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《Chinese Tales for Everyone: Zen Tales_ 7 from 禪公案集 and 8 from 沙石集》__ Kong Shiu Loon (53)

Zen Tales

(7) Arrest the Stone Buddha Statue

One day long ago, a trader carried 26 rolls of cotton cloth to market. It was a hot summer day. He was tired travelling. Presently, he took a rest under the shade of a large tree, beside a stone Buddha statue. He soon fell to sound sleep.

When he woke up, he discovered in horror that his goods were all gone.

He reported his loss to the nearby police authority

The local magistrate promptly opened court to handle the case. He asked the police chief to arrest the stone Buddha statue and brought it to court for sentencing the next morning.

A large crowd jammed the courthouse in the morning. They were interested to find out how a stone statue could be held responsible for the trader’s lost.

“Be silent!” The magistrate ordered the crowd, “I sentence all of you for contempt of this court with your noisy chattering.”

Everybody knelled down in fear of having to pay a big fine. The magistrate continued: “However, I shall waive your heavy fines if each of you would bring in a roll of cotton cloth to show me this afternoon.”

At the appointed time, everyone brought a roll of cotton cloth as demanded. The magistrate asked the trader to see if there was a roll of cotton that was his goods. He found one. The police quickly arrested the culprit and found the other 25 rolls of cloth in his house.

The magistrate released the crowd and thanked the stone Buddha statue.

Everyone applauded the wisdom of the magistrate.

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Note: This is an English rewrite of a story in the book of Zen wisdom禪公案集. The original title 逮捕石佛has become a proverbial phrase to denote the wisdom of using a neutral object as witness to help detect a crime.

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Zen Tales

(8) True Prosperity

Long ago, a wealthy man invited the most respected Zen master in his region to write a blessing message to sanctify the lasting prosperity of his family.

The Zen master took a large sheet of paper and wrote: Father died, son died and grandson died.

The wealthy man was enraged. He complained: “I sincerely ask you to bless my family’s lasting prosperity and happiness, and you write such cursing words to mock my request!”

“No mocking, sir,” the Zen master replied, “Just think if your son should die before you, what great grief would you feel? And if your grandson should die before his father, what torment would your son suffer? On the other hand, if generations of your family lived and died in natural succession, like the order I have written, that is true prosperity and eternal happiness.”

The wealthy man accepted and bowed to thank the Zen master for the inspiration.

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Note: This is an English rewrite of a story in the book沙石集published in ancient Japan. The original title of the story 真正興旺taught us to accept nature’s order in life progression as the foundation of prosperity and happiness.

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