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《Chinese Tales for Eeryone:Zen Tales__3 and 4 from 沙石集》__ Kong Shiu Loon (53)

Zen Tales
(3)
Put Down and Carry

One day, a master monk took his student downhill to attend a seminar. It had been raining overnight and the road was wet and slippery.

At the foot of the hill, they saw a beautiful young lady in a flowery silk dress standing in front of a muddy pool. She was hesitant to go across to continue the road ahead.

The master monk went forward to take her up in his arms. “Let me help you” he said before he carried her across the pool and put her down.

The monk and his student attended the seminar that day and returned to the monastery in late afternoon. The student was silent all day long, seemingly unhappy.

In the evening, the student could not keep his silence anymore. He approached his teacher and said: “Master, you have sinned today.”

“Why?” the master asked.

“You taught me to lead an ascetic life,” the student continued: “We are supposed not to touch any woman. But, master, you even took a beautiful woman in your arms and held her for a long time this morning.”

“Was that a beautiful woman?” the master replied, “I had put her down as soon as I had helped her on her way. Why are you still carrying her in your mind?”

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Note: This is a retelling in English of a Zen story contained in the 13th century book 《沙石集》. The book contains many interesting stories about monks and their lives in and out of the Buddhist monastery. Indirectly, the stories tell us about our attitudes toward life in search for truth, duty and happiness. In this story, the master monk lives out his duty to help others in need. It is more important than keeping the written rules of asceticism.
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Zen Tales

(4) A Cup of Tea

A scholar of some fame visited a famous Zen Master to learn the meaning of Zen.

The Master sat him down and began to serve him a cup of tea. He poured the clear tea into the cup to the ream and continued to pour.

The scholar watched in surprise. But he remained silent. The master still poured and poured, with no intention to stop. The scholar could not bear to watch the foolish act anymore. He gently asked: “Please pour no more. The cup is already full.”

The Zen Master said: “You are like this cup, with a full measure of your knowledge and understanding. How can I teach you about Zen if you do not empty yourself?”

“I still don’t understand.”

“You have the facility to understand all sorts of things. Yet you came here to ask me to teach you about Zen. Why don’t you rid off your dependence, and learn about Zen using your own ability?”

The scholar left, being inspired.

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Note: This is an English narration of a Zen story in the 13th Century book 沙石集.The original title 一杯荼explained that learning involved self effort rather than teaching by others, however learned the teacher might be.

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