Zen Koan #9: Parable of The Moon Cannot Be Stolen – Buddhist Teaching on Letting Go

Zen Koan #9: Parable of The Moon Cannot Be Stolen - Buddhist Teaching on Letting Go The ethical guidelines of the Zen Buddhist tradition invite us to live a life of doting commiseration through restraint and cultivation. We communicate with the world through our bodies, verbalization and minds, and so we are inspirited to explore the intentions and forces that guide our words, actions and pyretic conceptions, and culls, appreciating the puissance they hold to impact on our world in each moment.

The ethical guidelines, undertaken as a Zen Meditation practice, invite us to explore the inchoation of our actions, verbalization, and thought. Shakyamuni Buddha himself devoted forty-odd years to teaching and saving sentient beings. You may be a highly intelligent person who works very hard and has good karmic roots. The second line explains what prevents us. You may think that by putting down the method and relaxing for a while, you are re-charging your energy.

Is there an equivalent to the “Pope” in Buddhism? No mind, or Zen, is a state of non-arising and non-perishing. In working with difficulties—desire, anger, restlessness, doubt, fear which are the Zen traditional hindrances which arise in Zen Meditation—how can one work with them, how can one make one’s spiritual practice so that these become workable?

Zen Koan: “The Moon Cannot Be Stolen” Parable

Ryokan, a Zen master, lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing to steal.

Ryokan returned and caught him. “You have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift.”

The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away.

Ryoken sat naked, watching the moon. “Poor fellow,” he mused, “I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon.”

Buddhist Insight on Letting Go

The great majority of people today allow others to do their thinking for them. Your life would become a lot more alive and precious for you. Against such a misleading statement, one must enter an emphatic protest. Otherwise, there will be mutual cursing and other ramifications. More often than not, the infection is transmitted to progeny as well. Yet the rewards of letting go are infinitely more. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman writes in The Buddhist Path to Simplicity,

We believe that it is difficult to let go but, in truth, it is much more difficult and painful to hold and protect. Reflect upon anything in your lives that you grasp hold of – an opinion, a historical resentment, an ambition, or an unfulfilled fantasy. Sense the tightness, fear, and defensiveness that surrounds the grasping. It is a painful, anxious experience of unhappiness. We do not let go in order to make ourselves impoverished or bereft. We let go in order to discover happiness and peace. As Krishnamurti once said, “There is a great happiness in not wanting, in not being something, in not going somewhere.”

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