During the countryside wars, a general swept from town to town, conquering each place with ease. In one particular town, the general discovered that everyone had fled just before his army arrived – everyone except the Zen master.
Curious about what sort of man this was, the general visited the temple himself. Inside, the Zen master remained still, and refused to bow or even move out of the general’s way.
When it was clear the Zen master would not defer to the general’s power, he became furious.
“Fool!” he shouted, as he drew his weapon, “Don’t you see you are standing before a man would run through you without blinking an eye?”
The Zen master responded with absolute calm.
“And don’t you see that you are standing before a man who could be run through without blinking an eye?”
Humbled by the Zen master’s resolve, the general regrouped his forces and returned from where they had come.
This Zen story illustrates the illusions of power and control in life. Despite possessing an army and a superior weapon, the general defers to the monk, whose weapons originated from within.
We can see this in our own lives every single day – any bully can use words and threats and even violence to appear powerful. But it takes real strength to remain calm and practice nonviolence. The strongest weapon is always your mind!