ZEN STORIES: “The Samurai and the fisherman”


Once upon a time

A long time ago, in a far away kingdom, a samurai set out on an errand.

Precisely one year ago to the day he had lent 10 koku to a fisherman in a small coastal village nearby, and today was the day the fisherman had promised he would repay the debt. The samurai arrived in the village at noon and upon inquiring at the fisherman’s home he was told by the fisherman’s wife that he would find the man down at his boat working on his nets.

Upon seeing the samurai coming up the beach the fisherman threw himself to the ground and bowed his head to the sand. “Get up” said the samurai, “As agreed it has been one year and I have come to collect the money you owe me”. “I have not forgotten my debt to you” said the fisherman, who now stood but with his head still bowed, “but it has been a very bad year for me and I regret that I do not have the money I owe you”.


Hearing this the samurai, who was not a man known for his patience, flushed with anger and quickly drew his sword, preparing to kill the fisherman then and there. “Why should I not simply slay you instead” shouted the samurai as he raised the deadly blade above his head.


Fearing that his life was at and end and having nothing to lose the fisherman boldly spoke out. “For some time now I have been studying martial arts” he replied, “and one of the lessons that my master teaches, is never to strike when you are angry”. “I beg you” said the fisherman, “give me one more year to pay you what I owe”.

images samurai 2

Thinking about what the fisherman had just said the samurai slowly lowered his sword. “Your master is wise” said the samurai, “as a student of the art of the sword I too have heard that lesson many times, but sometimes I get so angry I act without thinking”. Putting away his sword the samurai spoke in a voice that was use to being obeyed. “You shall have another year to repay your debt to me” he said, “but when I return if you do not have all the money you owe me I shall not hesitate to take your life instead” and without another word he turned and walked away.

Having left the village later than he intended to it was already dark by the time the samurai arrived home.


Seeing no lights on in the house he crept in quietly not wishing to wake the servants or his wife. As he entered his bed chamber he notice that there were two persons lying on his futon, one he recognized as his wife and the other from their clothing was unmistakably another samurai.


Swiftly he drew his sword and as his anger quickly grew he moved in to slay them both. Just then, as he was about to strike, the fisherman’s words came back to him, “never strike when you are angry”. This time I shall follow the lesson he thought to himself, pausing he took a deep breath and tried to relax, then on purpose he made a loud noise. Hearing the sound both his wife and the stranger immediately woke up and when his wife had lit a candle he found himself face to face with his wife and his mother who had dressed up in his clothes and another set of swords.


“What is the meaning of this” he demanded, “I almost slew you both”. His wife quickly explained that when he had not returned by night fall they decided to dress his mother up in his clothes so that in the event that an intruder entered the home they would be frightened off at the sight of a samurai in the house.

A that moment the samurai realized that his habit of “striking without thinking” had almost cost him the life of his wife and his mother. One year later the samurai again walked down the same beach towards the fisherman. After exchanging the proper formal greetings the fisherman said, “It has been an excellent year my Lord, here is all the money I owe you as promised, and with interest”.


 “Keep your money” replied the samurai, “you do not know it, but your debt was paid to me long ago”.

(Author unknown)



11 Comments Add yours

  1. mimispassion says:

    Great lesson. There are some things in life that takes more than money to learn.


  2. so true! Thank you for your comment.


  3. elquanah says:

    Beautifully done story . Thank you


    1. Thank you dear friend! We share a great interest in similar topics (from Taichi to the Law of One), and i enjoy these Zen stories because their simplicity and yet their teachings are so “unforgettable”.
      I am enjoying your blog very much!!! In Oneness, Amira

      Liked by 1 person

      1. elquanah says:

        Thank you so much. There is much to share and it is incumbent on great bloggers like yourself to provide wisdom teachings to all those seeking the truth. We are one and thank you again Amira for your wonderful inspiring work.!!!!


        1. Thank you so much, I am humbled by your kind words 🙂


  4. Awesome and really so much to learn from these stories, Amira. So much wisdom and yes not to strike when angry whether with sword or with words, even words of anger are like the edge of a sword, they can hurt the other person so much. Thank you so much my beautiful friend for these stories, I love reading cause there is so much truth and it comes from the source and with a silent mind. This is our nature and we need to go in that complete silence.


    1. You are so right dear Kamal, words or actions can have the same effect as a knife, and once they strike, no apologies can ever retrieve the pain caused! Yes, when we act from a peaceful state with calmness, and serenity, we would never act without thinking… Thank you dear Kamal for your contributions and feedback! Love and light to you dear friend 🙂


      1. Welcome dear Amira and agree totally with your words. Love and light to u too dear.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. LindaP says:

    This story always leaves me thinking of what a tragedy could have occurred had he not controlled his anger! Such a great lesson here to realize the need to control our words and actions! Blessings, Amira.


    1. Yes, I agree with you Linda! Just the same with words or actions, we cannot take them back once they are spoken, and the hurt is done…
      Many tragedies can occur in a blind moment of anger, when emotions run wild. Love and blessings back to you!!! <3.


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