There was a saint living in a secluded place under a tamarind tree. He performed his devotional act of meditation every day. There is a deity known as Narada who is supposed to be the messenger of God and keeps on descending to earth to gather information to keep God fully and well informed. He happened to be making his rounds when he came near this saint and engaged in conversation with him, wanting to know what he was doing…
And a poet said, Speak to us of Beauty. And he answered:
Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall you find her unless she herself be your way and your guide? And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech?
The aggrieved and the injured say, “Beauty is kind and gentle. Like a young mother half-shy of her own glory she walks among us.” And the passionate say, “Nay, beauty is a thing of might and dread. Like the tempest she shakes the earth beneath us and the sky above us.”
The tired and the weary say…
Once, there lived a couple who loved to collect antiques. They were always on the look out for items to add to their collection. One day, they saw a beautiful teacup in a small antique shop. They asked the sales lady, “May we see that teacup? We’ve never seen one quite so beautiful.” As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the teacup spoke.
“You see, I haven’t always been a teacup. There was a time when I was just red clay. My master took me and rolled me and patted me over and over. I yelled out, ‘Leave me alone,’ but he only smiled, ‘Not yet.’ Then I was placed on a spinning wheel, and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. ‘Stop it! I’m getting dizzy!’ I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, ‘Not yet.’’ Then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I wondered why he wanted to burn me, and I yelled and knocked at the door. I could see him through the opening, and I could read his lips, as he shook his head, ‘Not yet.’
The master Bankei’s talks were attended not only by Zen students but by persons of all ranks and sects. He never quoted sutras nor indulged in scholastic dissertations. Instead, his words were spoken directly from his heart to the hearts of his listeners.
His large audience angered a priest of the Nichiren sect because the adherents had left to hear about Zen. The self-centered Nichiren priest came to the temple, determined to have a debate with Bankei.
“Hey, Zen teacher!” he called out. “Wait a minute. Whoever respects you will obey what you say, but a man like myself does not respect you. Can you make me obey you?”
“Come up beside me and I will show you,” said Bankei…
One day Arnav and his friend Bhima were having a friendly chat while walking just outside the marketplace in Dhubri. A beggar asked for some help from Arnav, who told him to ask him tomorrow. The beggar went away. Looking around Bhima saw a big drum at a stall just inside the market took the big drum and started walking through the market beating the drum furiously. Arnav was surprised, ran after his friend and asked why he was doing this. ..
When Niranjan challenged Swami Brahmana to a meditation contest everyone was surprised that the wise old man smilingly accepted the challenge. Was it not he who had always warned his followers against imitating charlatans who debased spiritual values with their stunning feats of spiritual athleticism?
“When shall we start?” asked the slightly abashed Niranjan.
“Why, now, if you like.” answered the old man, tripping across the room and assuming the lotus position upon his cushion…
SOTW is taking a summer break and will return in the fall term. Thank you for your attention.
Word spread across the countryside about the wise Holy Man who lived in a small house atop the mountain as a hermit. One day a man from the village decided to make the long and difficult journey to visit the Holy Man. He arrived at the house, knocked and an old servant greeted him at the door.
“I would like to see the wise Holy Man,” he said to the servant. The servant smiled and led him inside. As they walked through the house, the man from the village looked eagerly at his surroundings, anticipating his encounter with the Holy Man. Before he knew it, he had been led to the back door and escorted outside…
There was a time when the peacock could fly higher than any other bird, over the trees and nearly up to the sunlit clouds. One day after soaring above the earth, the peacock landed near a quiet pool and glimpsed his reflection in the water. Horrified, he saw that his feathers were dull brown, without a single scarlet plume or gold crest among them. “This is terrible!” he cried. “I would pay any price if only I could be beautiful.” And he fell asleep that night still lamenting his plainness…
As an emperor was coming out of his palace for his morning walk he met a beggar. He asked the beggar, “What do you want?”
The beggar laughed and said, “You are asking me as though you can fulfill my desire!”
The king was offended. He said, “Of course I can fulfill your desire. What is it? Just tell me.”
And the beggar said, “Think twice before you promise anything. It is a very simple desire. You see this begging bowl? Can you fill it with something?”
The emperor said, “Of course!”
He called one of his viziers and told him, “Fill this man’s begging bowl with money.” The vizier went and got some money and poured it into the bowl, and it disappeared. As he poured more and more into the bowl, the moment the money hit the bowl disappeared. The begging bowl always remained empty.
Diamonds, pearls and emeralds were poured into the bowl, as the emperor’s treasuries were becoming empty.
Finally, it was the evening, and the emperor dropped at the feet of the beggar and admitted his defeat. He said, “Just tell me one thing: of what is the begging bowl made?”…