Two Zen Stories about Theives

Posted: November 19, 2011 in Short Stories
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Story One

One evening as Shichiri Kojun was reciting sutras a thief with a sharp sword entered, demanding either his money or his life.

Shichiri told him: “Do not disturb me. You can find the money in that drawer.” Then he resumed his recitation.

A little while afterwards he stopped and called: “Don’t take it all. I need some to pay taxes with tomorrow.”

The intruder gathered up most of the money and started to leave. “Thank a person when you receive a gift,” Shichiri added. The man thanked him and made off.

A few days afterwards the fellow was caught and confessed, among others, the offense against Shichiri. When Shichiri was called as a witness he said: “This man is no thief, at least as far as I am concerned. I gave him the money and he thanked me for it.”

After he had finished his prison term, the man went to Shichiri and became his disciple.

Story Two

A Zen Master lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening, while he was away, a thief sneaked into the hut only to find there was nothing in it to steal. The Zen Master returned and found him. “You have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you should not return empty handed. Please take my clothes as a gift.” The thief was bewildered, but he took the clothes and ran away. The Master sat naked, watching the moon. “Poor fellow,” he mused, ” I wish I could give him this beautiful moon.”

Commentary
  • What is it that can get people to lay down their butcher’s knives? Love – that’s all.
  • To come in contact with a master is to be transformed. You may have come for something else, you may not have come for the master at all – the thief was not there for the master. In fact, had he known that in this hut lives a master, he would not have dared at all. He had come only for the money; he had stumbled upon the master by accident. But even if you meet a buddha by accident, it is going to change you utterly. You will never be the same man again…
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