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Chapter 7: The Severe Teacher

Ekido’s tradition became one of the most significant traditions in Japan. Ten persons attained enlightenment. People started to wonder: this cruel man who has killed, this aggressive and violent man who has killed, why are his disciples becoming enlightened? It is a rare number - ten is rare. With one master, ten disciples becoming enlightened is very rare. Even to help one to become enlightened is too much. But there is nothing strange, it is plain arithmetic - only this type of master can help. And whenever I have read this story I have always wondered why others missed. This man could have enlightened many. But those who were afraid, scared, filled with fear, simply must have escaped from this man. People would have stopped coming to his monastery because he was dangerous.

One thing is said about Ekido - that when this disciple died he never said anything about it. He never said, “The disciple is dead”; he continued as if nothing had happened. And whenever somebody would ask, “What about the disciple?” he would laugh. He never commented about it: he never said the disciple was dead, he never said something had gone wrong, he never said it was just an accident. Whenever someone would ask he would laugh. Why was he laughing? - because of the inside story.

People can know only from the outside. If I hit you hard and you die, people can only know that you are dead; no one will be able to know what has happened inwardly.

This disciple achieved something, something which buddhas make efforts for many lives to attain - and Ekido did it in a single moment. He was a great artist, a great master. He used the moment of death so beautifully and the disciple attained. The disciple disappeared not only from the body, the disciple also disappeared from the mind. The disciple was never born again; this was total death with no rebirth.

But in Japan people had become accustomed to such things. You would go to a master, he would hit you; he might throw you out of the window; he would jump on you and start beating you. You were asking a philosophical question - whether God exists or not - and he would start beating you. Ekido helped many persons to become enlightened. Only such a man with such deep compassion can help, but a very great surrender is needed.

It is said that the disciple’s parents came when the disciple was dead; they came to see Ekido. They were very angry - obviously: they had only one child and he was dead. They were old and they were depending on him. They were waiting - sooner or later he was to come back from the monastery and help in their old age.

In Japan monastery life is a periodical thing. You can go to a monastery, become a sannyasin, remain there for a time, study, meditate, attain a certain quantity of alertness, a certain quality of being, and then come back to live the life of an ordinary householder. Sometimes, if you feel that you are missing and the mind has become dim and confused, you go again. It is not a permanent style of life to become a sannyasin in Japan. Only a few people follow it their whole life - that is their decision. You can come back and this is not thought of with guilt.

In India there is guilt. If once you become a sannyasin and then come back, get married and become a householder, then everyone looks at you as if you have fallen. This is nonsense, this is foolish, because the whole country cannot become sannyasins. Only a few people can be sannyasins, not doing anything, and they will have to depend on others who are doing, who are active in life.

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