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Finding a Diamond on a Muddy Road

July 16, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 150

At this time, Gudo was teacher to the Emperor. His habit when traveling alone was to adopt the guise of a beggar. In those days, Edo was the Shogun's capital. One day, as he was making his way there, he came to Takenake, a small village. It was getting dark, and a downpour had begun. Gudo was already drenched and his straw shoes were in tatters. As he passed a farmhouse, he saw many pairs of shoes displayed in a window. He decided to get a dry pair of shoes.

The lady of the house saw how wet Gudo was and bade him stay the night. Thanking her, Gudo accepted the invitation. After reciting a Sutra in front of the house shrine, he was presented to the housewife's family - her children and her mother. Noticing how depressed they all were, he asked what was amiss.

The woman told Gudo, "That husband of mine is a drunkard and a gambler. If he wins money, he gets drunk and abuses us. If he loses, he takes loans from others. He won't return to our house at all when he gets blind drunk. What are we to do?"

Gudo said, "I will give help to him. Take this money and buy a gallon of good wine and some delicious snacks, then retire to bed." Gudo then began meditation.

When the drunkard husband returned after midnight, he bawled "Wife! Your husband is home and wants to eat. Have you any food?"

It was Gudo who answered him, "I was drenched by the heavy rain and your kind wife invited me to stay under your roof. To repay this kindness I bought wine and food, you may help yourself."

The drunk was most pleased, he immediately drank the wine and fell asleep on the dirt floor. Gudo sat and meditated next to the sleeping man.

The next morning, the man woke up not remembering anything. Seeing Gudo meditating, he asked him "Who are you? Where are you from?"

The Zen teacher replied, "My name is Gudo. I am traveling from Kyoto to Edo"

The husband felt utter shame, and apologized to the teacher profusely.

With a smile, Gudo explained, "In this life all is impermanent. Life is very short. Keep in drinking and gambling, and there will be no time to do anything else. This will cause suffering to your family."

The husband's perception cleared as if waking from a dream. "You are right. To repay you for your teaching, I will carry things for you and go with you a part of the way."

"As you wish," Gudo agreed.

The pair started on the journey. After three miles had passed, Gudo instructed him to go back. "After five more miles," begged the man, and they carried on.

"You may go back now," said Gudo.

"Just another ten miles," replied the man.

When they had passed that ten miles Gudo said, "Return now."

"I will follow you for the rest of my life," announced the man.

In Japan to this day, Zen teachings descend from the teachings of Gudo's successor. Mu'nan was the man who never turned back.

Morgan Park juggles a busy career and family life and keeps on an even keel by practicing meditation every morning and evening. She shares her tips for meditation techniques at Zen Stories. There you can enjoy classic and more modern Zen stories from Japan, in a Collection of Sand and Stone.

Source: EzineArticles
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