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Zen Master Daokai in Song Dynasty was actively engaged in the promotion of Zen wisdom and spirit after he achieved enlightenment. He once served as the host of such big temples as Jingyin Temple and Tianning Temple. One day, the emperor sent a minister to present him a purple robe so as to praise him for his sacred virtue. He was also conferred upon the title of “Zen Master Dingzhao” by the emperor.

Zen Master Daokai submitted a written statement to reject the offer resolutely. Again, the emperor sent Prince Li Xiaoshou from Kaifeng Office to express the good intention of the imperial court. Zen Master Daokai still insisted on not taking the honor. The emperor got so angry that he ordered a sheriff to put him into prison. The sheriff knew how kind and loyal Zen Master Daokai was, so when he arrived at the temple, he asked quietly: “Master, you look weak and careworn, are you sick?”

The Zen master answered: “No.”

Sheriff implied: “Actually, pretending to be sick can shelter you from getting punishment for disobeying the imperial edict.”

The Zen master said: “I am not sick. How can I tell a lie just to avoid the punishment?”

The sheriff had no alternative but to take him to the jail in Zizhou. People couldn’t help crying when they heard the news.

We often see humor and passion from Zen masters but from this story about Zen Master Daokai we can also see their honesty and persistence. Zen Master Lianchi put a thumb to his deeds and acclaimed: “Seldom do people reject the honor they deserve as Zen Master Daokai did. He got punishment for rejecting the honor but did not lie in order to escape the punishment, isn’t that rare? He was loyal and honest, isn’t that commendable? Keep this to educate and inspire later generations.”


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