A monk said to Ummon, “What is your age, may I ask?”
Ummon replied, “Seven times nine – sixty-eight.”
The monk must have thought it strange, because seven times nine does not make sixty-eight.
The monk said, “What do you mean, ‘Seven times nine – sixty eight’?”
Ummon said, “I took off five years for your sake.”
You are so stupid that it will take five years at least to wake you up!
Myosho was a disciple of Razan. At his first meeting with Razan, he jumped to his feet as soon as he had made his bows, and Razan asked him where he had come from. By way of answer, Myosho asked, “What is it that is happening just at this moment?”
Razan saluted him graciously, and said, “Have some tea!”
Myosho hesitated, and Razan said, “It is a warm autumn day; why don’t you go out somewhere?”
Myosho sighed, and thought that he had started off full of ambition, and it had all come to this, to nothing.
The next day he tried again, but Razan said, “The feathers are not fully grown and the wings are not strong enough yet; go away!”
Afterwards, when he was enlightened, Myosho did not stay in one spot, but went round the country converting all kinds of people.
Forty years later, when he was about to die, Myosho ascended the rostrum and admonished and instructed the monks. That evening he stretched out his legs and said to the monk-attendant, “Long ago, Shaka Nyorai stretched out both legs, and a hundred treasures of glorious light were emitted. Tell me, aren’t I emitting some?”
The attendant replied, “In ancient times, the Crane Grove; today, your honor!”
Myosho rumpled his eyebrows and said, “Is not some fox making a fool of me?” He then recited a gatha…
…a sutra of Gautam Buddha.
…sat in the proper way and quietly and slowly passed away.
It is one of the specialties of the Zen tradition that people have lived consciously and people have died consciously. Their death is as silent, as peaceful, as their life had been. Death cannot be otherwise. You are afraid of death because you are afraid of life. If you love life, if you enjoy life, if your life is a dance, you will never be afraid of death because you know that you can dance through death just as well as you can dance in life.