I found this the other day while I was considering the historical effectiveness of sharing the gospel by mouth; e.g. preaching, one-to-one evangelism, books, arguing.

I’m increasingly of the opinion that the most effective means of communicating the gospel is through modeling an obedience to Christ’s teachings and commands.

Obviously, the following account is not about the Christian gospel, but it (and especially the closing sentence) can give us great insight into Buddhist thought and how we might best spend our limited time and resources.

Tetsugen, a devotee of Zen in Japan, decided to publish the sutras, which at that time were available only in Chinese. The books were to be printed with wood blocks in an edition of seven thousand copies, a tremendous undertaking.

Tetsugen began by traveling and collecting donations for this purpose. A few sympathizers would give him a hundred pieces of gold, but most of the time he received only small coins. He thanked each donor with equal gratitude. After ten years Tetsugen had enough money to begin his task.

It happened that at that time the Uji Rive overflowed. Famine followed. Tetsugen took the funds he had collected for the books and spent them to save others from starvation. Then he began again his work of collecting.

Several years afterwards an epidemic spread over the country. Tetsugen again gave away what he had collected, to help his people. For a third time he started his work, and after twenty years his wish was fulfilled. The printing blocks which produced the first edition of sutras can be seen today in the Obaku monastery in Kyoto.

The Japanese tell their children that Tetsugen made three sets of sutras, and that the first two invisible sets surpass even the last.

from: http://www.ashidakim.com/zenkoans/37publishingthesutras.html

1 Comment on Apr 30th 2012

One Response to “The Invisible Gospel”

  1. Michael Haggard says:

    I am most generally in agreement and love this illustration. Also, St Francis’ saying “Preach the Gospel, and if you must, use words sometimes.” However, I still get stuck on two things: first that the Lord uses “words” so much and brings Revelation and Covenant in words. The Word (which I prefer to translate as The Logic) is all about words… that lead to actions. Second, anecdotally, I have seen the right words be such a powerful force in the lives of seekers… but both of these only when there is a Faith (the verb, not the noun) that leads one to consider that the words have meaning beyond platitude and motto. There is an almost “It’s A Wonderful Life” similarity to the above Zen illustration and the classic Christmas movie. LIKE

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