At many Zen monasteries, a training week can involve a good deal of strain. A man who felt himself to be a keen Buddhist in a general sense thought he would like to have the experience. So he made inquiries of a Zen teacher as to whether he would be allowed to join in such a week, and if so, what it would involve.

‘You may come,’ the teacher told him. ‘Almost anyone may come if prepared to stick to the rules: there’s not much sleep, there’s a strict discipline, and you have to be prepared to submit to rough treatment when you are slack. If I think it necessary, you may be required to sign a statement in advance before the local Prefect that you agree to whatever treatment you receive, and will make no complaint then or later.’

The inquirer, a bit taken aback, told him: ‘Unfortunately my state of health is such that any severe strain might have the most serious consequences.’ He described it briefly. ‘So would you consider, in my case, giving up some of the most stringent rules on account of my medical condition?’

‘No,’ said the teacher. ‘It is for you to give up your condition on account of our rules.’