Real Prosperity

A rich man asked Sengai to write something for the continued prosperity of his family so that it might be treasured from generation to generation.

Sengai obtained a large sheet of paper and wrote:  "Father dies, son dies, grandson dies."

The rich man became angry.  "I asked you to write something for the happiness of my family!  Why do you make such a joke as this?"

"No joke is intended," explained Sengai.  "If before you yourself die your son should die, this would grieve you greatly.  If your grandson should pass away before your son, both of you would be broken-hearted.  If your family, generation after generation, passes away in the order I have named, it will be the natural course of life.  I call this real prosperity."

-- From 101 Zen Stories, transcribed by Nyogen Senzaki and Paul Reps


  1. I like the new periodic "think about this" posts. A good addition.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Patrick. I've been delving pretty deeply into Zen buddhism and enjoy sharing bits here and there that I find particularly poignant or striking.