Tetsugen, a devotee of Zen in Japan, decided to publish the sutras,
which at that time were available only in Chinese. The books were to be
printed with wood blocks in an edition of seven thousand copies, a
Tetsugen began by traveling and collecting donations for this purpose.
A few sympathizers would give him a hundred pieces of gold, but most of
the time he received only small coins. He thanked each donor with equal
gratitude. After ten years Tetsugen had enough money to begin his task.
It happened that at that time the Uji Rive overflowed. Famine followed.
Tetsugen took the funds he had collected for the books and spent them to
save others from starvation. Then he began again his work of collecting.
Several years afterwards an epidemic spread over the country. Tetsugen
again gave away what he had collected, to help his people. For a third
time he started his work, and after twenty years his wish was fulfilled.
The printing blocks which produced the first edition of sutras can be seen
today in the Obaku monastery in Kyoto.
The Japanese tell their children that Tetsugen made three sets of
sutras, and that the first two invisible sets surpass even the last.