When Yang-shan Hui-chi (807-883), as a young monk, paid a visit to the Ch'an master Hsing-k'ung, there was a monk who asked Hsing-k'ung:
-What is the meaning of the Patriarch's coming from the West?
WHAT IS A KOAN FOR, SIR?
One afternoon, a gentleman paid a visit to the deluded old man. After saluting to each other, and just before sipping the first cup of green tea, the gentleman asked a question like this: - What is a koan, and what is it for, sir? - It is like a candy handed out to a baby who is crying in making him stop it. - Then what is it for after the baby aready stops crying? - Just put it aside. - And what would you tell the baby when he is no longer crying? - Just tell him do not get hurt and cry again. - That's wonderful, sir! - You are a crying baby, aren't you?
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