The art of zendo says that if you can accept the sword, the enemy, the one who is going to kill you, and there is no distrust; if even the enemy is the friend, and you are not afraid, you are not trembling, then you become a pillar of energy, unbreakable. The sword will break on you, but you cannot be broken. There will not even be any possibility that you could be destroyed.
It happened… Once there was a great zendo master, he was eighty, and traditionally, the disciple who could defeat him would succeed him. So all the disciples hoped that someday he would accept their challenge, and now he was getting old.
There was one disciple who was the cleverest, a strategist, very powerful, but not a master of zendo, just skilled in the art. He was a good warrior, knowing everything about swordsmanship, but he was not yet a pillar of energy. He was still afraid while fighting. The tathata had not yet happened to him.
He went to the master again and again saying, “Now the time has come, and you are getting old. You may become too old to challenge, even dead. So I challenge you. Accept my challenge, Master, and give me a chance to show what I have learned from you.” The master laughed and avoided him.
The disciple started thinking that the master had become so weak and old that he was afraid, just trying to evade the challenge. So one night he insisted and insisted and said, “I will not leave until you accept my challenge for tomorrow morning. You have to accept, I challenge you.” He became angry, “You are getting old and soon there will be no chance for me to show what I have learned from you. This has been the tradition always.”
The master said, “If you insist, your very insistence shows that you are not ready or prepared. There’s too much excitement, your ego is challenging. You have not yet become capable; but if you insist, okay. Do one thing. Go to the nearby monastery; there is a monk there, he was my disciple ten years ago. He became so efficient in zendo that he threw away his sword and became a sannyasin. He was my rightful successor. He never challenged me, and he was the only one who could have challenged and even defeated me. So first go and challenge that monk. If you can defeat him, then come to me. If you cannot defeat him, then just drop the idea.”
The disciple immediately started out for the monastery. By the morning he was there. He challenged the monk. He couldn’t believe that this monk could be a zendo master – lean and thin, continuously meditating, eating only once a day. The monk listened and laughed, and he said, “You have come to give me a challenge? Even your master cannot challenge me, even he’s afraid.”
Listening to this, the disciple got completely mad! He said, “This is insulting, I will not listen! Stand up immediately! Here is a sword I have brought for you knowing well that you are a monk and you may not have one. Come out in the garden.”