Zen Master Ryokan of Japan lived in a small hut at the bottom of a hill. He led a simple life. One night, a thief entered his hut but found nothing worth stealing.

Upon Ryokan's return, he bumped right into the thief.

Ryokan said, "You might have come a long way, but I really donot have anything of value here. Yet, I cannot allow you to go back empty-handed. The only thing I have that is of value here is the shirt on my back. I will give it to you as a gift."

The thief took the shirt and left.

The half-naked Ryokan sat down and whispered to himself, "I wish that I could give him this beautiful moon!"


People in this world use various methods to satisfy their desires. What do they really possess at the end? People come to this world empty-handed, and they will leave in the same manner. If people want to enjoy themselves, then the cool wind, the bright moon, the mountains and rivers are all here for the whold world to enjoy. Whyengage in all sorts of schemes for material gains?

Just as no one can steal the moon, neither can anyone steal the Buddha-nature that is within each of us.

(Source: Hsing Yun's Ch'an Talk, Book 2)

Life or Death, let it be!IndexWhat Cannot Be Stolen?