In a small hut on the hill, there lived an accomplished old Zen master with many years of practice. One moonlit night, after a stroll in the woods, the Zen master returned to his little hut.
As he got to the door and pushed it, the old Zen master discovered a thief in his house.
The old Zen master was afraid that his sudden appearance might alarm the thief, so he stood outside the door waiting for the thief to go out. The thief did not find anything valuable in the house and had to leave reluctantly.
As the thief was leaving through the door, he sighted the old Zen master standing by the side smiling at him, and panicked instantly.
Seeing the frantic thief, the old Zen master spoke, "This mountain path is so remote, and since you have come so far to visit me, I can't have you leave empty-handed! I don't have anything valuable for you, but since it's cold here at night, let me offer you this coat!" With that, the Zen master removed his coat and place it on the thief.
Draped in the Zen master's coat, the thief slipped away in shame. Glancing at the departing thief, the old Zen master lamented, "Poor man! I wish I could give you a bright moon."
Early next morning, when the old Zen master rose and opened his door, he was surprised to find the coat he had given the thief the night before neatly folded and placed on his doorway.
Seeing this sight, the old Zen master joyously exclaimed, "I had really given him a bright moon!"
The benevolence and compassion of the old Zen master had 'awakened' the thief's innate goodness, causing him to repent and revert after regaining his life bearings.
In life, if we can also learn to be like the old Zen master - treat others with compassion and benevolence, and care sincerely - then it is likely that such good thoughts would enable many more people to embark on a illuminated path in life.