One day when Fa-yen Wen-i (885-958), one of the well known Chinese Ch'an masters, has ascended his seat. From the assembly, a monk came out and asked:
-What is one drop of water from the fount of Tsao-ch'i?
THE GATELESS GATE - Chapter 31. Joshu Investigates an Old Woman
三十一 趙州勘婆 | hide chinese .
show chinese | 趙州、因僧問婆子、臺山路向甚處去。
A monk asked an old woman, "What is the way to Taisan?" 婆云、驀直去。
The old woman said, "Go straight on." 僧纔行三五歩。 婆云、好箇師僧、又恁麼去。
When the monk had proceeded a few steps, she said, "A good, respectable monk, but he too goes that way." 後有僧擧似州。
Afterward someone told Joshu about this. 州云、待我去與你勘過這婆子。
Joshu said, "Wait a bit, I will go and investigate the old woman for you." 明日便去亦如是問。 婆亦如是答。
The next day he went and asked the same question, and the old woman gave the same answer. 州歸謂衆曰、臺山婆子、我與□勘破了也。
On returning, Joshu said to his disciples, "I have investigated the old woman of Taisan for you."
Mumon's Comment 無門曰、
The old woman only knew how to sit still in her tent and plan the campaign; she did not know when she was shadowed by a spy. 趙州老人、善用偸營劫塞乃機、又且無大人相。
Though old Joshu showed himself clever enough to take a camp and overwhelm a fortress, he displayed no trace of being a great commander. 撿點將來、二倶有過。
If we look at them, they both have their faults. 且道、那裏是趙州、勘破婆子處。
But tell me, what did Joshu see in the old woman?
The question was like the others,
The answer was the same.
Sand in the rice,
Thorns in the mud.