Zen Koan: “The Moon Cannot Be Stolen” Parable
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.
Ryokan sat naked, watching the moon. “Poor fellow,” he mused, “I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon.”
“A kōan is a story, dialogue, question, or statement, which is used in Zen practice to provoke the “great doubt” and test a student’s progress in Zen practice.”*
This Koan, refers to material possessions. The moon is here for everyone, it cannot be stolen, it can never be possessed, and it does need not to be possessed in order to be enjoyed. This applies to most things in life.
Man seeks to posses everything, and yet, how can you possess a sunset, the air you breathe, or the rain? Everything is a gift to be enjoyed freely and unconditionally by everyone.
We are born without any “material possessions” and we die the same way. We cannot take anything with us when our journey here is over, not even our bodies!
The essence of life, is what truly matters. Our journey is about learning to appreciate that gift, each day.