One evening as Shichiri Kojun was reciting sutras a thief with a sharp sword entered, demanding either his money or his life.
Shichiri told him: “Do not disturb me. You can find the money in that drawer.” Then he resumed his recitation.
A little while afterwards he stopped and called: “Don’t take it all. I need some to pay taxes with tomorrow.”
The intruder gathered up most of the money and started to leave. “Thank a person when you receive a gift,” Shichiri added. The man thanked him and made off.
A few days afterwards the fellow was caught and confessed, among others, the offense against Shichiri. When Shichiri was called as a witness he said: “This man is no thief, at least as far as I am concerned. I gave him the money and he thanked me for it.”
After he had finished his prison term, the man went to Shichiri and became his disciple.
Jesus says, “Judge ye not.” This was perfect Zen, he had stopped there. But maybe because he was talking to the Jews and he had to talk in a Jewish way, he added, “…so that ye are not judged.” Now it is no more Zen. Now it is a bargain. That addition destroyed its very quality, its very depth.
“Judge ye not” is enough unto itself; nothing is needed to be added to it. “Judge ye not” means “Be non-judgmental.” “Judge ye not” means “Look at life without any valuation.” Don’t evaluate – don’t say “this is good” and don’t say “this is bad.” Don’t be moral – don’t call something divine, and don’t call something evil. “Judge ye not” is a great statement that there is no God and no Devil.
Had Jesus stopped there, this small saying – only three words, “judge ye not” – would have transformed the whole character of Christianity. But he added something and destroyed it. He said, “…so that ye are not judged.” Now it becomes conditional. Now it is no more non-judgmental, it is a simple bargain – “so that ye are not judged.” It is business-like.
Out of the fear – so that ye are not judged – don’t judge. But how can you drop judgment out of fear? or out of greed? So that ye are not judged, don’t judge – but greed and fear cannot make you value-free. It is very self-centered – “Judge ye not, so that you are not judged.” It is very egoistic.
The whole beauty of the saying is destroyed. The Zen flavor disappears, it becomes ordinary. It becomes good advice. It has no more revolution in it; it is parental advice. Very good – but nothing radical. The second clause is a crucifixion of the radical statement.
Zen stops there: Judge ye not. Because Zen says all is as it is – nothing is good, nothing is bad. Things are the way they are. Some tree is tall and some tree is small. And somebody is moral and somebody is immoral. And somebody is praying and some body has gone to steal. That’s the way things are.