Is That So--The Monk Hakuin and the Baby
In the village, there lived a young woman, the daughter of the food sellers.The young woman became pregnant by her boy friend who worked nearby in the fish market. When the parents found out about this, they were very angry and pressured her to reveal the name of the father. She wanted to protect the young man and blurted out the name of Hakuin as the father.
After the baby was born, the parents took the baby to Hakuin. They told Hakuin that he was responsible for the baby and left the infant with him.He responded: “Is that so?” And he simply accepted the responsibility for the child without further reaction.
The monk had no experience with babies. But he began to care for its needs, finding food, clothing, and warm shelter. The other villagers became very angry with Hakuin for his offense and his reputation was trashed.These comments did not affect Hakuin, who continued to put his effort and attention into the care of the baby.
After several years, the young woman was filled with remorse. She confessed to her parents the name of the true father. They immediately went to see Hakuin, apologized, and took the baby back with them. Hakuin watched as they returned to there home with the child he had cared for since birth and replied “Is that so?”
Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, Paul Reps