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.

When the child was born, the parents brought it to the Hakuin, who now was viewed as a pariah by the whole village. They demanded that he take care of the child since it was his responsibility. “Is that so?” Hakuin said calmly as he accepted the child.

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?”

As we move closer to our true nature, what is powerful about this story is the acceptance of what is. In a culture of fear, loathing, resentments, and distortions of the truth, this story illustrates the power of letting go of the self created. It also shows the power of truth. Lies will fall away from real truth. Nothing holds up to truth.  Lies keep telling the story in different ways. Truth has nothing to tell, nothing to defend, nothing to fight, nothing to prove, nothing, nothing, nothing.

To discover yourself is the road not taken. It takes great strength. Others will not like the decision. So it is up to you. Are you ready?


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