Welcome to the archived web site of
Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Psychologist (1950-2013)
California License No. PSY 10092
 
Specializing in Presence-Centered Therapy
balancing mind and heart, body and spirit

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From His Book | Meditations For Life | The Flow of Money, Business and Innovation | Transpersonal/Mind-Body | Approaches, Worldview and Will-isms

Skills For Life: The Core Playing Field | Free the Ego, and You Are Free | Feeling, Thought, Communication & Action

Strategies/Distinctions For Life: The Core Playing Field | Free the Ego, and You Are Free

Awakening Stories/Metaphors For Life: The Core Playing Field | Free the Ego, and You Are Free | The Way It Is

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Awakening Stories/Metaphors For Life: The Core Playing Field

Awakening Stories For Life 2

God, waking up from an eternal sleep, asks who am I? Creation ensues.

Sufi tale

*

The Lost Key

Someone saw Nasrudin searching for something on the ground. "What have you lost, Mulla?" he asked.

"My key," said the Mulla.

So they both went down on their knees and looked for it. After a time the other man asked: "Where exactly did you drop it?"

"In my own house."

"Then why are you looking here?"

"There is more light here than inside my own house."

—Sufi story, as collected by Idries Shah

*

Jafar asked Rabia when a devotee might become content with God.
She replied, "When his joy in affliction equals his joy in blessing."

—Abu Makki, as collected by James Fadiman & Robert Frage

*

The Gates of Paradise

A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin, and asked: "Is there really a paradise and a hell?"

" Who are you? inquired Hakuin.

"I am a samurai," the warrior replied.

"You, a soldier!" exclaimed Hakuin. "What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar."

Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued: "So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably much too dull to cut off my head."

As Nobushige drew his sword, Hakuin remarked, "Here open the gates of hell."

At these words, the samurai, perceiving the master's discipline, sheathed his sword and bowed.

"Here open the gates of paradise," said Hakuin.

—Zen story in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, Zen stories collected by Paul Reps

*

Nasrudin was passing through the Land of Fools one day, on donkey-back. On the road he passed two local worthies, plodding along on foot. "Good morning," said the Mulla.

"I wonder why he spoke to me, and not to you?" one of the fools said to the other.
"You idiot, it's me he spoke to-not you!"

Soon they were scuffling on the ground. But then it struck them both at once that they could run after Nasrudin and ask him to settle the question. They jumped up and scampered after him.

When they finally caught him up, they shouted together: "Which of us were you saying 'Good morning' to?"

The Mulla said: "The greater of the two fools!"

"That's definitely me!" said the first fool.

"Nonsense, it's obviously me!" said the other.

Nasrudin left them struggling in the dust.

—Sufi story collected by Idries Shah

*

What Is Grace?

"What is grace" I asked God.
And He said,
"All that happens."
Then He added, when I looked perplexed,
"Could not lovers
say that every moment in their Beloved's arms
was grace?
Existence is my arms,
though I well understand how one can turn
away from me
until the heart has
wisdom."

—St. John of the Cross
From: Love Poems from God by Daniel Ladinsky

*

A practical joker challenged Nasrudin in the teahouse: "People say you are very clever. But I bet you a hundred gold pieces you can't fool me!"

"I can, just wait for me," said Nasrudin, and walked out.

Three hours later, the man was still waiting for Nasrudin and his trick. Finally he conceded that he had been fooled. He went to the Mulla's house and put a bag of gold as his forfeit through the window.

Nasrudin was lying on his bed, planning his trick. He heard the chink of coins, found the bag and counted the gold.

"Good," he said to his wife, "kind destiny has sent me something to pay my bet with if I lose. Now all I have to do is to think out some stratagem to fool the joker who is, no doubt impatiently, awaiting me in the teahouse."

—Sufi story collected by Idries Shah

*

"Never give people anything they ask for until at least a day has passed!" said the Mulla.

"Why not, Nasrudin?"

"Experience shows that they only appreciate something when they have had the opportunity of doubting whether they will get it or not."

—Sufi story collected by Idries Shah

*

"Mulla, your wife is a terrible gossip. She visits everyone in town and gossips all the time."

"I don't believe that—otherwise she would surely have dropped in on me from time to time and gossiped—and she has never done that!"

—Sufi story collected by Idries Shah

*

Nasrudin saw a man sitting disconsolately at the wayside, and asked what ailed him.

"There is nothing of interest in life, brother," said the man; "I have sufficient capital not to have to work, and I am on this trip only in order to seek something more interesting than the life I have at home. So far I haven't found it."

Without another word, Nasrudin seized the traveler's knapsack and made off down the road with it, running like a hare. Since he knew the area, he was able to out-distance him.

The road curved, and Nasrudin cut across several loops, with the result that he was soon back on the road ahead of the man whom he had robbed. He put the bag by the side of the road and waited in concealment for the other to catch up.

Presently the miserable traveler appeared, following the tortuous road, more unhappy than ever because of his loss. As soon as he saw his property lying there, he ran towards it, shouting with joy.

"That's one way of producing happiness," said Nasrudin.

—Sufi story collected by Idries Shah

*

Sitting in the teahouse, Nasrudin was impressed by the rhetoric of a traveling scholar. Questioned by one of the company on some point, the sage drew a book from his pocket and banged it on the table: "This is my evidence! And I wrote it myself."

A man who could not only read but write was a rarity. And a man who had written a book! The villagers treated the pedant with profound respect.

Some days later Mulla Nasrudin appeared at the teahouse and asked whether anyone wanted to buy a house.

"Tell us something about it, Mulla," the people asked him, "for we did not even know that you had a house of your own."

"Actions speak louder than words!" shouted Nasrudin. From his pocket he took a brick, and hurled it on the table in front of him." This is my evidence. Examine it for quality. And I built the house myself."

—Sufi story collected by Idries Shah

*

The Path

A Taoist teacher asked her student to accompany her on a hike. The teacher, with her student at her side, walked to the foot of a small mountain and started up the path that led to the top. About halfway up, she stopped and asked her student, "Which way is up?"

He pointed up.

She asked, "which way is down?"

He pointed down.

She said, "The same path takes you up and down. That is the unity of opposites. If you again tell me that you don't understand the unity of opposites, I will tell you to take a hike."

—From A Handful of Zen by Camden Benares

*

Eating the Blame

In Zen, holding the suffering sometimes takes the form of "eating the blame." It is illustrated by the story of a cook who made soup for the monks from a turtle offered by fishermen that morning. When the soup was ladled into the monks' bowls, the roshi bellowed for the cook to come out. The turtle's head, which should have been removed before serving, was floating in the master's bowl. The cook bowed to the master, looked into the bowl, saw the problem, and with a deft movement of chopsticks plucked the turtle head out and ate it. Then he bowed to the master, the master back, and the cook returned to the kitchen.

—From: After the Ecstasy, the Laundry by Jack Kornfield

*

Nasrudin was throwing handfuls of crumbs around his house.
"What are you doing?" someone asked him.

"Keeping the tigers away."

"But there are no tigers in these parts."

"That's right. Effective isn't it?"

—Sufi story collected by Idries Shah

*

After a long journey, Nasrudin found himself amid the milling throng in Baghdad. This was the biggest place he had ever seen, and the people pouring through the streets confused him. "I wonder how people manage to keep track of themselves, who

they are, in a place like this," he mused. Then he thought, "I must remember myself well, otherwise I might lose myself." He rushed to a caravanserai. A wag was sitting on his bed, next to the one which Nasrudin was allotted. Nasrudin thought he would have a siesta, but he had a problem: how to find himself again when he woke up. He confided in his neighbor.

"Simple," said the joker. "Here is an inflated bladder. Tie it around your leg and go to sleep. When you wake up, look for the man with the balloon, and that will be you."

"Excellent idea," said Nasrudin. A couple of hours later, the Mulla awoke. He looked for the bladder, and found it tied to the leg of the wag. "Yes, that is me," he thought. Then, in a frenzy of fear he started pummeling the other man: "Wake up! Something has happened, as I thought it would. Your idea was no good!"

The man woke up and asked him what the trouble was. Nasrudin pointed to the bladder. "I can tell by the bladder that you are me. But if you are me-who, for the love of goodness, am I?"

—Sufi story collected by Idries Shah

*

The Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, "The Emperor's New Clothes," is a favorite fable and a marvelous portrait of false, unhealthy illusionment. [Andersen's Fairy Tales, E.V. Lucas & H.B. Paull, trans., Grosset & Dunlap: New York, 1945, p. 199-204]. Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D, provides the commentary following the tale.

The Emperor's New Clothes

Many years ago there was an Emperor who was so excessively fond of new clothes that he spent all his money on them. He cared nothing about his soldiers, or for the theater, or for driving in the woods except for the showing off his new clothes. He had a costume for every hour in the day. Instead of saying as one does about any other king or emperor, "He is in his council chamber," the people here always said, "The Emperor is in his dressing room."

Life was very gay in the great town where he lived. Hosts of strangers came to visit it every day, and among them one day were two swindlers. They gave themselves out as weavers and said that they knew how to weave the most beautiful fabrics imaginable. Not only were the colors and patterns unusually fine, but the clothes that were made of this cloth had the peculiar quality of becoming invisible to every person who was not fit for the office he held, or who was impossibly dull.

"Those must be splendid clothes," thought the Emperor. "By wearing them I should be able to discover which men in my kingdom are unfitting for their posts. I shall distinguish the wise men from the fools. Yes, I certainly must order some of that stuff to be woven for me."

He paid the two swindlers a lot of money in advance, so that they might begin their work at once.

They did put up two looms and pretended to weave, but they had nothing whatever upon their shuttles. At the outset they asked for a quantity of the finest silk and the purest gold thread, all of which they put into their own bags while they worked away at the empty looms far into the night.

"I should like to know how those weavers are getting on with their cloth," thought the Emperor, but he felt a little queer when he reflected that anyone who was stupid or unfit for his post would not be able to see it. He certainly thought that he need have no fears for himself, but still he thought he would send somebody else first to see how it was getting on. Everybody in the town knew what wonderful power the stuff possessed, and everyone was anxious to see how stupid his neighbor was.

"I will send my faithful old minister to the weavers," thought the Emperor. "He will be best able to see how the stuff looks, for he is a clever man and no one fulfills his duties better than he does."

So the good old minister went into the room where the two swindlers sat working at the empty loom.

"Heaven help us," thought the old minister, opening his eyes very wide. "Why, I can't see a thing!" But he took care not to say so.

Both the swindlers begged him to be good enough to step a little nearer, and asked if he did not think it a good pattern and beautiful coloring. They pointed to the empty loom. The poor old minister stared as hard as he could, but he could not see anything, for of course there was nothing to see.

"Good heavens," thought he, "Is it possible that I am a fool? I have never thought so, and nobody must know it. Am I not fit for my post? It will never do to say that I
cannot see the stuff."

"Well, sir, you don't say anything about the stuff," said the one who was pretending to weave.

"Oh, it is beautiful-quite charming," said the minister, looking through his spectacles. "Such a pattern and such colors! I will certainly tell the Emperor that the stuff pleases me very much."

"We are delighted to hear you say so," said the swindlers, and then they named all the colors and described the peculiar pattern. The old minister paid great attention to what they said, so as to be able to repeat it when he got home to the Emperor.
Then the swindlers went on to demand more money, more silk, and more gold, to be able to proceed with the weaving. But they put it all into their own pockets. Not a single strand was ever put into the loom, but they went on as before, weaving at the empty loom.

The Emperor soon sent another faithful official to see how the stuff was getting on and if it would soon be ready. The same thing happened to him as to the minister. He looked and looked, but as there was only the empty loom, he could see nothing at all.

"Is not this a beautiful piece of stuff?" said both the swindlers, showing and explaining the beautiful pattern and colors which were not there to be seen.
"I know I am no fool," thought the man, "so it must be that I am unfit for my good post. It is very strange, though. However, one must not let it appear." So he praised the stuff he did not see, and assured them of his delight in the beautiful colors and the originality of the design.

"It is absolutely charming," he said to the Emperor. Everybody in the town was talking about this splendid stuff.

Now the Emperor thought he would like to see it while it was still on the loom. So, accompanied by a number of selected courtiers, among whom were the two faithful officials who had already seen the imaginary stuff, he went to visit the crafty impostors, who were working away as hard as ever they could at the empty loom.

"It is magnificent," said both the trusted officials. "Only see, Your Majesty, what a design! What colors!" And they pointed to the empty loom, for they each thought no doubt the others could see the stuff.

"What?" thought the Emperor. "I see nothing at all. This is terrible! Am I a fool? Am I not fit to be Emperor? Why, nothing worse could happen to me!"

"Oh, it is beautiful," said the Emperor. "It has my highest approval." And he nodded his satisfaction as he gazed at the empty loom. Nothing would induce him to say that he could not see anything.

The whole suite gazed and gazed, but saw nothing more than all the others. However, they all exclaimed with His Majesty, "It is very beautiful." And they advised him to wear a suit made of this wonderful cloth on the occasion of a great procession, which was just about to take place. "Magnificent! Gorgeous! Excellent!" went from mouth to mouth. They were all equally delighted with it. The Emperor gave each of the rogues an order of knighthood to be worn in their buttonholes and the title of "Gentleman Weaver."

The swindlers sat up the whole night before the day on which the procession was to take place, burning sixteen candles, so that people might see how anxious they were to get the Emperor's new clothes ready. They pretended to take the stuff off the loom. They cut it out in the air with a huge pair of scissors, and they stitched away with needles without any thread in them. At last they said, "Now the Emperor's new clothes are ready."

The Emperor with his grandest courtiers went to them himself, and both swindlers raised one arm in the air, as if they were holding something. They said, "See, these are the trousers. This is the coat. Here is the mantle," and so on. "It is as light as a spider's web. One might think one had nothing on, but that is the very beauty of it."

"Yes," said all the courtiers, but they could not see anything for there was nothing to see.

"Will your Imperial Majesty be graciously pleased to take off your clothes?" said the impostors. "Then we may put on the new ones, right here before the great mirror."
The Emperor took off all his clothes, and the impostors pretended to give him one article of dress after the other of the new ones, which they had pretended to make. They pretended to fasten something around his waist and to tie on something. This was the train, and the Emperor turned round and round in front of the mirror.
"How well His Majesty looks in the new clothes! How becoming they are! Cried all the people round. "What a design, and what colors! They are most gorgeous robes."

"The canopy is waiting outside which is to be carried over your Majesty in the procession," said the master of the ceremonies.

"Well, I am quite ready," said the Emperor. "Don't the clothes fit well?" Then he turned round again in front of the mirror, so that he should seem to be looking at his grand things.

The chamberlains who were to carry the train stooped and pretended to lift it from the ground with both hands, and they walked along with their hands in the air. They dared not let it appear that they could not see anything.

Then the Emperor walked along in the procession under the gorgeous canopy, and everybody in the streets and at the windows exclaimed, "How beautiful the Emperor's new clothes are! What a splendid train! And they fit to perfection!" Nobody would let it appear that he could see nothing, for then he would not be fit for his post, or else he was a fool.

None of the Emperor's clothes had been so successful.

"But he has got nothing on," said a little child.

"Oh, listen to the innocent," said his father. And one person whispered to the other what the child had said. "He has nothing on--a child says he has nothing on!"

"But he has nothing on!" at last cried all the people.

The Emperor writhed, for he knew it was true. But he thought, "The procession must go on now." So he held himself stiffer than ever, and the chamberlains held up the invisible train.

This story gives a whole new depth of meaning to the expression 'the naked truth!' It is easy, far too easy, to allow ourselves to be bamboozled by intimidation, manipulation, attachments, animosities, ignorance, what other people will think of us or desiring our neighbor to have his comeuppancee.

With the innocent honesty of a little child, it behooves every one of us to see through chicanery and illusion, especially in our own minds, and find the naked truth, however embarrassing it may be.

What isn't real is worth doubting, naming and removing from your sight, path and life. Otherwise, you mistakenly grant an opening for evil to usurp and poison all that is precious.

*

His most clever student presented the awakened with an "unsolvable" problem:
"If a small gosling is kept in a large glass bottle and fed until it is full grown," said the student. "how does one get the goose out of the bottle without breaking the bottle or killing the goose?"

The awakened paused for a moment as everyone in the room contemplated this perplexing problem. He then tossed his small cup of water into the student's face and shouted "Wake Up!"

As the student sat in open-mouthed shock, the awakened gently smiled and said "The goose is out."

The goose in the bottle was only an imaginary problem. It existed only in the mind. The only problem of the spiritual seeker is his or her inability to see through the illusion of an imaginary separate self. The separate self is only in your mind. It's not really there. The goose is already out!

—Gary Crowley, From Here to Here: Turning Toward Enlightenment

Do You Know Who I Am?

"(There is) a story about a well known and self-important actor, who after retiring joined an exclusive old folks home. He walked in the lobby, looking at his new companions, and to his dismay did not draw any special attention.

Eventually he approached a nice old lady, who looked at him with a smile, and asked her, full of hope: "Do you know who I am?"

"No" replied the lady politely, "but if you'll ask at the reception, they will tell you."

—A Sufi story collected by Indries Shah

*

Pot Roast

—Author Unknown

One day a woman was about to cook a roast. Before putting it in the oven, she cut off a small slice on both ends. When her daughter asked why she did this, she paused, became a bit embarrassed, and said she did it because her mother had always done the same thing when she cooked a roast.

Her own natural curiosity aroused, she telephoned her mother to ask why she always cut of a little slice at both ends before cooking her roast. The mother's answer was the same: "Because that's the way my mother did it."

Finally, in need of a more helpful answer, she asked her grandmother, who thankfully was still alive, why she always cut off a small slice from both ends before cooking a roast. Without hesitating, her grandmother replied, "Because that's the only way it would fit in my narrow oven!"

*

God and the devil

—Author Unknown

One day God and the devil were walking together and watching man as he discovered Beauty in nature, Joy in living and Being the One in universal Oneness.
"Aha!" said God to the devil, "So do you see? Now that man has found Truth you will have nothing to do."

"On the contrary," answered the devil, "I can help him organize it."

*

Losing Interest in Seeking Salvation Outside of Us

—Author Unknown

In a distant land, in another time, in another space there lived a warrior to be reckoned with. Nothing would stand in the face of his fierce quest for a magical sword that would make him omnipotent and invincible. One day on his journey he happened to meet a wise sage, an enlightened master, who gifted him with a set of spiritual practices and disciplines to follow daily, and so he did. The warrior with perfect discipline and diligence did each and every one without exception or fail. Seemingly out of nowhere one day the magical sword did finally appear as he had vowed and promised to himself. In grasping the sword's hilt out of its sheath, he noticed how marvelously the spiritual practices had worked their inner transformation: he no longer cared, had any interest, or gave any significance about the treasured powers he had long sought. The Real Self he had revealed within himself was beyond any outward power could bestow, including the magical sword.

The paradox is uncanny: having sought his salvation outside of himself, having built his True Self within himself, he no longer cared, was no longer motivated, interested or gave significance to the very vision that originally inspired him. What is without beckons not when what is within rings true.

*

Untying That Which Was Never There

Mata Amritanandamayi ("Ammachi" or "Amma")

There was a cowherd boy who took his cows to the meadows every morning and brought them back to the cowshed at the end of the day. One evening, as he was tying the cows up for the night, the boy found that one of them was missing her rope. He feared that she might run away, but it was too late to go and buy a new rope. The boy didn't know what to do, so he went to a wise man who lived nearby and sought his advice.

The wise man told the boy to pretend to tie the cow, and make sure that the cow saw him doing it. The boy did as the wise man suggested and pretended to tie the cow. The next morning the boy discovered that the cow had remained still throughout the night. He untied all the cows as usual, and they all went outside.
He was about to go to the meadows when he noticed that the cow with the missing rope was still in the cowshed. She was standing on the same spot where she had been all night. He tried to coax her to join the herd, but she wouldn't budge. The boy was perplexed. He went back to the wise man who said, "The cow still thinks she is tied up. Go back and pretend to untie her." The boy did as he was told and the cow happily left the cowshed.

Caterpillar Satsang

—From Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice. "Who are you?" said the Caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, "I-I hardly know, sir, just at present-at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then."

"What do you mean by that?" said the Caterpillar sternly. "Explain yourself!"

"I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, sir," said Alice, "because I'm not myself, you see."

"I don't see," said the Caterpillar.

"I'm afraid I can't put it more clearly," Alice replied very politely, "for I can't understand it myself to begin with; and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing."

"It isn't," said the Caterpillar.

"Well, perhaps you haven't found it so yet," said Alice; "but when you have to turn into a chrysalis—you will some day, you know—and then after that into a butterfly, I should think you'll feel it a little queer, won't you?"

"Not a bit," said the Caterpillar.

"Well, perhaps your feelings may be different," said Alice; "all I know is, it would feel very queer to me."

"You!' said the Caterpillar contemptuously. "Who are you?"

*

I was in Guatemala, and one of the women, a widow whose husband had been murdered before her eyes, said to me through a translator, "Thank you so much for leaving your home and family to come and help us."

I said, "I didn't. You are my home and family."

—Ram Dass (Richard Alpert)

*

The Rabbi is praying feverishly, rocking back and forth and repeating again and again while beating his chest… "OH, Lord, I am nothing. OH, Lord, I am nothing."

Mr. Rosen the richest man in the congregation picks up the chant and begins also to rock and beat his chest and repeat: "OH, Lord, I am nothing. OH, Lord, I am nothing."

At the back of the shul, Yossele, the factotum, also begins to wail and chant: "OH, Lord, I am nothing."

At the sound of that the Rabbi and Mr. Rosen whirl around and Mr. Rosen says: "Ha. Look who thinks that he's nothing."

—Source Unknown

*

One day I was attending a lecture from a very well known Swamiji of Chinmaya Mission. I was sitting in the very first row, right in front of Swamiji. While explaining something Swamiji suddently pointed at me and asked me "Tell me, are you a 'wife' first or a 'woman' first?"

I said, "I am a woman first."

He then asked, "Are you a 'woman' first or a 'human' first?"

I said, "I am a human first."

He then asked, "Are you a 'human being' first or a 'living being' first?"

I said, "I am a living being."

Then suddenly he pointed at all the audience and said loudly to me, "SO IS EVERYBODY ELSE HERE!"

—Padma

*

When Hui-hai was asked, "What is the way?" he answered, "It is right in front of your nose."

"Then how come I can't see it?

"Your 'Me' is in the way."

*

There is a man who eats sparingly, but is never hungry.
There is a man who is always eating, but is never full.

*

A skeptic walks up to a Zen master and asks: "Is there life after death?"
How should I know?" the master replied.
"But you're a Zen master!"
"Yes," the Zen master says, "but not a dead one."

*

Nasrudin was passing through the Land of Fools one day, on donkey-back. On the road he passed two local worthies, plodding along on foot. "Good morning," said the Mulla.

"I wonder why he spoke to me, and not to you?" one of the fools said to the other.
"You idiot, it's me he spoke to-not you!"

Soon they were scuffling on the ground. But then it struck them both at once that they could run after Nasrudin and ask him to settle the question. They jumped up and scampered after him.

When they finally caught him up, they shouted together: "Which of us were you saying 'Good morning' to?"

The Mulla said: "The greater of the two fools!"

"That's definitely me!" said the first fool.

"Nonsense, it's obviously me!" said the other.

Nasrudin left them struggling in the dust.

—Sufi story collected by Idries Shah

*

Is That So?

—A Zen Story

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors as one living a pure life.
A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child. This made her parents angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.

In great anger the parents went to the master. "Is that so?" was all he would say. After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbors and everything else the little one needed.

A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth—that the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fish market. The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask his forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back again.

Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: "Is that so?"

*

To keep your inner center, calm and balance in the face of a false accusation,
take the responsible course, and thereafter release this when called upon is asking for a tremendous degree of personal development. This is the emotional equivalent of scaling Mt. Everest for a mountaineer. The hope is that we develop the emotional resources and fortitude of spirit to be up to the challenges put on our paths. [Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.]

A Buddhism Parable

Buddha told a parable in a sutra:

A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!

*

Nasrudin had a clock with no hands.
When asked "what time is it?" he answered: "now o clock."

—Sufi tradition

*

There's a story of three people who are watching a monk standing on top of a hill. After they watch him for a while, one of the three says, "He must be a shepherd looking for a sheep he's lost."

The second person says, "No, he's not looking around. I think he must be waiting for a friend."

And the third person says, "He's probably a monk. I'll bet he's meditating."

They begin arguing over what this monk is doing, and eventually, to settle the squabble, they climb up the hill and approach him. "Are you looking for a sheep?"

"No, I don't have any sheep to look for."

"Oh, then you must be waiting for a friend."

"No, I'm not waiting for anyone."

"Well, then you must be meditating."

"Well, no. I'm just standing here. I'm not doing anything at all."

Seeing Buddha-nature requires that we... completely be each moment, so that whatever activity we are engaged in—whether we're looking for a lost sheep, or waiting for a friend, or meditating—we are standing right here, right now, doing nothing at all.

—Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen

*

"Nasrudin, did any of your students ever became enlightened?"

"Of course. Many of them."

"How can you tell?"

"It's simple. they stopped following me or anyone else, do not talk ceaselessly about 'enlightenment', 'teachers', 'teachings', 'spirituality' and other such matters, and they live their lives free from fears, imaginations and pretences"

—Sufi tale

*

A beggar approached Yudhishtira, the eldest of the Pandavas. He asked the beggar to come the next day, and the beggar left. Bhima picked up a drum and started walking towards the town. Yudhishtira was puzzled and asked what he was doing. Bhima answered "I am going to town to announce to everyone that my brother Yudhishtira has conquered time."

"What do you mean?" A perplexed Yudhishtira asked.

Bhima replied, "A beggar came to you for alms and you made a promise for tomorrow. You asked the beggar to come and collect alms tomorrow. How do you know that you will be alive tomorrow? Or that the beggar will be alive tomorrow? Even if both of you are alive, how do you know that you will be in a position to give alms tomorrow, and how do you know that the beggar will still be in need tomorrow? How do you know that both of you will meet tomorrow? Yet you have made a promise and asked him to come tomorrow. This makes you the first person to have conquered time. So, I am going to announce that my brother has conquered time."

—Mahabharata

Postscript: In India, if some you ask someone to do something next day, you he will say "Pozhachu kidanthal parthukalam" or "Jinda rahane se dekhega" (i.e. if we are alive tomorrow, we will see to that.) The uncertainty of future or what will happen next moment is known to everyone and they appreciate this, as is evident from such statements they make.

*

One day, while Zen Master Pao-ch'e of Mount Ma-ku was fanning himself, a monk came up to him and said, "Master, the nature of the wind is permanent, and there is no place it doesn't reach. Why then do you need to fan yourself?"

"You understand that the nature of the wind is permanent," the Master said, "but you don't understand that it reaches everywhere."

"What does it mean that it reaches everywhere?" the monk said.

The Master just fanned himself. The monk bowed with deep respect.

*

This is how Buddhism is experienced and transmitted. Those who say that we shouldn't use a fan, because the wind is everywhere, understand neither permanence not the nature of the wind. Because the nature of the wind is permanent, the wind of Buddhism brings forth the gold of the earth and turns its long rivers into wine.

—Dogen in The Enlightened Mind, Ed. Stephen Mitchell, pp 97-99

*

A student goes to his teacher and asks, "What does the world rest upon, master?"

The teacher replies, "On the back of a giant turtle."

The student, not to be so easily put off, asks, "And what does the turtle rest upon, oh wise one?"

The teacher responded, "Upon another turtle."

The student persists and asks, "And what does that turtle rest on?"

The master sharply replies, "Don't you get it? It's turtles all the way down!"

—An ancient parable adapted from Jed McKenna
 


George Demont Otis        Hills of Two Counties
 

 


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