The Question of
Life and Death

John Daido Loori was a monk at the Los Angeles Zen Center. One day he said to Maezumi Roshi: "I have resolved the question of life and death."

Maezumi: "Are you sure?"

Loori: "Yes."

Maezumi: "Are you really sure?"

Loori: "Absolutely."

Maezumi threw himself violently upon Loori and began to strangle him. Loori struggled to escape, but to no avail. Finally he swung back his fist and struck his teacher, knocking him aside.

Maezumi rose to his feet and brushed himself off. "Resolved the question of life and death, eh?" he said, and walked off.

Later, Loori passed a senior monk, Genpo Sensei. Sensei saw the marks of his teacher's fingers on Loori's throat.

"Told Roshi you'd resolved the question of life and death, did you?" he said.

--- Drawn from One Bird, One Stone
108 American Zen Stories

©2002Renaissance Books
Reprinted in The Sun Magazine

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