Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Keichu, the great Zen teacher of the Meiji era, was the head of Tofuku, a cathedral in Kyoto. One day the governor of Kyoto called upon him for the first time.
His attendant presented the card of the governor, which read: Kitagaki, Governor of Kyoto.
"I have no business with such a fellow," said Keichu to his attendant. "Tell him to get out of here."
The attendant carried the card back with apologies. "That was my error," said the governor, and with a pencil he scratched out the words Governor of Kyoto. "Ask your teacher again."
"Oh, is that Kitagaki?" exclaimed the teacher when he saw the card. "I want to see that fellow."
Monday, July 21, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
A young physician in Tokyo named Kusuda met a college friend who had been studying Zen. The young doctor asked him what Zen was.
"I cannot tell you what it is," the friend replied, "but one thing is certain. If you understand Zen, you will not be afraid to die."
"That's fine," said Kusuda. "I will try it. Where can I find a teacher?"
"Go to the master Nan-in," the friend told him.
So Kusuda went to call on Nan-in. He carried a dagger nine and a half inches long to determine whether or not the teacher was afraid to die.
When Nan-in saw Kusuda he exclaimed: "Hello, friend. How are you? We haven't seen each other for a long time!"
This perplexed Kusuda, who replied: "We have never met before."
"That's right," answered Nan-in. "I mistook you for another physician who is receiving instruction here."
With such a begining, Kusuda lost his chance to test the master, so reluctantly he asked if he might receive instruction.
Nan-in said: "Zen is not a difficult task. If you are a physician, treat your patients with kindness. That is Zen."
Kusuda visited Nan-in three times. Each time Nan-in told him the same thing. "A phsisician should not waste time around here. Go home and take care of your patients."
It was not clear to Kusuda how such teaching could remove the fear of death. So on the forth visit he complained: "My friend told me that when one learns Zen one loses his fear of death. Each time I come here you tell me to take care of my patients. I know that much. If that is your so-called Zen, I am not going to visit you anymore."
Nan-in smiled and patted the doctor. "I have been too strict with you. Let me give you a koan." He presented Kusuda with Joshu's Mu to work over, which is the first mind-enlightening problem in the book called The Gateless Gate.
Kusuda pondered this problem of Mu (No-Thing) for two years. At length he thought he had reached certainty of mind. But his teacher commented: "You are not in yet." Kusuda continued in concentration for another yet and a half. His mind became placid. Problems dissolved. No-Thing became the truth. He served his patients well and, without even knowing it, he was free from concern of life and death.
Then he visited Nan-in, his old teacher just smiled.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Mokusen Hiki was living in a temple in the province of Tamba. One of his adherents complained of the stinginess of his wife.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
There’s an old koan about a monk who went to his master and said, "I’m a very angry person, and I want you to help me." The master said, "Show me your anger." The monk said, "Well, right now I’m not angry. I can’t show it to you." And the master said, "then obviously it’s not you, since sometimes it’s not even there." Who we are has many faces, but these faces are not who we are.
Monday, July 07, 2008
When the nun Chiyono studied Zen under Bukko of Engaku she was unable to attain the fruits of meditation for a long time.
At last one moonlit night she was carrying water in an old pail bound with bamboo. The bamboo broke and the bottom fell out of the pail, and at that moment Chiyono was set free!
In commemoration, she wrote a poem: In this way and that I tried to save the old pail Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break Until at last the bottom fell out. No more water in the pail! No more moon in the water!
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Jiun, a Shingon master, was a well-known Sanskrit scholar of the Tokugawa era. When he was young he used to deliver lectures
His mother heard about this and wrote him a letter:
"Son, I do not think you became a devotee of the Buddha because you desired to turn into a walking dictionary for others. There is no end to information and commentation, glory and honor.