Short Stories

Offering the moon

Update: 05/04/2008
 

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One day, a Zen master who secluded himself in a thatched\r\nhermitage in a mountain, took a night walk in the clear moonlight forest. He\r\nsuddenly achieved enlightenment about his brainpower.

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He was very cheered by this circumstance and quickly\r\nreturned to his hermitage and found that his residence was being searched\r\nthoroughly. Not having found anything precious, the thief tried to leave the\r\nhermitage. However, while he was leaving it, he ran into the master standing at\r\nthe entrance. For fear that the thief might be startled in surprise, the master\r\ndid not enter his residence but stood at the door, waiting. He was also certain\r\nthat the thief was not be able to find anything precious to take with, so he\r\ntook his cassock and held it in his hand, readily

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While the thief was still startled and embarrassed, the Zen\r\nmaster said to him, “As you came here to see me through long forest roads, I\r\ncannot let you leave here empty-handed. So, take this cassock with you, it’s\r\nvery cold at night!

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The master both spoke to the thief and put the cassock on\r\nthe thief’s shoulders. The latter was so puzzled, and so he lowered his head\r\nand sneaked out.

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Looking at the shadow of the thief walking in clear\r\nmoonlight then lost in the forest, the master could not hold feeling pitiful\r\nfor him; he then uttered:  

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- “My poor man, I just want to give you a bright moon.”

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Having seeing off the thief by his eyes, the master went\r\nback to his thatched hermitage and performed his Zen session. He contemplated\r\nthe bright moonlight illuminating the space in his compartment from outside.

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The next day, in the gentle and warm moonlight of the deep\r\nZen room, the master opened his eyes and found his cassock that he had put on\r\nthe thief’s shoulders was still laid at the entrance, neatly folded up. He was\r\ngreatly happy and mumbled: “I ultimately gave you a bright moon.”

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(After the classic extremely short stories)

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Translated into English by Mr.  Hoang Huan.

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