Ekkei (Jap.)

Zen Master:
Zen disciples:
 J., Date Jitoku, J., Dokuon, ...

Nirvana: The Last Nightmare, ch. 1
           oshobob  The Living Workshop                                           
                                                      Zen Masters
Date-Jitoku, a fine waka poet,
wanted to master Zen.
With this in mind
he made an appointment
to see
Abbot of Shokokuji in Kyoto.

Jitoku went to the master full of hopes,
but as soon as he entered the room
he received a whack.

He was astonished and mortified:
no one had ever dared to strike him before,
but as it is a strict Zen rule
never to say or do anything
unless asked by the master,
he withdrew silently.

He went at once to Dokuon,
who was to succeed Ekkei as abbot
and told him that he planned
to challenge Ekkei to a duel.

"Can't you see
that the master was being kind to you?"
said Dokuon. "Exert yourself in Zazen
and you will see for yourself
what his treatment of you means."

For three days and nights
Jitoku engaged in desperate contemplation,
then, suddenly, he experienced an ecstatic
This satori was approved by Ekkei.

Jitoku called on Dokuon
and thanked him for his advice, saying:
"If it hadn't been for your wisdom
I would not have had such a transfiguring
And as for the master,
his blow was far from hard enough."

There are a thousand and one poisons, but
nothing like idealism – it is the most poisonous
of all poisons. Of course, the most subtle: it kills
you, but kills you in such a way that you never
become aware of it. It kills you with a style. The
ways of idealism are very cunning. Rarely a
person becomes aware that he has been
committing suicide through it. Once you
become aware, you become religious...

                Nirvana: The Last Nightmare, ch. 1