The Moon Cannot be Stolen

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 in it to steal.

Ryokan returned and caught him. “You may 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.

Ryokan sat naked, watching the moon. “Poor fellow”, he mused, “I wish I could give him this beautiful moon”.

Zen flesh, Zen bones. Paul Reps. Penguin. 1957

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