The short story below is shared in author, Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth”. Personally, I don’t think Hakuin’s wrong.
Zen Master Hakuin https://kannondo.org/is-that-so/
Hakuin was greatly respected and had many disciples. At one time in his life, he lived in a village hermitage, close to a food shop run by a couple and their beautiful, young daughter. One day the parents discovered that their daughter was pregnant. Angry and distraught, they demanded to know the name of the father. At first, the girl would not confess but after much harassment, she named Hakuin. The furious parents confronted Hakuin, berating him in front of all of his students. He simply replied, “Is that so?”
When the baby was born, the family gave it to Hakuin. By this time, he had lost his reputation and his disciples. But Hakuin was not disturbed. He took delight in caring for the infant child; he was able to obtain milk and other essentials from the villagers. A year later, the young mother of the child was troubled by great remorse. She confessed the truth to her parents – the real father was not Hakuin but rather a young man who worked at the local fish market. The mortified parents went to Hakuin, apologizing, asking his forgiveness for the wrong they did him. They asked Hakuin to return the baby. Although he loved the child as his own, Hakuin was willing to give him up without complaint. All he said was: “Is that so?”
Hakuin’s story is not about ordinary mind – it is an illustration of Buddha mind. It is about what our mind can be, capable of equanimity in all situations. It is a love story – without an object of love – of universal embrace of every situation, without judgment. It illustrates the mind of practice, of no attachments, and of no “self” to defend, simply of accommodation and taking care.
Hakuin & The Super Power of Calmness
I propose pursuing “The Super Power of Calmness”. This time of power navigates our inner dialogue with a mental reminder that justifications aren’t beneficial. The Super Power of Calmness commands that we quiet our Ego-Mind, and elicit patience. The reward, we deter negative, and/or toxic, critiques and most importantly endorse self-care. The meaning and value behind Hakuin’s short three word response is vital for those aspiring to walk each day with mindfulness and the genuine desire to love all beings. Hakuin might just be the creator of “The Super Power of Calmness“. I have a sneaky suspicion that if we gave “Is That So?” and “The Super Power of Calmness” a chance we would gain the skillset to transcend our emotional well being into a state of pure peace, love, and freedom. And isn’t that what most beings are in search of?