Hoshin, the Zen master returned to the Northeastern part of Japan after living in China for many years.He narrated a story to his disciples on Master Tokufu's passing away.
One twenty fifth of December, MasterTokufu told his disciples, "I am not going to be alive next year, so you should treat me well this year" His disciples thought that he was joking, however on account of the great heart of the master, each of them treated him to feast in the days of the departing year.
Tofuku said on the eve of the new year, "You have all been good to me. I shall leave you tomorrow afternoon when the snow has stopped"
The pupils did not consider the master's words seriously and thought that he was speaking them on account of his old age. They confirmed their conviction as the night was clear without snow. However at midnight it started to snow. At the break of dawn the disciples did not find their master about. They later found him in the meditation hall where he had passed away.
Hoshin concluding this story to his disciples, said that it is really not necessary for a Zen Master to pronounce his death. However if he wishes to do so, he can.
"Can you?," asked one of them.
"Yes, I shall show you something in the next seven days"
As in the case of Tokufu's disciples, Hoshin's pupils too did not take the master's words seriously. Some of them even forgot about it until they were all gathered again by the master.
Hoshin said, " Seven days ago, I said that I will be leaving you. However it is customary to write a farewell poem. Since I am neither a poet or a calligrapher, let one of you inscribe my last words"
When one of the pupils got ready to write, Hoshin dictated,
" I came from brilliancy.
And return to brilliancy.
What is this?"
The writer said, "Sir we are running short of a line, of the customary four". With a loud roar of a conquering lion, Hoshin shouted "Kaa" and passed away.