Acharya Prashant: Joshu went to Hermit and asked, “What’s up? What’s up?” The Hermit lifted up his fist and Joshu said, “Water is too shallow to enter here and went away”. Joshu visited the Hermit once again, a few days later and said, “What’s up? What’s up?” The Hermit raised his fist again then Joshu said, “Well given, well taken, well killed, well saved” and he bowed to the Hermit.
A few things Right-living, Wisdom, Spirituality, Zen are all about a non-reactionary way of living. A non-reactionary way of living. So, Joshu asks the hermit, “What’s up?” He isn’t parlance as indicated. It means, “Have you any Zen?” Now, Zen is not an object. Zen is not a part of ‘duality.’ The answer to the question that asks, Have you any Zen, can neither be ‘yes’ nor ‘no’ as such. When Hermit raises his fist. It is inferior to remain in silent. It comes across as a reaction to Joshu’s question.
The situation become such that Joshu’s question becomes actually a provocations, a stimulus to which the Hermit reacts this is not really the way of Zen. The question demanded no answer. The question demanded rather the stillness of Zen or the silence of Zen. The question, “Have you any Zen?” is aching to the questions — “Are you God? Is the universe same as or different from it’s source? Are you in God or God is in you? Have you any Zen? Have you any God? Have you the Truth? Have you Love?” All these are questions in the same dimensions. To such questions ordinary answers don’t suffice.
So, upon seeing the response of the Hermit, upon seeing the raised fist of Hermit. Joshu says, “The water is to shallow to enter here.” Zen is still an intellectual thing for you, ‘shallow.’ It is not yet reached your depth. Zen has not yet reached your depth. It has still not yet penetrated your heart. No point talking to you.
You are a man of mind.
You are a man of reactions.
You are a man of patterns.
Who wants to talk to such a man?
Joshu walks away. Who wants to talk to a monk? For whom, Zen is a matter of questions and answers. Then comes another day, Joshu goes to the same Hermit and asks the same questions.
Now, see what happens. The first time the Hermit has had an experience. The experience say that when somebody asks you about Zen and you respond by raising your fist, you get an insulting answer and the questioner walks away. That is what the experience of Hermit has been, right?
In one situation, the Hermit has given one particular answer and that answer has ostensibly not sufficed. The questioner has walked away dissatisfied. Not only has he walks away dissatisfied. He has blatantly on the face of the Hermit said, “The water is to shallow here.” Now, what would an ordinary man do then when faced with the similar situation again?