Zen stories

The stories of the Zen tradition are some of my favourites. Most of them are brief anecdotes without a hero, without a happy or unhappy ending. Many of them are funny.  Many are mysterious, or frustrating, or make you ask, "Yeah, so what?" Some don't seem to make a lot of sense (which may be the point), while others make a sword-sharp point (which may not be the point). If you step into a Zen story, you may never quite find your way out again. You might discover that the story can't be told without you.

When Banzan was walking through a market he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer.

"Give me the best piece of meat you have," said the customer.

"Everything in my shop is the best," replied the butcher. "You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not the best."

At these words Banzan became enlightened.

[from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, compiled by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki, Tuttle Publishing 1957]

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