The Tea Master and the Ronin
A master of chado (the Way of the tea ceremony), Tajima Kozo, was challenged to a duel by an unscrupulous ronin who was confident of winning with ease. As he could not refuse the challenge without loss of honor, the master prepared to die.
He therefore went to call on a neighboring master of kenjutsu and asked him to teach him how to die properly. 'Your intention is most laudable', said the expert, 'and I should be very happy to help you, but first of all kindly serve me a cup of tea please.' Tajima was delighted to have the chance to practice his skill, probably for the last time, and so he was totally absorbed in the ceremony of preparing the tea, forgetting what was in store for him. The expert was deeply impressed by his degree of serenity at such a solemn time: 'There is no need for me to teach you how to die', he told him. 'Your concentration of mind is so great that you can let yourself encounter any sword expert. When you are facing the ronin, first imagine that you are about to serve tea to a guest. Greet him courteously. Take off your coat, fold it carefully and place your fan on top of it, exactly as you have just done. Then draw your katana and raise it above your head, ready to strike when the opponent attacks, and concentrate on this action alone.'
Tajima thanked him and went to the place appointed for the fight. He followed the expert's advice and totally absorbed himself with the thought that he was about to serve tea to a friend. When he raised his sword above his head, the ronin sensed that before him was an entirely different character; he could see no way around him; Tajima seemed to him as solid as a rock, completely without fear or weakness.
So the ronin, demoralized by this behavior, threw down his katana and prostrating himself before Tajima, humbly asked forgiveness for his unspeakable conduct.