On the way back to his temple, Joshu happened to meet an elderly lady, who asked him, “Where do you live?” Joshu said, “In the east of this village.” Joshu, talking to his students about what had happened on his way back, said to them, “How can you write the ‘east’ that I told the old lady?” A monk wrote ‘east’, and another monk wrote ‘East’. Joshu said, “How foolish you are! You are no better than a nine-year-old boy.” One monk said, “Why do you say so?” Joshu said, “Because both of you know only letters.”
Student: “What was wrong with the two monks who wrote ‘east’ and ‘East’?”
Master: “Joshu meant the place that can’t be found on a map and whose name can’t be written.”
Joshu’s residence is a place that can’t be stayed at.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway