Joshu’s ‘in the door and out of the door’

One day, when Master Joshu was staying in his room, a monastic cried outside, “Sir, I am here.” Joshu said to his attendant monk, “You let him know that I want him to go.” As soon as the attendant monk did to the monastic as he was told, the monastic offered a bow and went away. Then, Joshu said, “The monastic walked in the door, but the attendant monk is still out of the door.” 

Student: “Why did Joshu say that the monastic was in the door although he didn’t come in the room?”

Master: “Because he could clearly see Joshu through what was conveyed by the attendant monk.”

Student: “Why did Joshu say that the attendant monk was still out of the door although he was with the master all the time?”

Master: “Because you are still out of the door.”


Praise is not different from blame and a prize is not different from punishment.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

#zen #meditation #zenmeditation #enlightened #enlightenment #zenfools #photography

1 thought on “Joshu’s ‘in the door and out of the door’”

  1. Thank you.

    Per the commentary, is it said there can be more than one interpretation of a koan, in that a student may interpret (receive) a different message in accordance with ‘their place inside or outside of the ‘master’s room’?

    For example, “out the door” may be symbolic of the attendant being ‘unrealized’. Whereby, perhaps, the monastic was (awakened / as One) and so there was no need for him to enter the room to ‘be’ in the room.


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