Chapter 4: Have a Cup of Tea
That is not the case with a Joshu. With a Joshu, the case is totally different. He changes his surroundings, he is not changed by his surroundings. Whatsoever happens around him is irrelevant, his face remains the same. There is no need to change the mask.
It is reported that once a governor came to see Joshu. Of course, he was a great politician, a powerful man - a governor. He wrote on a paper, “I have come to see you.” He wrote his name, and governor of this-and-this state. He must have knowingly or unknowingly wanted to influence Joshu.
Joshu looked at the paper, threw it away and said to the man who had brought the message, “Tell this fellow I don’t want to see him at all. Throw him out.”
The man went and said, “Joshu has said, ‘Throw him out.’ He has thrown your paper away and said, ‘I don’t want to see this fellow.’”
The governor understood. He wrote again on a paper just his name and, “I would like to see you.”
The paper reached Joshu and he said, “So this is the fellow! Bring him in.”
The governor came in and he asked, “But why did you behave in such a strange way? You said, ‘Throw this man out.’”
Joshu said, “Faces are not allowed here. ‘Governor’ is a face, a mask. I recognize you very well, but I don’t recognize masks, and if you have come with a mask you are not allowed. Now it is okay; I know you very well but I don’t know any governor. The next time you come leave the governor behind; leave it at your house, don’t bring it with you.”
We are almost continuously using faces; immediately we change. If we see changes in the situation we change immediately, as if we have no integrated soul, no crystallized soul.
For Joshu, everything is the same - this stranger, this friend, a disciple, this manager. His response is, “Have a cup of tea.” He remains the same inside. And why “Have a cup of tea”? This is a very symbolic thing for Zen masters. Tea was discovered by Zen masters and tea is not an ordinary thing for them. In every Zen monastery they have a tearoom. It is special, just like a temple. You will not be able to follow this.because tea is a very religious thing for a Zen master or a Zen monastery. Tea is just like prayer. It was discovered by them.