A half year ago in Malaysia, I met a Polish guy who had trained heavily in ninjitsu and was generally an admirer of Japanese culture and philosophy.
He and I talked for a number of hours, and we swapped a few book recommendations. I had just finished my copy of "The Samurai Ethic and Modern Japan" by Yukio Mishima, so I gave that to him as a gift. He recommended a number of good books and things for me to look up.
One of the books he turned me on to was "Zen Flesh Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings" - and he gave me a link to a site where you could read all the stories for free, 101zenstories.com
I go back to the site for inspiration every month or two. I quite liked this one, "No Attachment to Dust" -
Zengetsu, a Chinese master of the T'ang dynasty, wrote the following advice for his pupils:
Living in the world yet not forming attachments to the dust of the world is the way of a true Zen student.
When witnessing the good action of another encourage yourself to follow his example. Hearing of the mistaken action of another, advise yourself not to emulate it.
Even though alone in a dark room, be as if you were facing a noble guest. Express your feelings, but become no more expressive than your true nature.
Poverty is your treasure. Never exchange it for an easy life.
A person may appear a fool and yet not be one. He may only be guarding his wisdom carefully.
Virtues are the fruit of self-discipline and do not drop from heaven of themselves as does rain or snow.
Modesty is the foundation of all virtues. Let your neighbors discover you before you make yourself known to them.
A noble heart never forces itself forward. Its words are as rare gems, seldom displayed and of great value.
To a sincere student, every day is a fortunate day. Time passes but he never lags behind. Neither glory nor shame can move him.
Censure yourself, never another. Do not discuss right and wrong.
Some things, though right, were considered wrong for generations. Since the value of righteousness may be recognized after centuries, there is no need to crave immediate appreciation.
Live with cause and leave results to the great law of the universe. Pass each day in peaceful contemplation.
Some of the koans and writings appeal to me and make sense. Some don't. But it's definitely worth going through a few if you want some inspiration.
"Even though alone in a dark room, be as if you were facing a noble guest. Express your feelings, but become no more expressive than your true nature."
"Virtues are the fruit of self-discipline and do not drop from heaven of themselves as does rain or snow."
"To a sincere student, every day is a fortunate day. Time passes but he never lags behind. Neither glory nor shame can move him."
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