Kitano Gempoabbot of Eihei templewas ninely-two years old when he passed away in the year 1933. He endeavored his whole life not to be attached to anything. As a wandering mendicant when he was twenty he happened to meet a traveler who smoked tobacco. As they walked together down a mountain roadthey stopped under a tree to rest. The traveler offered Kitano a smokewhich he acceptedas he was very hungry at the time.
How pleasant this smoking is,he commented. The other gave him an extra pipe and tobacco and they parted.
Kitano felt: "Such pleasant things may disturb meditation. Before this goes too farI will stop now." So he threw the smoking outfit away.
When he was twenty-three years old he studied I-Kingthe profoundest doctrine of the universe. It was winter at the time and he needed some heavy clothes. He wrote his teacherwho lived a hundred miles awaytelling him of his needand gave the letter to a traveler to deliver. Almost the whole winter passed and neither answer nor clothes arrived. So Kitano resorted to the prescience of I-Kingwhich also teaches the art of divinationto determine whether or not his letter had miscarried. He found that this had been the case. A letter afterwards from his teacher made no mention of clothes.
If I perform such accurate determinative work with I-King, I may neglect my meditation,felt Kitano. So he gave up this marvelous teaching and never resorted to its powers again.
When he was twenty-eight he studied Chinese calligraphy and poetry. He grew so skillful in these arts that his teacher praised him. Kitano mused: "If I don't stop nowI'll be a poetnot a Zen teacher." So he never wrote another poem.