshu. *** THE STUDENT Doken was told to go on a long journey to another monastery. He was much upset, because he felt that this trip would interrupt his studies for many months. So he said to his friend, the advanced student Sogen: "Please ask permission to come with me on the trip. There are so many things I do not know; but if you come along we can discuss them - in this way I can learn as we travel." "All right," said Sogen. "But let me ask you a question: If you are hungry, what satisfaction to you if I eat rice? If your feet are lame, what comfort to you if I go on merrily? If your bladder is full, what relief to you if I piss?" *** THE STUDENT Tokusan used to come to the master Ryutan in the evenings to talk and to listen. One night it was very late before he was finished asking questions. "Why don't you go to bed?" asked Ryutan. Tokusan bowed, and lifted the screen to go out. "The hall is very dark," he said. "Here, take this candle," said Ryutan, lighting one for the student. Tokusan reached out his hand, and took the candle. Ryutan leaned forward, and blew it out. *** SHUZAN held up his staff and waved it before his monks. "If you call this a staff," he said, "you deny its eternal life. If you do not call this a staff, you deny its present fact. Tell me just what do you propose to call it?"

Since All begins with Nothing Where can dust collect? . "Ouch!" yelled the monk. Then he can stand up into all four corners of the sky at once. passed through the hall where the poem was hanging. "You haven't got anything in there!" "Well. in his wisdom. How can he go farther up?" A master answered: "He should reach for enlightenment. "That's not very good. *** SEKKYO said to one of his monks. and he cupped his hands in the air. master. and below the other poem he wrote in his crude hand: Bodhi is not a tree. Having read it. and each patriarch thereafter handed it down to the monk that. he had chosen as the next successor. There is no shining mirror. he picked up a brush that was lying nearby. a lowly disciple who had been working in the kitchen. But at twilight Yeno." said Sekkyo." said the monk. "You hurt me!" "That's the way to get hold of Emptiness!" said Sekkyo." Thereupon Sekkyo seized the monk's nose and gave it a great yank. "please show me a better way. Gunin was the fifth such Zen patriarch. One day he announced that his successor would be he who wrote the best verse expressing the truth of their sect. and wrote in elegant characters: The body is a Bodhi-tree The soul a shining mirror: Polish it with study Or dust will dull the image. No other monk dared compete with the chief monk. The learned chief monk of Gunin's monastery thereupon took brush and ink. "Can you get hold of Emptiness?" "I'll try" said the monk.*** SEKISO said: "A man sits on top of a hundred-foot pole. *** BODHIDHARMA left his robe and bowl to his chosen successor.

one of Mumon's comments was: "Whack him one!"] *** A FAMOUS soldier came to the master Hakuin and asked: "Master." he said at last. But he could not budge them. "I have read your poem. "Oho!" said Hakuin. before your parents were born?" *** Goso said: "Suppose you meet a Zen master on the road. the soldier started to rattle his big sword in anger. "If you want the things so much. At midday he overtook him." "Nonsense!" said Hakuin. Here: take my robe and my bowl. while the others are asleep. please take them. Yeno put down the robe and the bowl on a rock by the path. the fifth patriarch. But our chief monk and the others will be jealous of you and may do you harm.Later that night Gunin. called Yeno to his room. They had become heavy as a mountain." In the morning the chief monk learned the news. Will you teach me?" Yeno replied. not the things. and immediately rushed out. following the path Yeno had taken. What can you do?" [To this koan." The monk eagerly reached down and seized the objects. "What kind of emperor would have you around him? To me you look like a beggar!" At this. "So you have a sword! I'll wager it's much too dull to cut my head off!" . You can't talk to him. tell me: is there really a heaven and a hell?" "Who are you?" asked Hakuin. You can't stand there silent." said he. Therefore I want you to leave the monastery tohight. "and have chosen you as my successor. "Forgive me." he said to the monk. "I really want the teaching. "These are only things which are symbols. Then tell me. "I am a soldier of the great Emperor's personal guard. where are you? Tell me also: what did your face look like. "Stop thinking this is mine and stop thinking this is not mine. and without a word tried to pull the robe and bowl out of Yeno's hands.

so as to find it?" Said the master." said the master. "Now you know the other half. "I cannot understand myself. If I see you have no staff. .At this the soldier could not hold himself back. He drew his sword and threatened the master. who said: "Now you know half the answer! You are opening the gates of hell!" The soldier drew back. waved it in the air over his head. from the East hall and the West hall." *** THE STUDENT Doko came to a Zen master. Then Doko said sadly." said the master. *** BASO said to a monk. and no truth to find. how can you lie like this?" asked Doko. and bowed. and chopped the cat in half." "If there is no mind to train. "But if I have no tongue to talk to others. There is no truth. so you cannot put it in any state. and said to the quarrelers: "Say a good word if you want to save the cat!" No one said a word. Nansen went to the kitchen. so how could I call them together or teach them?" "Oh. and said: "I am seeking the truth." said the master. so how could the monks gather? I have no tongue. "You have opencd the gates of heaven. "If I see you have a staff. He gave one-half to each group. why do you have these monks gather before you every day to study Zen and train themselves for this study?" "But I haven't an inch of room here. brought back a big cleaver. how can I lie to you?" asked the master. I will give it to you. "I cannot follow you. so you cannot train yourself for it. In what state of mind should I train myself. squabbling over the ownership of a pet cat. He picked up the cat. *** THE TEACHER Nansen found two groups of monks. I cannot understand you. sheathed his sword. "There is no mind. I will take it away from you.

" said the master. "I have heard sound without sound. bowed. and imitated the dripping of water. struck the gong softly to announce his presence. The next night he returned. but he took off his sandals. Joshu said nothing. "There is. until fnally he reached enlightenment." Toyo clapped his hands." said the master." *** LITTLE Toyo was only twelve years old. At last he stopped coming to the master. and struck the gong with one palm. The next night Toyo returned." he said. *** A MONK came to the master Nansen and asked. he sat down and bowed. Finally he bowed and left to consider this problem. "That is not right. So one evening." said the master. he wanted to be given a koan to ponder. show me the sound of two hands clapping. and sat before the master in respectful silence." Toyo was silent.That night when Joshu returned to the monastery. is there some teaching that no master has ever taught?" Nansen said. the master. Nansen said aloud. and walked away. he went to the room of Mokurai. just like the more advanced students. The next night Toyo returned and played geisha music with one hand. balanced them on his head. at the proper time. and discarded them all. For a year he thought of every sound. and imitated the cricket scraping his leg." said the master. "Now show me the sound of one hand clapping. "That is not right. "That is still not right. Without striking the gong. "That is not right. Nansen told him the story. For ten nights Toyo tried new sounds. "Good. Finally the master said: "Toyo." ." said the master. "Tell me. "Joshu could have saved the cat. The next night Toyo returned. He returned respectfully to the master. But since he was a pupil at the Kennin temple.

The boy walked off howling. *** THE MASTER Gutei made a practice of raising his finger whenever he explained a question about Zen. Gutei raised his finger. The mountains are traveling over the sea. whipped out a knife. "But in such a case where do all these colors. A very young disciple began to imitate him. The bamboo grove out in back. come from?" *** WHO is the Buddha? What is the Buddha? Here are some of the answers given by various masters to this question: Something of clay. this boy would raise his finger too. *** . never seen. cut off the finger and threw it away. One day Gutei caught him at it. Dry shit." *** BUTSUGEN said to his disciples. The one there in the hall. shapes. but what have you ever heard with them? Each of you has a mouth. The mouth is the gateway of woe. He took the boy's hand. with gold-leaf. sounds. The boy stopped. He isn't Buddha. smells. and every time Gutei raised his finger when he preached. "Each of you has a pair of ears. The boy raised his finger. "Stop!" shouted Gutei. but what have you ever said with it? Each of you has eyes. Everybody laughed. never smelled. never spoken. and looked at the master through his tears. It is not thinking. Then suddenly he realized it wasn't there. It is not things. "Can you tell me what it is?" Nansen said. but what have you ever seen with them? No. The best artist doesn't know how to paint him. Look at that three-legged donkey. "It is not Buddha. no! You have never heard. He hesitated a moment: Then he bowed.The monk asked.

he was equally grateful. Then he started out to collect his funds again. When it was all gone." said little Ikkyu. Finally his great project was accomplished. and bought rice for the starving people. Quickly he hid the pieces of the cup under his robe. In the picture Bodhidharma was wearing a beard. *** WAKUAN stood in front of a picture of Bodhidharma. After ten years he had the money needed. Just then the Uji river flooded. *** IN TETSUGEN'S time the holy Buddhist books in Chinese had never been published in Japanese. and Tetsugen thought they should be prepared so for his own countrymen. "When its time has come every person and every thing must go. he had the money again. far surpass the third. showing the pieces. While he was wondering what to do. So Tetsugen spent all the money he had collected. and started to have the blocks cut. and went from town to town to collect donations so this great work could go ahead. Once he broke the precious heirloom teacup of his teacher. He planned to have several thousand copies printed from hand-engraved woodblocks. and there was famine in the land. After some years. and he died content. "it was time for your cup to go. he started collecting it again. which have never been seen. helping the helpless." he said. But those who know. "Now why doesn't that fellow wear a beard?" asked Wakuan. and was greatly upset. Tetsugen's edition of the holy books in Japanese can still be seen. Thousands of families were left without support.THE MASTER Ikkyu showed his wisdom even as a child. Then an epidemic passed over the country." said the teacher. "why do things die?" "It is perfectly natural for things to die and for the matter gathered in them to separate and disintegrate. "Master. "Master. he heard his teacher coming. Whether the donation was a little one or in coins of gold. *** . Tetsugen took the money he had collected. say that the first two editions.

"And like this cup. your eyes are clouded." said the master.THE MASTER Nan-in had a visitor who came to inquire about Zen. then he kept on pouring. filled with water. the moon's reflection disappeared." "What about you: do you see it?" "So long as you see double. the visitor kept talking about his own ideas. Nan-in served tea. Finally the visitor could not restrain himself. "Don't you see it's full?" he said. The pail fell all apart. "When there is neither 'I' nor 'You. saying I don't and you do.' can one see it?" "When there is neither 'I' nor 'You. you are filled with your own ideas. But instead of listening. He poured tea into his visitor's cup until it was full. when the bamboo strip that held the pailstaves broke. One moonlight night she was carrying an old pail. How can you expect me to give you Zen unless you offer me an empty cup?" *** A MASTER was asked the question. the water rushed out. "You can't get any more in!" "Just so. "What is the Way?" by a curious monk. After a while. She wrote this verse: This way and that way I tried to keep the pail together Hoping the weak bamboo Would never break." said the master." replied Nan-in. "It is right before your eyes.' who is the one that wants to see it?" *** THE NUN Chiyono studied for years but was unable to find enlightenment. She was watching the full moon reflected in this water. And Chiyono found enlightenment. "Why do I not see it for myself?" "Because you are thinking of yourself. . and so on. stopping at last.

He said: "Here is a token of my sincerity. "I have eaten. "Now wash your bowl. "In such a case. it must come into you from outside." said Bankei. "Show me this temper. "I have just entered the brotherhood and I am anxious to learn the first principle of Zen." "I haven't got it right now. "Have you eaten your supper?" The novice answered." . "Well then. I suggest that whenever it gets into you." Joshu said. and to show his sincerity. "Will you please teach it to me?" Joshu said. and I know that you can show me how to find it." said Bankei. and carried it to Bodhidharma. But Bodhidharma sat unmoving and unspeaking for seven days and nights." *** BODHIDHARMA sat facing a wall for nine years of meditation."bring it to me when you have it. If it is not part of you. while the monk pleaded for his attention. he took a great sword. and runs away. At one time a Confucian monk came to him for teaching." protested the student." said Bankei." "But I can't bring it just when I happen to have it. Finally the monk could stand no more. so I can't show it to you. "It sounds very fascinating." *** A NEW monk came up to the master Joshu. I have been seeking peace for my soul for many years. cut off his arm." he said. said the student. "it seems to me that this temper is not part of your true nature. you beat yourself with a stick until the temper can't stand it.Suddenly the bottom fell out: No more water: No more moon in the water: Emptiness in my hand! *** A STUDENT came before the master Bankei and asked to be helped in getting rid of his violent temper. "I'd surely lose it again before I got it to you.

"I apologize for all this calling of your name. "But that is the very trouble." Kokushi said. *** KOKUSHI called to his attendant: "Oshin!" Oshin replied." said Banzo. "Yes. But in truth you should apologize to me!" *** MATAJURA wanted to become a great swordsman." Kokushi called "Oshin!" Oshin replied. he explained. how long?" "Ten years. and he found it all very dull. "Oshin!" Oshin replied again. "Yes. So Matajura went to the famous dueller Banzo. so I can give it peace as you request. "Do not bring me your arm. "I cannot grasp my soul or find it." said Bodhidharma. but his father said he wasn't quick enough and could never learn. "How long will it take me to become a master?" he asked. to be with you every minute. Bring me your soul." *** A GREAT official came to the master Takuan asking for help in passing his days more eventfully. much less bring it to you. they said: No day comes back again: One inch of time is worth A foot of jade.Bodhidharma said. "Suppose I became your servant. All day long." said the monk. and wrote eight Chinese characters. and asked to become his pupil. Translated. . "I have given you peace of soul. "Yes. "You see. he sat receiving supplications and reports." Kokushi called again. Takuan took brush and paper.

he became Banzo's servant. He learned to live on the balls of his feet. Suppose I work twice as hard. Without asking for any promises in terms of time. the first wheelmaker. he gardened. Banzo smiled. "If I don't study it. "A pupil in such a hurry learns slowly. "Can I study it?" Nansen answered. from every corner and at any moment. Soon Matajura was the greatest swordsman in Japan. He was ordered never to speak of fencing or to touch a sword." Joshu asked." Joshu asked."My father is getting old. he was attacked by Banzo's wooden sword. Each had fifty spokes. but he had given his promise to the master. the further from the Way." Matajura understood. you say it will take three times as long.only eternal readiness and quickness. how can I know it?" . He cleaned. "First you say ten years. Before ten years have passed I will have to return home to take care of him. "The more you study. Let me make myself clear: I will work unceasingly: no hardship will be too much. He became a body with no desires. The next day in the kitchen the same blow fell again. Thereafter. Then when I offer to work twice as hard." said Banzo. "How is that?" asked Matajura. Suppose you cut out the hubs? Would there still be a wheel?" *** JOSHU asked the teacher Nansen. ready to dodge at any movement. he cooked. How long will it take?" "Seventy years" said Banzo. and started lessons. day in. how long will it take me?" "Thirty years. day out. "What is the true Way?" Nansen answered. Three years passed for Matajura as a servant. Banzo came up quietly behind him and gave him a terrible whack with a wooden sword. he washed. *** THE MASTER Getsuan said: "Keichu. and resolved to keep his word. no thoughts . One day while he was gardening. "Everyday way is the true Way. made two wheels. He was very sad at this.

study it. and buy new clothes. "But I gave them to other children of your Majesty who are not so rich as I. you deny Yoka." *** THE MASTER Tozan was weighing some flax." *** THE MASTER Foso Hoyen said. But as we don't know where we stand. perhaps . a master of Zen and a great fencer. but the next day he returned in the same old outfit. I will let you into a secret: When I say this is so. if you say Yea. "Go. we would question Buddha every morning. you contradict Buddha. "Here: five pounds of flax. It does not belong to things known: nor to things unknown. Are not all these yea-sayings? "But on the other hand. "Tell me. my son. served as tutor to the Emperor. and great minds arc only the flickerings of lightning. what is Buddha?" Tozan answered." said the master. sages are sea-bubbles. Are not all these nay-sayings? "Oh my disciples. "They say that Buddha during his lifetime uttered five thousand and forty-eight separate truths. or name it. so he gave the master some gold coins saying. They include the truth of sudden enlightenment and the truth of gradual enlightenment. if you say Nay. "The Way does not belong to things seen: nor to things unseen. When I say this is not so. for he opened his house to the poor. "I bought them. A monk came up to him in the storeroom and said. The Emperor was annoyed thatYamaoka came to him with old clothes. Yoka in the Song of Enlightenment says there are no beings and no Buddhas. But he always wore old ragged clothes. Do not seek it.Nansen answered." The master thanked him. open yourself wide as the sky. perhaps it is not a yea-saying. If Buddha were here with you." *** YAMAOKA. To find yourself on it. and greet him every night. and gave them everything he had. "And where are the new clothes?" asked the Emperor. They include the truth of Emptiness and the truth of Being. how would he solve this problem? "If we knew where we stand.

When he was eighty he found enlightenment. but his tongue never moved. I have nothing in my mind. and carried her across. face South to see the Northern Star. They say that he taught for forty years thereafter. but think: how can it help the blind. Then. They came on a lovely young girl dressed in fine silks. How can I throw it out?" "If you can't throw it out. The deaf cannot hear the teacher's words. Tanzan and Ekido. "But I have nothing. And he picked her up in his arms." said Tanzan. It's you who are still carrying her!" *** JOSHU was a master who started to study Zen when he was sixty. the deaf." said Tanzan. "certainly not beautiful ones like that one! Why did you do it?" "My dear fellow. or the dumb? The blind cannot see the teacher's staff that is raised before them. when they had returned to the monastery.' he said &shyp. way back in the city." *** TWO MONKS. So . Ekido couldn't keep quiet any longer. The two monks did not speak again till nightfall. Now what shall I do?" "Throw it out!" said Joshu. Once a student asked old Joshu: "You teach that we must empty our minds. no matter how wise. "Come on. "Monks shouldn't go near girls. were walking down a muddy street in the city.it is not a nay-saying. who was afraid to cross because of all the mud. girl. Turn to the East and see the holy Western Land." the master Gensha said: "Pious teachers say that Buddhism helps us in every possible way. The dumb cannot ask their questions or speak their understanding. carry it out! Drive it out! Empty it out! But don't stand there in front of me with nothing in your mind!" *** OF THE Zen saying: "Buddha preached for forty-nine years. "I put that girl down.

Even the bronze Buddha was swept away. "I see you are not deaf!" Then he asked the monk if he understood what all this to-do was about. "I see you are not dumb!" *** A WRESTLER named O-nami. no one in Japan could ever throw him. They swept away the flowers in the vases before the Buddha. "Ah-ha!" said Ummon. *** THE OFFICIAL Riko once asked Nansen to explain to him the old problem of the goose in the bottle. Great Waves. how can we say Buddhism helps in every possible way? What good is it?" Many years later a monk asked the master Ummon to explain these words of Gensha. By dawn the temple was only surging water. and listen to the waves of the sea. The monk said he did not. but he thought of many things. was immensely strong and was highly skilled in the art of wrestling. O-nami remained. Then gradually he did think only of the waves. In his trouble he went to a Zen master who was stopping at a nearby temple by the sea. but in public his own young pupils could throw him. Forget that you are a wrestler. He tried to think only of the waves. They rolled larger and larger as the night wore on. and O-nami sat there with a faint smile on his face.since we cannot help these people. The monk jumped back. From that day. and asked for counsel. which he did. In private he defeated even his very teacher. "I see you are not blind!" Then he told the monk to come forward. "Ah-ha!" said Ummon. "Great Waves is your name. and then . and become those huge waves sweeping everything before them. "Ah-ha!" said Ummon. "and feeds the gosling through the bottle-neck until it grows and grows and becomes a goose. and won every bout. Ummon poked at him with his stick. "If a man puts a gosling into the bottle" he said. They swept away the vases." And the teacher left." said the master. That day he entered the public wrestling. Imagine you are those waves. After making the questioner prostrate himself and then rise. "so stay in this temple tonight.

The North temple sent its boy every day to buy vegetables. He could not get it. what is the sound of one hand?" he clutched at his heart. "But what about that sound?" Mamiya opened one eye. "You are not trying hard enough. "I haven't solved that yet. the teacher suggested: "When you meet that boy tomorrow." he said. Then you might learn the answer. and each had a bright young student who was sent on errands. how can the man get it out without killing the goose. and then you say: 'Suppose you had no feet then where would you be going?' That will fix him!" . When the master asked him: "Well. and fell down dead. master. "Where are you going?" asked the South temple boy. "Dead men don't speak. This answer silenced the South temple boy. It would be better if you died. "See!" said Nansen." said the master. and came back a week later. shaking his head. who told him to concentrate on the famous koan: "What is the sound of one hand?" Mamiya went away. or breaking the bottle?" "Riko!" shouted Nansen. On his way he was met by the boy of the South temple. "Get up. Not to be outdone by the rival pupil." said the master. ask him the same question." replied the other. and gave a great clap with his hands. but he thought he ought to study Zen.there just is no more room inside the bottle. and get out!" *** THERE were two Zen temples in the town of Kyoto. you've taken my advice and died. "the goose is out!" *** MAMIYA was a worldly man. and he went back and told the story to his teacher. He will give you the same answer. "Yes." The next week Mamiya came back again. So he went to a great teacher. "Well." said the official with a start. groaned. You still think of money and food and pleasure. "Wherever my feet will carry me. "Get out!" said the master.

If he answers. This again silenced the boy from the South temple. and demanded his money." he said. going on with his recitation." So the robber put back some of the money and started to leave. "And he thanked me for it. His feet find no branch. Up on the cliff-edge a man shouts at him: 'Why did Bodhidharma come from Jndia into China?' "If he fails to answer he is lost. and went off." *** KYOGEN said to his pupils: "Zen is a man hanging from a tree over a cliff." The robber served a prison term. So the robber thanked him. As the robber was leaving. put a knife to his back. are you there?" . he dies. But Shichiri refused to testify against him. and among other confessions. "Don't you thank someone who makes you a gift?" asked Shichiri. When he was freed." said Shichiri. "tomorrow you ask him: 'suppose there is no wind?'" The next day the two boys met again. they are coming around tomorrow to collect. His hands hold no branch. The boy from the South temple said: "Where are you going?" The other answered. "To buy vegetables. That was all. Shichiri said. The boy from the South temple said: "Where are you going?" "Wherever the wind will blow me. "I made him a gift of some money. he went directly to Shichiri. he said he had robbed Shichiri. "Leave me some for my taxes." replied the other. *** THE MONK Zuigan used to start every day by saying to himself out loud: "Master." said the teacher. "Over there in the box. What must he do?" *** THE STUDENT Shichiri was reciting the sutras when a robber entered his room. He is holding on to a twig with his teeth.The next day the two boys met. so he went back to consult his teacher. A few days later the robber was caught. "Will you be my teacher?" he said. "I tell you what.

"Yes sir! I'll do that!" Then he would say. "Yes sir. But Ryokan was a hermit who owned nothing. I wish that every man of your family shall live to be a grandfather.And he would answer himself. Sitting under a tree in this enlightenment. I am!" Then he would say. where the Eternal Real and the passing unreal are one. "We are praising your eloquence on Emptiness." said the voices. And I wish that no son may die before his father. and wrote: Grandfather dies Father dies Son dies The merchant was angry. "What kind of evil spell are you writing against my family?" he demanded of Sengai. "But I have not spoken of Emptiness. sir. "Better sober up!" Again he would answer. *** THE MASTER Ryokan lived in a poor little hut on a mountainside. . The master took brush and ink. he found flowers drifting down on him from the tree. This is true Emptiness. We have not heard it." said these voices like gods' voices. I won't! I won't!" *** A RICH merchant asked the master Sengai for a good saying that would help preserve the prosperity and happiness of his family. "Look out now. And he heard voices. "You have not spoken of it. "but a hope for your greatest good fortune. What truer happiness than life and death in this order can any family desire?" *** SUBHUTI. a disciple of Buddha." murmured Subhuti. had reached the enlightenment of Great Emptiness. "It is no evil spell. One moonlight night he came home and found a burglar looking for something to steal. "Oh no. and the flowers fell like rain." said Sengai. don't let them fool you!" And he would answer.

"I say the wind is moving. "The wind is not moving.' A third monk passed by and said." *** A NEW monastery was to be opened. she ran away. and she saw approaching a venerable man in a saffron robe. "I say the banner is moving." And Ryokan stripped. *** ONE WINDY day two monks were arguing about a flapping banner. spoke first. filled a vase with water. "You have come a long way and have found nothing. Your minds are moving. So he called the monks together. One day she was on the road which led to town. She couldn't run." The second said. "It is not a pond. He had shown how to achieve emptiness. and said to them: "Which one of you can say what this is without giving its name?" The chief monk. but she refused to look. going outdoors again when the inconsiderate robber had left. and handed the clothes to the robber. It was the Buddha." he said. Hyakujo gave him the job. but it is not a wooden shoe. lowest of the monks. and the master Hyakujo had to decide which of his monks should be put in charge. Please take my clothes. so the water ran out on to the floor. He kicked over the vase with his foot. not the wind. "Poor fellow. "It stands upright. "How I wish I could have given him this wonderful moon. The banner is not moving." he said to the robber. But I don't want you to leave me empty-handed. it is hollow inside." Then the cook. arose." said naked Ryokan. Another monk said. because it can be carried. The first said. not the banner." *** HERE is a story the Zen masters sometimes told: There was an old woman who was born in the same town as Buddha. although everyone assured her he was a very holy man. who expected to be given the new mastership."Poor fellow. Every time she thought she might meet him. She covered her eyes with her two . She was terrified. but ever since she had been a little girl she had been afraid to face him.

who was the old lady? *** THE MASTER Tosotsu built three gates and made the monks pass through them. By studying Zen you can see your own true nature. but black smut. Can you do anything so miraculous?" "No. But where is it? By going through the second gate. I eat. and so she always used a little funnel that carried the smoke of the incense straight to her Buddha's nose. But when you are a corpse. His disciple stood on the other shore holding a sheet of paper. who searched for enlightenment in many temples. "The founder of my religion. how can you free yourself? Going through the third gate. she begrudged the others any of the savor. And the founder wrote the holy name of Amida onto the paper across the river through the air." *** A NUN. your body separates into the four elements. and thought salvation came from repeating holy words. Within a week her Buddha was laughable . The first gatewas the study of Zen. Tell me. you can free yourself from birth and death. Bankei was unable to go on with his talk. when I am thirsty. It was very pretty. But where are you? *** WHILE Bankei was preaching quietly to his followers. *** . One day she came to stay at a temple where there were many Buddhas.hands . when I am insulted. and asked the priest what he wanted to say." boasted the priest. the clearer she saw the Buddha between each of her clenched fingers. "I can do only little miracles. always carried with her a little Buddha she had carved for herself out of wood.but wonder of wonders! the tighter she covered her eyes. and which she had covered with gold leaf." said Bankei. "stood on one shore of a river with a writing brush in his hand.his face no longer was gold leaf. his talk was interrupted by a Shinshu priest who believed in miracles. I drink. I forgive. Like: when I am hungry. Whenever she burned incense before her golden Buddha.

He did this by asking: "Why did Bodhidharma come out of India into China?" "Wait. "These bamboos here are tall. or does he not?" Joshu made his famous koan: "Un-thing!" *** THE DISCIPLE Seihei once asked the master Suibi if he would please tell him the basic principle of Buddhism." ." said Suibi. Tell me!" said Seihei." he said to his friend. and slapped the master's face. I will tell you. The master Hyakujo laughed. "and I will answer you." The student stepped up to Hyakujo. He knew this was the answer the master had intended for him. Suibi whispered. Finally. That is why Bodhidharnia came to China!" *** OBAKU said to the master Hyakujo: "They say that centuries ago a master was reborn as a fox five hundred times. Seihei insisted on an answer. "You won't see any better with it. "and now I know a Persian who has a red beard. but each time the master put his fingers to his lips. "Later. "I always knew Persians had red beards. "May I take your lantern with me?" "Why carry a lantern?" asked his friend. "There is no one here.A MONK asked the master Joshu: "Does a dog too possess a Buddha nature. when there is no one around except us two." During the day they were alone together several times. "Please." he said. What happens to him?" "Come here near me. and always gave a right and wise Zen answer. But now suppose a master were asked question after question." said master Hyakujo. Those bamboos there are short. and several times Seihei started to ask his question again." *** AN OLD Zen master always told this fable to unserious students: Late one night a blind man was about to go home after visiting a friend. Suibi took him outside. because he gave answers untrue to Zen.

All that is real is Emptiness. fleeing a tiger who was chasing him. ah! how birds sang among the blossoms. "perhaps not. and behold. and without keeping silent. there is no giving. there is no worse. There is no master and there is no student." Dokuon had been sitting quietly smoking his pipe. he visited the master Dokuon. What we think we see and feel is not real. Crack! -someone walked right into him." said Dokuon. where does your anger come from? Think about it. "and all is Emptiness. "In Southern China in the Spring. there was another tiger. The vine suspended him midway between two tigers. *** WHEN Yamaoka was a brash young student." *** A PUZZLED monk once said to Fuketsu: "You say truth can be expressed without speaking. there is no body. when I was only a lad. there is no receiving. peering up at him. But others will see me better. with a candle inside. Below him he heard another snarl. "Since none of these things really exists. "Why don't you look out?" he stormed. Wanting to impress the master. There is no better. ran till he came to the edge of a cliff." *** BUDDHA told this parable: A traveler. and without warning gave Yamaoka a terrible whack. "Why don't you see this lantern?" "Why don't you light the candle?" asked the other. ." said the blind one. The blind man was very angry. Yamaoka jumped up in anger. So his friend gave the blind man the lantern. Above him the tiger snarled. and before he had gone more than a few yards. None of these seeming things really exists. and not bump into me. There he caught hold of a thick vine. and saying nothing. How can this be?" Fuketsu answered. which was made of paper on bamboo strips. Off went the blind man with the lantern. he said: "There is no mind. there is no Buddha."No. Now he picked up his staff. and swung himself over the edge.

How delicious! . Holding onto the vine with one hand. he reached and picked a grape with the other. a white mouse and a black mouse.Two mice. began to gnaw at the vine. He could see they were quickly eating it through. Then in front of him on the cliffside he saw a luscious bunch of grapes.

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