Relative Truth

There was a girl whose family was very wealthy. One day her mother took her on a trip to the country, where she aimed to show her daughter how poor people live. They arrived at the farm of a very poor family, and spent several days there. On their return, the mother asked her daughter if she liked the trip.

Wisdom in Silence

The disciples were absorbed in a discussion of Lao-tzu’s dictum:

“Those who know do not say; those who say do not know.”

When the Master entered, they asked him exactly what the words meant.

Said the Master, “Which of you knows the fragrance of a rose?”

Quest for Treasure

There once was a Rabbi who lived in a small town. He was a devout man and well respected within the community. One night he had a vivid dream that there was great treasure buried beneath the foot of a bridge, in a big city, far away.

The next morning when he awoke, he was so struck with the dream that he knew he must immediately go to the big city, find the bridge, and look for the treasure. After a long and difficult journey he finally arrived at the bridge. Much to his disappointment however, the bridge was being guarded by sentries. Undeterred the Rabbi decided to wait until nightfall and sneak up under foot of the bridge…

Shipwrecked

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island.

He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him.

Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming…

The King and the Seven Gates

Once upon a time, a king said he would give away his kingdom. He said he would give it to anybody who came to him, in seven days’ time, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and asked for it! Practically everyone decided to go in for this adventure.

The king himself sat behind seven gates.

After the first gate was a beautiful garden, with swimming pools, baths and fountains, where you could bathe and refresh yourself…

What Time Is It?

There was a wealthy business owner who used to walk to his company every morning. As was his custom he would proceed through the town and stop at the window of the jeweler’s shop. He would wind his watch fully and reset it to the exact time on the big clock in the jeweler’s window. He was very particular about having the right time, as he was the one to blow the steam whistle at his factory, at 5 o’clock, to signal the end of the day.

Inside the shop the jeweler recognized his frequent visitor and, although they had never spoken, was curious about this gentleman. One day the jeweler decided to step out and greet the man…

The Mahatma and the Tamarind Tree

There was a saint living in a secluded place under a tamarind tree. He performed his devotional act of meditation every day. There is a deity known as Narada who is supposed to be the messenger of God and keeps on descending to earth to gather information to keep God fully and well informed. He happened to be making his rounds when he came near this saint and engaged in conversation with him, wanting to know what he was doing…

Beauty

And a poet said, Speak to us of Beauty. And he answered:

Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall you find her unless she herself be your way and your guide? And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech?

The aggrieved and the injured say, “Beauty is kind and gentle. Like a young mother half-shy of her own glory she walks among us.” And the passionate say, “Nay, beauty is a thing of might and dread. Like the tempest she shakes the earth beneath us and the sky above us.”

The tired and the weary say…

The Tea Cup

Once, there lived a couple who loved to collect antiques. They were always on the look out for items to add to their collection. One day, they saw a beautiful teacup in a small antique shop. They asked the sales lady, “May we see that teacup? We’ve never seen one quite so beautiful.” As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the teacup spoke.

“You see, I haven’t always been a teacup. There was a time when I was just red clay. My master took me and rolled me and patted me over and over. I yelled out, ‘Leave me alone,’ but he only smiled, ‘Not yet.’ Then I was placed on a spinning wheel, and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. ‘Stop it! I’m getting dizzy!’ I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, ‘Not yet.’’ Then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I wondered why he wanted to burn me, and I yelled and knocked at the door. I could see him through the opening, and I could read his lips, as he shook his head, ‘Not yet.’

Obedience

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…