During the Kamakura period, Shinkan studied Tendai six years and then studied
Zen seven years; then he went to China and contemplated Zen for thirteen years
When he returned to Japan many desired to interview him and asked obscure
questions. But when Shinkan received visitors, which was infrequently, he seldom
answered their questions.
One day a fifty-year-old student of enlightenment said
to Shinkan: “I have studied the Tendai school of thought since I was a little
boy, but one thing in it I cannot understand. Tendai claims that even the grass
and trees will become enlightened. To me this seems very strange.”
“Of what use is it to discuss how grass and trees become enlightened?” asked
Shinkan. “The- question is how you yourself can become so. Did you ever consider
“I never thought of it in that way.” marveled the old man.
“Then go home and think it over,” finished Shinkan.