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.”

Photo by Maureen Mills.

The best way to look at suffering is with gratitude, that it is happening in order to teach us some very important lesson. It is useless to want suffering to go away. It is impermanent, it will go away anyway, but if we don’t learn the lesson that it is trying to teach us, it will come back in exactly the same manner.

Ayya Khema.

Photo by Nedim Sulejmanovic.

In Tibet we say: “Negative action has one good quality: it can be purified.” So there is always hope. Even murderers and the most hardened criminals can change and overcome the conditioning that led them to their crimes. Our present condition, if we use it skillfully and with wisdom, can be an inspiration to free ourselves from the bondage of suffering.

Sogyal Rinpoche.

Photo by anasshafiq.

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