The King of Chao made a special trip to visit Ch'an Master Chao-chou Tsung-shen. Chao-chou was resting in bed when the King arrived. He greeted the King from his bed, saying, "Your Majesty! I am really growing old and feeling very weak. Please, forgive me for not getting up to receive you."
Not only was King Chao not offended, but he respected Chao-chou even more.
The next day, King Chao sent a general to present some gifts to Chao-chou. Upon hearing this, Chao-chou got up from his bed and went all the way to the main gate to receive the general.
Not understanding why the Master behaved in such a manner, his disciples asked him, "Yesterday, when King Chao was here, you did not get up from your bed to receive him. Yet, when the general came today, you went all the way to the main gate to receive him. Why did you do that?"
Chao-chou explained, "You know, I have three ways of receiving guests. Superior guests, I receive in bed with my original face. Ordinary guests, I receive politely in the guest room. Inferior guests, I receive at the main gate with conventional formalities."