Shichiri Kojun (Japanese romaji)

place:  China? Japan?
Zen master:
Zen disciples:

Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol. 2, ch. 1
     oshobob  The Living Workshop                                           
                                                Zen Masters
One evening as Shichiri Kojun was reciting
sutras a thief with a sharp sword entered,
demanding either his money or his life.

Shichiri told him: "Do not disturb me. You can
find the money in that drawer." Then he
resumed his recitation.

A little while afterwards he stopped and called:
"Don't take it all. I need some to pay taxes
with tomorrow."

The intruder gathered up most of the money
and started to leave. "Thank a person when
you receive a gift," Shichiri added. The man
thanked him and made off.

A few days afterwards the fellow was caught
and confessed, among others, the offense
against Shichiri. When Shichiri was called as a
witness he said: "This man is no thief, at least
as far as I am concerned. I gave him the
money and he thanked me for it."

After he had finished his prison term, the man
went to Shichiri and became his disciple.

What else can you do with such a man as
Shichiri? You have to become a disciple. He
has converted a thief into a sannyasin. This is
the alchemy of a master, he never misses any
opportunity. Whatsoever opportunity is there,
he uses it – even if a thief comes to a master,
he will return a sannyasin.

To come in contact with a master is to be
transformed. You may have come for
something else, you may not have come for
the master at all – the thief was not there for
the master. In fact, had he known that in this
hut lives a master, he would not have dared at
all. He had come only for the money; he had
stumbled upon the master by accident. But
even if you meet a buddha by accident, it is
going to change you utterly. You will never be
the same man again...

Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol. 2, ch. 1