Buddhism, Stories

Acceptance like a Zen master; Is that so

Acceptance; Is that so - AnAccidetnalAnarchist.com

Photo thanks to BriYYZ cc

There was a Zen master who lived a peaceful, illuminated life of acceptance.   He was a source of wisdom for the local community.  Within the community, there was a respected family with one daughter of 18 years age.

The daughter was pregnant and soon her belly became too large to conceal.  Her enraged father demanded to know who was responsible.  Initially the daughter resisted telling but eventually in tears muttered the name of the Zen master.  The father stormed to the house of the Zen master and confronted him, “You have fathered a child with my young daughter, you swine!”  The Zen master replied “Is that so”.

Her baby was born a few weeks later; a healthy boy.  Her father immediately took the child and gave it to the Zen master shouting, ‘Here! it’s your child! you look after it”. The Zen master replied, “Is that so”.

A year later the daughter confessed to her family that the father was actually a handsome young man who worked at the local baker store.  The father returned to the Zen master, he explained the huge error.  The Zen master replied, “Is that so” and handed the baby back to the father.

The Zen master was able to accept all manner of circumstance without feeling a need for complaint or objection.  Can we do the same?

I try to remember this story throughout the challenges of life.  Sometimes facing a situation, an attack in words, or some other circumstance.  I try to find the space to stop and say “is that so” and in doing so try to avoid the need to complain or wish otherwise.

A word of caution, however, some people will react with more hostility if you speak, “is that so”.  So I often find its better to just think it without muttering the words.




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  1. I love this story. I believe that I first heard it in Eckart Tolles’ book, The Power of Now, not completely sure. Such a loving way to handle life. I wish the world could be this understanding and non resistant to what is. Thanks!

  2. Great story. It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? I look forward to trying this out in my day to day interactions. Thanks for sharing.

    • Is that so? I need to practice this more, life has been coming at me fast the last weeks. Thanks for the comment and sorry it took so long to respond!

  3. Is that so? Great story. But hidden meaning is greater within. Thank you a lot for sharing this interesting story with us.

  4. Very interesting. Reminds me of the Prayer of Serenity but I am sure this story is much older. Lived this post!

    • God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Yes, that is pretty 😀

  5. Thinking it sounds like good advice. The important part is that YOU realize “is that so” in all circumstances anyway–whether you say it out loud or internally. It makes me think of the Japanese phrase “Shoganai” which translates to “it can’t be helped”. It is the way of accepting things as they are, and not getting caught up in anger or complaint, but going on with what ever comes up.

  6. smudge

    Interesting perspective. I fear that some may find this type of passivity an open invitation to abusive behavior (as I’ve witnessed in the workplace); however, maintaining one’s own inner calm is a good place to start when it comes to dealing with aggressive and demonstrative individuals.

    • Yes, for sure. I wonder if they would finally exhaust themselves though, much like a child having a tantrum.

  7. Double plus “Like”.

    (Is that so?)

  8. Double plus “Like”.

    (Is that so?)

  9. tfk

    I shall be mindful when someone next says TO ME, “Is that so?”

    • Ha! yes, it can be quite frustrating to not have a response one expects, anger meets peace, anger meets ‘is that so’

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