“He does no work, squanders his father’s money in wild parties and is neglecting the estate,” she complained. “If he does not reform, we will be ruined.”
Ryokan went to his brother’s house and met his nephew who was genuinely pleased to see him. The two of them had spent many happy hours together before Ryokan had turned to Zen and entered the monastery. The young man knew why his uncle had come and braced himself for the scolding he was sure he would receive. But Ryokan said not a word in rebuke, the whole day.
The next morning when it was time for him to go, he put on his garments and then said to his nephew: “Will you help me tie the thongs of my sandals? My hands shake and I cannot do it.” His nephew helped him willingly.
“Thank you,” said Ryokan. “A man becomes older and feebler day by day. You remember how strong and robust I used to be?” “ I do,” said his nephew, thoughtfully. “ I do indeed remember how you used to be.”
It was the moment of truth for him. He suddenly realized that his mother and all those who had looked after him had become old and that it was now his turn to look after them and to take on the responsibilities of the household and the community. He gave up his dissolute life forever.