Muddy Water (Wisdom, Buddhism)


Once Buddha was travelling with a few of his followers.
While they were passing a lake, Buddha told one of his disciples, “I am thirsty. Do get me some water from the lake.”
The disciple walked up to the lake.
At that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake. As a result, the water became very muddy and turbid. The disciple thought, “How can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink?”
So he came back and told Buddha, “The water in there is very muddy. I don’t think it is fit to drink.”
After about half an hour, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back to the lake.
The disciple went back, and found that the water was still muddy. He returned and informed Buddha about the same.
After sometime, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back.
This time, the disciple found the mud had settled down, and the water was clean and clear. So he collected some water in a pot and brought it to Buddha.
Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple and said, “See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be, and the mud settled down on its own, and you have clear water.”
Your mind is like that too ! When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own. You don’t have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless.”
Having ‘Peace of Mind’ is not a strenuous job, it is an effortless process so keep ur mind cool and have a great life ahead.

Author Unknown

The Great Ape (Jataka Tales – 32)


Once, the Bodhisatta was born as an ape and lived alone like an ascetic in a Himalayan forest. Yet, unlike other monkeys he was kind and virtuous; and survived on leaves and fruits of the forest trees.

One day, a shepherd in search of his stray cattle lost his way and reached that forest. Exhausted with hunger, thirst, heat and toil he sat on the foot of a tree. Soon, he noticed a tinduka tree (diosperos embryopteris) laden with fruits. The hungry shepherd then in no time climbed the tree. But he overlooked the roots of the tree, which had grown out of a sloping cliff over a water-fall. When he reached a branch laden with ripe tindukas to pluck them, the branch could not sustain his weight and broke off and he fell down into a pit. Luckily, his bones were not broken. Yet, it was impossible for him to find an exit.

As a matter of chance, the great ape saw the man in his distress. Feeling pity for him he rescued him by putting great exertions. To ease himself the exhausted monkey wanted to have some rest. So, he asked the man to guard him before he could take a nap. But the ungrateful man decided to kill the innocuous monkey in his sleep to obtain his meat for his survival in the lost forest. So he picked up a large piece of stone and dropped it on the head of the sleeping monkey. The stone somehow slipped and missed the target. Nonetheless, it hurt the monkey. When the ape opened his eyes in agony and read the guilt written in the face of the man, he uttered:

“Brought back from the mouth of Death when reaching the other world.Saved from one precipice, yet you have now fallen on the worse. Wreched is that ignorance that spurs one to such vice and cruelty, and leads one to miseries; as it is this infatuation which deludes one to fall on the false hope of prosperity.”

He continued: “The pain of this wound does not aggrieve me as much as the thought that on account of me you have plunged into such evil from where me or anyone could never rescue you!”

Nonetheless, the compassionate monkey escorted him to the fringe of the forest so that he could go back to his own fellow beings.

By and by, the man’s evil manifested in the form of leprosy. His skin thawed and he was expelled from the society. Thus, excommunicated from the world of his own fellow beings he started living in a dense forest, where no man dared to walk.

One day, the king of Varanasi detected him on his hunting expedition in the forest and mistook him to be a ghost, because his body had deformed. When he came closer he discovered to his shock that the ghost-looking-being was none other than a man. Further, he was shocked when he heard the pathetic story of that man; who was still remorseful for his ungratefulness to the great ape. His miseries had no bound!!

Truly, he repented. But then it was too late. Indeed, no one can escape the fruit of his or her own karma!

Vevajatiyakapi Jataka

The Restless spirit (Hinduism)


There once was a very poor man, who woke up hungry with only 1 rupee left in his pocket. He decides to go to the market and see if his rupee can buy him some left over fruit.

At the market he meets a fancy clothed man behind a table with a beautiful brass pot on it, and a sign that reads “1 rupee”.

The poor man can’t believe his eyes, and asks the man what the catch is.

“It’s true, the pot only costs 1 rupee”, the man says. He goes on to explain that in the pot there lives a spirit, who fulfills all your desires.

“Then why do you sell it?”, the poor man wants to know.

“Well, the spirit is always active and rather impatient”, it is explained. “If you don’t pay attention to him, he’ll start taking things away again”.

“Well OK”, the poor man says. “Since I don’t have much to lose I will buy it from you”.

When he arrives back home, he calls for the spirit inside the pot and the spirit appears. “How can I serve you, master?”, he asks.

“Prepare me a meal worthy of a king”, the poor man commands. Within seconds the spirit serves an opulous meal with 87 courses.

The poor man is delighted, but when he starts eating, the spirit asks again – “How can I serve you master?”

Keeping in mind that the spirit can also take away all the goodies, the poor man commands: “Build me a beautiful castle, suitable for a maharaja!”

Only a few seconds pass by, and the man now finds himself in a beautiful palace. He likes to explore it, but there comes the spirit again, asking “How can I serve you, master?”

Every wish is immediately fulfilled, and when ignored, the spirit takes away everything.

The poor man is annoyed and goes to the village sage, where he explains his problem. After a silent conversation, the poor man steps to the spirit and says: ‘spirit, build me a large pole and stick it in the ground”.

The spirit immediately builds a pole and sticks it in the ground.

“Now spirit, I want you to climb up and down the pole, over and over again”, said the Sage

The spirit starts climbing right away. Now the man has time to eat his meal, explore his palace and do other things. When he and the sage goes out to see what the spirit is doing, they see that he has fallen asleep next to the pole.

“That is how it is with the mind of every man”, explains the sage. “It is restless in its desire to satisfy every desire, and fragments our being. The pole is a tool called a ‘mantra’. By repeating it over and over again, our restless mind is kept busy until it gets so bored that it falls asleep. This way our true self can enjoy the world.”

Author Unknown. Edited by Elan (2014)

The Stone Cutter (Indian Folktales – 6)


There was once a stonecutter who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life.

One day, he passed a wealthy merchant’s house and through the open gateway saw many fine possessions and important visitors. “How powerful that merchant must be!” thought the stonecutter. He became very envious, and wished that he could be like the merchant. Then he would no longer have to live the life of a mere stonecutter.

To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever dreamed of, envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. But soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants, and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. “How powerful that official is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a high official!”

Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around, who had to bow down before him as he passed. It was a hot summer day, and the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. “How powerful the sun is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the sun!”

Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and labourers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. “How powerful that storm cloud is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a cloud!”

Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. “How powerful it is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the wind!”

Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, hated and feared by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it — a huge, towering stone. “How powerful that stone is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a stone!”

Then he became the stone, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the solid rock and felt himself being changed. “What could be more powerful than I, the stone?” he thought. He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stone-cutter.

We don’t know the extent of our own personal power. And, sometimes, the most insignificant seeming people among us are those most able to effect great change.

Author: Benjamin Hoff (The Tao Of Pooh)

Don’t Leave on Saturday (Zen)


Seven years ago, I visited the place called Dharansala, home of the Dalai Lama. The hillside town is seven thousand feet up the Himalayan Mountains. This town attracts many seekers. “The Traveler’s Hotline” assured us that the person to see was this legendary 24-hour lama. A Buddhist monk who had gone without sleep for several years, he had achieved this remarkable feat by the simple technique of meditating instead of taking his “beauty sleep.”
“He must be a wise person,” I thought as I set off for a 5-hour trek to a remote monastery where their 24-hour man resided. I figured that since he had so much time on his hands, maybe he would grant me an audience. Six hours later, I was ushered into a Spartan cell, where sat the man who had not dreamt in years. I was astounded by the Buddha-like tranquility he seemed to emanate. I felt humbled in the presence of this sublime being.

The friendly English-speaking monk, who had found him for me, whispered, “Make your offering, maybe Lama give your blessing.”

I decided I’d make a dash for wisdom and ask a question, instead of a blessing. The monk whispered into Mr. Tylenol Nightmare’s ear, “What question would you like to ask?”

“How do I best progress spiritually?”

More whisperings in a dark, exotic language…My translator friend announced, “Lama say, don’t leave on Saturday.” The 24-hour lama nodded in my direction and then carried on beaming.

I was furious! A 5-hour trek, a rucksack full of goodies to take as offerings – and now a 5-hour walk back down a treacherous Himalayan trail. I was in a reflective mood: maybe I’d expected too much. What did I want from him? Instant enlightenment? Some wisdom would’ve been nice, but “Don’t leave on Saturday”?! Maybe this was some kind of Zen Buddhist paradox within this mundane phase that contained some great gem of wisdom, but dammit! He was a Tibetan Buddhist!!

On Sunday morning, waiting at the coach station for the bus that would take an arduous, 10-hour journey down the vast mountain, my traveling companion stormed up to me and furiously exclaimed, “Bloody great! A 3-hour delay! I just chatted with that policeman over there…he reckons Saturday’s coach had crashed with 14 people dead…The road’s blocked with rescue vehicles…Good thing we didn’t leave yesterday, like we wanted.”

I was in a state of shock. My mind raced back to the beaming Buddha. I was filled with wonderment and joy. He had given me the perfect answer to my question. Had I left Saturday, there would have been no more spiritual progression. The mundane answer to my oh-so-important question was stunning in its magnificence.

Author Unknown

The Old Tiger and the Greedy Traveler (Folk Tales from India – 5)


Once upon a time, there lived a Tiger in a forest. With the passing years, he became too old to hunt. One day, the Tiger was walking by the side of a lake and suddenly, a gold bangle came across his sight. Quickly he picked up the bangle and thought that he could use it as an allure to catch someone. As he was under the thought process, a traveler happened to pass through the opposite side of the lake.

The Tiger instantly thought to himself, “What a delicious meal he would make?” He planned a scheme to attract the traveler. He held the bangle in his paw making it visible to the traveler and said, “Would you like to take this gold bangle. I don’t require it”. At once, the traveler wanted to take the bangle, but he hesitated to go near the Tiger. He knew that it was risky, yet he sought the Gold Bangle. He planned to be cautious, so he asked the Tiger, “How can I believe you? I know you are a beast and would kill me”.

The Clever Tiger innocently said, “Listen Traveler, in my youth, I was wicked unquestionably, but now I have changed myself. With the advice of a Sanyasi, I have left all evil. Now I am all alone in this world and have engaged myself in kind deeds. Moreover, I have grown old. I have no teeth and my claws are blunt. So, there is no need to fear from me”. The traveler’s was taken in by this smart talk and his love for gold soon overcame his fear of the Tiger. He jumped into the lake to wade across the Tiger.

But as per the plan of the Tiger, he got trapped in the marsh. On seeing this, the Tiger consoled him and said, “Oh! You need not worry. I’ll help you”. Gradually he came towards the traveler and seized him. As the traveler was being dragged out, onto the bank, he thought to himself, “Oh! This beast’s talk of saintliness took me in totally. A beast is always a beast. If only I had not let my greed overcome my reason, I could be alive”. However, it was too late; the Tiger killed the traveler and ate him up. Like this, the traveler became victim of greed and Tiger was successful in his evil plan.

Moral: Greed never goes unpunished.

Source: Stories from Hitopadesha

The Golden Swan (Jataka Tales – 31)


Once, the Buddha was born as a virtuous house-holder in Varanasi. He worked hard to maintain his small family of a wife and three daughters. After his death he was reborn as a golden swan with the consciousness of his former existence.

One day, being overwhelmed with the memory of the family of his previous birth, he visited them in his old house in Varanasi. There, he introduced himself and informed them of his previous life’s relationship. Later, before saying good-bye, he offered them one golden feather and advised them to sell it in the market to overcome their poverty.

Since then he was a regular visitor to his old family; and upon every visit he offered them one golden feather. With the proceeds of the feathers, soon the family overcame its poverty.

The mother of the daughters was, however, greedy and cruel. She wanted to be much richer in much less time. So, one day, she advised her daughters to pluck out all the feathers of the bird upon his next visit and become rich in no time. The daughters strongly opposed her malicious intention and warned her to refrain from any cruel act, which could pain their benefactor.

Next time, when the bird visited the family, the wife coaxed him to come near her. When he hopped on her lap, she seized him violently and plucked out his feathers. But to her surprise and disappointment what she could pluck was just the ordinary feathers. This was because the bird’s feathers were to change into ordinary ones when plucked against his wish.

The poor bird in his great agony tried hard to fly but could not. The woman then threw him away into an abandoned barrel. When his daughters saw him groaning in severe pain they gave him necessary first aid and took care of him until his fresh wings once again grew. He then flew again. But this time when he flew he never came back again.

Suvanna hamsa jataka

Zen and Fear of Death (Zen)


A young physician in Tokyo named Kusuda met a college friend who had been studying Zen. The young doctor asked him what Zen was.

“I cannot tell you what it is,” the friend replied, “but one thing is certain. If you understand Zen, you will not be afraid to die.”

“That’s fine,” said Kusuda. “I will try it. Where can I find a teacher?”

“Go to the master Nan-in,” the friend told him.

So Kusuda went to call on Nan-in. He carried a dagger nine and a half inches long to determine whether or not the teacher was afraid to die.

When Nan-in saw Kusuda he exclaimed: “Hello, friend. How are you? We haven’t seen each other for a long time!”

This perplexed Kusuda, who replied: “We have never met before.”

“That’s right,” answered Nan-in. “I mistook you for another physician who is receiving instruction here.”

With such a beginning, Kusuda lost his chance to test the master, so reluctantly he asked if he might receive Zen instruction.

Nan-in said: “Zen is not a difficult task. If you are a physician, treat you patients with kindness. That is Zen.”

Kusuda visited Nan-in three times. Each time Nan-in told him the same thing. “A physician should not waste time around here. Go home and take care of you patients.”

It was not yet clear to Kusuda how such teaching could remove the fear of death. So on his fourth visit he complained: “My friend told me when one learns Zen one loses the fear of death. Each time I come here all you tell me is to take care of my patients. I know that much. If that is your so-called Zen, I am not going to visit you any more.”

Nan-in smiled and patted the doctor. “I have been too strict with you. Let me give you a koan.” He presented Kusuda with Joshu’s Mu to work over, which is the first mind enlightening problem in the book called The Gateless Gate.

Kusuda pondered this problem of Mu (No-Thing) for two years. At length he thought he had reached certainty of mind. But his teacher commented: “You are not in yet.”

Kusuda continued in concentration for another year and a half. His mind became placid. Problems dissolved. No-Thing became the truth. He served his patients well and, without even knowing it, he was free from concern over life and death.

Then when he visited Nan-in, his old teacher just smiled.

The Wise Monkey (Jataka Tales – 30)


Once, there lived a wise monkey, who was the leader of eighty thousand monkeys.

One day, wandering in a forest they went very far and became very thirsty. So, they looked for water and eventually found a water-pond surrounded by densely grown canes.

But before the monkeys could jump into the water to quench their thirst, their leader, the wise monkey, warned them to wait until the safe drinking was assured, as the place was new for them.

So, he made a circuit and scrutinised the foot-prints around the pond. There, he noticed that there were some foot-prints, which appeared to have gone to the water but have not come up again. So, he inferred that there was a water-ogre living in the lake.

The result of the investigation was very disappointing and frustrating for all the monkeys. So, the wise monkey then made the suggestion that they could still drink the water safely by using the canes as straws, as their was a lavish growth of canes there. So, each monkey picked up one cane and made it hollow to use it as a straw and drank the water. Thus, they all quenched their thirst safely by obeying the wise leader.

The water-ogre, however, appeared but could not harm a single monkey, as he was not empowered to touch the land.

(The monkey king is identified with the Bodhisatta; the 80,000 monkeys with his followers; and the ogre with Devadatta).

Source:  Nalapana Jataka