Is That So – Zen Master Story

  • Post Written by Jai Kai on August 1, 2009
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                                                                                                                                    photo by Aman Rai

Have you ever wondered how to create and sustain successful relationships with friends and family? What does it take to get along with them so nicely and to avoid conflicts. Growing up with two brothers and a sister was definitely a challenge at times. Especially since my siblings are all so opinionated and have their own ideas and belief systems. Over the years I have learned to respect their opinions and actions but the one thing that made it so easy was the concept of really accepting their opinions, actions and beliefs.

The best way to describe the act of acceptance is through this well known Zen master story which you may or may not of heard before. It has been written about in several literatures, one of the most popular – A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle and although it may sound extreme it is a good reminder of how to become more accepting and unaffected by others opinions and actions. Especially friends and family whom we love but not always agree with. It teaches us to go with the flow on our journey like a river flowing with the least path of resistance on its way to the ocean.

Here it is…

There was a Zen Master who was very pure and very enlightened. Near the place where he lived there happened to be a local food stand. The owner of the local food stand had a beautiful unmarried daughter. One day she became pregnant and soon gave birth to a little boy. Her parents became enraged. They wanted to know who the father was, but she would not give them his name. After repeated scolding and harassment, she gave up and told them it was the Zen Master living near them. The parents believed her. When the child was born they ran to the Zen Master, scolding him with foul tongue, and then left the baby boy with him. The Zen Master said, “Is that so” and this was his only comment.

He accepted the child. He started nourishing and taking care of the boy. By this time his reputation had come to an end, and he was the object of mockery. Days ran into weeks, weeks into months and months into years. But there is something called conscience in our human life, and the young girl was tortured by her conscience. One day she finally disclosed to her parents the name of the child’s real father, a man who worked in a fish market nearby. The parents again became enraged. At the same time, sorrow and humiliation tortured the household. They came running to the spiritual Master, begged his pardon, narrated the whole story and then took the child back. The Zen Master’s only comment was: “Is that so” and gave back the child willingly.

The point of the story here is that sometimes you need to just accept the opinions, ideas and beliefs of your family and friends without reacting in a negative way that may lead to quarrels, arguments, conflicts or confrontations.

So why not try this as an experiment. Every so often, when you are feeling like you want to disagree with or oppose a friend or family member, try saying those 3 little words maintaining a state of non-resistance and without trying to force your own opinion. Notice…How does it make you feel?

In a recent blog post, Leo from Zen Habits  had some extraordinary advice… “As you catch yourself judging, and wishing for different — and we all do it — try a different approach: accept, and understand. It might lead to some interesting results.”

In other words…simply say “Is That So”

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7 Comments on “Is That So – Zen Master Story”

  • aman rai said:

    Nice post this is something that I need to work on.

  • Janith Chipiuk said:

    Excellent – Those 3 words really do work – give it a try, I did.

  • Janith Chipiuk said:

    Had to come back and revisit this one. Worth the second read. I also love the photo by Aman Rai – perfect for the message.

  • SexiShelly said:

    i love the way you write

  • Carsten Broich said:

    Good article written, just found it using google. I immediately bookmarked your blog ! Have a great day! Interested in banner exchange ? Really enjoyed reading !

  • toastercrumb said:

    Using a bit of humor. Try “Please look, but don’t touch.” Or turn the tables and say, “You can touch my tummy if I can touch yours.”

  • alternative treatment for back pain said:

    While this matter can be very difficult for most people, my belief is that there has to be a middle or common ground that we all can find. I do value that you’ve added pertinent and sound commentary here though. Thank you!

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