One lay woman, upon hearing this teaching, instead of “converting" to Zen practice, as might be expected, she resolved to deepen her practice of the Nembutsu. She declared to Master Hakuin that the Amida’s Inifnite light was not that difficult to find. So, she recited Nembutsu in all of her daily chores – while gathering wood, while preparing meals for her family and her many other house work. After many months, while washing pot, she had an awakening. She then rushed to see Master Hakuin and said, “The Buddha’s light shines through everything!” Master Hakuin decided to test her awakening and remarked, “Are you sure? What about that animal dung there on the road?” The woman immediately slapped the Master and said, “You mean you don’t really understand?” Master Hakuin burst out laughing.
This story confirms my understanding that even using the Nembutsu we can come to the same attainment as the Zen Masters. And that the person with Nembutsu awakening can also be able to give the right response to a koan, if asked. Conversely, using the Zen Methods, we too can attain the levels of the Nembutsu practitioners. I am sure the Mahamudra method will lead to the same Unborn Mind. It’s only that one should employ the same method over time. So, this is one story of Hakuin I want to share. May all be free from suffering!
Source of story: "Zen Masters of Japan" by Richard Bryan McDaniel