4. Obedience

    The master Ban-Kei's1 talks were attended not only by Zen students but by persons of all ranks and sects. He never quoted Sutras nor indulged in scholastic dissertations. Instead his words were spoken directly from his heart to the hearts of his listeners. 

    His large audiences angered a priest of the Nichiren Sect2 because the adherents had left to hear about Zen. The self-centered Nichiren came to the temple, determined to debate with Ban-Kei. 

    "Hey, Zen teacher!" he called out. "Wait a minute Whoever respects you will obey what you say, but a man like myself does not respect you. Can you make me obey you?" 

    "Come up beside me and I will show you," said Ban-Kei. Proudly the priest pushed his way through the crowd to the teacher. 

    Ban-Kei smiled. "Come over to my left side." The priest obeyed. "No," said Ban-Kei, "we may talk better if you are on the right side. Step over here." The priest proudly stepped over to the right. 

    "You see," observed Ban-Kei, "you are obeying me and I think are a very gentle person. Now sit down and listen."


1. Bankei Yōtaku (1622-1693) was a Japanese Rinzai Zen master, and the abbot of the Ryōmon-ji and Nyohō-ji. He is best known for his talks on the Unborn as he called it. According to D. T. Suzuki, Bankei, together with Dogen and Hakuin, is one of the most important Japanese Zen masters and his Unborn Zen is one of the most original developments in the entire history of Zen thought.


2. Nichiren Sect - Nichiren Buddhism is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism based on the teachings of the 13th-century Japanese Buddhist priest Nichiren (1222–1282) and is one of the Kamakura Buddhism schools. Its teachings derive from some 300–400 extant letters and treatises attributed to Nichiren.