A Buddha

Unsho and Tanzan were two famous Zen monks in Tokyo in the Meiji Era. Unsho visited Tanzan one day. "Hello brother," Tanzan greeted him, "won't you have a drink?" "I never drink," Unsho solemnly exclaimed. "One who does not drink is not even human," said Tanzan. "Do you mean to call me inhuman just because I don't indulge in intoxicating liquids?" replied Unsho. "If I am not human, what am I?" "A Buddha," answered Tanzan.

Unsho was a very serious, traditional Zen monk who observed the precepts scrupulously. Tanzan was a carefree, non-attached Zen teacher who taught philosophy at Tokyo University. Unsho believed that all monks should observe the precepts (one of which proscribed drinking) in order to be a true Zen monk. Tanzan was versatile, well-adjusted, and he helped wherever he went, addressing himself to human problems as they arose.


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