ZEN MONK STORIES -- JD Frey‑‑October 19, 1988





The Zen monk Sanchez was in need of some quick cash, and he approached a group of Zen monks standing around watching one peasant beat another to death in the street.

"Can any of you guys lend me some cash?"

Zen monks are all friends, so they murmured in agreement.

"Here is some cash good monk Sanchez," murmured the kindly old monk Desklamp, whose beard grew well into his shorts. "Five pieces of our national currency."

"Here is some more money my good brother‑soul, monk Sanchez." Agreed the good and wise, though‑often‑overtly‑suspicious‑of‑his‑hot‑dishes‑at‑evening‑meal‑for‑no‑apparent‑reason‑that‑any‑of‑the‑other‑monks‑were‑ever‑able‑to‑determine, monk Mike. "Here is five more pieces of our national currency."

Monk Denver was not to be outdone in his demonstration of the benevolence of the Buddha, and he offered up a closed fist to good monk Sanchez.  "Here is twenty pieces of our national currency, and seven pieces of our neighboring nation's national currency in case you want to do some traveling."

Good monk Sanchez, often the first at a monk party to tell a joke or break out into uninitiated, unmonklike laughter, left beaming happily.  Fifteen minutes later, a beautiful young nun unlike anyone that the three monks had seen before walked past.  The monks all stared and good brother Denver wolf‑whistled, ,"Hey little honey! Got any plans for tonite?" 

"Why yes your berobedness, the kind and pious brother monk Sanchez has offered to take me on the train over to the neighboring country for some spicy entertainment." 

The only one who wasn't enlightened by that was a passing swine that had its mind on other things.





Of all the big pieces of art that were dedicated to worship, the Giant Chicken of Wung‑fo Valley was easily the biggest.  Known as the "Great Wung‑fo Valley Chicken," or just "the Big Chicken" to anyone who lived in the neighborhood, it stretched 7 miles down the valley from crown to shoes. 

Nobody knew why the seven‑mile‑tall outline of a chicken in shoes had been blasted into the rock floor of the dry and unpleasant valley.  Nobody had ever even noticed it until about a hundred years ago when somebody decided to climb to the top of Mt. Fang‑a, which stands at the foot of the valley.  From there an interested onlooker can see all the way to about the beak on a clear, well‑lit day.  Large encampments already existed at that time all throughout the two enormous hightopped sneakers, and by the time of the two famous brother monks, Chuk and Citroen, there was most of two large towns with many public meeting houses and a movie theater within the fowl boundaries.

The two good brothers lived in the village of Lefthigh and would often debate about this big picture. Some said that a earlier civilization, far advanced in the areas of either animal‑worship or really big art, had left this mark on the landscape.  But that wasn't what the two brothers argued about.  They were more concerned whether food tasted better in the area near the shoelaces or further up, in the neck outskirts.

They visited old master Long‑Old who gave them each a piece of fried chicken and told them not to be so stupid.




All‑Brown was a wandering student of Zen.  He had a strange gaze that would unnerve everyone in the room, often starting arguments and fistfights.  Because of this he was never able to talk to anyone for very long.

After months of journeying through the harsh country known only as "the Valley" to its inhabitants, he came at last to the tiny village of Orinda.  Here he went to study with Soo‑Much, a 100‑year‑old Zen master who was totally blind.  Soo‑much had lost his sight for earthly realms at the age of ten, and had achieved at least partial enlightenment only eight years later. Since then, he had been teaching seekers of the light how to orient themselves towards acceptance and complete awareness.  (Occasionally, however, he had been seen bumping into obstacles in his way, much like an absent‑minded intellectual, deep in thought.)

When All‑Brown sat before him, neither of the two spoke for almost four hours.  Finally, the great master said, "Why are you staring at me like that?"

With that, All‑Brown understood much, and he went on to become enlightened in only two years.





Wei‑Smart was noted for saying:

"The life of the flesh is great, but it's not a pile of ox dung compared to the life of the spirit."

Because a Zen master is always under a certain amount of suspicion from the rest of the community, most people thought he was either an idiot, or a genius.





"Luck is like the ring‑necked pheasant," it is said, "Revere it, but grab it round the throat or you'll eat rice‑gruel again tonight."

The awkward truth‑seeker, Lenny, came across the Buddha floating above the ground in a grove of plum trees.

"Oh illuminated one!" Lenny spoke through the gravel at the Buddha's Feet, "You are so very bright!  Are you a local celebrity?"

The Buddha laughed, and His Belly shook and He said, "You are in the locality of your own being.  Congratulations!"

Then He offered Lenny a big, great‑looking Cigar and lit it for him. "Stand up, My Friend!"

As the poor awkward man stood up, he accidently ground the Cigar out in the gravel, and the Buddha disappeared.  The cigar would never relight either.





Yoshu was as close to his mother as any son could be.  He cooked her breakfast in the morning in the small yurt they shared outside of Makinaw. 

When she died he had her body buried in a shrine of gold in the nicest part of the cemetary.  Then he went out and married young Haffa, who looked exactly like his mother had at the age of 25.

"There goes a man who sure knows how to take care of a woman!"  people would say by way of introducing him to out‑of‑towners.

more poems?