John Suler's Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbors
A Japanese warrior was captured by his enemies and thrown into prison. That night he was unable to sleep because he feared that the next day he would be interrogated, tortured, and executed. Then the words of his Zen master came to him, "Tomorrow is not real. It is an illusion. The only reality is now." Heeding these words, the warrior became peaceful and fell asleep.
"We have to take each day one at a time. Each moment in this life only comes once, so take advantage of it and live it fully."
People's reactions to this story:
"Don't worry about tomorrow until it comes. Take things lightly."
"Don't let yourself be troubled by tomorrow. It will take care of itself."
"We all have images and concepts of what tomorrow will bring - good or bad. But we never know for sure what will happen."
"It's a nice story, but I'd still be real worried about the next day!"
"Isn't this a bit of a paradox. The only reality is 'now' - but 'now' quickly becomes the past. So there is no reality at all! Maybe that's why the soldier shouldn't worry about it."
"That soldier better hope the Zen master is on his way to rescue him. Those words are pretty easy for the master, who's probably sleeping comfortably in his bed at home."
"Almost anyone would be anxious in this situation. I don't think the master's advice would work for most people."
"True wisdom is not easily applied."
"This reminds me of something my mother told me last week. 'Stop dreaming and live.'"
"We always want to plan for the future, but we often make ourselves miserable in the present while doing it."
"People tend to worry way too much about things that they can't control. If we can just let it go, we'd be at peace with ourselves."
"The only reality is now, but what WILL happen when the soldier wakes up. That will quickly become reality too."
"I think the warrior should be thinking of ways to escape, rather than sleeping. I hope the Zen master told him that torture is an illusion too."
"I guess we should live each day as if it is our last."
"A good tale, but it's not complex enough. It's too easily dismissed as being silly."
|| Concentration || Tea Combat || Cliffhanger ||