23 Jun Is That So? – A Zen Parable
“Not knowing how near the truth is, we seek it far away.” ~ Hakuin
In Zen literature there is nothing more powerful than the story of “IS THAT SO?” It illustrates perfectly the development of compassion, the Way of an Authentic spiritual life, that can seem in the outer world as very “unfair” and socially awkward, but in truth is the final “let go” of Karma in this lifetime.
The story portrays a powerful example of how to accept the seeming “unfairness” of what may be occurring in the outer world while revealing the deeply hidden beauty in it:
The Zen master, Hakuin, was praised by his neighbors as one living a pure life.
A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child. This made her parents angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.
In great anger the grandfather of the child went to the master. “Is that so?” was all Hakuin would say.
After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, and he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbors and everything else she needed.
A year later the mother of the child could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth – the true father of the child was a young man who worked in the fish market. The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask forgiveness, apologizing at great length and asking to take the child back.
Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: “Is that so?”
Hakuin was willing to take the blow of being a social, moral and religiously fallen man. He did NOT argue with the situation nor did he confirm or deny what he was accused of. He realized that the child was deeply important and that all of the other emotional foolishness was keeping the child from being cared for.
“Is that so?” was his attitude, meaning that for now, and who knows for how long after, the baby was in his life and he made it “so” as it were. He accepted his karma with the child and the entire situation.
The person of compassion sees the bigger picture of this world and decides to rectify themselves before seeking to change the seeming injustices done to them. ~ Siraj
You see, whomever was responsible in this situation was not the point to Hakuin. Why fight about it? The baby was there, Hakuin was there…and that is it! The rest is simply conjecture and ignorant assumption. He stopped the foolishness of the father and absorbed the blow of accusations while silently going about his daily life and caring for the baby, thus defusing any seeming social shame that might arise. Caring for what was before him was deeply important as he diffused the light of compassion and the virtue of the Heart upon the baby. He fed and bathed the infant, lovingly offering all the things that would nurture the child.
Be compassionate…beyond rightness.” ~ Siraj
When it was time to return the child back to her mother, he did so with the same attitude through which he had received the child…in Karmic let go and a deep loving kindness, he freed his accuser and the mother from being tied to him in Karma. This is very powerful. Hakuin actually helped the child’s father and mother as well as the grandfather by being deeply kind to all of them. This is the Way that few people can insight.
Watch and ask yourself: “Why do I insist upon being right?”
Question your own seeming self-esteem and never let it be more important than Love
Allow others to do what they must without judgment or argument
Step back, move into third person and recognize the Karma in every situation so you will be able to change the energy
Only Love dispels hate - let this be your Way at all costs to the morality or rightness you may believe in