Sunday, September 2, 2007

A short Zen Story - Is That So?


Is That So?

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors 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 very angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.

In great anger the parents 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 neighbors and everything else the little one needed.

A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth - that 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 his forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back again.

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



This one is one of my favorite short Zen story, full with insight and inspiration. I have couple of books featuring only Zen stories and I love to read this one again and again.


The story starts with how Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors as living a pure life. Certainly the neighbors did not find any faults in the Zen Master, as he lived the simple peaceful life and was not in anyway creating any disturbance in their life.

Then comes the part of society life, where a beautiful girl, daughter of food store owner, gets pregnant. Since she was not married, naturally it was topic of great disturbance and rage, for the parents and for the people. The girl was much coaxed for the name of the person responsible. The girl gave the name of peacfull and unattached Hakuin.


The anger in the parents worked and they rushed to Hakuin, it is not difficult what the anger might have made the parents behave with the great Zen Master. What was the Master's response to the behaviour from the anger? Is That So? was all that he replied. The answer must have been came from a cool, undisturbed state of being, not the least disturbed with the rude behavior, from the girl's parents.

After the child was born, as a thing and not a living being, small and fragile, it was got rid off, the plus point was it was taken to the master, as he was thought to be the owner of the child. How do we think we are the owner of the children? Is a question we must ask ourself.

And on the words of the girl, the Master had lost his reputation. Well, for this reputation most of the people shed their energy, people forget the love and the loved ones, the reputation which is so fragile and unworthy that, a girl's comment, make it lose for the great Master. The Master being aware of the unworthiness and the fragility of the reputation, was obviously undisturbed, with the fact.

He took great care of the child, much more than the real parents could have taken. The real parents have a thousand and one other matters to distract them, while the Master had nothing but the immense love, which was given to the child. Everything the little one needed was obtain from the same neighbors, to whom the reputation was lost. There was no ego, that could get hurt, while doing so for the little being.

After a year the natural tendency of a mother could not stand any longer. The call, to be with the soul which she carried in her womb made it's way, through the fear of society. She revealed that the child's father was not the Master, but a young man who worked in fish-market.

The parents of the girl on learning this, rushed to the master to get their heir, and apologized at lengths, to which the Master must have be oblivious. When loosing the reputation did not disturb the Master, so mus be the lengthy apologies did not bring about any change in him. Any one other form the neighborhood, might have felt a false sense of greatness, by lengthy apologies.

The Master as cool as ever, returned the child with the magical words Is that So? Not for a moment his hands were shaken that the child whom he raised with greatest of care and love was taken away from him.

Indeed this three words. Is That So? can bring about a great transformation in human beings.

1 comment:

Vishal said...

alpesh,please send me more zen stories. thank u!

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