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Koan: Sleeping in the Daytime

Sleeping in the Daytime

The master Soyen Shaku passed from this world when he was sixty-one years of age. Fulfilling his life’s work, he left a great teaching, far richer than that of most Zen masters. His pupils used to sleep in the daytime during midsummer, and while he overlooked this he himself never wasted a minute.

When he was but twelve years old he was already studying Tendai philosophical speculation. One summer day the air had been so sultry that little Soyen stretched his legs and went to sleep while his teacher was away.

Three hours passed when, suddenly waking, he heard his master enter, but it was too late. There he lay, sprawled across the doorway.

“I beg your pardon, I beg your pardon,” his teacher whispered, stepping carefully over Soyen’s body as if it were that of some distinguished guest. After this, Soyen never slept again in the afternoon.

2 comments to Koan: Sleeping in the Daytime

  • Beautiful Koan showing how to effectively influence others. Had not read this one before. Thanks!

  • Mike

    I think he said I beg your pardon I beg your pardon, and stepped over him like a distinguished guest, as if to say. You sleep your day away, you must have the answer already. His teacher acted reverently towards him like that subtly saying, don’t waste your time like this.

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