9. The Unstolen Moon

Once upon a time, in the tranquil foothills of a majestic mountain, there resided Ryokan, a devoted Zen ascetic. His humble abode was a simple hut, where he found solace and peace.

One day, while Ryokan was away from his dwelling, a mischievous thief seized the opportunity to sneak inside and pilfer his possessions. To the thief's disappointment, however, the hut contained nothing of material worth. Crestfallen and disheartened, the thief sat there, contemplating his ill fortune.

Returning to his hut, Ryokan discovered the unexpected presence of a stranger. Upon seeing the thief's dejected countenance, Ryokan immediately surmised that he was a disappointed thief, burdened with an empty-handed endeavor.

Unperturbed by the intrusion, Ryokan kindly spoke, "I perceive your disappointment, and I feel it would be unjust to let you leave without anything. Please accept my clothes, for they are my sole possessions." Without hesitation, Ryokan offered his garments and remained exposed, gazing at the vast expanse of the sky. It was then that he beheld the luminous beauty of the moon.

Deep in thought, Ryokan pondered whether he could have bestowed upon the thief the joy of witnessing that captivating moment of the moon's radiance.

This simple Zen tale conveys a profound truth: those who possess abundance often cling to their valuables, amassing more and more. On the other hand, those who lack material wealth selflessly offer the best of what they possess. In the naked vulnerability of Ryokan's selflessness, he discovered a priceless treasure—the moon itself, a reminder that true wealth transcends material possessions.

10. The last poem of Hoshin

In the ancient lands of China and Japan, there once lived a wise Zen Master named Hoshin. After spending many years in China, he returned to the northeastern region of Japan, where he dedicated his time to teaching his devoted disciples. As Hoshin grew older and frail, he decided to share a profound story he had heard during his time in China. This is the tale he recounted:

On the twenty-fifth of December, a wise and aged man named Tokufu spoke to his disciples, saying, "My dear disciples, I shall not be among the living in the coming year. Therefore, I urge you to treat me with kindness and respect in the year that remains."

The disciples, perceiving his words as mere jest, did not fully comprehend the weight of his statement. However, out of reverence for their revered teacher, each disciple took turns honoring him with feasts throughout the remaining days of that year.

As the new year's eve approached, Tokufu made a concluding remark, saying, "You have shown me great kindness during this time. I shall depart tomorrow afternoon, once the snowfall has ceased."

His disciples, considering the night to be clear and devoid of snow, dismissed his words as the ramblings of an elderly man. Yet, as midnight arrived, snowflakes gently descended from the heavens. The following day, when the disciples searched for their beloved teacher, they discovered that he had passed away in the meditation hall.

Hoshin, the Zen Master who shared this story with his own disciples, emphasized that it is not necessary for a Zen master to predict their own passing. However, if they truly desire to do so, they possess the ability.

One curious disciple asked Hoshin, "Can you, Master?"

Hoshin replied with confidence, "Indeed, I will demonstrate my capability seven days from now."

Most of the disciples doubted his claim and soon forgot about the conversation entirely. Nevertheless, after the passing of seven days, Hoshin summoned his disciples to gather.

"Seven days ago," Hoshin began, "I informed you that my departure was imminent. It is customary to compose a farewell poem, but alas, I possess no skill in poetry or calligraphy. Therefore, I request that one of you inscribe my final words."

Although his followers perceived it as another jest, one disciple took up the task and prepared to write.

"Are you ready?" inquired Hoshin.

"Yes, Master," the disciple responded.

Hoshin dictated his last words: "I came from brilliancy And return to brilliancy. What is this?"

To their surprise, the line fell short of the customary four lines. Perplexed, the disciple confessed, "Master, we are one line short."

In that moment, Hoshin unleashed a mighty roar (Kaa), resembling that of a triumphant lion, and then, as if vanishing into thin air, he was gone.

The disciples were left in awe, contemplating the significance of what had transpired. The word "Kaa" echoed in their minds, evoking the ancient Egyptian concept of the soul. Just as the soul, known as "Atma," originates from the essence of "Jnana" or Brilliance, it also returns to that same Brilliance. The utterance of "Kaa" symbolized liberation from regret and immersion in eternal bliss.

Postscript. Swami  Yogananda predicted his passage.

Swami Yogananda, a spiritual luminary born on January 5, 1893, possessed a deep insight into the mysteries of life and death. His remarkable ability to foresee the future extended even to the moment of his own passing on March 7, 1952. It was a day that would forever be etched in the annals of spiritual history.

During a gathering of his followers, Swami Yogananda recited verses from his poetic masterpiece, "My India." As he reached the culmination of his reading, his resonant voice filled the room, delivering the profound lines: "Where Ganges, woods, Himalayan caves, and men dream God—I am hallowed; my body touched that sod." These words encapsulated the essence of his divine connection to the sacred land of India and its spiritual heritage.

In that solemn and transcendent moment, Daya Mata, a close disciple of Swami Yogananda, witnessed a remarkable event. As the final words reverberated through the air, the Swami lifted his eyes, fixating upon the Kutastha center—the seat of spiritual consciousness—and in an instant, his physical form gently slumped to the floor.

The profound significance of this incident resonated deeply within the hearts of those present. Swami Yogananda's ability to predict his own death demonstrated the profound mastery he had attained over his spiritual journey. It was a testament to his unwavering devotion, deep connection with the divine, and his intuitive understanding of the cyclical nature of life.

As his physical form returned to the embrace of the Earth, Swami Yogananda's soul transcended the limitations of the mortal realm, embarking on its journey towards higher realms of consciousness. His departure marked the culmination of a life lived in service to humanity, as he tirelessly spread the teachings of Kriya Yoga and illuminated the path of self-realization for countless seekers.

The legacy of Swami Yogananda continues to inspire and guide spiritual seekers around the world. His profound insights into the nature of existence, his teachings on the harmonious union of body, mind, and spirit, and his unwavering love for humanity serve as a beacon of light in an ever-changing world.

While his physical presence may have departed, the spirit of Swami Yogananda remains alive, forever etched in the hearts and minds of those who have been touched by his wisdom and grace. His words and teachings continue to resonate, guiding seekers towards inner awakening and self-discovery.

Swami Yogananda's ability to predict his own passing stands as a testament to the heights that can be reached through spiritual awakening and the realization of one's true nature. It serves as a reminder that beyond the limitations of our physical existence lies a realm of eternal truth and unbounded consciousness.

As we reflect upon the life and prophetic departure of Swami Yogananda, let us draw inspiration from his unwavering faith, his profound connection to the divine, and his tireless dedication to the upliftment of humanity. May we strive to emulate his teachings, walking the path of self-realization with humility, love, and unwavering devotion.