Zen masters give personal guidance in a secluded room. No one enters while teacher and pupil are together.
Mokurai, the Zen master of Kennin temple in Kyoto, used to enjoy talking with merchants and newspapermen as well as with his pupils. A certain tub maker was almost illiterate. He would ask foolish questions of Mokurai, have tea, and then go away.
One day while the tub maker was there Mokurai wished to give personal guidance to a disciple, so he asked the tub maker to wait in another room.
"I understand you are a living Buddha," the man protested. "Even the stone Buddhas in the temple never refuse the numerous persons who come together before them. Why then should I be excluded?"
Mokurai had to go outside to see his disciple.
Mokurai was a greatly respected Zen teacher. He was born into a large family who lived on a small island off the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, and became a monk at the age of ten.
Mokurai studied under several Zen masters before meeting Yuzen (1842–1918). After seven years of studying with Yuzen, Mokurai received the certificate of enlightenment from this teacher.
For much of his life, Mokurai was associated with the major Kyoto temple Kennin-ji. He became the abbot of this temple at the age of thirty-nine, in 1892, and remained abbot there for almost thirty years. He had many friends and Zen students in the active and extensive artistic community of Kyoto.
Mokurai, like Hakuin, stressed that Zen realization cannot be rushed—that students need to develop patience and discipline in order to transcend.
Although Mokurai suffered from delicate health for most of his life, he lived to the age of seventy-seven.
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