In the Tang Dynasty, there was a peculiar Zen master. He didn’t even have a Dharma name, and his practice was very special. He did not live in a temple. He settled himself in an awning like a bird nest on the top of a pine tree. People called him “the Zen Master of the Birdsnest”. Many visitors hiked to the remote forest to seek the monk’s wise advices.
Bai Juyi, was a very famous Chinese poet, also a high level officer at that time. One time, Bai Juyi traveled long distance to visit the Zen Master. He asked Zen Master Birdsnest, “Can you tell me what is the most important thing the Buddha ever said?”
The Zen master replied, “Don’t do any bad things, and do all the good things.”
Bai Juyi thought this answer is far too simple, he sneered, “Even a three-year-old can say this.”
Zen Master Birdsnest said: “Although a three-year-old child can say it, but an eighty-year-old man still finds it very difficult to do it.”
Master Qinluan was a famous Japanese Zen master. At the age of nine, he made up his mind to become a monk and asked Zen Master Cizhen to shave his ordination for him. Zen Master Cizhen asked him, “Why do you want to become a monk when you are so young?” Qinluan said: “Although I am only nine years old, my parents have both died. I don’t understand why people must die. Why must I be separated from my parents? Therefore, I must become a monk and explore these truths.”
Zen Master Cizhen said: “Very well. I’m willing to accept you as a disciple. However, it’s too late today, so I’ll shave you tomorrow morning.” Qin Luan said, “Master! Although you said that you will shave me early tomorrow morning, I am still young and ignorant. I can’t guarantee whether my determination to become a monk will last until tomorrow. Besides, Master, you are so old, you can’t guarantee that you will even wake up tomorrow morning!” After listening this words, Zen Master Cizhen was surprisingly happy, and said joyfully, “Yes! What you said is absolutely right. Now I will shave for you!”
Three Moves by Mencius’s Mother
Mencius, was a famous scholar well-known for his erudition. He was one of the greatest representatives of Confucianism in ancient China.
He had a great mother, who really focused on education. Once his family lived near a graveyard when he was a child. Therefore, he often played near the grave and imitated people’s crying or digging the tombs. When his mother saw this, she said: “It’s not a good place for a child to live in.”
His mother moved the family to a house near a market. Soon Mencius began to amused himself by imitating peddler’s hawking and bargaining. His mother found this place still not good for a child to live in. She decided to move away again.
At last they settled down near a school. Mencius quickly began copying the students’ reading and writing. He also took pleasure by imitating the sacrificial rites on ceremony and formalities of courtesy. He became more polite and hardworking. Then his mother said: this is a good place for a child !.