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《Chinese Tales for Everyone: Zen Tales__1 and 2 from 沙石集》__ Kong Shiu Loon (53)

Zen Tales

(1)Zen is a Flute Melody

Jue-O (覺阿) was the first Japanese monk who went to study Zen in China during the Tang Dynasty.

During the ten years wondering in the mountains of China, he had come to understand the essence of Zen. He taught in the mountain temples occasionally, often with only a few words. Whenever he found that people adored him, he would leave where he was, and went deeper into the mountains where he played a bamboo flute daily.

When he finally returned to Japan, he was summoned to see the Emperor in the grand palace. He was told to explain the truth of Zen to the Emperor and his courtesans.

On arrival, he stood respectfully before the Emperor, took out a bamboo flute from his sleeve, and played a melody. He then bowed and left. No body knew where he had disappeared.

Today as centuries before, people in Japan hold two contrasting views about Jue-O and Zen. One recognizes that Yue-O had introduced Zen to Japan. The other says that he had merely played a tune with his flute.

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Note: This is an English narration of a story in the book 沙石集The original title 禪之一調 says that Zen is a melody. Readers will ponder on why a single melody could have such far-fetching meanings and power. I believe Yue-O did introduce Zen to Japan with a love of simplicity and individuality, in addition to an affinity with Nature. All these have become the way of life in Japan.
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Zen Tales

(2) You Cannot Make Me Obey

There was a Zen master who was a renowned teacher, named Pun Kui. Whenever he lectured, people of all ages and walks of life crowded in his lecture hall to listen to him.

A Zen master of another sect became jealous and angry because many of his own students left to become Pun Kui’s disciples.

So he went to challenge the renowned teacher. He said during a full-house lecture: “Hey, all these attendees respect you and follow your orders naturally. But I have little respect for you. I will not follow your orders.”

“Come here to sit next to me.” Pun Kui asked.

The challenger went forward, his nose pointing to the ceiling in defiance.

“Please sit on my right.” Pun Kui requested with a gentle smile.

The challenger did as told.

“Oh I made a mistake. Sorry. If you come to sit on my left I will hear you better.”

The challenger changed his position as suggested, still showing his defiance.

“So you see,” concluded Pun Kui, “You are already obeying my orders. I can see you are a very agreeable scholar. Please sit down comfortably, and we can begin this lecture.”

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Note: This is an English narration of a story contained in沙石集》, a 13th Century classic Zen volume. This story shows how effective teaching can help change a person and his insistent attitudes.

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