The Boy and the Bell

Stories Re-Told

A young boy is praised for breaking the Temple rules.

Young buddhist monk ring the bell in Myanmar; by John Glines


The Abbot of a monastery was woken by the morning bell being rung. He called for his assistant and asked him who was ringing the bell?

The assistant monk replied that it was a new boy recently come to the monastery. The abbot asked him to fetch him.

When the boy arrived the abbot asked him "What were you thinking about when you rang the bell this morning?

The boy replied "I wasn't thinking of anything."

"You must have been thinking of something. What were you thinking?"

The boy answered "I was remembering what it says in the sutras about all things being Buddha-things. And I thought to myself that this must be a Buddha-bell and I was listening to the voice of Buddha."

The abbot was very pleased with this reply and said to the boy "Just carry on in this way with everything you do."

Many years later the boy grew up to be Abbot himself of the great monastery of Eihei-ji in Japan, the head monastery of the Soto Zen school.

This story, originally told by Trevor Leggett.


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