13. A Buddha

    In Tokyo in the Meiji erai1 there lived two prominent teachers of opposite characteristics. One, Un-Sho2 , an instructor in Shingon3 , kept Buddha's precepts scrupulously. He never drank intoxicants, nor did he eat after eleven o'clock in the morning, The other teacher, Tan-Zan4 , a professor of philosophy at the Imperial University never observed the precepts. When he felt like eating he ate, and when he felt like sleeping in the daytime he slept. 

    One day Un-Sho visited Tan-Zan who was drinking wine at the time, not even a drop of which is supposed to touch the tongue of a Buddhist. 

    "Hello, brother," Tan-Zan greeted him. "Won't you have a drink?" 

    "I never drink!" exclaimed Un-Sho solemnly. 

    "One who does not drink is not even human," said Tan-Zan. 

    "Do you mean to call me inhuman just because I do not indulge in intoxicating liquids!" exclaimed Un-Sho in anger. "Then if I am not human what am I?" 

    "A Buddha," answered Tan-Zan.


1. The Meiji era is an era of Japanese history which extended from October 23, 1868 to July 30, 1912. This era represents the first half of the Empire of Japan, during which period the Japanese people moved from being an isolated feudal society at risk of colonization by European powers to the new paradigm of a modern, industrialized nation state and emergent great power, influenced by Western scientific, technological, philosophical, political, legal, and aesthetic ideas. As a result of such wholesale adoption of radically-different ideas, the changes to Japan were profound, and affected its social structure, internal politics, economy, military, and foreign relations. The period corresponded to the reign of Emperor Meiji. It was preceded by the Keiō era and was succeeded by the Taishō era, upon the accession of Emperor Taishō.


2. Un-Sho

    An instructor in Shingon

3. Shingon Buddhism is one of the major schools of Buddhism in Japan and one of the few surviving Vajrayana lineages in East Asia, originally spread from India to China through traveling monks such as Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra.


4. Hara Tanzan (原坦山) (December 5, 1819 – July 27, 1892) was a Soto Buddhist monk, head monk at the Saijoji temple in Odawara[1] and a professor of Philosophy at the University of Tokyo during the Bakumatsu and Meiji periods. He was a forerunner of the modernization of Japanese Buddhism and the first (in Japan) to attempt to incorporate concepts from the natural sciences into Zen Buddhism.