The Resemblance Of The Zen Monk To The Samurai

Let us point out in brief the similarities between Zen and Japanese

chivalry. First, both the Samurai and the Zen monk have to undergo a

strict discipline and endure privation without complaint. Even such

a prominent teacher as Ei-sai, for example, lived contentedly in such

needy circumstances that on one occasion he and his disciples

had nothing to eat for several days. Fortunately, they were

requested by a believe
to recite the Scriptures, and presented with

two rolls of silk. The hungry young monks, whose mouths watered

already at the expectation of a long-looked-for dinner, were

disappointed when that silk was given to a poor man, who called on

Ei-sai to obtain some help. Fast continued for a whole week, when

another poor follow came in and asked Ei-sai to give something. At

this time, having nothing to show his substantial mark of sympathy

towards the poor, Ei-sai tore off the gilt glory of the image of

Buddha Bhecajya and gave it. The young monks, bitten both by hunger

and by anger at this outrageous act to the object of worship,

questioned Ei-sai by way of reproach: "Is it, sir, right for us

Buddhists to demolish the image of a Buddha?" "Well," replied Ei-sai

promptly, "Buddha would give even his own life for the sake of

suffering people. How could he be reluctant to give his halo?" This

anecdote clearly shows us self-sacrifice is of first importance in

the Zen discipline.

The incident is told by Do-gen in his Zui-mon-ki.