Gessen was an artist monk. Before he would start a drawing or painting
he always insisted upon being paid in advance, and his fees were high. He
was known as the "Stingy Artist."
A geisha once gave him a commission for a painting. "How much can you
pay?" inquired Gessen.
"Whatever you charge," replied the girl, "but I want you to do the work
in front of me."
So on a certain day Gessen was called by the geisha. She was holding a
feast for her patron.
Gessen with fine brush work did the painting. When it was completed he
asked the highest sum of his time.
He received his pay. Then the geisha turned to her patron, saying: "All
this artist wants is money. His paintings are fine but his mind is dirty;
money has caused it to become muddy. Drawn by such a filthy mind, his work
is not fit to exhibit. It is just about good enough for one of my
Removing her skirt, she then asked Gessen to do another picture on the
back of her petticoat.
"How much will you pay?" asked Gessen.
"Oh, any amount," answered the girl.
Gessen named a fancy price, painted the picture in the manner
requested, and went away.
It was learned later that Gessen had these reasons for desiring money:
A ravaging famine often visited his province. The rich would not help
the poor, so Gessen had a secret warehouse, unknown to anyone, which he
kept filled with grain, prepared for those emergencies.
From his village to the National Shrine the road was in very poor
condition and many travellers suffered while traversing it. He desired to
build a better road.
His teacher had passed away without realizing his wish to build a
temple, and Gessen wished to complete this temple for him.
After Gessen had accomplished his three wishes he threw away his
brushes and artist's materials and, retiring to the mountains, never