One Zen master in Japan was continuously being sent to jail for small things…stealing. And a great master – even the magistrates respected him. They asked him, “Why do you do this? You have thousands of disciples; even the emperor comes to touch your feet – and you have stolen somebody’s shoes…!”
He simply smiled. And his whole life it continued – three months in jail, then two or three months outside. Then again he would find a way…and finally everybody became accustomed to the fact that he is incurable.
But there must be some secret….
The day he was dying, one disciple asked, “Don’t leave us before telling the secret. Why did you continue your whole life stealing absolutely unnecessary things? We were ready to offer you anything you wanted; you never asked for anything.”
The man, before dying opened his eyes and he said, “The reason was that in the prison are the most drunk, asleep people – murderers, rapists, thieves, all kinds of criminals. I had to be with them to awaken them; there was no other way.”
This man must have been of immense compassion.
But, afraid it would be misunderstood, when this series of paintings moved from China to Japan the tenth picture was dropped. You will also agree that it does not look good that Gautam Buddha is going toward the pub….
A professor used to come to me – he was a professor in the same university as I was, and he said, “I would like to be a sannyasin” – he was immensely impressed – “but the only fear is that after becoming a sannyasin I cannot go to the pub, and you know that I am addicted to alcohol. Wearing the robe of the sannyasin it will look very weird and other drunks will start laughing.”
I said, “There is no harm. Drink anyway. Become a sannyasin and give it a try.”
He became a sannyasin and the second day he came – “You have put me in trouble. I was thinking there is only one trouble, the pub; there are many. My wife now touches my feet! She says, ‘You are so spiritual!’ Now I cannot relate with her in any other way, except by giving her a blessing.”
He was very angry, he said, “You! You must have known and still you did it to me – and I have been your friend for so long. Last night in the dark I sneaked toward the pub, hoping that everybody must have left by this time, but the bartender was there. He immediately fell on the ground, touched my feet and he said, ‘What a great transformation!’ Now I feel like killing you!”
I said, “It is strange…you asked for sannyas. It certainly brings troubles, but if you can be a little patient it will also bring blessings, ecstasies, which are far more important than the wife or the pub or your friends.”
He said, “I have to be patient because I cannot go backward; that would be very humiliating.”