The Tigers and the Strawberry
A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.
Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!
Nansen Kills the cat
Once the monks of the eastern and western Zen halls were quarrelling about a cat. Nansen held up the cat and said, "You monks! If one of you can say a word, I will spare the cat. If you can't say anything, I will put it to the sword." No one could answer, so Nansen finally slew it.
In the evening, when Joshu returned, Nansen told him what had happened. Joshu, thereupon, took off his sandals, put them on his head and walked off. Nansen said, "If you had been there, I could have spared the cat.
Two interpretations from ``The Temple of the Golden Pavillion'' by Yukio Mishima:
`` The reason why Nansen had Killed the cat was that he had cut away the illusion of self and had eradicated all irrelevant thoughts and fantrasies from his mind. Putting his insensibility to practice, he had cut off the kitten's head and had thus cut off all contradictions, opposition, and discord between self and others. This was known as Murdering Sword, whereas Joshu's action was called the Life-Giving-Sword. By performing an action of such infinite magnanimity as wearing filthy and despised objects like shoes on his head, he had given a practical demonstration of the way of the Bodhisattva"
``You know the problem about Father Nansen and the kitten, don't you?...
That's a problem that crops up several times in a person's life, always in a slightly different form. It's a rather eery problem, you know. Each time that you come across it at some turning-point in your life, it's changed both in appearance and in meaning, though the problem itself is always the same. First let me tell you that the kitten which father Nansen killed was a rascal creature! She was beautiful, you know, incomparably beautiful. Her Eyes were golden, her fur was glossy. Every pleasure and beauty in this word was flexed taunt like a spring within that little body of hers. Most of the commentators have forgotten to mention the fact that the kitten was a bundle of beauty. Except for me, that is. The kitten jumped out of a clump all of a sudden. Her gentle, cunning eyes were shining and she was caught by one of the priest just as if she had done it all on purpose. And it was this that resulted in the quarrel between the two halls of the temple. Because although beauty may give itself to everyone, it does not actually belong to anybody.'' Let me see.
``How should I put it, Beauty-yes, beauty is like a decayed tooth. It rubs against one's tongue, it hangs there, hurting one, insisting on its own existence, finally it gets that one cannot stand the pain and goes to the dentist to have the tooth extracted. Then, as one looks at the small, dirty, brown, blood stained tooth lying in one's hand, one's thoughts are like to be as follows: 'is this it? Is this all it was? that thing which caused me so much pain, which made me constantly fret about its existence, which stubbornly rooted within me, is now just a dead object. But is this thing really the same as that thing? If this originally belonged to my outer existence, why-through what sort of providence- did it become attached to my inner existence and succeed in causing me so much pain? What was the basis of this creature's existence? Was the basis within me? Or was it within this creature itself? Yet this creature which has been pulled out of my mouth and which now lies in my hand is something utterly different. Surely it cannot be that.
``You see,'' continued Kasniwagi, ``that's what beauty is like. To have killed the kitten, therefore, seemed just like having extracted a painful decayed tooth, like having gauged out beauty. Yet it was uncertain whether or not this had really been a final solution. The root of the beauty ad not been severed and, even though the kitten was dead, the kitten's beauty might very well still be alive. And so, you sec, it was in order to satirise the glibness of this solution that Joshu put those shoes on his head. He knew, so to speak, that there was no possible solution other than enduring the pain of the decayed tooth.
From ``Lao-tzu: My words are very easy to understand.'' by Cheng Man-Ching
Lecture: These are called the benefits on Non-action
``Not honouring men of worth keeps the people from competing;
Not wanting rare things keeps the people from thievery;
Not paying attention to the desirable keeps the hearts of the people from disaster.''
``This is why the Sage governs himself by
relaxing the mind,
reinforcing the abdomen,
gentling the will,
stretching the bones.''
``Always cause the people to be without knowledge or desire;
Cause the intelligent ones to not dare act.
Let there be non-action
And there is nothing that will not be well-regulated.''