Again, a monk asked, “What is the essence of Buddhism?”
The master raised his fly-whisk again.
The monk gave a Katsu.
The master also gave a Katsu.
The monk hesitated.
The master hit him with the fly-whisk.
The master answered the monk’s question ‘What is the essence of Buddhism?’ by revealing the true-Self through raising his fly-whisk. The monk responded to the master’s answer by giving a Katsu, which meant, “I know that what you mean is not different from just this Katsu.” Then, the master, dubious of the ripeness of his practice, gave a Katsu to check his practice once more. The monk, failing to make an instant answer to the second test, was at a loss for the right words. Master hit him both as a punishment for failing to make a suitable answer and as an answer to his own Katsu.
If you had been in the monk’s shoes, how would you have responded in the situation? A true practitioner should put himself in the monk’s shoes and ask himself how he would have reacted if he had been the monk.
Student: “What would you have done if you had been the monk when the master raised his fly-whisk?”
Master: “I would have snatched it away from him.”
Student: “How would you have responded to the master’s Katsu?”
Master: “I would have given it back to him.”
Student: “What reaction would you have made to the master’s hit with his fly-whisk?”
Master: “I would have said, ‘I should have broken it’.”
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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