No Work, No Food

“No Work, No Food 83
Hyakujo, the Chinese Zen master, used to labor with his pupils even at the age of eighty, trimming the gardens, cleaning the grounds, and pruning the trees.

The pupils felt sorry to see the old teacher working so hard, but they knew he would not listen to their advice to stop, so they hid away his tools.

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That day the master did not eat. The next day he did not eat, nor the next. He may be angry because we have hidden his tools, the pupils surmised. We had better put them back.

The day they did, the teacher worked and ate the same as before. In the evening he instructed them: No work, no food.


In life, people take many things for granted, whether it is how we play with our children, or what kind of job we do, or just simply having fun. For the older generation, taking things for granted wasnt an option. In this simple passage, trying to convince someone to take it easy proved to be a very valuable lesson for some youngsters.

When life gets to ruff, normally we tend to slow down a bit. Often the younger generation, healthy and strong, perceives that the older generation should take it easier than normal. However, in China, the Chinese Zen master doesnt seem to fit this scenario. They seem to carry the philosophy that each carries their own weight no matter what the consequence. The younger pupils felt the Master was working extremely to hard and knew that he would not to a break. Having this information, they concocted a plan to hide his work tools so he would have no choice but to take a break.

As the day slowly elapsed into darkness, they realized the Zen master hadnt eaten. This carried into the 3rd day and finally the pupils felt he was angry so they returned them to their original place and that evening, they noticed the master eating again. Afterwards, he instructed the pupils No Work, No Food.

The morale of the story is never take life for granted. In order for each of us to make it in this world, we must be willing to carry our own weight and not allow anyone to do our share of the work. Life isnt a free ride and shouldnt be considered one either.