The Four Gates of Joshu

A monk asked Joshu, "What is Joshu?" Joshu replied, "East gate, West gate, South gate, North gate."

Joshu's given name was Jushin, but according to Chinese custom, he was called by the name of the place in which he lived: Joshu. Many Zen Masters are known by the names of places where they reside. When the monk asked Joshu, "What is Joshu?" he had a scheme in mind. If for instance, Joshu had answered, "It is I," the monk might have said, "Well, then, what is this town called?" On the other hand, if Joshu had said, "Joshu is this town," the monk could have demanded, "Then who is this man before me?" But Joshu was not to be tricked. He answered, in effect, "If anyone wants to see me, see what I am, come in - the gates are all open!" Nothing is hidden. The four gates are still open.


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