A View on Buddhism
A student confided in Suzuki Roshi that she had tremendous feelings of love
for him, and that it confused her.
"Don't worry," he said. "You can let yourself have all the feelings you have for your teacher. That's good. I have enough discipline for both of us."
A student asked Suzuki Roshi why the Japanese make their teacups so thin and delicate that they break easily. "It's not that they're too delicate," he answered, "but that you don't know how to handle them. You must adjust yourself to the environment, and not vice versa."
From: "To Shine One Corner of the World: Moments with Shunryu Suzuki: Stories of a Zen Teacher Told by His Students" (Edited by David Chadwick): http://cuke.com
On a visit to the East Coast, Suzuki Roshi arrived at the meeting place of
the Cambridge Buddhist Society to find everyone scrubbing down the interior
in anticipation of his visit. They were surprised to see him, because he had
written that he would arrive on the following day. He tied back the sleeves
of his robe and insisted on joining the preparations "for the grand day of my
"To Shine One Corner of the World: Moments with Shunryu Suzuki: Stories of a Zen Teacher Told by His Students"
Two monks were returning to the monastery in the evening. It had rained and
there were puddles of water on the road sides. At one place a beautiful young
woman was standing unable to walk accross because of a puddle of water. The
elder of the two monks went up to a her lifted her in his alms and left her
on the other side of the road, and continued his way to the monastery.
In the evening the younger monk came to the elder monk and said, "Sir, as monks, we cannot touch a woman ?"
The elder monk answered "yes, brother".
Then the younger monk asks again, " but then Sir, how is that you lifted that woman on the roadside ?"
The elder monk smiled at him and told him " I left her on the other side of the road, but you are still carrying her "
A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin 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!" sneered Hakuin, "What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? You look like a beggar".
Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword.
Hakuin continued: "So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably to dull to cut off my head."
Nobushige drew his sword.
Hakuin remarked: "Here open the gates of hell!"
At these words the samurai, perceiving the master's discipline, put away his sword and bowed.
"Here open the gates of paradise", said Hakuin.
From 'Zen flesh, Zen bones'
One day there was an earthquake that shook the entire Zen temple. Parts of it even collapsed. Many of the monks were terrified. When the earthquake stopped the teacher said, "Now you have had the opportunity to see how a Zen man behaves in a crisis situation. You may have noticed that I did not panic. I was quite aware of what was happening and what to do. I led you all to the kitchen, the strongest part of the temple. It was a good decision, because you see we have all survived without any injuries. However, despite my self-control and composure, I did feel a little bit tense - which you may have deduced from the fact that I drank a large glass of water, something I never do under ordinary circumstances."
One of the monks smiled, but didn't say anything.
"What are you laughing at?" asked the teacher.
"That wasn't water," the monk replied, "it was a large glass of soy sauce."
During the civil wars in feudal Japan, an invading army would quickly sweep into a town and take control. In one particular village, everyone fled just before the army arrived - everyone except the Zen master.
Curious about this old fellow, the general went to the temple to see for himself what kind of man this master was. When he wasn't treated with the deference and submissiveness to which he was accustomed, the general burst into anger.
"You fool," he shouted as he reached for his sword, "don't you realize you are standing before a man who could run you through without blinking an eye!"
But despite the threat, the master seemed unmoved.
"And do you realize," the master replied calmly, "that you are standing before a man who can be run through without blinking an eye?"
The master Bankei's talks were attended not only by Zen students but by persons of all ranks and sects. He never quoted sutras nor indulged in scholastic dissertations. Instead, his words were spoken directly from his heart to the hearts of his listeners.
His large audience angered a priest of the Nichiren sect because the adherents had left to hear about Zen. The self-centered Nichiren priest came to the temple, determined to have a debate with Bankei.
"Hey, Zen teacher!" he called out. "Wait a minute. Whoever respects you will obey what you say, but a man like myself does not respect you. Can you make me obey you?"
"Come up beside me and I will show you," said Bankei.
Proudly the priest pushed his way through the crowd to the teacher.
Bankei smiled. "Come over to my left side."
The priest obeyed.
"No," said Bankei, "we may talk better if you are on the right side. Step over here."
The priest proudly stepped over to the right.
"You see," observed Bankei, "you are obeying me and I think you are a very gentle person. Now sit down and listen."
You can find many more Zen stories at John Suler's page and at 101 Zen stories.
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Just for Fun
Two Zen monks were walking down the road.
First monk says: "These pine trees are magnificent."
The second monk slaps him across the face.
First monk: "Why did you do that?"
"I'm a Zen monk so I can get away with all kinds of weird stuff like that."
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Last rebirth of this page: September 11, 2011