Lin Chi called his disciple and told him, “Listen, I have been beating you for years.” That is part of Zen tradition. That is the only tradition where the master is allowed to beat the disciple…for strange reasons, or for no reason at all. Only he knows why he is beating him: sometimes he brings a wrong answer to a question, then the master slaps him.
But sometimes disciples are simply amazed. They have not even spoken a word and the master starts slapping them and they say, “This is too much because we have not said anything.” The master says, “That does not matter. We know what you were going to say, we could read it on your face. We knew the way you entered the room…so why waste time? First, you will have to say things and then we will have to beat. Make it short. Get a good beating and go away. Find out the right answer.”
And it is a well-known fact that when the disciple finds the right answer he has nothing to say, because the right answer cannot be said. Only wrong answers can be said.
So Lin Chi had been beating the disciple on and off, and suddenly he called him. He was sitting outside in the garden meditating on the koan for which he had been getting beatings. The disciple said, “Why has he called me? because I don’t have anything to say.” And before entering the door of the master’s room he said clearly, “I don’t have anything to say, so don’t start slapping me. And I have not come of my own accord; you have called me.”
Lin Chi said, “That’s true. You have not come, I have called you, but I will slap all the same for a totally different reason today. Just come close.”
The disciple said, “This is going too far. I have been told that when you don’t have anything to say, you cannot be slapped. You are breaking even that rule.” The master said, “Don’t waste time. Just come close. I am going to slap you because after today I will not be able to slap you again. This day you are going to become enlightened, so this is the last chance. Let me have a good…. Tomorrow you can slap me – you will have the right – but today is my last chance.” And he slapped him.
This is a beautiful tradition. It shows great love. A master beating the disciple for no reason at all, just because he is going to become enlightened today and from tomorrow he will not be able to beat him…! The disciple became enlightened that day and the next day when he came to see the master, the master closed the doors. He said, “You can say anything you want to say from outside the room, because I am an old man. You must understand that slapping me is not right, so from now on doors will remain closed for you. You can say anything you want to say a little loudly from outside.”
The moment a devotee forgets even that he is, that no idea of I am arises in him, then he comes to know that the buddha has no body at all. That buddha is a nobody; he is simply pure silence, emptiness, a total zero.