A Ch'an master posed a riddle for his disciples to solve: "Two people are walking in a drizzle. Why does the sky not rain on one person?"

One disciple said, "One of them must be wearing a raincoat."

Another disciple attempted by saying, "It must have been a partial shower One person gets rained on, whereas the other does not."

A third concluded, "The other person must be walking under a roof."

The Master finally explained, "All of you are clinging to the point that one person is not getting rained on and are fixated on that point. Thus, you are getting further and further away from the truth. When I asked, 'Why does the sky not rain on one person?' it implies that both people are being rained on!"


When we enter into a discussion on Ch'an, we should not approach it from the perspective of the question posed, but as in the above vignette, we should approach it from the standpoint of not asking any question.

There are thousands of Ch'an records, which make Ch'an look as if it were a teaching based on questions and answers. Sometimes, the questions do not really need to be answered. At other times, the answer does not pertain to what had been asked.

When there are questions and answers, arguments naturally arise. When one attains self-realization, there will be no arguments. The use of questions and answers should not be considered a guessing game. Other than the answer, what is there to be gained?


(Source: Hsing Yun's Ch'an Talk, Book 1)