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Sunday, August 8, 2010

The dilemma of belief and the Power of doubt!

I liked this small story and decided to blog as it highlighted our day today scheme of things. We seems to be attached to a lot of things driven by likes and dislikes without fully believing or understanding it.

The Dilemma of belief and the power of doubt

In a small town in India, a person decided to open up his Bar business, which was right opposite to the Temple. The Temple its congregation started a campaign to block the Bar from opening with petitions and prayed daily against his business.

Work progressed. However, when it was almost complete and was about to open a few days later, a strong lightning struck the Bar and it was burnt to the ground.

The temple folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, till the Bar owner sued the Temple authorities on the grounds that the Temple through its congregation prayers was ultimately responsible for the demise of his bar shop, either through direct or indirect actions or means.

In its reply to the court, the temple vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection that their prayers were reasons to the bar shop's demise.

As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork at the hearing and commented:

I don't know how I'm going to decide this case, but it appears from the paperwork,

"We have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer and we have an entire temple and its devotees that doesn't."

Happy reading!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Zen Stories: The blind men and an elephant

I have been relishing myself on some good content on Zen and Buddhism and so would be sharing some stories which i liked.. These stories are widely discussed and largely available in many sites including the internet, but wanted to share the ones i really liked here... 

The Blind Men and the Elephant

Several citizens ran into a hot argument about God and different religions, and each one could not agree to a common answer. So they came to the Lord Buddha to find out what exactly God looks like.

The Buddha asked his disciples to get a large magnificent elephant and four blind men. He then brought the four blind to the elephant and told them to find out what the elephant would "look" like.

The first blind men touched the elephant leg and reported that it "looked" like a pillar. The second blind man touched the elephant tummy and said that an elephant was a wall. The third blind man touched the elephant ear and said that it was a piece of cloth. The fourth blind man hold on to the tail and described the elephant as a piece of rope. And all of them ran into a hot argument about the "appearance" of an elephant.

The Buddha asked the citizens: "Each blind man had touched the elephant but each of them gives a different description of the animal. Which answer is right?"

While the Zen story ended there what i liked is the same concept being handled by Kambar in Kamba Ramayanam (கம்ப ராமாயணம்).

The scene is Lord Rama and Sita get married and they are on a trip around the city of Mythila where the people of the town are gathered to see them. People are so enamored by Rama's looks that those who are seeing Rama's shoulders are unable to take their eyes off and cant see any thing else and are saying  "Look at his shoulders, How beautiful they are?".

Same way ladies who saw Rama's feet, unable to take their eyes off the feet, have been saying that "Look how beautiful the feet are?" (Its more apt to say ladies instead of people!)

Kambar asks which of those "knife-sharp eyed" ladies have been able to see the entire Rama? But they are fighting amongst themselves that shoulders are most beautiful, feet are the most beautiful etc. But people who have seen the shoulders have not seen the feet and vice versa.

The comparison from Kambar actually comes in the last line where he says these ladies who fight that Rama's shoulders, feet are beautiful have not seen him in entirety but only a part of him. This resembles people who fight that their religion, their god and their messengers of god are the best, but they have seen only a part and not in entirety. The poem goes as follows:

தோள்கண்டார் தோளே கண்டார்  (Thol kandar Thole Kandar)
தொடுகழல் கமலம் அன்ன  (Thodu kazhala kamalam anna)
தாள்கண்டார் தாளே கண்டார்  (Thal kandar Thale Kandar)
தடக்கை கண்டாரும் அஃதே  (Thadakkai kandarum Akthe)
வாள்கொண்ட கண்ணார் யாரே  (Vaal konda kannar yaro)
வடிவினை முடியக் கண்டார்  (Vadivinai mudiya Kandar)
ஊழ்கொண்ட சமயத்து அன்னான்  (Oozh konda samayathu annan)
உருவுகண் டாரை ஒத்தார்.  (Uruvu Kandare Othhaar)

Of course this song inspired many poets including Kanndasan who wrote a movie song, தோள் கண்டேன் தோளே கண்டேன், தோளிலிரு கிளிகள் கண்டேன்.... 

I thought the linkage between a Buddhist Philosophy and Tamil literature is interesting!

Happy reading! 

Zen Stories: Cliff Hanger and a dog's bone

I have been relishing myself on some good content on Zen and Buddhism and so would be sharing some stories which i liked.. These stories are widely discussed and largely available in many sites including the internet, but wanted to share the ones i really liked here... 


One day while walking through the wilderness a man stumbled upon a vicious tiger. He ran but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Desperate to save himself, he climbed down a vine and dangled over the fatal precipice.

As he hung there, two mice appeared from a hole in the cliff and began gnawing on the vine.

Suddenly, he noticed on the vine a plump wild strawberry. He plucked it and popped it in his mouth. It was incredibly delicious!


The Zen story "Cliff Hanger" has Indian equivalents in 2 different versions:

Version 1: In the same story the Indian version has a snake thats coming at him in the tree when he is hanging and a crocodile waiting for him down below. The story highlights that how we as human are engaged in short term pleasures of life in the midst of "Uncertainties of life".

Version 2: Dog's bone
I like this version very much. A bone does not have any meat or blood in it for any dog to relish on it. Still dogs salivate at the sight of bones. This is because when dogs try to eat the bone, the bone breaks and ruptures dogs inner mouth and its tongue and due to this the dog bleeds.

The stupid dog thinks that the blood that oozes is actually from the bone and relishes it more at the risk of injuring itself more.

Now this version highlights multiple aspects like  "Every joy is a sadness masked.., Both happiness and sadness are within you and you are the root cause."

In Tamil there is a great saying "தீதும் நன்றும் பிறன் தர வாரா..." this means that good and bad that happens to one, is NEVER because of others.

Happy reading!

Zen Stories: Right and wrong

Right and Wrong

When Bankei held his seclusion-weeks of meditation, pupils from many parts of Japan came to attend. During one of these gatherings a pupil was caught stealing. The matter was reported to Bankei with the request that the culprit be expelled. Bankei ignored the case.

Later the pupil was caught in a similar act, and again Bankei disregarded the matter. This angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would leave in a body.

When Bankei had read the petition he called everyone before him. "You are wise brothers," he told them. "You know what is right and what is not right. You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor brother does not even know right from wrong. Who will teach him if I do not? I am going to keep him here even if all the rest of you leave."

A torrent of tears cleansed the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished.

Happy reading!

Zen Stories: Piece of truth and a belief

Piece of the Truth

One day Mara, the Evil One, was travelling through the villages of India with his attendants. he saw a man doing walking meditation whose face was lit up on wonder. The man had just discovered something on the ground in front of him. Mara’s attendant asked what that was and Mara replied, "A piece of truth."

"Doesn’t this bother you when someone finds a piece of truth, O Evil One?" his attendant asked. 

"No," Mara replied. "Right after this, they usually make a belief out of it."

Happy Reading!

Zen Stories: The other side

I have been relishing myself on some good content on Zen and Buddhism and so would be sharing some stories which i liked.. These stories are widely discussed and largely available in many sites including the internet, but wanted to share the ones i really liked here... 

The Other Side
One day a young Buddhist on his journey home came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier. Just as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river. 

The young Buddhist yells over to the teacher, "Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river"?

The teacher ponders for a moment looks up and down the river and yells back, "My son, you are on the other side".

Happy reading!