Tag Archives: Zen story

Teaching Story – The Great Warrior

Kabuki symmetry

Kabuki Warrior (S.Calhoun-2014)

There once lived a great warrior. Though quite old, he still was able to defeat any challenger. His reputation extended far and wide throughout the land and many students gathered to study under him.

One day an infamous young warrior arrived at the village. He was determined to be the first man to defeat the great master. Along with his strength, he had an uncanny ability to spot and exploit any weakness in an opponent. He would wait for his opponent to make the first move, thus revealing a weakness, and then would strike with merciless force and lightning speed. No one had ever lasted with him in a match beyond the first move.

Much against the advice of his concerned students, the old master gladly accepted the young warrior’s challenge. As the two squared off for battle, the young warrior began to hurl insults at the old master. He threw dirt and spit in his face. For hours he verbally assaulted him with every curse and insult known to mankind. But the old warrior merely stood there motionless and calm. Finally, the young warrior exhausted himself. Knowing he was defeated, he left feeling shamed.

Somewhat disappointed that he did not fight the insolent youth, the students gathered around the old master and questioned him. “How could you endure such an indignity? How did you drive him away?”

“If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it,” the master replied, “to whom does the gift belong?”

from: Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbors

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Knowing Who You Are

A student approached a Zen master and asked, “What happens after we die?”

The master answered, “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?” exclaimed the student. “But you are a Zen master!”

“That may be true,” the master said, “but I’m not a dead one.”

A zen master lay dying. His monks had gathered around his bed, from the most senior to the most novice monk. The senior monk leaned over to ask the dying master if he had any final words of advice for his monks. The old master slowly opened his eyes and in a weak voice whispered, “Tell them Truth is like a river.”The senior monk passed this piece of information in turn to the monk next to him, and it circulated around the room.

When the words reached the youngest monk he asked, “What does he mean, ‘Truth is like a river’?”

The question was passed back around the room to the senior monk who leaned over the bed and asked, “Master, what do you mean, ‘Truth is like a river’?”
Slowly the master opened his eyes and in a weak voice whispered, “OK, Truth is not like a river.”

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