Thursday, October 27, 2005

Zen Stories to ponder on

1 Just Two Words

There once was a monastery that was very strict. Following a vow of silence, no
one was allowed to speak at all. But there was one exception to this rule. Every
ten years, the monks were permitted to speak just two words. After spending
his first ten years at the monastery, one monk went to the head monk. "It has
been ten years," said the head monk. "What are the two words you would like
to speak?"
"Bed... hard..." said the monk.
"I see," replied the head monk.
Ten years later, the monk returned to the head monk's office. "It has been ten
more years," said the head monk. "What are the two words you would like to
"Food... stinks..." said the monk.
"I see," replied the head monk.
Yet another ten years passed and the monk once again met with the head monk
who asked, "What are your two words now, after these ten years?"
"I... quit!" said the monk.
"Well, I can see why," replied the head monk. "All you ever do is complain."

Points For Reflection

· Is it our habit to complain, complain and complain ? There are times when we have to make the best of the circumstances or situation we are in . Learn to count our blessings and the good things that we have. Remember that in Samsara, nothing is perfect.
· Patience, tolerance and forbearance are great virtues to develop. Without these, we often give up on many things that we start upon to do … Dhamma study, outreach work (Dana), meditation and so on.
· There is a saying : “There’s no gain without pain!” The Path of Dhamma Practice and cultivation is a struggle …it entails much effort, discipline, sacrifice and commitment. Remember Siddharta Gautama struggled for 6 long years before Enlightenment ….and he was a Bodhisattva with good paramis ! Reflecting on this, we know that we, defiled worldlings have even to struggle more !

A famous spiritual teacher came to the front door of the King's palace. None of
the guards tried to stop him as he entered and made his way to where the King
himself was sitting on his throne.
"What do you want?" asked the King, immediately recognizing the visitor.
"I would like a place to sleep in this inn," replied the teacher.
"But this is not an inn," said the King, "It is my palace."
"May I ask who owned this palace before you?"
"My father. He is dead."
"And who owned it before him?"
"My grandfather. He too is dead."
"And this place where people live for a short time and then move on - did I hear
you say that it is NOT an inn?"

Points For Reflection
· We are ALL here for just a short time, and then move on. Reflecting on this, shouldn’t we realize a sense of urgency to practise Dhamma before it is too late ? Doesn’t it make sense to develop our virtues and cut our defilements of greed, hatred and delusion in this very short life of ours ?
· Our true wealth does not lie in our material possessions or in the people we love or attach to. We live and die and never really own anything. How many people today think about this deeply ? Too many people entrench themselves in their possessions and positions.
· What is our true wealth ? It is our Kamma and the Kamma potential we store up in this fleeting life that will follow us from life to life . When we reflect on this , we should waste no more time to practise Dana, Sila and Bhavana the best we can .
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."

Points For Reflection
· We see this sort of behavior often in men. They feel they have to put on a front to appear to be something that they are not . What about us ? Do we sincerely watch and recognize our mental weaknesses and take steps to improve ? Too often, we are clouded in egoism and delusion. Sometimes, when in certain trying situations, we are not aware of our silly actions until someone else points it out.
· To have a cool and composed mind … one with calmness and equanimity needs a lot of mental training. Constant Dhamma contemplation and meditation is essential to make us grow and be strong. Many of us give up because we lack patience, effort, determination and perseverance.
· Conquering oneself is indeed the greatest challenge in our life. We need to take the step now if we still haven’t ….we can ill-afford to wait until we grow old or until we face with great problems. Even Zen Teachers struggle … what more about us with our conditioned negative habits and reactions. The wise man looks within and develops or cultivates his mind . He constantly does battle with the Mara forces within us : greed & craving, anger & ill-will, conceit & ego.

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