Buddhism has always been fond of parables and many of these were used by the Buddha himself. He taught by parables, "for men of good understanding will readily enough catch the meaning of what is taught under the shape of a parable."

So wrote a distinguished lexicographer whose name has been lost to us. We could not, however, agree more, and have therefore compiled this modest collection of Buddhist parables and stories.

Our sources are the oral teachings of several masters, sutras such as the Avatamsaka and the Brahma Net, various dictionaries, encyclopedias and monographs and, especially, the Seeker's Glossary of Buddhism, itself an extensive compilation of several hundred works, old and new, on Buddhism.

As with most stories, these parables can be read on many levels, for many ends. Whatever his background, whatever his purpose, we hope the reader will always keep in mind two crucial principles: the Bodhi Mind and serious practice. Without practice, and without the determination to achieve Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings (Bodhi Mind), parables merely feed the intellect and may become, in the words of D.T. Suzuki, "mere bubbles".  

Tell me everything that happened while you were away, said the old monk. So the boy started to tell of his journey down from the mountain. He told of villages and towns he passed through, of rivers forded and mountains climbed. Then he told how one day he came upon a stream in flood...

We wish the reader a pleasant journey, a fruitful journey, leading to rebirth in the Pure Land -- in the Pure Mind.