Author Topic: Thoughtful Anecdotes  (Read 14978 times)


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Thoughtful Anecdotes
« on: May 22, 2011, 08:54:03 AM »


After winning several archery contests, the young and rather boastful champion challenged a Zen master who was renowned for his skill as an archer. The young man demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull's eye on his first try, and then split that arrow with his second shot. "There," he said to the old man, "see if you can match that!" Undisturbed, the master did not draw his bow, but rather motioned for the young archer to follow him up the mountain. Curious about the old fellow's intentions, the champion followed him high into the mountain until they reached a deep chasm spanned by a rather flimsy and shaky log. Calmly stepping out onto the middle of the unsteady and certainly perilous bridge, the old master picked a far away tree as a target, drew his bow, and fired a clean, direct hit. "Now it is your turn," he said as he gracefully stepped back onto the safe ground. Staring with terror into the seemingly bottomless and beckoning abyss, the young man could not force himself to step out onto the log, no less shoot at a target. "You have much skill with your bow," the master said, sensing his challenger's predicament, "but you have little skill with the mind that lets loose the shot."



The Gift of Insults


There once lived a great warrior. Though quite old, he still was able to defeat any challenger. His reputation extended far and wide throughout the land and many students gathered to study under him.

One day an infamous young warrior arrived at the village. He was determined to be the first man to defeat the great master. Along with his strength, he had an uncanny ability to spot and exploit any weakness in an opponent. He would wait for his opponent to make the first move, thus revealing a weakness, and then would strike with merciless force and lightning speed. No one had ever lasted with him in a match beyond the first move.

Much against the advice of his concerned students, the old master gladly accepted the young warrior's challenge. As the two squared off for battle, the young warrior began to hurl insults at the old master. He threw dirt and spit in his face. For hours he verbally assaulted him with every curse and insult known to mankind. But the old warrior merely stood there motionless and calm. Finally, the young warrior exhausted himself. Knowing he was defeated, he left feeling shamed.

Somewhat disappointed that he did not fight the insolent youth, the students gathered around the old master and questioned him. "How could you endure such an indignity? How did you drive him away?"

"If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it," the master replied, "to whom does the gift belong?"


Is That So?

A beautiful girl in the village was pregnant. Her angry parents demanded to know who the father was. At first resistant to confess, the anxious and embarrassed girl finally pointed to Hakuin, the Zen master whom everyone previously revered for living such a pure life. When the outraged parents confronted Hakuin with their daughter's accusation, he simply replied "Is that so?"

When the child was born, the parents brought it to the Hakuin, who now was viewed as a pariah by the whole village. They demanded that he take care of the child since it was his responsibility. "Is that so?" Hakuin said calmly as he accepted the child.

For many months he took very good care of the child until the daughter could no longer withstand the lie she had told. She confessed that the real father was a young man in the village whom she had tried to protect. The parents immediately went to Hakuin to see if he would return the baby. With profuse apologies they explained what had happened. "Is that so?" Hakuin said as he handed them the child.



A rich man asked a Zen master to write something down that could encourage the prosperity of his family for years to come. It would be something that the family could cherish for generations. On a large piece of paper, the master wrote, "Father dies, son dies, grandson dies."

The rich man became angry when he saw the master's work. "I asked you to write something down that could bring happiness and prosperity to my family. Why do you give me something depressing like this?"

"If your son should die before you," the master answered, "this would bring unbearable grief to your family. If your grandson should die before your son, this also would bring great sorrow. If your family, generation after generation, disappears in the order I have described, it will be the natural course of life. This is true happiness and prosperity."


Two traveling monks reached a river where they met a young woman. Wary of the current, she asked if they could carry her across. One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up onto his shoulders, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other bank. She thanked him and departed.

As the monks continued on their way, the one was brooding and preoccupied. Unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. "Brother, our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women, but you picked that one up on your shoulders and carried her!"

"Brother," the second monk replied, "I set her down on the other side, while you are still carrying her."


The old Zen master's health was fading. Knowing his death was near, he announced to all the monks that he soon would be passing down his robe and rice bowl to appoint the next master of the monastery. His choice, he said, would be based on a contest. Anyone seeking the appointment was required to demonstrate his spiritual wisdom by submitting a poem. The head monk, the most obvious successor, presented a poem that was well composed and insightful. All the monks anticipated his selection as their new leader. However, the next morning another poem appeared on the wall in the hallway, apparently written during the dark hours of the night. It stunned everyone with its elegance and profundity but no one knew who the author was. Determined to find this person, the old master began questioning all the monks. To his surprise, the investigation led to the rather quiet kitchen worker who pounded rice for the meals. Upon hearing the news, the jealous head monk and his comrades plotted to kill their rival. In secret, the old master passed down his robe and bowl to the rice pounder, who quickly fled from the monastery, later to become a widely renowned Zen teacher.

A Useless Life

A farmer got so old that he couldn't work the fields anymore. So he would spend the day just sitting on the porch. His son, still working the farm, would look up from time to time and see his father sitting there. "He's of no use any more," the son thought to himself, "he doesn't do anything!" One day the son got so frustrated by this, that he built a wood coffin, dragged it over to the porch, and told his father to get in. Without saying anything, the father climbed inside. After closing the lid, the son dragged the coffin to the edge of the farm where there was a high cliff. As he approached the drop, he heard a light tapping on the lid from inside the coffin. He opened it up. Still lying there peacefully, the father looked up at his son. "I know you are going to throw me over the cliff, but before you do, may I suggest something?" "What is it?" replied the son. "Throw me over the cliff, if you like," said the father, "but save this good wood coffin. Your children might need to use it."



Wanting God

A hermit was meditating by a river when a young man interrupted him. "Master, I wish to become your disciple," said the man. "Why?" replied the hermit. The young man thought for a moment. "Because I want to find God."

The master jumped up, grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, dragged him into the river, and plunged his head under water. After holding him there for a minute, with him kicking and struggling to free himself, the master finally pulled him up out of the river. The young man coughed up water and gasped to get his breath. When he eventually quieted down, the master spoke. "Tell me, what you wanted most of all when you were under water."

"Air!" answered the man.

"Very well," said the master. "Go home and come back to me when you want God as much as you just wanted air."

« Last Edit: June 18, 2011, 05:27:53 PM by Vivek »
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?


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Thoughtful Anecdotes
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2011, 05:43:03 PM »
One day the Buddha was waiting by the river bank for a boat to ferry him across the river. An ascetic passed by and proudly showed off his miraculous power, crossing the river back and forth by treading over the water.

The Buddha smiled and asked him, "How long did you train to attain such power?"

"It took me thirty years!", said the ascetic.

The Buddha replied, "Thirty years? Well, I can cross the river using the boat for only a penny!"

[In ancient India, there were a lot of ascetics who wasted their time and effort to attain such supernatural powers, instead of striving for enlightenment. The Buddha and other great masters like him, used to ridicule them for wasting their time in such meagre pursuits.]


One day, the famous poet Bai Ju-Yi asked Master Hakuin, "What is the essence of the Buddha's teaching?"

Hakuin said, "Refrain from all unwholesome deeds and perform all wholesome deeds."

Bai chuckled, "Ha! Even a child knows that."

The master replied, "A child may know it, but not even a one-hundred-year-old can do it."



A young man, distraught over his uncle's death, went to the Buddha, believing that the Buddha's teaching was a newer, greater form of religion, and asked him for a ritual which would release his uncle's soul. The Buddha told him to obtain two of the ritual urns from the priests, and fill one with butter and the other with stones.

The young man, believing he was about to get a more powerful ritual, was very happy and did as the Buddha said. When he returned, the Buddha told him to place the urns carefully in the river, so that the rim of the urn was just below the surface. Then he instructed him to recite the usual prayer of the priests, and strike both urns under the water with the hammer, at the usual point in the prayer, then come back and describe what happened.

The young man, very excited to be the first person to be given this wonderful new ritual, more effective than the old, did exactly as he was told. On his return, the Enlightened One asked him to describe what he saw. The young man replied "I saw nothing unusual, my lord. When I smashed the urns, the stones sank to the bottom of the river and the butter was washed away on the surface of the river."

The Buddha said "Then you must ask your priests to pray that the butter be sunk and the stones rise up to the surface."

The young man, shocked by the obvious ridiculousness of this request, said "But, O Buddha, no matter how much the priests pray, the stones will never float and neither will the butter sink."

The Buddha replied, "Exactly so.  And, it is the same with your uncle. Whatever good, loving actions he has done during his life will make him rise towards the higher worlds, and whatever bad, selfish actions he has done will make him sink towards the lower worlds. And there is not a thing that all the prayers and rituals of the priests can do to alter even a tiny part of the results of his actions."




This happened when Swami Chinmayananda was receiving spiritual training from his master. Every day, early morning 4 o’clock the disciples would bathe in the ice cold waters of the Ganges and meditate till the sun rose in the Himalayan hills. Then the master would give them spiritual instructions from the Upanishads. At the end, the master would conclude by saying, “So have I indicated to you what God is. Now continue with your practice.”

 Young Chinmayananda grew very impatient with these words of the master. One morning, while the master was teaching, Swami Chinmayanda asked, “Swamiji, why do you just indicate what God is? Why don’t you clearly explain what God is? Will it not make our meditation a lot more easier?” 

The master did not say anything and apparently ignored the student’s question. The disciple wondered whether he has asked anything wrong and couldn’t understand why the master ignored him. The master’s response appeared quite strange, as every disciple has the full freedom to present any question to the master for clarification.

The class continued. Being engrossed with the master’s words, the disciple forgot everything about his question and listened attentively to the master.

After some time, the master called out, “Chinmaya, come here.”

The disciple immediately went near the master and stood meekly beside him, “Yes, Swamiji.”

“Bring me some water, dear.”

It is highly unlikely to feel thirsty in the freezing cold of the Himalayas, so the disciple wondered why the master needed water.

Nevertheless, a pail of water was brought to the master.

“What is this?!!”, the master shouted at the disciple as if angry.

“This is the water you asked for, Swamiji”, answered a surprised Chinmayananda.

 “I asked you to bring only water, did I not? Then, why did you bring me a pail?”

 “But Swamiji… without a pail… how can I… bring water… I… don’t understand…” the perplexed disciple mumbled.

“Rightly so, Chinmaya. When you asked me to explain what God is, it is like telling one to bring water without using a pail or pot. One cannot fetch water without a container, for the container is required to limit the water needed. We can use language to explain or conceive only finite things, not the Infinite. Can one fetch the great ocean with a pot? When God is unthinkable and indescribable, how can one explain Him? Hence, the Infinite cannot be explained; It can only be roughly indicated.”




While traveling through a forest, the Buddha was once threatened with death by an infamous bandit called Angulimal. 

"Then be good enough to fulfill my dying wish," said the Buddha.

“What is it, monk?”

"Cut off the branch of that tree."

 One slash of the sword, and it was done!

 "Anything else?" asked the bandit.

 "Put it back again," said Buddha.

 The bandit laughed. "You must be crazy to think that anyone can do that."

 The Compassionate One replied, "On the contrary, it is you who are crazy to think that you are mighty because you can wound and destroy. That is the task of children. The mightiest of men know how to create and heal."

 Angulimal later became one of the greatest disciples of the Buddha.



The 12th century master Geshe Ben was renowned for his goodness and integrity.

Once, while begging for alms, a family of devout Buddhists invited him to their home to be fed. He was so hungry that he found it difficult to wait while his hosts were elsewhere preparing the meal.

To his complete shock Geshe Ben found himself stealing food from a jar when no-one else was around.

Geshe Ben suddenly burst into loud cries and shouted "Thief! Thief! I've caught you red-handed."

His hosts rushed into the room to find him berating himself and threatening his own hand that it will be cut off if it ever behaved like that again.




Buddha was sitting in the park when his disciple Malunkyaputra approached him. Malunkyaputra had recently become a monk and he was very concerned that so many things remained unexplained by the Buddha. He wanted answers to a lot of questions. Was the world eternal or not eternal? Is the soul different from the body? Do enlightened ones exist after death or not? Where did this Universe come from? What is the meaning of life? Why are we born and why do we die?

He thought, “If the Buddha does not explain these things to me, I will give up this training and return to worldly life.”

Sensing this to be the right opportunity, the disciple put these questions to the Enlightened One.

Buddha smiled.

 “Malunkyaputra, when you first came to me, did you tell me that you want me to answer all these questions?”

The disciple thought for a moment, and replied, “No, master.”

“And did I ever promise you that I will give you the answers to these and all other such questions?”

“Not at all, master.”

“Did I ever say to you that if you led a monastic life, you would understand these things?”

“No, master.”

“My son, it is as if a man had been wounded by an arrow thickly smeared with poison, and his friends, companions and relatives were to get a surgeon to heal him, and he were to say, 'I will not have this arrow pulled out until I know who wounded me, of what caste he is, what his name is, whether he is tall, short or of medium height, what colour his skin is, where he comes from, what kind of bow I was wounded with, what it was made of, whether the arrow was feathered with a vulture's wing or a heron's or a hawk's…..' Surely the man would die before he knew all this! And is knowing these things relevant to his getting cured? Whether the view is held that the world is eternal or not, Malunkyaputra, there is still re-birth, old age, death, grief, suffering, sorrow and despair. My teaching concerns only with the ending of one’s own suffering and the attainment of liberation, nothing more. I have not explained these other things because they are not useful, they are not conducive to tranquility and liberation.”

 Thus spoke the Buddha, and with joy, Malunkyaputra applauded his words.




Once, a farmer went to tell the Buddha about his problems. He described his difficulties farming – how either droughts or monsoons complicated his work. He told the Buddha about his wife – how even though he loved her, there were certain things about her he wished to change. Likewise with his children – yes, he loved them, but they weren’t turning out quite the way he wanted. Calmly, the Enlightened One listened. When the farmer finished, he asked how the Buddha could help him with his problems.

The Buddha replied, “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.”

“What do you mean?” railed the farmer. “You’re supposed to be a great teacher!”

The Buddha replied, “Sir, it’s like this. All human beings have eighty-three problems. It’s a fact of life. Sure, a few problems will go away now and then, but soon enough others will arise. So, we’ll always have eighty-three problems.”

The farmer responded indignantly, “Then what’s the good of all your teaching?”

The Buddha said, “My teaching can’t help with the eighty-three problems, but it can help with the eighty-fourth problem.”

What’s the eighty-fourth problem?” asked the farmer.

“The eighty-fourth problem is that we don’t want to have any problems.”




A man was on top of a mountain, he slips and falls onto a ledge, where he is holding on with one hand.

He waits, looks up and asks, ‘Is there anybody there who can help me?’…there is just silence.

He looks up again and prays, ‘Please, is there anybody there who can help me?’

 ‘Yes I can help you, but you must do exactly as I tell you.’, a voice replies. 

‘Yes, yes of course’ replies the man.

‘You must place your faith in me. Release your grip and let go’ replies the voice.

The man waits a while, looks around, ‘Is there anybody else there who can help me?’



A famous soldier came to the master Hakuin and asked: "Master, tell me: is there really a heaven and a hell?"

"Who are you?" asked Hakuin.

"I am a soldier of the great Emperor's personal guard."

"Nonsense!" said Hakuin. "What kind of emperor would have you around him? To me, you look like a beggar!" At this, the soldier started to rattle his big sword in anger.

"Oho!" said Hakuin. "So you have a sword! I'll wager it's much too dull to cut my head off!"

At this, the soldier could not hold himself back. He drew his sword and threatened the master, who said: "Now you know half the answer! You are opening the gates of hell!"

The soldier drew back, sheathed his sword, and bowed. "Now you know the other half, my friend," said the master, smiling, "You have opened the gates of heaven."






 A certain man asked Mulla Nasruddin, "What is the meaning of fate?"

Mulla replied, "Assumptions."

"In what way?" the man asked again.

Mulla looked at him and said, "You assume things are going to go well and when they do not, you call that bad luck. You assume things are going to go badly and when they do not, you call that good luck. You assume certain things are going to happen or not happen a certain way, but you do not know what is going to actually happen. You assume the future is unknown. When things do not work out for you, you call that “Fate”."


A certain ascetic, Zarvand, decided to meditate in the Alborz Mountains with only a piece of cloth wrapped around him. Quickly he realized, that he needed another piece of cloth to wear while he washed the first, so he told the people in the village that he needed another piece of cloth. They knew he was a pious man, so they gave it to him. With his two pieces of cloth he once again ascended the Alborz Mountains.

Shortly after, he discovered that as he was meditating a mouse would try to drag his extra cloth away. He wanted to frighten the mouse away, but he could not keep leaving his meditation and prayers to run after the mouse. So, he descended to the village and asked the people for a cat.

After having taken the cat, he realized that it could not live on eating fruit alone. There were not enough mice for it to feed on and it needed milk. The people of the village knew the milk was not for him, because he did not care for anything, so they gave him some.

Soon the milk was finished and Zarvand became worried because he was now going up and down the mountain to the village for milk. To eliminate the problem of fetching milk, he took a little cow up the mountain, so it could provide milk for the cat.

He found himself milking the cow to care for the cat, then he thought, "There are so many poor people in the village. I will ask one of them to milk the cow for the cat's sake, and he can drink some milk daily also."

A poor villager who looked like he could use nourishes milk was brought up the mountain. After a few weeks of the mountain air and lots of good milk he became healthy. The man then told Zarvand, "I would like a companion and to raise a family."

Zarvand thought to himself, "He is quite right, I cannot deprive him of companionship." To cut short what could be a very long story, after two months the whole village moved up the mountain.


The Prime Minister of the Tang Dynasty was a national hero for his success as both a statesman and military leader. But despite his fame, power, and wealth, he considered himself a humble and devout Buddhist. Often he visited his favorite Zen master to study under him, and they seemed to get along very well. The fact that he was prime minister apparently had no effect on their relationship, which seemed to be simply one of a revered master and respectful student.

One day, during his usual visit, the Prime Minister asked the master, "Your Reverence, what is egotism according to Buddhism?" The master's face turned red, and in a very condescending and insulting tone of voice, he shot back, "What kind of stupid question is that!?"

This unexpected response so shocked the Prime Minister that he became sullen and angry. The Zen master then smiled and said, "THIS, Your Excellency, is egotism."


While Bankei was preaching quietly to his followers, his talk was interrupted by a Shinshu priest who believed in miracles, and thought salvation came from repeating holy words.

Bankei was unable to go on with his talk, and asked the priest what he wanted to say.

"The founder of my religion," boasted the priest, "stood on one shore of a river with a writing brush in his hand. His disciple stood on the other shore holding a sheet of paper. And the founder wrote the holy name of Amida (a term associated with the Shinsu sect) onto the paper across the river, through the air. Can you do anything so miraculous?"

"No," said Bankei, "I can do only little miracles. Like: when I am hungry, I eat; when I am thirsty, I drink; when I am insulted, I forgive."

« Last Edit: December 21, 2015, 12:01:35 PM by Vivek »
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?


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More Anecdotes
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2011, 05:45:13 PM »
The abbot of a once famous Buddhist monastery that had fallen into decline, was deeply troubled. The monks were lazy in their practice, novices were leaving and lay supporters deserting to other centers. He traveled far to a sage and recounted his tale of woe, of how much he desired to transform his monastery to the flourishing haven it had been in days of yore.

The sage looked him in the eye and said, "The reason your monastery has deteriorated, is that the Buddha, the Blessed One, is living amongst you in disguise, but you have not honored Him yet."

The abbot hurried back, his mind in turmoil.

The Selfless One was at his monastery! Who could He be? Could it be brother Hua?...No, he was full of sloth. Is it brother Po?...No, he was too dull. But then, the Buddha was in disguise. What better disguise can there be than sloth or dull- wittedness?

The abbot called his monks to him and revealed the sage's words. They, too, were taken aback and looked at each other with suspicion and awe.

Which one of them was Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha?

The disguise was perfect. Not knowing who He was, the monks started treating everyone with the respect due to a Buddha. They started seeing everyone as the Enlightened One Himself. Their faces started shining with an inner radiance that attracted novices and then lay supporters.

In no time at all, the monastery far surpassed its previous glory.



There lived a great master in India, a Buddhist master named Nagarjuna. Once, a thief approached the master. The thief wanted to become Nagarjuna’s disciple. He asked Nagarjuna, "Is there any possibility for my growth also? But, one thing I must make clear to you: I am a thief. And another thing: I cannot leave it. So, please don't make it a condition. I will do whatsoever you say, but I cannot stop being a thief. That I have tried many times--it never works, so I have left the whole sport. I have accepted my destiny, that I am going to be a thief and remain a thief, so don't talk about it. From the very beginning, let it be clear."

Nagarjuna said, "Why are you afraid? Who is going to talk about your being a thief?"

The thief said, "But whenever I go to a monk, to a religious priest, or to a religious saint, they always say, 'First stop stealing.'"

Nagarjuna laughed and said, "Then you must have gone to thieves; otherwise, why? Why should they be concerned? I am not concerned!"

The thief was very happy. He said, "Then it is okay. It seems that now I can become a disciple. You are the right master."

Nagarjuna accepted him and said, "Now you can go and do whatsoever you like. Only one condition has to be followed: be aware! Go, break into houses, enter, take things, steal; do whatsoever you like, that is of no concern to me –but, whatever you do, do it with full awareness, that’s all."

The thief couldn't understand that he was falling into the trap. He said, "Then everything is okay. I will try."


After three weeks he came back and said, "You are tricky—because, if I become aware, I cannot steal. If I steal, the awareness disappears. I am in a fix!"

Nagarjuna said, "No more talk about your being a thief and stealing. Did I say anything about your stealing? I am not concerned about that at all. Now, you decide! If you want awareness, then you decide. If you don't want it, then too, you decide."

The man said, "But, now it is difficult. I have tasted it a little, and it is so beautiful! Just the other night for the first time I was able to enter the palace of the king. I opened the treasure. I could have become the richest man in the world—but, you were following me and I had to be aware of whatever I am doing. When I became aware, diamonds looked just like stones, ordinary stones. When I lost awareness, the treasure was there. And I waited and did this many times. I would become aware and I could not even touch it because the whole thing looked foolish, stupid—just stones, what am I doing? Losing myself over mere stones? But then I would lose awareness; they would become again beautiful, the whole illusion. But finally I decided that they were not worth it."

 [This “thief” was Vishakha, who later become an enlightened master]



Nagasena was a great Buddhist sage who lived two centuries after Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. Once, King Menander I (also known as Milinda), an Indo-Greek king of north-western India, went to see Nagasena and pose some questions to the sage.


Among the questions put forward, the king asked the following, 'So, Nagasena, kindly tell me, is not ending of sorrow one of the principal aims of the Buddha’s teaching? '


'Rightly so, king. '


The king asked, 'Do you, Nagasena, strive after the removal of past sorrow?'




'Present sorrow, then?'


'Not that either.'


'Then if it be neither past, nor present sorrow that you strive to remove, what is it that you strive to remove?'


“This sorrow should cease and no other sorrow should arise in future—that is what we strive after.'


'But, Nagasena, is there (now) such a thing as future sorrow? Does such a thing as future sorrow exist?'


'Certainly not, king. I grant that. As the future itself exists only in our imagination, future sorrow is also imaginary.'


The king laughed, 'This is very interesting, Nagasena! Then you are mighty clever people to strive after the removal of something which does not even exist!'


Nagasena looked at the king and asked, 'Tell me, O king, is it only when you are thirsty, that you set to work to have wells dug, or ponds hollowed out, or reservoirs formed, with the object of drinking water?'


'Certainly not, sir. All that has been prepared beforehand.'


'But why do you prepare all of that beforehand?'


'With the object of preventing future thirst', the king replied.


'How so? Does such a thing like future thirst exist?'


'No, sir.'


‘Indeed, this is very interesting! So you are mighty clever people, O king, to take all that trouble to prevent a thing like future thirst, which, all the time does not even exist!'


King Milinda realized the fallacy in his argument, and praised the sage Nagasena for his wisdom.


[The conversation between King Milinda and Nagasena constitutes the book “Milinda Panha”]




While meditating, a student believed he saw a spider descending in front of him. Each day the menacing creature returned, growing larger and larger each time.


So frightened was the student, that he went to his teacher to report his dilemma. He said he planned to place a knife in his lap during meditation, so when the spider appeared he would kill it.


The teacher advised him against this plan. Instead, he suggested, bring a piece of chalk to meditation, and when the spider appeared, mark an "X" on its belly. Then report back.

The student returned to his meditation. When the spider again appeared, he resisted the urge to attack it, and instead did just what the master suggested. When he later reported back to the master, the teacher told him to lift up his shirt and look at his own belly. There was the "X".



Ananda was Buddha's personal attendant for the last 26 years of the Buddha’s life. Besides attending to the Buddha's personal needs, his other duties included representing the Buddha on occasions, memorizing the Buddha's speeches, repeating the Buddha's speeches in his absence, and being the messenger for the Buddha.

He was so occupied with his tasks that he didn't even have time for his own practice.


Only after the Blessed One passed away, Ananda could find time for his own practice. At that time, Maha Kashyapa, one of the Buddha's main disciples, was organizing

a gathering of all of the disciples as well as the monks, to organize and consolidate all of Buddha's teachings. Ananda was determined that he would become enlightened by the time of the gathering. So every day, he meditated very hard.


Eating only once a day and living in solitude, Ananda struggled day and night to attain his goal.


The day of the gathering was drawing closer and closer but Ananda still seemed nowhere near enlightenment.


The night before the gathering, Ananda tried desperately hard. But still, he was getting nowhere. It was getting late. Finally, he thought, "Why the hurry? May be, I will just relax and work for enlightenment after the gathering. There is no need to hurry now". Thinking so, he decided to take some rest before the gathering begins the next day.


The moment he laid down to take rest, Ananda attained enlightenment and became an Arhan (one who is liberated).






A group of people once approached Siddhartha Gautama and requested the Blessed One to take them as His disciples, “O Buddha, great teacher of all! Please take us as your disciples, we do not seek anything else in this world.”


Buddha asked, “Why do you want to be my disciples?”


“Because what you teach is the highest truth, there is nothing higher than it, O Blessed One.”


And came the next question from the Enlightened One, “How do you know what I teach is the highest truth?”


“Because, my Lord, it is you who are teaching it. That is enough for us. Whatever you say, without question we accept it as the truth.”


Buddha smiled.


“Then my dear brothers, you are not fit to learn what I have to teach. Remember this: do not accept anything because you have heard it many times; or, because it has been believed traditionally for generations; or, because it is spoken by many; or, because it is in the scriptures; or, because it seems logical; or, because it is in accordance with your own beliefs and thinking; or, because it is taught by your teacher for whom you may have great respect. Only after you have realized it through your own experience and have found it to be wholesome and beneficial to one and all, only then should you accept it. Then, you should not only accept it but also practice it.”




Swami Chinmayananda’s master used to live in a small hut in a far-off, solitary place in the Himalayas. But still, people who were devout (mostly pilgrims) used to  come and see him every now and then, as the master was quite well-known in the northern-most parts of India for his simplicity and enlightenment. And when they do, they usually used to bring some gifts to offer to the great master.


Once, it happened that a visitor offered few cotton fabrics as gift, so that single loincloths could be made out of them for the master to wear. At the time, the disciples, including Chinmayananda, were gathered around the master to learn from him.  After gratefully receiving the gift from the visitor, the master called out for Chinmayananda.


“Chinmaya, take this and prepare single loincloths for me. Be careful, do not tear them or cause any other damage.”


The disciple delightfully received the cloths and carried out the task during his spare time. First, he carefully cut out the fabric according to the master’s size. Then, he meticulously stitched them using just thread and needle. After that, he dyed them brown and placed them under the sun for drying. Everything was done with the utmost care and attention.


After a few days’ work, the cloths were finally ready. The disciple neatly folded them and presented to the master.


The master examined the cloths. He suddenly became very furious and said to the disciple, “See, you have torn the cloths. Did I not tell you to be very careful while you do this? You are not fit to do even this small task!”


The disciple was totally bewildered, “It cannot be, Swamiji; I was indeed very careful and I am sure the cloths are flawless. Please let me see the damage.”


The master would not allow him to see the cloth.


“You liar! First, you don’t properly finish a simple task you were assigned, and now you are lying?!! Go, I won’t talk to you anymore on this.”


Chinmayananda was so hurt as well as angry. He couldn’t understand why the master overlooked his hard-work and worse, accused him of doing something he had not actually done, and then called him a liar! The disciple silently walked away in anguish.


After that, whenever Chinmayananda happened to pass by the master, the master would call out “Liar!!”. Whenever the master is sitting with the other disciples and Chinmayananda would be nearby, the master would say loudly, “Look, there goes the liar.” This went on for a few days.


The disciple could not bear this anymore. He thought, “What madness is this?! I am accused of something I have not done and I am called a liar! Is this how a guru treats his disciple! What does he think of himself! No more of this guru business, I should leave this place. I better continue my practice on my own.”


The disciple decided to leave the master and started packing his things. Another elderly master who lived nearby, understood the disciple’s intentions and advised him, “Be patient, Chinmayananda. He is only testing you. This is his way of teaching you. You should not quit like this. If you quit now, you will later repent for that.”


Chinmayananda knew that the elderly master would speak only the truth. He decided to stay and give it a try.


The next time the master called out “Liar!” in Chinmayananda’s presence, the disciple calmly smiled and said, “May be, I am.”


The master was pleased with the disciple’s words.


“So, now you understand that my intention was not to hurt you but to teach you. You see, Chinmaya, you may work very hard and accomplish many things, great or small, but, it is not necessary that the world will always applaud you for them. Some may criticize, others may decry, yet others may even insult you. You should work not for others’ applauses but for your own inner-joy and satisfaction.”


A young couple and their two-year-old child were trying to cross the desert, and they ran out of food. After deep reflection, they realized that in order to survive they had to kill their son and eat his flesh. They calculated that if they ate such and such a proportion of their baby's flesh and carried the rest on their shoulder to dry, it would last the rest of their journey.

But with every morsel of their baby's flesh they ate, the young couple cried and cried.

After he told this story, the Buddha asked, "Dear friends, do you think the young couple enjoyed eating their own son's flesh?"

"No, master, it would not be possible for them to enjoy eating their own son's flesh."

The Buddha said, "Yet many people eat the flesh of their parents, their children, and their grandchildren and do not know it."





One day a famous government officer met a highly respected elderly master. Being conceited, he wanted to prove that he was the superior person.

As their conversation drew on, he asked the master, "Old monk, do you know what I think of you and the things you said?"

The master replied, "I don't care what you think of me. You are entitled to have your own opinion."

The officer snorted, "Well, I will tell you what I think anyway. In my eyes, you are just like a pile of dry sh**!"

The master simply smiled and stayed quiet.

Seeing that his insult had fallen into deaf ears, he asked curiously, "And what do you think of me?"

The master said, "In my eyes, you are just like the Buddha."

Hearing this remark, the officer left happily and bragged to his wife about the incident.

His wife said to him, "You conceited fool! When a person has a heart like a pile of dry sh**, he sees everyone in that light. The elderly master has a heart like that of the Buddha, and that is why in his eyes, everyone, including you, is like the Buddha!"




When the Buddha wandered around India shortly after his enlightenment, he encountered several men who recognized him to be a very extraordinary being.

They asked him, "Are you a god?"

"No," he replied.

"Are you a reincarnation of god?"

"No," he replied.

"Are you a wizard, then?"


"Well, are you a man?"


"So what are you?" they asked, being very perplexed.

"I am awake."

[The term "Buddha" literally means "awakened one" or "he who is awake". One can easily see the connection to the word "enlightenment".]







« Last Edit: December 21, 2015, 11:56:12 AM by Vivek »
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Crystal Palace

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Re: Thoughtful Anecdotes
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2011, 05:52:11 PM »
Thank you so much Vivek for this treasure trove of inspiration!  :)
I really liked the Malunkyaputra story in particular.

This thread should be read in parts. People can come to this thread time and time again.

May you be free from suffering!

Thank you for volunteering to be a cleaner of this forum. All the members are indebted to you my friend!  :) :) :)

"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"


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Re: More Anecdotes
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2011, 05:53:11 PM »
Nagarjunaaaaaa  story soo cooooool!!!!  :) :) :)

I am a big fan of Nagarjuna I must admit!

Thanks once again Vivek !

Good man  :)

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Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"



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Re: More Anecdotes
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2011, 06:49:30 PM »



"A young widower, who loved his five year old son very much, was away on business when bandits came who burned down the whole village and took his son away. When the man returned, he saw the ruins and panicked. He took the burnt corpse of an infant to be his son and cried uncontrollably. He organized a cremation ceremony, collected the ashes and put them in a beautiful little bag which he always kept with him.
Soon afterwards, his real son escaped from the bandits and found his way home. He arrived at his father's new cottage at midnight and knocked at the door. The father, still grieving asked, "Who is it?" The child answered, “it’s me papa, open the door!" But in his agitated state of mind, convinced that his son was dead, the father thought that some young boy was making fun of him. He shouted, "Go away" and continued to cry. The child kept on banging on the door begging the father to open it, but the man remained heedless to the child’s cry. After some time, the child left.
Father and son never saw each other again."
After this story, the Buddha said: "Sometime, somewhere, you take something to be the truth. If you cling to it so much, even if truth comes in person and knocks on your door, you will not open it."





Nanda’s Lamp

Long ago in India, there lived a woman named Nanda who was so poor that she could barely feed herself; but she was very kind and carried a deep faith in the Buddha’s Teachings.
In those days, it was a custom for the people to practice Dana, everyone offering what he could to the Buddha and his disciples. Nanda had nothing to offer. One day, she found a job and made a little bit of money, so she too could make an offering. She decided to use some oil to light a lamp at the temple where the Buddha was staying. When evening came, many lights flickered brightly and among them was Nanda’s. During the night all the lamps burned out except one. One of the Buddha’s disciple tried to blow out the flame that burned on in the sunlight. The master said, “It is useless. Even if you poured the great ocean upon it, this lamp will remain burning. A very poor woman offered this light, sacrificing the food she needed. Her pure heart is contained within it. Do not forget that in charity the thought behind the offering is the most important thing.”



Right and Wrong


When Bankei, the Zen master, held his seclusion-weeks of meditation, pupils from many parts of Japan came to attend. During one of these gatherings a pupil was caught stealing. The matter was reported to Bankei with the request that the culprit be expelled. Bankei ignored the case.

Later the pupil was caught in a similar act, and again Bankei disregarded the matter. This angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would leave in a body.

When Bankei had read the petition he called everyone before him. “You are wise brothers,” he told them. “You know what is right and what is not right. You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor brother does not even know right from wrong. Who will teach him if I do not? I am going to keep him here even if all the rest of you leave.”

A torrent of tears cleansed the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished.



The Greatest Being on Earth


Once Gautama, the Buddha, was teaching his disciples. Hearing the Buddha’s simple yet profound words of wisdom, one of the students who was sitting near him, praised him thus, “O Buddha (enlightened one), you are the greatest being on earth that ever lived! There will be no one in future as well who would even equal you in your greatness!”

Buddha smiled.

He asked the disciple, “Do you know all the great men and women who have lived in the past?”

“No master”, said the disciple.

“Are you aware of the great men and women who are living in the present?”

“No master.”

“At least do you know all the great men and women who will be born in future?”

“No master.”

“Then my dear, on what basis did you reach that conclusion?”, asked the Compassionate One, “It is my teaching that is important, never me.”


More Precious Than Gem


"A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime.
But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. "I've been thinking," he said, "I know how valuable the stone is, but I am giving it back in the hope that you can give me something that is even more precious.”

“What is that?”, asked the women.

“Give me that which you have within you which enabled you to give me this stone without even the slightest hesitation."





The son of a thief once asked his father to teach him the secrets of the trade. The old thief agreed and that night took his son to burglarize a large house. While the family was asleep, he silently led his young apprentice into a room that contained a clothes closet. The father told his son to go into the closet to pick out some clothes. When he did, the father quickly shut the door and locked him in. Then he went back outside, knocked loudly on the front door, thereby waking the family, and quickly slipped away before anyone saw him. Hours later, his son returned home, bedraggled and exhausted. “Father,” he cried angrily, “Why did you lock me in that closet??? If I hadn’t been made desperate by my fear of getting caught, I never would have escaped. It took all my ingenuity to get out!” The old thief smiled. “Son, you just had your first lesson in the art of burglary.”



Midnight Excursion


Many pupils were studying meditation under the Zen master Sengai. One of them used to secretly arise at night, climb over the temple wall, and go to town on a pleasure jaunt. The student did this for a long time without anyone noticing.

Sengai, inspecting the dormitory quarters, found this pupil missing one night and also discovered the high stool he had used to scale the wall. Sengai removed the stool and stood there in its place.

While Sengai stood there thus, the wanderer returned. Not knowing that Sengai was the stool, he put his feet on the master’s head and jumped down into the grounds. Discovering what he had done, he was aghast.

Sengai said: “Dear, it is very chilly in the early morning. Please be careful not to catch cold yourself.” The master calmly walked away, leaving the pupil speechless.

The pupil never went out at night again.






The master Bankei’s talks were attended not only by Zen students but by persons of all ranks and sects. His words were spoken directly from his heart to the hearts of his listeners.

Bankei’s large audiences angered a priest of the Nichiren sect because his adherents had left to hear about Zen. The self-centered Nichiren priest came to the temple, determined to debate with Bankei.

“Hey, Zen teacher!” he called out. “Wait a minute. Whoever respects you will obey what you say, but I don’t respect you at all. Can you make me obey you?”

“Come up beside me and I will show you,” said Bankei.

Proudly the priest pushed his way through the crowd to the teacher.

Bankei smiled. “Come over to my left side.”

The priest obeyed.

“No,” said Bankei, “we may talk better if you are on the right side. Step over here.”

The priest proudly stepped over to the right.

“You see,” observed Bankei, “you are obeying me and I think you are a very gentle person. Now sit down and listen.” The priest was dumbfounded.



The Blind Men And The Elephant


Several citizens ran into a hot argument about God and different religions, and each one could not agree to a common answer. So they came to the Lord Buddha to find out what exactly God looks like.

The Buddha asked his disciples to get a large magnificent elephant and four blind men. He then brought the four mean to the elephant and told them to find out what the elephant would "look" like.

The first blind men touched the elephant leg and reported that it "looked" like a pillar. The second blind man touched the elephant tummy and said that an elephant was a wall. The third blind man touched the elephant ear and said that it was a piece of cloth. The fourth blind man hold on to the tail and described the elephant as a piece of rope. And all of them ran into a hot argument about the "appearance" of an elephant.

The Buddha asked the citizens: "Each blind man had touched the elephant but each of them gives a different description of the animal. Which answer is right?"

"All of them are right," was the reply.

"Why?”, said the Buddha, “Because everyone can only see part of the elephant. They are not able to see the whole animal. The same applies to God and to religions. No one will see Him completely."





A long time ago, there lived a great Zen master. When the master and his disciples began their evening meditation, a cat who lived in the monastery made such noise that it distracted them. So, one day the teacher ordered that the cat be tied up to a far away tree during the evening practice. Years later, when the teacher died, the cat continued to be tied up during the meditation session. And when the cat eventually died, another cat was brought to the monastery and tied up. This custom continued generation after generation. Centuries later, learned descendants of the spiritual teacher wrote scholarly treatises and invented philosophies about the religious significance of tying up a cat for the meditation practice!



Collective Stupidity


Four monks decided to meditate silently without speaking continuously for two weeks. By nightfall on the first day, the candle began to flicker and then it went out. The first monk said, “Oh, no! The candle is out.” The second monk said, “Aren’t we not suppose to talk?” The third monk said, “Why must you two break the silence?” The fourth monk laughed and said, “Ha! All of you are fools. I’m the only one who didn’t speak.”




Mokusen’s Hand


Mokusen Hiki was a renowned Zen master. One of his adherents complained of the stinginess of his wife.

Mokusen visited the adherent’s wife and showed her his clenched fist before her face.

“What do you mean by that?” asked the surprised woman.

“Suppose my fist were always like that. What would you call it?” he asked.

“Deformed,” replied the woman.

The he opened his hand flat in her face and asked: “Suppose it were always like that. What then?”

“Another kind of deformity,” said the wife.

“If you understand that much,” finished Mokusen, “you are a good wife.” Then he left.

After his visit, this wife helped her husband to distribute wealth as well as to save it.



The Tunnel


Zenkai, the son of a samurai, journeyed to Edo and there became the retainer of a high official. He fell in love with the official’s wife and was discovered. In self-defence, he killed the official. Then he ran away with the wife.

Both of them later became thieves. But the woman was so greedy that Zenkai grew disgusted. Finally, leaving her, he journeyed far away to the province of Buzen, where he became a wandering mendicant.

To atone for his past, Zenkai resolved to accomplish some good deed in his lifetime. Knowing of a dangerous road over a cliff that had caused death and injury to many people, he resolved to cut a tunnel through the mountain there.

Begging food in the daytime, Zenkai worked at night digging his tunnel. When thirty years had gone by, the tunnel was 2,280 feet long, 20 feet high, and 30 feet wide.

Two years before the work was completed, the son of the official he had slain, who was also a skillful swordsman, found Zenkai out and came to kill him in revenge.

“I will give you my life willingly,” said Zenkai. “Only let me finish this work. On the day it is completed, then you may kill me.”

So the son awaited the day. Several months passed and Zenkai kept digging. The son grew tired of doing nothing and began to help with the digging. After he had helped for more than a year, he came to admire Zenkai’s strong will and character.

At last the tunnel was completed and the people could use it and travel safely.

“Now cut off my head,” said Zenkai. “My work is done.”

“How can I cut off my own teacher’s head?” asked the young man with tears in his eyes.

« Last Edit: December 21, 2015, 12:03:03 PM by Vivek »
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Re: Thoughtful Anecdotes
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2011, 06:51:44 PM »
Buddha's anecdotes are simply a class apart. They are treasure troves to which we can return again and again, and still take away a lot with us. I am glad to know that they have been helpful. :)
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Re: Thoughtful Anecdotes
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2011, 09:04:58 PM »
oh boy what a wonderful hour of laughter and insight!  :D ??? :D ??? :D ??? :D
I'll be back to this thread definitely.



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Re: More Anecdotes
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2011, 07:23:52 AM »
I like the pile of dry shite one!

Being provoked is the hardest thing to deal with, because who wants to be wrong, or made to look wrong? In my job I'm expected to wear the blame of when customers short sightedness and silly demands go wrong, like today. So many people are so sure that they know everything, and I guess I do as well. It is conceit I suppose.

 Conceit :" an excessively favorable opinion of one's own ability, importance, wit, etc."

May all beings let go of conceit and look like buddhas in each others eyes!

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Re: More Anecdotes
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2011, 07:44:07 AM »
Andy - like my partner always says to me. You are cursed with competency.
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Re: Thoughtful Anecdotes
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2011, 07:46:45 AM »
Glad to know you liked them, TMO :)
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Re: More Anecdotes
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2011, 11:35:23 AM »
 :D Don't I know it!  :-* :angel:
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Morning Dew

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« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2011, 10:22:05 PM »
What do you think ;)
Check this out;



Re: Thoughtful Anecdotes
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2011, 02:55:51 AM »
Don't know 'bout that....if I was to show it to a primary school kid, for whom it seems to be written, they would be quite entitled to ask 'well if there's no boss, how do the brains and heart and muscles know what to do?' And I think I would have a hard time answering that question.


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Re: Thoughtful Anecdotes
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2011, 04:52:43 AM »
It assumes the body is more real than the mind.
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Re: Thoughtful Anecdotes
« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2015, 02:14:23 PM »
I came across a beautiful anecdote from the life of the great Vipassana teacher, Ruth Denison. Truly insightful as well as inspiring. Ruth passed on this year at the age of 93. She was 76 years when this happened:


At seventy-six, Ruth Denison is one of the most respected meditation teachers in the West. In recent years her husband, a lifelong meditation student, developed Alzheimer's, to the extent that he would wander out of the house not knowing where he was. For months Ruth regularly drove four hours back and forth from her retreat center to her home, staying up all hours to care for him. One day he left the stove unattended and part of the house burned.

During this period, Ruth was invited to Portland, Oregon, to give a lecture as well as lead a meditation retreat. Arriving exhausted, she entered the room of 150 students gathered for the teachings. She began by encouraging them to feel their breath and body, to know directly their present experience. She talked about being constantly aware of what is going on. Then she told the story of her husband's Alzheimer's and the recent fire.

She continued to teach about awareness. Then she said, "Did I tell you about my husband and the fire?" and proceeded to tell the story all over again. She spoke further about attention and then she said,"Oh, I have to tell you about my husband and the fire that we had," and began for a third time to tell the story.

Many in the room became frightened and upset for this woman, who, it appeared, was beginning to show signs of Alzheimer's as well.

Several people stood up to leave. Before they reached the door, Ruth called out,"Wait! You meditation students there, where do you think you are going? I want  you to look at your expectations. What were you expecting when you came here?" Some moments passed as they stood, reflecting. Then she continued,"Tonight you have a chance to observe something special. You have a chance to see an accomplished meditation teacher fail. I don't even know what I just said." They sat back down, and Ruth continued to teach: "Can you stay awake to whatever is happening? That is your practice."

Fortunately Ruth's memory loss was only for that night and only due to exhaustion. As soon as she got some rest, her memory and energy came back full force. But that evening she had demonstrated truly being present--the ability to stay with anything, even her own disorientation, and allow it to be held in awareness and compassion.
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Re: Thoughtful Anecdotes
« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2015, 01:25:09 PM »
That is very beautiful Vivek.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~


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Re: Thoughtful Anecdotes
« Reply #17 on: August 24, 2015, 05:12:59 PM »
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?


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Re: Thoughtful Anecdotes
« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2015, 11:53:08 AM »
The Compassion of a Master

A senior student in a Zen monastery fell in love with a new female student in the community. Less than a year later, this woman abruptly left the senior student for another man. The senior student was heart-broken and in terrible grief. The Zen master of the monastery came to know about this and for several months the master was sympathetic to his senior student's grief and ministered to his sorrow.

Then the master took a nine-month teaching trip to Europe and Korea. Upon his return, he spent time checking in with each of the community members. The senior student painfully explained to the master that he was still mourning his loss. After listening to his student calmly, the master reached out into his bag and pulled out an exquisitely carved set of prayer beads as a gift. He carefully placed them in the delighted student's two hands, which he held with one of his own. Then in an instant the master raised his other hand and fiercely smacked the student across the face, shouting as he did so, "PUT HER DOWN!"

Then the master bowed and walked away. All the students standing there were in shock. But they all soon noticed that the senior student was dramatically changed by this blow. He let go and moved on with his life.

It doesn't do you any good holding on to things which are completely beyond your control. The sooner you realize this and let go, the earlier you can get back on track as well as get on with life.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?