Toshi's Dinner

A certain Buddhist family invited Toshi to dinner. The head of the family set a tray full of grass in front of the monk. Toshi put his fists on his forehead and raised his thumbs like horns. He was then brought the regular dinner. Later, a fellow monk asked Toshi to explain the reason for his strange action. "Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva," answered Toshi.

In olden days the custom of challenge (in order to test understanding) was common among Zen students. So the head of the family, perhaps, tried to test Toshi by offering him a tray of grass instead of dinner. Toshi, without anger, question, or explanation, imitated a cow. What else could the host do but bring out the proper dinner? Toshi was challenged, but he easily won. Later, a brother monk asked Toshi about the true meaning of the contest. Still Toshi did not explain. He simply replied, "Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva' (the symbolic expression of Buddha's compassion). This had no direct reference to the question; it was like exclaiming, "It's a wonderful day! Count your blessings."


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