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Top 10 Zen Jokes

The top 10 funniest or sharpest Zen jokes.

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1. Seeing his master on the other side of a raging torrent, a student waved his arms and shouted out, "Master, master, how do I get to the other side?"

The master smiled and said, "You are on the other side."

2. A Zen student went to a temple and asked how long it would take him to gain enlightenment if he joined the temple.

"10 years," said the Zen master.

"Well, how about if I really work hard and double my effort?"

"In that case, 20 years."

3. One Zen student said, "My teacher is the best. He can go days without eating."

The second said, "My teacher has so much self-control, he can go days without sleeping."

The third said, "My teacher is so wise that he eats when he's hungry and sleeps when he's tired."

4. For his 70th birthday, one of his students gave the zen master a big box with a ribbon around it. When the master opened the box, he found that there was nothing inside. "Aha," he exclaimed, "just what I wanted!"

5. An aspiring monk asked to enter a temple and attach himself to a guru.

"Very well," said the guru, "but all students here have to observe a vow of silence. You will be entitled to speak only once every 12 years.

After the first 12 years, the student said, "The bed is too hard."

After another 12 years, he said, "The food is not good."

After yet another 12 years, with 36 years of hard work and meditation behind him, he said, "I quit!"

"Good," snapped the guru, "all you've been doing is complain."

6. The master holds the disciple's head underwater and keeps on holding. The bubbles become fewer, but at the last moment the master pulls out the disciple and revives him: "Come back to me when you crave truth as much as you crave air."

7. Four monks were meditating in a temple when, all of a sudden, the prayer flag on the roof started flapping.

The youngest monk came out of his meditation and said, "Flag is flapping."

The second, more experienced monk said, "Wind is flapping."

The third monk, who had been there for more than 20 years, said, "Mind is flapping."

The fourth monk, who was the eldest, said, "Mouths are flapping!"

8. A novice was loading the larder with flour and oil. Spotting one of the monks under a banyan tree, he asked if he might lend a hand. "Sorry," said the monk, "I'm busy". "But your eyes are shut!" replied the student. "Yes, I'm busy doing nothing. It's much harder than what you're doing. It's what the food is for, it's what the kitchen is for, it's why we built the very temple. Don't interrupt me again with your lardering."

Hours later, with the task complete, the weary novice found the monk slouching on a bench:

"Can we talk now?" he said.

"No, I haven't finished yet."

9. A Zen master was visiting London. He went up to a hot dog vendor and said, "Make me one with everything."

The vendor fixed up a hot dog with fried onions, gherkins, and mustard and handed it to the Zen master, who paid with a £20 note. The vendor put the note in his register and snapped it shut.

"I'm sorry, where's my change?" said the Zen master.

"Brother," said the vendor, "change comes from within."

10. Two old friends met for dinner.

"How's that husband of yours? Is he still unemployed?"

"No, no, not anymore."

"Oh well some good news at least. What does he do now?"

"Now he meditates."

"Meditates! What's that?"

"I'm not sure, but it's better than sitting around doing nothing."

And one for the road...

Don't walk behind me, for I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me, for I may not follow. Just walk beside me and keep your mouth shut. Or even better, go away.

Neel Burton is author of the Ancient Wisdom series.

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