Asan

‘When Master Hakuin was invited to the town of Shinano, an enlightened laywoman by the name of Asan (“Old San”) went to see him. Hakuin greeted her by silently holding up one hand.
Asan immediately responded, “Even better than hearing Hakuin’s sound of one hand, let’s clap both hands and do some real business.”
Hakuin replied, “If you can do business by clapping both hands, then there’s no need to hear the sound of one.” He picked up paper and brush and painted a bamboo broom.
He passed it to Asan, and she wrote:

This broom
Sweeps away
All the imposters in Japan –
First of all
Hakuin of Hara!’

(The Hidden Lamp)

I was prompted to pick The Hidden Lamp again by a student sending me a quote from it that illuminated the discussion we had been having. This is a great story that typifies the no-nonsense approach of women practising in Japan. As it happens, this was a story chosen by Laurie Senauke, who is currently the shuso at Tassajara – I am just working out my plans to go to the different upcoming shuso ceremonies at all three centres, and will see if the current crop, who are all women, are as brisk with their business as Asan.

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