Is That So?

Updated: Jul 29, 2019

Non-resistance is a gift of detachment. One of the best non-resistant stories I have ever read was the following:

....There is a story about a Zen Master named Hakuin who lived in a town in Japan. He was held in high regard and many people came to him for spiritual teaching. Then it happened that the teenage daughter of his next-door neighbor became pregnant. When being questioned by her angry and scolding parents as to the identity of the father, she finally told them that the father was Hakuin, the Zen Master. In great anger the parents rushed over to Hakuin and told him with much shouting and accusing that their daughter had confessed that he was the father. All that he replied was, “Is that so?”

News of the scandal spread throughout the town and beyond and the Master lost his reputation. This did not trouble him. Nobody came to see him anymore. He remained unmoved. When the child was born, the parents brought the baby to Hakuin saying, “You are the father, so you look after him.” The Master took loving care of the child. A year later, the mother remorsefully confessed to her parents that the real father of the child was the young man who worked at the butcher shop. In great distress they went to see Hakuin to apologize and ask forgiveness. “We are really sorry. We have come to take the baby back. Our daughter confessed that you are not the father.” “Is that so?” is all Hakuin would say as handed the baby over to them.

The Master responds to falsehood and truths, bad news and good news, in exactly the same way: “Is that so?” He allows the form of the moment, good or bad, to be as it is. Events are not personalized. He is nobody’s victim. He is so completely at one with what happens that what happens has no power over him anymore. Only if you resist what happens are you truly at the mercy of what happens, and the world will determine your happiness and unhappiness. The baby is looked after with loving care. Nonresistance is very powerful and so-called “bad” turns into so-called “good” through the power of nonresistance. Always responding to what present moment requires, Hakuin lets go of the baby when it is time to do so......

Imagine briefly how the ego would have responded during the various stages of unfolding previous events.

I first read this story in a book called “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle in 2006. This book dramatically changed my life. This book is deep and it takes some time for it all to sink in but when it does it can definitely change your life.

This little story about the Zen Master is a great example of non-resistance. Here is a truth: What you resist persists. When I read this little story I learned to let go of resistance to what is. I also realized that by NOT labeling things as good and bad can and will change the way you look at things. Who are we to say that something is “bad” or something is “good”? How do you really know this? Do you really know the big picture? Stay present in the moment like the Zen Master in this story in the middle of something that may seem tragic to our measly ego and what will change is your perspective. When your perspective changes; everything changes.


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