The Moon Can Not Be Stolen

One evening a thief crept into Ryokan's mountain hut. 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 bewildered thief took the clothes and slunk away. Ryokan sat naked watching the moon and said, "Poor fellow. I wish I could give him this beautiful moon."

Ryokan is very famous in Japan. He was a Zen monk and poet known for his reverence for life, utter simplicity, kindness, and lack of attachment to material things and affairs. He was also beloved of children. For Ryokan there was no thief, no ugliness, no anger. According to a story, a bamboo shoot started to grow under the floor of his hut. He made a hole in the floor to accomodate the shoot. When it reached the ceiling, he made another hole.


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