Short Stories: The Zen master's most valuable possession was not a possession

spiritedStarred Page By spirited, 20th May 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

This Zen story is on about the relationship between the master and his student. The master will go to any lengths to try to help his student break apart his own false realness.

The old master here makes a sacrifice of something seemingly very valuable to himself, but he finds a worthy successor for himself from his so doing.

The only realness is such a love. God has that same love for each one of us too. Love is not a possession.

The book of the master

The great Zen master, Jonh Kui Tut, knew the value of reading the teachings from time to time of his previous master, Jonh Wei Hui.

He knew though that most of this was just material that he could use to help him in his teaching by giving extra examples of this teaching from another perspective.

You cannot become enlightened by just reading and preaching though. The light to read these teachings must come from within, not only just from without.

The master knew this of course too.

Even so, Jonh Kui Tut, was still partially attached to the leather-bound volume of these teachings that his beloved master had passed down to him, when he had died those so-many long years ago now.

One day, in the monastery, we find the cook, an aspiring student himself, reading this volume of thoughts, and Zen stories in his kitchen, as he cooked.

He was busy with his cooking, and he noticed that a pot of stew that he was boiling up on the stove was about to boil over. He placed the volume aside hurriedly, and he run over across the room to the cooker.

Having now adjusted the intensity of the heat a fraction, and even adding some more stock to the mix, he walked back over to where he thought he had left this most valuable of manuscripts.

It was no longer there where he had placed it.

"Was this book really real, after all then?" the cook pondered in his mind. It was "real enough" to me five minutes ago, but now it's not.

Just then the old master appeared at the door, holding the book in his hands.

"Haven't I told you not to let go of this book, at any time when you have borrowed it from me. This book means a lot to me," he said, with just a hint of a wink in his eye, and he then briskly walked off with his book.

"We can look for knowledge in a book such as this, but isn't it better to seek for it within yourself?"

The master had given this question to his student to ponder over, just before he walked out of the kitchen with the book, now tucked under his arm.

An accident, or a deliberate slip?

Suddenly, the cook heard a loud noise coming from just outside of the door.

The master had just left of course, and now, after hearing this noise, the cook was worried about him falling over, or something like that. He was after-all not so young anymore, at least in his old body.

The cook rushed to the door, and this is what he saw.

It was raining now outside, and the master had slipped over in a large new puddle, where the other students had not smoothed the path out enough to erase it. His valuable book had landed in the water too, and its pages were now all wet.

The cook went over to the old master, and he helped him to get back up to his feet.

The cook said,

"It's a real misfortune about your book, to lose it to the waters like this."

The master simply smiled again, and said,

"Well, its blankness is now removed from my mind. What is real has replaced it."

The master walked off with a little skip in his step, and it was only then that the cook realised, that the master had "lost" his book on purpose like this to impart this valuable lesson to him.

The cook now knew what was really real.

Any loss has two parts to it. The first is the apparent loss. The second is the retaking of life (realness) from (after) the loss.

"Everybody has their own way of tapping into their realness."

This quote is from the American actress, Sandra Bernhard.

It applies well to this little tale that I have just told.

The master helped his student to tap into his own realness.

The master did this by showing him the difference between the real and the unreal, and thereby the student found his own real "realness" then too.

Sometimes only such a loss can lead another person to gain. The thing is though, love must be the giver for that person to be able to really gain the real gain.

A takeaway that has substance must be real

Realness lives within the heart of love, and never within the thoughts of the mind.

You will live from a type of "false" realness until the "real" realness of the heart is behind the thinking of your mind, and not just the falseness of an ego-based centralising imaging of love, which is never the real love.

Love has no image of itself until you fill it with your own love as it comes through you from the greater supply of this, from the imager himself, or in other words, from God.

"God hath given you one face, and you make yourself another."

This quote is from that greatest of all playwrights, William Shakespeare, (1564 to 1616). It is taken from his play, "Hamlet."

We must all take back our real face to be real enough to face whatever faces us within our lives. Putting on a false face, turns our back on this real face. Sometimes, it takes another person to show us what we are doing, in our living from this falseness.

Even God made such a supreme sacrifice once, with his own son, for us. He wanted us to live from the face that he had given to us to live from.

Photo Credits:

The photos used in this article have all been freely sourced from the free media site,


False Realness, Falseness, Heart Of Love, Love Is Not A Possession, Master, Old Master, Real Misfortune, Real Realness, Realness, Short Stories, Short Story, Valuable Lesson, Zen, Zen Master, Zen Story

Meet the author

author avatar spirited
I have been interested in the spiritual fields for over thirty five years now. My writing is mostly in this area.

Share this page

moderator Mark Gordon Brown moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


author avatar Carol Roach
20th May 2015 (#)

well written, I love what you said, sometimes we have to lose something to understand the the realness of what will come after that loss

Reply to this comment

author avatar spirited
20th May 2015 (#)

thanks Carol.

You certainly keep busy here, writing and commenting. I appreciate your comments.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Retired
20th May 2015 (#)

Excellent stuff, Spirited. One man's loss is the other man's gain... the loss, however, isn't a loss for you gain the joy of "giving." I would call that a "gainful loss." Fascinating oxymoron, isn't it?

Reply to this comment

author avatar spirited
20th May 2015 (#)

thanks Joyesh.

Yes, I like that oxymoron, a 'gainful loss'. A 'lossful gain' does not quite sound so good

I believe there is something to be gained from every loss though, if we look for it.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
22nd May 2015 (#)

Reality is at the lower realms in society as artificiality triumphs at higher levels. To be real and living true to our inner urges is the way to live life and then adversity can hardly make a dent on us.

Good lessons imparted, thanks Spirited - siva

Reply to this comment

author avatar spirited
22nd May 2015 (#)

yes, thanks siva,

all that really matters is for us to shine forth fully from our own light, nothing else matters, everything else/ or even a less fuller shining forth is artificial, or caused by our artificiality.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Kingwell
23rd May 2015 (#)

Good thoughts here friend. We often think that everything is going well but things can change in the blink of an eye. Then we wonder why or what we did to deserve such a fate. We die many deaths even in one lifetime and there is always a reason. Blessings.

Reply to this comment

author avatar spirited
23rd May 2015 (#)

yes, thanks Kingwell, a life can change very quickly sometimes too, one second non-enlightened, the next enlightened, according to Zen

Reply to this comment

author avatar Retired
11th Jun 2015 (#)

One man's loss is another man's gain. Love the way the story was developed and the raw and emotional writing style .

Reply to this comment

author avatar spirited
11th Jun 2015 (#)

Thanks Mary, I am glad you liked the story.

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Can't login?