A colection of Zen stories and parables from various books: Zen Flesh Zen Bones, Zen Stories To Tell Your Neighbors, Zen Fables For Today, Zen Antics, The Teachings of the Buddha, .. and other sources.

To get the Book in PDF format, click: 101 Zen stories (293 KB).

A few stories from this book

Rabbi Isadore was a wise teacher. A student asked: "How is one to know the precise time when night ends and day begins?"
One student volunteered, "It is when one can distinguish between a dog and a sheep in the far distance, that is when day begins."
Another said, "It is when you can tell the difference between a fig tree and a date tree, then night is fully gone."
"No, it is neither of those things," said the Rabbi. "It is when you can see your brother or sister in the face of a stranger. Until then, night is still with us."
The great Taoist master Chuang Tzu once dreamt that he was a butterfly fluttering here and there. In the dream he had no awareness of his individuality as a person. He was only a butterfly.
Suddenly, he awoke and found himself laying there, a person once again. But then he thought to himself, "Was I before a man who dreamt about being a butterfly, or am I now a butterfly who dreams about being a man?"
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak and act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.
Seung Sahn would say, "When you eat, just eat. When you read the newspaper, just read the newspaper. Don't do anything other than what you are doing."
One day a student saw him reading the newspaper while he was eating. The student asked if this did not contradict his teachings.
Seung Sahn said, "When you eat and read the newspaper, just eat and read the newspaper."
- Why must I meditate in order to acheive enlightenment?" demanded the prince of his teacher. I can study. I can pray. I can think on issues clearly. Why this silly emptying of the mind?
- I will show you, said the teacher, taking a bucket of water into the garden under the full moon.
Now I stir the surface and what do you see?
- Ribbons of light, answered the prince.
- Now wait, said the teacher setting the bucket down.
Both teacher and boy watched the calming surface of the water in the bamboo bucket for many minutes.
- Now what do you see? asked the teacher.
- The moon, replied the prince.
- So, too, young master, the only way to grasp enlightenment is through a calm and settled mind.
Goshu came to Zen master Yui-e and said:
- I have been studying Zen for many years, but have not yet succeeded. Please give me some guidance.
Yui-e said:
- There is no secret trick to Zen study. It's just a matter of freedom from birth and death.
Goshu asked:
- How does one pass through birth and death to freedom?
Raising his voice, Yui-e said:
- Your every passing thought is birth and death!
At these words Goshu went into ecstacy, feeling as if he had put down a heavy burden.
A Taoist story tells of an old man who accidentally fell into the river rapids leading to a high and dangerous waterfall. Onlookers feared for his life. Miraculously, he came out alive and unharmed downstream at the bottom of the falls.
People asked him how he managed to survive.
- I accommodated myself to the water, not the water to me. Without thinking, I allowed myself to be shaped by it. Plunging into the swirl, I came out with the swirl. This is how I survived.
Word spread across the countryside about the wise Holy Man who lived in a small house atop the mountain. A man from the village decided to make the long and difficult journey to visit him. When he arrived at the house, he saw an old servant inside who greeting him at the door.
- I would like to see the wise Holy Man. He said to the servant.
The servant smiled and led him inside. As they walked through the house, the man from the village looked eagerly around the house, anticipating his encounter with the Holy Man.
Before he knew it, he had been led to the back door and escorted outside. He stopped and turned to the servant:
- But I want to see the Holy Man!
- You already have, said the old man. Everyone you may meet in life, even if they appear plain and insignificant.. see each of them as a wise Holy Man. If you do this, then whatever problem you brought here today will be solved.
101 Zen stories

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