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A monk asked an old woman the way to Mt. Taizan

A monk asked an old woman the way to Mt. Taizan.

The old woman said, “Go straight ahead.” When the monk had proceeded a few steps, she said to herself, “This monk of sound mind also goes like that!” Afterwards, another monk told Joshu about this, and Joshu said, “Wait until I go and check the old woman.” The next day Joshu went and asked the same question and the old woman gave the same answer and said, “This monk in his right mind also goes like that.” Upon his return, Joshu told the congregation of monks, “I have checked the old woman of Taizan.”

Student: “Why did the old woman say to herself ‘This monk in his right mind also goes like that’ even though the monk proceeded as he was told to?”
Master: “Because he accepted what she said in the same way as you do now.”
Student: “Why did Joshu say that he had checked the old woman of Taizan?”
Master: “Because he checked her mind.”
Student: “Why did she say, ‘This monk in his right mind goes like that’ even though Joshu checked her mind?”
Master: “Because she accepted what he did in the same way as you do now.”

Commentary:
The innocent don’t realise that their things are being stolen while watching them.
A petty thief, being so involved in stealing, doesn’t realise that all her things are stolen by a big thief.

©Boo Ahm
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway http://ow.ly/i/A8uww

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