Echu Expels His Disciple

Tanka paid a visit to Echu, who was napping. "Is your teacher in?' asked Tanka of the attending disciple. "Yes, he is in, but does not want to see anyone," said the disciple, whose name was Tangen. "You are expressing the situation profoundly," Tanka said. "Even if Buddha comes, my teacher does not want to see him," disciple Tangen replied. "You are certainly a good disciple. Your teacher ought to be proud of you," and, with these words of praise, Tanka left. When Echu awoke, Tangen repeated the conversation to him. Echu beat Tangen and drove him from the temple.

Echu was a Kokushi, or National Teacher, and well renowned. Tanka was a great Zen Master also. But Tangen, the disciple, greeted the visiting Master with newly-acquired Zen instead of a straightforward welcome. Tanka immediately spotted the imitation, but he heaped coals on the fire with his praise. When the glowing Tangen later bragged to his teacher, Echu put out his fire fast enough and drove him from the temple, too. Later, Tanka heard of this event and commented that Echu indeed deserved to be called National Teacher. Echu and Tanka understood each other perfectly.


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