When a rebel army took over a Korean town, all fled the Zen temple except the abbot. The rebel general burst into the temple and was incensed to find that the master refused to greet him, let alone receive him as a conqueror.

“Don’t you know,” shouted the general, “that you are looking at one who can run you through without batting an eye?”

“And you,” said the abbot, “are looking at one who can be run through without batting an eye!”

The general’s scowl turned into a smile. He bowed and left the temple. ▼

From Zen Poems of China and Japan: The Crane’s Bill, © 1973 by Lucien Stryk, Takashi Ikemoto, and Taigan Takayama. Published by Anchor Books.

Temple
Dharma to your inbox

Sign up for Tricycle’s newsletters

Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.

Liberate this article!

You’ve read all three of your free articles for the month. Subscribe now for immediate access to the magazine plus films, video dharma talks, e-books, and more.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Log in.