The Gateless Gate/Tipping Over A Water Vase

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The Gateless Gate
by Mumon, translated by Nyogen Senzaki and Paul Reps
40. Tipping Over a Water Vase
823760The Gateless Gate — 40. Tipping Over a Water VaseNyogen Senzaki and Paul RepsMumon

Hyakujo wished to send a monk to open a new monastery. He told his pupils that whoever answered a question most ably would be appointed. Placing a water vase on the ground, he asked: "Who can say what this is without calling its name?"

The chief monk said: "No one can call it a wooden shoe."

Isan, the cooking monk, tipped over the vase with his foot and went out.

Hyakujo smiled and said: "The chief monk loses." And Isan became the master of the new monastery.

Mumon’s comment: Isan was brave enough, but he could not escape Hyakujo's trick. After all, he gave up a light job and took a heavy one. Why, can't you see, he took off his comfortable hat and placed himself in iron stocks.
Giving up cooking utensils,
Defeating the chatterbox,
Though his teacher sets a barrier for him
His feet will tip over everything, even the Buddha.