The Original Zen Tales
Philosophical Tales For Adults
THE BUDDHA AND THE ANGRY MAN
The Buddha was sitting in the shade of a tree when an angry man came upon him. The angry man started yelling insults, but the Buddha sat there calmly and said nothing. The angry man continued screaming, but received no reply. After about five minutes the man could not keep up his anger at such a level and asked, “Do you have nothing to say?” The Buddha asked the man, “If someone gives you a gift and you do not want it, to whom does it belong?” The man answered that it must remain with the giver of the gift. Then the Buddha said, “I refuse to accept your anger, so you will have to keep it yourself.”
The angry man is said to have become a disciple of the Buddha.
YOU NEVER KNOW
A young farmer approached the wise Zen monk and said his only horse had escaped from the stable. The farmer said “Master this is terrible.” The monk replied “You never know.” The next day the farmer went to the monk and told him that his horse had returned and had brought with it a herd of wild horses. “Master this is wonderful,” he exclaimed. The master replied “You never know.”
The following day the farmer broke his leg trying to break in one of the wild horses. He hobbled into the master saying “Master this is terrible.” The master replied “You never know.”
Later that week the army went through the village and conscripted all the young men to fight in a cruel and unjust war. All were taken, except one young farmer who had a broken leg.
THE PROFESSOR AND THE MASTER
Nan-in a Japanese Zen master during the Meiji era (1868-1912),
received a university professor who came to enquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured the visitors cup full and then kept pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he could no longer constrain himself.
“It is overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are so full of your own opinions and speculations.
How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”