Zhaozhou’s Brightness and Darkness
Zhaozhou asked Nanquan, “Does brightness accord, or does darkness accord?” Nanquan got off his seat and went back to the abbot’s room.
Zhaozhou said, “That old priest is always talking, and yet he couldn’t say a word when I asked a question today.” The head monk said, “Don’t say the abbot could not say a word. It’s only that you didn’t get it.”
Zhaozhou slapped him and said, “This slap is for the abbot.” The head monk was silenced.
Student: “Why was the head monk slapped by Zhaozhou?”
Master: “Because he understood Nanquan, but misunderstood Zhaozhou.”
Student: “Why did Zhaozhou say, ‘This slap is for the abbot’?”
Master: “He did two things; taught the head monk and thanked Nanquan again for his good teaching.”
The poor head monk got a slap for mistaking words of gratitude as criticism.
That was Zhaozhou’s compassion.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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