Fear Of Death.

A young physician in Tokyo named Kusuda met a college friend who had been studying Zen. The young doctor asked him what Zen was.“I cannot tell you what it is,” the friend replied, “but one thing is certain. If you understand Zen, you will not be afraid to die.”“That’s fine,” said Kusuda. “I will try it. Where can I find a teacher?”“Go to the master Nan-in,” the friend told him.

So Kusuda went to call on Nan-in. He carried a dagger nine and a half inches long to determine whether or not the teacher was afraid to die.

When Nan-in saw Kusuda he exclaimed: “Hello, friend. How are you? We haven’t seen each other for a long time!”

This perplexed Kusuda, who replied: “We have never met before.”

“That’s right,” answered Nan-in. “I mistook you for another physician who is receiving instruction here.”

With such a begining, Kusuda lost his chance to test the master, so reluctantly he asked if he might receive instruction.

Nan-in said: “Zen is not a difficult task. If you are a physician, treat your patients with kindness. That is Zen.”

Kusuda visited Nan-in three times. Each time Nan-in told him the same thing. “A phsisician should not waste time around here. Go home and take care of your patients.”

It was not clear to Kusuda how such teaching could remove the fear of death. So on the forth visit he complained: “My friend told me that when one learns Zen one loses his fear of death. Each time I come here you tell me to take care of my patients. I know that much. If that is your so-called Zen, I am not going to visit you anymore.”

Nan-in smiled and patted the doctor. “I have been too strict with you. Let me give you a koan.” He presented Kusuda with Joshu’s Mu to work over, which is the first mind-enlightening problem in the book called The Gateless Gate.

Kusuda pondered this problem of Mu (No-Thing) for two years. At length he thought he had reached certainty of mind. But his teacher commented: “You are not in yet.”

Kusuda continued in concentration for another yet and a half. His mind became placid. Problems dissolved. No-Thing became the truth. He served his patients well and, without even knowing it, he was free from concern of life and death.

Then he visited Nan-in, his old teacher just smiled.

Half Full Glass.

This old chestnut of half full or half empty glass has been discussed ad nauseum in so many blog posts in the blogworld that I wonder why Padmum chose this one! Perhaps on the day that she was choosing her list of topics, she was feeling a bit low!

I intend approaching this topic in an unusual way. I am usually an inquisitive fellow who wants to know what’s in the glass before I decide whether it is full, half full or half empty or whatever.

I do not have enough glasses at home to illustrate what I intend to convey and have had to do with tea mugs/cups.


Except for the very rare visitor who has to be satisfied with instant coffee, in my house tea is the favourite beverage. The problem is in understanding the quantity that each guest wants. Ranjan and some friends prefer a mug full of the left extreme size, Some other friends and I the second from the left, and others from either of the other two.

Very often I also get requests for half a cup or half a mug and I have to bring all the four sizes to ask for the precise quantity that the guest wants.

Now, the question is when I pour the tea into the container, do I think about whether it is half full or half empty; and when the guest gets the tea, is s/he getting half an empty container or a half full container of tea?

So instead of trying to solve these koan type of questions, I simply enjoy playing host and drinking lots of tea in good company. If you would like to join, I would be delighted to have you on such joyful occasions. I can also make some lip smacking snacks to accompany the tea, available at short notice.

To have a bit of fun while on the topic you can visit a couple of my earlier posts here and here.

You will, if you have read those two posts appreciate that this old codger believes that all of us have both traits in us and sometimes one is ascendant and at other times the other. Perfectly natural and nothing to worry about “improving” oneself!

I hope you enjoyed reading this post on the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where eleven of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Padmum. The ten other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Maxi, Maria SF, Padmum, Paul, Shackman, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!