Not Afraid to Die

A young physician named Kasuda heard that if one studies Zen, he will not be afraid to die. One day he concealed a dagger in his clothing and visited Zen Master Nanin, intending to see if the Master was afraid to die. When Nanin saw Kusuda, he immediately said, "Hellow, friend, how are you? We haven't seen each other for a long, long time." Perplexed, Kusuda replied, "We have never met before." "That's right. I mistook you for another physician," Nanin said. With such a beginning, Kusuda lost the chance of surprising him, so he reluctantly asked for Zen instruction. Nanin said, "If you are a physician, treat your patients well. That is Zen." Four times Nanin gave him the same teaching. Kusuda complained that he would not come anymore if he received the same teaching.

So Master Nanin said, "I will give you a koan." And he gave him "Joshu's Mu." Kusada pondered and meditated and worked on it for two years. But Master Nanin kept saying, "You are not in yet." Another year and a half went by. Kusuda's mind became clear, and Mu became truth.

Kusuda is like a typical modern young man - curious, skeptical, pragmatic. He went to test the Master's fear of death and wound up studying Zen for years. Only when Kusuda's mind became clear and he understood Mu and Mu, was he no longer concerned with fear of death.


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