chapter  VIII
35 Pages


A Chinese Zen master1 tells us that the method of instruction adopted by Zen may aptly be compared with that of an old burglar who taught his son the art of burglary. The burglar one evening said to his little son, whom he desired to instruct in the secret of his trade : “ Would you not, my dear boy, be a great burglar like m yself?” “ Yes, father,” replied the promising young man. “ Come with me, then. I will teach you the art.” So saying, the man went out, followed by his son. Finding a rich mansion in a certain village, the veteran burglar made a hole in the wall that surrounded it. Through that hole they crept into the yard, and opening a window with complete ease broke into the house, where they found a huge box firmly locked up as if its contents were very valuable articles. The old man clapped his hands at the lock, which, strange to tell, unfastened itself. Then he removed the cover and told his son to get into it and pick up treasures as fast as he could. No sooner had the boy entered the box than the father replaced the cover and locked it up. He then exclaimed at the top of his voice: “ Thief! thief! thief! th ief!” Thus, having aroused the inmates, he went out without taking anything. All the house was in utter confusion for a w hile; but finding nothing stolen, they went to bed again. The boy sat holding his breath a short w hile; but making up his mind to get out of his narrow prison, began to scratch the bottom of the box with his finger-nails. The servant of the house, listening to the noise, supposed it to be a mouse gnawing at the inside of the box; so she came out, lamp in hand, and unlocked it. On removing the cover, she was greatly sur­ prised to find the boy instead of a little mouse, and gave alarm. In the meantime the boy got out of the box and

1 Wu Tsu (Go So), the teacher of Yuen Wu (En Go).