A koan

I’m reading some more of my favorite Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh. Last night, I was perusing his book NO DEATH, NO FEAR, and stumbled upon an old favorite Zen koan of mine that illustrates how nonviolence is the best way to defend yourself. Paraphrasing:

An infamous warlord scourged the land, wreaking havoc wherever he went. He came to the Zen monastery and banged on the door, his armies behind him, demanding all its food and wealth and threatening to burn it to the ground. Instead of cowering in fear, the Zen master opened the door and came out and greeted the warlord warmly.

The warlord was flabbergasted. “Don’t you know who I am?” he sputtered to the master. “I can take this sword of mine and run you through and think nothing of it.”

The master smiled. “Don’t you know who _I_ am? You can run your sword through me and I will think nothing of it.”



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