Want to know the puzzle of reality through Zen stories? For the people who are mystified by the harsh, terrific, and seemingly unknowable realities of life then reading of the Zen stories can help us! Zen stories with explanations can help us understand the deepest but unnoticed side of reality in a most profound way. This way, Zen stories can be helpful for us. Zen is the art and science of knowing the realities of the present moment. Zen does not depend upon verbal communication; that is to say it doesn’t have to depend upon words for effective communication. A greater part of Zen training involves meditation. As Zen emphasizes non-verbal communication, there are many funny Zen stories spread across Zen literature.
Generally speaking, short Zen stories circle around Zen masters and disciples. Those are short Zen stories but very enlightening one. The stories are of sudden enlightenment in nature. In the common parlance of Zen, sudden enlightenment is called Satori.
Usually people have to force out laughter when they listen to such stories. But after some time they laugh out loud! But when people listen to Zen stories with explanations, people become calm with wisdom.
Zen stories are not longer. They are usually short Zen stories. Rather they are concise and awe inspiring. Short Zen stories are motivational Zen stories.
Word is our principal medium of communication. In our long civilizational journey, we have come a long way with the development of communication mediums. We have developed easy and the most expressive script for our convenience of communication. We have also developed psychology. We can read between the lines with our knowledge of the mind. Our mind is such a complex entity that it’s understanding cannot be completed with the expressive power of words.
This is a scientific fact that our communication cannot be effective with mere dependence on words. Zen teachings are not dependent on words, it’s outside the scope of scriptures, it’s beyond tradition and formal religion.
My above point is substantiated by the famous Buddhist story which we call the Lotus Suttra. According to this Sutra, one fine morning the Buddha rose up to his disciples with a lotus flower in his hand and he said nothing! One of his disciples looked at him and smiled. That day the Buddha, the enlightened one didn’t give sermons and retired. So then, what does it signify? This is the first zen story per say in which the importance of non-verbal communication was being highlighted. This is the zen story on mindfulness.
Apart from that, Zen is the realization of the exact reality of the present moment. Zen is the realization of the exact happenings of the present moment. Outwardly speaking, knowing or realizing the present moment is not much of a big deal. But in fact, it’s a big deal!
Zen stories teach us to be mindful of our inner being so it demands non-utterance. It is said that the power of zen mindfulness is so sharp that it does not miss the sound of silence! Just observing the silence makes us in sync with existence itself. If we observe things, or the mind itself, we see that the vibrations of the mind created by silence itself is so tumultus! We become sensitive to almost everything.
Zen training teaches and inspires meditation. Zen is a japanese word. It’s a derivative of the Chinese word Chan which means Dhyana or meditation. So, the meaning of Zen is meditation.
Regarding the non-reliance of words, there is a common joke among zen circles that when two zen masters meet each other, they instantly recognize each other even though they are strangers.
The result of the teachings of non-verbal communication gave rise to anecdotal zen stories in the corpus of zen literature. These stories work like pun among the readers.
Short Zen Stories with explanations – one
Here, I will share two Zen stories with explanations.
This is the story of Bodhidharma and the emperor Wu of Liang.
It is mentionable that Bodhidharma introduced zen in China for the first time. Bodhidharma’s encounter with the emperor Liang is interesting because of his direct and abrupt approach in answering the questions of the emperor. The emperor described in front of Bodhidharma all that he could do and all he did to promote the cause of Buddhism. He held all the traditional conceptions regarding the building of monasteries, giving financial aid to the monks, and all the popular beliefs in relation to Nirvana and reincarnation. The emperor asked Bodhidharma what merit he had gained by doing all these staffs? Upon this question, Bodhidharma replied, ‘No merit whatever’! Then the emperor felt undermined! He then asked, ‘what, then, is the sacred doctrine’s first principle?’ Bodhidharma replied, ‘it’s just empty. There is nothing sacred’! ‘Who are you then’, asked the emperor. ‘I do not know’, replied Bodhidharma.
By a closer reading of the conversation between Bodhidharma and the emperor, we realize the emptiness of the human mind, and that there is nothing as inherently present and sacred which we may consider predestined. The interesting aspect of the story is it’s abruptness. That’s why it is enlightening and thought provoking.
Short Zen Stories with explanations – two
After the unsatisfactory encounter with the emperor, Bodhidharma retired to a monastery in Wei province where he is said to have stayed for nine years gazing at the wall. Zen scholars like Suzuki are of the opinion that the expression is only symbolic. It reflects Bodhidharma’s inner state of mind, his exclusion of all the grasping thoughts of the mind.
Bodhidharma remained in this condition until he was approached by his successor Hui-Ko. Hui-Ko eventually became the second patriarch of Zen Buddhism.
Hui-Ko repeatedly asked Bodhidharma for instruction. But he was refused again and again. He was so relentless in his attempt to convince Bodhidharma that he began to meditate outside the cave in snow. Out of frustration, Hui-Ko cut off his left arm and presented it to Bodhidharma as a mark of sincerity. Bodhidharma then asked, ‘what do you want’?
‘I have no peace of mind’, said Hui-Ko. ‘Please pacify my mind’.
Then Bodhidharma replied, ‘Bring out your mind, and I will pacify it’.
At this, Hui-Ko said, ‘But when I seek my own mind, I cannot find it’.
Bodhidharma abruptly said, ‘There! I have pacified your mind’.
This answer awakened the mind of Hui-Ko. He was enlightened!
The moral of this short zen story is that enlightenment is not to be sought outside. It is within the reach of our own mind. We must learn to find it out. Meditation helps us understand it better.
According to zen thought, we are already complete. There is no need to go out in search of truth.
There are lots of anecdotal zen stories. Sometimes the thread of such stories seems unrelated but somehow the threads mysteriously hit the deepest core of our mind only to awaken us from our misconceptions. This is the beauty of zen stories. We become enlightened by such stories. We become happy by such zen stories on happiness and peace.
Thus, we see that the short Zen stories with explanations create enlightening experiences.
Zen stories with explanations can also be used for life management also. Therefore, Zen stories can be called as Zen stories for management.