One evening, Zen master Shichiri Kojun was reciting sutras when a thief entered his house with a sharp sword, demanding “money or life”.
Without any fear, Shichiri said, “Don’t disturb me! Help yourself with the money, it’s in that drawer”. And he resumed his recitation.
The thief was startled by this unexpected reaction, but he proceeded with his business anyway. While he was helping himself with the money, the master stopped and called, “Don’t take all of it. Leave some for me to pay my taxes tomorrow”.
The thief left some money behind and prepared to leave. Just before he left, the master suddenly shouted at him, “You took my money and you didn’t even thank me?! That’s not polite!”.
This time, the thief was really shocked at such fearlessness. He thanked the master and ran away. The thief later told his friends that he had never been so frightened in his life. A few days later, the thief was caught and confessed, among many others, his thieft at Shichiri’s house.
When the master was called as a witness, he said, “No, this man did not steal anything from me. I gave him the money. He even thanked me for it.”
The thief was so touched that he decided to repent. Upon his release from prison, he became a disciple of the master and many years later, he attained Enlightenment.