A Free Person

from A Way to God for Today by Anthony DeMello

This a story about a free person.  It concerns a unwed girl in a Japanese fishing village who became pregnant and was beaten by her parents until the girl confessed who the father was.

“It was the Zen master,” she said. “The one living in the temple outside the village.”

The parents were indignant and so were all the villagers and they marched up to the temple after the baby was born and placed the baby before the Zen master and shouted, “You hypocrite! This child is yours. You take care of it.”

All that the master said in response was, “Very well, very well,” and he picked up the baby and gave it to one of the women in the village to look after at his expense.

The incidence caused the master to lose his reputation. All his disciples abandoned him and no one went to consult with him. This went on for several months, until one day the girl broke down from guilt and confessed that the father of her child was not the master, but the boy living next door.

When the parents heard this, they and the rest of the villagers rushed to the temple and prostrated themselves before the master, begging him for forgiveness. When the parents asked him the master to return the baby, all the master said was, “Oh very well, very well.”

There is a free person. My wish for you and for me is that, despite our poor efforts, God will make us as inwardly free and at peace as that monk.