101 Zen Stories: Obedience

Bankei Yōtaku (盤珪永琢) was a Japanese zen master who lived in the 17th century. He was a highly admired orator who delivered his lectures in a very tempting and unique manner. Neither did he recite any sutras nor indulged in any textual discourse. As a consequence, his lectures were attended by a massive throng of people- not just zen scholars, but people from all ranks and sects. Bankei received habitual obedience from them for he spoke directly from his heart to the heart of his listeners.

Although his admiration was widespread, there were some who were displeased- in particular a priest of the Nichiren sect. He was infuriated because his adherents had left to attend preachings of Bankei. Determined to debate with Bankei, he left for the temple in which the zen master was delivering his lecture.

‘Hey, zen teacher!’ he called out. ‘Wait a minute. People who respect you obey what you say, but a man like myself does not respect you. Can you make me obey yourself?’

‘Come up beside me and I will show you,’ said Bankei.

The complacent priest pushed his way to the master.

‘Come over to my left.’ smiled Bankei.

The priest obeyed.

‘No,’ said Bankei, ‘we would have a better talk if you come over to my right side.’

The priest obeyed again and stepped over to the right.

‘You see,’ observed Bankei, ‘you are obeying me and I think you are a very gentle person. Now sit down and listen.’

Message to the readers:
We took a long break recently since my elder brother- ChandraShekher- is busy with his assignment work. He is also working on numerous legal articles altogether which he would post very soon. We’re a bit worried as well since the COVID situation is getting tense in Varanasi and rest of India. So stay safe and keep reading.


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