Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Master Mokudo and the Prostitute

When I was in Korea in the late 80's, prostitution was a common thing. Often young women had to work in the red light houses for a while in order to cover for family debts or send their younger brother to college. Once the debt would be paid, they would go back to their hometown and family to lead a regular life. 

The following story happened in Japan, and it is adapted from Trevor Leggett's "The Tiger's Cave"

Zen master Mokudo when he was passing through the capital Edo (Tokyo) was hailed by a prostitute from a window on the second storey of a building. He asked the girl how she knew his name and she replied: 

"When you were a kid on the farm we were neighbors; after you went to the monastery to become a monk we had a bad harvest, and my father could not pay for the seeds he had to purchase, so now I am here."

Master Mokudo went up to talk to her. She asked him to stay for the night.

He paid her fee to the house, and gave her some more money. They talked of their families till late that evening, and then the bedding was spread on the floor. 

As the girl prepared to go to bed, the Master sat in meditation posture. She pulled his sleeve and said: 

"You have been so kind to me. I would like to show you my appreciation. No one will know."

The Master told her: "Your business is to sleep, and my business is to sit. Now you get on with your sleeping, and I'll get on with my sitting!"

He remained unmoving the whole night.

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