View Full Version : Zen anecdotes and stories

Please visit our sponsor:

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!

Neal Dunnigan
04-29-2005, 11:43 PM
I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has a particular "Zen" type anecdote or story that has been significantly significant in shaping their attitude about some aspect of their training and life. I'm interested in hearing about both classical and contemporary stories.

04-30-2005, 09:17 AM
Zen Flesh, Zen Bones" by Paul Reps (Tuttle Publishing)

04-30-2005, 10:04 AM
Zen Flesh, Zen Bones" by Paul Reps (Tuttle Publishing)

Me, too. Read it in high school. In particular, I remember trying to "act as alone when in company and as with company when alone", a personal tenet of some contemporary master, IIRC.

To get a better idea of the influences on martial arts, however, you might look into esoteric Buddhism/Shinto, Kuukai and Saichoo, e.g.

Thomas Ambrose
05-01-2005, 02:14 AM
I don't know if this is Zen-type anecdote, I don't know much about Zen even... but it is an experience which had a more profound impact on me than I would expect... and it fits the mode of a story with a moral...

In my class we were all expected to give a lesson to the rest of the class (it is a class on teaching methods for secondary school teachers). This guy showed up one day, and attended the class. He brought up weird points of view, and was ultra-conservative and somewhat stand-offish. Many people in the class did not like him. On the way to the parking lot after class, I was talking to my friend about him. My friend jokingly referred to him as "Bible Belt Bob." Anyway, when I left school that day, something funny happened. The parking lot I use is in a bad location, and usually we have to wait a long time for someone in the oncoming traffic to let us in. As I waited, one peson let me in. Who was it? Bible Belt Bob!

Now, I don't know if the story is Zen at all, but it fits a certain format and thought process that I find appealing much the same way of Zen stories. In my case, humans are all humans. Sometimes we tend to annoy each other, but generally most people are good and nice, if you get the chance to see it. In other words, people can surprise your pre-conceptions of them!

Anyway, that is my story, not sure if it is Zen or not, but the experience had a weird spiritual impact on me. For Zen stories, I find I really like this website. Has anyone else checked these out?


Stefan Stenudd
05-18-2005, 02:45 PM
Regarding zen and its relation to the Martial arts, the zen monk Taisen Deshimaru said a lot, which was collected in the book The Zen Way to Martial Arts. On Amazon:

He spent many years in France, where he frequently showed his genuine interest in budo. He was also a friend of some of the Japanese shihan living there.

As far as I remember from the book, he had the highest respect for kendo, which is no surprise, but cherished aikido, too.

And I do believe that there are some typical zen anecdotes in the book, as well. Actually, in his own life he lived some pretty good zen anecdotes, to say the least.
Heard some of them?

05-18-2005, 03:31 PM
By the very nature of the question's subject matter, wouldn't you want to find your own answer? And now I'll go ahead and share a book I've found interesting:

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
by Shunryu Suzuki

If you want my reasoning in how it might be helping my aikido, I'd say it's practically in the title itself. In other words I try to tell myself everyday is my first day in aikido, nothing is old or boring, and the person I'm working with is actually doing it right, (as far as I know), so try and learn from it.

This doesn't always work, but we do what we can when we can.

I've recently been told to throw it (Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind) out by a random zen practitioner, but never received an adequate reason why.

Failing that, hit the local border's/barnes, grab a pile of books, leaf through them and go from there.

That's how I found "Aikido Basics" (Tuttle Martial Arts) last spring, but I'm only just now getting thoroughly into it and others I found in the same way focusing on aikido. Some guy named Lynn wrote it, and I like it so far... ( ;) )

Have a good evening.

05-18-2005, 08:09 PM
Like all the suggested reading so far...each one opened different doors for me. One more that I might add is a book called Hardcore Zen by Brad Warner. To say the least he has turned the zen apple cart upside down with his contemporary anecdotes.

He has a web page called SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP that tends to piss some people off - it makes me laugh!

Yann Golanski
05-19-2005, 03:39 AM
There is of course Peirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintance which admitingly has very little to do with Zen or motorbikes and plenty with values. Well worth reading. Lila (his second book) is well worth reading too as it's all about quality.

05-19-2005, 12:57 PM
There is of course Peirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintance which admitingly has very little to do with Zen or motorbikes

As he says himself at the very beginning. Though it does contain a top tip for how to stop the brake and clutch levers working loose on an R series BMW.


Jeanne Shepard
05-22-2005, 11:36 PM
I enjoyed "Zen Antics: A Hundred Stories of Enlightenment" translated and edited by Thomas Cleary, and published by Shambal Press.


05-24-2005, 10:25 PM
A Master and a Student were carrying heavy loads up a steep mountain path. The Student asked "Master, what is enlightenment?"
The Master dropped the load he was carrying.
The Student then asked,"Master, what hapens next?"

The Master picked up his load and continued walking up the mountain path.