2. Finding a Diamond on a Muddy Road

   Gu-Do1was the emperor's teacher of his time. Nevertheless he used to travel alone as a Wandering mendicant. Once when he was on his way to Edo2, the cultural and political centre of the shogunate, he approached a little village named Takenaka. It was evening and a heavy rain was falling. Gu-Do was thoroughly wet. His straw sandals were in pieces. At a farm-house near the village he noticed four or five pair of sandals in the window and decided to buy some dry ones. 

    The woman who offered him the sandals, seeing how wet he was, invited him to remain for the night in her home. Gu-Do accepted, thanking her. He entered and recited a Sutra before the family. He then was introduced to the woman's mother, and to her children. Observing that the entire family was depressed, Gu-Do asked what was wrong. 

    "My husband is a gambler and a drunkard," the housewife told him. "when he happens to when he drinks and becomes abusive. When he loses he borrows money from others. Sometimes when he becomes thoroughly drunk, he does not come home at all. What can I do?"

    "I will help him," said Gu-Do. "here is some money. get me a gallon of fine wine and something good to eat. Then you may retire. I will meditate before the shrine." 

    When the man of the house returned about midnight, quite drunk, he bellowed, "Hey, wife, I am home. Have you something for me to eat?" 

    "I have something for you," said Gu-Do. "I happened to be caught in the rain and your wife kindly asked me to remain here for the night. In return, I have bought some wine and fish so you might as well eat them." 
    The man was delighted . He drank the wine at once and laid himself down on the floor. Gu-Do sat in medication beside him. 
    In the morning when the husband awoke he had forgotten about the previous night., "Who are you?" Where do you come from?" he asked Gu-Do who still was meditating.

    "I am Gu-Do of Kyoto3 and I am going on to Edo," replied the Zen master. 

    The man was utterly ashamed. He apologized profusely to the teacher of the Emperor. 

    Gu-Do smiled. "Everything in this life is impermanent," he explained. "Life is very brief. If you keep on gambling and drinking, you will have no time left to accomplish anything else, and you will cause your family to suffer too." 

    The perception of the husband awoke as if from a dream. "You are right," he declared. 

    "How can I ever repay you for this wonderful teaching! Let me see you off and carry your things a little way." 
    "If you wish," assented Gu-Do. 

    The two started out. After they had gone three miles, Gu-Do, told him to return. "Just another five miles," begged Gu-Do. They continued on. 

    "You may return now," suggested Gu-Do. 

    "After another ten miles," the man replied. 

    "Return, now," said Gu-Do, when the ten miles had been passed.

    "I am going to follow you all the rest of my life," declared the man. 

    Modern Zen teachers in Japan all spring from the lineage of a famous master who the successor of Gu-Do, His name was Mu-Nan4, the man who never turned back.


1.  Gudō Toshoku (1577–1661) was a Japanese Rinzai school zen monk from the early Tokugawa period. He was a leading figure in the Ōtōkan lineage of the Myōshin-ji, where he led a reform movement to revitalize the practice of Rinzai. He served three times as abbot of Myōshin-ji. Among his leading disciples was Shidō Bunan (1603–1676), from whose line came the great reformer Hakuin Ekaku (1685–1768). The illustrious Zen preacher Bankei Yōtaku earlier in life wanted to meet Gudō and receive confirmation of enlightenment, but narrowly missed seeing him at his Daisen-ji temple in Mino province (today's Gifu prefecture) because the master was visiting up in Edo (Tokyo). Gudō received the posthumous title Daien Hôkan Kokushi (national teacher). He left no written words.


2. Edo was the capital of Japan from about 1603 to 1868; it was renamed Tokyo at the beginning of the Meiji in 1868.

3. Kyoto is the capital city of Kyoto Prefecture in Japan.

4. Shidō Munan was born in Sekigahara in Mino province in 1602 and died in Edo in 1676.  As a Japanese Zen master, Shidō’s place in history is secured by being the Dharma heir to Gudō Tōshoku of Myōshinji, and in turn giving transmission to Dōkyo Etan, also known as Shōju Rōjin, and in being the “grandfather in the Dharma” to Hakuin Ekaku.