A Short Story: Misfortune Befalls the Monk Next Door
“The hero is the man of self achieved submission.” ~ Joseph Campbell
The Zen Master Hakuin lived in a small town in Japan, and was held in high regard by all who knew him. Many came to him seeking guidance and spiritual advice. Years passed without any incident, until the teenage daughter of one of his closest neighbours became pregnant. The parents demanded to know who the father was, and after much shouting and arguing, she named Hakuin.
The parents were infuriated. They stormed over to the Zen Master’s home, pounding on the door and yelling accusations. “Pervert!” they hollered when he answered. “You got our daughter pregnant and now she is with child!”
“Is that so?” was all he would say.
News of the scandal quickly spread throughout the small town. No one came to Hakuin for guidance anymore. By this he was not bothered. After a time, the child was born, the parents bringing it immediately to Hakuin’s house.
“You did this,” they said. “Now you take responsibility for it.”
Hakuin accepted the tiny newborn with full willingness, bringing it into his home and taking care of it as if it were his own. He borrowed milk and provisions from his neighbours, along with everything else the little one needed.
Around a year later, the mother of the child lamented in a fit a remorse, admitting that Hakuin was not the father, and that it was in fact an errand boy who worked in the nearby market. The parents of the young girl went hurriedly to Hakuin’s house to ask his forgiveness.
“We are so very sorry! Our daughter has told us who the real father is, and we have come to take the baby back from you.”
Hakuin passed the child over to them with full willingness.
All he had to say was, “Is that so?“