During the civil wars in feudal Japan, an invading army would quickly sweep into a town and take control.
In one particular village, everyone fled just before the army arrived - everyone fled away in fear except the Zen master.
Curious about this old fellow, the general went to the temple to see for himself what kind of man this master was.
When he wasn't treated with the deference and submissiveness to which he was accustomed, the general burst into anger.
“You fool,” he shouted as he reached for his sword, “don't you realize you are standing before a man who could run his sword through you without blinking an eye!”
“And do you realize,” the master replied calmly, “that you are standing before a man who can be run through with a sword without blinking an eye?”
The general put down his sword and bowed to the first man he'd ever met who was without fear. Later, he began to study Zen.