"What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?"

George Eliot

Zen Stories


   There was once a monk who would carry a mirror where ever he went.  A priest noticed this one day and thought to himself "This monk must be so preoccupied with the way he looks that he has to carry that mirror all the time.  He should not worry about the way he looks on the outside, it's what's inside that counts."  So the priest went up to the monk and asked "Why do you always carry that mirror?" thinking for sure this would prove his guilt.  The monk pulled the mirror from his bag and pointed it at the priest.  Then he said "I use it in times of trouble.  I look into it and it shows me the source of my problems as well as the solution to my problems."


    There was a man who did not like his footprints and feared his shadow so he ran from them.  He was told that if he sat still, the footprints would go away and if he entered the darkness there would be no shadows.  But he had to run from the footprints of his actions and the shadows of the past.


     Two monks were traveling together, an older monk and a younger monk.  They noticed a young woman at the edge of a stream, afraid to cross.  The older monk picked her up, carried her across the stream and put her down safely on the other side.  The younger monk was astonished, but he didn't say anything until their journey was over.  "Why did you carry that woman across the stream?  Monks aren't supposed to touch any member of the opposite sex." said the younger monk.  The older monk replied "I left her at the edge of the river, are you still carrying her?"


    The greatest swordsman in the world was once hired to defend a village from nine bandits.  He entered a diner once and set his sword down in front of him.  He ordered a bowl of rice and was eating with his chopsticks when the nine bandits lined up behind him.  He clicked his chopsticks in the air nine times and nine flies fell dead on the table in front of him.  When he turned, the bandits were gone and no one heard from them again. 


    Once there was a horse tied up on the side of the street.  Whenever someone tried to pass, the horse would kick them.  Soon a crowd gathered around the horse until a wise man was seen coming close.  The people said "This horse will surely kill anyone who tries to pass.  What are we going to do?"  The wise man looked at the horse, turned and walked down another street.


    The king wanted to be surrounded by beauty.  He ordered the greatest musicians, beautiful singers, jewels, gold, and great dancers to surround him.  But still there was something missing.  Then when all was quiet, he heard a bird singing outside the window.  "That's it!  Bring me that bird!" he ordered.  The servants soon brought him the bird and the king placed it in his room.  But the bird was caged and would not sing.