Victory in the midst of a hundred enemies – Koan 71

No. 71. Victory in the midst of a hundred enemies

To priest Yozan, the 28th teacher at Enkakuji, came for an interview a samurai named Ryozan, who practised Zen. The teacher said:

You are going into the bath-tub, stark naked without a stitch on. Now a hundred enemies in armour, with bows and swords, appear all around you. How will you meet them? Will you crawl before them and beg for mercy? Will you show your warrior birth by dying in combat against them? or does a man of the Way get some special holy grace?’

Ryozan said, ‘Let me win without surrendering and without fighting.’

TEST

Caught in the midst of the hundred enemies, how will you manage to win without surrendering and without fighting?

(Imai’s note: This first became a koan at the interviews of Toryo, founder of the To-un-an temple at Enkakuji. Later in Tokugawa times, Suzuki Shozan used it to put his samurai pupils under the hammer.)

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