The Government Official

Chinso, a government official, went upstairs with some of his staff members. Seeing a group of monks passing below in the road, one of the staff said, "Are they travelling monks?" Chinso answered, "No." "How do you know they are not?" the staff member asked. "Let us examine them," Chinso replied. Then he shouted, "Hey, venerable monks!" At the sound of his voice they all looked up at the window. "There!" said Chinso, "didn't I tell you?"

This story demonstrates how most people discriminate and judge by external appearances. The setting is a monastery rather than a government building, so the conversation is strictly Zen. Chinso is not only a high government official, but also a senior student of Zen. The staff members were new Zen students as well as lower ranking officials. Chinso always tried to demonstrate Zen to his colleagues. When one of the party saw several men outside the monastery and wondered if they were travelling monks, Chinso said, "No." It was a good opportunity to show his staff their discriminating minds. When the monks came near, Chinso called to them, and sure enough, they looked up. But before the staff member could say to Chinso, "Didn't I tell you so?" Chinso said, "Didn't I tell you so." He emphasised the first "no." This "no" is not just "no" for monks; it is "no" for everything. The truth of things, the essence of man, cannot be judged by looks. a man who wears a robe is not necessarily a monk. One cannot say a man is better than a horse because man speaks. Nor can it be said that a horse is better than a dog. Each its own precious life. Red is not better than green. Each has its own value. Chinso's "no" applies to all comparative discrimination.


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