Essay and Answer Writing

Zen Stories

Two Monks and A Young Women
Two travelling monks reached a river where they met a young woman. Wary of the current, she asked them if they could carry her across. One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up on to his shoulders, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other bank. She thanked him and departed.
As the monks continued on their way, the first one brooded and was preoccupied. Unable to hold his silence, he finally spoke out. ‘Brother, our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women, but you picked that one up on your shoulders and carried her!’
‘Brother,’ the second monk replied, ‘I set her down on the other side, while you are still carrying her.’
Message: Don’t be attached to anything. Attachment is the root cause of human pain.
Heaven and Hell
A big, tough samurai once went to see a little monk. He barked, in a voice accustomed to instant obedience: ‘Teach me about heaven and hell!’
The monk looked up at the mighty warrior and replied with utter disdain: ‘Teach you about heaven and hell? I can’t teach you about anything. You're dumb. You're dirty. You're a disgrace, an embarrassment to the samurai class. Get out of my sight. I can't stand you.’
The samurai got furious. He shook, red in the face, speechless with rage. He pulled out his sword, and prepared to slay the monk.
Looking straight into the samurai's eyes, the monk said softly, ‘That's hell.’
The samurai froze, realizing the compassion of the monk who had risked his life to show him hell! He put down his sword and fell to his knees, filled with gratitude.
The monk said softly, ‘And that's heaven.’
Message: There is no heaven or hell outside. It lies within us. 
Zen Stories

Source: “Mastering Essay & Answer Writing for UPSC Civil Services IAS/ IPS & State PSC Main Exam” by Dr Awdhesh Singh, available at

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