During the civil wars in feudal Japan, the invading armies were brutal and indiscriminate, sweeping quickly into different villages and taking control, terrorizing the occupants and pillaging ruthlessly before moving on. The troops were especially harsh with the monks, taking special care to humiliate and torture them, before finally killing them. On one particular occasion, an army arrived in a small town, the general asking his subordinate for a report.
“The population is subdued and terrified!” the lower officer announced. This gave the general some satisfaction. Then the subordinate continued, “In the local monastery all monks have fled, except one.”
Hearing this, the general became enraged. He stormed across town to the monastery where the monk who dared defy him remained. When he encountered him, he pulled his sword out, marched up to him and pushed the tip of the blade lightly against the monk’s stomach, staring fiercely into his eyes. “Don’t you know who I am, monk?” he hissed. “I could take this sword and run it through your belly without blinking an eye.”
The monk was not fazed. Gently, slowly, and with a calm so effluent it was nearly palpable, he replied, “And don’t you know who I am? I could have your sword run through my belly without blinking an eye.”
~ A Wisdom Pills Rendition of a Traditional Buddhist Tale.