The once was a great monastery high up in the mountains of Tibet.
One day, when the spiritual teacher and his disciples began their evening meditation, the cat who lived in the monastery started making noise.
So much noise that it completely distracted them. So the teacher ordered that the cat be tied up during the evening practice to meditate in peace.
Years later, when the teacher died, tying up the cat continued during their meditation sessions. And, when the cat eventually died, another cat was brought to the monastery and tied up.
Centuries later, learned descendants of the spiritual teacher wrote scholarly treatises about the religious significance of tying up a cat for meditation practice.
The Parable of the Ritual Cat is a story about the questioning of authority and rituals. Today, there are endless rituals, beliefs, and ideas about the world that extend back into views from ancient times. But how many of these are our own, and not someone...
The Prime Minister of the Tang Dynasty was a national hero for his success as both a statesman and military leader. But despite his fame, power, and wealth, he considered himself a humble and devout Buddhist. Often he visited his favorite Zen master to study under him, and they seemed to get along very well. The fact that he was prime minister apparently did not affect their relationship, which appeared to be simply one of a revered master and respectful student.
One day, during his usual visit, the Prime Minister asked the master, “Your Reverence, what is egotism according to Buddhism?” The master’s face turned red, and in a very condescending and insulting tone of voice, he shot back, “What kind of stupid question is that!?”
This unexpected response so shocked the Prime Minister that he became sullen and angry. The Zen master then smiled and said, “THIS, Your Excellency, is egotism.”
The Parable of the Ego is a lesson in managing our...
The parable of the sandcastles is the first episode in the Patch Parables series. This animated series explores different ancient parables and short stories to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson.
This episode starts with a few children playing by a river. Each child is making their own sandcastles in which they all defend from each other. They were all made perfectly, making sure everyone knew who’s was who’s. Once they were built and complete, one of the children walked over to another sandcastle and kicked it over, destroying it to the ground.
The owner of the castle flew into a rage, attacking the child who kicked his castle to the ground. The child whose castle was ruined called out to the other children, telling them his castle has been spoiled.
They all ganged up to attack the poor child, beating him with sticks and stomping on him repeatedly. Then they continued as they had been previously doing. They told each other to keep away from their castle, it’s...
The parable of the lute is a lesson that comes from Buddha. A long time ago, the Buddha was living on a mountain called Vulture Peak.
During this time, a man named Sona was living down in the cool forest below. While meditating, this thought came to him: I am an energetic student of Buddha, yet my mind has not found freedom.
Buddha heard this thought within his own mind and set off Vulture Peak to find Sona. The Buddha found him within the forest very quickly and approached Sona. He asked him if he just had this thought that he heard in his head. Sona replied that did, in fact, have this thought.
Buddha continued on, asking Sona if when the strings on his lute were too tight, was it easily playable? Sona said, “Certainly not, Buddha.”
The Buddha pressed on, asking if when the strings on his lute were too loose, was it then easily playable? Sona replied with another no.
Finally, Buddha asked when the strings on the lute weren’t too tight or too loose, then was it...
The parable of the raft explores the nature of getting across, but not retaining. A spiritual leader describes this parable to a group of monks. He begins by saying, imagine there is a man trying to cross a river.
On the side closest to him, the river is filled with dangers and fears, while the far side is beautiful and peaceful. He wishes to cross to the other side, but how? There is no boat or bridge to cross, so the man creates his own raft out of sticks and branches.
Once on the other side, he sees how useful this raft is. He wonders if he should carry it with him on his journey, taking it on his head and shoulders. The leader asks the group of monks, what should he do? No one answers.
The leader explains that he should walk away, and continue on his journey without the raft. This is what should be done to the raft, not to retain and hold onto it, but to let it go.
This parable explains the importance of letting things go with the flow in life. We are so quick to hold onto...
Who knows what’s good or bad? This parable explores this contrast of ideas and perspectives. There is an old story of a Chinese farmer who accidentally left his gate open, and his horse ran off. His foolish neighbor came over to console the wise farmer, who simply replied with “Who knows what’s good or bad?”
The next day, the horse returned with a large band of other horses following her. The neighbor came over to congratulate him on his good fortune. The wise farmer just replied, “Who knows what’s good or bad?”
Then, the wise farmer’s son broke one of his legs trying to ride one of the new horses. The foolish neighbor visited them to console him again, with which the wise farmer once again replied with “Who knows what’s good or bad?”
When the army then passed through, looking for more people to add to their army, they passed over the son because of his broken leg. The neighbor came to congratulate him on being...
A man once visited the Buddha, looking for him to help solve his problems. He started to describe his different problems. After he asked for help on one of his issues, the Buddha said that he could not help with that problem.
The man was surprised that the Buddha could not help him, but carried on and asked for help with another problem. The Buddha replied again, saying he could not help him solve that issue either.
The man got impatient. He asked how it was possible that the Buddha is the most perfect, enlightened man, but he can’t even help others solve their problems? The Buddha said one will always have 83 problems in their life. Some will leave, and others will come up and he cannot help anyone with that.
The baffled man then asked, “What can you help me with then?” The Buddha said he could help him with his 84th problem. The man asked what that was, to which the Buddha replied with “That you want to solve your other 83 problems.”
This episode is a two-parter! The first one is very short and sweet. It starts with 2 monks who need to cross a great river to reach the village on the other side. As they begin, they see a woman struggling to get across the river by herself.
One of the monks swiftly picks her up and carries her across to assist in her journey. For monks, even being in the presence of a woman is forbidden, so this was a very courageous act. As the 2 monks continue their journey, finally the other monk bursts out “How could you do such a thing?! How could you ever touch a woman?!”
The monk laughs, telling the other monk “I put that woman down miles ago, and yet you are still carrying her.” How true indeed.
This parable teaches us not to hold too tightly to our thoughts and to practice seeing our thoughts as things too. We must be in a state of flowing if we wish to be mentally balanced.
Patchman goes on to tell another quick parable. It is the parable of the water pots. An...
This episode begins with a stonecutter. As he chips away at a rock, he sinks deeper into a feeling of dissatisfaction with himself and his position in life.
He walked through the town and passed the house of a very powerful merchant. Inside, there were many fine items and other important people all talking together. He became very envious and wished he could be just like the merchant. Eventually, he worked enough to become as powerful as the merchant.
Now he was envied by those who were less fortunate than him. Then, he saw a high official pass by, being carried in a fancy sedan chair and escorted by guards beating gongs. Everyone bowed before the official, and the man thought “I wish I could be a high official.” And then, he became one.
He was carried around in his sedan chair, feared and hated by the people who had to bow before him. One day, the sun was blazing hot and made him very sticky and uncomfortable in his chair. The man thought the sun was so powerful,...
Once there lived a small village of little creatures, along the bottom of a great crystal river. The current of the water swept over them all, young, old, rich and poor. They all clung to the rocks and shrubs at the bottom of the river, for this was all they knew.
They had all learned from birth that they must cling and hold onto something or else the current would sweep them into an unknown abyss. This resistance was their way of life.
Then one day, one of the creatures became tired of clinging. He said he would die of boredom if he continued to hold on forever. He trusted that he current would take him where he needed to be, even if he couldn’t see it.
The other creatures laughed and called him a fool. They said the waters would kill him much faster than boredom would, but the creature didn’t care. He trusted in the flow of the river.
When he first let go, he was initially thrown around the bottom of the river, hitting rocks and sticks. But as time went on, and he...