Drop all 'isms'
Mind of a Sage
Judging a saint
The Fake Monk
Zen Sage & Thief
Zen Master in Jail
The Game of Chess
Innocence is Divine
Knowledge is Trouble
Respond with awareness
3 set of
You are already a Buddha
Sound of one Hand Clapping
Master waits 4 right Moment
- Stories 1 - 2
- Stories 3 - 4
- Stories 5 - 7
- Stories 8-9
- Stories 10
- Stories 11
- Stories 12-14
- Stories 15-16
- Stories 17-18
- Stories 19 - 21
- Stories 22 - 24
- Stories 25 - 27
- Stories 28 - 32
- Stories 33 - 36
- Stories 37 - 38
- Stories 39 - 41
- Stories 42 - 44
- Stories 45 - 46
- Stories 47 - 48
- Stories 49 - 50
- Stories 51 - 53
- Stories 54 - 56
- Stories 57 - 59
- Stories 60 - 61
- Stories 62 - 64
- Stories 65 - 66
- Stories 67 - 68
- Stories 69 - 72
- Stories 73 - 75
- Stories 76 - 78
- Stories 79 - 82
- Stories 83 - 86
- Stories 87 - 89
- Stories 90 - 91
- Stories 92 - 94
- Stories 95 - 97
- Stories 98 -101
79. Incense Burner
A woman of Nagasaki named Kame was one of the few makers of incense
burners in Japan. Such a burner is a work of art to be used only in
a tea room or before a family shrine.
Kame whose father before her had been such an artist, was fond of
drinking. She also smoked and associated with men most of the time.
Whatever she made a little money she gave a feast inviting artists,
poets, carpenters, workers, men of
many vocations and avocations. In their association she evolved her
Kame was exceedingly slow in creating, but when her work was
finished it was always a masterpiece. Her burners were treasured in
homes whose womenfolk never drank, smoked, or associated freely with
The mayor of Nagasaki once requested Kame to design an incense
burner for him. She delayed doing so until almost half a year had
passed. At that time the mayor, who had been promoted to office in a
distant city, visited her. He urged Kame to begin work on his
At last receiving the inspiration, Kame made the incense burner.
After it was completed she placed it upon a table. She looked at it
long and carefully. She smoked and drank before it as if it were her
own company. All day she observed it. At last, picking up a hammer,
Kame smashed it to bits. She saw it was not the perfect creation her
80.The Real Miracle
When Bankei was preaching at Ryumon temple, a Shinshu priest, who
believed in salvation through the repetition of the name of the
Buddha of Love, was jealous of his large audience and wanted to
debate with him.
Bankei was in the midst of a talk when the priest appeared but the
fellow made such a disturbance that Bankei stopped his discourse and
asked about the noise.
‘The founder of our sect,' boasted the priest, ‘had such miraculous
powers that he held a brush in his hand on one bank of the river,
his attendant held up a paper on the other bank, and the teacher
wrote the holy name of Amida through the air.
Can you do such a wonderful thing?'
Bankei replied lightly: 'Perhaps your fox can perform that trick,
but that is not the manner of Zen. My miracle is that when I feel
hungry I eat, and when I feel thirsty I drink.'
80. Just Go to Sleep
Gasan was sitting at the bedside of Tekisui three days before his
teacher's passing. Tekisui had already chosen him as his successor.
A temple recently had burned and Gasan was busy rebuilding the
Tekisui asked him: 'What are you going to do when you get the temple
'When your sickness is over we want you to speak there,’ said Gasan.
'Suppose I do not live until then?'
‘Then we will get someone else,' replied Gasan.
Suppose you cannot find anyone?' continued Tekisui.
Gasan answered loudly: 'Don't ask such foolish questions. Just go to
82. Nothing Exists
Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after
another. He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku.
Desiring to show his attainment, he said: The mind, Buddha, and
sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of
phenomena is emptiness. There is no realization, no delusion, no
sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to
Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked
Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry. 'If
nothing exists,' inquired Dokuon, 'where did this anger come from?'