Shoan and His Mother
Shoun became a teacher of Soto Zen. When he was still a student his father passed awayleaving him to care for his old mother.
Whenever Shoun went to a meditation hall he always took his mother with him. Since she accompanied himwhen he visited monasteries he could not live with the monks. So he would build a little house and care for her there. He would copy sutrasBuddhist versesand in this manner receive a few coins for food.
When Shoun bought fish for his motherthe people would scoff at himfor a monk is not supposed to eat fish. But Shoun did not mind. His motherhoweverwas hurt to see the others laugh at her son. Finally she told Shoun: "I think I will become a nun. I can be a vegaterian too." She didand they studied together.
Shoun was fond of music and was a master of the harpwhich his mother also played. On full-moon nights they used to play together.
One night a young lady passed by their house and heard music. Deeply touchedshe invited Shoun to visit her the next evening and play. He accepted the invitation. A few days later he met the young lady on the street and thanked her for her hospitality. Others laughed at him. He had visited the house of a woman of the streets.
One day Shoun left for a distant temple to deliver a lecture. A few months afterwards he returned home to find his mother dead. Friends had not known where to reach himso the funeral was then in progress.
Shoun walked up and hit the coffin with his staff. "Motheryour son has returned he said.
I am glad to see you have returnedson he answered for his mother.
YesI am glad too Shoun responded. Then he announced to the people about him: The funeral ceremony is over. You may bury the body."
When Shoun was old he knew his end was approaching. He asked his disciples to gather around him in the morningtelling them he was going to pass on at noon. Burning incense before the picture of his mother and his old teacherhe wrote a poem:
For fifty-six years I lived as best I could
Making my way in this world.
Now the rain has endedthe clouds are clearing
The blue sky has a full moon.
His disciples gathered about himreciting a sutraand Shoun passed on during the invocation.