Is that so?
Hakuin was praised by his neighbours as one living a pure life. A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child. This made her parents angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.
In great anger the parents went to the master. “Is that so?” was all he would say.
After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbours and everything else he needed. A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth – the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fishmarket.
The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back.
Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: “Is that so?”
The Gates of Paradise
A soldier came to Hakuin and asked “Is there really a paradise and a hell?”
“Who are you?” inquired Hakuin.
“I am a samurai,” the warrior replied.
“You, a samurai!” exclaimed Hakuin. “What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar!”
The soldier became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued. “So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably as dull as your head!”
As the soldier drew his sword Hakuin remarked “Here open the gates of hell!”
At these words, the samurai, perceiving the discipline of the master, sheathed his sword and bowed.
“Here open the gates of paradise,” said Hakuin.
From ‘Zen Flesh, Zen Bones’ compiled by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki.