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Zen Wisdom

"Our true nature is happiness."

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe simply because it has been handed down for many generations. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is written in Holy Scriptures. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of teachers, elders, or wise men. Believe only after careful observation and analysis, when you find that it agrees with reason, and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all. Then accept it and live up to it."

"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don’t be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

"Our theories of the eternal are as valuable as are those that a chick which has not broken its way through its shell might form of the outside world."

Monk: "What does one think of while sitting?"

Master: "One thinks of not-thinking."

Monk: "How does one think of not-thinking?"

Master: "Without thinking."

"The no-mind not-thinks no-thoughts about no-things."

"Before enlightenment I chopped wood and carried water; after enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water."

"A good martial artist does not become tense, but ready... ready for whatever may come. When my opponent expands, I contract; and when he contracts, I expand; and when there is an opportunity... I do not hit. It hits all by itself."

"When running up a hill, it is all right to give up as many times as you wish -- as long as your feet keep moving."

The Zen master Nan-in received a western university professor who called to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea.

He poured his visitor’s cup full, then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he could no longer restrain himself.

"It is overfull! No more will go in," he cried.

"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

Tanzan and Ekido, two Zen monks, were once travelling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling.

Coming around a bend, they encountered a young and lovely girl in a silk kimono, unable to cross the intersection. "Come on girl," said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her across the mud.

Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he could no longer restrain himself. "We monks don’t go near females," he told Tanzan, "especially not young and lovely ones. It’s dangerous. Why did you do that?"

"I left that girl back at the road," said Tanzan, "are you still carrying her?"

A man travelling 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!