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September 2005 - Issue No. #58 (p. 11)

Peace Tales: More Stories and Resources

The Monk and the Soldier

A Japanese soldier came to a Zen master and asked: "Master: is there really a heaven and a hell?" "Who are you?" asked the Zen master. "I'm a soldier of the Emperor's personal guard." "Nonsense!" said the master. "What kind of Emperor would have you around? You look like a beggar!" At this, the soldier reached for his sword in anger. "Oho!" said the Zen master. "So you have a sword! I'll bet it's much too dull to cut my head off!" At this the soldier could not hold himself back. He drew his sword ready to strike. At that, the master said: "Now you know half the answer! You are opening the gates of Hell." The soldier drew back, sheathed his sword and bowed. "Now you know the other half," said the master. "You have opened the gates of heaven."
- Source: Zen Buddhism (1959) NY: Peter Pauper

The Two Families

A farmer was out working by the highway when a car drove up. Inside was a happy-looking family with everyone smiling. "Excuse me," asked the father pleasantly. "What kind of people live in this area?" "Well," asked the farmer, "What kind of people live in your town?" "The people in our town are nice, kind and friendly," said the driver. "Well, that's the kind of people you'll find here, too," said the farmer. Soon, another car drove up. This time it was an angry-looking family; everyone was quarrelling. "Hey, you!" shouted the father angrily. "What kind of people live in this area?" "Well," asked the farmer, "What kind of people live in your town?" "The people in our town are mean, nasty and unfriendly," said the driver. "Well," said the farmer, "that's exactly the kind of people you'll find here, too,"

Heaven and Hell

One day, a man was out hunting in the forest when he found an angel whose wings were caught in a trap. The man freed the angel who then granted him one wish. For his wish, the man asked to visit heaven and hell. First, the angel took him to see hell. There, he was amazed to find people sitting around a big table piled high with delicious food. But when he looked more closely, he saw that everyone was starving. The reason? Each person was holding chopsticks which were 1 meter long. There was no way they could feed themselves! Next, the angel took the man to heaven. To his surprise, he found people with 1-meter chopsticks sitting around a table full of food just like in hell. But here, everyone was happy. The reason? They were using their chopsticks to feed each other.
- Adapted from: Peace Tales - MacDonald (1992)


Ideas for Teaching With Stories

  • Have students read the story, study the vocab, then do comprehension questions (True-False or multiple choice) to practice the language and check their understanding.
  • Write parts of the story onto strips of paper and give them to students in jumbled order. Have students work in groups to read the strips and put them in the correct order.
  • Have students read the story, memorize it, then re-tell it in their own words.
  • Have students read the story, prepare a drama, then act it out in front of the class.
  • Have students read the story, discuss the moral/theme, then link it to their own lives.
  • Have students write their own peace stories, then present these to the class .
Also in Issue#58: Click here to go to Charles Kowalski's Article on using Peace Stories in the Classroom


Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories for a Better World:

Educating for Peace - Peace Story Books:

Stories for a Culture of Peace:

Teaching and Learning for Peace:

Peace Tales for Kids (CD & curriculum guide):

Better World Books (peace books for kids):

War and Peace Story Books and Weblinks:

Storytelling for Peace and Reconciliation:


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Kip A. Cates, Tottori University, Koyama, Tottori City, JAPAN 680-8551
E-mail: Work Tel/Fax: 0857-31-5650