Nansen saw the monks of the eastern and western halls fighting over a baby cat. He seized the cat and said, “If (any of) you can say (a word of Zen), you can spare the cat. Otherwise I will kill it.” No one could answer. So Nansen cut the cat in two.
That evening Joshu returned and Nansen told him what had happened. Joshu thereupon took off his sandals and, placing them on his head, walked away. Nansen said, “If only you had been there, you could have saved the cat.”
Why did Joshu put his sandals on his head? If you can answer this question with one word, you understand Nansen’s efforts. If not, you are utterly in danger.
Had Joshu been there,
The opposite would have been done.
Joshu would have snatched the knife,
And Nansen would have begged for his life.
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