Friday, September 4, 2020

What about the Zen thief? Bankei's cure

Buddha Groove (; Ashley Wells, CC Liu (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

What? He's really not going to do anything?
Great Master Bankei’s meditation classes attracted many students from all over Japan. During one of these [retreat] courses, a student was caught stealing. The incident was brought to Master Bankei’s notice. However, he chose to disregard it.

A few days later the pupil was again caught stealing. Master Bankei was again informed, and again he took no action. This greatly agitated the students.

They approached the meditation master with a petition they had drawn up demanding the student’s removal, failing which, they would all leave the course.

Rinzai Zen Master Bankei Yotaku (wiki)
Master Bankei read through their demands and then summoned all of them before him.

“Brothers, you are indeed wise! For you know the difference between right and wrong. You may leave if you wish to pursue your studies elsewhere. But this poor brother cannot tell the difference between right and wrong. If I do not teach him, who will? Therefore, I have decided to keep him even if all of you leave.”

Tears ran down the face of the erring student, the thief who was left with no desire to steal.

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