Zen pupils take a vow that even if they are killed by their teacher, they intend to learn Zen. Usually they cut a finger and seal their resolution with blood. In time the vow has become a mere formality, and for this reason the pupil who died by the hand of Ekido was made to appear a martyr.
Ekido had become a severe teacher. His pupils feared him. One of them on duty, striking the gong to tell the time of day, missed his beats when his eye was attracted by a beautiful girl passing the temple gate.
At that moment Ekido, who was directly behind him, hit him with a stick and the shock happened to kill him.
The pupil’s guardian, hearing of the accident, went directly to Ekido. Knowing that he was not to blame he praised the master for his severe teaching. Ekido’s attitude was just the same as if the pupil were still alive.
After this took place, he was able to produce under his guidance more than ten enlightened successors, a very unusual number.
This story can be found in a book entitled Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, a translation of a 13th century work entitled Collection of Stone and Sand.
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