Zen story: Is that so?

hakuin zen master
A scroll caligraphy by Zen master Hakuin. It reads ‘Direct pointing at the Mind/Heart, sudden realisation, becoming Buddha’ (Jikishi ninshin, Kensho jobutsu)

Here is another beautiful zen story, taken from the book ‘Zen Flesh, Zen Bones’ (compiled by Paul Reps). It melts me with its poignant loving kindness, and also manages to stop me in my tracks with the unconventional act of letting go when the time is right.

What do you think of it?

Here is the story:

 

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbours as one living a pure life.

A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child.

This made her parents angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.

In great anger the parent went to the master. “Is that so?” was all he would say.

After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbours and everything else he needed.

A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth – the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fishmarket.

The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back.

Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: “Is that so?”

Zen story: the 3 sutras

zen flesh zen bones

Tetsugen, a devotee of Zen in Japan, decided to publish the sutras (Buddhist texts), which at that time were available only in Chinese. The books were to be printed with wood block in an edition of seven thousand copies, a tremendous undertaking.

Tetsugen began by travelling and collecting donations for this purpose. Continue reading

Zen Story: Everything is Best

zen flesh zen bones

Another wonderful Zen story, also one of my favourites, taken from the book ‘Zen Flesh, Zen Bones’:

When Banzan was walking through a market he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer.

“Give me the best piece of meat you have,” said the customer.
“Everything in my shop is the best,” replied the butcher. “You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not the best.”

At these words Banzan became enlightened.

How can everything be the best? It makes no sense, yet all is the best, everything is divine, sparkling with effervescent magic.