Monastic Jo came to have an interview with Rinzai. He asked, “What is the essence of the Buddha-Dharma?” Rinzai came down from his seat, grabbed him, gave him a slap, and then let go of him. Jo remained motionless blankly. A monk said, “Jo, why do you not bow?” On the point of bowing, Jo suddenly had a great awakening.
We should appreciate Rinzai’s answer, which he made by coming down from his seat, grabbing Jo, giving him a slap, and then letting go of him. However, Jo, failing to grasp Rinzai’s answer, was at a loss. The monk nearby gave him a hint by saying, “Why do you not bow?”. He meant, “Why don’t you express your gratitude by bowing to Rinzai because he had the kindness to give you such a nice answer?” Even when Jo was told to bow by the monk, he seemed to be doubtful why he should be grateful to Rinzai because he was not aware of Rinzai’s answer. Nevertheless, he had the good fortune to realise Rinzai’s intention thanks to the monk.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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