Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Are we in a hurry? : A Zen Story

Matajura wanted to become a great swordsman, but his father said he wasn't quick enough and could never learn. So Matajura went to the famous dueller Banzo, and asked to become his pupil. 

"How long will it take me to become a master?" he asked. "Suppose I became your servant, to be with you every minute; how long?"

"Ten years," said Banzo.

"My father is getting old. Before ten years have passed I will have to return home to take care of him. Suppose I work twice as hard; how long will it take me?"

"Thirty years," said Banzo.

"How is that?" asked Matajura. "First you say ten years. Then when I offer to work twice as hard, you say it will take three times as long. Let me make myself clear: I will work unceasingly: no hardship will be too much. How long will it take?"

"Seventy years" said Banzo. "A pupil in such a hurry learns slowly."

Matajura understood. Without asking for any promises in terms of time, he became Banzo's servant. He cleaned, he cooked, he washed, he gardened. He was ordered never to speak of fencing or to touch a sword. He was very sad at this; but he had given his promise to the master, and resolved to keep his word. Three years passed for Matajura as a servant.

One day while he was gardening, Banzo came up quietly behind him and gave him a terrible whack with a wooden sword. The next day in the kitchen the same blow fell again. Thereafter, day in, day out, from every corner and at any moment, he was attacked by Banzo's wooden sword. He learned to live on the balls of his feet, ready to dodge at any movement. He became a body with no desires, no thoughts - only eternal readiness and quickness.

Banzo smiled, and started lessons. Soon Matajura was the greatest swordsman in Japan.


Bashu said...

Loved the part: "He became a body with no desires, no thoughts - only eternal readiness and quickness."

Kirtan Shah said...

Thanks for your feedback. It means a lot to the author :)
I would humbly like to add my favourite part of the sentence into yours:
'He learned to live on the balls of his feet, ready to dodge at any movement.'