This book is a collection of zen stories that have withstood the test of time. Perhaps it is
because Zen is a way of life offering profound insights into human nature, the cosmos, and
spirituality. Or perhaps it is just because they are fun to tell. These stories capture all sorts
of truths about life and death. But they are also witty, entertaining, and at times puzzling, even
mind-bending. And they are not just the secret lessons of monks sequestered away in mountain
monasteries. The ancient teachers intended these stories to be used by everyone, everywhere. On
the bus to work, during meal times, taking an evening stroll with a friend- all of these
situations and more lend themselves to these stories. Once you know a few of them, you will see
opportunities to tell them popping up everywhere - when you are with your family, friends, and
coworkers. Think of these tales as conversation pieces, as handy tools that you can lift out of
your pocket to help you and others talk, think, and laugh about the wonderful and mysterious
details of this thing we call Life.
What is Zen? There can be a lot of answers to this question and none of them quite correct. Zen
has many meanings. And they’re all indefinable. If you define them, they aren’t Zen any more. As
somebody once said, “Zen is neither this nor that. It is What is.”
“A special teaching without scriptures, beyond words and letters, pointing to the mind-essence of
man, seeing directly into one’s nature, and attaining enlightenment.” That’s how scholars define
Zen. Po Chang (720-814), the Zen guru, summed it up more simply: “When hungry, eat; when tired
Zen is not a sect or philosophy. It’s an experience. A way of life. It isn’t a thing. It’s a
no-thing. Zen is deconstruction of the mind. Your mind. It’s Derridaisation of all you think and
feel. It’s the art of turning on your light. The science of emptiness and silence. Many call Zen
esoteric and arcane. They’re wrong. Zen has no barriers. It’s open to all. It has only one
Zen is Japanese for the Sanskrit word "dhyan"-meditation. Bodhidharma, an Indian monk, took it to
China in the sixth century. In China, it got a new name: "Ch’an." Ch’an went to Japan in the
twelfth century and became “Zen."
When your mind is calm and serene, you’re at the still point of the turning world. Then the only
reality is emptiness. As a writer on Zen puts it, “No me. No you. No anything. This is Zen."
What happens if you’ve Zen in your life? Fear, doubt, praise, blame-nothing troubles you. You
humbly live your life. Doing the daily chores. Serving humanity. "Fulfilling your presence in this
world with loving kindness? And when it’s time to go, you go- gracefully, like a petal falling
from a flower.
The stories in this book are from many sources. They aren’t just stories. They reify the highest
teaching: they make you see into your being. They’ve no truck with logic. Because Zen begins only
when logic ends.
Zen teachings are like a finger pointing at the moon. The finger isn’t the moon. The teachings
aren’t Zen. These subtly nuanced stories or teachings gesture towards something you can’t put into
words. If you want to see the moon, you must forget the finger. Zen teachings can be grasped only
when they’re cast aside.
To know what Zen is, you’ve to practise it. That’s what experts say. But can you really practise
this "religion" of crazy wisdom? Sure? You can. And it’s easy. Is there anything 5 easier than
being what you are?
Language & Literature (442)
Sacred Sites (102)
Tantric Buddhism (87)
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