I have told you the story of a Zen master…

A thief entered his house without knowing that it was a Zen master’s house – it contained nothing. The Zen master felt very embarrassed. The night was cold and he had only one blanket that he used in the day to cover his body, and in the night to cover his body to go asleep. That was all that he had, and the whole house was empty.

He felt so compassionate towards the thief that when the thief was going out he threw the blanket on his shoulders and told him: “Please accept it. You came without informing me. If you had just informed me at least three days before, I would have gathered something for you. I feel for the first time really poor. I cannot give you anything; this house is empty.”

And the thief was very much afraid of this man. He was standing naked in the cold winter night and he had given his only possession, the blanket. But the man was strange, he was saying to him, “You should first inform me and then you can come. But give me a little time so I can beg from people and keep something for you. This is not right for you to come so suddenly without any information.”

The man certainly was strange. The thief had come across hundreds of people – everybody was angry, everybody was handing him over to the police. He had suffered in jails so many times. Everybody was abusive, everybody was insulting. Out of jail, life was difficult. Nobody was ready to give him a job, so finally, he had to commit another crime just to enter into jail because that became his home. At least he had food, shelter, clothes.

This man was strange. He became afraid of this man – he rushed out of the door.

And the Zen monk shouted, “Stop! That’s not right, come back. First give me a ‘thank you’ so that you don’t feel guilty that you have stolen anything – I have given it to you.
And then close the doors. You have opened the doors, at least this is your responsibility to close the doors. I am naked, the door is open, and the cold wind is blowing…and you don’t have any compassion.”

So he gave him a “thank you,” and while he was leaving and closing the door, the saint said, “Perhaps some day this ‘thank you’ will save you, this closing the door will be of much help to you.”

He could not understand what help it could be… But that night, looking from the window to the full moon in the sky, the Zen master wrote a small haiku which said:

I am so poor.
I would have loved
To give this moon to that thief,
But I don’t posses it.

Two years afterwards the thief was caught again in a very dangerous case – perhaps he would get a life-long imprisonment.

The judge asked him, “Can you bring anybody as a witness that you are not a criminal? We don’t have any evidence, only circumstantial evidence, that you have committed a crime. If you can produce a man of dignity to support you in that you are a man who is not capable of doing such a crime…”

He remembered the Zen master because that was the only person who could support him. He told the judge the name of the Zen master.

The judge said, “You are referring to a Zen master – I know him. If he says you are not a criminal the case is finished.”

And the Zen master came and he said, “This man you are saying is a criminal – this man is so nice. When I gave him a blanket he thanked me, and when I told him to close the door, he closed the door. He is so obedient, such a nice person. The blanket was not much, it had holes, it was old, but he received it as if I was giving him an empire. He was so grateful – just leave him.” The case was dropped. The Zen master was well known, even to the emperor.

The thief followed the Zen monk, and the Zen monk asked him, “Where are you going?”

The thief said, “I am not going anywhere, I am coming with you. I have found a man who has no judgments and who has returned my dignity to me. For the first time I feel I am a human being and there is someone who loves me, there is someone who feels for me, and there is someone who has compassion even for a man who has never done anything good.”

The Zen master said, “Don’t judge yourself.”

This is the trouble. People judge others and they judge themselves too. When they judge themselves they feel guilty; when they judge others they take people’s dignity and honor. This judgmental mind is a double-edged sword, it cuts both the ways. It cuts you, it cuts others. It has destroyed the whole humanity.

Drop this judgmental mind, and with this judgmental mind you will drop all your religions, all your moralities. You will become an innocent child, rejoicing in everybody and his uniqueness.


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