Rinzai Plants a Pine Tree

Rinzai was planting a young pine tree one day when his Master, Obaku, came along. "The monastery is surrounded by wonderful trees. Why do you plant this pine tree?" Obaku asked. "For two reasons," Rinzai replied. "First, to beautify the monastery with this evergreen, and, second, to establish a landmark for the next generation." Rinzai then tamped the ground three times with his hoe to make the sapling more secure. "I don't like your self-assertion," Obaku said sternly. Rinzai ignored this remark, tamped the ground three times as before, and murmured, "All done." "You will cause my teaching to remain in the world," Obaku concluded.

Whatever one does should be done with deep confidence. The teacher, Obaku, knew that Rinzai had attained the essence of Zen and was planting a unique "Rinzai Zen" at the monastery, but he wanted to test it all the same. Even when Obaku criticised him, Rinzai was completely unmoved. Obaku, finally, expresses his delight. When one attains enlightenment, the manifestations may be different but the essence is the same.


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