IMPRESSED BY THE MONKS

When Catholic missionary St. Francis Xavier was touring Japan, he was graciously hosted in 1549 by the extraordinarily friendly master Ninshitsu of Fukusho-ji Soto Zen monastery, near Kagoshima. Strolling through the temple grounds one day, Xavier saw monks meditating in great repose and dignified appearance. “What are they doing?” he asked Ninshitsu. The master laughed, “Some are calculating contributions received the past month, others are wondering how to get better clothing, and still others are thinking of vacation and past-times. In short, no one here is doing anything of importance!”