Zen in the art of Is That So ?

Last weekend, I had gone to a blind school nearby to donate some old clothes and newspaper. There, I met the person who runs the school, Shri Rakum. We spoke for a long time and he gave me a few books on Zen that he has written. One of those books is titled, “ Zen in the art of Is That So ?” The first page of the book has a Zen story followed by his interpretation.

The story touched a chord somewhere within, so here I reproduce it.

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbours as one living a pure life.

A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered that she was pregnant. They were furious. She would not confess who the man was. After much harassment, at last, she named Hakuin. In great anger, the parents went to the master.

“Is that so?”, was all he would say.

After the child was born, it was brought to Hakuin. By this time, he had lost his reputation but that did not trouble him. He took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbour and everything else the little one needed.

A year later, the girl could not stand it any longer. She told her parents the truth – the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fish market.

The mother and the father of the girl at once went to Hakuin offering profuse apologies and asking for his forgiveness and to get the child back again. Hakuin was willing.

In yielding the child, all he said was, “Is that so?”


Another Zen story



  1. These are what we call “Choti boi” – 15-20 pages each. Rakum’s interpretation of these stories. I can mail them to you if you send me your address (and may need to prod me a couple of times 🙂


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