Thursday, March 6, 2008

"Is that so?"


Hakuin Zenji, an 18th century Japanese Zen master, was known for his piety. It so happened once that an unmarried girl from his neighbourhood got big with child.
When questioned by her parents, she named the monk as the father ofthe unborn child. Enraged, the parents minced no words and lambasted the monk severely.
Hakuin Zenji would neither refute nor accept the allegation. "Is thatso?" was all he would reiterate.
When the child saw the light of the day, it was brought to Hakuin Zenji. The monk would now find food for two, though in the wake of his soiled reputation, he would, many a time, receive more barbs than food.

By the time the year was out, the girl-mother could stand it no longer and revealed the identity of her lover, a fish market help, to her parents.The parents apologised to the monk, repeatedly begged his forgiveness and the custody of the child.
The sage handed over the child to them, mumbling a whisper: "Is that so?"
Innocence is neither defensive nor offensive, neither reactive nor proactive.When first the monk said, "Is that so?", he perhaps meant: "Is this what these people believe?" As he was aware of who he was, he was likean alien to their belief system.He didn't depend upon their opinion to define himself.
To him thecharges were irrelevant offscourings that called for no response either in yes or no.While his reputation played see-saw, he turned around and spoke to existence: "Is that so?"
A man of piety owes his allegiance only to existence.