A Christmas Story: Zen Style
It seems in Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan, there is a small monastery where the master is illiterate. The teacher was a farmer’s son and he had been taken to the temple when he was very young. He had never learned to read or write but he completed the koan study and came to complete enlightenment.
The teacher didn’t really know other religions except Buddhism, he scarcely realized until he heard the monks discussing Christianity. One of the monks had been to the University of Tokyo and the teacher asked him to explain Christianity.
“I don’t know that much about it,” the monk said. “But I will bring you the holy book of the Christian religion.”
The master sent the monk to the nearest city and the monk returned with the Bible.
“That’s a thick book,” the master said, “and I can’t read. But you can read something to me.” The monk thumbed through the pages and started with the story of baby Jesus and the three wise men.
The monk knew the Bible and then read the Sermon on the Mount. The more he read the more the master was impressed. “That is very beautiful,” he kept saying. “That is very beautiful.” When the monk finished the sermon the master said nothing for a while. The silence lasted so long that he monk put the Bible down, got himself into the lotus position and started meditating.
“Yes,” the teacher said finally. “I don’t know who wrote that, but whoever he was, he was either a Buddha or a Bodhisattva. What you read there is the essence of everything I have been trying to teach you here.”
moral: we become what we have been subjected to. We are who we are as a direct influence of our environment growing up. We later learn of other cultures and religions, traditions and ways of life. By this time we are pretty much set in our ways but can always learn from what others do. Be open minded.
have a Merry “Zen” Christmas