John Suler’s Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbors


During a momentous battle, a Japanese general decided to attack even though his army was greatly outnumbered. He was confident they would win, but his men were filled with doubt. On the way to the battle, they stopped at a religious shrine. After praying with the men, the general took out a coin and said, “I shall now toss this coin. If it is heads, we shall win. If tails, we shall lose. Destiny will now reveal itself.”

He threw the coin into the air and all watched intently as it landed. It was heads. The soldiers were so overjoyed and filled with confidence that they vigorously attacked the enemy and were victorious. After the battle, a lieutenant remarked to the general, “No one can change destiny.”

“Quite right,” the general replied as he showed the lieutenant the coin, which had heads on both sides.

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Bell Teacher

A new student approached the Zen master and asked how he should prepare himself for his training. “Think of me a bell,” the master explained. “Give me a soft tap, and you will get a tiny ping. Strike hard, and you’ll receive a loud, resounding peal.”

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Once there was a well known philosopher and scholar who devoted himself to the study of Zen for many years.
On the day that he finally attained enlightenment, he took all of his books out into the yard and burned them all.

“The most important things in life you can’t learn through books. You have to learn them through experience.”

“Life’s most important lessons have to be learned for oneself, not from what other people have said.”

“It’s your own thoughts that are important. Everything else is indoctrination from others.”

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A martial arts student approached his teacher with a question. “I’d like to improve my knowledge of the martial arts. In addition to learning from you, I’d like to study with another teacher in order to learn another style. What do you think of this idea?”

“The hunter who chases two rabbits,” answered the master, “catches neither one.”

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Full Awareness

After ten years of apprenticeship, Tenno achieved the rank of Zen teacher. One rainy day, he went to visit the famous master Nan-in. When he walked in, the master greeted him with a question, “Did you leave your wooden clogs and umbrella on the porch?”

“Yes,” Tenno replied.

“Tell me,” the master continued, “did you place your umbrella to the left of your shoes, or to the right?”

Tenno did not know the answer, and realized that he had not yet attained full awareness. So he became Nan-in’s apprentice and studied under him for ten more years.

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The Gift of Insults

There once lived a great warrior. Though quite old, he still was able to defeat any challenger. His reputation extended far and wide throughout the land and many students gathered to study under him.

One day an infamous young warrior arrived at the village. He was determined to be the first man to defeat the great master. Along with his strength, he had an uncanny ability to spot and exploit any weakness in an opponent. He would wait for his opponent to make the first move, thus revealing a weakness, and then would strike with merciless force and lightning speed. No one had ever lasted with him in a match beyond the first move.

Much against the advice of his concerned students, the old master gladly accepted the young warrior’s challenge. As the two squared off for battle, the young warrior began to hurl insults at the old master. He threw dirt and spit in his face. For hours he verbally assaulted him with every curse and insult known to mankind. But the old warrior merely stood there motionless and calm. Finally, the young warrior exhausted himself. Knowing he was defeated, he left feeling shamed.

Somewhat disappointed that he did not fight the insolent youth, the students gathered around the old master and questioned him. “How could you endure such an indignity? How did you drive him away?”

“If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it,” the master replied, “to whom does the gift belong?”

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Is that So?

A beautiful girl in the village was pregnant. Her angry parents demanded to know who was the father. At first resistant to confess, the anxious and embarrassed girl finally pointed to Hakuin, the Zen master whom everyone previously revered for living such a pure life. When the outraged parents confronted Hakuin with their daughter’s accusation, he simply replied “Is that so?

When the child was born, the parents brought it to the Hakuin, who now was viewed as a pariah by the whole village. They demanded that he take care of the child since it was his responsibility. “Is that so?” Hakuin said calmly as he accepted the child.

For many months he took very good care of the child until the daughter could no longer withstand the lie she had told. She confessed that the real father was a young man in the village whom she had tried to protect. The parents immediately went to Hakuin to see if he would return the baby. With profuse apologies they explained what had happened. “Is that so?” Hakuin said as he handed them the child.

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It Will Pass

A student went to his meditation teacher and said, “My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted, or my legs ache, or I’m constantly falling asleep. It’s just horrible!”

“It will pass,” the teacher said matter-of-factly.

A week later, the student came back to his teacher. “My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It’s just wonderful!’

“It will pass,” the teacher replied matter-of-factly.

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Just Two Words

There once was a monastery that was very strict. Following a vow of silence, no one was allowed to speak at all. But there was one exception to this rule. Every ten years, the monks were permitted to speak just two words. After spending his first ten years at the monastery, one monk went to the head monk. “It has been ten years,” said the head monk. “What are the two words you would like to speak?”

“Bed… hard…” said the monk.

“I see,” replied the head monk.

Ten years later, the monk returned to the head monk’s office. “It has been ten more years,” said the head monk. “What are the two words you would like to speak?”

“Food… stinks…” said the monk.

“I see,” replied the head monk.

Yet another ten years passed and the monk once again met with the head monk who asked, “What are your two words now, after these ten years?”

“I… quit!” said the monk.

“Well, I can see why,” replied the head monk. “All you ever do is complain.”

( This story is a favorite in many western monasteries. It may or may not be an original Zen tale. Like any good anecdote, it makes us laugh, but also encourages us to think about why it is funny .)

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Two monks were washing their bowls in the river when they noticed a scorpion that was drowning. One monk immediately scooped it up and set it upon the bank. In the process he was stung. He went back to washing his bowl and again the scorpion fell in. The monk saved the scorpion and was again stung. The other monk asked him, “Friend, why do you continue to save the scorpion when you know it’s nature is to sting?”

“Because,” the monk replied, “to save it is my nature.”

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No More Questions

Upon meeting a Zen master at a social event, a psychiatrist decided to ask him a question that had been on his mind. “Exactly how do you help people?” he inquired.

“I get them where they can’t ask any more questions,” the Master answered.

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Ritual Cat


When the spiritual teacher and his disciples began their evening meditation, the cat who lived in the monastery made such noise that it distracted them. So the teacher ordered that the cat be tied up during the evening practice.

Years later, when the teacher died, the cat continued to be tied up during the meditation session. 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

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The 10 Very Best Zen Stories-written by Myrko Thum in Inspiration

The 10 Very Best Zen Stories

written by Myrko Thum in Inspiration —  

Many teachings from Zen-Buddhism are told in short and delightful zen stories. They are usually designed to develop the mind and to free it from distortions and so to connect with our spirit.

Some of them are really inspiring and enlightening. It is helpful to the mind to think about them and feel the deeper meaning. Even if it is not possible to grasp them fully, the beauty and simplicity of the message usually gets through to us one way or the other.

The following 10 Zen stories are a selection of the ones I found most inspiring and really worth to ponder about. Some may be instantly understood, some others need to be thought through and recognized in oneself.

They are about the following topics: life in the present moment, different perspectives, attachment, resistance, judgment, delusion, beliefs and thought as mental concepts but not truth and unconditional love. Please feel free to post your interpretation or other stories into the comments.

After reading the first, follow it’s advice to read all the others. 🙂


1. A Cup of Tea

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

2. The Burden

Two monks were returning to the monastery in the evening. It had rained and there were puddles of water on the road sides. At one place a beautiful young woman was standing unable to walk accross because of a puddle of water. The elder of the two monks went up to a her lifted her and left her on the other side of the road, and continued his way to the monastery.

In the evening the younger monk came to the elder monk and said, “Sir, as monks, we cannot touch a woman ?”

The elder monk answered “yes, brother”.

Then the younger monk asks again, “but then Sir, how is that you lifted that woman on the roadside ?”

The elder monk smiled at him and told him ” I left her on the other side of the road, but you are still carrying her.”

3. Finding a Piece of the Truth

One day Mara, the Evil One, was travelling through the villages of India with his attendants. he saw a man doing walking meditation whose face was lit up on wonder. The man had just discovered something on the ground in front of him. Mara’s attendant asked what that was and Mara replied, “A piece of truth.”

“Doesn’t this bother you when someone finds a piece of truth, O Evil One?” his attendant asked. “No,” Mara replied. “Right after this, they usually make a belief out of it.”

4. The Other Side

One day a young Buddhist on his journey home came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier. Just as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river. The young Buddhist yells over to the teacher, “Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river”?

The teacher ponders for a moment looks up and down the river and yells back, “My son, you are on the other side”.

5. Is That So?

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors as one living a pure life.

A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child.

This made her parents very angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.

In great anger the parents went to the master. “Is that so?” was all he would say.

When the child was born, the parents brought it to the Hakuin, who now was viewed as a pariah by the whole village. They demanded that he take care of the child since it was his responsibility. “Is that so?” Hakuin said calmly as he accepted the child.

A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth – that the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fishmarket.

The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask his forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back again.

Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: “Is that so?”

6. Maybe

Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

7. Cliffhanger

One day while walking through the wilderness a man stumbled upon a vicious tiger. He ran but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Desperate to save himself, he climbed down a vine and dangled over the fatal precipice.

As he hung there, two mice appeared from a hole in the cliff and began gnawing on the vine.

Suddenly, he noticed on the vine a plump wild strawberry. He plucked it and popped it in his mouth. It was incredibly delicious!

8. The Blind Men and the Elephant

Several citizens ran into a hot argument about God and different religions, and each one could not agree to a common answer. So they came to the Lord Buddha to find out what exactly God looks like.

The Buddha asked his disciples to get a large magnificent elephant and four blind men. He then brought the four blind to the elephant and told them to find out what the elephant would “look” like.

The first blind men touched the elephant leg and reported that it “looked” like a pillar. The second blind man touched the elephant tummy and said that an elephant was a wall. The third blind man touched the elephant ear and said that it was a piece of cloth. The fourth blind man hold on to the tail and described the elephant as a piece of rope. And all of them ran into a hot argument about the “appearance” of an elephant.

The Buddha asked the citizens: “Each blind man had touched the elephant but each of them gives a different description of the animal. Which answer is right?”

9. Right and Wrong

When Bankei held his seclusion-weeks of meditation, pupils from many parts of Japan came to attend. During one of these gatherings a pupil was caught stealing. The matter was reported to Bankei with the request that the culprit be expelled. Bankei ignored the case.

Later the pupil was caught in a similar act, and again Bankei disregarded the matter. This angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would leave in a body.

When Bankei had read the petition he called everyone before him. “You are wise brothers,” he told them. “You know what is right and what is not right. You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor brother does not even know right from wrong. Who will teach him if I do not? I am going to keep him here even if all the rest of you leave.”

A torrent of tears cleansed the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished.

10. Nothing Exists

Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku.

Desiring to show his attainment, he said: “The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is emptiness. There is no realization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received.”

Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry.

“If nothing exists,” inquired Dokuon, “where did this anger come from?”

Bonus 11. Teaching the Ultimate

In early times in Japan, bamboo-and-paper lanterns were used with candles inside. A blind man, visiting a friend one night, was offered a lantern to carry home with him.

“I do not need a lantern,” he said. “Darkness or light is all the same to me.”

“I know you do not need a lantern to find your way,” his friend replied, “but if you don’t have one, someone else may run into you. So you must take it.”

The blind man started off with the lantern and before he had walked very far someone ran squarely into him. “Look out where you are going!” he exclaimed to the stranger. “Can’t you see this lantern?”

“Your candle has burned out, brother,” replied the stranger.

ಪುರವಣಿ› ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ದರ್ಶನ ಪರಿಸರ ಪಾದಯಾತ್ರೆ ಶಿವಾನಂದ ಕಳವೆ Tue, 01/28/2014 – 01:00

ಕುಂದಾಪುರ ಸಮೀಪದ ಮರವಂತೆಯ ಸೌಪರ್ಣಿಕಾ ನದಿ ದಂಡೆಯ ವರಾಹ ದೇಗುಲದ ಎದುರು ನಿಂತಿದ್ದೆ. ನದಿಯ ಆಚೆ ದ್ವೀಪ ಗ್ರಾಮಗಳಿವೆ, ದೋಣಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಹೋಗಬೇಕು. ಅಜ್ಜಿ ಮೀನು ಬುಟ್ಟಿ ಹೊತ್ತು ತಾರಿಯ ಸನಿಹ ಬಂದಿದ್ದಳು. ಆಚೆ ದಡಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋದ ದೋಣಿ ಬರುವವರೆಗೆ ಅವಳು ಕಾಯಬೇಕು. ಬುಟ್ಟಿ ಇಳಿಸಿ ತುದಿಗಾಲಲ್ಲಿ ಕುಳಿತಳು. ಆ ಕ್ಷಣಕ್ಕೆ  ಎಲ್ಲಿಂದಲೋ ನುಸುಳಿ ಬಂದ ಬೆಕ್ಕು ಅಜ್ಜಿಯ ಎದುರು ಕುಳಿತು ಮಿಯಾವ್ ಎಂದು ಬಾಯ್ತೆರೆಯಿತು. ದೃಶ್ಯ ನೋಡಿದರೆ ಅಜ್ಜಿಯ ಜೊತೆ ಏನೋ ಕಷ್ಟಸುಖದ ಆಪ್ತ ಮಾತುಕತೆ ಆರಂಭಿಸಿದಂತೆ ಕಾಣುತ್ತಿತ್ತು. ಬೆಕ್ಕು ಏನು ಹೇಳುತ್ತಿದೆ? ಅಜ್ಜಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ವಿಚಾರಿಸಿದೆ. ‘ಇದು ದಿನವೂ ಮಾತಾಡ್ತದೆ, ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಏನು ಬೇಕೆಂದು ನನಗೆ  ಗೊತ್ತಿದೆ’ ಎಂದು  ಬೊಚ್ಚು ಬಾಯ್ತೆರೆದು ನಕ್ಕಳು. ಬುಟ್ಟಿಯಿಂದ ಒಂದು ಹಸಿಮೀನು ಎತ್ತಿ ಎಸೆದಳು. ಬೆಕ್ಕು ಮೀನು ತಿನ್ನಲು ಆರಂಭಿಸಿತು.

ಬೆಕ್ಕಿನ ಸಂಭ್ರಮ ತೆಂಗಿನ ಮರದಲ್ಲಿ ಕುಳಿತ ಕಾಗೆಗೆ ಕಾಣಿಸಿರಬೇಕು. ಇಲ್ಲವೇ ಅಜ್ಜಿಯ ಗುಣ ಒಂಟಿ ಕಾಗೆಗೂ ತಿಳಿದಿರಬೇಕು! ಅಜ್ಜಿಯ ಸನಿಹ ಕಾಗೆಯೂ ಬಂದು ಕುಳಿತಿತು.  ‘ಇವೆಲ್ಲ ನನ್ನ ಕಾಯಂ ಗಿರಾಕಿಗಳು’ ಎಂದು ಮನೆ ಮಕ್ಕಳ ಅಕ್ಕರೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮತ್ತೊಂದು ಮೀನೆಸೆದಳು, ಕಾಗೆಗೂ ಖುಷಿ. ಬಡ ವೃದ್ಧೆ ಮೀನು ಮಾರುತ್ತ ಊರುಕೇರಿ ತಿರುಗುತ್ತ ಬದುಕು ಸಾಗಿಸುತ್ತಾಳೆ. ದೋಣಿ ಬಂತು, ಎದ್ದು ನದಿಯತ್ತ ಸಾಗಿದಳು. ಅಜ್ಜಿ ಆ ಬೆಕ್ಕು ಹಾಗೂ ಕಾಗೆಯ ಜೊತೆ ಕ್ಷಣದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಟ್ಟಿದ ಮಧುರ ಚಿತ್ರಗಳು ಈಗಲೂ ಕಾಡುತ್ತಿವೆ. ಸುತ್ತಲಿನ ಜೀವಲೋಕದ ಜೊತೆ ಸಂಬಂಧಗಳನ್ನು ಬೆಸೆಯುವ ಪರಿ ಮನಸ್ಸು ಆವರಿಸಿತು.

ನದಿಯ ಆ ಮೀನುಗಳು ಅವರ ಮಧ್ಯೆ ಸಂಬಂಧದ ಸೇತುವೆಗಳು. ರವಿ, ಶಿರಸಿಯ ಬಸ್ ನಿಲ್ದಾಣದ ಸನಿಹ ಅಕ್ಕಿಯ ವ್ಯಾಪಾರಕ್ಕೆ ಪುಟ್ಟ ಅಂಗಡಿ ನಡೆಸುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಅಂಗಡಿ ಬಾಗಿಲಲ್ಲಿ ಅಕ್ಕಿ ಚೀಲದ ಬಾಯ್ತೆರೆದಿಟ್ಟು ಗಿರಾಕಿಗಳನ್ನು ಸೆಳೆಯುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಬೆಳಗಿನಿಂದ ಸಂಜೆಯವರೆಗೆ ಅಕ್ಕಿ ಖರೀದಿಗೆ ಜನ ಬರುತ್ತಿರುತ್ತಾರೆ. ನಿತ್ಯ ತಪ್ಪದೇ ಸಂಜೆ ಐದು ಗಂಟೆಯ ಸುಮಾರಿಗೆ ಒಂದಿಷ್ಟು ಗಿರಾಕಿಗಳು ಸೇರುತ್ತಾರೆ.

ದಿನದ ಸುತ್ತಾಟ ಮುಗಿಸಿ ಗೂಡಿಗೆ ಹೋಗುವ ನೂರಾರು ಗುಬ್ಬಿಗಳು ಅಂಗಡಿ ಎದುರು ಸುಳಿಯುತ್ತವೆ. ವಿದ್ಯುತ್ ತಂತಿಯ ಮೇಲೆ ಸಾಲಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಕುಳಿತು  ಒಳ ನುಗ್ಗಲು ಕಾಯುತ್ತವೆ.  ಗಿರಾಕಿಗಳಿಲ್ಲದ ಸಮಯ ನೋಡಿಕೊಂಡು ಸರ್ರನೆ ಬಂದು ತೆರೆದಿಟ್ಟ ಚೀಲದ ಅಕ್ಕಿ ತಿನ್ನುತ್ತ ಸಂಭ್ರಮಿಸುತ್ತವೆ. ರವಿ  ಕೈ ಬೀಸಿ ಗುಬ್ಬಿ ಓಡಿಸದೇ ಕುರ್ಚಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ತೆಪ್ಪಗೆ ಕುಳಿತಿರುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಕಾಸು ಕೊಡದ ‘ಗಿರಾಕಿ’ಗಳು ಕಾಳು ಎತ್ತಿ ಸಲೀಸಾಗಿ ಒಯ್ಯುವುದನ್ನು ನೋಡಿ ಖುಷಿ ಪಡುತ್ತಾರೆ.

ಗುಬ್ಬಿಗಳ ಸಂತತಿ ಕಡಿಮೆಯಾಗಿದೆ,  ಪುಟ್ಟ ಹಕ್ಕಿಗಳು ನನ್ನ ಅಂಗಡಿಯ ಎಷ್ಟು ಅಕ್ಕಿ ತಿಂದಾವು? ನಿತ್ಯ ಅವು ಬಂದು ಹೋಗುವ ಖುಷಿ ನನಗಿದೆ’ ಎನ್ನುತ್ತಾರೆ ಅವರು. ಇವರೇನು ಅಳಿಯುತ್ತಿರುವ ಗುಬ್ಬಿ ಸಂತತಿ ಉಳಿಸಲು ಭಾಷಣ ಬಿಗಿಯುವ ನೇತಾರರಲ್ಲ. ಸುತ್ತಲಿನ ಜೀವಿಗಳ ಸಂರಕ್ಷಣೆಯ ಕಾಳಜಿಯನ್ನು ಸುಪ್ತವಾಗಿ ಎದೆಯಲ್ಲಿಟ್ಟುಕೊಂಡು ಅಕ್ಕಿ ವ್ಯವಹಾರದ ನಡುವೆ ಪುಟ್ಟ ಪಕ್ಷಿಯ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಚಿಕ್ಕ ಕಾಳಜಿ ತೋರಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ ಅಷ್ಟೇ !

ಇನ್ನು, ಕನಕಪ್ಪ ಕಂಚಿ ಕೊರವರ್ ಅವರ ಸಹಕಾರ ಕುತೂಹಲಕರವಾದ್ದು. ಜೀರ್ಣಾವಸ್ಥೆಗೆ ತಲುಪಿದ ಒಂದು ಹಳೆಯ ಎಮ್-೮೦ ವಾಹನದಲ್ಲಿ ನಾಲ್ಕು ಮಂದಿಯನ್ನು ಹೇರಿಕೊಂಡು, ಜೊತೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ತಿರುಗುಣಿಯಂತಹ ಹಗ್ಗ ಹೊಸೆಯುವ ಕೈ ಚಾಲಿತಯಂತ್ರ ಹಿಡಿದುಕೊಂಡು ತಿರುಗುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಹಳೆಯ ಸೀರೆಗಳಿಂದ ಹಗ್ಗ ತಯಾರಿಸುವುದು ಇವರ ಕೆಲಸ. ಪರ್ರನೆ ಉದ್ದಕ್ಕೆ ಸೀರೆ ಸಿಗಿದು ಕ್ಷಣಾರ್ಧದಲ್ಲಿ ಕೃಷಿಕರಿಗೆ ಉಪಯುಕ್ತವಾದ ನಾರುಮಿಣಿ, ಹಗ್ಗ, ದಾಬು ಹೊಸೆಯುತ್ತಾರೆ.

ಚೆಲುವೆಯರ ಸೀರೆ ಸೆರಗುಗಳೆಲ್ಲ ಹಾವಿನಂತೆ ಹಗ್ಗವಾಗಿ ಬೇಸಾಯಕ್ಕೆ ಬಳಕೆಯಾಗುತ್ತವೆ. ದೈತ್ಯ ಕುಲದೆತ್ತು ಹಿಡಿದು ನಿಲ್ಲಿಸುವ ಸೂತ್ರಗಳಾಗುತ್ತವೆ. ನೂರಾರು ರೂಪಾಯಿ ತೆತ್ತು ಪೇಟೆಯಿಂದ ನೈಲಾನ್ ಹಗ್ಗ ತರಬೇಕಾಗಿಲ್ಲ, ಹಳೆ ಸೀರೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಅಗ್ಗದ ಬೆಲೆಗೆ ಹಗ್ಗ ಮನೆ ಬಾಗಿಲಲ್ಲಿ ದೊರೆಯುತ್ತದೆ.

‘ನಮ್ ಕಮತಕ್ಕೆ ಬೇಕಾದ ಕಸುಬು ಅಂದ್ರೆ ಹಿಂಗ್ ಇರ್ಬೇಕ್ ನೋಡ್ರಿ!’ ಲಕ್ಷ್ಮೇಶ್ವರದ ಎತ್ತಿನಹಳ್ಳಿಯ ಕೃಷಿಕರು ಕನಕಪ್ಪನ ಕಾಯಕಕ್ಕೆ ಖುಷಿ ಪಡುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಕಡಕ್ ಮುರಿಯ ಬಣ್ಣ ಬಣ್ಣದ ಹಗ್ಗ ಮುಟ್ಟಿ ಮುಟ್ಟಿ ಮೆಚ್ಚಿ ಮಾತಾಡುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಹಳೆಯ ನೈಲಾನ್ ಸೀರೆಗಳು ಹೊಸ ಉಪಯೋಗಕ್ಕೆ ಬಂದ ಸುದ್ದಿ ತಿಳಿದ ಗಂಡಸರಂತೂ ಪೆಟ್ಟಿಗೆ ಮೂಲೆಯಲ್ಲಿದ್ದ ಹೆಂಡತಿಯ ಹಳೆಸೀರೆಗಳನ್ನು ಹುಡುಕಲು ಹೊರಡುತ್ತಾರೆ.

ಚಕ್ಕಡಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಕೃಷಿ ಉತ್ಪನ್ನ ಸಾಗಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದವರು, ಹತ್ತಿ ಅಂಡಿಗೆಗಳನ್ನು ಟ್ರ್ಯಾಕ್ಟರ್‌ಗೆ ಹೇರುವವರು ಅಗತ್ಯಕ್ಕೆ ತಕ್ಕ ಹಗ್ಗ ಮಾಡಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಕನಕಪ್ಪ ಗದಗದವರು. ಶಾಲೆಗೆ ಹೋಗಿ ಓದಿದವರಲ್ಲ, ಕತ್ತಾಳೆ ನಾರಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಹಗ್ಗ ಹೊಸೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಕುಲಕಸುಬು ನಂಬಿದವರು. ಇವರು ಯಾವತ್ತೂ ಒಂದೇ ಕೆಲಸ ನಂಬಿ ಬದುಕುವುದಿಲ್ಲ, ಜೀವನಕ್ಕೆ ಹಲವು ಕಸುಬು ಕಲಿತಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಒಂದಿಷ್ಟು ಕಾಲ ಹಣ್ಣು ಮಾರುವ  ಕನಕಪ್ಪ ಕೆಲವು ದಿನ ಮಾರುಕಟ್ಟೆ­ಯಲ್ಲಿ ಹೂ ಹಿಡಿದು ನಿಲ್ಲುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಕೆಲವೊಮ್ಮೆ ಹಳೆಯ ಯಂತ್ರದ ದೂಳು ಕೊಡವಿ ಹಗ್ಗ ಹೊಸೆಯಲು ಹೊರಡುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಹಳೆ ಸೀರೆಗಳನ್ನು ಪಡೆದು ಉಪಯುಕ್ತ ಹಗ್ಗ ನೀಡುತ್ತಾರೆ.

ಕಾಗೆಗಳಿಗೆ ಊಟ ಬಡಿಸುವವರು, ಮನೆಯ ಅಂಗಳದಲ್ಲಿ ನೀರಿಟ್ಟು ಪಕ್ಷಿಗಳಿಗೆ ನೆರವಾಗುವವರನ್ನು ನೀವು ನೋಡಿರಬಹುದು. ಬೀಡಾಡಿ ದನಕರುಗಳಿಗೆ ನಿಗದಿತ ಸಮಯಕ್ಕೆ ಮನೆ ಬಾಗಿಲಲ್ಲಿ ಆಹಾರ  ನೀಡುವ ನೀರೆಯರು ನಗರದಲ್ಲಿ ಹಲವರು ಸಿಗುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಕಾಂಕ್ರೀಟ್ ಬದುಕಿನ ಏಕತಾನತೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಾಣಿಗಳ ಜೊತೆ ಇಟ್ಟುಕೊಂಡ ಇಂಥ ಸಂಬಂಧಗಳು ಎಂಥದೋ ನೆಮ್ಮದಿ ನೀಡುತ್ತವೆ.

ಕರಾವಳಿಯ ನದಿ ತೀರಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ದೋಣಿ ನಡೆಸುವ ಅಂಬಿಗ ಅಜ್ಜಂದಿರು ತಮ್ಮ ಜೀವಮಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಶಾಲೆಗೆ ಹೋಗುವ ನೂರಾರು ಮಕ್ಕಳನ್ನು ಪುಕ್ಕಟೆಯಾಗಿ ನಿತ್ಯವೂ ಕರೆದೊಯ್ದಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಶಾಲೆ ಮಕ್ಕಳಿಗೆ ನದಿ ದಾಟಲು ನೆರವಾದ ಇವರ ಕೊಡುಗೆಗೆ ಸಮಾಜಸೇವೆಯ ಮನ್ನಣೆ ದೊರೆಯುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. ಪಾತಿ ದೋಣಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಸುರಕ್ಷಿತವಾಗಿ ದಡ ದಾಟಿದವರಿಗೂ ಅಂಬಿಗ ಮರೆತು ಹೋಗುತ್ತಾನೆ.

ಉತ್ತರ ಕನ್ನಡ ಜಿಲ್ಲೆಯ ಅಂಕೋಲೆಯ ಹಳವಳ್ಳಿಗೆ ಶಿರಸಿಯ ಮತ್ತಿಘಟ್ಟ ಮೂಲಕ ಕಾಡು ರಸ್ತೆಯಿದೆ. ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಕಮ್ಮಾಣಿ ಹಳ್ಳ ಹರಿಯುತ್ತಿದೆ. ನೀರು ಕಡಿಮೆಯಿದೆ ಎಂದು ಒಮ್ಮೆ ಹಳ್ಳದಲ್ಲಿ ಬೈಕ್ ದಾಟಿಸಲು ಹೋಗಿ ಒದ್ದಾಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆವು. ಬೈಕಿನ ಸಪ್ಪಳ ಕೇಳಿ ನಾಗಪ್ಪ ಸಿದ್ದಿ ಓಡೋಡಿ ಬಂದರು. ಸೈಲೆನ್ಸರ್‌ನಲ್ಲಿ ನೀರು ಒಳ ಸೇರಿದರೆ ಚಾಲೂ ಆಗೋದಿಲ್ಲ ಎನ್ನುತ್ತ ಬೈಕನ್ನು ದಡಕ್ಕೆ ಮರಳಿ ತಂದರು. ಸೈಲೆನ್ಸರ್ ಕೊಳವೆಗೆ ಬಟ್ಟೆ ತುರುಕಿ, ಪಾಲಿಥೀನ್ ಚೀಲ ಕಟ್ಟಿ ನೀರು ಸೇರದಂತೆ ಪ್ಯಾಕ್ ಮಾಡಿದರು.

ಬೈಕನ್ನು ನೀರಿಗಿಳಿಸಿ ಸುರಕ್ಷಿತವಾಗಿ ಹಳ್ಳ ದಾಟಿಸಿದರು. ವಿಚಾರಿಸಿದರೆ ನಿತ್ಯವೂ ಹಳ್ಳದ ದಂಡೆಯ ಇವರಿಗೆ ಇದು ಮಾಮೂಲಿ ಕೆಲಸ. ನೀರಿನ ಸೆಳವು ಹೆಚ್ಚಿರುವ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಇವರ ನೆರವಿಲ್ಲದೇ ದಡ ದಾಟಲಾಗುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. ಒಂದಿಷ್ಟು ಪಾಲಿಥೀನ್ ಚೀಲ, ಬಟ್ಟೆ ಇಟ್ಟುಕೊಂಡು ನಾಗಪ್ಪ ಮಾಡುವ ಕಾರ್ಯ ಮಹತ್ವದ್ದು.  ಒಮ್ಮೆ ಇವರು ಹಳ್ಳ ದಾಟಿಸದಿದ್ದರೆ? ಆರು ಕಿಲೋ ಮೀಟರ್ ಸನಿಹದ ಹಳವಳ್ಳಿಗೆ ೫೦ಕಿಲೋ ಮೀಟರ್ ಸುತ್ತು ಬಳಸಿ ಹೋಗಬೇಕಾಗುತ್ತದೆ, ಅಷ್ಟು ಇಂಧನ ಸುಡಬೇಕಾಗುತ್ತದೆ.

ಭಾಷಣ, ವಿಚಾರ ಸಂಕಿರಣ, ಗೋಷ್ಠಿ, ಆಂದೋಲನ, ಕಟ್ಟೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿ  ಕೂತು ಪರಿಸರದ ಕಾಳಜಿಯ ಮಾತನಾಡುವುದು ಇಂದಿನ ದಿನಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯ.  ಶಿರಸಿಯ ಬಸ್ ನಿಲ್ದಾಣದ ಸನಿಹ ಅಕ್ಕಿಯ ವ್ಯಾಪಾರಕ್ಕೆ ಕೂತು ಪುಟ್ಟ ಹಕ್ಕಿಯ ಪುಟ್ಟ ಹೊಟ್ಟೆ ತುಂಬಿಸುವ ರವಿಯ ಪಕ್ಷಿ ಪ್ರೀತಿ,  ಹಳೆ ಸೀರೆಯಿಂದ ಹಗ್ಗ ಹೊಸೆಯುವ ಕನಕಪ್ಪನ ಮರುಬಳಕೆಯ ನೀತಿ, ಸುಲಭವಾಗಿ ದಡ ದಾಟಿಸುವ ಕಮ್ಮಾಣಿಯ ನಾಗಪ್ಪ ಸಿದ್ದಿಯ ಇಂಧನ ಉಳಿತಾಯದ ನೆರವು  ಇವೆಲ್ಲ ಪ್ರಚಾರ ಬೇಡುವುದಿಲ್ಲ.

ಬಡವರ ಬದುಕಿನ ಸಹಜ ನಡೆಗಳು ಇವು.  ಮಾತಿನಲ್ಲೇ ಮಂಟಪ ಕಟ್ಟುವ ಮುಖವಾಡಕ್ಕಿಂತ  ಮೌನದಲ್ಲೇ ಪರಿಸರ ರಕ್ಷಣೆ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿರುವ ಈ ಬಗೆಯ ಜನರ ಮೌನ ಪಥವನ್ನು ನಾವು ಗಮನಿಸಬೇಕಿದೆ.

ಕಾಡು ರಸ್ತೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಬೈಕ್‌ ದಾಟಿಸಲು ಸಹಕರಿಸುತ್ತಿರುವ ನಾಗಪ್ಪ
ಮನೆ ಬಾಗಿಲಲ್ಲೇ ಹಗ್ಗ ಹೊಸೆದು ಕೊಡುವ ಕನಕಪ್ಪ ಕಂಚಿ ಕೊರವರ್