Because I’m here

An old monk was sweeping the yard in a monastery under the scorching sun. Another monk passed by and asked him, “How old are you?”

The old monk replied, “I’m seventy-seven.”

“You are so old! Why are you still working so hard here?”

“Well, because I’m here.”

“But why are you working under the scorching sun?”

“Because the sun is there.”

– Unknown

The proud beetle

There once was a beetle which came upon a lump of cow dung. He worked himself into it and liking what he saw, he invited his friends to join him in building a city in it. After working feverishly for a few days they built a magnificent city in the dung and feeling very proud of their achievement they decided to elect the first beetle as their king.

Now to honour their new king they organised a grand parade through their city. While these impressive proceedings were taking place, an elephant happened to pass by and seeing the lump of cow dung he lifted his foot to avoid stepping on it.

The king beetle saw the elephant and angrily shouted at the huge beast. “Hey you! Don’t you have any respect for royalty? Don’t you know it is rude to lift your leg over my majestic head? Apologies at once or I’ll have you punished.” The elephant looked down and said, “Your most gracious majesty, I humbly crave your pardon.” Thus saying he knelt down on the lump of cow dung and crushed king, city, citizens and pride in one act of obeisance.

– K. Sri Dhammananda, Theravada.

Teacups

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 an unknown student of Suzuki Roshi, Sōtō Zen Tradition.

The Worm and the Heavenly Being

There were once two monks who lived together in a monastery for many years; they were great friends. Then they died within a few months of one another.

One of them got reborn in the heaven realms, the other monk got reborn as a worm in a dung pile.

The one up in the heaven realms was having a wonderful time, enjoying all the heavenly pleasures. But he started thinking about his friend, “I wonder where my old mate has gone?” So he scanned all of the heaven realms, but could not find a trace of his friend. Then he scanned the realm of human beings, but he could not see any trace of his friend there, so he looked in the realm of animals and then of insects. Finally he found him, reborn as a worm in a dung pile…

“Wow!”, he thought, “I am going to help my friend. I am going to go down there to that dung pile and take him up to the heavenly realm so he too can enjoy the heavenly pleasures and bliss of living in these wonderful realms.”

So he went down to the dung pile and called his mate. And the little worm wriggled out and said, “Who are you?”.

“I am your friend. We used to be monks together in a past life, and I have come up to take you to the heaven realms where life is wonderful and blissful.” But the worm said, “Go away, get lost!”

“But I am your friend, and I live in the heaven realms,” and he described the heaven realms to him. But the worm said, “No thank you, I am quite happy here in my dung pile. Please go away.”

Then the heavenly being thought, “Well if I could only just grab hold of him and take him up to the heaven realms, he could see for himself.” So he grabbed hold of the worm and started tugging at him; and the harder he tugged, the harder that worm clung to his pile of dung.

– Unknown origin, told by Ajahn Brahm, Theravada.

Real home

Your external home isn’t your real home. It’s your supposed home, your home in the world.

As for your real home, that’s peace. The Buddha has us build our own home by letting go until we reach peace.

– Ajahn Chah, Theravada, Thai Forest Tradition.

The thief and the master

One evening, Zen master Shichiri Kojun was reciting sutras when a thief entered his house with a sharp sword, demanding, “your money or your life!”.

Without any fear, Shichiri said, “Don’t disturb me! Help yourself to the money. It’s in that drawer”. And he resumed his recitation.

The thief was startled by this unexpected reaction, but he proceeded with his business anyway. While he was helping himself with the money, the master stopped and called, “Don’t take all of it. Leave some for me to pay my taxes tomorrow”. The thief left some money behind and prepared to leave. Just before he left, the master suddenly shouted at him, “You took my money and you didn’t even thank me?! That’s not polite!”. This time, the thief was really shocked at such fearlessness. He thanked the master and ran away. The thief later told his friends that he had never been so frightened in his life.

A few days later, the thief was caught and confessed many crimes including his theft at Shichiri’s house. When the master was called as a witness, he said, “No, this man did not steal anything from me. I gave him the money. He even thanked me for it.”

The thief was so touched that he decided to repent. Upon his release from prison, he became a disciple of the master and many years later, he is said to have attained Enlightenment.

– Unknown author, Zen Tradition.

Orphan

Our mind, when there’s no one looking after it, is like a child without parents to look after it β€” an orphaned child, a child with no protector. A person without a protector suffers, and it’s the same with the mind. If it’s not trained, if its views aren’t straightened out into right views, it’s put to a lot of difficulties.

– Ajahn Chah, Theravada, Thai Forest Tradition.