In the past, there was a prodigy; he believed he was brilliant and very knowledgeable. One day, he heard that there was a wise Zen Master who lived on Nanshan Mountain, so he decided to go to the Zen Master, to see what wisdom he had, and to know whether the master was more intelligent than him.
On the way, the prodigy was thinking of what question he should ask. At that moment, he saw a cow with a rope around its neck, with the other end of the rope tied to a nearby tree. The cow was anxious to get relief, so it circled the tree, wrapping the rope tighter and tighter around the tree, until its nose almost touched the tree, unable to go any further. So, the cow started to walk back, and as the rope gradually unwound, it loosened again. But it kept turning, so the rope was then wrapped around the tree in the other direction. It continued to turn around the tree, loosening and tightening the rope, again and again, unable to ever feel free of it. The prodigy saw this and thought that this would be a good riddle to give to the master.
The prodigy met with the Zen Master, and asked, “A cow circles a tree over and over again, clockwise then counterclockwise, and then repeats it. Why does it do this?”
The Master replied, “It is because the rope is not broken.”
The prodigy was shocked and asked the master how he knew that the cow had been tied to the tree when he had never mentioned it.
The Zen Master smiled and said, “I do not know, but anything that circles an object must be tied down by a “rope,” like fame or fortune. The consequence of being tied down like this is inevitable; it applies to both man and cattle. The obsession causes the binding; the deeper the obsession, the stronger one pulls, and longer one continues to circle. If this trend continues, a cow will become a mad cow, and a man will become a mad man.”
The prodigy quickly asked the master for a solution. He replied, “Quiet down your heart, do good things, and make yourself pure and spotless. Moreover, when you enter a state of absolute nothingness, you will be able to let go. Nothing can bind you; you will gain total freedom as a result.” The prodigy then finally realized that the Zen Master was truly a wise man.
He asked about the riddle and how the Zen Master had answered, and he said, “All answers are correct if you think about it the right way. Enlightenment does not depend on what you see, but on the essence of the lesson it teaches you.”
A sage man can elevate his energy and spirit through understanding the nature, or the essence, of the phenomenon.
Note: For the Chinese version, please refer to the following link-
|The Essence of the Lesson 團團轉|
This is a story that my friend told me:
Image from International Studies Abroad
An old couple decided to sell their house to move to Spain to retire after working all of their life in Edinburgh, England. Their house was surrounded by the sea, where the humidity was high, and the couple was susceptible to rheumatism.
The old man fancied a house in Spain but had to make a payment in two weeks, so the Edinburgh housing agency hung up a sign for rush sale.
A young Chinese couple happened to find jobs in the city. They were in a hurry to buy the house for kids to go to school in time. They saw the listing and it seemed to be the house that they were looking for.
The young couple took note of the words “home for rush sale.” They called the agent and asked whether they could get a discount.
The old couple had no choice because they needed to make the payment for the house in Spain. They gave them the discount.
But the young couple still felt that they could get a better deal. A couple of days before closing, they asked for a larger discount, or they would cancel the transaction.
Unexpectedly, the old couple agreed.
The young couple was overjoyed to get such a good deal.
Friends came to help them to move in.
Image from Pinterest
To their surprise, they saw a carpet of green grass, and flowers in bloom. It seemed as if the owners had just left. They were even more shocked when they entered the house.
The house was spotless, with bright windows and clean tables. On the table were some flowers in a vase with a note underneath, which read: ” Welcome to this house that gave us happy and memorable for decades. We wish that you would have the most joyous life here.”
The couple went into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator to see it full of food and drinks. The refrigerator also contained a note, which said: “We have prepared a week of supplies for you. You can go to the supermarket by taking a left and then another left; it is about 20 minutes away.”
The young couple was puzzled. How do you sell a house for enough money like this?
They went to look at the meter box, where they found another note, which read: “We have paid for you at least one month of electricity, so you have enough time to transfer the utilities.” but in the UK, it is troublesome to handle such procedures.
They were in awe and stood there and could not move.
At that moment, they lost the joy of moving into a new house.
If you like to read the original Chinese text, you can click the link below-
One lady hired a painter to paint the walls. When the painter walked into the house, he saw that her husband was blind. But the lady’s husband was very cheerful and optimistic, so the painter had a pleasant time working there and he never once mentioned the man’s physical impairment.
After he had finished the job, he gave the lady the invoice. The lady took a look and found a significant discount on their negotiated price. She asked the painter, “Why did you charge so much less?”
The painter replied, “I was very happy to work here in the presence of your husband, and he made me feel that my situation was not the worst. The discount serves as my gratitude to him because he did not make my work a hardship!”
Image from Franklin Painting, LLC
The painter’s admiration for her husband made her shed tears because…the generous painter had only one hand!
The moral of the story:
Although we can not change our lives, we can change our outlook on life;
Although we can not change our environment, we can change our state of mind;
Although we can not adjust our environments to adapt to our lives, we can instead adjust our attitude to adapt to all environments, so our attitudes will determine our fates!
The Chinese version of this article is posted on
A famous writer, Mr. Liang, was on the way to visit friends together with two other senior writers in a suburban area while he was in France. It was windy and raining, and in front of the writers’ car was an SUV with two French girls, who kept looking at the writers through their back window. As they drove, the SUV kept splashing mud on the writers’ car – and though they tried to pass the SUV, the road was just too narrow to do so. Mr. Liang asked the driver if they could pass and move in front of the SUV, but the driver thought it would be impolite, as the SUV would be splashed with mud once the writers’ moved in front of them.
Image from The Telegraph
Suddenly, an older man driving another SUV behind them stopped to speak to the writer’s driver. Afterward, Mr. Liang asked what the man had said, and the driver responded that the old man had informed them that his car was splashed with mud as he drove behind them. The old man had stopped to tell the writers because his two daughters were in the car with him, and he did not want them to think that it was alright to ignore what their actions did to others. Mr. Liang was ashamed, because at that moment, when he wanted to pass the SUV, he had only been thinking of himself, and not what the action of passing the SUV might do to those in the car.
It reminded the author of the story of his niece in Australia, who traveled to Sydney with a friend who was an ABC (Australian Born Chinese) to go fishing for shrimp. While there, an older, native Chinese man was also fishing, and when he pulled up nets full of shrimp, he would only pick a few shrimp and release the rest back into the ocean. The niece asked why he put the shrimp back after spending so much effort catching them in the first place, and the man replied that Australian citizens knew that they could only fish a particular size of shrimp, and that, in Australia, no one needed to remind them of that rule.
These stories show the meaning of civilization – actions and beliefs that stem from humankind’s inherent values and virtues. It is kindness, and being able to put oneself in other people’s shoes. Most of all, it appears in daily life in person-to-person relationships.
It takes 20 seconds to finish reading a short story, but it can take long time to find the essence of the story.
A man treated his wife better than before they were married.
At a party, his friends laughed at him and asked him: “How come you didn’t love your wife more before marriage?”
He smiled and said: “There were many boys that chased her and were good to her before we were married. I got her because I treated her the best.
After the marriage, I needed to treat her even better so she would not feel that she had lost it.”
A cat and pig were good friends.
One day the cat fell into a pit. The pig brought a rope, but when the cat called the pig to throw the rope down, the pig threw the whole bundle down.
The cat was frustrated and said: “You threw the whole rope down, how are you supposed to pull me up?”
The pig said: “What should I have done?”
The cat said: “You should have held one end of the rope!”
The pig jumped down into the pit and grabbed the end of the rope, then said, “Now I’ve got you!”
The cat cried and felt loved because she understood that some people might not be brilliant, but whatever they do, they would always be your friend.
A conversation from a pair of newlyweds.
Bride: Tell me, will we be together in the next life?
Groom: You asked me this question in the previous life.
” Dyeing Hair”
Today, my father dyed his hair at home.
I asked him, “Dad, you are almost 60. Do you want to look young so you can attract women?”
My dad said, “I dye my hair black before I go back to visit your grandmother so that she will think I am young, and that she is not old.”
A father is 75 years old. One day, a crow flew in their direction.
He asked, “What is this?”
The son replied, “It is a crow.”
After a while, the father asked again, “What is this?”
The son was frustrated and roared, “That is a crow, What is wrong with you?”
Then another day, his son opened his father’s diary to an entry that was written 40 years ago.
“Today, my son was three years old, and he pointed to the crow in the park and asked me what it was.
I told him that it was a crow. He asked me again, and I answered again.
He asked 11 times, and I answered 11 times.”