A young novice asked Ch'an Master Hsing-kung, "What was the meaning of the Patriarch's coming from the West?"
The Master replied, "Assume someone fell into a well that is one thousand feet deep. If you can rescue him without using even an inch of rope, then I will tell you."
The novice said, "Ch'an Master Ch'ang of Hunan who passed away recently was just like you. Your style of speech is nonsensical."
Hsing-kung ordered Yang-shan to oust the novice from the temple.
Later, Yang-shan asked Ch'an Master Tan-yuan, "In your judgment, how can the man in the well be rescued?"
Tan-yuan exclaimed, "You fool! Who is in the well?"
Yang-shan was unable to respond.
Another time, he questioned Ch'an Master Kuei-shan, "Master, how do you think the man in the well can be rescued?"
Kuei-shan caught Yang-shan off guard and shouted, "Yang-shan!"
When Yang-shan responded, Master Kuei-shan said, "The man is already out."
Sometime later, when Yang-shan started to teach, he often told people, "I have received my spirtual life at Master Tan-yuan's temple and my realization at Kuei-shan's."