The Thief who became a Disciple

This Zen story beautifully shows that one has a choice to react to circumstances however one wishes. This is not easy and takes much practice and efforts, but if one wishes to be less irritable, angry or miserable, make it your aim, keep it constantly in mind, and see what comes. On to the story, but before you begin reading, ask yourself how you would react if a stranger came into your house demanding your possessions or your life!?

One evening as Shichiri Kojun was reciting sutras a thief with a sharp sword entered demanding either his money or his life. Shichiri told him “don’t disturb me, you can find the money in the draw”. A little while afterward he stopped and called, “don’t take it all, I need some to pay taxes with tomorrow”. The intruder gathered up most of the money and started to leave. “Thank a person when you receive a gift,” Shichiri added. The man thanked him and made off. A few days afterwards the man was caught and confessed, among others, this offence against Shichiri. When Shichiri was called as a witness he said, “This man is no thief, at least not as far as i’m concerned. I gave him the money and he thanked me for it.” After he had finished his prison term, the man went to Shichiri and became his disciple.



Filed under Zen

7 responses to “The Thief who became a Disciple

  1. The story also shows Shichiri Kojun’s insight into the intruder’s basic goodness. Perhaps we should not write anyone off as a hopeless case.


  2. This is one of my favorite zen stories!

    There is another similar, which I also love:

    There was once a saint who lived alone in hut on the mountainside. One night a thief came upon the saint sitting quietly outside his hut, and brandishing his knife he demanded all the saint’s money.

    The saint replied, “I have no money.”

    The thief could see that this was true, so he sheathed his blade, and turned to go.

    “Wait!” called the saint. “You came all this way, don’t go away empty-handed. Take these clothes, you might get cold.”

    The saint took the clothes off his back, and gave them to the thief. Confused, and bowing, the thief departed on his way. The saint sat down again, and looking up at the night sky he said to himself,

    “Poor fellow. I wish I could give him this moon.”


  3. What did the theif learn from the experience?


  4. We see from the story that he became the disciple of Shichiri Kojun. The masters great show of compassion and awareness changed the thief’s life in one instant.
    We can learn from this that we too have the ability to change the world by changing ourselves. I hope this helps. Thanks for following!


  5. Gil Sanchez

    The story is awesome…


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