once upon a time, there was a painter of great talent, who was also a monk. people liked his art but despised the man. nickname: “greedy artist”: charged exorbitant fees and reserved his services to the highest bidder. A courtesan called for his services. the monk agreed , for a price, to paint in her presence, while she was entertaining her clients. The patrons asked for another painting, this time , on the courtesan’s undergarment. the monk, for a price, complied. how low can he stoop, for what?
… The monk had three secret “whats”: his village was in a remote part of the land, no help from the government. He needed to build a warehouse to store grain for times of famine, roads needed repair for evacuation in times of catastrophy and the temple started by his teacher needed to be finished. The three “whats” completed, the artist-monk laid down his brushes and never painted again. His name: Gessen.
Adapted from: “A collection of sand and stone”. 13 century AD. compilation of anecdotes and life stories of Chinese and Japanese Zen masters over a period of 5 centuries. transcribed into english by Paul Reps.