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Your Favourite Fables, Stories & Parables

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  • Your Favourite Fables, Stories & Parables

    Dear Shaolin Wahnam Family,

    Many of us grew up reading fables, stories and parables. Aesop's Fables are a good example of them. I love fables! They are a wonderful way of learning as they come with inspiring lessons / teachings.

    It would be fantastic to read in this thread some of your most favourite ones.

    As as starter I want to share one that I really love:

    One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all”.

    “One is Evil – It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride and superiority”.

    “The other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

    The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”

    The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

    Story Source
    The Two Wolves.jpg
    Picture Source

    With Love, Care and Shaolin Salute,


  • #2
    The Hare and The Tortoise

    Dear Shaolin Wahnam Family,

    Here comes another of my most favourite fables. I am sure that many of you know about this one.

    There once was a speedy hare who bragged about how fast he could run. Tired of hearing him boast, Slow and Steady, the tortoise, challenged him to a race. All the animals in the forest gathered to watch.

    Hare ran down the road for a while and then and paused to rest. He looked back at Slow and Steady and cried out, "How do you expect to win this race when you are walking along at your slow, slow pace?"

    Hare stretched himself out alongside the road and fell asleep, thinking, "There is plenty of time to relax."

    Slow and Steady walked and walked. He never, ever stopped until he came to the finish line.

    The animals who were watching cheered so loudly for Tortoise, they woke up Hare.

    Hare stretched and yawned and began to run again, but it was too late. Tortoise was over the line.

    After that, Hare always reminded himself, "Don't brag about your lightning pace, for Slow and Steady won the race!"

    Moral: Slow but steady wins the race.

    Fable Source
    The Hare and the Tortoise.jpg

    Picture Source

    With Love, Care and Shaolin Salute,



    • #3
      Moral: Slow but steady wins the race.

      Gradual progress!

      With Shaolin Salute,
      Lee Wei Joo


      • #4
        Hi Santi, when I saw this thread, I thought of my first favourite fable or parable, and it was the one of the old Cherokee and the two wolves! Always a pleasure to read it again, thanks for sharing.

        I like the legend of Robert De Bruce, the Scottish ruler driven into exile, who then returned to win a famous victory at the Battle of Bannockburn. The legend is that he watched a spider try and fail to cross between two beams in Robert's hideout in Rathlin Island*, before succeeding the 7th time - inspiring Robert to "try and try again" also. Here is a version of it:

        *Rathlin Island is a lovely place to visit with views of Ireland and Scotland, a bird sanctuary, and of course an excellent pub. It's also a good place from which to launch a whisky tour.


        • #5
          Dear family,

          I have come across this story that I liked.

          Bankei Yōtaku (盤珪永琢, 1622-1693)

          A young man who was a dilligent martial arts practitioner asked Bankei to take him as a student for he desired to comprehend Zen. Once, after having decided to test the strength of his mentor's spirit, the young man suddenly attacked Bankei with a spear while the latter was sitting and not suspecting anything.

          The Zen master calmly deflected the blow with his rosary.

          "Your technique is still imperfect," said Bankei to the young student, "your consciousness moved first.
          .•´¯`•.¸¸.•´¯`°irene°´¯`•.¸¸. ´¯`•.

          “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.”


          • #6
            Dear Shaolin Wahnam Family,

            Thank you Paul Siheng and Irene Simui for your wonderful stories. I am sure that many will enjoy reading them.

            When reading Simui's post it came to my mind another Zen story that I love. It is quite well know so you may have heard of it before:

            After winning several archery contests, a young and boastful champion challenged the old Zen master who was renowned for his skills as an archer.

            The young man demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull's eye on his first try then split that arrow with a second shot.

            "There," he said to the old monk, "see if you can match that!" Undisturbed, the master did not draw his bow, but rather motioned for the young archer to follow him up the mountain.

            Curious about the old fellow's intentions, the champion followed him high up the mountain until they reached a deep chasm spanned by a single shaky log. Calmly stepping out onto this perilous and unsteady bridge, the old master picked a far off tree as a target, drew his bow, and fired a clean and direct hit.

            "Now it is your turn," he said as he gracefully stepped off the log and back onto firm ground.

            Staring with terror into the bottomless and beckoning abyss, the young man could not force himself to step out onto the log nor in any way focus on trying to hit a target.

            "You have much skill with your bow," the master finally said, sensing his young challenger's predicament, "but you have little skill with the mind that lets loose the shot."

            Story Source
            Zen Archery.jpg

            Picture Source

            With Love, Care and Shaolin Salute,



            • #7
              Dear Shaolin Wahnam Family,

              Today, I would like to present you another story that I love and consider greatly inspiring:

              A poor man asked Buddha “Why am I so poor?”

              Buddha replied: “You are not giving enough.”

              Poor Man: “But I have nothing to give.”

              Buddha replied: “You have at least 5 things to give.

              Your Face: You can give a smile. Be joyful, cheerful and happy…

              Your Mouth: You can speak words of kindness, encourage people, and give comfort…

              Your Heart: You can open your heart to others, be sincere, truthful and kind…

              Your Eyes: You can look to others with kindness and compassion…

              You Body: You can use your own labor to help others.”

              So, actually you are not poor at all. Poverty of spirit is the real poverty.”

              Story Source
              Why am I So Poor.jpg

              Picture Source

              With Love, Care and Shaolin Salute,



              • #8
                Dear Shaolin Wahnam Family,

                For today's story, I would like to share with you another inspiring Zen story. This happens to be my dad's favorite:

                A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her cross to the other side.

                The two monks glanced at one another because they had taken vows not to touch a woman.

                Then, without a word, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and carried on his 

                The younger monk couldn’t believe what had just happened. After rejoining his companion, he was speechless, and an hour passed without a word between them.

                Two more hours passed, then three, finally the younger monk could contain himself any longer, and blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”

                The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”

                Story Source
                Two Monks and A Woman.jpg

                Picture Source

                With Love, Care and Shaolin Salute,



                • #9
                  Dear Shaolin Wahnam Family,

                  I heard this story when I went to China many years ago with my father. I believe we were visiting a temple and the tour guide that came with us told it to the group when we stopped at a beautiful pond.

                  I am not sure if the story is true or not but it still is a great story:

                  It is said that Confucius was once peacefully walking with a student by his side and suddenly stopped at a beautiful pond and exclaimed: "Oh, how peaceful and happy those fishes are".

                  The student, that thought to be smarter than the master, then replied to Confucius: "How do you know if those fishes are peaceful and happy if you are not them?

                  Confucius then wisely answered to his student: "How do you know that I don't know how those fishes feel if you are not I?"
                  Confucius and Student.jpg

                  Picture Source

                  With Love, Care and Shaolin Salute,



                  • #10
                    Story from the Clinic

                    A stage 4 ( terminal ) cancer patient was referred to my radiology clinic for medical imaging : he was depressed and told me that his cancer specialist gave him a life expectancy prognosis of 3 months!

                    While performing the imaging procedure , I casually but solemnly said : " well , birth and death is in God's hands and not decided by doctors . Afterall , who knows, you may live longer then the doctor ! "

                    Patient was shocked and retorted : " But , How? "

                    I quickly and loudly added : '' I once heard that a healthy cancer specialist was crossing a road .. and WHAM ! Accidentally hit by a car ...and his soul probably went to heaven! And the good doctor's cancer patients outlived him ! "

                    Patient burst into laughter ....he was not the same again after the story ....and left my clinic still with a smile on his face

                    ( NB : Of course , we always wish for the best for patients and doctors )
                    Attached Files
                    Damian Kissey
                    Shaolin Wahnam Sabah , Malaysia .


                    • #11
                      Dear Shaolin Wahnam Family,

                      Thank you Damian Siheng for sharing this inspiring story. I am sure many will benefit from it. :-)

                      For today's story I would like to share with you a very well-known Zen story:

                      Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

                      Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

                      “Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

                      Story Source
                      A Cup of Tea.jpg

                      Image Source

                      With Love, Care and Shaolin Salute,



                      • #12

                        This thread could be a great repository of fun, insightful and powerful stories.

                        I do like this one.

                        There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad luck," they said sympathetically. "Maybe," the farmer replied.

                        The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. "How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed. "Maybe," replied the old man.

                        The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. "Maybe," answered the farmer.

                        The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. "Maybe," said the farmer.
                        With love and Shaolin salute /o

                        "Your purpose in life is to find your purpose & give your whole heart and soul to it." - Buddha

                        Gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā.


                        • #13
                          Zen Cat

                          And this one I only learned from Sifu Barry Smale recently, but it's another lovely one.

                          A great Zen Buddhist master, who was in charge of the Mayu Kagi monastery, had a cat which was his true passion in life. So, during meditation classes, he kept the cat by his side – in order to make the most of his company.One morning, the master – who was already quite old – passed away. His best disciple took his place.

                          – What shall we do with the cat? – asked the other monks.

                          As a tribute to the memory of their old instructor, the new master decided to allow the cat to continue attending the Zen Buddhist classes.

                          Some disciples from the neighboring monasteries, traveling through those parts, discovered that, in one of the region’s most renowned temples, a cat took part in the meditation sessions. The story began to spread.

                          Many years passed. The cat died, but as the students at the monastery were so used to its presence, they soon found another cat. Meanwhile, the other temples began introducing cats in their meditation sessions: they believed the cat was truly responsible for the fame and excellence of Mayu Kagi’s teaching.

                          A generation passed, and technical treatises began to appear about the importance of the cat in Zen meditation. A university professor developed a thesis – which was accepted by the academic community – that felines have the ability to increase human concentration, and eliminate negative energy.
                          And so, for a whole century, the cat was considered an essential part of Zen Buddhist studies in that region.

                          Until a master appeared who was allergic to animal hair, and decided to remove the cat from his daily exercises with the students.
                          There was a fierce negative reaction – but the master insisted. Since he was an excellent instructor, the students continued to make the same progress, in spite of the absence of the cat.

                          Little by little, the monasteries – always in search of new ideas, and already tired of having to feed so many cats – began eliminating the animals from the classes. In twenty years new revolutionary theories began to appear – with very convincing titles such as “The Importance of Meditating Without a Cat”, or “Balancing the Zen Universe by Will Power Alone, Without the Help of Animals”.

                          Another century passed, and the cat withdrew completely from the meditation rituals in that region. But two hundred years were necessary for everything to return to normal – because during all this time, no one asked why the cat was there.
                          With love and Shaolin salute /o

                          "Your purpose in life is to find your purpose & give your whole heart and soul to it." - Buddha

                          Gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā.


                          • #14
                            The businessman and the fisherman

                            What a great thread. Hooked. This is Zen-style story I learned from Paulo Coelho, though he isn't the author.

                            There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village.As he sat, he saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite few big fish.
                            The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?”
                            The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”
                            “Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished.
                            “This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said.
                            The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?”
                            The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”

                            The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman.
                            “I am a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to Sao Paulo, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.”

                            The fisherman continues, “And after that?”
                            The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.”
                            The fisherman asks, “And after that?”
                            The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”

                            The fisherman was puzzled, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”
                            With love and Shaolin salute /o

                            "Your purpose in life is to find your purpose & give your whole heart and soul to it." - Buddha

                            Gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā.


                            • #15
                              The little soul and the sun

                              Another personal favourite.

                              Once upon no time, there was a little Soul who said to God, "I know who I am."

                              And God said, "That's wonderful! Who are you?"

                              And the Little Soul shouted, "I'm the Light!"

                              God smiled a big smile. "That's right!" God exclaimed. "You are the Light."

                              The Little Soul was so happy, for it had figured out what all the souls in the Kingdom were there to figure out.

                              "Wow," said the Little Soul, "this is really cool!"

                              But soon, knowing who it was was not enough. The Little Soul felt stirrings inside, and now wanted to be who it was. And so the Little Soul went back to God (which is not a bad idea for all souls who want to be Who They Really Are) and said,

                              "Hi, God! Now that I know Who I am, is it okay for me to be it?"

                              And God said, "You mean you want to be Who You Already Are?"

                              "Well," replied the Little Soul," it's one thing to know Who I Am, and another thing altogether to actually be it. I want to feel what it's like to be the Light!"

                              "But you already are the Light," God repeated, smiling again.

                              "Yes, but I want to see what that feels like!" cried the Little Soul.

                              "Well," said God with a chuckle, "I suppose I should have known. You always were the adventuresome one."

                              Then God's expression changed. "There's only one thing..."

                              "What?" asked the Little Soul.

                              "Well, there is nothing else but the Light. You see, I created nothing but what you are; and so, there is no easy way for you to experience yourself as Who You Are, since there is nothing that you are not."

                              "Huh?" said the Little Soul, who was now a little confused.

                              "Think of it this way," said God. "You are like a candle in the Sun. Oh, you're there all right. Along with a million, gazillion other candles who make up the Sun. And the sun would not be the Sun without you. Nay, it would be a sun without one of its candles...and that would not be the Sun at all; for it would not shine as brightly. Yet, how to know yourself as the Light when you are amidst the Light -that is the question."

                              "Well," the Little Soul perked up, "you're God. Think of something!"

                              Once more God smiled. "I already have," God said. "Since you cannot see yourself as the Light when you are in the Light, we'll surround you with darkness."

                              "What's darkness?" the Little Soul asked.

                              God replied, "It is that which you are not."

                              "Will I be afraid of the dark?" cried the Little Soul.

                              "Only if you choose to be," God answered. "There is nothing, really, to be afraid of, unless you decide that there is. You see, we are making it all up. We are pretending."

                              "Oh," said the Little Soul, and felt better already.

                              Then God explained that, in order to experience anything at all, the exact opposite of it will appear. "It is a great gift," God said, "because without it, you could not know what anything is like. You could not know Warm without Cold, Up without Down, Fast without Slow. You could not know Left without Right, Here without There, Now without Then."

                              "And so," God concluded, "when you are surrounded with darkness, do not shake your fist and raise your voice and curse the darkness. Rather be a Light unto the darkness, and don't be mad about it. Then you will know Who You Really Are, and all others will know, too. Let your Light shine so that everyone will know how special you are!"

                              "You mean it's okay to let others see how special I am?" asked the Little Soul.

                              "Of course!" God chuckled. "It's very okay! But remember,'special' does not mean 'better.' Everybody is special, each in their own way! Yet many others have forgotten that. They will see that it is okay for them to be special only when you see that it is okay for you to be special."

                              "Wow," said the Little Soul, dancing and skipping and laughing and jumping with joy. "I can be as special as I want to be!"

                              "Yes, and you can start right now," said God, who was dancing and skipping and laughing right along with the Little Soul.
                              "What part of special do you want to be?"

                              "What part of special?" the Little Soul repeated. "I don't understand."
                              "Well," God explained, "being the Light is being special, and being special has a lot of parts to it. It is special to be kind. It is special to be gentle. It is special to be creative. It is special to be patient. Can you think of any other ways it is special to be?"

                              The Little Soul sat quietly for a moment. "I can think of lots of ways to be special!" the Little Soul then exclaimed. "It is special to be helpful. It is special to be sharing. It is special to be friendly. It is special to be considerate of others!"
                              "Yes!" God agreed, "and you can be all of those things, or any part of special you wish to be, at any moment. That's what it means to be the Light."

                              "I know what I want to be, I know what I want to be!" the Little Soul announced with great excitement. "I want to be the part of special called 'forgiving'. Isn't it special to be forgiving?"
                              "Oh, yes," God assured the Little Soul. "That is very special."

                              "Okay," said the Little Soul. "That's what I want to be. I want to be forgiving. I want to experience myself as that."
                              "Good," said God, "but there's one thing you should know."

                              The Little Soul was becoming a bit impatient now. It always seemed as though there were some complication.
                              "What is it?" the Little Soul sighed.

                              "There is no one to forgive."
                              "No one?" The Little Soul could hardly believe what had been said.

                              "No one!" God repeated. "Everything I have made is perfect. There is not a single soul in all creation less perfect than you. Look around you."

                              It was then that the Little Soul realized a large crowd had gathered. Souls had come from far and wide ~ from all over the Kingdom ~ for the word had gone forth that the Little Soul was having this extraordinary conversation with God, and everyone wanted to hear what they were saying. Looking at the countless other souls gathered there, the Little Soul had to agree. None appeared less wonderful, less magnificent, or less perfect than the Little Soul itself. Such was the wonder of the souls gathered around, and so bright was their Light, that the Little Soul could scarcely gaze upon them.

                              "Who, then, to forgive?" asked God.
                              "Boy, this is going to be no fun at all!" grumbled the Little Soul. "I wanted to experience myself as One Who Forgives. I wanted to know what that part of special felt like."
                              And the Little Soul learned what it must feel like to be sad. But just then a Friendly Soul stepped forward from the crowd.

                              "Not to worry, Little Soul," the Friendly Soul said, "I will help you."
                              "You will?" the Little Soul brightened. "But what can you do?"

                              "Why, I can give you someone to forgive!"
                              "You can?"

                              "Certainly!" chirped the Friendly Soul. "I can come into your next lifetime and do something for you to forgive."
                              "But why? Why would you do that?" the Little Soul asked. "You, who are a Being of such utter perfection! You, who vibrate with such a speed that it creates a Light so bright that I can hardly gaze upon you! What could cause you to want to slow down your vibration to such a speed that your bright Light would become dark and dense? What could cause you ~ who are so light that you dance upon the stars and move through the Kingdom with the speed of your thought--to come into my life and make yourself so heavy that you could do this bad thing?"

                              "Simple," the Friendly Soul said. "I would do it because I love you."
                              The Little Soul seemed surprised at the answer.
                              "Don't be so amazed," said the Friendly Soul, "you have done the same thing for me. Don't you remember? Oh, we have danced together, you and I, many times. Through the eons and across all the ages have we danced. Across all time and in many places have we played together. You just don't remember."

                              "We have both been All Of It. We have been the Up and the Down of it, the Left and the Right of it. We have been the Here and the There of it, the Now and the Then of it. We have been the male and the female, the good and the bad; we have both been the victim and the villain of it."
                              "Thus have we come together, you and I, many times before; each bringing to the other the exact and perfect opportunity to Express and to Experience Who We Really Are. And so," the Friendly Soul explained further, "I will come into your next lifetime and be the 'bad one' this time. I will do something really terrible, and then you can experience yourself as the One Who Forgives.

                              "But what will you do?" the Little Soul asked, just a little nervously, "that will be so terrible?"
                              "Oh," replied the Friendly Soul with a twinkle, "we'll think of something."
                              Then the Friendly Soul seemed to turn serious, and said in a quiet voice, "You are right about one thing, you know."

                              "What is that?" the Little Soul wanted to know.
                              "I will have to slow down my vibration and become very heavy to do this not-so-nice thing. I will have to pretend to be something very unlike myself. And so, I have but one favour to ask of you in return."

                              "Oh, anything, anything!" cried the Little Soul, and began to dance and sing, "I get to be forgiving, I get to be forgiving!"
                              Then the Little Soul saw that the Friendly Soul was remaining very quiet.
                              "What is it?" the Little Soul asked. "What can I do for you? You are such an angel to be willing to do this for me!"

                              "Of course this Friendly Soul is an angel!" God interrupted. "Everyone is! Always remember: I have sent you nothing but angels."
                              And so the Little Soul wanted more than ever to grant the Friendly Soul's request. "What can I do for you?" the Little Soul asked again.

                              "In the moment that I strike you and smite you," the Friendly Soul replied, "in the moment that I do the worst to you that you could possible imagine ~ in that very moment..."
                              "Yes?" the Little Soul interrupted, "yes...?""Remember Who I Really Am."

                              "Oh, I will!" cried the Little Soul, "I promise! I will always remember you as I see you right here, right now!"

                              "Good," said the Friendly Soul, "because, you see, I will have been pretending so hard, I will have forgotten myself. And if you do not remember me as I really am, I may not be able to remember for a very long time. And if I forget Who I Am, you may even forget Who You Are, and we will both be lost. Then we will need another soul to come along and remind us both of Who We Are."
                              "No, we won't!" the Little Soul promised again. "I will remember you! And I will thank you for bringing me this gift ~ the chance to experience myself as Who I Am.

                              " And so, the agreement was made. And the Little Soul went forth into a new lifetime, excited to be the Light, which was very special, and excited to be that part of special called Forgiveness.

                              And the Little Soul waited anxiously to be able to experience itself as Forgiveness, and to thank whatever other soul made it possible. And at all the moments in that new lifetime, whenever a new soul appeared on the scene, whether that new soul brought joy or sadness--and especially if it brought sadness--the Little Soul thought of what God had said.
                              "Always remember," God had smiled, "I have sent you nothing but angels."
                              With love and Shaolin salute /o

                              "Your purpose in life is to find your purpose & give your whole heart and soul to it." - Buddha

                              Gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā.